Before the year's end, all being well, all three missionary couples working here will be taking to the skies for furlough periods, with the Holt family leaving Trinidad for Edinburgh a week on Thursday, Maicol & KC looking to be in Seattle by Christmas, and Amanda and I having already booked our flights home for December. There was no strategy behind our simultaneous departures, just the way things worked out. It won't exactly be a complete wipeout either, a six-week period over December and January being the only time that all three families will likely be out of the country.
However, it's fair to say that our impending exits have concentrated our minds somewhat on the job of handing over the work, a task which we hope will yield benefits not only in the immediate future. For in delegating the work we do to the locals for short-term periods, our prayer is that they will gain the experience necessary to carry on that work, or to at least expand into similar territory over the coming years, decreasing missionary dependence in the process.
And nowhere is that handover more vital than in the church, where our prayer is to see the community of believers here be in a position to stand on their own two feet. We want to see a church where the thinking and drive behind what we're doing comes from Biblically-rooted Bolivians.
So we were pretty excited last Sunday evening when we, our fellow missionaries, and the rest of the church received in impromptu invitation to a San Juan celebration, the 23rd of June being Bolivia's equivalent of Guy Fawkes' night. The event was hosted by one of the families here and organised by some of the young adults in the church. It was a 'school night', but this is Bolivia, so the whole thing didn't really get going till around 10pm (an increasing problem for old fogeys like us). But, far more importantly, the church had a couple of hours to enjoy a time of genuine fellowship, during which we spent an hour or so choosing songs to sing together to the accompaniment of a lone guitar, provided that the requesters shared a favourite Bible verse.
As church events go, this was hardly on the scale of, say, our big annual Christmas extravaganza. But how exciting, nonetheless, to see the locals get a vision for church unity, taking the initiative and delivering with such aplomb.
The working week has been fairly routine, but in amongst things, we've been getting to know our visitor, Joe Sturman, a little better. Joe has brought a thoroughly professional attitude to his work here, taking advantage of every opportunity given him to increase his medical awareness. Furthermore, we have seen a real prayer warrior at work, taking the time to commit the particular situations and needs he sees each day to the Lord. Now and again, when you're bogged down in the day-to-day grind, God gives you an outsider to remind you of what's important in missions, and Joe has certainly been a gift in that respect.
|The Tabernacle replica set: batteries/pillar of fire not included.|
I also began a series of Bible studies on the Tabernacle this week, as part of our bigger study of Exodus. In contrast with my dear wife's rigorous ecclesiacademic training in her formative years, I didn't get the chance as a boy in Sunday school to learn about, say, the meaning of the shewbread or who gets to sit on a mercy seat. So I've relished digging deeper into these passages over the last couple of weeks and enjoyed sharing these fruits with the church on Thursday evening. And the Holt family have the pleasure of bookending this week's post; 'twas Kenny who very kindly lent me the family's toy Tabernacle -- for illustrative purposes only, I stress.
- Craig is leading Bible studies and preaching pretty much throughout this coming month. Please pray for wisdom and openness to the Lord's leading as he prepares for these various duties.
- Pray also for Craig tomorrow morning, when he will once again be promoting the Emmaus course at a new church in Trinidad.
- Pray for rest over this weekend -- the dogs gave us a few headaches last week, pretty much eliminating any chance of rest. On which note, old Poppy is heavily pregnant and due any day now -- pray for a safe delivery of her puppies!
- Give thanks for the encouraging signs of initiative and independence from our brothers and sisters in the church this week.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda