Monday, August 21, 2006

August Happenings

Comings and Goings:

Today is Monday, the 21st of August. We send our love and greetings to all of you out there. This month again has been a very full month. Since the last post we have two very special visits. One was from the Chesser family of Austin Avenue and the other was from our good family friend Becky Phillipart of Washington, D.C. Having visitors is always a very encouraging experience for us and we look forward to other visitors.

We ourselves will be visiting other places in the next three months. In September we have been invited to a congregation outside of El Alto which is near La Paz for a men's conference. We don't know if it will be a whole family trip yet, but I am definitely planning to go. We also have a visit to Santa Cruz planned in October as Katie and I have not made a formal visit to the congregations in that city yet. We did get to see some of the Santa Cruz bretheren in La Paz during the ladies conference but we of course would like to see them again. In November we are planning to go to Honduras for the Pan American Lectureships. As a team we decided to set aside some team funds to send one family as Cochabamba representatives each year to the Pan American Lectures. The Pan American Lectures for those who may not know, is a yearly event alternating locations in Central America, Mexico or South America and it is for all people interested in the Lord's Church throughout Latin America. Katie and I are very excited about getting to see many old friends and making new ones. We will probably have to spend one night in Miami on our way, perhaps we will have a little Miami reunion with old friends in the South Florida area!

Reaching the Lost & Encouraging the Lord's Body in Cochabamba:

This month has seen some special moments in the life of the work here. Yesterday on the 20th was our fifth Sunday to worship in the contact center, which is the small space we are renting downtown on the Prado for offices. It is already too small for our group which is now usually between 25 to 30 people. Granted most of our worship assembly is made of of the team, but we do have Bolivian Christians who regularly meet with us as well as ocassional visitors. The contact center is pretty much ready for us to begin using it for our offices. To solve the space problem we have already located another larger property that was formally a gym. It has plenty of room for us to grow and it has a great area upstairs that the Children's Ministry is already planning on using for our children's Bible classes.

Many people may wonder what we are doing with our time right now, as we are still working up towards the January Launch date and our official launch of the work here. As the year progresses we see our time becoming more and more filled which is of course a marvelous thing. Currently I am leading two weekly Bible studies, one of which is with my friend Ramber and his mother and also ocassionaly his sister. This study is going well and we have been able to cover a lot of the basics, I am hoping and praying that this family becomes a part of our church family soon. Another Bible study I am leading is with our door man. This study is also going well, but we are going a little slower because I feel the need to explain things a little more in depth with Juan Carlos. However both men often surprise me with their eagerness to continue studying and it is uplifting to be able share such good news with people who really have not heard the gospel in its' entirety as of yet. Please continue to pray for both Ramber and Juan Carlos that God may work in their hearts to bring them into a reconciled relationship with Him.

I am also teaching a weekly English class for one of the Spanish teachers from Maryknoll. She would like to attend a Presbyterian Seminary in Viriginia and she needs to take an English test before she can be accepted. I am helping her to prepare for this test, including giving her tapes of Bo Shero's sermons for listening practice which she seems to enjoy and they make a great starting point for conversation practice as well. Please pray for Karla as she prepares for this important test and also as she is gradually being exposed to some ideas on the Bible that she has perhaps not considered before.

In addition to the Bible studies and the English class I am also involved in a small group Bible study at the Sandoval's house being led by Butch. This is a small group time designed to encourage church members and give them a forum for sharing important prayer requests. Our family, the Sandovals, the Custers, Billie Gill and the family of Brother Renan and Sister Leticia are participating in this small group. Another small group which is more evangelistic in design will begin within the next two weeks in the home of the Marcums with the Bulls also attending. The small group at the Marcum's will focus on the sharing the gospel with visitors. In the future, once we have a better idea of how small groups work, Katie and I will begin a small group in our home. The Bulls and Custers will also eventually break off to lead small groups in their homes as well as Renan and Leticia most likely. We hope to make the small groups a very important part of both our evangelistic efforts as well as a way to encourage and mature the church body. Please pray for our small groups, that many will hear and obey the gospel as a result and that many will also be encouraged to spiritual maturity as a result of these study and prayer times.

Serving as Christ Served:

Another important role that Katie, Trish and I have on the team is to organize a benevolence/outreach program. Of course our first priority is to serve the needs of the body as they have need, and we are beginning to plan for that. We are currently considering how best to cloth and feed members as they have need. Once the larger building is being used for worship services we also would like to have storage space set aside for both dry goods and used clothing.

The Benevolence Team has also been visiting different organizations in Cochabamba that are already serving in some capacity. We would like to have a good idea of what the needs in our community are and which of those needs we can best serve. It is a process that is both exciting, daunting, and sobering at the same time. On one hand we can see great potential in serving others in the name of Christ in this city. On the other hand, how do we decide who and how to serve??? There is such great need here as there is in any city on Earth, and it is challenging to know where God would like us to serve. Please also pray that God may give us wisdom concerning this decision of how to serve our community.



Friday, August 18, 2006

noticias de agosto

Perhaps you will notice in our blog updates and bi-monthly newsletters that I increasingly switch between English, Spanish and a little Quecua. I do this as thinly veiled plot to increase your vocab to prepare you for your upcoming visits. We love visitors, we want you to come!!

This evening we said bon voyage to our good friend Becky. She is in fact much more than a good friend and although we are sad to see her go, we have immensly enjoyed the three weeks she got to spend with us in Cochabamba. I fear she did not get to do all the touristy things there are to do here in Cochabamba but nonetheless she got spend major quality time with the Forbesses especially with Juju which we know was her true motivation to brave the trip. Included is a photo taken before Becky and Katie head off to the airport. Next stop for Becky the world traveler is Cuzco and Maachu Pichu across the border in Peru. Please keep her in your prayers as she is going to brave Bolivian airlines and flota (bus) in the same trip, both of which can prove to be quite an adventure as I found out last week on my way back from the Chapare.