Sunday, June 26, 2016

June Sunday Funday

Caid and I watched "Risen" recently, (although distracted by Draco) and enjoyed it. But one part grabbed me. The Roman soldier chasing down the disciples catches up with them and asks something about why they are so clueless. Peter shrugs his shoulders and says, "We are just followers." It struck me as such a true moment. We (Christians) really are pretty clueless and  (I seem to be always) surprised when God shows up. But at the end of the day, my response is "We are just followers."

Simplicity. Returning there, over and over. Caid and I are in between semesters and enjoying a break from our routine. It is time to face up and figure out the other little things that seem to fall through the cracks during our regularly scheduled life. It is good, and hopefully relaxing sometime before things start back up!

1. Gun stuff. I have really stayed away from the conversation. I feel like I can only have so many arguments with people, and if I need to choose, I choose being pro-life and pro-love to refugees. So I am not going to argue, but I will leave this right here.
2. Me too: what to say instead of criticize.
3. Made water come out of my eyes too.
4. So Brazil is much as this article, but I feel some of what she is saying--and it is different from America.
5. This is really powerful, and so simple. And definitely for myself and for parenting.
6. One of the most powerful and important messages I have read in a while.

I am spending time asking "why" for the things I do, and coming up with some interesting answers. Why do I do Sunday Funday? (Sunday Funday, to me is reading through various e-mails and blogs that I am subscribed to for spiritual enrichment, that I get throughout the week, and actually read on Sunday, and then, if I really connect to it in some way, pass on through a blog post.)
1. I am looking for spiritual encouragement. I think it is important, as a bilingual person, to receive spiritual encouragement through both my heart language, and my chosen ministry language.

2. I am looking for connection. When something touches me, it requires a response, and my response is to blog. We could go deeper into that...some other time. It blesses me to be able to share and put myself out there. This does not take the place of personal connection in the USA or Brazil, which also needs to take place for a true Sunday Funday.

So perhaps in the future I will find other ways to find spiritual encouragement and connection; but for now, here it is.
This happened yesterday--lil girl is ONE! More videos and blogs on that to come later. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vonderful Vlogs

This past week we have had more than one amazing vlog--here is an off-roading adventure to the trash dump:

Caid and his kids from the choir came over for a pizza/ record a song party:

And then we have a three part series JUST FOR KIDS!

This next week is going to be fun and full of Ana Sofia--so keep watching to see what comes next!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Zika and Pregnant

I (Rachel Ferguson) am not currently pregnant, nor do I have Zika (I don’t think I do, but 3 out of 4 people with Zika don’t show symptoms). This is a more serious Five Minutes of Fergie, as we answer the question, “What are some of the hard decisions you have to make as missionaries?” It also is longer than 5 minutes, as there is a lot to share.
(Below is the script of the vlog above)

April 2015 Caid and I got Zika, I was 7 months pregnant
May 2015 Zika articles and explainations started coming out
December 2015 Microcephaly and Zika connection started coming out
January 2016 People started to ask us about Zika as soon as they realized we lived in Brazil
February 2016 I wrote how Eating Bad Street Food is Worse than Zika: (LINK #1)
April 2016 The link with Microephaly and Zika is confirmed:  (LINK #2)
May 2016 Caid and I decided it was best for us to try to get pregnant in the USA
June 2016 Jeff and Lindsay Turner did an amazing podcast about Zika (with me too): (LINK #3)

END RESULT: Zika is more like a mild flu, so wear bug spray and don’t worry about it. Unless you are pregnant. This has an awesome infographic: (LINK #4)

So what if you are/wanting to get pregnant?
1. This is an issue for those in the USA too: (LINK #5) Before you get freaked out, realize almost half those women are from the Puerto Rico area. Most of them didn’t know they had Zika until they were (blood) tested. Less than 12 of those almost 300 women had any effects (miscarriage or evidence of birth defect). And if you live relatively north-ish in the USA, you are probably fine: (LINK #6)  But still—it makes you stop and listen, doesn’t it?

2. Before we start talking about the billions of dollars we are spending to fight Zika—let’s put it into perspective: Malaria is 1,400 times worse. LITERALLY. This year, 200,000 unborn babies will die in sub-Saharan Africa because their mothers (10,000 of which will die) get Malaria while pregnant (Since last year, 139 unborn babies have died from Zika/Microcephaly): (LINK #7) IS INSANE! Why don’t we hear of this? Because it doesn’t affect us. And the worst part? Malaria is TREATABLE (whereas Zika is not. Yet). 

3. What is the actual risk of a baby getting Microcephaly (or other adverse effects including miscarriage) if she has Zika while pregnant? There is a 1 in 13 chance of getting Microcephaly, says: (LINK #8) Ok. Once I heard that, I have to admit I started freaking out. To me, that is a huge risk.

4. The Atlantic seems like a viable source to me, but let’s look at other numbers before getting stuck on the 1/13 one. According to National Geographic, (LINK #9) Over 4,000 cases of Microcephaly are being studied, but only 641 Microcephaly cases have been confirmed since May of 2016. Of those, 139 have ended in death from Microcephaly complications. There is no way to know how many pregnant women actually had Zika, but considering most of them didn’t even KNOW they had Zika (3 out of 4 don’t show symptoms), those numbers seem small(er) than 1/13.

5.  If you are in Zika infected areas, what is a woman to do? Not get pregnant, says WHO: (LINK #10) But this is not advice most woman can or will take. In Brazil, pregnancy has gone on as usual with the people we work with and love. And I notice it takes two to tango, but nothing is being said about MEN in their role of pregnancy: (LINK #11)

6.  If you are a missionary in Brazil, and your biological clock is ticking, what do you do? There are no articles on the internet about it. I already googled it. WHO says to get out of Zika infected areas, wait 8 weeks (as long as I don’t test positive for Zika—then I have to wait 6 months), and then have a baby.(LINK#12)  And probably never return to Brazil for good measure, until you hit menopause

7.  As missionaries, Caid and I feel conflicted about how to balance our privilege (having an option to return to the USA, whereas our friends don’t) the risk (Zika is a viable risk to pregnancy),  trusting God (we gave Him our lives, and He called us to Brazil), and responsibility (we want to honor our families and those who support us financially) in our decisions.

8. Here are Caid’s thoughts (him on video, unscripted)

9. Here are Rachel’s thoughts:  At first, I thought it was wrong for us to use our privilege to return to the USA to get pregnant. After all, didn’t we trust God? Didn’t He call us here? And what does that say to all the women we work with who don’t have that opportunity? But then we were advised by people we respect and honor to wait on getting pregnant while serving in Brazil. So we put that dream on hold. But I began to wonder about using the time we would already be in the USA on furlough (home assignment) as a time to try to get pregnant: thus alleviating the very real risk and worries of our family

10. The plan: We will be in the USA December 2016 and will be trying to get pregnant. If we do, I will stay in the USA during the first trimester, when the risk is the greatest: (LINK #13) , and then return to Brazil to serve and have the baby in Brazil. Yes, there is still risk: (LINK #14), and yes, we live at the VERY CENTER of the worst outbreak of Zika/Microcephaly in the world, but we will take all precautions (mosquito net, bug repellant) available. We are open to God’s voice to changing these plans, and we do not know what may be discovered by then, but we are taking one step at a time. Yes, this is scary. And sharing it with you is extremely vulnerable. But we need your prayers and support. And we want you to know some of the real issues that missionaries go through—and sometimes, there doesn’t seem to be any clear answers. Other missionaries in the same place as us may come to different conclusions: we are not saying this is the right, only way: we are simply letting you know what is happening in our lives, step by step.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

In a Gay Club

I opened up social media to see "50 people shot," and I was shocked and saddened.

I read further to, "In a gay bar" and I held my breath.

And here I need to apologize. Because I didn't hold my breath because I was hurt: I held my breath because I was hoping that the shooter wasn't someone calling themselves a Christian.

I let out my breath when I read it was connected to Islam and/or ISIS.

I apologize because somewhere along the line, I became more worried about people's disapproval and disgust than about the lives of people.

What kind of pause would I have had if the headlines instead read, "In a church?" or "50 Missionaries" ?

I apologize. I stop, weep, ache and stand in support with those killed, wounded, and hurting.#PrayforOrlando

Just because I do not agree with, or support someone's choices does not mean I stop loving them, supporting them, or valuing their lives any less. If this were true, then I would hate to step out the door because I make wrong choices too.

President Obama made a speech about "Attacks on any American- regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is an attack on us all."

As a Christian, I take out the word "American" and put in "human." Because God so loved the world.

And here I must apologize once again.

Because I have not mourned with the ISIS fighters who have died, with those considered our enemies.

There is never a time to pause and put my own agenda forward over hurting and dying people.

This is a radical and controversial statement. Good. Then it must be getting close to the real deal of following Jesus.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday Funday June

Feliz Dia das Namorados! (Brazilian Valentine's Day) We are super grateful that Ana Sofia had finished cutting her second top tooth and now we get to sleep at night (it was a good two weeks of horror). I feel like I have just come out of a daze. And good thing too, because this week we are finishing up the first semester of Living Stones!
 (did you see our weekly vlog? This was last week)

Please keep us and the kids in your prayers as we have three weeks off to re-group and re-plan and rest and on to the second semester! (in Brazil, school goes from February-December, not August-June)

  • Wednesday is the last soccer practice at Cajueiro
  • Saturday is the last basketball game at Guadalajara
  • Next Tuesday is the last English/basketball class at Lagoa
This week we are working on a very important vlog about Zika and being pregnant--can't wait to share it with you! 
1. My favorite person writes amazing things: seven airports in seven days
2. A Life Overseas gets another one right: social media and missionarys
3. Kristen Welch has some amazing resources about raising kids who think
4. Oh, the term "missionary" and what it holds for each person

I didn't put the link, but I wrote two blogs about my personal experience and feelings about Brock Turner and "20 Minutes of Action." Check it out! 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Is This my Fault?

I filled out a police report once. A mother had come to the youth center looking for her kid and when she could find them she punched me in the eye and was chocking me  against a van before I realized what was happening. My arms were at my sides, useless. I just never expected anyone to act like that.

And so she was pulled off and walked away and the police were called and I had to file a report. I didn't press charges because I had seen her kids and didn't want worse to happen to them. But filling out the report was hard. My black eye was looking around the room for places to hide.
The policemen were kind. I've been raised all my life to know they help keep us safe- but I didn't feel safe; somehow, in reporting the events, listing my name and information- I felt like it was my fault. I was the victim here, and yet I carried the guilt.
When the perpetrator isn't there to take responsibility, or refuses responsibility, it makes the innocent party question, "Is this my fault?" Worse yet, it often makes those around them wonder.
I can only imagine what the pain would be like for a rape victim, and that is just in filling out reports- the first step of a humiliating road. My heart goes out to that woman (in the Brock Turner case), and all other rape victims. I wish I could add here all of my suggestions of how to make it better- but I don't even know how to yet. I feel helpless against a culture of "boys will be boys" and "20 minutes of action."
I am so grateful to have been raised by parents to taught me I could be anything ("But please be the one thing God wants you to be."), to have been surrounded by a community that encouraged me every step, and to have a husband that cannot imagine life without me next to him, as his equal and partner. I cannot remember one time where I felt victimized or held back because I was a woman.
I pray this will be the story of my daughter, and of every other girl/woman I know. And I will work to see this happen.

Twenty Minutes of Action

Things that are 20 minutes of action:

A good pick up game of Basketball with the Living Stones kids
At the gym
At the grocery store (I am a beast)
Waking up multiple times a night with a teething baby

Things that are not 20 minutes of action:

Destroying someone with words and/or actions
Getting drunk/high

If you have not heard about Brock Turner yet, you can google him. His father said three months of prison was a steep price to pay for "20 minutes of action." Brock said it was Standford's party scene/alcohol that was to blame. Neither said sorry to the victim.
That rape was a result of countless days, weeks, and years of choices that would take him to a place where he could ever think it was ok to take advantage of someone in that way. I wonder if the media would have ever noticed this case if Brock and his father had actually apologized and acted sincerely remorseful...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

10 Things About Being Missionary Vloggers

So we have been talking about vlogs and vlogging and all that--especially with last month, where we posted a vlog every single day. I wanted to show you a bit of what goes into making a vlog. There are all kinds of vlogs. Some are just a collection of short videos I have of Ana Sofia. Others are documenting an event, like Easter. Some are just Caid and I talking about something we value/think is important. Sometimes, we even have a script:).
Here was our script (blog) about officially becoming missionary vloggers--and then below, you can watch the actual vlog. We know that some people prefer reading rather than watching, so will try to give you both options when we can!
1. Vlogging is video blogging. This is a relatively new (within the last 10 years) method of sharing information. Once upon a time it was slide shows and paper newsletters—then it was pictures and power point—then it was blogging and e-mails—now it is vlogging.
2. Labels are important. There was a time it was hard for me to call myself a missionary, let alone a missionary vlogger. We choose what labels stick to us, and as we choose them, they often help us choose who we become. It was hard for me to call myself a missionary because I so looked up to the title—and didn’t know if I was “good enough” to be one. It took over 5 years of working as a missionary to realize that I was one, and I was a good one.
3. We don’t know of any other missionary vloggers. I have looked on Youtube and found lots of mommy vloggers and family vloggers and fashion vloggers—but not missionary vloggers. We feel like many people don’t understand or have misconceptions about missions and missionaries, and that this is one way to show people more of what it is like.
4. We sort of “fell into” vlogging. It was Caid’s idea, as our coworker suggested that video is the best way to connect with people. Gradually I vlogged more, especially as our daughter was born, creating an insatiable desire for more footage from family members. We started watching the Shaytards and other vloggers, and realized we would need to be more intentional about it if we really wanted to make an impact.
5. We are making this up as we go. There isn’t any specific rules about vlogging—just that the really successful ones either do it VERY often (daily) or Very professional (expensive), and those things both take a lot of time. We cannot commit to daily or very professional, as we are not full-time vloggers, we are full-time missionaries. But we can give you a heartfelt weekly look into our lives.
6. Our goal is to CONNECT. As missionaries, we work in Brazil to train leaders and churches to work with the poorest kids in their communities. We work through sports and music and English classes, and we love on a lot of amazing kids. But in Brazil, we are working ourselves OUT of a job, as the kids grow into leaders and the leaders take ownership. The other side of our job is to connect Brazil to you and you to Brazil. We all (you and me and Brazil) need each other to grow and learn and challenge each other: and missionary vlogging is a strong, current tool available to us to better do this.
7. Our vlogging statement is: ”Short Ferguson Adventures to Connect and Share Missions.” Short (5 minutes) Ferguson (Fergie…that’s us) adventures (optimism on life) to connect and share missions (weekly missionary vlogs).
8. We have five kinds of vlogs. Our five playlists are 1. Missionary vlogs, 2. Short term missions vlogs (when people come visit us), 3. Music and 4. Language vlogs (other ways we do missions/ministry), and 5. Starring Ana Sofia (for the grandmothers).
9. Our goal is to build resources. As missionaries, we are also raising funds: for us and for the kids at Living Stones. We are not ashamed to say we would love to use missionary vlogging as a way to raise money (if it goes that way in the future). We will be using these videos to share needs, and share ways you can give financially, if you feel called to do so.
10. We can’t do this alone. We need your ideas and insight and comments on what videos to make! We need you to subscribe and like and share our videos with others! Maybe you are new to the vlogging world, or maybe you make your own videos—share with us, connect with us, and we will call it success!

So not everything goes as scripted...but we love sharing and doing vlogs! If you haven't gotten it by now--our BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is that we are going to be making weekly vlogs--it is official!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Stop Calling your Congressman and Start Making Relationships

In 2008 I almost became a single mother. I  had worked and volunteered at a youth center for over 6 years and had some amazing close relationships with some of the girls there. So when one, 15, got pregnant and thought her only option was an abortion- I was her alternative. 

I offered and begged to adopt her baby. And because she knew and trusted me (and knew I could give her baby a good home) she considered it. Her family, her culture: every other person around her told her she had to get an abortion. And in the end, they won. But I had a chance to open other options for her because of our long standing relationship. 
This article outlining a new study suggests that women will have abortions whether it is legal or not. And I believe most of them truly think they have no other option. And they will continue to think that until someone enters their lives and shows them another way. 
Yes, I vote pro-life. But I live pro-life first. 

Two Sunday Fundays

Last week I finally had time for Sunday Funday on Thursday, and then some of the websites were not working. So I saved the links for this week.

This has been the first week this YEAR of just us. Now--we have LOVED our three months on furlough (home assignment) in the USA, and then over two months with my brother, and then short term mission trips...but this week I have caught myself looking around and wondering why things are so quiet or simple. "Oh yeah," I remember,  "This is the just us life." It has been nice to return to normal, although Ana has not been sleeping well (up every two or three hours at night) because of that second top tooth coming in.

And now the year is half over. Goodness. Made me really enjoy this thought of June being the new January.
Funny how life changes you? "How are You and God" is still one of my favorite questions...but.
Just found this blogger recently, and loved her posts!
A year of Awesome? Yes please! I really like what she said about missionaries posting pictures of having is a real issue, sad to say.
I loved the bottom line on this article. Just read the title.
Just some woman sharing some stories. And it made me tear up.
What is so how good things and good intentions and so many good people can end up in screwy situations.
Big announcement coming soon:)!