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Category: Brother Ben Gardner: Brazil

Letter May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Dear Brethren:

Greetings!

Since my last letter, the Lord has greatly blessed with grace, traveling mercies, and support!

In the month of March, and through April so far, I have been in 9 churches in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Illinois, and preached at the 48th Annual Bible Conference at Beverly Manor Baptist Church in Washington, IL.

As a result of these opportunities, we thank the Lord—and the following churches—for having brought us to the $2,000/month mark as we continue to raise support: Covenant Baptist Church, Broken Arrow, OK; Coweta Baptist Church, Coweta, OK; Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, OH; and Bethel Baptist Church, Lawton, OK. Stephanie and I very thankful for the hospitality that we have been shown as we travel and visit.

Also, as regarding support, in order to assist in routing your support to our church treasurer more quickly, my pastor has asked that your mail on my behalf be addressed thusly:

Victory Baptist Church
Benjamin Gardner Missionary Support
9601 Blue Ridge Extension
Kansas City, MO 64134

The Lord has greatly blessed, as well, in resolving my passport situation. Given that I have dual Brazilian-American citizenship, I am required to renew my Brazilian passport before returning to Brazil. However, that is not quite as easy as mailing off an application and a money order, as is the procedure here in the US. Because I had never registered for the mandatory military draft in Brazil, and because I was not aware that I have been required by law to vote in Brazil’s presidential election (which, needless to say, I haven’t been doing since I left in 2001), the Brazilian government refused to issue a renewal passport until I had, as they put it, “legitimized” my legal standing on these two matters.

But what exactly did it take to legitimize my standing? Ironically, nobody seemed to know. After two months of e-mailing and telephoning the Brazilian consulate in Chicago, the responses to my questions were confusing. One source told me that I’d have to actually return to Brazil to register with the Brazilian Draft and Election Boards before they would grant me a passport (how exactly I was supposed to travel to Brazil without a passport was a question that I never had answered!). Yet another source said that I would have to show up at the Brazilian consulate in person and pay a series of fines (nobody seemed to know the exact total, but estimates varied from $300 – $550) in order to receive a renewal passport. By early March, and after being punted from a travel agency to the consulate, and then from department to department within the consulate with no satisfactory resolution, I finally decided to gather every single relevant document and simply show up at the consulate to see what could be done.

Our trip to the consulate in Chicago turned out to be rather boring (Chicago’s traffic, notwithstanding). Once at the consulate, I was asked to fill out three forms, and then the consulate clerk spent two-and-a-half hours processing the forms, before finally handing them back and indicating that I was to turn them in to the passport-processing clerk. I did so, the passport-processing clerk made various copies of the documents I had brought, stamped the copies with several important-looking stamps, and then said that the consulate would mail me my passport within three weeks—which they did!

In the end, there were no fines to pay, my absences were excused to the draft and elections boards and we are praising the Lord for His providence. In fact, the only excitement at the consulate was when, halfway through my “legitimization” process, all the consulate’s computer systems crashed, causing wide-spread dismay. Our next task is to finalize Stephanie’s visa application.

In other news, the Lord has blessed and my boss has asked me to continue my part-time work with her at the insurance agency where I have been the office manager for the last five years. So desirous is she that I remain that she has graciously agreed to work around my extended deputation trips. At this point, the Lord has been meeting our needs by means of Stephanie’s part-time nursing job and my own continued part-time work, so we are rolling our monthly support into an emergency mission travel/medical fund. When we travel to Brazil we plan to tap into it as we set up a home and launch into the work down there.

Thank you for your continued prayers! We treasure them—and the Lord has been answering them!

In Christ,

Benjamin Gardner

Letter Jan. 25, 2013

01/25/2013

Dear Brethren: Greetings in our Lord!

Sending church: Victory Baptist Church: Kansas City, MO 9601 Blue Ridge Extension, Kansas City, MO 64134

Pastor Laurence Justice · (816) 761-7184 · www.victorybaptist.us

I arrived back in the US from a quick, 2-week visit to Brazil this past Saturday, the 20th. The Lord greatly blessed my time in South America. One of the purposes of this visit was to officiate at my brother, Daniel’s, wedding. I am happy to report that he and Sabrina are now happily married. If you’re interested in hearing about that happy, distinctively Brazilian event, check out my sister’s blog on the topic: http://charityg.blogspot.com.br/2013/01/wedding-pictures.html.

Another purpose of the visit was to pave the way for Stephanie’s and my arrival in Brazil by trying to get a head start on the inevitable, often mindless, bureaucracy that will accompany our arrival. I was able to get my Brazilian CPF number (akin to our Social Security Number) reactivated, and hot on the heels of that marvelous exercise in bureaucratic navigation, I was also able to open a bank account. However, I was not allowed to complete the process of obtaining my Brazilian driver’s license, as hoped. While I passed the written test and physical exam (which consisted of the doctor asking me to identify the colors green, yellow and red, and then requesting that I pull up both my pant legs to my knees to show her that I did, unquestionably, have legs), the Brazilian DMV told me that it could take up to 90 days to re-issue my driver’s license. Thankfully, I was able to leave a power of attorney with my brother, David. He hopes to run interference and take care of anything else that the DMV might require in my absence. I just hope they don’t ask him to prove that I have legs, again! Ironically, while my driver’s license might be delayed, I was able to research an excellent possibility relating to a car to be purchased upon our arrival.

Along with running around and trying to get things in order to facilitate our arrival in Brazil, my dad and my brother, David, gave me the opportunity to preach four times during my two-week visit. While I had to fight the urge to preach in English for the first several minutes of my first sermon, by the end of the two weeks I was preaching much more comfortably in Portuguese. Proof of that can be found at: www.palavraprudente.com.br/assista/mp3/prbenjamin/salvacaodemalfeitores.mp3.

I am grateful for these opportunities to preach in Presidente Prudente, and also in the work in Bataguassu. The Lord blessed with utterance and presence of mind, along with visitors and receptive ears, during those

Benjamin Gardner – Brazil Missionary Newsletter – January 2013 page 1

times when I was in the pulpit. As a result, I feel much more prepared to return and hit the ground running—both as it relates to language as well as ministry.

Thank you for your prayers for us during this two-week trip. Not only did the Lord bless in Brazil, He also watched over Stephanie during my absence.

In my last prayer letter, I mentioned that Stephanie and I would be continuing our deputation for a few more months until we reached our minimum goal of $3,600 of monthly support. I am pleased to report that while I was in Brazil, the Lord met that need. I am grateful to the Bible Baptist Church of Columbus, Nebraska and to Sherwood Baptist Church of Newcastle, OK for their sacrifices in increasing their support, allowing us to reach this minimum goal.

As a result, Stephanie and I are now back to looking at tickets and departure dates. We plan to be on the field within 70 days—no later than the 2nd week of April.

In Christ,

Benjamin Gardner

Letter Feb. 14, 2013

Benjamin Gardner
7918 N Holly Drive #12 Kansas City, MO 64118

(816) 377-2183 · benthegardner@gmail.com

02/14/2013 Dear Brethren:

Last February saw the inaugural edition of these missionary updates, which related how we were busy embarking on the initial stages of our deputation and its attendant traveling.

Exactly one year later, we are happy to relate that deputation is complete after 26,837 total miles traveled. Given that the earth is 24,901 miles in circumference at the equator (from pole to pole, it’s 24,859 miles), we have circled the earth once—with enough mileage left over to drive from Kansas City to San Diego for an In-N-Out burger.

Throughout these 26,837 miles of travel, we have seen the Lord’s Providences on a daily basis, and we marvel at the hospitality extended to us by the Lord’s people. Thank you for receiving us, for praying for us, and for supporting us financially!

It was also a great blessing to travel with Stephanie during this past year of deputation. Over the miles, we memorized Scripture together, talked extensively, sang along to the radio, played the alphabet game (forwards and backwards) ad infinitum, and chewed our way through nearly 75 feet of Subway sandwiches. At the end of deputation, I have come to appreciate—and thank the Lord—for her patience, courage and grace so much more than I did before. I’m not sure I could have put up with me for that long, but she did!

Now that we have finished our deputation, we are happy to report that we have purchased our tickets to Brazil. We will be leaving Kansas City for São Paulo on April 9th. We have consequently dedicated the rest of February and March to getting our belongings packed for travel and storage, tying up bureaucratic and procedural loose ends, as well as engaging in the infinitely more difficult task of saying our goodbyes.

Given the rigors of being groped and/or irradiated by the TSA, followed by 15 hours of plane time, and finishing it all up with our personal belongings being unpacked and examined by Brazilian immigration, we aim to have a private, quiet departure from Kansas City. While we appreciate the sentiments that have brought several people to express an interest in seeing us off at the airport, we would much prefer to say our goodbyes before then. If any of you are in Kansas City on or before April 7th and would like to see us, give us a call, and we’ll do our best to get to you. Also, I plan to be at the conference at Covenant Baptist Church, Broken Arrow, OK on March 1st through 3rd. Along with being benefitted by the preaching on the theme of Biblical Evangelism, I look forward to seeing quite a few dear brothers and sisters again before our departure—and I’d love to see you, if you can make it!

In Christ,

Benjamin Gardner

Financial Report 4th Qtr, 2012

Benjamin Gardner Missionary Expense Report 4th Quarter 2012

October

November

December

Bethel Baptist Church, Lawton, OK

$75.00

$75.00

$75.00

Bethel MBC, Choctaw, OK

$100.00

$100.00

$100.00

Beverly Manor BC, Washington, IL

$100.00

$200.00

Bible Baptist, Columbus, NE

$1,000.00

$1,000.00

$1,000.00

Carmichael BC, Carmichael, CA

$55.00

$55.00

$55.00

Covenant Baptist, Broken Arrow, OK

$160.00

$160.00

$160.00

Coweta IBC, Coweta, OK

$150.00

$150.00

$150.00

FBC Independence, Ind., KY

$500.00

Grace Memorial BC, Bartlett, TN

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

Grace MBC, Dothan, AL

$2,000.00

Grace BC, Claremore, OK

$100.00

$100.00

$100.00

Grace BC, Bartlett, TN

$200.00

$200.00

$200.00

Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, OH

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

Philadelphia Baptist Church

$100.00

$100.00

Portland Baptist, Plumerville, AR

$100.00

$1,100.00

$100.00

Sherwood Baptist, Newcastle, OK

$130.00

$130.00

$130.00

Wooster Baptist Temple

$25.00

Anonymous

$100.00

$100.00

$100.00

__________

__________

__________

Total

$4,270.00

$3,470.00

$2,595.00

Benjamin Gardner – 4th Quarter Expense Report – 2012 page 1

Total Giving and Expenses for 2012

Giving

Expenses

Bethel Baptist Church, Lawton, OK

$675.00

Deputation (Travel/Lodging/Dining)

$12,063.38

Bethel MBC, Choctaw, OK

$800.00

Documentation (Visa/Passports/Consular Fees/Trips)

$3,5188.04

Beverly Manor BC, Washington, IL

$900.00

Bible Baptist, Columbus, NE

$12,000.00

Carmichael BC, Carmichael, CA

$330.00

Covenant Baptist, Broken Arrow, OK

$1,590.00

Coweta IBC, Coweta, OK

$1,350.00

FBC Independence, Ind., KY

$500.00

Grace Memorial BC, Bartlett, TN

$400.00

Grace MBC, Dothan, AL

$2,000.00

Grace BC, Claremore, OK

$1,300.00

Grace BC, Bartlett, TN

$1,400.00

Heritage Baptist Church, Salem, OH

$450.00

Philadelphia Baptist Church

$200.00

Portland Baptist, Plumerville, AR

$2,100.00

Sherwood Baptist, Newcastle, OK

$1,670.00

Wooster Baptist Temple

$25.00

Windsor Baptist Church

$250.00

Anonymous

$1,000.00

Benjamin Gardner – 4th Quarter Expense Report – 2012 page 2

Letter May 4, 2013

Dear Brethren:

It has been three weeks and a half since we touched down in Brazil, and—although we have to look hard at times to see it—the Lord’s Providences precede us on every side. We thank you for your prayers for us!

A week and a half before we left for Brazil, we discovered that the Lord has blessed us with a pregnancy! Given our miscarriage in May 2012, we considered whether we should continue to the mission field, as planned. Ultimately, we decided to continue to walk by faith and departed.

Thanks to my mom and sisters and their research into finding a doctor before our arrival, Stephanie is now under the medical care of Dr. Fernando Barreiros here in Presidente Prudente. He seems to be knowledgeable, conscientious and thorough—and he even speaks passable English! Please continue to be in prayer for us in this pregnancy. There are many unknowns, but our omniscient Lord is in control.

As a result of this pregnancy, of our finding a doctor here in Presidente Prudente, and of my desire to be closer to my family during the next eventful 7 months leading up to our December 1st due date, I have decided not to range as far south as originally planned. Rather, as a result of my father’s contacts in the area, I have made contact with a family in Londrina, about 100 miles south of Presidente Prudente. They have been praying about starting a Baptist work in that city, and they are very open and willing to meet me to consider that end. I hope to drive down and meet them in the coming weeks to discuss this matter.

While we praise the Lord for the pregnancy, our doctor and the encouragement and companionship of our family, it has been harder to praise the Lord for the immigration department, overseen by Brazil’s Federal police. This past week, after finally completing the process to register our marriage in Brazil, I took Stephanie down to the immigration department and presented the documentation that the consulate in Chicago had given us, thus completing the process of registering Stephanie in Brazil and obtaining final official permission for her to remain in the country permanently. The immigration official on duty reviewed the documentation and rejected it immediately. The Brazilian consulates, she informed us, have different standards for allowing entrance into the country, and the Federal police do not accept such. Accordingly, she gave us 10 days to pull together a whole new set of documentation.

As we spent the rest of this past week pulling together the needed documentation, we discovered why the Federal police won’t accept consular documentation. Quite simply, there’s too much money involved! For example, a simple form stating that I will be financially responsible for Stephanie during our stay in Brazil was required by both the consulate and the Federal police. The consulate’s form was free to obtain and fill out. The same form as required by the Federal police costs $150!

After spending more time and money on this matter than I care to talk about, we were able to submit the new set of documentation to the Federal police yesterday. They took our packet and told us that they will call us in 10 days with a final determination. At that time, and if the paperwork is accepted, Stephanie will be issued an ID, thus completing (we hope and pray!) this process and allowing us to move on to other things.

One experience serves to illustrate what we’re up against. We were told to show up at the Federal police’s headquarters at 2:00 PM this past Friday afternoon in order to submit the second packet of documents we were required to obtain. We showed up at 2:00, as requested—only to be informed that the immigration staff were late getting back from lunch. We waited until 2:25, at which time I went looking for someone to help us. I found the gentleman responsible for the entire Federal police unit—a military colonel—and sat at his desk. After brief introductory chit-chat, I presented my complaint that we had showed up at the time requested, and were frustrated by the lack of presence and action in the immigration department. He looked at me, grimaced slightly and said, “Sir, this is Brazil. It doesn’t work like you seem to think it should.” His words have become a bit of a mantra to us!

Given the hassle and runarounds—both as it related to registering our marriage as well as with the immigration department—I have temporarily quit pushing to find a house and a car here for lack of time to do so. Not only do we have the continued use of the guest room here at Igreja Batista Bereana, but my family has continued to allow us to use one of their cars. I am deeply in the debt of my family and the church. Without this network of support, I really don’t know how we’d meet deadlines and shuttle back and forth in this tiring, discouraging bureaucratic scavenger hunt.

While our struggles throughout these weeks often have us longing thinking wistfully of a one-way ticket home, we praise the Lord for Saturdays and Lord’s Days. Not only are we able to catch up on a little bit of rest on those days, but my brother, David, has graciously allowed me to preach on a regular basis here at Igreja Batista Bereana—both on the Lord’s Days as well as Wednesdays. The Lord is giving great freedom and fluency in the pulpit, and it is a blessing and encouragement to see the Lord’s blessings there, even when His hand seems to be veiled elsewhere. The members here are a great encouragement to us, as well.

I’m also glad to report that Stephanie is coming along in her language acquisition skills. She now exchanges simple greetings with folks, and her understanding of spoken Portuguese has increased exponentially in the last three weeks. She has even, on one occasion, caught a verbal slip I made while preaching—and later asked me about it. I married a smart girl!

Again, we thank you for your bearing with us in prayer! Looking at the obstacles that have been raised up, and which the Lord is helping us to overcome, I tremble at the thought of facing them without the faithful intercession of fellow brethren.

In Christ,

Benjamin Gardner