Dear Friends and Family,
Let me start with an apology to all those of you who have been writing or calling to try and catch up with us as a family in between these reports. We cannot tell you how much we appreciate your efforts to keep in touch, pray with and for us, and just let us know you care. The bottom line is that our schedule has been even crazier than it normally is, and I have not been able to answer even half of your requests for a conversation or an additional update.
The biggest issue over the past few weeks has been health. Vanesa has experienced a serious uptick in her level and frequency of abdominal pain, and when we finally got in to see the ob/gyn we had to do several tests. This required several trips into town in order to get the initial doctor appointment, schedule (in person) and have the tests done at a different location, and then take the results back to the doctor. The upshot of the tests is that Vanesa has 3 new cysts on her right ovary. The cyst on the left side has disappeared, and the doc believes that these 3 might as well, but the increase in number over a shorter period of time concerns him, to say nothing of her pain level. Please pray with us that the cysts will disappear, the fibroma will reduce in size, and that Vane can be pain free.
We would also like to ask you all to pray for our car. The motor has been overheating with some regularity, and the mechanic has tried several different fixes without success up to this point. I can still drive the vehicle on short trips, so we can manage most of what we need to do in the course of the week, but not being able to count on the vehicle is a problem. Please pray that the mechanic will find the problem this week, and that it will be an easy and inexpensive fix.
As usual, God blesses us in the midst of the challenges! We are all enjoying being in the new house, and we are celebrating having my mother visiting with us for the first time since early 2019! God is so very good.
Eyes on Jesus Congregation
Inflation is on pace to break the 50% mark again this year, and the church members are really feeling the pinch. This is the first time in 20 years that food has led the inflationary push, and that of course is a big problem for people at every economic level. We have had years where one or two food items have gone up significantly, but it has usually been possible to avoid that item or replace it with something else and still keep both a fairly balanced diet and a stable budget. This year that is not the case, as proteins, grains, fruits and vegetables, and milk products have all increased in price, some of them as much as double!
This means that we continue to have a demand for the care packages that we put together during the worst of the quarantine, because there are a number of folks in the church on fixed incomes. Please pray that we will have the packages ready for those that need them each month, and that the prices of food stabilizes.
Please also continue to pray for our return to in-person meetings. The meetings themselves are going well, but the constant construction on the rooms above us in the building where we meet is a distraction. We do not use a sound system for most of the service, so hammers and crowbars on concrete can make preaching and prayer requests very hard to hear. The owner of the building continues to honor the terms of our agreement, so we do not have to look for another place, but we are all ready for the construction to be done.
Arturo, Marcela and Isaak are doing well. Arturo responded well to the return of the in-person meetings, and they are one of the few families whose income has kept up with inflation, largely due to Marcela's job in the capital city. Marcela's family has had a number of health issues, however, and she asks for prayers for her father, who is battling cancer.
Discipleship Group Ministry
Daniel launched his new group in April, again organized as a band, and they are meeting regularly. For those of you following along, this is the fourth group that Daniel has started, and they have all been initially organized as bands! You might guess that making music for the Lord is his passion! The new group has taken advantage of the easing of quarantine restrictions to schedule some activities in local churches. The next big event is a youth camp, and the group has been invited to speak and play some of their music. As is the case with the other groups, I will work mostly through Daniel, but will, at his request, help individual members with particular life challenges, and speak at least once to the group as a whole about the nature of being a disciple making group as well as a musical one.
Vicente's confirmation as the senior pastor of the Villa Vatteone congregation is now about 2 months old, and he is finding the role to be a much greater challenge than his previous work. Please keep in mind, however, that he is serving as the senior pastor to a church of 200 plus while working full-time as an electrician! Most of our meetings continue to be virtual, mostly because of his schedule, and I do not meet directly with any of his discipleship groups, as that would undermine his work as the pastor in this culture.
Alejandro is a young man, recently married, who has been an on-again-off-again member of both the Eyes on Jesus congregation and my discipleship group for quite some time. He was talking to me quite a bit last year regarding his marriage, but now that that relationship seems to be stronger, he has dropped both his attendance at church and his contact with me (virtual or otherwise). Please pray that God will work in his heart and bring about true repentance and commitment. Please pray for all the members of each group, the committed folks and those who are still on the margins, that we continue to model Christ to them and help them do the same.
We are more than halfway through 1 Corinthians, and the material continues to serve the discipleship groups as well as the radio program. The station manager continues to be very pleased with the content of the program, and we talk regularly. I have also had some very positive conversations with Samuel, the sound tech on the night shift for the station on the weekends, and have learned from him a bit more about how the station functions. The conversations have also helped me in my chats with the members of the discipleship group that want to create a video channel for future members of their group. If you will remember, the original idea was to create a dedicated YouTube channel that would show people some of how the group functioned, live. The initial problems with that idea were the extra time and equipment required to do that kind of long production, to say nothing of the stress some of the more timid members of the group felt at the idea of being part of a lengthy video. After talking with Samuel and some professional videographers, we are much closer to producing a series of short videos that will help some of the other members of the group start conversations and, hopefully, groups of their own. Obviously, this is yet another case where the Radio Ministry and the Discipleship Group Ministry reinforce one another, and we praise God for the ways He has blessed these avenues of service.
We also praise God for all of you. We praise Him for your faithful support, for your prayers, for your text messages and emails, for your willingness to send birthday cards and weep and rejoice with us as the need demands. Thank you, all of you, for partnering with us in this work of our Lord God here in Argentina.
Envoy Christian Mission
Florencio Varela, Argentina