Friday, July 14, 2017

June newsletter

Psalm 139
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June 2017

Christ Covenant Church

Our first team of the summer came from Christ Covenant Church of Cullman, AL. This was their 2nd time with us. They put on four mobile medical clinics and painted the teenage mothers' home, Puerta de Esperanza, inside and out!

Christ Community Church

Christ Community Church sent seven people to work alongside Pastor Donaldo in the community of Eden. They toured the area to see some of the conditions in which the local people live.
Christ Community also spent time visiting with Pastor Donaldo and getting to know his story and his family. The group prayed with neighbors, attended Donaldo's church service and did lots of painting in the seminary as well as finished the air conditioning duct work.

Kiski Valley

Four folks from Kiski Valley Presbyterian in PA came down for their church's first summer visit to La Ceiba. Here they are praying over the seminary.
The Kiski team visited with local pastors, and worked tirelessly painting the seminary that is getting closer to completion.
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Seminary Classes

Seminary classes continue with the group of people from Centro Cristiano Internacional.  We are now into our second course, the Gospels.  Raul and I(Adam) will teach this Saturday on Matthew and Mark.
Family vacation last month, exploring central Honduras.
Sometimes missionary "kids" grow up to become adults. These girls have served as sisters, baby-sitters and model MKs to our boys. This month we said, "see you later" as they graduated high school and moved on to their next stage of life in the US.

Prayer Requests

  • Two Honduran families and a single Honduran man have joined our team in the last 18 months. Involving our national partners in hosting short-term teams is something new for us and it has proven to be a beautiful thing! Praise God for this opportunity to work closely with our Honduran brothers and sisters.
  • The seminary curriculum we are offering is a multi-year program. Please pray that we would learn how to encourage students in their efforts and convey the value of these classes.
  • It seems that we experience more trials on the mission field during summer team season when we are busiest. This summer is proving to be no exception. Please pray that we keep our eyes on Jesus for perseverance.
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Monday, April 3, 2017

The Best Teachers

A team of six from Texas and a team of two from Florida came to my home last night for dinner.  As they came into the house, the boys and I greeted them and I then turned back to the kitchen to finish the cooking.  Asher, trailing on my heels, begs, "Mommy, what can I do for you?  Can I fill the water pitcher for the drinks table?"  I am not above accepting a five year old's help so I reply, "yes," as my heart is in awe and wonder of my sweet children.  We are at the tail end of three groups visiting over the course of about five weeks and my kids are still going strong.  Their regular schedules and homeschooling has been turned on it's head and swapped for grocery trips, dorm prep, and more tasks or errands.  (They are learning "life skills" is how I soothe my type-A, list-following, schedule-loving teacher self!)   


On one of our grocery runs, we got blasted by rain 
right as we stepped out of my car!

Christ's words in Matthew 18 pop into my head and I know the kingdom of God is seen in the humility of children, even my children.  I am reminded so often that they provide such a great example to me of faith and teach-ability.  Sometimes, my boys are the greatest instructors.  I saw some of the characteristics I desire most in their service in the last month and thought I would share them.  


Used their skill set
My children are usually extremely helpful. At home, they wash dishes, sweep the floor, fold laundry, set the table, wipe down counters and so much more.  This past month, they went many places with me. They went to the grocery store, they went to our house so I could wash linens for the team, and they "lived" at the dorms (at our team's more central project) for three days straight while I prepped the kitchen and the beds for the very first team of the season.  Do you know what they did in each of those places?  They served in what they already knew how to do.  They lugged grocery bags into the kitchen, they pushed a broom around, they folded rags and towels, they wiped down dusty tables and counters, and they even washed dishes (without prompting) the first night after dinner as the tired team retired to their beds.  They let God use them in what they already knew how to do.  They didn't wait until they were tall enough to operate a huge mop or coordinated enough to prep an entire meal, they used their current skill set to serve.   


I turned around to this sweet view! The boy carrying my load!



Asked for help
How difficult is asking for help?  It's a pride issue in my life.  I see so much of it in our home culture in the States, too. Independence and autonomy are king.  Codependency and a need for community are seemingly signs of weakness.  But these children??  They have no problem asking for help (sometimes to the bane of my existence! ha!).  I tell them in my parenting that "you can't complain about not receiving help of you haven't asked for help!"  Every time it tumbles from my mouth, I wince in self rebuke. How often I moan that no one is helping me when I have not requested assistance.  When I have asked them to help with a task that was too big (or towels that were too big), they simply asked for instructions, additional help or another task.  I want to have the humility of kids. I want the ability to reach out to others and ask for help. I want the ability to reach out to the Lord and say, "I can't do this by myself.  Only with you, Christ! HELP ME!"  

Didn't do it for their glory

Matthew 6:1-4 says, "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."  Christ knows our sinful human hearts.  We want to be praised, assured, and approved.  He knows missionaries are no exception (as we too are HUMAN!).  And while this is sometimes part of childishness in our offspring, my boys didn't serve their tiny hineys off for their glory.  They didn't serve so they could go post it to Facebook or write a blog or run off to their supporters and friends to brag of how much work they put in for these teams to come.  They did it because they love Jesus. They want to obey out of gratitude for what they have been gifted.  They may sometimes seek my approval or Adam's approval, but we attempt to teach them that their worth is found in Christ and no one else.  And that the glory does not fall on them for their good works but on God who used them as His instruments.  I want to be more like my children when I grow up! They are the best teachers!      



Tim Keller is a pretty good teacher, too! 
Second to my children! Ha!

















Friday, March 3, 2017

Hershey PCA visits!

This week, Hershey PCA visited as they always do in February and provided exceptional medical and dental services for many communities.  Their presence and service is always an encouragement to our team as well as locals. Below are the photo highlights:

Dr. Paul and translator in a consult

Erin at intake

Not your average dental chair or office
but the same Dr. Wade hard at work

This week was also the first team to visit with Adam and I in our new roles.  Adam shared in the last newsletter (albeit a sentence worth of information) that he is the new director of short term teams. (This is a ton of work and as his trusty side-kick, I can say with a bias that he is doing an excellent job.)  Unbeknownst to many, I (Michelle) am the new kitchen coordinator.  This week, I got my feet wet and only had to plan, purchase, and provide breakfasts and lunches as dinners were in the homes of our teammates.  The summer will introduce larger teams and more meals to serve!  We are ready to jump in as we love short term teams (read my top ten reasons here)!  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ashes to Beauty

It is not uncommon for missionaries to be quite familiar with saying hello and goodbye.  The Lord brings people in and out of our lives frequently and I am afraid transition never gets easier!

We said goodbye to the Spradleys this past week and our team is mourning right now.  Jesse and Liz brought an unparalleled vibrance and love for Christ and others to La Ceiba.  They served our team and Hondurans well.  Isaiah 61 comes to mind as they made beauty from ashes and turned mourning into joy.  They worked hard at making the Lord's ministries here thrive and operate with excellence. They helped our team heal and move forward through many hardships and surprises.  We had a fun going away party and they will be greatly missed (pray for our boys who are missing their buddy, Hudson). 
   


We also said hello to Raul and Alma Villanueva at the beginning of this month as our team helped them move from Siguatepeque to La Ceiba.  Our team has morphed over the past year or so to include 4 Honduran families.  This week, we held our biannual planning meeting where we revisit our mission, vision, goals, and objetives and set new goals and objectives.  It was a sweet time to be able to see how the Lord has answered very specific prayers and needs for our team.  It was also our first big meeting where we operated primarily in Spanish as nearly half of our team are native speakers.  This too was a beauty from ashes reminder for me as we see the Lord turn messes into great ministries by the hands and hard work of Hondurans investing in Hondurans. The Lord is uprooting the plants He did not plant and planting oaks of righteousness so that HE is the one receiving the glory!           



to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. -Isaiah 61:3

But Jesus replied, "Every plant that My Heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by its roots. -Matthew 15:13

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Newsletter

February 2017

Next Steps

Thank you for praying about our role on this mission team. Since the departure of Pastor Vicente, I (Adam) have been offered a teaching role in the La Ceiba Bible Institute, started by our team. After much discussion with Michelle, wise counsel from elders of different churches, and of course prayer, we have decided to pursue the opportunity.

Why is this work important?
Churches are plentiful in La Ceiba but most pastors have little or no formal training or education. Providing a solid biblical education equips existing and up-and-coming church leaders to do their best and properly handle the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15).

Why me?
I often ask this question myself. Ha! I believe that God has called me to it, not because of my abilities but simply because I am willing and His glory will shine all the brighter through this broken vessel.
I'm not seminary trained and I've never taught. On the other hand, I've been in La Ceiba for 3 and a half years now, allowing me to build lots of relationship, and learn the language, which has opened lots of doors in the church community. The missing pieces will come over time. I'll begin taking seminary classes on-line to increase my knowledge and I'll develop my teaching skills through personal study and on-the-job experience.

Another advantage is that our core classes in the seminary are from Third Millennium Ministries, which means the content and much of the structure are already in place. I won't be responsible for developing curriculum but can give my attention to guiding students and application.

And thankfully, I am not alone. I'm only one part of a team. My teammate Seth is a very bright and talented teacher. Raul Villanueva is an experienced pastor/teacher who brings an indigenous understanding of the culture.

How does this change my everyday work?
Over the past 2+ years, I have spent a good portion of my time coaching and working alongside national pastors. So the role is very similar. Teaching will certainly be a new aspect, but applying the information to church leaders' lives and ministries will be familiar territory.

Moving forward, my job will consist of:
  • taking seminary classes myself to be better equipped for teaching
  • preparing and teaching classes in the bible institute
  • mentoring students outside of the classroom
  • coordinating short-term teams that work alongside of us

Does this mean I'm not church-planting any more?
Our team's church-planting has always been through equipping and supporting national pastors. Our efforts to establish Bible believing, multiplying churches has always been by a less direct method than planting and pastoring churches ourselves. Leadership development is just as crucial and probably a more sustainable approach. The vision is still to equip Honduran church leaders to better lead their congregations and start new ones.

While my role as a teacher will be important, I don't view it as an end in itself. Working with Bible students will be a pastoral opportunity, taking place outside of the classroom, too. Inviting students into our home and laboring side by side in ministry will provide opportunities to help apply classroom knowledge to personal lives and personal callings. It will also be a two way street. Living, working and worshiping in another culture continuously reveals how much a product I am of my culture. Although in a teaching role, I will also be a student, with more to learn from my Honduran brothers and sisters than I have to offer them.

PDE Anniversary

Five years ago, our teammate, Shannon started a home for teenage mothers. We had the privilege of celebrating the anniversary with them.  Girls shared theirs stories of coming to faith in Jesus while living in the home.

3rd Annual Central American Pastors Conference

Dr. Richard Ramsey speaking before pastors from 5 Central American countries

The Gate is Gone

Construction has resumed at the bible institute/medical clinic/dorm facility.  And the ugly aluminum gate has finally been removed!
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Theological Training

Sitting down to lunch with our local Honduran pastor and his wife this fall, we were excited to get to know them better and learn how we could be more involved in the church. I finally asked the question expecting a response like, "join a small group" or "volunteer with the youth." I wasn't prepared for Pastor Allan's response.  "You could help train our adult leaders."

Just weeks before at our team's planning meeting we had revised our mission statement to read, "partnering with local churches to train and educate the next generation of leaders" but I hadn't expected it to take shape so quickly. Allan knew that our missionary team had started a bible institute and I had spoken once during a missions conference at his church but other than that, he barely knew us. What an opportunity, surely orchestrated by the Lord.

On Saturday we began our first course, Kingdom, Covenants and Canon of the Old Testament. My teammate, Seth is the primary instructor as I am getting my feet wet as a teacher.

We Failed

Thanks to all of you who sent Christmas cards. We loved receiving them. And now we get to see your faces on a daily basis, share stories with our boys about you and pray for you.

We promised you a Christmas card too. It didn't happen. Keep your fingers crossed for an Easter card?
Michelle traveled to Brussels, Belgium to visit her sister and brother-in-law and help out with their new baby.
Our mission agency was hosting their cross-cultural training in Brussels at the same time so Michelle had a chance to visit friends of ours preparing to serve in medical missions in Peru.
Jacob's baseball team traveled to San Pedro Sula to play in the national championships. They lost by one run in the semi-finals to the team that would ultimately win it all. The boys and their families had a great time.

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for our involvement at CCI (Centro Cristiano Internacional), our local church. We have gotten to know the pastor well. Others are realizing that we're not going away. Pray that we would take the initiative to dig deeper into relationships.
  • Praise God for the open door to start classes at CCI. Please pray for the hearts and minds of the 25 students who are registered for the class. Pray that Seth and I would lead in wisdom, humility and service. Pray for mutually edifying relationships beyond the classroom.
  • As a family we have been blessed with a time of good all around health (physical, spiritual and emotional) and are currently maintaining a good balance between work and family. Please pray that this continues with these new responsibilities in the bible institute and coordinating short-term teams.

Schedule

Feb 3-4  The Villanueva family moved cross-country to La Ceiba
Feb 4  Led first theological class at our local church
Feb 20-22  Annual Team Planning Meeting
Feb 25-Mar 4  Medical Team from PA
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day…That Wasn’t

It should have been a terrible day. My teammates blew a tire on the highway in pouring rain. I had to work (on a Saturday). Michelle and Jacob are out of town. But it wasn’t a terrible day. It was a marvelous day! Because none of those unfortunate events even put a damper on what they each represent.

The blown tire was on a trailer containing the belongings of the Villanueva family. Raul Villanueva is coming to work in our Bible Institute. His wife, Alma is coming to direct the home for teenage mothers. Another teammate drove out to help bring them the rest of the way. Today is the day the Villanuevas moved across the country and joined our team!

Working on Saturday entailed helping my teammate, Seth lead a theological education class at our local church. It was the very first class of the first course in a series of 15. It was a joy to see and feel the excitement of the students as we start this process that will take around three years. Today is the day 25 church leaders began formal theological education!

Travelling three hours on a bus for an overnight baseball tournament just days after returning from Belgium was not Michelle’s idea of a weekend. But spending an extended amount of time with the other parents, dealing with vulgar opposing coaches, and cheering on each other’s children proved to be a uniting experience. Likewise, the trip allowed Jacob to turn acquaintances into true friends. Today is the day that Michelle fell in love with this team of players, coaches and parents and the day that Jacob REALLY became part of the team!

What a privilege to serve alongside so many wonderful people, to see the Lord at work in our churches and ministries, and to live in community.


This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Introducing: The Villanueva Family

The Villanuevas are Honduran missionaries that will soon be joining our team in La Ceiba. Raul will serve as a professor in the seminary.  Alma will serve as director of Puerta de Esperanza, our home for teenage moms and their babies.

About us: The Villanuevas
When God calls a family to serve Him, the family can’t go against His will. Our family was called by God to serve Him and His church and we have obediently been doing so for many years now. We are a family of five. Raul is a retired photographer, now a pastor and professor. Alma is a teacher with a heart for children and women. Oldest son Rick studies Business & Math at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Chris studies International Business & Finances at Unitec in San Pedro Sula. And Jocsan is a senior in high school and currently taking some seminary classes at SEBCAH in Siguatepeque.
 
Rick, Raul, Alma, Chris and Jocsan
What’s exciting about moving to Ceiba?

God opened the doors for us to be part of this team before we even knew about it. We have talked with the brothers at Mission to the World and believe that we share the same vision for God’s ministry. We believe that the bible institute to train pastors and leaders is crucial for the local churches. Puerta de Esperanza touched our hearts as a family, just like the rest of the projects Mission to the World has in Honduras. We believe these projects have a great future and we are excited about growing these ministries for the glory of Christ.