littlemissvicki's blog

adventures around the world ..

Back in Brasil :)

Part 1: Iris Fortaleza

IMG_3183

Being back on the Iris Fortaleza base has been so special for me. I love these beautiful missionaries dearly, and even though some of my good friends had been sent out since I last visited, it was great to see old friends, get to know some new people and also some of the other missionaries that I didn’t really get to chat to last time. These people are such gems!

IMG_3229

Enjoy! This became a real theme over my trip, and I loved this road where they had lots of encouraging words fixed to all of the trees! And I felt challenged to enjoy icecream with all the toppings just because I could!

Every time I am here God does something different. This time was really about rest, which is a bit crazy on a mission base, I guess, where there is normally a lot of activity. But the first 4 days I was here, literally everyone left to go on a camp in the mountains, and there were just 4 of us gringos left.. It turned out to be perfect timing as I really needed to process lots of things that had been happening back in the UK before I left. I spent the time listening to sermons, reading, journalling, running on the beach, eating icecream at the self service shop and just basically enjoying myself. I’ve never rested so much on holiday!! Seriously!

The beach is beautiful. And it’s literally a 10 minute walk from the base. Last time I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I could have. This time I often got up early to go for a walk or run which was glorious! I enjoyed acai and icecream as often as I could (and often skipped the lunch of rice and beans to leave some space for it!!) It’s also so beautiful to go and watch the sun set. When it disappears everyone on the pier gives a big cheer! Sweet! And the views were totally stunning as you can see.

When the team returned from the camp, it was equally chilled. I was not feeling that great during the week.. so I had no choice but to take it easy. I got to share in the team discipleship session which was so special (even though it was a big group, so a bit scary), and pray over everyone. I also got to pray with some of the girls and share prophetic words with them, which I love doing!

The base have prayer/intercession meetings for some of the different ministries several days a week in the house of prayer – which has now been repainted and looks beautiful! Again God gave me some prophetic words and images to share with them and hopefully encourage them, so that was great.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mission Service

IMG_3172

It’s been so cool to just have lots of time to chat, reflect and pray for the team, and I’ve also enjoyed some different things from before. Their Friday night mission service was fun, – check out the little ballerinas who come from the favela where the team are working – beautiful! Then we went out for burgers at midnight to celebrate one of the missionaries who had a birthday. Only in Brazil, right?

39023676_370904063443873_7410140232936325120_n

It’s always hard to leave. Every year it seems like I leave another piece of my heart here. I love this family so much and I’m so happy that I get to come back year after year! It feels like my second home and I’m already planning my next visit so that I can get to know some of the other Iris bases in Brazil.

IMG_1208

 

Part 2: Adventures in Rio

After that I had another adventure in Rio. One of my favourite cities that I’ve been to so many times I’ve lost count.. And I love the way that you can see the statue of Christ the Redeemer from pretty much anywhere in the centre, sometimes I’d come round the corner and just see Jesus and it was lovely!

IMG_3202

I also spent a weekend doing my absolute favourite thing of going to outdoor craft markets and listening to live music – one day I managed to see 4 different rodas de samba, or choro (another of the many different types of Brazilian music).

It’s always fun to come back and visit my favourite places again – beaches, parks, botanical gardens… and enjoy tapioca and lots of sorvete (icecream). No wonder it’s called the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvellous City).

Jardim Gramacho

Then I went to spend a few days at the Iris Ministries base which is in a place called Jardim Gramacho. I’ve been a few times before, but I’ve never actually stayed there so it was fun to get to see some of the other activities they do. Including lots of kids groups (3 different sessions back to back, complete with rice and beans after each session – so lots of high speed washing up!). The teenage group was really great, they are very engaged and love to sing and worship!

IMG_3224

I also got to see a few of the church services. It’s great – everyone is welcome and people feel free to come and go as they like, there’s usually a few stray dogs drifting in, who like to curl up in the corner and just enjoy the peaceful presence of God! There’s a really small team here at the moment (4 people) and it was good to get to know them a bit and see them do their thing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Davi leads worship and is amazing – there’s a real sense of the presence of God when he sings and plays. Laila just loves the community and is also great at preaching. Marcus is such a father to everyone, and you can see how much he genuinely cares about them, and his wife Mariana is also super sweet and very hospitable (she loves cooking and looking after people) and they also have 2 super lively young kids- their house is always full of people!!

1b662b90-5a71-40f8-a6c5-2fae91676df2

The base has intercession for an hour each day – where they close the door to the church, and just have little fairy lights on, and put on beautiful worship music. It’s such a peaceful sanctuary and a beautiful place to pray for the community – that was my favourite part of the day! Lots of the youth come and pray as well, which is great. I can see that they are going to be the ones that start to transform their community as they’re really passionate about prayer and worship. It was fun to try and find ways to bless the team by doing things like giving them prophetic words of encouragement and just by helping out however I could.

IMG_1259

Vida Rio

Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 21.16.18

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 16.22.41

I also got to go back to Vida Rio, this great church which is just on the outskirts of the city, and is linked to the Iris base. Really encouraging to worship with them especially being far from home and missing my own church family. The second time I went there I met a girl who had grown up in London – in North Wembley (really close to where I live) and her brother still lives there really close to where I’m living. She now leads worship at a house of prayer in a beautiful city in Brazil called Florianopolis.

IMG_3230

So another beautiful trip – with unexpected times of rest and joy! I left feeling so blessed that I had so many opportunities to encourage different missionaries and people that I met, and also I take many things back to England with me.. I realised that I’m meant to be one who moves easily between cultures and God has given me lots of skills in order to do that. I never really saw that before.. I can’t wait for the next adventure!

IMG_1242

Leave a comment »

Iris Fortaleza

I got to spend 10 days on the Iris Ministries mission base in Fortaleza, North East Brazil – yay! I first visited last summer for a few weeks, so it was great to be back and I had the time of my life! Click here to find out more about Iris Ministries – they are an amazing organisation!  Here is a film of this year’s trip – click here to watch!

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 11.02.09

There were a lot of new people this time. The base was also jam packed as there was a wedding so there were a lot of people visiting from other bases, so to begin with it was all a bit overwhelming!  But I had a LOT of fun as you’ll see below.  If you want to see a film of my trip from last year, click here.

The City

Fortaleza is an interesting city. Parts of it are really beautiful (for instance the Parque do Coco which is huge and even has free activities for kids every Sunday morning), and other parts which are really run down and really poorly signposted for tourists. The city beaches are quite nice although it can get over 30 degrees every day..

One thing that was put up recently is a set of letters spelling out Fortaleza. One of the team commented that it won’t be long before they are covered in graffiti so we quickly took a picture before that happened!

thumb_IMG_1029_1024

The team

Here’s some of the amazing team! Over the time I was there I got to hang out with almost everyone, chat, get to know them and some of their dreams, and they are the most beautiful people. It’s like each one is a present with so much treasure inside. They have such a passion for God, and for sacrificing everything and laying down their lives to work amongst the poorest of the poor. I very quickly felt like part of the family and it was super hard to leave. I loved hearing their stories and testimonies.

IMG_3162

This base is the biggest Iris Ministries Base in Brazil and is the only one outside of Pemba, Mozambique, that runs the 3 month mission school (Harvest School). More information about that here if you’re interested.  It sounds amazing!!

Iris Fortaleza’s work is centred around 3 main areas:

1. Oitao Preto (favela or slum area)

This is a very needy community about 15 mins drive from the base. There is great poverty here – most of the community are involved in drugs (which are sold openly on the streets, even by kids). There are a lot of broken families, a lot of violence and addiction, but I really fell in love with this place! It was such an honour to go and work with the team as they ran activities for kids, worship and prayer sessions and walked around getting to know the families.

Because of the good relationships that the team have built up over many years it’s easy to forget the dangers – but we had several incidents during my time there that reminded me that these dangers are real and that’s why the work of the team is so important to bring hope and healing to these broken lives.  On my last evening we left all of my belongings in the team van, in the middle of the favela, while we went to the prayer meeting.  It’s probably the safest place actually, as all the people in the community are so protective of the team!  If anything had happened to my things, there would have been serious consequences for the person concerned!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kids activities

There are a few things that go on every week. It was hard to get time to fit everything in – but it is definitely something I’d like to do more of next time.

Clube da Leitura (Reading Club)

I missed this one (as they have a prayer meeting at the same time!) but it is basically where they help teach the kids to read. I’m intrigued how they do this, so next time I come I really want to hang out more here. It’s led by a super enthusiastic and joyful missionary called Sara Lorena.

Aula de Artes (Art Club)

The day I visited this we did something different instead, but normally they do some kind of craft activity which I think is great as there is really no opportunity for this kind of creativity in schools. So again it’s something I’d like to explore more when I come back..

Clubinho da Luz (The Club of Light)

This takes place on Saturday mornings and is a lot of fun! Loads of kids come (the team spend time beforehand going round and visiting the houses to round up everyone) and it’s a high energy 3 hours with lots of singing, dancing, prayer and worship, some bible stories and then an art activity. The team are amazing and because of this the kids focus really well. There’s also such a sense of peace and safety here – very different from their reality in the favela.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Pantanal

One of the places that the team spends time is called the Pantanal. It’s basically a big house where lots of people live- many who are addicted to drugs etc, and the team go in once a week to lead worship and pray for people. It’s a beautiful story actually as they were originally invited in by a few of the guys that live there, and now they worship in one of the bedrooms every week.

It was a really challenging place for me to experience, almost overwhelming, especially as the day we were there praying for people the police arrived outside so we heard the screeching of brakes, lots of commotion and then gunshots really close by.  I’m still not quite sure what happened. However it was such an amazing experience – getting to pray for people and asking God for prophetic words to bless and encourage them. I have never felt the presence of God so strongly as in that little downstairs room as we worshipped together and declared hope and light in the darkness. God is so close to the broken hearted and it was such an honour to be there.

thumb_20968043_10155445796995575_1959250589_o_1024

The team in the Pantanal after our time of worship

Intercession

Because of the situation in the favela, the team have at least 3 set times each week where they come together and pray in the Casa de Oracao (House of Prayer) – praying is key so it is vital to have this as a high priority. It used to be a place where drug dealing happened, so it’s amazing to see what’s happened since then! These meetings are open to the whole community so there are often children and their families coming in either just to worship or to get some prayer. As the team drive in, they always greet everyone who’s out on the streets, and invite anyone who wants to, to come and get prayer.

The second week I was there, there had been some serious incidents over the weekend so it was so good to just go and worship and also pray over some of the community who were affected. We had some really powerful times of worship, and intercession. It seems that God is so much closer here, because the situations are so desperate that without Him there is no hope. God gave me lots of insight into how to pray and also gave me the opportunity to pray over some of the team and encourage people with prophetic words.

One afternoon we also went out to pray and worship at the beach – that was so cool and many passers by joined in or asked for prayer.

2. Red Light District (Zona Vermelha)

Fortaleza is a major centre of prostitution – there is a growing tourist industry as there are some of the world’s most beautiful beaches here (most of which I haven’t yet been to!). This team go out on the streets from midnight onwards, at least 2 times a week, to chat and pray with the girls (either in the bars or out on the streets). I got to go and pray for people and give prophetic words, and we also spent some time interceding down by the beach.

While we were praying I was drawn to the graffiti on the walls and I felt God say to me that underneath the graffiti (which is everywhere and makes the city look so ugly) that there is great beauty. Once you take the layers of dirt off there is something precious and valuable underneath and I felt that is a promise for the city of Fortaleza and also for the girls out on the streets. Every time the team ministers to them, it’s like another layer of dirt and shame come off, so that eventually their true beauty and identity is revealed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3. Iris Sertao (which means countryside or interior)

This is quite a new base – called Iris Choro (the name of the nearest town). I got to visit this base last year – it’s a good 3 hour drive from Fortaleza, and is a stunningly beautiful place although has been very dry – no rain for the last 5 years until very recently). There is now a growing team there who are working with the community – running projects for the kids, for the women, helping practically with food parcels and running a small church. If you would like to know more, see my previous post here.

Devotional times

The team meet every day at 7am to pray and worship. It’s different every day because people take it in turns to lead, so it’s always really fun and interesting. Once a week the base leader, Andrew comes to join the team. This particular week there was also a pastor visiting from the US so he led the devotional time, which was great.

IMG_2951

Church services

I went to a lot of different churches in the space of a week – it was great! Papa Brian, the pastor who had come to visit, was scheduled to speak in different churches almost every night so I got to go and see him. It was so much fun. The churches were really receptive and were full of enthusiasm, fire and energy! There were some really powerful times of worship and ministry/prayer afterwards, then opportunities to go out and have late night acai and snacks!

On the Friday evening the base holds a mission service which is open to anyone who has a heart for mission.  Normally it’s at the base but they have just started trying to connect with other churches in the city, and having a different church host once a month, which is a great way of building relationships. This particular Friday it was at a church called Dunamis.  Despite having some air conditioning issues, it was a great service and lots of people came. It was fun to see the Iris team leading worship as well, and some of the missionaries were able to sell things to raise money to support them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

YWAM (Youth with a Mission)

I have some friends who work on a different mission base about 40 minutes drive from the city. We tried to meet up last summer and it didn’t work, so this time I got to spend a few days with them which was such a treat! The base is super quiet and peaceful, and has lots of space around it which was just what I needed. I also got to hang out with their Mao Amigo project which runs reforco escolar (basically helping kids with their homework and what they didn’t learn in school). This is something I’d love to do more of, so it was great to come and see what it could look like.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Media

This was something a bit unexpected for me.. I love photography and film (many people just assumed that was what I did for a job!!). As I was good friends with a few of the media team already, they asked me to do some promo videos, take lots of photos and also footage of the base’s activities so that I can make a film for them promoting their mission school. How cool!! That was super exciting.

I also found myself taking portraits of each of the team and doing various other things to document what was happening. Usually I don’t travel with all my cameras and my laptop but this year for some reason I brought everything with me so I was able to do a lot of things to help them. I’m excited to do more as well!  However I was so busy behind the camera I forgot to get many pictures of myself with my friends, ha ha.. Here are just a few..

Wow!

It was such a blessed time – so much happened in 10 days that it was hard to keep up! I had so many deep and beautiful encounters with God – often in the midst of difficult situations in the favela when we worshipped and prayed. I also felt like I grew so much in hearing God’s voice and in stepping out and taking risks to do new things – which turned out to be amazing and often very powerful!

I got the time to have fun with the team, rest, intercede, dream, share prophetic words and pray with people, walk on the beach and talk to so many inspirational people who have a passion and a heart for seeing change come in this community. I’m inspired to come back and do more – so watch this space!  And get in touch if you want to find out more about Iris Fortaleza, I’d love to chat more about it 🙂 Bless you!

IMG_3164

Leave a comment »

Back in Rio

So the Cidade Maravilhosa – it’s become even more beautiful now since the Olympics and it was exciting to go and see the new developments; the metro extension (finally!), the new tram, and the port which has been completely redeveloped complete with museums, art galleries and monuments. That was fun. It was also good to go back to a few of my favourite places like Copacabana and the Parque do Flamengo, just to walk and enjoy blue skies and sunshine.

Beaches

Other things to do

It’s becoming hard to figure out new things to do! I went with my friends to Niteroi (part of Rio but you either have to drive across a long bridge or take a boat to get there). We visited the spaceship like Museu de Arte Contemporaneo (MAC) which has great views over Rio. Apparently some people say that the best thing about Niteroi is the view of Rio.. then went to a fun outdoor market and enjoyed lots of live music. That’s what Rio does best.. Then we went to a Festa Junina (although they usually happen in June this one was in August for some reason) to dance Forro (traditional partner dance).

Praca Maua

This had been completely transformed since my last visit, thanks to the Olympics. It used to have a big ugly viaduct running through it, and was very dark, dirty and unsafe. Look at it now! It now houses an art museum, the Museu de Amanha (museum of the future), and lots of food stalls and beautiful street art.

Vida Rio Church

It was also so fun to explore some new things. I managed to visit a church called Vida Rio which is linked in with Iris Ministries – click here for their website.  A good friend of mine and his wife now live there, so I got the chance to catch up with them (they have a sweet little apartment above the church which also includes a prayer room and a great view over the mountains). The service was so good – so much of the presence of God! And really great worship – at the end of the service everyone started jumping around and praising God again – nobody wanted to leave! They also had a great worship service the night before I left for the next leg of my trip – I travelled 2 hours to get there (car, train, metro and taxi) but it was so worth it and super encouraging as I was feeling a bit sad about leaving. The pastor prayed for me at the end and it was a really powerful time.

Iris Ministries base – Jardim Gramacho

I had the opportunity to visit the Iris Ministries base in Rio again. I went there 2 years ago, and a lot has changed! They now have a more permanent team rather than a group of volunteers who come and go, and their church is located in the middle of a large rubbish dump called Jardim Gramacho. It was a great day!

Kids clubs

We spent the morning with the kids – there are 3 kids clubs which basically run back to back, where they sing songs, pray, listen to bible stories and then have lunch. They’re led by the amazing all singing all dancing Tia Rose who also cooks, tells bible stories and basically runs the whole thing. She is incredible – so full of energy and love, but also really good with the kids that find it hard to listen!

Ministering on the rubbish dump

I got to spend the afternoon with Marcus, the pastor of the church and leader of the project and another friend who is planning to move to the project with his family next year. Marcus got a phone call that someone was sick, so we jumped in the car and went to find him. Turns out he was actually ok but we got to pray with him and some others who live in the community. There is a lot of drugs and violence here, and so much need. We went to visit a house where there are a group of men living, they basically sleep on mattresses on the floor with rubbish and ants everywhere. We got to pray and give prophetic words to some of the guys which was such an honour. Standing there I was really close to tears, but was also so aware of the love of God for these people and this community, and how with God there is hope for any situation that looks desperate.

IMG_2875

Later we went to do a worship service in the middle of the rubbish dump – it is for the workers there – about 15 people came and we all sat on sacks of rubbish and Marcus led us in worship. It was so powerful. I could really feel the presence of God and it was so beautiful- a reminder that each of these people is a precious jewel even in the middle of such desperation and depravation. Another missionary, Andre, shared some of his testimony and we just worshipped. It was so good to spend time with these inspirational people and I know that I will be back there sometime soon..

Such a great time – let me know if you want to find out more about the work that is being done there, it is so inspirational! Click here to find out about their project, and click here to find out about their mission school.

Leave a comment »

Returning to Bethel, California

IMG_0973

It was such an honour to get to travel to Bethel Church again! It had been such a hectic term, and then I ended up moving house just before I left, so it was a relief to get there and just be able to sleep. I stayed at a lovely Air BnB called The Peace House. To begin with it was a bit too peaceful  (ie there was nobody else there but me!) but once guests arrived it was great to be able to get to know others and hear their stories.

And it was a 20 minute walk up to the church – lovely in the cool of the early morning, although a bit challenging in 40+ degrees if you ended up doing it any time after 8am.. Here’s a few pictures of the countryside!

I did loads while I was there: an Art Sozo which was so much fun (despite being very jetlagged!), prophetic words, went to the Healing Rooms, went to a block party (a way to bless the community with hot dogs, live music, face paints and opportunities to pray for people), spent lots of time in the prayer room, met friends, and went to lots of services of course as well as getting prayer and praying for others. It was so good!! Here are some photos of my time.

Kingdom in the Classroom Conference

IMG_2707

The conference was really amazing in so many ways. There were about 100 teachers from all over the world, including a friend I hadn’t seen for over 15 years! I got the opportunity to meet and chat to people with such different experiences and dreams! If you’re interested in finding out more, they have a page on Facebook and are currently working on a website which will be full of resources, videos, downloads, and a place to chat and share ideas. It’s all headed up by Janine Mason (whose husband Andy runs another ministry called Heaven in Business – which runs conferences all over the world).

Speakers

The conference ran for 3 days, and the speakers were really inspiring (Wendy Backlund, Kris Valloton and Danny Silk – such wisdom!!). Wendy talked about the importance of our beliefs lining up with the Bible and of the things she said I really resonated with – “What you have overcome enables you to gain a crown of authority”. So interesting in relation to working with children – our struggles can be used to help others!

Kris talked about the power of encouraging others (like Paul and Barnabas), and the importance of having discipline in place before you can learn effectively. Danny talked a lot about dreams, which I loved. It really helped me as in one of the later sessions, as Janine talked about the fact that we are called to disciple nations, and what does that look like? We need to think bigger than just our classrooms so that we can influence every part of society- and enlarge the place of our tent!

Breakout sessions and activities

We had a variety of breakout sessions in the afternoons, mostly led by those who were currently teaching. One I really liked was run by a teacher who used to work in Bethel Christian School and now works in a local state school. She shared some of the lessons she had learnt at Bethel, and how she’d been able to use the prophetic, testimonies and declarations in her classroom, just rewording the language for a different context. It’s something I want to do more of this coming year.

Dreaming

As Janine spoke it was amazing because God started filling me with hope. I had arrived at the conference feeling a bit confused and discouraged with my dreams, and finding it hard to articulate even what they were. But as I listened to her speak, it was as if God took off the limits and helped me to see how He thinks about all of this. I was so inspired and impacted- I then spent the lunch hour journaling all that He was saying to me which was so super encouraging. I also kept hearing this song called “Get your hopes up” which spoke to me so powerfully as I had started to lose hope that anything good would come of my life. I also realised that I’m called to impart hope to others as well – particularly those in education, to help them also pursue their dreams.

One afternoon we also did a coaching exercise in groups – everyone shared an issue that was challenging for them, and then we picked one person and instead of giving them advice, we asked God for good questions to ask them. It was quite hard to begin with, but was really amazing because the person was then able to make their own decisions about what to do next, based on walking through the questions we were asking.

Prayer walking

We also got to prayer walk around local schools. I went to a new bilingual school (Spanish & English) that is about to open. It was super exciting, especially as I had already met the principal at the conference last year where she had been talking a bit about her dreams – and now 12 months later the dreams had become a reality. It was also amazing to hear about her testimonies of how God worked so many miracles to bring everything together with the perfect timing.

So it was a great trip!  I felt so blessed to have the time to rest, and also to learn and be encouraged.  There’ll be a short film to follow soon!

Leave a comment »

This is Iris Fortaleza

So I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks at the Iris Ministries mission base in Fortaleza, North East Brazil this summer. I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now, partly as they run an amazing 3 month mission school there, similar to one I’ve visited in Mozambique. And also because I love Brazil and can’t keep away!  If you want to find out more – click here for the Iris Fortaleza website.  And click here for a little film of my trip.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 09.57.00

The timing of the trip was perfect! I ended up being there at the same time as a school friend of mine (Daniella), who has been praying about setting up an Iris mission base in England. Many of the missionaries there feel a call to England or Europe so it was great to meet and pray with them and be a part of the team! Having Daniella there opened lots of doors for me to do new things (more of that in a minute!) and we also got lots of time to hang out and pray together as well.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 10.01.46

So what is the base like?

The base is pretty close to the city centre, and is about 10 minutes walk from the beach as well. It is quite big and houses around 40 missionaries although there is constant transition with people coming and going- missionaries, visitors and mission teams. It has a large space upstairs too which is good when it gets busy! And a little prayer room. You can see from the pictures of breakfast that it is more or less impossible to get everyone in the kitchen at the same time!

The base has been running for 5 years, and it’s their 2nd year of running the mission school. There is a mix of Brazilians and other nationalities as well.

13731071_1404314036262207_583993802548558544_o

Here are some of the amazing Iris Fortaleza team!  The group is constantly changing 🙂

So what goes on at the base?

P1030431

Here is the weekly timetable!

The base is largely a place for missionaries to be trained up and sent out, so it feels like it is constantly in transition! Their work centres around 3 main areas:

Oitao Preto (slum area)

This is a local favela or slum where there is a lot of drug dealing and violence. The team has been working here for a while and are well established there. They have seen a lot of breakthrough in the community- drug traffickers becoming Christians and coming off drugs, and they are now meeting regularly to disciple members of the community as well as inviting them to church and helping them practically. There are regular prayer meetings in the favela, and also kids activities- ballet, guitar lessons, English classes, reading club, bible study and art classes. Many of the kids are out of school so it is really good for them to have a structured programme with activities almost every day. I visited a few of the activities and had a great time, especially with the ballet class!

 Zona Vermelha (Red Light)

 They are currently looking to start a small base there, with a house for the team to live (including a couple with a new baby – see photograph below) which will also have space for girls to stay if they need to. They are also looking for a location for a church near to the bars and clubs. It is an amazing ministry and I got the chance to go out a few times with them and pray for people, which was challenging and at times heart breaking, but also a huge privilege. I have so much respect for this team, they have such beautiful hearts and it was amazing to watch them just loving people so well. God is really at work there changing lives and it’s amazing to watch.

 Sertao or interior (countryside)

IMG_2679

This is one of Iris Brazil’s smallest bases! It is a 3 hour drive inland from Fortaleza and is based in a small town called Salgado. At the moment there is one couple currently living there, and another couple planning to marry and then move to live there. There are also some other Brazilians who are planning to move there to join the team in due course. I got the chance to go there for a few days which was a lot of fun.

It was great to get to see what happens on the base, although it is still in the very early stages. There is a small church so we got to lead a meeting there, and they also have a school room where they are planning to start something called the Samuel Project which is a discipleship programme for children. There are lots of kids here!!

The town itself is quite spread out and consists of about 50 families. To get around, people mostly walk or use donkeys. The nearest tarmac road and shops is about 40 mins drive away so people have to be really self sufficient as there are no local shops! They grown some of their own produce and keep livestock but it is very dry here and hasn’t rained properly for 5 years which is a huge challenge. It is very hot here all year round.

As you can see from the pictures, the countryside is stunning and we were able to ride on the back of the truck at night time to see the stars, and also in the early morning to see the beautiful countryside and wide open spaces. It was a bit like being on safari!

During our visit we also got to help out at a big birthday party which involved making a LOT of brigadeiro (Brazilian chocolate sweets) in a very hot kitchen, amongst other things!!

 Devotion times

As well as the projects, there is a daily devotions time every morning, which the missionaries take it in turns to lead. It’s great to start the day with prayer and worship, and every day is a bit different! We also got to pray together, and often to pray and prophesy over anyone who was leaving or having a birthday! Daniella did some great teaching on prayer and intercession one week and since then people have been getting up at 3am every day to pray and seek God. It is such a beautiful time to meet together, and is so worth the sacrifice!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is also a discipleship session once a week. I got to meet Andrew the base leader, who gave a really challenging talk about having deep roots so that we don’t burn out. Many of the team were saying how tired they were or how busy they had been this past month. We had a really powerful time of ministry afterwards. Then once a week the girls and boys get together separately to share how they are doing. It was such a privilege to be part of the group and to hear people’s stories. When you share life together you develop trust and the ability to be more vulnerable. I felt so at home straight away and found myself sharing really personal struggles and stories along with others. It was amazing to be listened to and valued, and there was such love in the room!

 Mission service

P1030317

This happens on the base each Friday evening. It is a good opportunity for the team to invite people they have met during the week, and also those who have a heart for mission. I got to share some prophetic words at the front and pray for people. It was a bit challenging to pray in Portuguese but I am gradually getting better at it!

 England base

Daniella had been carrying a vision to establish an Iris Ministries mission base in England for quite a while – both to look after missionaries returning from the field, and to equip those who are being sent out.  It was also exciting for me to see just how many Brazilians also had a heart for England or Europe. They had been getting together to pray for 2 hours every day since she’d been in Brazil so it was perfect timing for me to arrive and meet the team! They were excited about meeting me too! We would also record prophetic words for a different missionary every day.

I grew a lot during these times and began to realise that I am a key part of the team particularly in terms of part of the vision which involves creativity and telling our stories. And also being trained up in inner healing for missionaries, both those going out and those coming back. We spent time praying about finances, different roles for the team, listening to God for prophetic words, praying for Europe and also reading out declarations every day.

Speaking at church

Daniella had been getting lots of invites to preach, from different churches around the city so I got to go with her to a large and traditional Assemblies of God church where she and Fernando, another missionary, shared about the work of Iris and released joy! We prayed during the service and God really turned up and changed the atmosphere throughout the meeting, from sadness to joy! He brought a lot of freedom to people, and many came forward for prayer at the end. It was a really powerful time.

P1030326

 Family fun

Brazilians do family so well. It is beautiful to watch, and also to be on the receiving end! I instantly felt part of the family from the moment I arrived, and I was able to improve my Portuguese a lot! The team are such special people, full of fun and joy, and I have never laughed so much! They love celebrating people, and use any excuse for a party! It seemed like we were eating cake more or less every day as there were lots of birthdays! We also had family night every week which also involved more eating!

Aside from that we found any opportunity we could to slip out and have acai (Brazilian fruit drink which is really good!!). It was a lot of fun as the self service place we visited had lots of different toppings and sauces 🙂

Reflections

It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve met some inspiring, gifted and beautiful people who are making a difference wherever they go. Their radical and sacrificial love for God and people, and their courage in the midst of difficult (and often dangerous) situations is challenging and truly humbling. It’s been a huge privilege to be welcomed into the family (even though I was only here for a short time) and to see first hand how a base works (and also how it deals with challenges). I have never seen real family like this before and it challenges me to find it and also to help establish it where I am.

I arrived in Brazil with my main aim to learn, grow and be stretched, and that has certainly happened! I’ve had many opportunities to take risks, step out in the prophetic, learn and ask questions (especially when out in the red light district) which has been so exciting for me. And God has been faithful at every turn, giving me words of wisdom or insight, speaking to me and giving me words and pictures to encourage me on my own journey. I came back to the UK with a heart full of blessings, but also full of Brazilian fire!  I know my story with Brazil and the Fortaleza base is not over by any means, so I am excited to see what is next and how to apply what I have been learning and grow more. Watch this space! 🙂

IMG_2657

2 Comments »

Welcome to Bethel!

So I was lucky enough to spend 10 days this summer visiting Bethel Church – in Redding, northern California (see map below). It’s an amazing place!  Click here for a little film of my time there.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 19.28.49

 

 

I’d been wanting to come here for years, since doing a part time course at the London School of Supernatural Ministry (the course itself originated from Bethel). So I wanted to come and see where it all began! Click here if you want to find out more about the church itself.

 

 

The church building isn’t actually all that big- and they’re planning to build a bigger church on a new site so that they can accommodate everyone together. At the moment there’s an overflow room as often the main Sanctuary is completely full (it holds just over 1,000 people!). It’s a beautiful place at the top of a hill overlooking woodland and mountains in the distance. It’s also got a beautiful prayer house (more about that later!).

 My conference

So the conference was called Kingdom in the Classroom. It’s part of a ministry called Heaven in Business, which seeks to bring Kingdom values into different spheres of influence (such as government, entertainment, sport etc). It was run by Janine and Andy Mason and this is only the 3rd year that it’s run, so its still quite new. This year it was quite early in July so many teachers were still at work. I was the only teacher from England who was there!! There were about 70 of us altogether, so it was quite a small conference. I’m planning to go again next summer and would love to take a group with me! Contact me if you are interested in coming. To find out more, click here.

We had 3 days together- hearing from some great Bethel speakers (Steve & Wendy Backlund, Paul Manwaring etc), and then having breakout sessions in the afternoon run by teachers and other educational professionals. There were talks on declaring truth, rest, joy, dreaming, partnering with God and the fact that what we do in our jobs is highly significant and is such pleasing worship to Him. We just felt so loved and looked after! We had a worship team every morning who came just for us, we had opportunities to network with each other, and on the Thursday evening we had an evening of rest, worship and soaking in God’s presence, and being prayed for by a team of children from the Bethel Christian School.. which was beautiful!

One of the breakout sessions was called Planning with the Holy Spirit. That was so great- we put on music and just planned a lesson with Holy Spirit to help us. I got loads of ideas, and it is something I’m keen to keep going with this year and try out more. We also had another one about creating a classroom community – lots of practical ideas that I plan to try out this year.

So what else goes on at Bethel?

I was there for the conference, but I had some time both before and after to do lots of other things. I basically looked at the church bulletin and tried to do as much as I could that was on the list! That included:

  • 2 services on a Sunday (morning and evening)
  • Treasure Hunting (praying for people in the city)
  • A Fire Starters course (which is a 12 week introduction to the core values and culture of the church)
  • Worship services
  • Prayer ministry
  • Healing rooms (which included prayer, dancing and prophetic art- beautiful!)
  • Prophetic sessions

 Prayer House

This place is amazing. As soon as you walk in you can just feel the presence of God and it’s so easy to hear His voice! I went in there every day (sometimes more than once).. Sometimes I just rested, other times I looked out of the windows, prayed, journalled, read, danced with flags.. every day was different. Outside there are beautiful gardens, ponds and a waterfall, and there’s an avenue with flags from different nations. Such a beautiful place of peace which was so restorative, especially as I often needed to process some of the things that were happening.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Walking to Bethel

This was so special. As in most of America, people drive everywhere. But from where I was staying I was able to walk to the church. I got to walk through the woods with the rabbits every day! It was beautiful – and as I usually left around 7.45 it was still quite cool and very quiet- I rarely saw anyone else. Such a special way to start the day! Sometimes I’d walk home afterwards although if it was late I’d walk on the road and often some kind soul would give me a lift home!

 Landscape and Fireworks

As well as being at the church most of the time, I did get out to do some hiking and swimming in the lake too. That was great, especially as it was so hot (about 40 degrees most days). The landscape is beautiful!

I also happened to be in the US for Independence Day (which was slightly ironic in a way..) but it meant that I got to celebrate with Dairy Queen icecream and some pretty spectacular fireworks. Here’s also some pictures of the Sundial Bridge which was lit up for 4th July.

What did I learn during my time at Bethel?

God was really talking to me about the secret of rest, and that this is where everything flows from. I need to start with that first and then think about everything else. He was also talking to me about how this is so key for all teachers and that He is going to reveal strategy to me that is going to help others in their jobs as educators. I have such a passion for blessing and pouring into other teachers and it will be exciting to see how that works out. There’s already a few doors opening!

I met some great people – a few that I hope I can connect with as we start to go on this journey together. But more than this, God did so many other things in terms of healing my heart, revealing His goodness and His great love for me, and helping me to believe the truth about myself and to see how amazing I actually am! I’ve got plenty of other great testimonies that I can share with you if you’re interested!! I realised that yes I was at Bethel for the conference – but I was actually there for me and to learn about rest, receiving and what it means to be a daughter of God! That’s where we all need to start!

P1030308

So it was such a restorative, fun, joyful and peaceful trip! I’m so thankful that I had the chance to go, and I know I’ll be back! If you want to find out more do get in touch!

Leave a comment »

Littlemissvicki’s trip to Tanzania

Hi everyone! Thanks for your patience, sorry this has taken a while to put together partly due to some health challenges along the way!.. I wanted to share with you a bit about my trip and what I got up to. It was a very different trip from previous ones and was probably the most challenging I’d ever been on for a number of reasons. I certainly learnt a lot about patience and flexibility but looking back, I realise that trials only make you stronger!

Click here for a little film of my trip!

IMG_1984

So.. for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mwereni School in Moshi and where I was in Tanzania – you can click on this link here to find a map and some photographs of the school from my previous blog post. Here is a map of where I went.  Moshi is right up in the north near to the border with Kenya.  It’s a school I’ve visited many times to help out with teaching and take donations- and I’ve made such close friends with the people there, everyone is so friendly and kind!

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 14.12.09

The headmaster, Damas is so inspirational and said to me one day “I love challenges – they force you to be creative!” He is so positive and determined despite huge issues of lack of finance, which often result in no electricity or water (this was the case for the majority of my visit) and sometimes no food to feed the students and staff. I think this time more than any other I saw the huge challenges that my friends face here and how they battle against the odds to do the best that they can for their students – coming in on Saturdays to teach the older students to prepare them for exams and running around trying to resolve a range of different issues that just seem to keep coming!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Classroom renovation

So an update on what’s been happening this past year. Due to fundraising largely from an organisation called K2 Adventures (who offer trips to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and also help out with practical projects and fundraising) the school has been able to renovate 6 classrooms.  The new classrooms are looking great – they have proper windows, electricity (powerpoints and lights), sturdy tables and good quality blackboards. There are still a few classrooms to renovate so they are looking for some funding – if anyone is interested please let me know!

Click here for the K2 adventures website.

Staff room

As you can see from the photograph below, there has been some funding from the municipality to renovate the staff room as well, which was currently under construction during my visit. At present there isn’t enough money to complete the project so they are hoping to have some more donations to help finance it so it can be completed.

The new staffroom (under construction!)

Chickens

These arrived since my last visit. There are 90 of them, and they’re mostly for egg laying as opposed to eating! So that the students and staff can at least have some more protein in their diet – alongside the fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. This was also made possible by funding from K2 Adventures.

The chickens!

Donations

As well as that I was able to donate some school supplies (thanks to those at Southbank who donated many items!) and give the headmaster $750 for the upkeep of the school. He’s going to let me know how the money is spent in due course. I also had opportunities to bless others financially and practically which was exciting.  Thank you to those of you who contributed so generously!

School/ teaching

The school was closed for the first week of my visit (which was actually good as I got to do some proper resting!) although the second week I was there, I was able to help out a bit. Not as much as on previous visits (partly as I got sick along the way) but I did some English teaching on the 3 different perfect tenses (past, present and future) – which I was actually unaware of, so that was a good learning experience for me as well!  I was teaching Standard 7 (they’re 13-14 year olds) and there were about 80 of them as I taught both classes together (to save time!).

The students did a great job and it shows the power of visual demonstrations when you are teaching. Still something that I’m pondering for the future as to how I could do more of this. It was really satisfying to see them do so well, and they seemed to enjoy themselves! Particularly when I got hold of a class list and started calling specific students up to participate (they were very surprised by that and found it really funny!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also taught religion which I love (I don’t get to do much of that normally) and it was fun to do some drama with them, as well as plenty of singing of course! I decided to talk about the Parable of the Sower and how even though there are challenges in life we need to hold onto God’s promises in the Bible to keep us strong. We talked about ways to build discipline so that when the trials come you can stand firm. It’s kind of funny because this particular message of growing stronger through challenges became a theme throughout my trip!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are some shots of the children I met along the way.  Of course they loved posing for photos, and they are all so stunningly beautiful!  I would upload more but I’ve actually reached my limit on WordPress for now (next year when I update this blog I’ll have to start paying..).  I’ve put some more in my films that you’ll see on the bottom of this post when I have finished them..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

School visits

So this time around I got out and about which led to opportunities to visit some different schools. It’s always a big occasion having a mzungu (white girl) around and they literally stop everything and listen to what you’ve got to say. I showed some photographs of London and my students, taught them some songs, asked them about their dreams and shared with them about mine. One school was a secondary school (very small as most of the students either weren’t back from holidays or had been sent home to ask their parents to pay the school fees!), another was a primary school where I visited my friend’s wife who has a Kindergarten class.

As you’ll see from the photos of the Kindergarten classroom, it was so colourful and interactive with lots of different games, reading books and resources. I also visited my friend’s college and got asked lots of questions.. then one girl said that she loved me, and gave me an avocado…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food and friends

It’s always a time to spend with friends and catch up with what’s been happening. Living in the school itself you wander around and there’s always someone wanting to greet you (so getting about can take a while!). I’m impressed with my Kiswahili in that I can now have conversations (if people speak slowly) and it is hugely satisfying. Also you see the effect on people when they realise that you are making an effort to speak their language, and they love it!

Many of them speak some English, but I’ve now mastered most of the basic greetings (there are LOADS of them- maybe about 30 variations) and thanks to some evening classes I’ve got to grips with a lot of the basic grammar and how sentences are constructed. It’s something that I feel challenged to persevere with in the future even though it is super hard (much harder than any other language I’ve learnt!).  Soon I’ll upload some videos with basic Kiswahili phrases that I recorded with a friend, I just need to add some subtitles..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So I also spent time being invited around for dinner to various peoples’ houses, just spending time and chatting which was lovely. I also took some trips out to stay with friends – I love travelling on the (very cramped but cheap) local buses (see photos below!) and just gazing out of the window- it always feels like a big adventure!

I ended up staying with 2 pastors (who I didn’t know but invited me in as they were friends of a friend of mine). We chatted about church and shared experiences as well as watching their wedding video on repeat and some DVDs from a Nigerian pastor preaching at a megachurch in Nairobi. Random but interesting – mostly..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I enjoyed the local delicacies of chipsi mayai (chip omelette) more than several times at the local café (I love it as it’s so cheap).. And lots of motorbike rides around town, my favourite ones being under the twinkling stars in the evening with the cool breeze (although you have to be careful you wear an appropriate skirt)..

And the ubiquitous outing to the tailor – this time she made some skirts for me that were so tight I could barely breathe when I put them on before she altered them (despite having taken my measurements beforehand..)

Church & seminar

Church is another thing I love about being in Tanzania. Although of course I miss being able to sing along and understand the words, and I don’t get much from the sermons unless someone helpfully translates parts of it.. it’s great and so full of joy and faith. The Pentecostal church I visit is just great, lots of singing and dancing, prayer and energy. On my last Sunday I got to “share a word” – so just some testimonies of what God had been doing since my last visit (quite a lot as it happened) and to encourage them in their identity as children of God. I also got to sing a song 🙂 Love it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another thing that happened while I was there, was getting to go to a women’s seminar at a local Bible college. The main reason I went was that I heard that 2 American ladies would be preaching (so therefore I’d understand it!). Other than that I really didn’t have a clue what to expect. The singing was beautiful.. we sang for hours while we waited for the ladies to arrive, and it turned out to be the most amazing day! Firstly the lady who preached talked about being refined through trials – what I’d been reflecting on for the previous week, and the fact that God brings something beautiful out of it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then they asked the ladies to come forward to receive prayer, and they literally prayed and prophesied over each one individually, waiting to have the words translated, and it was so moving and beautiful to watch as they honoured and blessed these women. Many of them were in tears, and for many it may have been the first time that someone spoke some affirming words over them. It was so inspiring to see – and I was thinking – one day I’d love to do that!

At the end I was just sitting there and one of the ladies called me up and said “By any chance do you speak lots of languages?” (which I do, as many of you know..) – and then gave me some really encouraging prophetic words! I got to chat and pray with them afterwards as well, so it was a very exciting day!

So Tanzania was a fun experience as always, although full of unexpected challenges and lots of learning and growing. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Thanks for being part of the journey and do get in touch if you’d like to know more!

Films

These will be arriving shortly when I’ve finished editing and uploading.  Watch this space..

james

My cameraman!

This is James who was my cameraman for much of my trip – he was great and at one point he was taking film, photographs and translating simultaneously!  I was very lucky to have him and he helped me to document my trip, which would have been quite difficult otherwise!  He definitely had an eye for good shots so I was able to bless him with some money to buy a memory card so he could take his own photos on his phone.

Leave a comment »

littlemissvicki goes back to Brasil

So on to the other part of my trip.. Brasil! For some reason I just love this place. It’s my 5th trip to Brasil and I always keep coming back- I can’t help it. Every time I love it more, and also my Portuguese gets better, helped by the fact that I’m usually with friends that don’t speak English. This trip was no exception. I went without much of a plan to be honest and had such a lot of fun catching up with friends and making new ones! It was a relief in some ways as my trip to Africa had quite a few challenges, and I felt like this trip was going to be full of joy, fun and restoration- which it was!

Click here for a little film of my trip!

IMG_2387

Rio

Stayed with 2 dear friends of mine, who both love live music (as do I) so there were plenty of opportunities to go out and about.  We saw 4 different bands in the space of a week as there is so much going on here (see pictures below- lots of fun!).   My friends are both really chatty and speak Portuguese SO quickly.. but I guess that was good because I improved really quickly.. We’d often chat for hours in the evening about our cultures, listen to music and laugh at my various adventures of the day.   Lots of opportunities to sample different foods as well – the food here is SO good!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My main objective for being in Rio was to rest. Having seen the city so many times already it was great as there was no pressure to see the sights. My friends gave me some tips, and I happily wandered around the streets and the beach with my ipod and journal, eating icecream, drinking coffee and thinking lots…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had a few opportunities to negotiate the buses to far flung locations out of Rio – thankfully I can communicate well enough to figure out how to get there and ask for directions etc. The great thing about Brazil is that anyone can pass for a Brazilian (as long as you don’t have a big camera round your neck and a map in your hand) so I can pretty much go undetected.  Even when I open my mouth people often just assume I’m a local! Which I absolutely love! I often get asked for directions as well 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jardim de Gramacho

During my week in Rio I had the opportunity to visit one of Iris Ministries’ projects in Rio which is based on a huge rubbish dump to the north of the city. At one point it was the size of 15 football stadiums and more than 30 metres high, and received about 650 lorries every day carrying 8,000 tonnes of rubbish! About 4,000 people worked there, searching for food remains and also materials to sell for recycling. People then started to construct shacks around the rubbish dump itself and the community grew to its present size.   Although the rubbish dump officially stopped working in 2012, lorries still keep arriving with rubbish which keeps the residents employed.

IMG_2287

Here is a video of what it is like on the rubbish dump.  They also interview some of the residents (in portuguese) but it gives you an idea of what it is like for those who live there:  Click here to watch.

If you scroll down on the same page you will also see some photographs, as I wasn’t able to take many when I was there (to protect the privacy of the community).

IMG_2283

It was a huge privilege to go and see the work that they are doing there – there was such a sense of the presence of God, and I was so impacted by the way that the missionaries just love people, visit their houses and build relationships, and how their primary focus is to share Jesus with people and go from there. There are so many needs in the community but I was so impressed by the way that the team were listening to God rather than just rushing in to meet basic needs.

There are many NGO’s working there, all doing various different things so it’s good that Iris is offering something different. Which is to have services almost every day in the church for different groups: children, women, teenagers, adults etc. They are seeing such transformation as they simply love people with no agenda.

IMG_2284

I had the chance to chat and pray with the missionaries, and it’s certainly inspired me again to maintain contact with Iris and to visit their main base in the north of the country (Fortaleza), sometime soon.

Sao Jose dos Campos

This was a fun trip. It didn’t start too well as I ended up arriving super late (by nearly 2 hours!) and had to quickly make friends on the bus with someone who could lend me his phone so I could call my friend and let him know! Luckily he was very chilled about the whole thing, so we ended up having dinner at about midnight!

Had fun going to church, meeting missionaries and also getting a tour of some offices where they produce Sunday School and bible study materials which are sent out to churches all over Brazil. It started with 2 employees and they now have over 50 people working designing and producing the materials, which include study books, puppets, games, cds and other resources.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I then spent a bit of time out in the countryside with some other friends who had a beautiful house and huge garden- this was such a good opportunity to be looked after and do nothing but eat, sunbathe and sleep! Wow. Haven’t done that in a long time and it made me realise just how much I needed to stop!

IMG_2452

IMG_2445

Sao Paulo

This was a bit of a nice surprise! I’ve always avoided this city to be honest, every time I’ve been to Brazil.. Partly due to the fact that I don’t know many people here and the city itself is not really set up for tourists – no maps anywhere, bus stops with no information about what bus goes where, very hidden tourist information office.. etc etc.

But I was so glad that I finally made it back there and I started to get my head around the city, helped by a friend who did a degree in tourism who was very enthusiastic about his city! Unfortunately there wasn’t really enough time to see many of the sights (the one day I did decide to go into town, the museums were all closed..) so we have made a plan to organise something again soon and visit some more of his favourite sights- and restaurants!

IMG_2518

The winter in Brazil has turned out to be really hot this year (nearly 30 degrees every day!!) so I definitely got lucky on this trip! It’s usually about 10 degrees at this time of year! Definitely better than the British summer..

Iris Ministries base

We visited the Iris Ministries project here in a local favela, and got to see some different activities that they do on a Saturday, including kids clubs and a baptism class. It’s quite a dangerous area – as you could see from the armed police that were out on the street, even during the day. It was really good to chat to the pastor and learn more about the work that they do which also includes 2 services on a Sunday for the local community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Out and about

I also spent time getting to know people, eating hamburgers at 1am after a night out (which is actually pretty normal as it turns out), as well as various family events with lots of children, food and general craziness! It got a bit tiring after a while as my brain reached its capacity for speaking Portuguese with everyone talking at once!

 IMG_2513

Church

I visited a church called IMOSP which actually started as a Korean church (and still has some services in Korean). Now most of the services are in portuguese but many of the congregation are of Korean origin – very common in SP.  It was so much like my own church and I felt really at home- great music and really lively. We got to hear from some Egyptian missionaries who are working with the persecuted church, and they shared some amazing testimonies of what God is doing in the 10:40 window. So humbling to see this courageous pastor who is working in such dangerous conditions but who has such joy and such a love for Jesus. Wow. It was also a real privilege to pray for them and share some prophetic words at the end of the service.

IMG_2506

Lumiar (http://lumiar.org.br)

I got to visit this school, which is just off the main Paulista avenue. So fascinating, and it has many similarities with my own school so it was great to learn and to exchange ideas. Basically the students are in multi-age classes with an age span of 3 years, and a lot of what they do is based around transdisciplinary projects, much like where I teach!  The school also allows them to explore their own personal interests as specialists come in to lead different projects for them, and there is lots of reflection and self assessment. It’s certainly a place I’d love to go back to, to spend a day exploring how the programme works in practice and I am sure there are some ways that we can work together.. let’s see..

IMG_2519Soon I’ll post a little film here when I’ve finished editing it.. It’s nearly done!

So, a really fun trip with lots of relaxing.   Quite unusual for me, but something I realised I need to do more often!   Lots of joy and happy memories, old friends and new.. And I feel sure I’ll be back there sometime soon as there is so much more to see and do – I’m already making plans (of course!) 🙂

Leave a comment »

littlemissvicki in Maputo, Mozambique

 

P1030003

So a 2 ½ hour flight from Pemba to Maputo and you arrive at one of Iris Ministries’ other bases, in an area of the city called Zimpeto (http://www.irisminzimpeto.org). This was where Heidi and Rolland started out when they first came to Mozambique in 1998, before the main base was established in Pemba up in the north of the country. It has been really interesting to see another of their bases and it has quite a different feel (in a good way!), although I have struggled with the lack of beach and open space at times!!

It’s also been fun to meet people – they have an inner healing school running at the moment so there were about 40 students from all over the world including 2 ladies from Reunion who didn’t speak much English so I got to practise my French as well! And my room mate turned out to be someone I’d already met once in London – crazy!

So what is the base like?

The base is a lot smaller than the Pemba base, and it’s enclosed rather than open to the public so it feels a lot quieter and more peaceful. It’s very clean and organised – and first thing in the morning you’ll see people carefully sweeping the sand pathways (although the beautiful patterns don’t last very long!). As you’ll see from the pictures there are quite a few different places on the base- it looks after children ranging from babies to teenagers and young adults so there’s lots of different dormitories, and there are also lots of different ministries running on the base (http://www.irisminzimpeto.org/whatwedo/whatwedo.html) This time as I was only there for a week, and also quite busy in school, I didn’t really get to hang out much in the dorms. I wanted to visit the girls’ dorm which is actually right next to the visitor compound (and is painted completely pink!). Next time..

There’s a big primary and secondary school – the Iris children go to school in the morning, and then it’s used by a different school in the afternoon. There are also playing fields there, and a big adventure playground in the middle of the base. They have a farm (although I didn’t get to see it in the end), and a church that also doubles up as a dining room and a general meeting space. My favourite part of all was the 2 storey prayer hut – you can go there any hour of day or night (although if you’re there after 10pm you might meet the guard dogs on your way back!)- and it provided a real sanctuary and place to reflect, pray and sleep (they have mattresses there) especially as there’s not much quiet space in the visitor compound. They also have prayer meetings there twice a week with the kids which are lovely. All the Iris children come, they pray and worship and wave flags, it’s beautiful.

P1030002

What happens on the base?

So I was there for a week as a visitor and got to take part in some of the activities, although mostly I was working in school (more about that later). I got to visit one of the garbage dumps where they go every week to lead a service. I really enjoyed it – there was a small group of us but we got to share testimonies, sing together, and one of the Mozambicans preached a short sermon. It was such a privilege to stand with these people and pray for them as well. There’s also another trip to a larger garbage dump where they lead services every week. You can also go and visit the prison, police station and go out on the streets although I didn’t have the time to do much of that this time. You can go on short outreaches to the bush and also to visit local churches on Sundays. And of course hang out with the kids in the dorms or in the baby house. Other things also come up as well, so there is plenty going on. They really take care of visitors well, you also get to go to a local supermarket (although actually the food on the base is quite good!), and at the weekend we went to the city centre to a local craft market and for lunch by the beach. I also got to stay in town by myself and meet a friend who works in Maputo. I had to wait about an hour for her on my own, luckily she turned up eventually otherwise I would have had absolutely no way to get home!!

 

P1020933

What have I been doing?

Well, it was a bit of a whistle stop tour as I arrived on Monday evening, and left the following Monday morning, but it was good to get a feel for the base with a view to coming back for a longer time at some point. I really love Iris’s vision and the work they do, so if I were to work in a school for longer then I’d definitely want to do it on one of their bases.

The base director, Steve, was really great and introduced me straight away to the “director pedagogico” at the school – who is the deputy principal and is pretty much in charge of all things educational whereas the school director is more involved in the administrative side of running the school. The deputy was really kind and organised for me to work one day with the English teacher, and one day with the Portuguese teacher, and then on the Friday to lead a seminar and Q&A for the teachers. He also seemed really keen to learn and share experiences, so it was good to get such a positive response right from the start. The school is really well organised, neat and tidy, and is pretty much what I’m used to having now worked in 3 other schools in Africa.

English lessons

It was fun to work with Lucilia who teaches English from Grade 1-6. She was doing parts of the body, so I made a simple poster with flashcards and did some activities to give her some ideas of how she could make the topic more visual and help the students remember the vocabulary more easily. Afterwards we had a good chat about some of the difficulties that she has with her students (like keeping them quiet, maintaining concentration especially with the little ones, and at the end of the day, teaching without any resources or textbooks to work from..). I made some suggestions like having a set of rules and expectations up in the classroom, having a 5 minute break at the start of a lesson to do some stretching, playing simple games at the end of the lesson as a reward if they have worked well…

Portuguese lessons

The second day I worked with Moises, who actually used to be one of the dorm parents on the base, and now teaches Portuguese. He’s very jolly and full of energy, and has a good rapport with his students. His lessons were really interesting, and I learnt lots too! I did a few simple activities once he had taught the grammar points, and I think he really appreciated having someone in his classroom and was open to new ideas and suggestions.

Teaching seminar

After that I spent some time thinking about what I’d noticed that teachers already do well (although of course it’s hard to generalise having only seen 2 teachers!), and some suggestions, which I then presented on the Friday when we had the seminar. It was quite nerve racking as of course I had to do it all in Portuguese.. and it was very hard to gauge their reactions and what they were thinking, as to whether or not they found it useful. Hmm. But there were a few good questions about why you should have expectations, how you deal with the behaviour of younger children, how different activities can work for particular topics/ages.. They were quite quiet and there weren’t many questions in the end, so I’ve left them a little feedback questionnaire to fill in, so hopefully I can get an idea of what they thought and whether or not they would be interested in more support in the future. I shared a few very simple ideas for activities and games, although of course I can’t follow anything up at this stage.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m excited about the possibility of doing something more in the future, and it is something that the base director is really keen to explore (he’s a former headteacher himself). We had a good chat before I left so let’s see what opens up.. I also got a very positive response from Aurelio, the school director on the other base in Pemba where I worked last year.

What else have I been doing?

Well, church of course! They have church twice a week and it’s great. Lots of dance routines and lively worship, opportunities to share testimonies.. On the Thursday we had a big fire tunnel where people line up in pairs facing each other and pray for you as you walk through – that was a lot of fun! On Sunday morning the visitors who were leaving got to go up the front and the little girls presented us each with a capulana (length of African fabric) then laid hands on us and prayed for us. That was really moving and so beautiful. It’s lovely to see how the children are taught to pray from a really early age- and how they worship God with such joy and passion.

I also went to the beauty salon on the base! Some of the girls have been trained up to paint nails so I ended up having a manicure and pedicure which was a lot of fun. There is also a shop on the base where they sell items that the children on the base have made (jewellery, bags, quilted pictures etc).

P1030082

And I’ve spent lots of time in the prayer room- sometimes just lying down on a mattress, writing, drawing, praying with some of the others.. it’s especially peaceful in the evenings when there aren’t so many people around.

So what’s next for littlemissvicki?

The ultimate question.. It’s been an incredible journey over the last 5 weeks, and one of the most amazing, beautiful, challenging, surprising and exciting trips ever, where I’ve had lots of time to relax, pray, reflect, dream and listen to God and hear His heart. I’ve learnt so much from different visiting speakers, and have had the opportunity to get prayer and be blessed by prophetic words. I’ve also been really encouraged to keep dreaming and pursuing the things that God has put in my heart, some of which I’ve carried for many years, and to start to take steps to follow the things that I love, even though it’s scary and risky!

P1030081

Since having my year away I’ve realised the value of committing to a project for a longer time rather than just jumping from place to place, especially if you are wanting to do something like train teachers.. so this last week in particular has given me time to explore the possibilities in Maputo. This base has also got great organised programmes of all sorts happening with the kids so there are lots of options.

I’d love to continue to be a classroom teacher, but also establish more links in the community for children to go out and volunteer, and do some teacher training in local schools, to bring different groups of people, cultures and worlds together.  Not sure where that is, or what that looks like just yet..  And I’ve had some opportunities to share my stories at school too which has been a lot of fun!

Sharing stories at school

Thank you for being part of my journey so far! I pray that these posts have inspired you with what is happening in Africa .. Part of my vision is to share what I have and to hopefully bless others along the way. I’d love to hear your feedback and to hear about your dreams, so feel free to email me (vicki.hird@gmail.com).. And I’d love you to pray for wisdom as I settle back into life in London again at least for the time being, and as I seek God for the future!

Here are some links to films I’ve made of my most recent trip if you’d like to watch any of them.  They are quite low tech but should give you a flavour of what I was doing and what my work looks like! Thanks for your support!

Short film for school assembly: Click here

Longer film:  Click here

Vision film:  Click here

Watch this space.. this is just the beginning! The best is yet to come! 🙂

Blessings,

Vickixx

IMG_3103

 

Leave a comment »

littlemissvicki back in Pemba, Mozambique

P1020925

So this is the first of my 2 posts from Mozambique. I went to Pemba, in the north where an organisation called Iris Ministries have their main base. I’d visited their base last summer and had such an amazing time, and it is also an incredibly beautiful place as you’ll see from the photos.  Read on to find out more!

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 15.15.44

Iris Ministries – an introduction

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 15.17.19

Iris Ministries, (http://www.irisglobal.org) are a Christian mission organization, started in 1995 by Heidi and Rolland Baker. They are an inspirational couple who are passionately committed to seeing restoration of Mozambique after 30 years of civil war, famine, natural disaster and desperate poverty.  They started out in the capital, Maputo, working with the huge number of orphans left after the war and now have bases all over the country with schools, health centres, apprenticeship programmes, bible schools, thousands of churches and much more as they continue to reach out into the bush areas with practical help and to share the love of God.  They have had, and continue to have many challenges and a lot of opposition, but they are now seeing real breakthrough and favour, as well as incredible miracles and healings.  Now there are Iris bases in 15 different countries, so do get in touch if you are interested in visiting and want to know more!

The base

So here are a few pictures of the base. It is so beautiful, as you’ll see. There are prayer huts where you can sit and look out over the sea. (I spent a lot of time here, especially to see the sunrise). So the base is pretty huge – there is a classroom for the mission school, a primary and secondary school, a hospital, vocational school (which includes English classes), church, accommodation for visitors and students, a big playground and probably other things that I’ve forgotten! The base is also interesting because it is open at the top and bottom, so people from the village come and go all the time and it’s always busy day and night. The base also owns 2 horses so you often see the older boys galloping the horses up and down the road through the middle of the base. At the bottom of the base you cross the road and you’re at the beach!   And then once you’re at the beach there are different restaurants and hotels, some of them with pools so there are some nice places to go out (if a bit expensive).

As a visitor you’re able to go and visit some of the different ministries, which has been really interesting. I’ve been to the hospital to pray for the babies in the baby ward – that was really sad but also great to bring the presence of God, peace and encouragement. I’ve also been to the jail where both men and women are waiting to be sentenced – that was a really beautiful and special time where we prayed for them, shared the Gospel and our testimonies and encouragements. One lady became a Christian, and one lady was healed of stomach problems!

Bush outreach

One other thing you get to do as a visitor is to go on one of the weekly bush outreaches which are really fun. You spend 2 or 3 days out in the bush and it’s a crazy experience! We went to a village about 2 hours away involving very bumpy lorry rides down dirt roads (I had the bruises to prove it!) and it was so much fun. I didn’t know any of the others on the team but everyone was really friendly and welcomed me which was such a blessing.

We camped out (no showers or toilets apart from a hole in the ground!) and once we’d pitched our tents we went and showed the Jesus film in the local Makua language, then shared testimonies and a short Gospel message before praying for healing. It was a bit hectic as it was almost completely dark and so many people came forward for prayer. I prayed for one lady who had problems with her knees and I think (through asking the translator) that she felt less pain afterwards. Then we ended up making a prayer line and getting everyone through that way which was a bit easier. I was the last one and it was lovely to be able to pray for everyone, especially the children who often just stood at the end of the line for a while receiving and looking really peaceful. After that they turned up the music and we had a dance party to finish off the evening.

The following day we were planning to take some of the villagers to be baptised, but ended up joining one of the other outreach groups together with Heidi and some of the visiting speakers, and going to a big festival with lots of local Mozambican dignitaries. We were given special fabrics to wear and then went up on stage and sang a song before being presented to the officials.   It was pretty amazing! Then after that we went to the ocean and got to baptise about 30 of the villagers in the sea. Such a beautiful time, we got to pray for each of them afterwards. And such a stunning setting as well, afterwards we sang and did dramas on the beach before heading back to the village. Such a great day! The evening was spent showing the film and praying for people again- it was much more peaceful this time and it was such a privilege to get to pray.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following day was exciting too. We got to pray for a former witch doctor who had become a Christian, but was still practising as a witch doctor. She wanted to come and burn all of her witchcraft items so we prayed over her, then made a big bonfire to burn everything. It was a really powerful moment and the whole village was there too. It must have taken so much courage for her to make such a bold statement in front of everyone, and there was a real sense of peace afterwards.   Then we sat in the truck for a while before bouncing back down the roads towards the base. It was a great experience – but I was so exhausted by the time we got back (plus covered in dust from head to foot- so it was good to go and wash in the ocean!).

Church and Harvest school

One of the most amazing things for me about being here on the base is that I can get to go to some of the classes at the Harvest mission school. They have speakers from all over the world, plus amazing worship and opportunities for prayer. I’ve been so blessed over the last couple of weeks as well as being challenged and learning a lot. It’s such a great way to start the day – with worship and teaching, before resting and hanging out with people in the afternoon. And it is a place where there is such family and community. You can literally go up to someone and ask them to pray for you – and I’ve received some beautiful prophetic words- as well as being able to practise giving them myself and praying over others.

Church has also been great. They have a meeting on Sundays and also on Wednesday nights which is really lively – lots of dancing, and everyone comes – kids, mamas, Mozambican pastors at the bible school, overseas students.. so the place is packed. On my last Sunday I got to go up to the front with all the other visitors who were leaving, and was prayed over by the pastors and the children. It was truly beautiful- and Heidi prayed over me which was sooo incredible – she gave me the biggest hug and I just felt filled up with love inside!

 

Friends

One of the other fun things here is meeting such amazing and lovely people from all over the world. Sometimes it can be challenging especially when you’re travelling alone, and there is a constant flow of people coming and going, but I had the chance to get to know some really inspiring and beautiful people, and hear their stories and their hearts, and pray together. I know that we are going to keep in touch and encourage each other on our journeys.

Sunrises, sunsets and things of beauty

It’s actually been a really restful 2 weeks. I’ve ended up doing very little which is so unusual for me but has been a real treat. I thought I might help out at the school (although I actually felt like it wasn’t the right thing to do) but it turns out they had exams so there was nothing for me to do, and so I’ve enjoyed spending afternoons going to seminars, reading, praying or resting in the prayer huts. It’s been a great experience for me – just what I needed. Especially because my time in Maputo is going to be quite busy.

Oh and here are a few pictures of the morning sunrises. They are truly beautiful – so it’s worth getting up at about 5am to see the sun rise over the ocean. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll want to do it every day! On my last day I went for a walk along the beach with a friend at about 5.30 am as the sun came up – it was stunning!

So Pemba was a really special experience. I feel so privileged that I got the chance to go back- completely miraculously as it’s very hard to get visas at the moment. So the very fact that I was there was a clear sign that God had plans for me and I felt so blessed and fortunate. I spent a lot of time just sleeping, sitting in the prayer hut and praying, writing, looking out over the sea, drawing and dreaming, and it was wonderful. Just what I needed!

Next stop- Maputo..

P1020913

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: