The People

Rosa, Director of Grace House
At the age of fourteen, Rosa felt a strong desire to one day run a home for abandoned and abused children. Having been a young mom herself, she understood the difficulties that parents often face raising their kids, but she never allowed that to be an excuse for her to neglect her own young boys.

Since that time, she has taken in five children that are not her own, including the love-child of her husband. She is known as “Tia” (or Auntie) to many children whom she has taken in both temporarily and long term, despite her own lack of resources.

When we approached her about being the Director of the children’s home, she could hardly believe what she was hearing. For years she had asked God to do just that, but never knew how it could happen.

Her love and natural gifts to nurture young people make her the perfect director for Casa de Graça.

Sam and Beatriz

Sam grew up as a missionary kid in the small jungle town of Benjamin Constant. After attending college in the U.S., he returned to the jungle where he met his wife, Beatriz (Bea). They were soon married and for the first year they ran a small pizzeria there in Benjamin Constant. They welcomed their first son, Joshua (JoJo) just a couple weeks shy of their first anniversary.

God soon closed the doors to their small business and led them on a difficult, but life changing journey to finding community and what it means to be the church, not just attend a service every week.

Sam has a true pastor’s heart, one that desires to love and care for people. Both feel specifically called to college-aged kids and are working one on one with some young couples to encourage and motivate them to seek Christ. Bea also works full time as a donut maker at The Donut Company where she is able to love and encourage the other employees.

 

Marcos and Josi

Marcos is a Mayoruna Indian from the Javari Valley. You can read his full testimony on our blog here. He runs a home for Indigenous boys and girls from the Javari Valley (restricted indigenous area) where he provides meals, lodging, and education in addition to teaching life skills and discipling. Most of these young people are the children of influencial tribal leaders in their villages. They come to a small Brazilian town to learn Portuguese and study so that they are prepared to be the next leaders in their tribes. Before Marcos came along, many of them were abused and enslaved by the locals because of the immense amounts of discrimination towards indigenous peoples. Through Marcos’ influence in their lives and loving care of them, he has built a reputation among the parents and lives out the Gospel in a way that is relevant to the culture. Read more about our involvement in his ministry under the “Javari Project” tab.

Josi is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and met Marcos while they were both studying at Seminary there. Her sassy personality keeps things in order as she serves as house mom, language teacher, and cook to 22 boys currently in their program, along with their son, Lucas, and their daughter Sofia.

 

Raivam, Discipleship and Mentorship at Grace House Amazon

Raivam (Pepeco) was born and raised in the small jungle town of Benjamin Constant. He is the middle child of Rosa, Director of Grace House. He has a heart for people, specifically those of his home town where he grew up. Seeing the injustices and hopelessness of his generation, as the vast majority seek nothing more than drugs, addiction, and sex, he works to invest in the lives of his peers and the children of Grace House.

 

Cesar and Adryana

Cesar is a native of Texas and Adryana was born and raised in Colombia. The two met in Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia while serving as missionaries. Adryana is a recognized singer in Colombia, but gave up the path to fame when she felt the Lord calling her to work with indigenous and marginalized peoples in the Amazon. She has taught music at an indigenous school on the Amazon river for a few years where she continues to invest in the lives of young people. Cesar leads and translates for medical teams on river trips into remote villages along the Amazon river in Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. He and Adryana coordinate and organize the trips in addition to translating and assisting in basic medical procedures.

They are business partners in The Donut Company and assist in teaching and loving the kids at Grace House Amazon.

Rafael Freitas (“Boboco”)

Rafael, or Boboco as he is known, is the oldest son of Rosa (Director of Grace House). He was born and raised in Benjamin Constant where he developed a love for soccer growing up. He has excelled in the sport and is known in the region for his skills and passion.

Our network in Birmingham (The Common Thread Community), has an athletic ministry called A4One that seeks to incarnate the Gospel into Birmingham, its surrounding areas, and across the globe. When the leadership of A4One met Boboco a couple years back, it was clear that this relationship was going to be key in reaching the young athletes of this small jungle town for Christ.

In February of 2016, “Jovens Talentos” was created as an extension of A4One. This program is designed to teach, train, and empower young boys from Benjamin Constant who would not otherwise have such opportunities. At the core is the focus on discipling the whole person, mind, body, soul, and spirit, so that they can come to know the True reason for our gifts: Jesus Christ.

Richard and Ashley Whittemore

We are just ordinary people trying to live a life that glorifies an extraordinary God.

When we were younger, God called us to go to the foreign mission field. We said yes. We had no idea when, where, or how this was going to happen, but we started on a journey that has been exciting, challenging, humbling, stretching, and life-changing.

We lived and served overseas in the Amazon region of Brazil and Colombia for nearly four years before God called us back to the United States. We currently live in Texas where we work to build community and love the least of these while troubleshooting, engaging, visioncasting and advocating for our jungle family.

In 2010, we welcomed a bouncing baby boy into our lives. He’s full of life and stories and provides endless entertainment. He has more energy than the Hoover Dam produces in a year and will talk your ears off if you let him (and even if you don’t).

In 2012, we welcomed our sweet, laid-back baby girl. Her smile lights up the room every time and she adores–ADORES–her big brother. She’s the perfect addition to our family.

In March of 2014, we completed the [lengthy and frustrating] process of adopting a seven-year-old Brazilian girl. You will read a lot about her on our blog. She stole our hearts from the first day we met her and now God is weaving into our lives as a beautiful example of the Gospel.

Richard is a dual-rated pilot and uses those skills and passions to honor the Creator who gave them to him.

Ashley is a writer, necklace maker, and full-time homeschool mom to three crazies. You can read her writings on her blog www.onthebeautifuljourney.blogspot.com.