|Craig with fellow |
During a dramatic week of World Cup qualifying, one of the big headlines was Panama's president declaring a national holiday the day after their first ever participation in the tournament was secured. The slapdash nature of this was certainly a key component of the story. I joked with a friend that, were the same thing to happen to Bolivia, we'd probably get a week! For spur-of-the-moment days off work are standard practice down here, so much so that we're struggling to remember the last time Sam attended school for a full five days.
(Utterly irrelevant tangent alert: Bolivia, like Scotland, share the honour of having played in the opening game of the World Cup, Bolivia against Germany in Chicago in 1994, and Scotland against Brazil in Paris in 1998. And Bolivia, like Scotland, have since failed to qualify. See also: Senegal, South Africa.)
Local holidays and the like, curiously, have taken on a strikingly different complexion since Sam started school, with things reaching something of a nadir this week. Two consecutive days went down the proverbial, with the added bonus of being announced only on the afternoon of the day before. Wednesday was international women's day so, naturally, all members of the fairer sex were entitled to an impromptu day off (at no inconvenience whatsoever to their employers, one would vouch), while a a maintenance mishap rendered the school unsafe for Sam and his toddler cohorts on Thursday.
The circumstances were not ideal, not least for Amanda, who had flown solo on the parenting front from Thursday till Saturday of last week, thanks to a conference I attended. This was the annual national assembly of Misiones Cristianas Bolivia, our church's denomination, which, for the first time in its 57-year history, was taking place in Trinidad itself. This was my first time in attendance as a delegate (my membership was confirmed on the opening day), with two others in our church already among the membership. Essentially, the national assembly was an extended business meeting, with a significant chunk of time given over to reviewing the body's constitution (so long that much of it will have to be reviewed via email communications over the following year). A necessary evil, then, if not quite my idea of fun.
That said, it was a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from across the country. Like Mark and Carol, an older American couple who run a seminary in a rural part of the country. Or Mario and Helen, who are commended from the very first church I attended as a boy back in Hamilton. Or Felix, a Bolivian missionary who works with a tribe who are based 12 hours' from the nearest major city. No electricity + no internet + no telephone lines = a calling!
Helpfully, the fellowship opportunities were extended beyond the conference itself. In the evening, three special services were held for the Trinidad churches to attend, with a series of talks given on the Reformation. One of the main speakers was Canadian Jürgen Schultz (or 'Jorge' to Bolivians) whom attentive readers may remember as being our speaker at camp last year -- and a very good one at that! It was good to catch up with him, too, and his 40-minute overview of the life and impact of Martin Luther was soul-stirring.
At the Foundation this week, the annual ENT surgical campaign has been in full swing and Amanda has been helping to keep things ticking over. Meanwhile, I've been preparing more teaching materials for church: a sermon for this Sunday and, for Thursday, a new Bible study based on a book called 'Living in the Power of the Gospel'. It's a book that was recommended to me by a missionary friend as having had a powerful impact on pastors and laypersons throughout Bolivia recently. We began by reading the first couple of chapters and thinking particularly about Colossians 2:6, with its encouragement to the believers to live their lives 'just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord'. In other words, it is the same power that saved us that now sanctifies us, and not an ounce of this comes from within ourselves. If you've read the blog of late, you can see that this ties in nicely with some of the issues that have arisen in the light of our sermon series in Galatians.
Anyway, best get on with the rest of my day. After all, Sam never seems to have classes on Saturdays!
- This week we met with a young couple called Cristhian and Milena, who are having some marriage difficulties. They have a three-year-old son. Please pray for them, and for wisdom for ourselves in counselling them.
- For our work as board members at the Foundation, where we are occasionally having to deal with some difficult staff issues.
- Craig and the rest of the Langham Preaching group had their first meeting this morning since the Level 3 workshop. Give thanks for a good start.
- For a great initial Bible study on Thursday.
- For a good first MCB meeting for Craig last weekend.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda