Saturday, November 25, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

noticias de noviembre

The month of November is quite different in Cochabamba. Instead of crunchy brown and orange leaves underfoot, pumpkins and horns of plenty we are greeted with heavy rain, warm weather and new greenery all around us. November falls during the Bolivian springtime. It is quite a beautiful time of year also, Cochabamba is known as the Ciudad Jardin, or Garden City of Bolivia and during this time of year it really shows. Trees and bushes are flowering all over. For you botanists out there there are hybiscus, bouganvillea (know I spelled that wrong), poinsetta trees, vines, fruit trees, willows trees and other trees that are purple in colour and whose name I do not know. In short it is lovely!

The month of November finds our family doing overall very well. Jubilee is just getting over a cold and cough but it seems to be getting better. Katie and I are both enjoying good health as well. The team experienced the birth of little Eliana Marcum and awaits the Custer baby coming any day now. Let us thank God for the uncomplicated birth of Eliana and pray that Jamie and her baby experience the same. In other team news, Trish is preparing to leave for the states this Wednesday to help Denise prepare for her wedding in December. Butch will stay in Cochabamba to meet up with Jonathan who is finishing up his semester with Harding's program in Chile, and then he and Jonathan will also leave for the states. Please pray that the Sandovals have safe travel and be praying as well for Denise and Daniel as the begin their life as a married couple in December.

The work is also going well. Many things are happening all at once and it sometimes gets a bit overwhelming but it is a sign to us that God is using us as His instruments to minister to a wide variety of Cochabambinos.

Classes at Conexion Cristiana
Currently English Cnversation, Basic English and a how to class on Inductive Bible Study are being offered at the Conexion Cristiana. All three programs are showing a great deal of promise. We have met some really wonderful people so far. Especially rewarding to me, has been the conversation classes where we read from Luke. Just last week we had some of Katie's students over for dinner and we also had three students show up for Jubilee's birthday party. The classes will end at the end of this month until January. We are planning to celebrate a Thanksgiving dinner with English students from both the conversation and basic classes. We hope it will be a good time to get to know our students better and also Thanksgiving is one United States holiday that I just don't want to give up!!! Please continue to pray for the contacts that we are making, that many will come to be friends with us and more importantly come to be our brothers and sisters in Christ. My students are Patricia, Karla, Braullio, Carmen, Tania, and Patsy. Katie's students are Omar, Jose, Giovanni and Gilda.

January Launch
Our launch of the church occurs on January 14th of the new year 2007. This is going to be such a special time for us. We are inviting all contacts that we have made throughout our first year. This will be our host families from language school, students and teachers from the language school, our doctors, our pharmacists, our students, basically anybody who we have got to smile and know our names over the course of 11 months. Of course with three and now four incredibly cute babies on our hands we have been able to make many more contacts than we had imagined. We are going to have time to present all five families on the team, and have a special time of worship as well.

In addition to the visitors from Cochabamba we will also be hosting church family from Santa Cruz and La Paz. We are so happy that they view this as an important national event for the church. The Austin Avenue Church of Christ will also be sending 25 members to be present for the launch. If you would like to come it is not too late, let us know and we will find you a place to stay. We would love to have you. Please be praying that the launch goes well and serves the intended purpose which is to introduce ourselves in a formal way to the community, make new contacts, and offer a special time for brethren from Bolivia and the states to spend together and demonstrate how special it is to be a part of God's family.

Manos Con Libertad
Katie, Jamie, Billie and Trish have been involved in such an amazing and encouraging ministry that I just wanted to take a moment to describe it. Billie Gill had originally come to Bolivia wanting to initiate a women's prison ministry. She has gone many times to the prison but it has not offered her the ministry opportunity she was looking for. Meanwhile when some of the team was still attending Maryknoll the teachers offered students an opportunity to visit non-profit organizations. Josh and I visited a little place called Manos Con Libertad (Free Hands) that is a workshop which gives women getting out of prison and their daughters a safe place to work and make money for their families. Billie visited M.C.L. and after convincing them we were not a cult, our team's ladies were finally given the green light to do short devo style studies for the ladies during their work breaks. Katie hadn't really considered a ministry of this sort before, but wanted to do help nonetheless. We really had no way to know how this would turn out. We were given permission to go in on a temporary basis as the program director was traveling out of the country for five weeks. Now nine weeks later the director of the program is back, is pleased with what has been taught, and the ladies of M.C.L. are asking for our ladies to continue. The class being given is a Bible survey class starting with creation and going all the way to life of Christ and the birth of His church. Some of these ladies now come to our English classes and also three came with their children to Jubilee's birthday party. One of them made Jubilee a beautiful dress for her birthday as well. They are very sweet people. Please pray for this very special ministry, that many women will continue to grow in their knowledge of scripture and of God's love for them through this study time. We give thanks to God for the dedication of our team's ladies being willing to sacrifice time and energy to minister in this way.

We love you all and miss you all. Eat a lot of scrumptous Thanksgiving food for us!