Where were you born?
Fabio – Sao Paulo, Brazil (the business capital of Brazil; the official capital is Brasilia)
Johnna – Arlington Heights, IL (near Chicago)
What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
Johnna – a teacher
Fabio – soccer player
How did you decide/recognize call to become a missionary?
Fabio – intense experience when I was 16 years old and knew I wanted to serve God, so between 18-20 years old, I became bi-vocational (had a full-time job, but was preaching and sharing music ministry around town). When I was around that age, I wanted to be a pastor or missionary, so I began traveling around, sharing what God was teaching me with people near me and far.
Johnna – I grew up learning about the Bible and having grandparents who were missionaries in India and South Africa, an uncle an aunt who are missionaries in France and another uncle and aunt in South Africa. When I was 5, I prayed that Jesus would come into my heart. Over the years, I told God I would go wherever God wanted me to go, but when I was 21, I was done with college and prayed this prayer again. I became a short-term missionary to Japan where I taught English and helped other missionaries with their tasks.
Our call to become missionaries was the same as our call to follow Jesus… we keep telling God yes in our lives and try to listen for God’s voice and obey where God sends us next. Going to Japan as a family is the next step in this relationship.
What did you need to do to become a missionary?
1) Tell God yes and be a missionary wherever you are. Ask God who needs love and what I can I do about it and just show up. (Give someone flowers, pray with someone, pray for someone, be a listening friend, etc).
2) The process for becoming a missionary with the Covenant church involves lots of prayer and discernment, talks with people in Covenant World Mission offices, filling out forms about our walk with Christ, going to a therapist to see if we are ready for ministry in this way, taking psychological and physical tests so they know we are going to be as healthy as possible since there will be new strains on our bodies, minds and emotions when living in another culture.
How long have you served where you are currently serving?
We have been serving in Tampa for 2.5 years. We hope to go to Japan in early 2015. (Fabio has lived out mission in Brazil with Bolivians, Canada with Jamaicans, Spain; Johnna has served in Japan, Belgium with Congolese people, Iowa with youth).
What do you do as a missionary where you are serving?
In Tampa, we have a small group at our house where we share music and what God is doing in our lives. We read the Bible and watch videos that teach us about love, grace, forgiveness. In Japan, we will be doing much of what we have been doing since we were teenagers and as we have gotten older – music ministry, small groups, preaching, teaching, discipleship, sports ministry, teaching languages, career counseling, couples counseling. We see ourselves as a bridge between Brazilian/Latino/Japanese/American cultures and we will look for the needs in our community and help where we can as God works in and through us, doing more than we could ever do on our own.
What is life like where you are serving? – food, money, housing, setting – urban/rural, weather, people – number/type, animals, clothing, libraries? (whatever you want to share would be great)
Japan – Johnna knows from before that the food is delicious! A lot of rice, fish, chicken, vegetables, soy, sweet potatoes, good chocolate covered almonds and koala cookies with chocolate in the middle. Ice cream parfaits and good Italian and French food, too.
Money – they use the yen. It looks very different from American money.
Housing – small quarters. Rice mat floors called tatamis, sleeping on “futons” but they are just a thin mattress on the floor, not like what we think of in the U.S. when we hear the word “futon”. Sliding wooden doors.
Setting – we hope to be near Tokyo or Gunma. Gunma has cities of 100,000-200,000. Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world at over 13 million.
The people are very nice and extremely polite. The weather is similar to Seattle – not too cold.
Do you have kids? – Do they help? How do they like what you do?
Sophia is almost 8 months old. We think she will help us meet other kids and parents. We will take her to the park and maybe we’ll start a kids/moms play group. Kids in Japan love to play rock/paper/scissors and when they are younger, peekaboo (eenai, eenai, ba!).