I just got back from my 1st trip to Brazil! What a beautiful country! I've been wanting to make a habit of journaling my trips so that my children and grandchildren will be able to relive my experiences with the Lord. Below is each day's entry from my travel journal from this trip to Campinas Brazil 2021
Day #1 - Travel Day
January 20, 2021
Travel day is always an emotional day. You are filled with excitement for the adventure that lies ahead. You are filled with expectation of what the Lord is going to do. But you are also filled with sorrow as you have to kiss your children and wife goodbye. Balancing those emotions can be a lot to carry. This has been the first trip I've taken in over a year, which is rare for me. I typically travel internally 2-3 times a year, but with the COVID-19 Pandemic and the extreme measures of our world governments it has made traveling next to impossible. Waiting for our negative COVID tests to come back was very stressful. I do not know what to expect on this trip as we have never been to Brazil and have only had a few conversations with our contacts in Brazil. Nevertheless, I know that the Lord has called us to take this trip and are expecting unbelievable things.
Besides the masks, the travel wasn't too bad, to be honest. The planes had a significant amount more room (which is always a good thing). Overall, today was a very long and tiresome day, but it leaves with me that feeling knowing that the days to come are going to be ordered of the Lord.
Day #2 - Sau Paulo & Campinas Brazil
January 21, 2021
We arrived this morning in Sau Paulo Brazil around 5 something in the morning. Tired, jetlagged (from our red-eye), smelly, and excited for the day(s) to come. We were able to quickly get through customs, find our luggage and most importantly find a Starbucks! Of course, we have no clue how to speak Portuguese and well, I'm still not sure what we ordered. Here we ran into our contacts Thiago and Leo. To be honest I was a little nervous that no one would arrive to pick us up as we have had very limited contact with them in the months and weeks leading up to this trip. Nevertheless, they arrived. We sat and talked about the Lord for 2-3 hours waiting for John's flight to arrive. Though we were hungry, exhausted and in huge need of a shower, this time just talking about the Lord with them was invaluable. We were able to feel that kindred spirit immediately. That feeling from the Holy Spirit is one that is so comforting (especially when you are 5,000 miles from home with people you just met). After John arrived we hopped in the van and drove about an hour and a half to the city we would be staying and ministering in Campinas.
After arriving at our hotel and getting a nice cold shower and a change of clothes we hopped in our vehicles and headed to a restaurant called Fogo Maniero. This was by far one of my most favorite restaurants in the entire world. Such an amazing vibe and atmosphere. Such amazing food as well. I don't know if I could name you a single thing we ate but it was all delicious. After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to rest a bit and then prepare for the dinner and our evening prayer service.
Thiago and Lucas then picked us up and took us to a pizza place called Pizzadoro! Such interesting yet delicious pizza. Again, not sure if I could name too many of the toppings we ate but it was all delicious. From there we left and headed to the 10-11pm prayer meeting at their church. This was the final night of 21 days of prayer and fasting at the Agape Church. Let me take a minute just to call this out for a minute. If we are being honest how many of our churches in America are starting their years with 21 days of prayer and fasting? How many of those would show up at 10-11pm at night to participate? This is the sort of thing that gets me excited about traveling and being a part of the global church...as well as discourages me about the shape of the American Church. Back home to bed for our first day of the Liga Deeper Youth Conference.
Day #3 - Campinas Brazil
January 22, 2022
After an amazing night of sleep and a few cups of coffee, our team took a walk to a downtown amphitheater that shut down because of COVID. It was so sad to see such a beautiful part of the city being shut down because of a virus (with a 99.97+ survival rate). This time of dreaming and exploring was an important part of our trip for our team members. It was a great bonding experience. Shortly after arriving back at the hotel Thiago and Lucas picked us up and took us to a real authentic Brazillian Steakhouse! I promised I wouldn't eat steak until I made myself sick, but I certainly at my share of beef. The food was so incredible! The entire thing was such a cool experience. I love experiencing these cultural parts of the world when we travel.
Now that our stomachs were full of beef, we headed to a park in the city to see if it would be a good candidate to hold a Dream On Party next year. We were blown away by this place. It was beautiful, it was massive and it hadn't been used in over 15 years. That's right; a crusade hasn't taken place in Campinas in over 15 years! How catastrophic! The era of world evangelism is nearly over at the moment. It's time for our generation to step up and take hold of the plow and not look back. Lord willing, we will be back and we will be hosting the very first Dream On Party in Brazil in 2022.
After arriving back at our hotel after some afternoon adventures and cleaning ourselves up we took of for night #1 of the youth conference. We didn't know what to expect as we've never been to this country and never experienced a service either. Regardless it's our term to step into the batter's box. We're leading off. Ben spoke about the power of knowing God. It's probably my favorite message he preaches. He's really refined it over the past year or so. We had many students come down and ask for prayer. They wanted to know their purpose. They wanted to know God' had a plan for their life. One girl, in particular, we took to a back room as she was demon-possessed. The team in the room who was praying for her when we arrived did not appear to know how to cast a devil out. You cannot ask a devil to leave. You cannot convince the devil to leave. You MUST take authority of the devil and command him to leave. The moment we stepped up and did that it left her. Her entire countenance changed. The smile on her face, the peace on her soul. Those are snapshots that will last a lifetime.
Day #4 - Campinas Brazil
January 23, 2021
Today Rob spoke at the morning session of the youth conference on abiding in the vine out of John 15. This is one of my all time favorite passages of scriptures and his presentation of it was beautiful. Today was a long day overall. It's usually by about this point in the trip when you start to feel fatigued and ready to be home with your family. One of my favorite parts of today was the way the team started to really draw close, be in community together and even minister together. It never ceases to amaze me how simple and easy the gospel is when the presence of the Lord is found. It never ceases to amaze me how well the Lord moves when we minister as a team. No egos, no pride. Just friends, Just Jesus. It's truly the only thing that matters. Watching Ben flow in his giftings bring such joy to my heart. Especially from a man so meek. Watching my long-time friend John, serve loyally, selflessly, and with a smile on his face is inspiring. Watching the Lord use Rob and Jen's testimony to encourage others. Watching the Lord minister to them as well and even bring a refreshing was amazing. Watching Judy who was a hot mess when we left to flow in her giftings might have been my favorite part of all. For someone who had been to Brazil 3 times previously to have been rocked so hard was motivating and encouraging. There is an elegant beautify to watching the Lord move and flow throughout team as one group.
Day #5 - Campinas Brazil
January 24, 2021
Today was the perfect way to wrap up the trip. There were incredible moments up until this point but it feels very incomplete until now. Today was the bow on the trip. We preached the main service at the Agape Church in Campinas. We did it though in a very different way. but if felt very effective. A roundtable style, sharing of stories as if we were all in one living room sharing about the goodness of God. So many people responded to the call-to-action at the end of the service. This world is fed up with the way we live our lives and DO church. They want Jesus! They want purpose! They aren't looking for another sermon, just Jesus, just purpose. We have to focus on this and this alone. Nothing else matters. Being able to decompress after our service in Pastor Roberto's office was so special. Priceless to be able to see the joy on our team. I don't remember laughing so hard every in my life. My face hurts. That was pure joy. Therapy for my soul. Being able to communicate and laugh despite language was special. True community. Also being able to sit down with Pastor Roberto and have him share stories and wisdom was priceless as well. These are the things that are missing and vital for the kingdom. We should demand more of this. It's time for our generation to pick up the baton. We are needed now more than ever!
Day #6 - Travel Day
January 25, 2021
Arriving home is always a bittersweet feeling. It's always even more emotional and this trip was no exception. So many thoughts and emotions flooding my mind. I'm always reminded of being back in America how incredible it is here. We can't even comprehend how blessed we are. We are living in the greatest country during the greatest period of time in history. Hugging and kissing my wife and kids is something so special after being gone. I can't imagine loving them any more than I do. It takes a special woman to take care of the house, kids, and everything else while I travel the world. I'm so appreciative for her.