Greetings to everyone! It’s been a good while. I cannot possibly catch you up on all that has happened since the beginning of this year, but I can tell you it has been very full.
My break from writing—and all the other things I have cut out—has been good for me. I have learned some valuable lesson and made some good changes to my workload. I have decided I’m ready to write again, but it will not be a daily blog. I plan to write twice a week, aiming to post on Wednesday and Saturday. (Consider this last Saturday’s writing. 🙂)
I think it will be good to be connected with you again. I will shamelessly but gratefully say that we very much need your support. This battle against the kingdom of darkness is not ours alone; you have fought valiantly with us. We have missed being able to share with you and having you join hands with us.
Thank you to those of you who have kept up with us even when I was silent. May you have gems in your crown. I want to say thank you to my friend from the church in Virginia who is coming up on three years of consistently checking in with me every Monday—you know who you are. Your disciplined friendship has challenged me more than once in my own relationships.
Now, for some broad strokes. January was centered on visitors and Covid; it was a cloudy month in more ways than one. After our visitors left, February was a steady month of keeping routines and finding success in discipline without distraction, a focused month for me of cutting and hacking at my workload followed by a steady focus on studying on various topics I felt a need of learning.. The family was busy with school and trying to get the laundry dry in the rainy season.
March went by in a blur of church meetings where we were trying to figure out how to operate as a group with a new dynamic. With so few members, each new one makes a dramatic difference. We have been blessed with the addition of Leonela to our brotherhood. Then, toward the end of March, Steph and I went to Puno for Spanish school.
I preached three Sundays there and taught four music classes. I also quietly took many notes of how the small church there works together and brought my findings back to our own group when April had rolled around. It was a joy to work with a small church that I truly had no responsibility for; I could see things from another perspective, which was useful.
It was a joy to come home. April was to be full with a visit from our parents, but they canceled their flight. They are considering coming later this year. That leaves us with a calendar suddenly emptied from other plans. We’re easily finding plenty to keep us busy. We enjoyed times together as a group, sharing stories of the weeks apart, dreaming about future plans, discussing lessons learned from Puno, and so on.
Not all is sunshine and rainbows. We have lost around twenty goats, six piglets, a few dogs, and some chickens in the last few weeks. Thankfully, all the cows have been well on our side of the ditch; sadly, the lechero has lost half a dozen cows in that time. There was a heavy load of parasites that hit the two herds, making them susceptible to Enterotoxemia. I think we have more or less gotten on top of the illness, but the loss was great.
The most important thing you want to know is how Esmeralda is doing. We have maintained a daily contact with her. Various of us try to contact her, send her encouragement, call her, and so on. But it was as if she had disappeared completely. I have seen Fernando twice in town, but we did not talk. Esmeralda has been completely silent; we worry for her.
Yesterday was Esmeralda’s birthday. We sent her congratulations and encouragement, and for the first time in so long, she replied! It was either one word or an emoji of thanks, but it was something. At least we know she is hearing us. We now have renewed hope to pray for her deliverance. We know you are praying for her.
A couple of you sent gifts earmarked for Esmeralda. I have those in the church account here, earmarked for her. I think of those gifts as seeds of faith, resting in the dark, germinating. One day, I feel confident Esmeralda will find freedom from her situation, and when she does, she will need those gifts. We will keep them safe for her until then.
We were discussing some of the highs and lows the other Wednesday evening. We may be tempted to focus on only the hardships, but we feel the joy and life within us that is calling us to look above. China shared some verses with us then, saying it isn’t surprising really when 2 Corinthians so aptly describes such and similar circumstances.
We continue to preach because we have the same faith as the psalmist who said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know God will give us life and power just as He raised the Lord Jesus. And as more and more people hear of God’s grace, God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies suffer, our spirits are renewed every day. Our current troubles are small and won’t last very long, yet they will produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t focus on the troubles of today; we fix our eyes on what other cannot see.
We look to Jesus.