Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recent Work

To My Most Amiable Readers,

I thought I'd post our latest newsletter as it sums up a lot of the activity of late

Kingdom Mathematics

As you may recall, we landed back in Chile two weeks after the national church divided. We stepped into a veritable mine field of tension, confusion, and broken relationships. I didn't get the church split; the division. It seemed so contrary to all that had been worked and hoped for in the last few years. And worse yet, it was long division. Not a squabble to be mended, a wound to be patched up, but a permanent rending. Considering the multiple exhortations in the New Testament, and Christ's own prayer for believers, that we would be "one", this seemed disastrously out of step with God's will.

A turning point came with the visit of Steve Shenk and Antonio Ulboa; EMM workers. They held a gathering for the former church members; which, having them all willingly together again was a miracle in itself. What followed was a unique and painful time of praying, forgiving and being forgiven, blessing one another, and closing out the fellowship in an honoring, loving way. Towards the end of the evening, Steve spoke, “I think what we're seeing here is not a division, but a multiplication”.

A multiplication. I get that. I finally understand a bit more Paul and Barnabas's dividing quarrel. These very gifted, strong minded people were pulling in different directions. Steve used the example that they were like horses trying to pull a load together, but each having a completely different direction they thought they should go. Hence, lots of annoyance and not much pulling.

We rejoiced in God's mathematics as we watched the astounding developments which followed. Eduardo and Juanita, along with Ricardo and Eliana organized a kid's Bible club on Isla Tenglo, reaching out to the island children. Eduardo and Juanita are also soon moving in to their new home in Alerce (a miracle in itself, the Lord provided this dwelling for them way ahead of schedule!), where they are going to be church planting and living out His love there. Voni and Gigi, and us at their invitation, are planting a house church, which is made up of all new believers. We're currently looking to rent a house to meet in as our group grows. Five rowing kids are regularly studying the book of John with us each week, along with some of their family members! Dustin and Voni are studying the Word with our neighborhood men, one of whom gave his heart to the Lord last week! Dustin and Eduardo continue their outreach in the Andes; where two men have come to the Lord in the last few months and where doors keep opening.

I think I'm getting it now. God's mathematics rock. Praise be to Him, who doesn't think as we do, whose ways are different than ours.

Kingdom Sports

I realize it might look odd. You send a missionary to Chile and she spends a vast amount of time and energy rowing up and down the canal. Why, she and her trainer were even nearly killed when a day-dreaming boat captain barely missed crushing their double. She talks about sea lions chasing her, about bloodied hands and horrific blisters, and about the upcoming Nationals which they're training for. Is this what missionaries do?

I've never claimed to be a terrific evangelist. But I'm a pretty good friend. I figured that the best way to reach out to the youth in the area would be to walk the same path with them somehow. Walking to rowing, talking in the changing room, suffering together out in the boats, talking about life while we swim together out to the farthest buoy, going on trips, and playing ping-pong have all given me opportunities to be salt and light in their lives. After three years we've formed relationships of deep trust and have been able to walk with them through hard times and good times, giving evidence in all we do that God has changed us into people of joy.

And praise be to God, we invited them to study the Word with us, and they said yes! I can't tell you how much joy I have to hear them read and discuss God's Word. We meet once a week and study a chapter of John. Sometimes we pray, sometimes we don't. We took two of them, Coni and Felipe, with us to visit the children in an orphanage in Osorno. We did nothing spectacular. We wanted to show our rowing kids who are studying Jesus' life something of what Jesus would do; and what we should do if we are truly His hands, His feet in the world.

We developed a plot with Fredi Solis; a wonderful, wise friend who grew up in that orphanage. Let's bring these Jesus-seekers to some kids who really need His touch, His smile. We toured their home, played with them, and waded through alternating waves of sorrow and joy. We helped serve the children their Christmas meal; chicken with rice. We then gave out the cards we'd made as a group the week before along with board games for the orphans to play when it's rainy outside (which would be 80% of the year).

Like I said, we did nothing spectacular; if pressed for the reason of my absolute certainty of the success of that evening I could not explain it to you. But it was one of those rare Joy Baths; where Heaven pours over you something thicker than happiness, something that makes you equally susceptible to laughter or tears. Felipe said it well as we drove home, "I felt so much pain for them, but at the same time so much joy; it was so weird!". Coni said, "Sarah, that was so beautiful." I agree.

Please pray for our Bible study group: Felipe, Coni, Yoya, Pablo, Daniel, Joana, Angelo, and Yenny.

In Christ, Sarah

My turn (Dustin),

I will try and keep this as short as possible being that so much has happened. One of the my outreaches has been getting together with my neighbor Christian and working on building projects together. He is a retired police chief and loves to work with his hands. He has the only American style workshop I have seen in Chile. We have built a shed, a metal fence, built a floor for his fishing boat and many other little projects. All this is to show that I have spent a great deal of time with him. About 2 months ago I invited him to our mens Bible study and since he has all the time in the world he started to come. Well about two weeks ago he gave his life to the Lord (praise God). He grew up Catholic but never really excepted everything they teach. So if you ask him about receiving the Lord he says “I received Jesus in a way that corresponds to what we have been studying these last two months”. We are very excited for this and our children love spending time with him and his family. And I (along with Sarah) have enjoyed getting to know them and also go fishing with him. I go fishing with him and another neighbor Ricardo about once a month and catch lots of freshwater Salmon (I know your confused but don't worry I can explain later). I have two prayer request at this time one is for my neighbor Ricardo he just lost his brother in a terrible car accident. It has really shaken up his family and we are praying that this brings him closer to the Lord. The other prayer request is for Christian's family that they too might come to know the Lord.

I have been consistently meeting with our small group in the mountains which has four families and at times two to three other adults. This has been very encouraging in watching them grow into their relationship with the Lord. We have been doing a Bible study book with them each time we go up and it is amazing reading their answers and discussing why they came to certain conclusions. Eduardo and I meet together every Tuesday to pray for the people in the mountains and also to see what the next step the Lord has for us. A prayer request we have is what should our next step be.

I fill the rest of my time with helping Voni and Gigi in the new church plant, which consists of meetings, cookouts and trying to find a building we can use as a church. I also have been helping Eduardo in getting his new house ready for him to move into. The house just has concrete floors, so I helped him put down some laminate and ceramic flooring. Eduardo has been able to do this thanks in part to the Sunday school classes at Landisville Mennonite Church that have been supporting Eduardo and Juanita. And Eduardo wants to pass on his thanks. Every time his sees me he wants me to know how much you guys mean to him.

Blessings and hope 09 is a great year for you all.