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.

June

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.


July

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! 
Jenna

August

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.





September

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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spring Review!

Howdy!

Thank you for stopping by to read the latest news on the Spanish Ministry at Evergreen Bible Church!

We've been crazy busy, as usual, but also constantly amazed by God's richest blessings poured on our heads. It's at times overwhelming how much He blesses us. Just last week we received a box of food from one of our own dear members, sacrificing something she could have kept for herself and her own family - and we were able to use that food for a potluck the next day. We were also given a 1988 Dodge Dakota and José has used it already so many times to bless others. In March we were blessed with a week's stay at a lake house in the gorgeous (and freezing!) Lake Chelan. God even sent the gas money by way of some missionary friends (talk about humbling!).
Spectacular sunset at Lake Chelan

Here are some highlights from the past few months:

February: José finished the discipleship meetings at Evergreen, praise the Lord one young man went to every single meeting with José. Please pray for this young man and his near future in leadership at church! Ruth continued meeting with the women every other week for fellowship and encouragement. A special baptism service was held with three members confessing their faith in Christ and commitment to follow Him.
Jose baptized a man who came to Christ the first year we began this ministry

March: The women's ministry had their first monthly women's brunch with a great attendance. José continues to lead small group Bible studies every Monday and Friday nights (every week of the year). José began to meet with a small group of men for leadership training and discipleship. The church hosted a baby shower with Ruth giving the devotional. We also held a Sunday School teacher training workshop and appreciation event. Praise the Lord for the response in attendance and for all the helpers to the Sunday School classes! At the end of March was our monthly family potluck.

April: We made frequent visits to the hospital for different members of the congregation who were injured or having major surgery. José and Ruth joined a small group to enjoy an amazing Chris Tomlin concert. What a fun outing that was with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ruth was able to attend a Living Proof Live conference given by Beth Moore - words can't even express how incredible that weekend was. How refreshing and uplifting to worship the Lord and learn more about Him! This month also we began to invite families over to our home for dinner once a week. We are working hard to cultivate unity and closeness, and especially with the Latin culture, personal relationships are of great importance. We constantly look for ways to help this grow. It takes a lot of time and effort, but God is faithful! The month ended with a family potluck held at church.

May: The monthly women's brunch was hosted in our home - praise the Lord for the blessing of having dear women here for prayer and encouragement. We made our own game of "Taboo" and it was a big hit. Another baby is on the way for the Spanish congregation, so with that came another baby shower! Ruth continues to teach the school age children in Sunday School, and José continues to lead very positive discipleship and leader training meetings with a small group of men. Mother's Day was celebrated with each Sunday School class participating in the service, each mother given a small arrangement of flowers,  a very touching slide show presentation, and a special refreshment served after services. Next week will bring the monthly family potluck to wrap up the month.
Some of the youth singing a special Mother's Day song

The school-aged Sunday School class reads a Mother's Day prayer.

We are excited for the summer since it will bring weather that allows for more fellowship and outdoor activities. We plan on monthly (or more!) park outings as we have every year. This August will hold our first family camping trip! Prayers appreciated as it will entail much planning in all the details. We also look forward to the break from school, especially since José has had full-time teacher hours this past year (but with a part-time salary!). This is what a typical day for José looks like:
7:40 a.m. leave for school
4:00 p.m. come home to see the kids, make ministry-related phone calls
4:30 p.m. load the lawn mower to go and mow an elderly lady's yard
6:00 p.m. grab a quick dinner, make more needed phone calls
6:50 p.m. head to Bible study or to a meeting
11:00 p.m. home to rest!

We are so thankful to the Lord that José's night job ended over a year ago as he has been able to give the ministry more time. As you can see, his schedule is still pretty busy and doesn't allow for much time to study the Word or prepare as he would like. God so faithfully answered our prayer in allowing José to come on staff at Evergreen part-time as of last year! We are truly grateful for that support and blessing.

Would you join us in prayer for something big, one more time (that is, until the next big thing!)? Please pray with us that God would bless this ministry to the capacity that José might finally rest in the joy of dedicating full (employed) time to pastoral ministry. We are so excited for what God has in store for this growing group of believers - I wish you could hear the dedicated group of men that meets with José as they work so hard to figure out how God is leading the church, and what needs to be done to get there! We love our precious, multi-cultural family and it is such a joy to point them to Christ. We are so blessed to get to be part of God's work - how humbling that He would allow us!
Our kids on the last night of Awana club for the year

Thank you so very much, dear friends, for lifting us up in prayer - we need it! And may God multiply your offerings back to you many times over - we know that the Lord is the one who provides and blesses, and we thank you for being used by Him to bless us so deeply.

And as always, if you're in the area - come see us! There is always (seriously, always) coffee in the pot and extra tortillas in the basket waiting for someone like you!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

However tardy this update may be, our excitement continues over what God did at the Christmas outreach event, and what He continues to do in Spanish Ministry at Evergreen Bible Church!

The Christmas outreach went much better than expected - and I always wonder, why are we surprised when God goes above and beyond?! It was such a blessing to watch as each team carried out their jobs to near perfection, and everything went off without a hitch! We were even blessed by EBC's resident photographer who came and donated his time and talents. The kitchen team served an amazing posole soup with all the fixings, the craft team was well prepared and each child got to make a Christmas foam ornament, there were two pinatas full of candy, a drama presented by the youth, worship time, lots of fun games with prizes, goody bags that included Gospel tracts, and a New Testament Bible went home with each family. This year we were also able to add a raffle for two baskets full of groceries - that provided for a lot of fun and excitement - and what a joy to see two families take the blessing-baskets home! In all, we estimate that there were close 200 people, 130 of those being children. Say it with me - AMEN!

The joy of the pinata

Everybody wants candy!


Worship
Bibles going home


(Click HERE to watch a video presentation of the Christmas outreach event. Jose worked really hard on it and I know you'll love it!)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21


Since the Christmas event, we have been blessed with new visitors every Sunday. We pray that God would equip us with what is needed to minister and bless these families according to their needs.

Jose continues to lead two in-home Bible studies every week, and Ruth continues meeting with the women every other week. We praise the Lord for two consistent, wonderful Sunday School teachers for the preschool class. Ruth is now teaching every other week in the children's church class, alternating with one other teacher. Please pray for these kids, as some are not familiar with the Bible and may not hear much of it at home!

Jose is now attending an 8-week leadership class, encouraging several men from the Spanish congregation to attend with him for leadership development. Participation has not been what we had hoped and we ask you to pray! If you were to ask us what is our greatest need in Spanish ministry, we would say "leadership!" without hesitation. Please pray that God would raise up men in the congregation, that God would send Jose the pastoral support that he so desperately needs. Pray that male leaders would come alongside Jose to support him and hold up his hands (see Exodus 17). The role of worship leader also remains available - prayers appreciated there too! Meanwhile we are so blessed with several talented musicians who are giving their hearts and service to the Lord every week. What a joy to see them serve.

Please pray for this talented teen - he loves to serve the Lord in leading worship and playing many instruments!


We know that God listens when we cry out to Him, and we are so encouraged by your prayers and support. Our hearts are continually humbled by God's richest blessings poured on us through all of you, and we are grateful.

We would love to hear from you and know how we can pray for you! As always, feel free to comment here, send us an email, or drop us a line by any other means of communication. And if you are up in the Pacific Northwest, let us know! We'd be thrilled to have you visit a Spanish service, share a meal in our home, and even to take you on a waterfall/river/mountain/coastal tour!

We have to include a picture of our kids, just because they're so beautiful!


God bless you as you serve Him right where you are!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Knees Ready?? Let's Pray!

This coming Saturday the 15th is our FIFTH (wow, really??) annual Christmas outreach event for the Hispanic community in Vancouver. Please pray! As before, please pray the people will COME. We are more than thrilled that this year the flyers have been distributed to the Spanish speaking families of two different schools - what a great way to serve families at schools that we are connected to. This time each year, we are always concerned that we haven't made enough efforts in promoting the event - which brings us to our knees in even more prayer, that God would spread the word in a way only He can. Pray that all the details would come together, and that there would be enough hands to help. Along with the usual activities (piñata, hot meal, crafts, games, gospel skit, goody bags) this year we are adding a raffle to give away a basket of groceries, and sending home a New Testament with each family. May God go before, beside, and behind us!


So that's the urgent piece of news to communicate to you before jumping in to this update - here's the rest:

Towards the end of September, José began a new job for the Vancouver School District - thank you for praying! His position as a para-educator has allowed him to work with small groups of children in all grades who are struggling and need extra help and attention. He also takes on the responsibilities of translating school documents, and interpreting for parent-teacher conferences where the parents speak only Spanish. Praise the Lord for such a great job with so many opportunities (and health insurance!). Since this job requires full-time hours, please pray for José as he dedicates his heart and soul to ministry at night and on the weekends.

September: the girls turned 10 and 8 - aren't our three angels adorable???
In October, the women's group began meeting again for coffee and fellowship. End-of-the-month potlucks also provide much-needed fellowship as we strive to unite and connect these precious brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging one another to follow the Lord in their daily lives. José leads in-home Bible studies every Monday and Friday nights, allowing him to guide and direct others toward the Bible in a more personal environment. We are beyond ecstatic to share with you also that a classmate of our daughter prayed to receive Christ as her Savior at school during that month!

We treated the senior women to breakfast, asking them to form a Sunday prayer team
Beginning in October and ending just this week, Ruth was part of a 3-woman team leading a weekly class called Respectfully Yours - a study just for wives from the Love and Respect marriage curriculum. What a life-changing study! For further reinforcement (do you suppose God wants to strengthen our marriage??), José and Ruth both attended a Weekend to Remember conference in November - a highly recommended conference for any couple! What a blessing to attend and to be reminded of many important principles as we seek to become more like Christ in our home (p.s. - it's really hard! But not impossible!).


Also in November one of the ladies in Spanish ministry slipped and broke her foot, requiring surgery. The bad news - she  had to be in the hospital for almost two days. The good news - she went home with not only a new pin in her foot, but also a new life in her heart! She prayed to receive Christ that morning!

New-believing mom and her sweet family
November brought a new addition to our home (I bet that caught your attention!)- a niece of José's has come from Honduras to live with us for a while as she works to save money to finish college. The kids adore her and she is so much fun to have around!
Welcome, cousin!
Worship team with one of the new worship leaders
As we are already a few months in to our fifth year with the Spanish Ministry at Evergreen Bible Church, we ask that you pray urgently for leadership development. Our gifted worship leader, who was also an elder, has chosen to step down and leave the church in order to focus on a difficult home situation. Please pray for him and his family. And pray for our ministry, that God would fill the much-needed role of worship leader, and an additional elder to support the constant work of shepherding. We ask that you also pray for us as leaders in working through all the aspects that have come with these events.

Coffee hour after Sunday service


To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. --Jude 1:24-25






We hope to update you as soon as possible after this Saturday's big event, that you might rejoice with us over what God has done in our community! And until then, Merry Christmas to you, our dear friends and family!

For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.--Is.9:6 (Message)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And...here comes fall!

Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers through the summer and into this new season of fall! We are so full of God's richest blessings and are just bursting with thankfulness. Here's a quick summary with photos:

We celebrated Father's Day in June with a special tribute and prayer of dedication for all the fathers.

Some of the preschool class on Father's Day

The school age class giving a special dedication to fathers
We had the privilege of hosting a musical group on tour from Rio Grande Bible Institute. They blessed our church with an amazing concert, and then as a family we enjoyed some time with them as we hosted them in our home.


The women had an absolute blast meeting for coffee every other week at a nearby restaurant. Here are most of them during the last coffee get together before the summer hit.

The littlest ones are now consistent members in the nursery, and even they are learning about God's love for them on Sundays! Many thanks to our faithful nursery teacher who gives of her time every week.


With less rain, more sun, and warmer temperatures we returned to our park potlucks! Always a favorite time for the congregation, we love to spend the day in fellowship and sports.

You'll just have to imagine the amazing smells coming from that grill in the background! Latinos know how to cook the best food ever!!

We're not sure who loved the park potlucks more - the adults or the children!

"Now Samuelito, if you want to be a good pastor, it all starts with knowing how to play soccer..."

The men have some "serious fun" when they play soccer!
The summer also allows us to have special one-on-one time with other families. We really cherish that time as we grow our friendships, and encourage one other towards Christ.

Karla is a dear woman with a beautiful servant's heart!

In August we welcomed our newest member, Isabella! She is the daughter of the first couple that got married in our congregation over three years ago.


Also in August we enjoyed a family day-camp at Lewisville Park just a few minutes north. Activities included games for children, competitive family games, worship and a Bible devotional, soccer (of course!), volleyball, splashing in the ice-cold river, and the most delicious food you could ever imagine. And finally at the end of summer, a small group got together to climb to the top of Multnomah Falls:

As you can see from this pictorial review of summer, God has continued blessing the Spanish ministry at Evergreen Bible - raising up leaders, deepening the discipleship, and growing a true family bond. Small groups decided to continue to meet through the summer, so Jose has taught every Monday and Friday nights in different homes, and the men get together every Sunday evening to play soccer. Sunday School remains constant at an average of 10-15 preschoolers and 15+ school age children. We give God glory for bringing forward two gifted teachers who have committed to the preschool class for the rest of the year.

Looking at the new school year ahead, we anticipate further growth - not necessarily in numbers, but a "downward growth" to build a solid foundation and encourage strong roots in the leadership. In the next month, we will put on a Sunday School teacher's training workshop, encourage the families' involvement in the AWANA club at Evergreen, rebuild the youth ministry, and return to the monthly church potluck dinners, just to name a few.

In personal news: I cannot express adequately in words our humble gratitude to the Lord for providing for us financially over the summer. Despite the 50% income, our needs were provided for over and above the minimum! On top of that, we were even able to enjoy some family vacation time, again by God's provision through gracious friends and other family members. Three weeks ago Jose began working at night again, this time with a man from the Spanish congregation. Thankfully the work schedule is flexible, allowing Jose to join the family for dinner, and able to keep up with Bible study teaching. We are currently waiting to hear if Jose will be officially offered a position in the Vancouver School District...so far it looks very promising! Please add this to your prayers! Having a school schedule would be ideal in order to keep up with ministry needs and maintain a sufficient income.

Will you pray for the Spanish ministry and for us?

  • Please pray for leadership development - that Jose would receive the pastoral support that he needs
  • Pray for the Sunday School teachers and other leaders - for stamina, more helpers, and as they teach the children God's Word, for the rebuilding of the youth ministry
  • Please pray for a difficult situation that we have been battling
  • And we ask prayer for our family and our marriage as we continue to struggle to put into practice what our hearts and our heads tell us from the study of the Word
If you are ever in the area, please come visit! We'd love to have you join us in a unique and exciting Spanish worship service, or come to our home for a meal and coffee - always coffee! And if you are reading from far away, we would love to stay in touch with you. Feel free to contact us for any questions, prayer requests, recipes, good jokes....

God bless your fall season!

With love, the Alvarez family