December 04, 2004
Temporarily Closed - But Visitors are Welcome
This season of mission teams traveling back and forth from Brazil is over, but we continue to have visitors come to The Rio Journal. I am not even sure who those visitors are, but the fact that people are still reading the stories from earlier this year convinces me that there is enormous potential for journalling (blogging) by members of mission teams.
I have turned off the ability to comment on all posts due to large volumes of unwanted spam from sources that are abusive in ways that defy description. The comment feature will return will the next season of The Rio Journal... or whatever flavor of blogging that we determine to be most effective for mission teams.
If you wish to find me... I continue to blog about generational gaps in technology on a site called Chasing the Dragon's Tale. If you need to contact me, there is an email link in the upper right-hand column. (If you are wondering about the weird name of my blog, there is an explanation here)...and please excuse this bit of shameless promotion :)
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:21 AM
November 16, 2004
Mission Leaders Meet at TBC Building
Kim and David discuss plans for new and expanded missions projects in East Tennessee during the morning training session today. Ray and Sharon Fairchild spoke of this year's successes with several medical, construction, and evangelism teams.
This entry was used as a demonstration of how a blog (web log) can be used to quickly post images and stories from any computer with an Internet connection, anywhere in the world.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 09:35 AM
WWPhd - What Would Paul have done?
Today at the Tennessee Baptist Convention building in Brentwood, I will be telling church missions leaders about the Rio Journal. Although the Internet is no stranger to this group, many are not familiar with the technology that enabled team members to communicate directly from Rio during the mission trip.
We will be looking at opportunities to train mission team members to write, edit, upload pictures, etc. on a web site much like The Rio Journal. My vision for this technology is to have a TBC Missions' Team site where any team member with the right resources can publish stories and testimonials, not just for their own families, friends, and church members...but for the entire world to see what is going on in the hearts of Tennessee Baptist volunteers regardless of where God leads them to serve on the mission field.
If the apostle Paul had the tools and technology available that we have today... What would Paul have done? What do you think we should do?
August 05, 2004
Pharmacy - Redefined
I have been watching the numbers come in from Rio das Pedras over the last few days and I am amazed, gratified, humbled, and honored to have even been around the medical team. They are all doing what I would consider heroic work... you just have to see the conditions where this team is working to understand that.
I visited the makeshift pharmacy that has been dispensing many hundreds of prescriptions each day and want you to know what that really means. First of all, imagine a cement plastered room about the size of a walk-in closet, one door direct to the outside, a small window facing a swamp, and a single light bulb in the ceiling. Next add temporary shelves all along the walls of three sides and jam them full of medications of all shapes and descriptions. Mix in three people to the space, one missionary journeyman named Jennifer (a Samford pharmacy graduate) and two assistants, who must hit the floor running each morning and remain engaged with patients long after the last doctor has made a diagnosis. The smell from the poluted water of the wetland, you just get used to after awhile. At the door is a constant crowd of moms with babies in arms, the elderly, the sick, and children...lots of children; all waiting to have their prescriptions filled...and filled with compasionate care. It is a picture that has to tug at your heart.
By all means, please pray for the entire medical team. Medical care is not only improving the lives of many, but saving many from pain, suffering, and shortened lives. Today, pray particularly for Jennifer and the people who work in that little space called a pharmacy. At the pace they have been running, fatigue has to be overcome in order to remain effective. They may be hidden behind the scenes, but the work they do completely redefines pharmacy for me... I may hug my pharmacist the next time I see him. I hope that he asks me 'why?'.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 05:09 PM
August 03, 2004
Medical Mission Video Clips
|Flash Viewer 6 Required|
for player below:
|Word spreads fast around the favela when there is medical attention available...and the lines are long, even before the medical team arrives each day. This short video clip is just a glimpse into the faces of the people serving and the people being served in Rio das Pedras. Both groups of people will be changed as a result of the activity around the temporary clinic and pharmacy. The song playing in the background speaks of no longer being what we were before...and not all that we will be. All will be changed by His glory.
Allow me to insert my personal thanks to the construction and medical teams from Brentwood Baptist Church. These may be regular folks in the eyes of some, but for me, I had the pleasure of watching them through the lense of a camera and have come to know and love these folks. They work hard. They are focused on their mission.
|These teams performed far-from-ordinary feats in less than ideal circumstances and touched many hearts in this small Brazilian community. Thank you for letting me be a part of this trip!
safe at home,
Warning, this video clip includes a life changing challenge from Raja...
July 31, 2004
Medical Team Arrives - Construction Team Headed Home
The thirty member medical team from Brentwood Baptist Church arrived safely in Rio de Janerio around noon today. It is not official yet, but this group may have set a record for the largest luggage collection that the Miramar Hotel staff has ever encountered from a group of this size. Medical team must bring in everything that they need: medications, supplies, diagnostic materials, etc. Immediately after checking in, the group met for a buffet lunch at the hotel and soon after began preparing for the week ahead. In spite of the long plane trip to Brazil, all team members gathered in a conference room to begin processing the hundreds of medications that would be used in the days to come. Sharon Fairchild, IMB missionary in Rio, lead the local and cultural orientation session this afternoon and encouraged each team member to make a connection with someone back in Tennessee to pray for them.
The construction team departed Rio this afternoon and will arrive back in Tennessee tomorrow morning...if these tired-eyed people make it to church, give them an extra hug from their friends and family in Brazil. The Brentwood construction crew may not know it yet, but the Medical team will participate in the very first Sunday morning worship service to be held in the church building that the construction team finished on Friday. Please pray for Vladimir, the new pastor in this church at Rio das Pedras. Pray for the church and their follow up from the evangelistic team who walked the streets of Rio das Pedras last week. Pray for the medical team. They will likely see over two hundred patients each day at the church and the community center... and if history repeats itself, they will leave knowing that there are many more left behind needing the same kind of physical and spiritual help they provided during this week.
...and Raja is NOT driving the bus.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 12:26 PM
Construction Crew Mission Accomplished!
There are many times when words fail to describe the true emotions of an experience. Friday evening's dedication service for the new church building in Rio das Pedras was one of those events. The day was filled with a flurry of activity: setting windows, cleaning brick, painting, installing electrical fixtures, and cleaning up the building inside and out. Just prior to the opening of the doors to the community, the Brentwood Baptist team and the Brazilian construction crew gathered around a huge cake for a brief time of fellowship and celebration. When the doors to the building opened, people from all over the neighborhood streamed in, filling the space to capacity.
Several of the Brentwood team gave their personal testimonies to the crowd. All expressed their warm feelings for the people of Brazil and
the memories of working hand in hand with Christian brothers and sisters in Rio das Pedras. One of the crew reflected on his feelings from the prior days
of laying brick to build a church...and then told the group that he realized that he was mistaken about what he was building. "Bricks and mortar provide
only a space for people to gather. It is the people who gather in that space who are the church."
For the Brentwood Baptist construction team, this project has come to a close. The work at Rio das Pedras,however, is just beginnning.
July 29, 2004
Construction Nears Completion
|Flash Viewer 6 Required|
for player below:
The people of Rio das Pedras are rapidly approaching the day when they will have a new church building. The construction team from Brentwood Baptist Church has worked hard over the last four days, conquered a new masonry construction method, and is within 24 hours of the dedication service for the building.
The video clips from today show the wonderful spirit of the team. Background music was recorded live in the new building at the begining of today's morning devotional.
There will be a celebration in Rio das Pedras tomorrow evening...the town, the new congregation, and a spirited construction team are looking forward to that time together.
July 22, 2004
Betty Wiseman Tells Maria's Story
|Flash Viewer 6 Required|
for player below:
|Belmont University's sports evangelism team had an awesome experience with the people in Rio de Janeiro. Each team member returned with stories of their experiences and memories of the faces of the urban poor. Betty Wiseman tells the story of sports evangelism and her encounter with a young Brazilian mother named Maria. Watch the video and learn about sports evangelism and Betty's new sister, Maria.|
The video is approximately 10 minutes long and roughly 8MB in file size...viewing is recommended on high speed Internet connections only. A free Flash Player is available via the Get Flash link at the top of The Rio Journal home page. Windows Media Player and QuickTime versions are available via the links beneath the Flash Player window.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 01:39 PM
July 09, 2004
Rio Journal Upgrade in Progress
The Rio Journal is currently undergoing an upgrade in software and hardware. Some pictures may not be available during this transition, however, we expect everything to return to normal on Monday.
Thank you for your patience!
Friday afternoon UPDATE: Images on The Rio Journal have been restored.
Posted by admin at 02:29 PM
June 27, 2004
Comment Spam and My Apology
Last night the Rio Jounal was attacked by what are known as comment spammers. These individuals, using automated tasks on their computers, take advantage of the comment feature on pages such as this and use them to post off-topic, often pornographic links. Because of that attack, I have temporarily shut off the comment feature for this site. With an upgrade in the software (as soon as next week) we should be more secure and will be able to turn the comment feature back on.
My apologies to anyone who received notifications that included links from this site that were offensive.
Posted by admin at 06:14 AM
June 06, 2004
A Message for Rio Journal Friends at Brentwood Baptist Church
|Eric Reese, IMB Missionary ,and Amy Elrod, Missionary Journeyman, sent back a video message for the two teams from Brentwood Baptist Church who will travel to Rio de Janeiro at the end of July.
If the box on the left does not display a black screen with a Rio Das Pedras title, look on this page for the button labeled Flash Player 7 and install Flash Player 7 (it's free)...OR try the
Update: The 10+ hours of video tape that I acquired during the trip has been logged and much of it has been captured for editing. There are at least three video projects in some stage of production as of today. The 3 to 4 minute versions will be posted here. The VHS and DVD versions should be complete by the end of this month... I will post details here on how you may obtain a copy should you be interested.
One more thing: If you do not want to receive email notices of any further posts to the Rio Jounal, please let me know so that I can remove your name from the list.
Thank you for your patience, Paul:)
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 12:30 PM
May 27, 2004
We Are Back!
The entire team made it through the night of air travel and arrived safely in Nashville around 9:30AM this morning. Just about everyone managed to ge a few hours of sleep during the 9 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Houston...but I wouldn't go as far to say that every one feels rested.
We had a terrific reunion last night at the Rio airport with Ray and Sharon Fairchild. The had just returned from the states and wanted to see the team off. Sharon's mom is showing signs of improvement. Sharon said that she had been out of bed and had managed to do some walking with the aid of a walker. Sharon and Ray also expressed their appreciation for the prayers that were said on behalf of their family.
There will be a few follow up posts coming to the Rio Journal, but for now, the trip is over. The work in Rio is far from over and hopefully there will be other groups and other chapters to add in the future. Thanks go to all of you who read, posted comments, and sent us email through the trip...it meant so much to all of us!
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 11:39 AM
May 25, 2004
Rio Das Pedras - Day Two
Today was a day to play with kids. It was also a day for the local church to gather information on new Christians to get them involved in a local congregation and area Bible studies. There was a soccer game played between the sports evangelism team and the local soccer club team. Both teams seem to enjoy the play in spite of the heat on the field.. In a show of good sportsmanship, the soccer team agreed to a brief scrimage that involved men and women players from Belmont's teams. The two days here were challenging, enlightening, and productive in terms of ministry. Eric and Ramona Reese, the International Mission Board missionaries for the area, felt that this was a huge success for the local congregation and challenged the team to continue the witness that they demonstated here no matter where they go. Eric believes that the impact of the team on the community will be felt for seveal months to follow. Lots of hugs and tears ended the day. This is the last day of work for the trip and in celebration, we stopped at the beach on the way back to the hotel to enjoy the cool south Atlantic surf.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:33 PM
Rio Das Pedras - Day One
Eric, a Southern Baptist missionary (pictured in the yellow shirt), who lives in Rio Das Pedras classifies the 90,000 people in this area into three categories: the working poor who live in small terra cotta block homes, the poor who live in the wooden shacks that surround the working poor, and the desparately poor who live on the street or in flimsy temporary structures on the perimeter of town. Utilities are a mix of home remedy connections that sometimes include coat hangars as part of electrical tie-ins. Municipal water is scarce and unevenly distributed within the community. The street is a combination of muddy path, open sewer, and marginally covered sewage trench. Many of the 'streets' in the favela (slum) are not much wider than an American's outstretched arms.
Images on television do not adequately describe the living conditions, the smell, the near claustrophobic closeness of the spaces in Rio Das Pedras. According to Eric, the good news is that the drug cartels have been kept at bay and that the crime rate is very low in the area. For those who live here, there is no distinction in class, color, ethinic origin, or social status...they are all in the same boat and are doing their best. From what we witnessed, even the crudest of homes were clean and neat on the inside. The children are clothed and clean as possible.
If I were to tell you how many children showed up in the town square for this, our first, day in Rio Das Pedras, you would not believe me. The children were responsive to the basketball drills as well as the message that our team communicated. Barefooted (or wearing flip flops), these kids had a great time. No one complained. It was hot.. the paved court was very hot. After 6 hours of action on the court, the team left Rio Das Pedras having 'left it all on the court.'
If you do not already know that Betty Wiseman is a saint, then this is news. If you know even a small part of what Belmont's sports evangelism team knows, then this story is just another chapter in Betty's Christian Journey. If I wanted to show you what unconditional love looks like it would be a hundred more images just like these where Betty engaged the people of this town.
By demonstrating her affection for the children of Rio Das Pedras, Betty was able to connect, time and time again with the parents of these children to share God's love. In this brief post, I will not go further with this story...but here are questions that you should ask Betty the next time you see her:
Ask about the closet sized seemstress shop that she and Debbie visited...three women working on old Singer machines in hot, cramped quarters. Ask her about playing with kids on top of a play structure and the smiles that appeared on faces of children and parents alike. Ask her about an interrupted lunch break where a mom, hearing of Betty from another mom, asked for her by name to talk to. Ask Betty about how the love of these kids has rubbed off on the entire team...she will have pictures and video soon, you can see for yourself.
May 23, 2004
Tall American athletes dribbling basketballs through the streets are all it takes to draw a crowd...no advertising, no internet, no mailout, no brochure. Just the simple sound of activity is the queue that something is going on, and that whatever it is, it needs to be checked out. Saturday was another day of steep hill climbs to get to a community court where soccer and basketball seem to co-exist. From the older youth who showed up wanting to play soccer, seeing a bunch of Americans surrounded by several hundred children had to be a shock. Even with all of the excitement and noise surrounding the games and the basketball drills, people heard the message of Christ's love and responded.
The ministry of Pastor Douglas in this favela of some 26,000 people is pretty amazing. Construction teams from the U.S. have assisted in many ways to convert and expand existing structures to make them suitable for use by the church. The picture of Betty Wiseman and Pastor Douglas was taken at the rear of the church where a concrete baptistry was installed but not completed. The temporary wooden steps have become dangerous to use and 26 people are awaiting replacement steps as well as a roof over the baptistry before it will go back into commission.
The beaded crosses that the team makes when there are slow moments (and those are few and far between) provide a simple method using the different colors of the beads to represent the message of the gospel. Angel Jones and Destri Bockey are pictured here with a group of neighborhood children working on the beaded crosses. Amy Elrod, wearing the light blue top pictured in the foreground acted as Angel and Destri's interpreter.
A full day of activity ended with a cookout, a lively worship service, and hugs (and tears) as the group headed back to the hotel, an hour+ drive.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 10:53 PM
Two Words... Mexican Buffet!
After four days of early morning wake up calls, late night worship services, and long return bus rides, the team really needed a break on Sunday. The pace of activity and exposure to some rough environments has a few of us sniffling or stopped up from something...but it hasn't affected the great mood of the team.
Just a short ride from the hotel is an all-you-can eat Mexican restaurant. Nothing phased us from satisfying any sort of leftover hunger pains from the prior hectic days. Three trips to the line even took care of Andrew and Dan... not even the Portuguese speaking waiters (in a Mexican restaurant) seemed to phase the group.
The afternoon was reserved for some shopping in an outdoor 'Hippie Fair' (I'm certain there is a correct spelling for that, but that is at least close to phonetically correct). High marks go to Angel, she found some pretty cools stuff!
Sunday night we partcipated in a worship service in an area where the population is transitory. It was described as the Bourbon Street of Rio without the glitz that you would expect in New Orleans. Nick Otis and Angel Jones did a terrific job with their personal testimonies and I delivered a message from Romans, using a lump of clay that I formed into a small vessel for an object lesson. Sunday was relaxing by comparison to most days... the killer for the day was the announcement on the ride home that Monday morning's wake up calls would be at 5:30AM and every one had to be on the bus by 6:30AM ('negotiated' to 6:45AM).
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 06:41 PM
May 21, 2004
Over the last few days, I have acquired a great deal of video footage of the team's journey. Editing time has been squeezed down to a few minutes each day due to the early morning starts and the late evening returns. Wake up calls here at our hotel have been around 6:30 each morning...and our return bus trips from the other parts of the city have ranged from 30 minutes to well over an hour, generally well past my bedtime. This morning, I am seeking out a high speed Internet connection at one of the cyber cafes close by, maybe this will help us all get more information to you.
Last night's team meeting followed a family service at the local Baptist church who sponsored the first two days of our trip here. Adam Mark and Nick Otis did a superb job of presenting their testimonies to the crowd that gathered... these are impressive kids, one and all. These young people will not be the same when they return to Nashville. I know that sounds a bit worn out, but it is true. Mom, dads, family, and Belmont community have every reason to be proud of these young people!
You Deserve Better
The signs and banners on the grounds of the Escola Batista (Baptist School) read Voce Merece, translated from Portuguese means, "you deserve better". If you saw the favelas (mountainside slums) that our bus drove through to get to the school, you might think that the banners are a call for social revolution. The school, celebrating 35 years of education, is an expensive private school but provides full scholarships to 60 young people who live in the surrounding slums (I hate to use that word, but there is no politically correct descriptor).
Speaking through an interpreter with one of the teachers in the school's technology center, the instructor explained that the banners are for students, parents, and teachers. For the students, the message speaks of the opportunities that come from learning in the classroom, but those opportunities come at the price of hard work. For the parents, it means that a strong and active partnership with the school can make things better in many ways for the future of the city. For the teachers, it means that 35 years of delivering quality education at this school is not something to 'rest upon', it is not enough, it is only the foundation for personal and professional improvement. What a contrast in outlooks: I looked at the envelope of the surounding area and saw poverty. The people at this school reflect upon themselves and see strength and hope.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 08:33 AM
May 20, 2004
Sharon Fairchild?s Mom
Betty Wiseman presented a signed game ball to the host principal following a morning of classroom visits, a brief intra-squad demonstration, basketball drills with the older children, and a lively game of duck-duck-goose with the younger crowd. Moments after this picture was taken, Sharon Fairchild (middle), received word that her mother suffered a stroke. For Sharon it meant quickly departing the team and an overnight flight to Houston, Texas to be with her mom. The team has requested that you please remember Ray and Sharon as well as the rest of their family as they work through this crisis...they are a beloved couple among the people of Rio and much like family to the rest of the Belmont team.
Wednesday - Two Schools, Planting Seeds
Small groups of the team made the rounds to individual classrooms in two different schools today. Children were excited to see the team, were amazed at their height, and full of questions about basketball and life in the USA. Questions such as, "What size are your shoes?", "Have you met the Shaq?", "Do you play in the Olympics?" and "May I have your autograph?" were commonly asked. The children heard personal testimonies from the team and listened attentively...all in all, a lot of seeds were planted today.
Time with students was an important part of the day. Working with interpreters, the team members are able to engage these young people on several different levels. Sometimes just sitting with a class while someone else spoke presented opportunities for personal interaction...those opportunities were not missed.
The height of the team draws particular interest when we travel to schools (or anywhere in public). There is something about a tall man doing a Macarena-like basketball drill that is SOME sight to see!
May 19, 2004
Tuesday Night Orientation
Ray Fairchild led the Tuesday evening orientation session with a powerful demonstration of how the fingers of one hand can be used to present your personal testimony. With a traditional 'thumbs-up' Ray demonstrates the first point, "God loves you and wants you to have a wonderful and fulfilling life". Within a few minutes, Ray illustrated how quickly an individual can deliver the basics of the plan of salvation using this and other easy to deliver techniques.
Andrew Preston (l) and Nick Otis (r) practice the technique during a break in the presentation. The team begins work in the community with a full morning and evening schedule of events. Plans for Wednesday include visits in the classrooms of two elementary schools along with inter-squad demonstrations for the student body. Registration numbers for Friday's camp have already reached 300 and Saturday's camp may include over 1500 children.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 04:56 AM
May 18, 2004
Rio, at Last!
Following a long overnight flight from Houston to Sao Paulo with a short hop to Rio, the team arrived safely, although blurry eyed. Andrew Preston (at 6?10") tried sleeping in an airline seat with his chin resting on his knees...but managed to unfold his tall frame in order to make it through Brazilian Customs.
Sharon Fairchild, the IMB missionary in residence here in Rio, has been mentioned in several posts on The Rio Journal. Sharons smiling face was there to great the team...and we were all relieved to see her.
The bus trip to the hotel on Copacabana was a rapidfire view of the city with all of its contrasts. As you can see, the team is intact and is in great spirits, awaiting orientation tonight with the Fairchild?s.
P.S. You should see Internet Explorer in Portuguese...this IS going to be a challenge.
May 17, 2004
...And They're OFF!
After a mid-morning session of filling out luggage tags and signing last minute forms, the 2004 sports evangelism team worked its way through security and successfully navigated their way to the first leg of the trip. Back row (l-r): Nick Otis, Jese Snyder, Dan Oliver, Adam Mark, Andrew Preston, Brandon Owen. Front row: Debbie Chenoweth, Vann Patton, Destri Bockey, Jenny Conkle, Betty Wiseman, Hollie Davis, Angel Jones. Everyone is well and ready to get movin'!
April 30, 2004
A Little History Lesson of Baptists in Brazil
Brazil is one of the oldest mission fields for Baptist missionaries. Southern Baptists abroad: sharing the faith in nineteenth-century Brazil provides several pages of historical overview of how things started. No quiz. No grade. Not required reading...but you might just find it interesting.
Posted by Paul Chenoweth at 09:05 PM