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.|
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.
Jose, Ruth, Rebekah (15), Isabella (13) and Daniel (9)