Category Archives: Uncategorized

December Prayer Letter

God has shown our family His protection the past two months. In November, Sarah went for a routine check-up. She was 8 months pregnant and had some unusual pain that morning. They discovered she had appendicitis, and the next day she had surgery to remove her appendix before it ruptured. The surgery caused her to start going into labor, but they were able to slow her contractions enough for the baby to stay in the womb a few more weeks. Thankfully, just after 2 AM on December 5thLucas Benjamin Booth was born, strong and healthy. He is a meek and mild little guy, and all of us are delighted with him. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for this good gift. 

This time of year always leads me to reflect on what has happened (or not) in the year gone by. As a missionary, I would like to think that the work we do is a steady movement forward of, “More people reached with the gospel! Goals achieved! Lives changed! Churches established!” But this year feels like we have done everything possible just to maintain where we are. Some people have fallen away. Others have faced great hardships leaving them drained and discouraged. Not having camps, mission teams, or many other activities that we normally would have throughout the year has affected the spiritual vitality of many of the deaf, as well as teens and kids. Even something as simple as having a church potluck is missed. I used to think it was just one more activity to prepare and to take up my time. And yet now I see how much we miss these moments of fellowship, of rubbing shoulders, and sharing food. Our spiritual lives depend so much upon being together with other people who love Jesus.

But the story of missions throughout the ages is filled with setbacks and challenges. The apostle Paul could have resented the years he spent in prison when he could have been out planting churches. William Carey could have quit when his print shop burned down and his life’s work was lost. There are countless other stories of loss and hardship like these. However, the key is to press on, and that is what we will do by God’s grace. He continues to be at work, and great opportunities lie ahead. Even (especially) in a hard year, God’s grace is evident. Here are some recent highlights:

Reaching new people. Susana went through some challenging times this year. She reached out to a Christian friend of hers that lives in France. This friend suggested that Susana begin attending church. Her friend searched for a church online and found ours. At first Susana just watched the services online, but then eventually she began coming and has come to every service and Bible study since September.

Giving. The church here in Montijo has given far more money to missions and benevolence this year than ever before. It has been encouraging to see a spirit of generosity grow. This is not just the case financially. After Sarah’s surgery left her out of commission for a while, for ten straight days, families in our church brought us meals and helped us with many different tasks. They even delivered a giant box of gifts to our door as a surprise baby shower. Normally, we feel like we are the ones giving and coordinating these things. How encouraging and refreshing it was to see so many people spring into action in our time of need. 

Blessed by our church’s generosity

Opportunities to share the gospel. Back in March, I began volunteering at a local non-profit helping organize and distribute food parcels to needy families in our community. Besides being a great way to meet new people, it has also opened good conversations about the gospel. 

You. God knows what we need, and all of you that pray for us, care for us, and give to make it possible for us to serve the Lord here, are a marvelous gift and blessing to us. We love you all, and are grateful to serve the Lord together with you. May God bless and strengthen you as we begin this new year. 

Thankful for our family

Trying new things

When we first moved to Portugal five years ago, building relationships was one of our big goals. We didn’t know anybody in our town, so we set out to meet as many people as possible. We did volunteer work, I played basketball with a group of men, we made Christmas cookies for our neighbors, and we spent many hours at cookouts, cafés, and birthday parties. Fast forward to the present where we now know hundreds of people in our town… You know that feeling when you go to Wal-Mart (or wherever you shop) and you always see at least a couple of people you know? That is us now.

While we still want to keep meeting people, we are noticing a big change in how we spend our time. Instead of spending most of our time out in the community working to meet people, we are busy taking care of all the people attending and visiting the church plant. This is a natural progression in our work, but we don’t want to get so focused on “maintenance” that we forget to keep reaching out. Thankfully, we are at the point now where people always come to church on Sunday, and we have people work to keep us “busy” throughout the week. However, I don’t want to go from week to week in maintenance mode and forget to look up and see the big picture of what we are doing.

Because of this, I have started teaching a religion and morality class in one of the high schools in our town. Sarah taught a class like this three years ago. The goal is to meet new young people and to be more involved in our community. Pray for this to happen. Yesterday I had my first class, and seven students showed up. It may not seem like a lot, but I was thrilled, and I think more will come  as they hear about the class.

September was full of youth outreach. Here are some pictures:

IMG_0335
Kids’ back-to-school activity

IMG_0258
Youth singing in church

IMG_0367
“Don’t let the tower fall!”

IMG_0326
Laura’s first day of school

IMG_0259
A recent Sunday

 

July Prayer Letter

“This is the first time I have heard about any of this,” 11-year-old Andrea remarked after hearing the Bible message one evening at camp. Before this week, she had come to church only twice before, but it didn’t take her long to understand the gospel and her need of Jesus. We rejoice that she made a profession of faith at camp. Andrea wasn’t the only one. Felismina and Ana also professed their faith in Christ:

Andrea is the girl on the left
Andrea is the girl on the left

Here are some other highlights from the week:

1. We survived a thunderstorm complete with hail and torrential rain. This was a big deal because everybody was in tents. Even the camp kitchen and meeting area were under a big tent.

Thankful for a great week of camp
Thankful for a great week of camp

2. There were 40 campers (8 of whom were from our church) from 5 different churches. Six missionary families worked together to put on this camp.

3. In our last prayer letter, we asked if people would like to sponsor a camper. Many people responded, and all of our campers were sponsored and our camp expenses were completely covered. Thank you!

3. In all, 13 campers made a profession of faith during the week. Praise God!

Jessica, the missionary intern that is with us this summer, was instrumental in leading Ana to the Lord.
Jessica, the missionary intern that is with us this summer, was instrumental in leading Ana to the Lord.

Watch our camp video.

Just a couple days after we finished camp, we welcomed a team of 11 people from a partner church in Iowa. Many of the people in this group had prayed for us and for Portugal since they first met us in 2009. It was exciting for them to get to see first-hand the places and people for which they had been praying for so long. During the week, they passed out 4,000 tracts. They helped put on an “English Party” at a community youth center. They spent lots of time with people in our church talking with them and learning about their lives. They did an outdoor VBS. There was a women’s meeting that was a tremendous encouragement to the ladies in our church.

Exploring Portugal
Exploring Portugal

Besides working with us in these important ministries, they encouraged us greatly. You may wonder how you can encourage a missionary when you go on a mission trip. Here are some ways that this team did exactly that.

The English Activity was a great success
The English Activity was a great success

1. They came prepared. Months of preparation and prayer went into making this trip a success.

2. They loved our country. They asked many questions about Portugal, and were excited to see and experience the culture.

Singing and praying together at church
Singing and praying together at church

3. They loved the people we work with and bonded with them quickly. For us, there was nothing more gratifying than seeing the team talking, laughing, praying, and sharing testimonies with the people in our church. For example, it was great to see Dean asking Luis about Portuguese history, Ethan showing the kids some American football moves, Natalie giving a facial treatment to a Florbela at the women’s meeting, Ryan praying for the church, and Kathy looking at Carla’s family pictures. These may seem like “little” things, but they showed the depth of their love for the people. By the end of the week, deep friendships had formed.

The women's
The women’s meeting was a great encouragement

4. The gospel in Portugal was important enough for them to take a week of their lives here and raise the money needed to come. Their commitment and sacrifice inspired us greatly and helped spur us on in the work here.

Each of July’s activities took 7 days or less, but these events often have the longest-lasting effects. The kids who have attended our church the past year come because of a one-week mission team in July 2012. Some of the women Sarah has counseled for months desperately needed the pampering and encouragement that the ladies from Iowa gave this year. As José and Mario drove kids to camp, Carla decorated the church for the ladies’ meeting, and Simone passed out tracts, we were encouraged to see these, our Portuguese church members, using their gifts and letting God use them to reach our community. July has been like a shot of adrenaline in our church. May God continue to use the effects of July for His kingdom and His glory!

June Prayer Letter

“We already have a lot. Maybe we can save her story for another month.” We’ve said this to each other many times after finishing a prayer letter. Well, this is “another month”, and we’re going to catch up on some people that should have their stories shared.

Sometimes people come and go and come again through your life and ministry. This was true of Horacio, a man in his 60’s, who had occasionally come to church or met with me to talk about spiritual matters. I had explained the gospel to him clearly on several occasions, but it never seemed to click. Over the past year, Horacio stopped meeting with me, and I didn’t see him for many months. I had given up hope on him. To my surprise, he showed up to church recently. Since then we have met almost every week. After I gave him a book to read, he e-mailed me and said, “I finally understand what it means to be born again, and now that is true in my life as well.” It was an encouraging reminder to us that even though we may give up on certain people, God does not. Pray for Horacio that he would grow in his faith, and that he would be obedient in following his Savior.

Another encouraging moment was with 9-year-old Joana. She and her 7-year-old sister, Beatriz, come to church every week. One Sunday, Joana asked her children’s church teacher about salvation. He explained it to her and told her to think about it during the week. The next Sunday, she came to church ready to get saved. We all hugged her and cried tears of joy. What a blessing to know this sweet girl has Jesus as her Savior.

Florbela is a middle aged lady who is a librarian. She made a profession of faith several months ago. Recently, she came up to us and said she wanted to be baptized. It is very encouraging to see her make important spiritual decisions like this one despite living in a very challenging family.

Do you remember little Paula who got saved last summer in Bible club? Her mother has let her and her brother, David, come to church for nearly a year now. A couple weeks ago, the family moved to the next town over, and we were afraid their mother wouldn’t let them come anymore. Thankfully, she is still letting us pick them up, and their move has given us even more contact with their mom.

These are just glimpses of what God does every day in the lives of people in Montijo, Portugal. Your prayers are being answered in small and big ways. As you pray for us over the next few months, rejoice in what is doing in Horacio, Joana, Florbela and Paula. You can also pray for these upcoming events:

Camp is the first week of July. Last year, two teenagers from our church, Tatiana and Carlos, made professions of faith. Pray for strength and spiritual awakening during this exciting week.

The second week of July we have a mission team coming from Iowa to help with lots of activities such as passing out tracts and VBS. Pray that this would be a productive week and that this would be an encouraging experience for all involved.

The third week of July, I am speaking at another youth camp. Pray that God would use the messages I preach in the lives of the campers there.

At the end of this month, we have a college student from Tennessee coming to do a six-week missions internship. She’s coming at the right time, because we will definitely have plenty of work for her to do.

Finally, we continue to prepare for our six-month furlough that begins this September. We are looking forward to sharing in person about what God is doing here. We are also looking forward to seeing many of you! If you are a supporting church that would like us to come and visit, and we haven’t already scheduled a date, take a moment to reply to this e-mail so we can take care of that.

Looking forward to an exciting summer! May God bless!

-David and Sarah

Would you like to help with camp? Read on!

This year, we hope to have 10 campers to take with us to Summer Bible Camp. Most of these kids come from unchurched families that have very little money. Would you be interested in helping sponsor one of these kids for camp? $55 covers the cost of one camper. If you choose to help, you will receive a personal, handwritten letter from the child or teenager you sponsored, in addition to their picture and a link to see a video recap of the week of camp. Giving is easy. You can give by credit card or check online through our mission agency by simply following this link. Thank you!

 

Come visit beautiful Lisboa

We are blessed to live so close to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We never get tired of exploring Lisbon. Recently, we took a friend of ours who was visiting us on a tour. Here are some of our pictures:

Downtown Lisbon
Downtown Lisbon

This church was nearly destroyed by a terrible fire in the 1950s. It has been restored since then, but the damage from the fire is still evident.
This church was nearly destroyed by a terrible fire in the 1950s. It has been restored since then, but the damage from the fire is still evident.

Candles inside church
Candles inside church

IMG_9648 IMG_9657

Beautiful old streets
Beautiful old streets

This little nifty gadget is so that you can place your clothes line pole on it so that it will extend from the wall
This little nifty gadget is so that you can place your clothes line pole on it so that it will extend from the wall

IMG_9686

Blue door. Blue tiles.
Blue door. Blue tiles.

Sé Cathedral. I think it is the oldest church in Lisbon.
Sé Cathedral. I think it is the oldest church in Lisbon.

Doors into Sé Cathedral
Doors into Sé Cathedral

Inside the Sé Cathedral
Inside the Sé Cathedral

Rossio train station
Rossio train station

Surprised and grateful

This past Sunday morning, we had our third monthly Deaf church service. Despite our weaknesses, people keep coming. 11 Deaf showed up this time and learned about the Jesus multiplying bread and fish – Jesus is the Bread of Life. Also, a Deaf church in America sent money to buy “Action Bibles” to give out. “Action Bibles” contain all the stories of the Bible in comic book form. The Deaf here in Portugal love them because many of them don’t read very well. It was exciting to give these out, and we are praying that God will use these to spark a desire to know Him.

030

In the afternoon, we had our hearing service. Most Sundays, at the end of church I ask if anybody would like to give a brief testimony or praise. Usually nobody takes me up on the offer, but this past Sunday was different.

Mario got up first to give a testimony about the New Year’s Eve activity at church. He said, “I’ve spent most New Year’s eves at bars and night clubs. I’ve come home drunk afterwards, and have tried all the things most people do to celebrate. But, I wouldn’t trade any of my previous New Year’s Eves for this past one that I spent at church.” He meant what he said, and there were tears in his eyes. From my perspective, the activity had been kind of a flop, but evidently it was better than my own experience.

P1016190
New Year’s Eve at church was a fun night. We watched the movie Courageous and played games.

Simone followed by praising God for the salvation of her young daughter. We thanked God with her for this exciting news.

Catarina, a young lady that has been coming to church for the past month, stood before the church and gave a testimony about how she had been disobedient and far from God. Recently, however, she repented and asked God to change her life. She thanked God for His mercy in her life, and stated how glad she was to be on the right track again and coming to church.

Not every Sunday is as gratifying and exciting as this past one, but it’s days like this that make me thankful to be serving God here. It also makes me pray for perseverance during the many weeks when there are no wonderful testimonies or tears of joy shed in church. Faithfulness and perseverance when there seems to be no progress is essential.

 

Acts 16:31 is still true

Today was a good day.

I preached from Acts 16:31 about the conversion and baptism of the Philippian jailer. At the end of the message, I gave an invitation and a lady named Dora raised her hand stating that she had made a profession of faith. I invited her to come forward and share what Jesus had done for her. With tears in her eyes, she thanked many people in the church for the way they had received her and her family. She then stated that her life had been empty and that she had been far from God. Now, she was grateful for the salvation she had in Jesus Christ. After her testimony, Eduarda, a lady in the church who had befriended her, came up, hugged her and prayed for her. Then, many other people came up to greet her. It was the first time anybody had ever been saved at one of our church services, so it was truly special for all of us.

Also after the service, a man named Mário came up and asked to be baptized. Praise God!

We have had a lot of great things happen during this past several weeks. I wish I could say that I was filled with faith and expecting all of this to happen. But to be honest, I am probably more surprised than anybody to see the good things God is doing.

At the end of this wonderful day, all we can do is thank him for his grace and goodness.