Debora and Levi Santana link letter no.10 May 2019

Dear friends,

The last few months have been so full and exciting that we have, at times, struggled to process everything that has been going on. The words of the Psalmist seem appropriate:

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people”.

The only response to his sustained goodness is to continue to trust and obey him, so that is what we plan to do! May God strengthen us on this journey!

Family and kids

The family is doing well. Nicolas and Olivia are developing well and growing way too fast! Nicolas has continued to make good progress in school with good grades. We continue to pray for friends for him as he seems a little isolated at times. This is partly due to his personality but also to do with the fact that he came into a formed group only recently. He is very excited to visit the UK this summer when he will see his old school friends (he cannot wait!). Olivia is talking loads and showing huge interest in the alphabet and nursery songs. The notorious song “Baby Shark” has unfortunately been a huge part of our lives, but the reason for certain trials we will only understand in eternity!

Nicolas at the zoo

As a family we feel we have come a long way since arriving, and while there have been challenges, it is very much where we are meant to be.

Recent activities

In November we started “Bem na Rua” (Goodness on the Streets), a monthly outreach with a street salon, medical care, food, prayer and worship. This has been happening the last Saturday of the month, except in April when it happened on Good Friday.

Volunteer Lu cutting hair
The monthly outreach “Bem Na Rua” (meaning “Goodness on the Streets”)

On Good Friday, we also piloted a drop in centre idea. While half of the team offered haircuts and coffee on the streets, we simultaneously opened the church building and had a clothes bazaar, gave basic hygiene kits and offered showers. Around 60 people came. It worked really well, and the plan is to establish the drop in centre on a more regular basis until we have it running once a week. Our dream is to offer dental, medical and counselling services and to turn our centre into a place of refuge and help for the local community. We also dream to replicate this in other churches in the city.

The drop in centre

In April, we have also started offering a mentoring programme in a local rehab centre (Vida Nova Rehabilitation Centre), to help people there to plan for their lives beyond rehab. We are in conversations with a few people about setting up a business to employ people who finish their treatment. This is the greatest challenge we are facing – how to help people not only leave the streets but to also finish their treatment when they have no perspective of a better life on the other side?

Levi mentoring at Vida Nova Rehab

We are also waiting to hear from the authorities if our submission to become a charity has been approved. Although they are taking their time, we have been assured that we will be given charity status. This will mean that we officially exist and will make a lot of things easier, such as being able to have a bank account and apply for grants. It should also give us better access to working with other organisations.

In March, we had Paul Tester visit (CMS’s mission development manager for Latin America) and had a great time showing him around. His input and questions have really helped us crystallise the next steps for us as a family and for our ministry. We thank God for the support we get from CMS, through Paul and many others in the office back in Oxford which facilitates our ministry. This work we do is as much theirs as it is ours, for God’s glory.

Coming weeks

We are very pleased to be returning to the UK on our first home leave. It seems crazy but it has been very nearly two years since we arrived here. And we now need to take the time to report back, rest a little, see friends and family and enjoy a few home comforts! We land on 16 June. We would love to see everyone and are very open to invitations for coffee/tea etc. Levi will stay until mid-October but Debora and the kids will return in August because of Nicolas needing to be back in school. If you would like to see us or invite us to speak at your church or home group, then please do get in touch!

The work on the streets will continue while we are in the UK. We are so blessed with our team being able to keep it going, and will be praying hard for them while we are enjoying ourselves in England.

Levi’s health update

Levi’s throat infections have become milder and he is trying an alternative treatment suggested by a specialist. The treatment is essentially a vaccine to prevent it from happening altogether and, if successful, will mean that he does not need a tonsillectomy.

Please pray for:

  • Our health.
  • Friendships for Nicolas.
  • Our visit to the UK, for safe travels and good connections.
  • The work which will continue in our absence – the team is very capable – and that God will use them.
  • Our ministry, that we will be able to raise all the resources needed for the next stage of our work.

Thank God for how kind he has been to us. We thank him for letting us play and live this missionary life.

Much love

Debora and Levi, Nicolas and Olivia



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