Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where in the World is Natal, Brazil?

We were checking e-mail and came across a question embedded deep within a friend's message that stuck out to me like a sore thumb. "What ever happened to Natal?" I saw that and figured, I know some other people would like to know the answer to that question, so let me answer it here.

For those of you who aren't asking, "Whatever happened to Natal?" but rather "Where in the world is Natal?" I can help you too. See Brazil? Allow your eyes to travel straight across the word and you'll see it there on the coast that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.

When we lived in Brazil before, it was all the way down south in Porto Alegre. That's the southernmost city listed on this map of Brazil.

Now, back to the question of what happened to it, which was asked because, at one time, it looked like we were going to move there. After we had been back in the States for one year, we went to Brazil to finish up some business in Porto Alegre. During that trip we visited some friends of ours in Natal and surveyed the work in João Pessoa (just south of Natal) to see about working with the church there. We were looking for a place that would accomodate Jonah's special needs - meaning a place with English-speaking kids and an English-speaking school - and since there is a team of American missionaries already there, we figured that may be the place. It quickly became clear that they did not need our help and were, in fact, fazing out the American missionary influence in that church. Good for them - not so good for us.

We drove back to Natal where our friends asked us if we would like to work with them. We don't know any other Americans there and couldn't find any English speaking schools but we figured, if God wanted us there, He would work it out. We quickly and easily found a house and a car and decided to go. John prayed that, if that was not God's will for our lives, He would "put on the breaks". After we returned from that trip with the intent to turn right back around, John got a phone call from a man asking him to "put on the brakes". He was calling from the church in Austin, Texas that oversees the church in Natal. They wanted to get to know us before they approved our moving down there to work with that church. We might have been game except for the fact that some very trusted advisors told us, in no uncertain terms, that we were being hasty. They felt like we needed more time to allow Jonah to mature before we put him through another transition. After some prayer and a little kicking and screaming, we agreed.

It's been a year since then and we just went to Texas in June to visit with the Austin church. Circumstances have changed and they and we both felt ready to give it a go. We discussed the possibility of moving our family to Natal in the near future to work with the church there. We met with their mission committee and asked and answered lots of questions. They said they would deliberate and get back to us. Now we keep hearing the Final Jeopardy theme in our heads.

Anyway, the point is that Natal is not out of the question but it's no longer the only question. We are totally and completely open to God's leading and we don't know where we will end up. Porto Alegre has returned to our minds as a possibilty. We previously felt discouraged about returning there due to the fact that we have been gone for some time and we didn't want to impose ourselves back into a work that had already adapted well to our absence. Basically, we didn't want to rock the boat. However, the single congregation in Porto Alegre has since become individual house churches, and we are beginning to see other ministry possibilities that would not rock the boat but possibly fuel it.

14 comments:

  1. Located in the corner of South America, Natal is an extremely pleasant city, with a tropical climate, recognized as the city with the purest air of America.
    With its dozens of white beaches, such as Ponta Negra and Morro do Careca Natal is a most popular beach location and now international real estate investment is really emerging as a major market with many luxury off-plan developments being built and at very affordable prices. Tourism is the most important industry of Natal, with real estate running in second place to this. Industry experts predict 400% capital growth for property in Brazil in the Natal region over the next 10 years. The local government is investing billions into the local infrastructure to make this one of the worlds number one tourist destinations. They intend to attract 9 million tourists each year and more than 1 million local jobs. In a small area of coast there are more than 20 golf courses planned. The new Natal suspension bridge has opened up the stunning northern coast to property development. And the new Airport will be the largest in South America, the 5th largest in the world. The combination of sea, sand dunes, lagoons, a rich and varied gastronomy, an array of leisure and entertainment and a pleasant and hospitable people makes Natal irresistible.

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  14. This place is truly awesome! I'll be going back here at some other time.

    Pousadas Em Natal

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