Angola Team News Archive

Our Unexpected Expected Approval

Friday June 10th was Portugal Day, a national holiday. Sunday June 12th was a religious holiday that many Portuguese celebrate by staying up all night eating sardines. Each year the church here in Lisbon spends this extended weekend by holding a sort of prayer vigil. This year the prayer meeting lasted through Thursday and Friday nights. For about 36 hours we took turns praying in shifts and praying together as a church. (It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Portugal long enough to have participated in this event twice now.) Among the things that we prayed about was that our team would receive our visas for Angola. Our team intended to arrive in Angola in January, but it seems that neither the Angolan government nor God had the same timing in mind. So we have remained here in Portugal improving our language skills, working with the church, and preparing for our arrival in Angola so we can hit the ground running.

Last night I was exhausted after a long weekend of praying and very little sleep, yet I somehow found myself in downtown Lisbon with friends from church. We were surrounded by thousands of people, the smell of sardines cooking on the grill, and the sound of traditional Fado music blasting. Talk about sensory overload! As I was picking tiny little bones out of my teeth, my teammate Robert called. He said that our friend Júlia from the Consulate in Houston had called on Friday (note: this was during the prayer vigil), but he and his family had been in the Algarve in Southern Portugal so he did not get the message until they returned home late last night. Júlia had called to tell him that all of our visas were ready, except for his, and that his visa would be ready later this week.

With the news from Robert I didn’t really even know what to say. I’m still in a bit of a state of shock and I still smell like sardines. (The smell seems to last forever.) I have been so eager to get to Angola for so long now, but have constantly run into one obstacle after another. Progress has been one baby-step at a time. But now the clock is ticking. I have until a certain date to arrive in Angola or my visa will expire. The door is wide open all of a sudden and I honestly don’t know what to think or how I feel. God is starting a new chapter in my life which is both exciting and frightening at the same time. It also means another chapter in my life is about to close. My time in Portugal has been one of the most blessed times of my life and I will always remember it fondly. On top of that, every time I smell a sardine cooking I will remember how God is faithful and answers prayer.

 

The Church in Carcavelos Partners with Us

At the beginning of May, our team had an opportunity to present to another church in the Lisbon area, the Carcavelos Church of Christ, about our plans for Angola and the possibilities of their partnership with us in ministry there. You can read all about our first team presentation in Portuguese (and even watch a video!) to our “home” congregation, the Lisbon Church of Christ, by clicking here.

We visited the Carcavelos church on a Sunday morning and gave our presentation during the Bible class hour for all the adults and youth of the congregation. The presentation itself was similar to the one we did for the Lisbon church — we briefly shared Angola’s story, introduced ourselves, and presented ideas of ways the church could get involved. Afterwards, the church said a prayer over us. We didn’t video this presentation, but here are a few pictures:

 

Danny started things off by giving an introduction to the situation in Angola:

 

Then, Rusty and I gave a brief introduction to our team and talked a little bit about what we’ve been doing this last year in Portugal:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert asked the church members to think about ways they could use their gifts and talents to get involved in what God is doing in Angola and invited them to sign up to receive our newsletters and other updates. He also fielded a question-and-answer time at the end of the presentation:

 

Katie talked about World Bible School and encouraged the church to consider helping with this program by being teachers for WBS students in Angola. Since WBS is done largely via correspondence, this is an excellent way for Portuguese-speaking Christians in Portugal to reach out to Portuguese-speaking Angolans! The Lisbon church has already agreed to take some leadership in launching this program, and we hope that the Carcavelos church can partner with them in this effort:

 

Nathan extended the invitation for church members, especially the youth, to come and visit us in Angola:

 

Teague requested help in developing and translating materials in Portuguese. She also gave a list of specific ways the church could pray for us:

 

Jordan concluded by thanking the church for their involvement in missions, for their cooperation with the Lisbon church, and for their willingness to consider how they might partner with us in the work in Angola:

 

At the end of the church service, they called all of the Angolan members to the stage to pray over us.

 


 

 

 

We are thankful for the warm welcome we received from the Carcavelos church, and for their prayers and support. We pray that their enthusiasm for what God is doing in Angola will develop into a fruitful partnership that will bless both us and them, and more importantly, the lost in Angola.

Angola Day of Prayer Recap

On March 27, over one hundred Christians from at least 8 different congregations in Arka nsas gathered together, devoting a time of intense prayer for the people of Angola and the Angola Mission Team. This event was hosted by Little Rock Church (Jordan’s sending congregation) in cooperation with Central Church of Christ (sending congregation of the Meyer family). It was truly a blessed time of learning and focused intercession!

After watching a sideshow (scroll to bottom of this post to view) introducing the Angolan people and our team to the audience, we entered into a time of prayer by singing a song of praise to our great God.

The evening was divided into segments in which a prayer need was introduced and a prayer of intercession was led. Different individuals (friends, members of Jordan’s support team, shepherds, and ministers from the Little Rock area) thoughtfully provoked us to consider our topic of prayer, led us in a group reading of scripture, and then spoke in heart-felt intercession over one of the following prayer needs:

  • For Angolans, that their hearts would be prepared to enter the Kingdom of God
  • For the team’s outreach efforts in Angola
  • For the creation of new and vibrant churches in Angola
  • For the team’s growth and ability to nurture spiritual growth in others
  • For the team’s international relationships; for the ones we already have in Brazil and Portugal, and for the ones we have yet to form in the Portuguese-speaking world
  • For the churches that are joined in this effort to support the kingdom work in Angola; that these people would consciously be of great support, and because of this support be instrumental in the work in Angola.

Another video presented each member of the Angola Mission Team expressing personal prayer needs and concluded with an urgent call to pray for the visa process. Jerry Reed (a shepherd at Little Rock Church) led the intercession for the team’s requests and then Gerald Driskill (the leader of Jordan’s support team) led a special supplication for our visas. Scroll to the bottom of this post to view the video.

We then joined together in a chorus of group intercession. We prayed in groups of two or three over requests found on prayer cards in our seats.  Afterward we placed the cards symbolically on the cross. Mike Harmon (a member of Jordan’s support team) led a closing prayer over the team and all those gathered. Then the group sang a song of prayer.

It was humbling to see so many gathered together who wish to continue praying with us. I was so excited and blessed to be able to be home for this Day of Prayer for Angola, and the whole team was greatly encouraged by the event. There is nothing that strengthens us so much as knowing that we have people at home partnering with us in prayer. My hope is that it was also a time of learning to better intercede both for Angola and the Angola Mission Team.

Thank you to everyone who made the evening possible — those who helped plan, those who recruited people to come, the intercession leaders, and the members of the Little Rock Church who went the extra mile and provided child care and a spread of snacks. Each and every one of these people helped to make this event a truly special and prayerful one.

We would like to invite you to join us in regularly interceding for the Kingdom in Angola. You can use this format if you like, or follow your own. We will be sure to keep our prayer requests up to date on the website. This event will occur again in the Little Rock area in October and we hope that other churches will find time and creative mediums to encourage each other to devote themselves to prayer for the Kingdom of God in Angola and all over the world.


Above: After leading us in John 17:20-23, Billy McLain (a shepherd at Central church of Christ & former missionary to Brazil) prayed for the team’s international relationships with the Portuguese-speaking world.  He had all of us hold our linked hands up in prayer. It was a beautiful moment of unity in petition to our Father.

To view all of the pictures from the event, go to the March 27, 2011 Angola Day of Prayer photo album on the Angola Mission Team Facebook page.

 

Day of Prayer: Little Rock, Arkansas

Save the date! There is going to be a group of people gathering together in Little Rock, Arkansas on March 27, 2011 to pray for the Angola Mission Team and for the country of Angola at Jordan’s sending congregation, Little Rock Church. Jordan will have the special opportunity to be there in person!

For more information about the day of prayer or if you would like to help out
contact Jordan at jordanyarbrough@angolateam.org or Robert at robert@angolateam.org

My Angolan Family

I often find the Angolan concept of “family” amusing. Someone may say that “so-and-so” is their brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. If you inquire about the specifics of that relationship, be prepared for a long and complicated explanation that you just may not understand. In many cases there may not even be any blood connection, but they are still family nonetheless. Many different circumstances may cause people to become family. In Angola many families were separated from each other, new family bonds were created by those who shared lives and experiences together as they fled or endured the war around them. Other times those who had perhaps lost their family to the war would be taken in by other families.

Nathan and his Family

My first real glimpse into this world began last year as I got to know an Angolan family from church. Rogerio & Celestina Makiese had their first son Memoire (or Rogerio Dula) in Angola. After arriving in Portugal they had two daughters Amanda and Noemia. Then this last summer they adopted another son to be a part of their family…

The Makiese family had recently moved from a tiny apartment in downtown Lisbon to a larger house a little farther out of town. I had come over to their house for lunch one day after church and jokingly asked their son Rogerio if he wanted a roommate. He got really excited about the idea and asked his parents. They considered the idea and told me that God had provided them a new home so that they could use it for His kingdom, and since I was going to take the gospel to their homeland  and their people it was their responsibility to take me in and it would be irresponsible for me not to move in with them. I couldn’t argue with that, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I moved in a week later.

Moving in, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to practice my Portuguese, learn about Angolan culture, and that it would be a great chance to acclimate to Angolan food. And of course it has been all of those things, but it has been so much more. I now have an Angolan family in Portugal, they are not ”like family” they are my family. It will be just as hard to leave my family in Portugal behind as it was to leave my American family. But I am blessed beyond measure to have families in the US and Portugal that love and support me. The Makiese family are without a doubt the biggest blessing that God has given me in the last year and they will be my family para sempre.

The Church in Lisbon Partners With Us

Almost as soon as each of us arrived in Portugal, our team jumped right in with the Igreja de Cristo Lisboa (ICL) and they welcomed us and our broken Portuguese with great patience and a kiss on each cheek.

The ladies on the team have attended several baby showers with the ICL this year.

We are active members with ICL, doing things like helping clean the church building, traveling to witness a baptism, helping out with summer camp, attending area-wide women’s events, setting up for a wedding, teaching in various forms, visiting people in the hospital, going to baby showers and other parties, and inviting people into our homes. We go, not just because we need to “practice our Portuguese,” but because we are part of ICL. It is often tiring to go, get out of our comfort zones, and try to communicate, but the blessings that we receive from the patient ears and the loving arms of the church make it that much easier.

ICL has asked us how they can be part of spreading the Gospel in Angola. So, this past Sunday, we gave a presentation, as part of their 2011 vision-casting meeting, about ways they can get involved.

Our 15 minute presentation began with Danny giving a summary of why we are going to Angola and why we need people all over the world to partner with us. Robert then communicated our desire for the church in Lisbon to work alongside us,  encouraged them to think about ways that they could contribute, and gave them ways to stay connected with us through the  internet and by subscribing to our newsletter in Portuguese. Katie talked about how they can use World Bible School (WBS) to reach other Portuguese people and how they can help us by receiving, grading, and responding to WBS students from Angola. Nathan encouraged the members of the church to come and visit us and asked the Angolans of ICL to help us learn more about Angolan culture. Teague invited the church to help us by proofreading the Portuguese materials that we develop and by developing materials themselves for us to use. Then she invited ICL to pray on our behalf, giving them specific ways that they can be praying. Jordan finished off the presentation with a sincere thank you for the help and encouragement they have given us. She expressed our desire to help them in any way we can and ensured them that we will be praying for them as they pray for us. She even shed a few perfectly-timed tears.

This was the first time that each of the ladies have spoken in Portuguese in front of a large group. Although our Portuguese was not perfect, the church was very complimentary and encouraging afterward. Eunice, our language teacher, watched a video of the presentation and was also quick to compliment us on how well we did. It was a meaningful way to practice presenting in Portuguese.

You can watch a 15 minute video of the presentation below. When you watch it, try to imagine what it would be like to speak a language that is not natural to you in front of an audience of people who are native to that language.


December 2010 Newsletter

Seedtime & Harvest – December 2010

September 2010 Newsletter

Seedtime & Harvest – September 2010

An Inside Look: Language Learning

Some Background:

The Reeses in Portuguese Class, June 2005

In June 2005, Danny and Katie Reese arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, to get a little Portuguese language learning under their belts. At the time, they, along with Nathan Holland, had a desire to go to Portuguese-speaking, Angola, Africa, to do mission work, but no specific plans were in place. They took a three-week crash course in Portuguese taught by Eunice Carapeto to prepare for the day when they would journey to Angola. Now, 5 years later, the Angola Mission Team is together in Portugal to learn Portuguese!

Eunice has been teaching Portuguese to missionaries bound for work in Portugal or Portuguese speaking Africa for over 25 years. The Angola Mission Team is the first full team that Eunice has taught at the same time. We take up three of Eunice’s four two-hour class slots, Monday through Friday.

Step One: Learn how to make the sounds and emphasize the right syllables.

The Challenge: The English alphabet that you can recite in your sleep becomes 26 new Portuguese sounds. If you have studied another language, you know that it is a difficult task to learn new sounds! For example, in Portuguese, the letter “i” is called “e,” the letter “j” is called “jota,” and the letter “h” is pronounced “ah-gah,” just to name a few. Each letter makes a new sound and when you combine letters they make new sounds of their own.  If you find an “o” at the end of a word you pronounce it “oo” and if you find an “s” at the end of a word, then you end the word with a “sh” sound rather than a “ss” sound.  Therefore, when you find an “os” at the end of a word it is pronounced “oosh.”

How we overcome this challenge: We may never master all the sounds of the Portuguese language, but we practice, practice, practice to have the best accent that we can have. At first Eunice gave us lists of sounds to listen and repeat until absorbed. In class we read our homework, books, and other literature aloud to practice our pronunciation and Eunice corrects us as needed.

Teague, Jordan, & Katie's Portuguese Class, November 2010

Step Two: Learn the grammar.

The Challenge:  Our communication is limited by how much grammar we know.  So gradually Eunice introduces various grammar concepts and we advance as we become more proficient in these concepts. Eunice says that with

Portuguese “there are lots of rules and few exceptions” and with English “there are few rules and lots of exceptions.” Keeping irregular verbs straight and using the right preposition are difficult at first, but with practice we become better and better at it.

How we overcome this challenge: In addition to a constant diet of worksheets, where repetition starts to give us an ear for correct grammar, translation is also helpful for becoming more proficient. We translate English writing into Portuguese and Portuguese into English, correcting our mistakes with Eunice so that we can grow in our understanding of Portuguese grammar.

Step Three: Learn how to spit the words out of your mouth.

The Campbells in Portuguese Class, September 2010

The Challenge:  Our tongues need loosening. As much as we can communicate on paper or even verbally in class, it is very difficult to come up with the words on the spur of the moment. Our brains are trying to use the right words, right pronunciation, and right grammar all at the same time and it is very difficult to just spit the words out when we are conversing with someone at church or other people who we encounter in our everyday lives.

How we overcome this challenge: More practice. Not only do we practice sounds and grammar, but we practice speaking and conversing. Along with the conversation and reading aloud that we do in class we recite “grupos.” Grupos are a list of statements and questions, designed by Eunice to help with fluency, that are more like tongue twisters to those of us who haven’t been speaking Portuguese very long. Each list comes with a time limit and we practice reciting the list over and over until we are able to read the list clearly under the allotted amount of time.

So there you have it! Throw in some new vocabulary here and there and you are practicing and learning the Portuguese language!