Wednesday, October 31, 2007

September-October 2007

“Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” Psalm 31:19

As we approach the traditional time of year for “thanksgiving,” again I am acutely conscious that I have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful for your faithfulness in sharing in this ministry that is much bigger than I am and daily finds me shaking my incredulous head wondering why God has chosen to send me through doors that He constantly opens before my very eyes. Your supportiveness has made those steps of faith possible.

September began with opening day of OANSA (AWANA) with over 60 kids in Tepic and 80 in the Huichol village club of Zapote de Picachos. In the Tepic club, each leader is randomly assigned to a specific group for the year, and I love my special assignment with Leonardo and Fredi, 8th grade boys! I especially loved having the opportunity to emphasize to them that I would not be a very good friend of theirs if I didn’t make sure that they had made the decision to repent of their sins and accept the gift of eternal life that God offers by His grace to all who will place their faith in Jesus’ payment. Leonardo admitted that though he has been coming to OANSA for several years, he never really had taken that step. I am thankful I had the privilege of witnessing the birth of my young friend into God’s family. Last Saturday, we celebrated "Color Day" in the Tepic club. The kids and leaders contributed to the max and reaped the blessings of a very special day. I am thankful that so many leaders, many of whom were once OANSA clubbers, have a heart to reach out to children who will soon be the future leaders of the Tepic church.

I was invited to participate in the Summit Conference at the Kansas City Baptist Temple as a representative of Huichol Old Testament translation project. It was an unforgettable opportunity for growing personally, enlarging vision, and meeting many new friends, while sharing God’s amazing blessings on His incredible work in Tepic. If you want to see the Huichol OT Project part of the Summit Conference click on "Debbie Mellberg” under September 24.

September 30 was another very significant date in the history of God’s work in the Tepic church. David García, Pastor Martín and Erén’s 9-year-old son, was among the six believers who, in the horse trough on the lot adjacent to our church, followed Jesus’ example in baptism. Following his brother, Jonatán, David is the second to be baptized of the second generation of believers in Tepic. As a young person, his father accepted Christ in the early years of our ministry, and he and his wife now have had the privilege of leading their sons to Jesus. Pastor Martín baptized his son under the banner which reads, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Please remember to pray that the first generation will continue to be faithful to commit themselves wholeheartedly to God’s commands and not fail to repeat them diligently to their children.

Hilario came "waltzing in" from Los Aires (quite a LONG waltz—a 7-hour hike from Los Aires to the rural bus stop, then a 13+ hour "ride" from the bus stop to Tepic) the day before I left for the Summit Conference. After the customary, "How's the wife? How are the kids?" etc., we got to the "point" that he had finished his assigned translation chapters, 12-19 of Genesis, due the last week of January, next year. He "waltzed" back to Tepic the first week of October to key in the data to Vuhasi, one of the Huichol OT project laptops, and to attend the two intense days of classes on Bible interpretation for Huichol pastors that my son-in-law, Jacob, tailored to their needs. Hilario is pretty amazing, and Jake’s pretty amazing, too. His love, patience and connection with the Huichol brothers is nothing short of phenomenal.

If you look carefully at the picture of Hilario smiling his little stoic head off, you will notice one of the MegaVoice Mp3 players on the little stick table on the front porch. We finally got what we thought was the last of the compressed and formatted missing files back from MegaVoice, and Jake got them uploaded to 25 test units…only to discover that chapter 1 of Hebrews is missing! The chapter has already been recorded, but somehow it never got processed for uploading. Unfortunately we didn't find that out until the day the pastors were leaving to return to their respective villages. As far as we know, that is all that is lacking for the completion of the project and beginning the distribution of the units. The 25 test units are out "on loan" in 4 villages for the purpose of checking for other possible missing or erroneous passages. If all is well, Jake will be back in January and begin the process of reloading the 25 and uploading the complete NT to the remaining 975 units. The guys were so happy to see and hear the almost-finished product, they even insisted on playing it all through our lunch and during break times. I am thankful for the participation of many who collaborated to help make the completion of this project possible.

I am thankful for the 16th anniversary celebration of the Tepic church this past month and for the visitors who came from North Village Baptist Church to share in the festivities. I am thankful that Kiki could serve as interpreter for Pastor McKeown’s challenging messages about God’s gift. She does a great job; when she opens her mouth to interpret they say that "nopales and frijoles" (cactus leaves and beans) come out! I am thankful for the exciting and miraculous news that she and Jacob are expecting my 2nd grandchild in June. I am especially thankful that every one of my children loves our heavenly Father and that they and their spouses love and participate actively in the work that their earthly father was led to begin.

This month marks the 2-year anniversary of the "new birth" of the first 36 Huichols from José Lopez' natal village of Guásima del Caimán. All of the believers of that community have relocated on the outskirts of the village of Puga, about 40 minutes’ drive from Tepic. They held a big corn-sharing festival in honor of the anniversary. I am thankful that in spite of major persecution, they have remained faithful, and Refugio is becoming an exemplary pastor for his little flock of 80+ believers.

On November 2, we will be celebrating the 3-year anniversary of the completion of the church building in the relocated village of Zapote de Picachos. The word is out, and we are expecting people from LOTS of villages, including the "brand new" believers from Paso de Alica. Juventino and Manuel brought back the news from the group of brothers (about 15) from various villages that opted to pass on the invitation to share in the celebration of 16 years of the Tepic church in order to take an evangelistic trip upriver, the first week of October, to Paso de Alica. About 20 people gave their hearts to Christ, and 20 more "signed up" to believe at the next opportunity. That sounds weird, but, that's how it happens. Juventino shared that when they arrived in the village, they were greeted by the local professor who received them with open arms. They went to the village commissioner to ask for his consent to share their faith publicly, and he told them that since the village square was so full of drunks, it would be best to ask the professor for permission to use his large vacant lot. Authorization was given, and they began one-by-one, communicating the change that God's gift has made in each life. They sang songs accompanied by the stringed instruments they took along, and Manuel shared a message and an invitation to everyone who gathered around to hear. Juventino also told me that years ago (before he was even born), there were believers in the village; their pastor was Nicho, but when Nicho died, the flock began to scatter, and now no believers were left. I am thankful that visitors from Phoenix agreed to be "God's smugglers" of the blankets that the VBS kids of the Tri-City Baptist Temple in Oregon made that we will pass out to the families that attend the big celebration in Zapote de Picachos.

October 21 was Kirt's 59th birthday, and I invited Pastor Martín and Erén, and Pastor Nacho and Lorena and my 5 little Mexican "grand" kids to Burger King for lunch for our annual celebration of the momentous occasion. Kirt loved taking them there, and they love going. All during the "birthday party" I found myself reflecting on how blessed I am to be able to continue to share with these wonderful, maturing servants of God, and how fortunate I am that friends like you have made that possible. Thank you so much for your confidence and for all you have done to be a big part of the "means" He has provided to keep this work moving, even in Kirt's absence. We have MUCH for which to be thankful!

Quick Reference Version of September-October Prayer Requests:
· Tepic and Zapote OANSA
· Pastors Martín, Nacho, and José Luis – Tepic
· Huichol pastors: José, Manuel, Joaquín, Hilario, Custodio, Porfirio, Valentín, Refugio, and Gregorio
· Kiki and Jacob’s baby
· Zapote de Picachos dedication anniversary
· Huichol Old Testament translation project
· Huichol New Testament Mp3 project



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