With two children, maximizing time is of great importance. So, with the little time I have I will give some updates about us and the work.
First of all, all four of us are doing well. Jubilee is doing great in school. She has made many friends and Katie and I both feel very comfortable with her safety and well being. The teachers are doing a great job and we feel very welcomed to help out or observe which is very important to us as parents. On Friday Bolivia celebrates the Day of the Child and we have been invited to dress up as hippies and attend a special celebration at Jubilee's school. The hippy part won't be too hard I don't think! I have always told Katie that were she to pick the age and place when she would live her life it probably would have been Berkley cerca 1960 something.
Malakai continues to grow and show more and more of his unique personality and features. It is becoming apparent that he may resemble the Kings more than the Forbesses which provides some good balance since Jubilee so strongly resembles my side of the family. Malakai is also showing that he is very different from Jubilee. He likes to be held facing out where he can see the action and does not care at all for a bottle which Jubilee never minded. He has flashed a great smile that is certainly as charming as Jubilee's. We feel so blessed by Malakai and we ask for your prayers as we learn to be parents all over again trying to be the parent that both Jubilee and Malakai deserve and need.
Katie and I are doing well also. Katie is perhaps having a little cabin fever as she is accostumed to spending much more time outside the house than she is able to right now. However, she is very grateful for this special time that she has with Malakai that will never be repeated. They grow so fast! All four of us have experienced some minor health problems since Malakai was born due to a combination of lack of sleep and Jubilee being exposed to many more illnesses than when she was staying at home all day. Malakai was very congested for a while but seems to be doing much better. Jubilee had a bug but it did not last very long at all. Katie has been battling sinuses as well recovering from pregnancy and the birth process. I have been having a recurring sore throat. I have had tests run today to see if it could possibly be strep or mono. Please pray for all four of us that we may regain our physical strength in order that we may be continue to go strong here. Also please pray that Malakai's periods of sleep during the night get longer and longer so that mommy can get the rest she needs.
As far as the work, it continues to grow and grow. Here are a few bullet points although they certainly do not do justice to all that is going on.
Resurrection Sunday - Thanks to the hard work especially on the part of Josh and Gary and the ladies who organized the meal, we had a very encouraging service. We were surprised by an attendance that was about 80 people as our Resurrection Service last year did not have that many visitors. There was a special message delivered by Josh as well as some skits put on by the teens, as well as a special reading of scripture by the students of the intermediate Bible class. Following service we invited all to stay for a special time of fellowship and mealtime. Several of the visitors from that Sunday have returned since. Let us thank God that He chose this special day to encourage our team and church family through a great turnout as well as allowing our visitors to come away with a better understanding of Christ and His sacrifice for all of humanity.
Preaching Seminar and Contact Center Classes - We were blessed two weekends ago to enjoy the teaching of Josh during a special preaching seminar he hosted for church leaders throughout the nation. We had leaders come from La Paz, Viacha, Sucre, Santa Cruz and of course Cocha. Something really encouraging was the attendance of Gaston and Pedro who were baptized in November. The seminar continues on one weekend in April and one weekend in May. The first session of the seminar this month provided a good opportunity for growth and fellowship.
In addition to the Preaching Seminar, Butch and Gary principally have begun Bible classes again at the Contact Center. There are two classes being held. One on Monday nights and the other on Wednesday nights. The classes are "Biblical Christianity" and a New Testament survey class. Many of the students are repeat students and many of them are also new Christians who came to first hear the Word through the Bible Institute classes of last year.
English Classes - You may be thinking well what is Jeff up to? Well, one answer would be the English classes. This is the third time that we have offered conversation English classes and each time we learn more and more about what to do and not to do. This time I have changed the curriculum to go through the life of Christ, taking passages from all four gospels. We have four groups on Mondays with an average cumulative attendance of 25 although on our best Monday we had 29. The students are required to do outside of class writing and reading assignments which has really provided us some great places to begin our conversations on what we are reading about. This week we talked about the homework comparing the Sabbath of the Jews and the Sabbath rest that is found in Jesus. This was a real stretch for some of our students but by the end of the lesson, I was able to see that "aha" look on several students faces. We also looked at Mark 1 and compared the baptism of John to that of Jesus which also brought up some very novel concepts for some students. In short, thanks for your prayers and please to continue to pray for these classes. Not that all would come out speaking beautiful English, but that the eyes of their hearts would be opened to the will of God for their lives. I have already begun a personal Bible study with two of my students because of their interest. Mirna and Yves study with me on Fridays together and our first study was great!
Laura also has taken on the challenge of reaching out through teaching English. As soon as I finish this post I am going to call her and find out how her first class went although I am sure she did an excellent job. Her background in communications disorders allows her a unique and valuable perspective in regards to teaching the English language. She is teaching a class mainly for the teachers from Nathan's preschool who are recquired to learn English as a part of their job. Please pray for Laura and her students, that this may be a wonderful outreach to even more people in our community.
Harding Interns - Go Bison! In May we will be hosting a few Bison right here in Cocha. Last year our interns learned a lot as well as our team. We are looking forward to hosting three new students this year and exposing them to what mission work is like. Gary, Butch and I have already begun meeting to discuss what activities we would like to structure for our interns so that the experience may be as valuable as possible. We understand that for our interns it is a great sacrifice of time and money to come and be a part of what we do and for that reason we wish to honor that sacrifice by creating valuable learning opportunities for them. Please pray that our interns may find their time in Bolivia to be one of professional and spiritual learning and that God may also reveal to them if foreign missions is something that is for them or not. Also please pray for their safety and health.
Marcums on Furlough - The Marcums will be going on furlough in approximately two months if my memory is working at this time of night. We know from personal experience that furlough and the time preceding and following it can be one of mixed emotions. While it is wonderful to back with family and supporting congregations it can also be stressful especially with little ones in tow. Let us pray a special blessing for Josh, Julie, Michaela, Eliana, and Jana that their furlough may be refreshing, encouraging, and free of stress and health problems.
Okay, one more side note. I got into the Applied Linguistics program at UMass Boston. Yeah!!!!!! Thanks for your prayers. Of course just to remind you, it is a completely online program that I can finish entirely from here so it will not affect our commitment to the work here in Cocha. except of course requiring my time. I ask your prayers that God may use me and the knowledge that I will acquire to his glory and service. As a side note to a side note, in anticipation of this program I have been taking a Quechua class four nights a week. It has been a big sacrifice for Katie, and I appreciate so much her patience as daddy is gone four nights out of 7. My goal is to increase my knowledge of language learning and I also look forward to being better equipped to minister to the Quechua speaking population. Please pray that one day I can actually teach people about God in Quechua as right now my ability seems very far from that lofty goal.
Well that should about wrap it up. Did I say something about being brief about two hours ago? Well, I blew that but at least now you know a little more of what has been going here. I thank God for you and your love for us and this work. Let us continue to pray for eachother's ministries that God may use as salt and light in a dark and tasteless world.
La Familia Forbess