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