Monday, June 18, 2018

This Blog May be Dusty, but the Ministry Sure Isn't!

I lament that we were not able to keep up with the blog for those of you who are not local and would like to keep updated. There is never a dull moment when working in ministry! Please let us take a minute of your time to share some very exciting stories from the past couple of years.

Our last blog post was February of 2015 - what I bitter-sweetly remember as the calm before the storm. Those who have kept up with our family may remember that 2015 was the year that our oldest daughter's health plummeted dramatically and required a month-long stay in the hospital, followed by another month of out-patient care at a clinic where she spent eight hours a day. We encourage you to visit the Caring Bridge posts if you didn't follow them at that time. This post titled "It's Not What You Think it Is" and also this link that describes her diagnosis might be particularly helpful to sum it up. Understandably, this blog was abandoned. We praise the Lord that over three years of good health have passed, and we have settled back into a normal crazy life typical of a family with teen girls, a boy, "full time" ministry, and regular jobs.

Now to story time! (Aka testimonies of God's amazing hand.)

Story #1: God Uses a Cell Phone and Scrambles the GPS

We were on a 13-mile family bike ride with dear friends at Diamond Lake, close to Crater Lake, Oregon. I hadn't had cell signal the entire camping trip but took my phone along just for taking pictures. Somewhere along that bike ride my phone rang - odd!-it was the church secretary. A Spanish-speaking family had just come in to the office asking for someone to please explain to them the truth. They had a lot of questions and wanted to know exactly what was true. Their high school son had done a research paper on Martin Luther and brought some interesting conversations home. This precious family had been raised in the catholic church but Sundays were becoming miserable for them as they found themselves arguing, uncomfortable, and dissatisfied on their way to or from mass. A stranger knocked on their door the week before, offering them a pamphlet by Watch Tower Publications, including a local phone number and address. So on a Thursday afternoon in August, the family climbed into their car and set out to find the location listed on the back of that pamphlet. Twice they tried but failed to find this place, finally ending up in a church parking lot hosting a sign that read "Servicios en Español." The father of the family checks the church website, in the off-chance of finding doctrinal information in his native language. Note that a mere 6 days prior, we sent the Spanish translated statement of faith over to the office to be posted online, just in case someone might look for it someday. With some language barrier, our beloved church secretary gladly gives the family a Spanish Bible and Jose's phone number, then promptly calls us to let us know of the visit. As soon as we returned home the following day, Jose met with the family, and both the husband and wife accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now nearly two years later, the López family have become dear friends, especially their daughter with our daughters, and their son goofing around with our Daniel as if they were brothers. Mr. Lopez has become our passionate leader of youth ministries, his heart burning with a desire to share the gospel and to disciple. We shake our heads in wonder as we see how God used a research paper, pushed a cell signal through a remote campground, messed up a GPS, and shared His Truth through a document on a website. God bless the López family! Please remember them in your prayers.

Story #2: God Rebuilds, Remodels and Raises UP!

A small group of us at a beach trip last year.
Women's ministry within the Spanish congregation has been a constant burden on my heart. The history of this ministry includes various strategies such as weekly Bible study, monthly social gatherings, and efforts to build a leadership team through discipleship. Ups and downs, and the final blow of losing 3 of the 4 leadership team members left the ministry in a barely functional mode. Earlier this year we called a meeting in our home with all of the women invited, and we prayed with them over the need for a formal leadership team in the women's ministry. Votes were cast, the nominees had a chance to either accept or decline, and a final leadership team of five precious women began a new, revitalized chapter of the Spanish women's ministry. What a beautiful moment when those five women were surrounded by the rest of us as we laid hands on them to pray and to give hugs and words of encouragement. Since then, these women have done a phenomenal job to invest in the lives of the Spanish-speaking ladies of Evergreen Bible.

Story #3: A Dream Come True

Before our family moved to the U.S. from Honduras, José would ask me, "Do you think there's any chance that I could work in ministry in the United States?" It seemed uncertain at the time, and a full time pastor in this country is often required to have higher degrees in theological education beyond "just" a love for God's word and His people, and maybe a Bible college degree. I'll never forget our first Sunday visit at Evergreen Bible Church. It was a hot summer Sunday, our little girls in pretty pink dresses, and we were heading to our car after the service in a quaint, old church building with lemonade being served at a table on the front lawn. The pastor came running after us, not wanting us to leave without meeting us personally. That was the first of several conversations to try to find a place for José to fill his heart's need to serve in ministry. Two years later, our proposal was approved to begin a ministry within EBC that would exist to seek and serve Spanish speakers in the community. José held two, sometimes three, secular jobs to support our family, while the Spanish ministry held his heart and dreams. We joined an organization called N.I.C.E., a beautiful family of missionary pastors and church planters - such a source of encouragement! Meanwhile, God grew the ministry, brought many to salvation, and many others to join the weekly worship service, Bible study groups, park outings, visits, and much more. Fast forward four years, and another exciting chapter began when José was invited to join EBC part time, allowing him to leave his evening job. (You're welcome to read that blog post or watch  this video just for fun!) Fast forward another six years - José works at a local public school, the girls become teens, the baby boy grows into a grown-up little boy (still our baby!), I go back to work (two sets of braces, anyone?!), and the Spanish ministry at EBC grows by leaps and bounds (see Story #1 and Story #2!). A few weeks ago, José was officially invited to join the full-time pastoral team at Evergreen Bible. Today is his last day at a secular job, and next week will be his first day as a full-time pastor since we left Honduras in 2006. What seemed like a far-off dream will become a reality. Praise the Lord with us!

For the time being we plan to continue as members with NICE. We find the connections helpful and the encouragement a blessing. Regarding financial gifts, in the past we have used them for things such as flowers for hospital visits, groceries for families in need, gas to get us to home/hospital visits, cards and gifts for birthdays or other occasions, hosting dinners in our home, meeting for discipleship over coffee or a meal, prizes for Sunday School, just to name a few! Should you still feel lead to give to the ministry through NICE, you are welcome to do so and we will still use those gifts for ministry needs, but Jose's full time status at Evergreen will now be able to provide for our family's needs.

Thank you for your prayers, words of encouragement, and support! Please pray for us as we navigate this new chapter for our family. We hope to keep this blog a bit more active than it has been if we are able. As always, please send us your prayer requests, comments, messages, or questions and if you are in town - there is ALWAYS coffee on at our house, just waiting for a visitor like you to stop by.

God bless,
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah (15), Isabella (13) and Daniel (9)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Year in Review

Time and energy have prevented us from keeping this blog current, so here we are, hearts full, with an annual update!

To pick up where we left off...

Spring of 2014 we were honored and privileged to witness three young women's baptism, including our own precious daughter, who was 9 at the time. What a joy for pastor-dad to get to baptize his children.

Mothers Day was celebrated by each of the Sunday School classes, with an added special touch of a serenade by some of the men.

Father's Day was celebrated, per annual tradition, in a cold and wet park with plenty of grilled meat and sports activities. Here in the Pacific Northwest, mid-June doesn't often come with summer weather, so we just may re-think this annual tradition! Nevertheless, the men had a great time with their families.

Some of our fantastic fathers and kids playing at the park for Father's Day

Last August our church family went on the second-annual Spanish Family Camp up by Rife Lake and Mossyrock. We were especially blessed to reserve a site with Christian rangers who allowed us a big plot of camping space and didn't mind when our estimate of 75 campers turned into almost 100 campers. On Saturday night, several youth rededicated their lives to Christ, and one of them accepted Christ as Savior!

Two of the youngest campers

With Christmas comes our biggest outreach event of the year, and this year - our SEVENTH year to do this - was no exception! Once again it presented such a great opportunity for our church family to serve the Spanish speaking community and to share the gospel. We estimate that around 250 guests arrived to enjoy the piñatas (this year we had 2 piñatas for kids and 2 for adults! It was a big hit! - pun intended), hot "posole" soup, games, gospel message, and a fabulous skit from our youth. Our own kids have such fun when they see their classmates from school (our kids go to a Spanish Immersion school), and we also love to see familiar faces from year to year.

Every kid loves face paint!

Posole is a favorite soup for most everyone

Got cake?

Sweet little girls hearing that Jesus loves them

Great job, youth!

Preach it, Jose!

That big smile says that Jorge had more fun with the piñata than the kids!

If you have a minute, check out the youth's skit. They did a really great job and we're so proud of their hard work! The message is powerful. For you, we've included the version with the English vocals that the kids presented in the weekend church services at Evergreen Bible.

The women's ministry has been steadily growing, and the need for an established, formal ministry team could no longer be ignored. So last November, Ruth began meeting monthly with a group of six women to pray, study the Bible, memorize verses, and address the needs of the women in the church. What a joy and encouragement as these women take on their rolls with faithfulness and happy hearts! Here are some pictures from the ladies' Christmas party:

Jose continues to invest his time and energies into the leadership team as they meet regularly and as they shepherd the church family. He preaches every Friday night for the Friday night services (something that was added last year), and Sundays for worship service. Jose also visits church families and connects with them through phone calls during the week. Personal connections and time together is vital in the Latino culture, and is a crucial element to keeping unity with a sense of family! Jose works almost full time in the Vancouver School District as well - half-way through his third year at a local elementary school as a paraeducator.

Just two weeks ago, we both held a Sunday School teacher training seminar where a great group of our Sunday teachers came to be refreshed and given extra helps and ideas for blessing the children and youth every week.

Ruth continues to oversee the women's ministry and Sunday School ministry, as well as taking care of production of events, secretarial-type tasks for church, volunteering in our kids' schools as member of a PTO board and PTSA member, and other typical stay-at-home mom stuff. This is a busy time of life, but God is always in control and our constant provider of peace!

How to pray for us:

  • for Jose as he works with the leadership team and juggles responsibilities
  • for strong male leadership to solidify and grow
  • for the worship ministry to solidify and grow
  • for the new women's ministry team - that the leaders will grow in the Lord and begin to minister to other ladies as well
  • for our youth leaders (Carlos, Denisse, and Lupita) and the growing youth group
  • for our family as we deal with struggles and challenges, and our oldest daughter's health (last year was particularly difficult and we trust and have faith that the Lord will bring healing to restore her)
  • for the marriages in our church family and as we hope to hold a marriage workshop soon

Alvarez Family
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah (12), Isabella (10), and Daniel (5)

We say it every time, and we always mean it - how can WE pray for YOU? Please send us a message and let us know! May God bless you, each one, as you go about your daily doings - may HE be your focus and source of joy.

With love,
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah, Isabella, and Daniel

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Full of Praises!

Thank you so very much for praying for the outreach event last Christmas! We invite you to praise the Lord with us as well over 200 Spanish speakers heard the gospel, enjoyed a hot meal, participated in the festivities, and went home with Bibles and tracts. Although this event requires much planning and effort, we both agreed afterwards that it felt much "easier" this time with such wonderful collaboration from Spanish speaking church members forming teams, and with invaluable help from our brothers and sisters at Evergreen Bible.

Team members

Blessing us with a beautiful voice

Baskets of groceries to raffle out

Giving a warm welcome

Listening to the gospel

Working on a craft

Enjoying a hot meal of "posole"

Listening to the story

Sharing the message of salvation

We pray that the Word that was shared will continue to take root in the lives of the Spanish speaking community around our church and in our neighborhoods.

For New Year's Eve, we enjoyed a late-night potluck where each family brought a dish typical to their native country. What a joy and blessing to see such diversity of cultures and backgrounds! A special worship and share service carried us through midnight as we praised the Lord for the year that had passed, and committed to Him the new year to begin.

We plunged into the new year with efforts to strengthen leadership and to improve current ministries within the Spanish ministry of Evergreen. Jose meets with a wonderful team of leaders every other week on Wednesdays. The women meet monthly for a time of fellowship. Praise the Lord, this last meeting included many commitments from the women to join in the work of the ministry that we all might be active in serving the Lord and the body!

This year the church was presented with an "each one reach one" goal, that this year an approximate 100 people might hear the gospel and accept Christ as Savior. Would you pray with us, that the Holy Spirit would move in our hearts and open our eyes to opportunities to share the gospel, that we would be faithful to our commitment?

Prayer Points:

  • Men's leadership team, for wisdom to lead
  • Evangelism 2014, that each of us would reach one for Christ
  • We need two more Sunday School teachers!
  • For the women who made new commitments to serve in the church
  • For the challenge and difficulty of balancing family needs and ministry needs
  • Finances, as more monthly expenses are added by obligation (e.g. health insurance costs)

Thank you for coming alongside us in prayer! We are truly blessed that God would allow us to continue in this ministry in this sixth year since we began. May He be glorified and His kingdom increased!

We would love to hear from you, dear friends! Comments and messages are welcome, that we might know how to pray for you. If you are in the area, please come by! The coffee's hot and ready to serve!

God bless,
the Alvarez family

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Coming!!

This coming Saturday will be our sixth annual Christmas outreach to the Hispanic community of the area. Every year at this time we are in a sort of a panic, wondering if we've passed out enough invitations, if we've planned enough, if everything will come together. And every year on the day of the outreach, after hours of preparation, we open the doors...and wait...expectantly...watching...will they come?

The piñatas will be in place, the hot food cooked and ready to serve, the gospel message prepared and waiting, the youth in costume and ready to present their skit with an ever so important message to a captive audience....will they hear?

They will be told the reason for this party, the reason for Christmas, we will serve them a meal with a smile and with love, we will send them home with a reason to hope...will they believe?

When the last guest has gone, we will sweep up the paper remains of the piñatas, pick up forgotten crafts, line up the chairs in perfect rows as they were before, trusting that the message of salvation will enter a willing heart...if but one heart, it will be worth it....will you pray?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What an amazing summer of 2013! We hope you enjoyed yours as well, and are now settling in to a fantastic season of fall as we are here in the Pacific Northwest.


Father's Day brought with it our first summer park outing for the year. We had an amazing family time as we celebrated the fathers in the church. The afternoon included a potluck (with freshly grilled food! These brothers know how to barbecue!), soccer, volleyball, a devotional, worship, and lots of laughter.

The women enjoyed another successful monthly brunch with fellowship, prayer, and celebration.


The youth went to the beach for the day and had a wonderful time. We are so thankful for the young couple and another sister in Christ that work with the youth so faithfully.

We said "goodbye and God bless" to our sweet helper, who has been with us for the past several years in Spanish ministry at Evergreen. She left for the Philippines to a midwifery school...please pray for her! 


The youth group held their first car wash that helped them make a day trip to a water park. We're so proud of all their hard work! August also held our very first, very own FAMILY CAMP! Much work was involved to make it happen, and it was well worth it. What a blessing that trip was! For most, it was their first experience in camping. The fellowship was incomparable and we are thankful. The majority of the families were able to participate, even if only for one night. We went to Mossyrock Park, Washington and praise the Lord that for the most part, the rain held off! Everyone came away already making plans for next year's family camp.


We began the monthly fellowship dinners at church where we celebrate birthdays and enjoy family time together. The women continued to meet for a monthly brunch. Praise the Lord that this month, Ruth was able to present a list of needs within the church and to pray with the women that they might seek to be involved in the many aspects of ministry. Jose has ongoing, weekly meetings with the same small group of leaders as he disciples them and encourages them to lead as God directs them. Thank you for praying for these men!

Family News

In July, we both were blessed beyond measure to be able to spend a week in Orlando, Florida! As you already know, working in ministry brings some strain and challenges to the marriage and family - but praise God for such a refreshing week to reconnect as a couple and to strengthen our relationship that we might continue to serve the Lord as He would allow us. We are deeply grateful for the dear friend that watched our kids (and pets, and house, and garden) along with her own kids for the whole week, and for a special financial gift that allowed us to be able to go as well. The summer also included visits from family and friends from far away.

In August, Jose went back home to visit friends and family. Airline miles paid for the flight with nothing out of pocket - what a blessing! As in previous trips, Jose organized a personal service project to make his trip even more meaningful and full of purpose. This time he took with him school supplies and backpacks, and once in country he purchased soccer balls, piñatas and candy, and worked together with his beloved home church "Samaria" to pull off a one-day evangelistic event for all the children and youth of the community. They shared the gospel with the children, then held games with prizes, offered a meal, and in the evening had a bonfire and other activities with the youth of the area. Over 100 children and 70 youth attended this event. Amen! Praise God and let's pray for the church as they follow up with all those kids!
Preaching in the church where he was pastor for 10 years
Leading games

"My God is So Big!"
Now school has started with Jose going back to work at a local elementary school, Rebekah in 5th, Isabella in 4th, Daniel in preschool for a couple hours a week, and a return to all the other regular activities that the school year brings in life, family, and ministry.

Prayer Points:

  • that in God's perfect timing, Jose would be able to devote full time to ministry while continuing to partner with our beloved church of EBC
  • unity and strength in family and marriage
  • leadership in ministry - that more would step up and come alongside in order to share the many responsibilities that come with helping a church to function in a healthy way for God's glory
  • that God would open our eyes to see the needs around us and how He would have us join Him in His work in the Spanish-speaking community of this area
We thank God for you! Thank you for remembering us in your prayers and for stopping by the blog! May God bless you as you serve Him right where you are.