Well, we had hoped to have news of Sam's UK visa by now, but no concrete answers have been forthcoming. We wrote to the embassy in midweek, and we were informed that further enquiries are being conducted. Yesterday, we received an automated email informing us that the application had now been passed on to an entry clearance officer. We had been told that we would receive this email as part of the process, so hopefully that means things are progressing again. We have had no indication of timing yet; hopefully we will have an answer this coming week.
We can 'only' pray, and this morning we were reminded of the need for persistent prayer in all circumstances in our final Langham escuelita of the year, where I preached on Luke 18:1-8, and Edwin was once again in attendance from Cochabamba. Edwin took the opportunity to encourage the group to continue to meet in my absence. My right-hand-man Cristian will take charge while we are abroad, and dates have already been put in place for Edwin's next visit (in March) and our next conference (in September). When we look back on this second stint we have spent out here, Langham is an undoubted highlight. What a provision it has been to the churches involved, and what encouragement we all gain as Bible teachers by meeting together in this way.
Dr. Richard Wagner boarded Edwin's plane back to Cochabamba, having spearheaded another ENT surgical campaign at Fundación Totaí this week. We're happy to report that this year's campaign went by without a hitch. All the while, Amanda was working closely with two new staff members at FT, who will be replacing our outgoing Director of Finances, Mariana. As if to underscore Mariana's importance to the work, it has been necessary to hire both an accountant (Vladimir) and an administrator (Hernán). Mariana is staying on until the end of December so as to ensure a smooth transition, before she heads to seminary in the new year.
Amanda and I continue to chip away at the long list of tasks that remain, though the closer we get to leaving, the more things we remember we have to do. People here, so thoughtful in this regard, are also keen to ensure we get a proper send-off (we're only away for six months, guys!). Among other things, an FT staff member is trying to organise a farewell event for Mariana and Amanda, and I may be required to speak at a wedding on the 27th of December -- a mere two days before we are due to set off for Santa Cruz. We are truly honoured -- while secretly wondering how on earth we will squeeze such things into our to-do list. We'll cope, I'm sure; somehow, by God's grace, we always do.
- For a prompt -- and affirmative -- answer to the visa question.
- For cool heads and the courage to take things one day at a time as our exit nears and the workload doesn't feel much lighter.
- This Christmas, our theme at church is 'The Light of the World'. Craig kicks things of tomorrow with a sermon on Isaiah 9:1-7.
- Craig and fellow elder Miguel Ángel had a really encouraging chat via FaceTime this week with Miguel Ángel's son and a missionary friend of his, who are based in Cochabamba. They are hoping to come through to Trinidad once a month to help support the preaching and music ministry next year. This will be a great help to Miguel Ángel and the church while I am away, especially as our pastor, Elías, is stepping down on the 31st of December.
- For a successful ENT surgical campaign.
- For the blessing of Edwin's final visit to Trinidad of the year, and the blessing of the Langham programme in general to our church and several others.
¡Que Dios les bendiga!
Craig & Amanda