Today is New Year's Eve. This is a time when many reflect on the past year in preparation for looking to the next year. I would like to begin this post by saying what an incredible year it has been. God is good, He fills our cup beyond measure both spiritually and materially time and time again. Katie and I truly feel unworthy for the blessings that have been put in our path. Yet, those same undeserved blessings are what motivate us to die to ourselves more and more each day and sacrifice more in honor and recognition of what we have received from God the Father through His son Jesus Christ. "For to live is Christ and to die is gain." This year what we truly hope and pray for is that God may transform us more and more into His image. Below is a collection of verbal snapshots of the mighty ways God has worked in our lives this year. To Him be all the glory, honor and praise.
January - The Forbess family says goodbye to friends and loved ones in Brownwood, Texas at the Send-off Sunday. We arrive in Cochabamba on the 10th of January where we first lodge at the Apart-Hotel Regina on Spain Street (Calle Espana). Soon after we arrive to our host families home and began language school.
February - The Forbess family sets up house behind the Mustafa family's house on Pasaje Man Cesped in the beautiful neighborhood of Cala Cala. The Mustafa's treat us as part of the family. We enjoy birthday parties, block parties, Sunday lunches, visits to Grandma and Grandpa Milan, watching Carnaval and who could forget watching the Mexican soap operas together each night for language practice! We even shared the illness of Faiz and the health problems of Katie together. The Mustafa's are very special and we were blessed to spend 8 weeks in their home enjoying their company and hospitality.
March - We say a teary goodbye to the Mustafa's and the taxi cab driver assumes we are leaving our parents to live in another country. The taxi driver doesn't quite get it when we tell him, "no they are not our parents and we are just moving 5 minutes away!". We first move into the Sandoval's apartment while they are in Chile as we await for our apartment to be finished. Around this time we are also put in contact with Cecilia and Aida who became Christians in Santa Cruz and now live in Cochabamba. We are also put in contact with a young man named Ramber who had befriended a Floridian elder before returning home to Cochabamba.
April-We get pretty settled into our apartment although we continue waiting for our curtains and other small items for the house. The work sees progress as we begin to make more and more relationships with Cochabambinos. We also were blessed to have a great visit by Roland and Carol Bowen. As a team we spend a few days out in Tiquipaya with the Bowens.
May-The weather in Cochabamba gets cooler as we settle into Cochabamba's winter months. Katie's mother and sister come to visit and see this wonderful place that we call home. As a team we begin searching for places to rent for the Contact Center where we can house our offices and classes. The church family is also visited by the Rufino and Alicia who serve the La Paz congregation and they introduce us to the Vargas family who greet us with tears as they explain how much they have longed for the fellowship of other Christians in their city of Cochabamba after the previous congregation shut its doors because of lack of funds and people moving away.
June-The weather gets even a touch cooler. We locate the property in the Prado just a few minutes walk from our apartment. Billie Gill and Jonathan Sandoval arrive to spend the summer with us. Denise Sandoval and her fiancee Daniel, who is now her mister, arrive to spend a little while in Cochabamba as well. Teammates of ours complete the basic language course at Maryknoll, just as Josh and I are in the midst of our Quechua course. Katie and I visit La Paz for the national ladies conference where we are able to spend quality time with brothers and sisters from both La Paz and Santa Cruz. Additionally some time around here Vicente begins to meet with us after finding our page on the internet and corresponding with Gary.
July- For some reason I can't remember this month that well. Perhaps it is because we had so much happen in June! We begin working on getting the contact center up and running. Towards the end of June or beginning of August we begin using the contact center for our meeting place on Sundays. In July the Marcums play very gracious hosts for a wonderful 4th of July party that really helps to take away any homesickness on a special day in the Forbess household.
August- In August one of our best friends in the whole world comes to stay with us for one month. Becky Phillipart of Washington, D.C. comes intending to study Spanish and ends up opting for playing with Jubilee and exploring the wide selection of movies down in the Cancha! We loved having Becky with us, or simply -B- as Jubilee called her. Also during this time the whole team is visited by the Chesser family of the Austin Avenue Church of Christ. What a great time it was to see their youngest daughter Ruthie playing with Jubilee, Michaela and Nathan. We were very encouraged by their visit.
September - The work on the contact center continues. We also begin to keep our eyes open for a larger rental space where the church can meet. We locate a great space on Mayor Rocha just two blocks from our home. Also around this time, we as a team begin to look forward to the January launch with fervor and anticipation. Plans begin in order to make this a special time in the life of the church body in Cochabamba. Katie and I also meet with the Custer's and Billie Gill to discuss plans for an English class using the Bible. Katie, Billie, and Jamie also begin visiting the Free Hands workshop to lead a Bible survey class also with the help of Trish who spends tireless hours at night working on teaching aids for activities to go along with the classes. Free Hands is a very special organization that provides employment opportunities for ladies or children of ladies in need of rehabilitation.
October - Another big month for the Cochabamba work. October sees the grand opening of the contact center and also the beginning of our free English courses. Our conversational English classes used the first 6 chapters of Luke and proved to be a great starting point for wonderful discussions about Jesus and His purpose on Earth. Around this time we also begin meeting in the space that is located on Mayor Rocha for worship services on Sunday. In October, the guys also pay a very encouraging visit to the brethren of Santa Cruz. We are able to preach in three different congregations on Sunday and make lasting friends with many Christians in that city.
November - The biggest news of November would have to be the arrival of beautiful Eleana, who is the newest addition to the Marcum family and the Cochabamba team. We see Trish go off to the states to help Denise get ready for the wedding and Jamie continues to get closer and closer to the day that her and Drew's little one will come. At the end of November we celebrate a lovely Thanksgiving meal in the new home of the Bulls. We celebrate the conclusion of our English classes by hosting a N. Amercian style Thanksgiving meal with the help of Billie and and the Custers, being surprised with an attendance of over 40 people. We also hosted a birthday party for Jubilee at the church building complete with clown and all, and were very honored by a large crowd, some of whom included our host family, English students and some of the ladies who work at Free Hands. November also sees Butch and Drew offer a free course at the contact center on how to study the Bible. In November, we were also so excited for our sister in Christ, Cecilia whose husband arrived in Cochabamba after being in the states for several months.
December- Little Hannah Lynn joins the company of 4 other little ones (Michaela, Eleana, Nathan and Jubilee) plus two big ones (Denise and Jonathan). Our team is blessed with beautiful children and we are so grateful to God for each of them. Before Billie leaves for the holidays, she prepares over a hundred fruit bags to give away to the children who live in the womens' prison with their mothers. In December we continue with English devotionals in our home for those English students who would like to continue practicing and learning. Katie's parents and auntie Doris come to town for a visit before Christmas. The visit comes at a perfect time and we have a wonderful early Christmas celebration with them. Katie, Jubilee and I spend a week in La Paz to encourage and be encouraged by the brethren there as well as have a little family time.
There are so many other people and events to mention. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list of happenings. It is to show however, how much God has done during this past year in the city of Cochabamba through the lives of a small group of His servants.
Nothing that has been accomplished during this time could have occurred first and foremost without our Heavenly Father. In addition, Katie and I would like to send out a special word of thanks to those who support us with funds, prayers and correspondance. The phone calls, e-mails and care packages are incredible. We would also like to solicit your prayers for a very urgent request. Katie and I found out last week that two of our supporters will no longer be able to continue during the year 2007. Another supporter informed us that their contribution will be reduced. The lacking funds total $750.00 per month. We truly appreciate the sacrifice of these individuals and congregations and want them to know from the bottom of heart how special and important their help has been. We also are looking to replace the lacking support from other sources, so we would ask that you keep us in your prayers that God may take care of us during this time.
THANKS AGAIN! WE LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!