Wednesday, June 18, 2008

¡Feliz Cumpleaños Pr. Raúl!

This past weekend, the church celebrated the birthday of Pr. Raúl. If you recall, birthdays are a big deal here. The pastor's birthday was on Friday. He arrived to church to find a pathway of confetti squares leading from his parking spot to his office and his office similarly decorated.

At church on Sunday, each service sang Happy Birthday and he was presented with a cake and a small gift.

Yesterday, was the surprise birthday dinner party at one of his favorite restaurants. This dinner party was by invitation only for about 75 of his closest friends, family members, board of directors at the church, and yours truly :-) . A few members of the worship team from the church were there to provide entertainment for the event. It was quite an evening, beginning at "7:30" (actually, more like 8:45ish) and continued until after I left at 11:30pm.
My camera has been having temper tantrums lately and refused to take pictures, hence the lack of pics on the blog. However, it was behaving itself last night. Enjoy the pics!

The birthday toast.

The birthday cake.

Pr. Raúl opening his birthday present from the church- a new cell phone.

The pastoral families (Pr. Raúl, Pr. Anax, and families) and the missionary.

The musicians providing live entertainment for the evening.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rain Delay

Here in Maracaibo, we are in the middle of rainy season. It doesn't rain every day, but when it does, it downpours. The city does not have a drainage system to remove rain water, so when it rains, the streets become rivers, making it dangerous to drive.

On Sunday, we experienced one of these downpours. It started raining at around 7:00am and continued with continuous heavy rain until around 10:00am.

Of course, I leave for church at 7:30 on Sunday mornings- usually. Well, not this past Sunday. I was on a rain delay. Taxis do not drive when it is raining like this. No taxis= no way to get to church. I was finally able to get a taxi at about 10:45.

Despite the heavy rains, there were still quite a few people at the church, although considerably less than normal. The service was great and I am glad that God provided a way for me to get to the church while teaching me patience in waiting for a taxi.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Let the training begin!

The team for Misión Ohio has officially begun training. The first training meeting was held yesterday. The meeting went well, but it is just the beginning. They will be meeting every week from now until they leave for Ohio in August. They have a lot to learn.

We still do not have our complete team. Of the 20 people who applied for the Visas at the Embassy, 13 of them were denied. They have the option of filing for a reconsideration and we have begun working on the paperwork for that. We praise God for the 7 who were given Visas and are trusting that God will provide the Visas for those who He desires to go on this trip.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Meetings and more...

Written on Friday, June 6 (Well, actually very early in the morning on Saturday, June 7- when I should be sleeping)

Tonight, we had a meeting for our mission team. There was a lot of discussion about team preparation- including spiritual preparation and being ready for the battles we will be facing in this Spiritual War that we are in. The topic of submission was also discussed- submission to the leadership of the team as well as submission to God’s Will.

They also discussed some logistically items, like the purchasing of tickets and financial issues (support raising- anyone who has been on a mission trip knows about this one). This meeting lasted for over 3 hours.

Afterwards, when I thought we were dropping someone off at their house before I was taken home, we ended up in the home of one of our other teammates. I wasn’t sure why we were there, but we were. A little bit later, a few other people from the team showed up, bringing food. This is not unusual for this group of people to get together, especially later at night, to eat and hang out. Before I knew it, there were quite a few people there. While I was talking with one of my teammates, all of a sudden the lights were turned off and I hear of chorus of “Cumpleaños Feliz” (Happy Birthday”). The team decided to throw me a surprise birthday party, complete with birthday cake. I was definitely surprised.

I also got a new taste of the culture—literally. Apparently one very informal tradition here is for the person having the birthday to bite the cake after the singing of Happy Birthday. This was a new one for me.

Tonight really confirmed to me that I truly have friends here in Maracaibo that love me and care for me. God has blessed me so much here. A todos mis amigos aquí en Maracaibo- Muchísimas gracias!!! Los quiero mucho!!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Requesting your prayers

Your prayers are needed!!

Our mission team here in Maracaibo is under attack in the battles of spiritual warfare. We are in need of prayer. I am asking that you please bring our team before the Lord daily as we prepare to share the Good News with the people in Ohio.

Ephesians 6:10-18- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Only in mis sueños

The other night, I had a dream (gasp, wow). I know, this is not huge announcement. Everyone has dreams. Usually, when I dream, unless I make special note of it when I first wake up, after I few minutes of alertness I forget I even had a dream, let alone what it was about. However, I made note of this dream the other day.

Why? Because it is the first time I can actually recall dreaming in Spanish. That's right, I have begun dreaming in Spanish. I don't remember what the dream was about, but I do remember that a few people from Filadelfia Church were there and I was talking to them in Spanish.

I have heard that you know that you have internalized a language when you start dreaming in that language. God has given me a gift of this language and I am grateful to Him that He has allowed it to become a part of my life.

Thanks everyone!

Many years ago today, God allowed me to enter into this world.  While I do not like to think about my birthday, I thank God for the life that He gave me. Thank you to everyone who has made me feel special today.  I do appreciate it.

It's Visa time

Well, the time has come.  A large number of our mission team is currently in Caracas, awaiting their interview tomorrow morning at the Embassy.  This interview will be the determining factor of whether or not they will be going to Ohio on the mission trip.   At this interview, they will be told whether their Visa to go to the United States is approved or denied.

While we can worry and wonder what will happen, we trust that God already knows what will be happening and it is all in His control.  He is taking care of the whole situation.  There is nothing to worry about.  Nobody is going to get their Visa unless He allows them and those who He has chosen for this trip will get their Visa.  

Isn't it great that we can rely on our Lord, who is faithful and has everything in His hands!