Dear Friends and Family,
As hard as it is for me to believe, 2022 is done and we are almost halfway through January of 2023! I wanted to get this letter out earlier this month, but both Vanesa and I came down with COVID on or around New Year's, so I had to postpone until now.
Last year was a whirlwind. We struggled to stay healthy, and it felt like the car was in the shop more often than we drove it (it wasn't, but it felt like that). On the positive side, Zoe finished up her junior year in high school with honors, and also took and passed an online course at the University of Buenos Aires. Vanesa had her first year running the bakery without quarantine protocol and her university classes started meeting in person again. Sofia, Vanesa's youngest sister, graduated from high school and Eliseo, our youngest nephew, finished up primary school. We made more progress on the house, and actually had furniture for the living room for the first time this past October! No more folding chairs!
We also had our first visitor from the USA in quite some time, as my mother was able to spend some time with us, and then an old friend from college came through town in late October and spent a few days with us as he got to know Argentina.
Our biggest surprise, however, came in November, when we received a summons to appear on Dec. 12 before the USCIS officers in Portland, OR for Vanesa's naturalization process! Yes, you read that right, the summons came with roughly 2 weeks notification! Many of you prayed with us during that time, and we were granted an extension and a new interview date for Jan 23 of this year, praise the Lord. So, we will be traveling as a family on Jan 17 of this year, returning to Argentina in Feb after going through the naturalization interview and some follow up paperwork (passport and such), if everything goes well. Obviously, given the pressure from USCIS to finish this process after so many delays, we will be making the interview our priority on this trip. However, we hope to be able to visit and worship with many of you, so please be in prayer for all of the logistics and finances necessary for the trip, and for Vanesa's interview to be successful.
Eyes On Jesus Congregation
Please be praying for our congregation. Inflation was over 80 percent for the year, and people are simply having trouble putting food on the table. A number of couples continue to struggle with their marriages, now that life has returned to something close to pre-COVID normal, and many people are still grieving loved ones lost to the virus, but do not know how, and do not want help. We spent most of 2022 ministering to people who are struggling with how HARD it is to live life like Christ, and so we would appreciate your prayers for them, that they would hold fast to Jesus and not look for other "solutions" to life's demands.
We were able to keep a small positive balance in the church's savings this year, and that helped us cover the increases in the utility bills and to continue to provide food/care packages for the folks who were struggling the most financially. The owner finished remodeling the upstairs apartment sometime in September, so worship has been much easier the last quarter of the year, because we are not competing with power tools.
The most joyous day of the year was Isaac's dedication service. I officiated, and several members of the extended family were able to be present that Saturday as well. Pray that God will grow the seeds planted that day, and that people will decide to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
This continues to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of ministry here. Seeing these young men dedicate themselves to working for the Lord is simply awesome. God is raising up people to preach, teach, evangelize, sing and counsel, and He is doing it all through these very small, sometimes ad hoc, meetings, where people simply stop and take the time to listen to, pray for, and disciple others. The ministry trip to Corrientes was the high point of the year for Daniel's group, and I hope and pray they can make another trip in 2023, but stay a bit longer. Daniel lost his mom to Covid this past year, so please keep him in prayer as he is dealing with a number of family conflicts over the inheritance, as well as grieving the loss of his mother.
As has been the case for a few years now, much of the material I shared with the discipleship group had its origin in studies or sermons that I prepared for the radio ministry. I worked through 1 and 2 Corinthians during the year, as planned, and am just amazed at how many parallels there are between the life of 1st century Corinth and 21st century Florencio Varela! The lessons on the tendency of the church to judge spiritual things with worldly criteria had the most impact, but I was pleased with the whole year. Plans for expanding to the additional radio station are still on standby, but we have some promising possibilities. In fact, I spoke to Esteban right before New Year's, and I might be able to work with him to create program content for the radio station he uses (this is the young man I mentioned in the September newsletter). He is in the process of moving to Buenos Aires Capital, but once he gets settled in and Vanesa and I come back from the USA, we will be able to talk in greater detail.
In short, God continues to build His Kingdom in Argentina. It may be in twos and threes, with the discipleship group and counseling opportunities. It might be dozens and hundreds at a time, with the musical group ministry and the local church that is reproducing the discipleship program. It might be the thousands reached via the radio. God is moving, and you are part of this work. Thank you so much, all of you, for your cards, for your letters, for your emails, especially when we were ill. Thank you for your support of Envoy financially, and thank you for your prayers. May God continue to show His strength in our weakness, and fill 2023 with blessings.
Envoy Christian Mission