Thursday, November 10, 2016

Disciples Making Disciples Part 3: Of All Nations

 There have been three moments in my life when God clearly spoke and changed the direction of my career. The first was when I was fourteen. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher. I loved school and loved explaining new ideas to people. One day, as I was daydreaming about my future, I had a vision of myself teaching school-aged children in Africa. It wasn’t like a normal daydream. It was burned into my mind. It was important. I felt God was telling me to prepare myself to be a missionary. I waited six months before telling my parents what I had been thinking about. They were passively supportive, genuinely wanting my life to be used by God and hoping missions was a phase I would grow out of.

The second was when I was 20. I was in a class in college listening to a lecture on cross-cultural tensions in the Boise area. It was my junior year. I was majoring in Elementary Education and minoring in Christian Missions. As the presenter spoke about gang activity and high risk Hispanic youth, I felt God whisper, “I want you to stay.” Tears welling in my eyes, I pleaded internally, asking forgiveness for whatever wrong I had committed. “I know I can be a missionary. With your help, I know I can do this.” And God whispered again, “It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s about what I’m calling you to do.” And that was that. Sobbing, I called my parents to tell them the horrible news. They cried tears of relief.

The third was when I was 26. I was in a Bible study hearing a presentation by Brian Tibbs on Extreme Nazarene for about the fifth time. I was finishing my fourth year of teaching fourth grade in the Vallivue School District. As I was giving my complete attention to the presentation, I was also sorting through my mental lists of what needed to be copied, prepared, graded, moved, and emailed before 8 o’clock the next morning. When Brian started explaining the role of a 40/40 missionary, I felt God stirring in me. He whispered, “This is for you. This is what I want for you.” As if He had just stopped by the fantastic futures store on the way home and picked out something nice for me. I prayed and sobbed for a couple days before calling to tell my parents the amazing news. They cried and haven’t really stopped.

Working for Extreme, I have fallen in love with the way we plant churches. We use something called the Master’s Plan. It’s basically making disciples that make disciples. Seriously cool for reasons enumerated in past blogs. Three months ago, my plan was to finish my time in Argentina, move back to Idaho, get a teaching job, and make disciples that make disciples. I wanted to use what I have learned here to be God’s instrument at home. In September, Brian visited our team to have our two-thirds review. After walking into what I thought was a finance meeting, he told me he had a job offer he thought I wouldn’t be able to refuse. My first thought was, “It would have to be in Boise.” It wasn’t.
Two-Thirds Review

For the majority of its existence, Extreme has operated in Spanish-speaking South American countries. As we have spread from Peru and Ecuador to Argentina and Chile, South American missionaries have been increasing hard to find. In this growth, we’ve been eyeing the one South American country that doesn’t speak Spanish but has a vibrant Nazarene church full of potential 40/40 candidates. This was the job offer: Education Coordinator for Extreme’s new Brazil field. I would be responsible for training teams of North Americans and Brazilians to plant churches in Brazil with the possibility of also training Brazilians to plant churches in other countries in the future. There was a lot of talk about opportunity and timing. As I listened, I grew increasingly alarmed at the fact that I felt nothing inside. I was neither repulsed nor excited about the idea. It was an incredible opportunity but not what I wanted to do. My pastors, who are Brazilian, were with me. When I entered the room, their faces were glowing. They obviously expected to celebrate the clear revelation of God’s will. As they watched my reaction, they became comforting and encouraged me to take my time with the decision. I had no idea what to do. “I’ll need to pray about it.”

 I prayed a lot. I was completely torn. I wanted to continue in mission work and see the church in Brazil grow, and I wanted to live in the States and share with my friends and family what God has taught me about discipleship. I cried tears of joy at the thought of accepting either, my future life was going to be awesome. I cried in grief knowing I would have to reject one or the other. Mostly I cried out of frustration that God was not being clear. For four weeks He gave me the runaround, prompting me to talk to my family members and ask friends to pray for me. Asking if I really knew what I was getting into with both options, what were my motives, my expectations? Through it all I continued to push back. I was grateful for the personal growth I was experiencing, but was no closer to an answer. Sure, God, this is all important, but I need to accept or reject this offer. Can’t you just tell me what You want, and we can figure out the details later?? This had no effect on His timing…

 In keeping with past experiences, my parents were not thrilled with this new opportunity. You probably know my mom and can imagine her response. I prayed for her a lot, especially as I began to realize that I was falling in love with the idea of being a missionary in Brazil. My emotions had become so erratic that I couldn’t trust this new feeling to reveal God’s will, but I was open to something I had previously not wanted to consider.

Tired of waiting for nothing, I tried to talk to my mom a second time, since the first time had gone so well. I prayed that she would be softened toward the idea, that maybe we could divine together what I should do. I was bitterly disappointed. If anything, she was more opposed to my accepting the job than she had been before. I still didn’t have any peace answering one way or the other. I had no choice but to continue waiting.

That was a Friday. Two days later, my mom called me. She was crying, again. She told me she had been praying for me that morning, that God would give me a clear answer. As she was praying, she had a whispered thought that didn’t come from herself, “You are the answer. Tell Brooke I’m sending her to Brazil.” There were more details to the story that I didn’t get to hear because I was so shocked by the news. No more teaching. Me, a career missionary. I began to praise God for answering
my prayers when I realized this change in my mom couldn’t have been an answer to my prayers the previous week. This had been God’s plan from the beginning. I didn’t feel a clear direction for weeks so that I would have to seek help and God could speak not only to me, but to my mom. He took care of all of us. It doesn’t make the separation easy, but my parents and I all know that this sacrifice is important and it is for God.

So, the new plan is to finish my contract here in Cordoba in April and return to Idaho for the spring and summer. Next August, I will move to Brasilia, Brazil, to study Portuguese and get ready to train teams before they go out into Brazil to plant new churches. I am incredibly privileged to get to do this work. I will never fully comprehend just how good God is. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Disciples Making Disciples Part 2: Living Life Together

Within a ten day span this month, we had a 50th birthday celebration, visited a newborn baby, had a baby shower, prepared for a wedding, and one of our disciples signed the papers to rent her new apartment. Living life together is more than just Bible studies and prayer meetings. It’s actually living life together, and it’s awesome. Here are some of the life events we’ve been a part of this month.

In this picture, poor Yesica still doesn't know why she's been called to the front of the church. Her boyfriend, Marcos, had worked with Juan, one of my teammates, to prepare a marriage proposal video. She said yes and we are very excited for both of them. 

Soccer is life and life is soccer. What more can I say?

The day that Pastora Jaci had her ultrasound to find out the gender of their baby, Pastor Junior was preaching at a convention in Brazil. We found out at 11:00 in the morning that Agatha is Agatha and not Caleb. Several women from the church conspired together to prepare a baby shower for that same evening so Pastora wouldn't be alone on their special day. 

Sometimes church family just becomes family. The Barreras have all but signed the paperwork to adopt Ashley as their fifth child. She took a vacation day so she could celebrate her dad's big 5-0 with her family. 

Ashley, Emilse, and I made a hundred crepe paper flowers for her wedding decorations. When the big day came, we didn't know what to do with them, so the flower girls threw them on the floor because life just isn't fair. 

Mother's Day is in October in Argentina. Each mother received a handmade nest necklace with an egg bead for each of her children. We prayed for their lives and their families in both services.

Sometimes a life event is learning how to use a laptop. Adela paid us for our services with her brother's leftover birthday cake. In our church it is always someone's birthday and there is always cake.

We also have cake for other reasons like Yolanda teaching her first house of prayer. She did such an excellent job that others have been inspired to follow her example!

Emilse and Marcelo had a beautiful wedding. It is very rare for Argentines to get married because the government recognizes couples as legally married after living together for a short amount of time. This was our first wedding, but we will probably have several more in the next couple years. We had to use the Methodist church because ours isn't big enough...yet.

So my point is, if you want to be closer to God, help someone else grow closer to God. Make disciples and teach them to make disciples. The act of encouraging them and keeping them accountable will encourage you and hold you accountable to God. It’s not easy. In fact, if your experience is like mine, it is possible that when your disciple has matured and is passionate for Christ and making disciples, something will happen. They will get arrested, or pregnant out of marriage, or fall back into addiction, or declare God doesn’t exist, or just disappear. And it will destroy you. For a moment. And then you will think of Jesus on the cross. For them. For you. And you will continue making disciples because after He resurrected from the dead, that’s what Jesus commanded us to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Disciples Making Disciples Part 1: Giving and Receiving

Our main goal in Cordoba is to make disciples that make disciples. This is part one of a series on just that theme. I'm starting with an example: my dear friend Sol Barrera. 

About a year ago, Sol, like so many, had gotten stuck in her relationship with God. She had an idea of what God wanted to give her (hope and strength) and an idea of what He expected from her (moral living, church attendance) but never grew past her initial commitment to God. She was raised in a Christian household, but her family were serial church hoppers, never staying anywhere long enough to get involved. Until God brought them to us. We were ecstatic to have the Barrera family as a part of our church. We got them in an Encounter and leadership classes as quickly as possible. Sol’s parents and younger siblings were just as excited as we were, but Sol seemed to hang back. We didn’t realize that she was savvier than we. She knew it was only a matter of time before something would happen and they would go looking for a new church, just as they had so many times before.

Marina, Enzo, Luca, and Cris at their Encounter in February
Sol, a 23 year old in the last year of her 5 year literature program in the university, was a certified book-aholic. Reading was her god, her everything. She read and studied and studied and read so that she could graduate well and move to Europe to be a book editor. She read everything except the Bible. She hated reading the Bible. One day, after the family had been attending our church for a while, Sol woke up to a strange sight: her 19 year old brother, Cris, was sitting on the couch in their living room reading his Bible and writing in a notebook. She was shocked and concerned that whatever alien had taken over her brother’s body was probably coming for her next. And then there was the fact that four months had passed and they were still attending the same church. Her parents, Cris, and their 16 year old brother Luca were still attending leadership classes every Saturday, and her dad and brothers had started playing in the worship team. Sure she had been busy recently, but could an alien really have invaded her entire family without her noticing?

Prayer with the musicians of the worship team
Even though she wasn’t AS involved as everyone else, she was a good Christian and thought it was probably time for her to attend one of these Encounter things.  She participated in the July Encounter, and God finally captured her attention. He showed her that He is much greater and more active than she had thought. If her favorite activity was reading, her second favorite activity is learning. God opened her eyes to see that He has much more to teach her. This set her nerdy heart on fire for her Creator.

Sol sharing her testimony in front of the church after her Encounter
As we move down the list of Sol’s hobbies, her third favorite is teaching. After her Encounter, she started looking for opportunities to teach what she had learn. She attended a second Encounter retreat in September, this time to take notes on how the classes are taught to prepare her for helping teach in the December Encounter. In the meantime, she comes to the church every Saturday afternoon to spend an hour studying the discipleship course material with Pastora Jaci before teaching the September Encounter group their ongoing discipleship classes.

Taking notes in the September Encounter
In order to grow in Christ, we have to be giving and receiving God. Discipleship isn’t just a good idea or a church growth strategy, it is vital to our spiritual health. Sol’s experience in making disciples began with the challenge of deciding a day and time for the classes. I helped her through the process and got many frustrated texts explaining just how much she hates getting a group of individuals to make a decision. These small lessons in grace and patience can’t be taught in a vacuum. We have to get involved in other people’s lives. We have to let them expose our weaknesses and let God heal us.

Sol teaching a discipleship class
I can’t get over these bracelets. A year and a half ago, a high school short term team from North Dakota brought a hundred of them for a children’s event.  We gave away about fifteen at the event, then they sat at the bottom of a closet for probably ten months. Someone found them right before our February Encounter and decided to give them as gifts to the participants. We’ve been giving them as gifts in every Encounter since, and I still can’t believe people actually wear them. We never talk about them, but they’ve become a weird mark of our church leaders. I, of course, stole one for myself and love the subtle unity that comes from a cheesy child’s salvation plan bracelet.

Jorge and Gerardo in the discipleship class. Yes, we drink maté in discipleship class.
Another note on this specific photo. Jorge and Gerardo are two of Sol’s disciples who are also in Ashley’s and my house of prayer. Our disciples are coming full circle in a weird way. I taught most of Sol’s parents’ discipleship classes. They started calling me “Seño”, Argentine for prof or teach or miss or whatever the kids call their teachers these day, and the nickname stuck. Last weekend, we had a bouncy castle at a church event. Sol crawled in with her little sister, and Gerardo spotted her. He had no end of joy from seeing his wise professor jumping in a bouncy castle. Sol is continuing the 40/40 missionary tradition of showing that God uses the weak. He uses me and my weak Spanish skills to teach her. He uses her, a goofy college student, to teach her disciples. They in turn are encouraged because they recognize that that same God will use them to teach others.

I am ridiculously honored to be friends with Sol and watch how God is changing and using her. 

This is the entire Barrera family. I'm not sure how Carla didn't make it in any of the other pictures.
I hope they never actually read my blog because I always choose the worst pictures of them.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Life from Death

I have referred back to this picture a couple times now in my blogs. It was a slightly awkward moment at the end of our big event “Hope for Cordoba” when the preacher (Pastor Ferney from Colombia) asked anyone who was there for the first time to come forward. The event was held in a concert hall rather than the church, so technically we were all there for the first time. There were many present who had never been to our church, but only these five timidly made their way to the front where Pastor Ferney surprised us all by praying the prayer of salvation with them. I’ve now been able to tell the stories of Erminda (on the far right) and Erica (in the middle). Two of the others were visiting from out of town, but now it’s time to tell the story of the man on the far left, Jorge. I had a short conversation with him right after this picture was taken. He had been handed a flyer by one of our visiting Olivet students earlier in the day. Desperate for hope, he braved the biting cold to come to an event where he knew no one to see if he could find what we claimed to offer. He seemed incredibly uncomfortable, but at the same time hopeful that maybe he was in the right place and maybe Christ could be what he had been looking for. I asked him for his phone number so we could keep in contact with him. Embarrassed, he confessed that someone else had asked for his number for a raffle when he walked in the door, and he told them he didn’t have a phone. “But I do have a phone! And I do want the church to keep in contact with me. I’m sorry.” He started attending Ashley’s and my house of prayer that week.

Pastor Ferney praying over Jorge, Erica, Erminda, and two people I don't know.

This is called consolidation: a slightly to overwhelmingly awkward conversation in which you
ask a stranger for their contact information and pray with them.

What I’ve always admired about Jorge is his perseverance. Most of Ashley’s and my contacts are woman in their 20s and 30s or family members of women in their 20s and 30s. Jorge is in his early forties. He lives downtown. When we first met him, he was unemployed. Shortly after he started attending the church, he got a job at an Arab restaurant in our neighborhood. He hated every minute of it, but he needed the work. During the siesta break between shifts, he would often walk over to the church and help us with moving things from the old church or various painting projects in the new building. He clicked immediately with our small group, so Ashley and I have had the privilege of discipling him, but this of course has its disadvantages. He can’t talk to us about everything, and we can’t be as completely immersed in his life as we are in the lives of our female disciples and their families. As with every apparent struggle, God has worked this for his good. The other men in the small group have stepped up to befriend, encourage, and support him in ways that Ashley and I obviously can’t.

Moving Day

Our awesome house of prayer preparing bags of cookies to take to the neighbors.

Despite all this, the enemy kept whispering in Jorge’s ear that he really didn’t belong in the church. He had a hard time reconciling how good he felt in the church and how bad he felt with his non-Christian friends. He quit his terrible job in the beginning of August so he could look for a new one, but the search was long and the depression was something he was used to. Even though he hadn’t been able to attend the July Encounter, the Pastors recognized his dedication and potential and invited him to participate in meetings and activities with the other leaders of the church. This big step only increased the volume of Satan’s whispers.

Leadership meeting where we asked the leaders to identify
ministries that they would like to help with/lead.

Two weeks ago, Jorge met with Pastor Junior. He explained some of the pain he was going through. The bottom line was that someone like him couldn’t be the church leader that Pastor was looking for. Pastor prayed with him and encouraged him to just hang on. Go to the Encounter this weekend. We’ll talk again next week.

The Encounter was wonderful. My favorite moments were when I got to sit in on a couple of the classes. Two of our house of prayer members attended this Encounter: Jorge and Gerardo, Erica’s husband. Both have accepted Christ within the past four months. It was pure joy to see them seated next to each other, comparing notes, and helping each other find the Bible passages. At the end of the retreat, both men shared testimonies in front of the church of what God had done. For Gerardo, God had released him from his bitterness and anger toward his siblings and given him a new love for his wife and children and his church family. For Jorge, God had lifted him from his depression and silenced the lies. Both men confessed to considering suicide within the past year. And from death, God created life.

An Encounter class. The back row pictured has Pastor Junior, Jorge, and Gerardo.

Pastor Junior anointing and praying for Jorge at the end of the Encounter.

Monday, the day after the Encounter, Jorge ran in to an old friend on the street who offered him a job. Tuesday morning, he came to church for the 6 am prayer service for the first time to praise his God who had given him more than he could have imagined. He was at prayer again this morning praying for his friends and family members who don’t know God. We praise God for Jorge's life, witness, and future. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Building Inauguration

This week, we, the Cordoba church plant, held our first service in our own church building! Since we signed the papers and got the keys on August 7, we’ve been working to transform this gorgeous home into a functional church. We’ve torn down a wall, installed a new water heater, created an upstairs kitchen, unburied the back patio, and moved and cleaned more things than we can count. (We’ve also hosted a short term team, ran a VBS, and did all our normal ministry activities because we hate sleep.) All this was possible because God is merciful and our church members have servants’ hearts. Several of them were in the building each day moving, painting, rewiring, and installing according to their various talents.

It was a race against the clock as we needed to finish everything before our Encounter retreat began early Saturday, August 30. The Encounter is two days of intensive classes, prayer, and seeking God for our new church members. A week before the Encounter, we had eleven people confirmed to attend. By Saturday morning, that number had dwindled to four due to work schedules, health problems, and family emergencies. We had no doubt the enemy was doing his best to keep people from attending, and we had no doubt God was ready to do great miracles in the lives of our four remaining participants. Sol, Erminda, Sarah, and Erica spent a powerful weekend in God’s presence. Five of our church leaders were also present all weekend helping run logistics for the retreat, prepare meals, and pray over the classes.

Worship in the new church
We usually have two church services each Sunday at 10am and 6pm. On Encounter Sundays, we cancel the morning service and come together as an entire church family to celebrate the Encounter participants in the evening service. This Sunday was, of course, an extra special celebration of the new building. The Encounter ended around 4:00 so the participants could be whisked away to another location to reflect and prepare their testimonies while we arranged the sanctuary. In the chaos of the preceding weeks, we never had the opportunity to fill the space with chairs or test the sound system with the worship team. God was with us at every moment, and none of the hundred details that could have gone wrong actually did.

The congregation
The service began with the grand entry of the Encounter participants. They were greeted with cheers and whistles, signs and pompoms, and general revelry. The worship set was upbeat with songs that focused on the unity of the body of Christ. Even though everyone already knew, Pastora Jaci officially announced her pregnancy to the congregation. Our pastors are very committed to the growth of our church through whatever means possible. Pastor Junior welcomed the church family to their new home and gave a brief rundown of the physical changes we still hope to make in the coming weeks. He then called up the Encounter participants to share testimonies of the weekend.

Pastor introducing Erminda, Sarah, Sol, and Erica
Three of the women shared a little of their experience from the retreat. First was Sol, a twenty-three year old who had been raised in a Christian family. They had been looking for a new church when God led them to us. Sol was the last of her family members to attend an Encounter due to difficulties with her school schedule. At twenty-three, she had climbed that first spiritual mountain of learning everything a Christian young person is supposed to know- Bible stories, scriptures, doctrine, who did what and why. Through sobs she explained that she thought she had learned almost all there was to learn about God. As a delightful nerd, this was disappointing. “Praise the Lord!” she shouted, “He has so much more to teach me, and I love learning!” While I don’t know the specifics, God showed her that this first mountain was one in an unending range of plans and purposes that He has laid out for her life.

Next was Erminda. She is in her sixties and has led a long, difficult life of rejection, failure, and searching for God. In her search, she has explored eastern religions mixed with Biblical teachings. She accepted Christ at an event we held last May. Since then, she has been studying the truth of the Bible and who God is. At the end of the Encounter, all she could say, through tears, was that she finally knew that she was loved by God. On top of His tremendous love for her, she had experienced and is thankful for the love of her church and pastors.

Erica shared last. Her twenty year old daughter Sofia has been attending our church for a few months with her boyfriend Andres, but we prayed for Erica for a long time before convincing her to attend. She also accepted Christ in that event in May and has been attending church and a house of prayer with her family. In her testimony, she shared that God has been teaching her about forgiveness. She has been hurt by many people in her life, and God is teaching her how to forgive. In this Encounter, however, she had realized how much she needed to be forgiven; first by God, then by her family. In front of the church, she asked each of her three children, Andres, and her own boyfriend Gerardo for forgiveness for her various sins, harsh words, and attitudes. They forgave her, and we all celebrated as a church family.

Our church family!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

July Short Term Team

We bought our new church building on Thursday the 7th, started cleaning it on Friday, moved the pastors in on Monday, and received a short term team from California on Tuesday. Because of planning complications, the team was only five members-the perfect size to help alleviate our chaos without adding to it. They toured and prayed over the city on Wednesday, then dove into a VBS program from Thursday through Monday. We have never done a VBS here in Cordoba and, judging from people’s reactions to our invitations, they are not a common community event. We had seven kids the first couple days, but after the kids/parents began to understand what a VBS is, attendance jumped to fourteen-sixteen the last three days. The lessons and activities were a huge hit. The kids were on a two week winter vacation from school; like we have in the States but without Christmas. We are looking forward to planning a VBS for the summer vacation in January. The highlight for me was showing our church members the joy and impact of children’s ministry in our community. Yesterday, 10 year old Monica brought her three younger sisters with her to church without her parents. Please pray with us for her precious heart and her large family.

Josh, Marlene, Cassandra, Sarah, me, Ashley, Dani, Damaris, Chris, Genna, Rachel, Anndee, Jessica
In addition to running VBS, the short term team helped us clean out the backyard space of the new building. They also donated money to the remodel and supplies to the children’s ministry. More than anything, they encouraged us and our church members to continue fighting the good fight with God as our strength.

They first couple of days we weren't sure if we could get any more kids to come. 
But we had fun with those who were there.
Then their number started to grow.

Mom brought face paints and stencils
Mom had her first mate tea and criollos. Pastora had recently stolen the mate from me in this
On Sunday, the kids share their songs and memory verses in the afternoon service.
We all had a great time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New Church Building

Almost exactly one year ago, we signed the papers and started moving into our church. Even then, we knew we had to leave that building as soon as possible. Because of inflation, rent increases at least 15% every six months. That means our monthly rent that was $375 a year ago became $430 in January and would be $500 next month. Would be, but it’s not. We had our last service in that building yesterday and are racing to finish the remodel on our new building this week before the Encounter retreat and inauguration of the new building this weekend. The new building is OUR building. With funds raised through alabaster offerings, 40/40 donors (you), and Extreme church fund-raising, we bought a building three blocks from our original church.

Front of the new church building
The first adventure was finding and choosing a new church. For six months we kept our eyes peeled for For Sale signs whenever we were walking through the city. We called countless real estate agents and toured a dozen properties before selecting the best option. The next adventure was physically getting the money from Boise and Buenos Aires to pay for the building. Unlike the United States, Argentina runs on cash. Instead of putting in a code or card and moving the imaginary numbers from one bank account to another, we had to send over $60,000 (Extreme’s part of the purchase) here to Cordoba. That’s some 870,000 pesos. In cash. In a currency where the largest bill is 100 pesos. I won’t bore you with the details, but you can imagine all the fun/trouble we had transferring and collecting that much money from the banks. I now know way more about Western Union’s Argentine banking policies than I ever wished to know.

This is what 870,000 pesos looks like (that's my bed).
Dear potential thieves: we don't have all this money in our house anymore. You already
missed your opportunity. Please don't break into our house. You will be disappointed.
So now we are in the third adventure: remodeling. The building is a two story home. The pastors are living upstairs, and we are transforming the ground floor into a sanctuary and classrooms. Basically, this includes installing a kitchen upstairs, removing a wall downstairs, and cleaning everything several times. The sanctuary space is smaller than the old sanctuary space, but it has plenty of room as we are still doing two services. The building belongs to the Nazarene Cordoba district and has space to grow (take out more walls/expand to the back patio) as the church continues to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Removing the wall
No more wall!
As with any challenge, one of the blessings is seeing how much love and support God provides for us in the most surprising ways. Several church members have been in the new building every day helping clean, paint, cook, move, repair, rewire, organize, giving their time and talents to prepare our new home. You don’t know them, but they are special to me. I love their hearts and their care for our church, so I want to include their names: Sol, Jorge, Erminda, Enzo, David, Laura, Luca, and Marina.

Enzo and Luca fix an exterior light while Pastora supervises.

Enzo, Luca, David, and Jorge help move the last load of furniture from the old church.
We had our first event in the church last Saturday. My mom brought fingernail polish, modeling clay, and charms to make necklaces for our second ever women’s event. We talked and created and pampered for over three hours, blessing the new building with laughter and love. God’s blessings are abundant. 
In the taxi picking up Mom from the airport, a little excited.

Our first women's event in the new building! We had a full house!

I'm not sure what I'm so concerned about in this picture...

Ashley, Sol, Laura, Paola, Damaris; pamper queens!

In other news: I'm a legal resident of Argentina!! No more immigration hassles for me!