Our Mid-Harvest Update

Our Mid-Harvest Update

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Back in August David and I were blessed to be able to take our annual vacation for a few weeks. We ended up going to back to Peru because I had loved visiting there last year. As a whole it was a wonderful time to get away and relax. The first half of our trip was perfect (I do enjoy escaping to cold weather!), and the second half was nice, but a little harder as we dealt with health issues. Many of you have been praying for David’s health (damaged elbow, high blood pressure, etc.) and unfortunately the high altitude on our trip really did a number on his health. Thankfully God protected him from the worst of it and we were able to adjust our travel plans to get him feeling better faster. Please continue to pray for complete healing. Once he started feeling better I came down with the flu and a bad sinus infection. Bummer. But, while it’s kind of sad to end a vacation sick, it does make you really appreciate going home. There’s nothing like your own bed!

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Once we got back to Belize things quickly went into full swing with the start of the Fall semester. At this point we also knew I was pregnant and got to go to the first doctor’s appointments and see the first ultrasound. Very exciting!

So September ended up being very full, as well as going by very quickly. For me, besides being Super Sleepy, this meant restarting choir and piano lessons. Choir last semester ended on a rather low note (no pun intended!), so I was weary about starting up again. The good thing about Fall though is that you get to prep for Christmas! With Christmas in mind, and the fun we’ve had in the past with choir I decided to give it another shot. This year I’ve been blessed to have a parent volunteer who has agreed to attend the rehearsals with me. Having another person there is wonderful help! One of the other big changes, and helps, this year is that about half the choir is from previous years (so I have a base of kids who know how choir works) and the other half is entirely new kids for this semester (adding a fresh start to this year). We are having lots of fun singing together as we prepare for Christmas. Piano lessons are also continuing to go really well as I get to know the kids and their families better. It still amazes me that God gave me such a love for music and a way to share that love in our work here in San Ignacio.

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We continue to work very closely with the three Anglican schools here in our area. I think the chapel services are my favorite part about working with the schools. Kids have the best questions! In the rural schools I still work with the younger kids, and David with the older grades. While I’m primarily doing Bible stories for the lessons, David is taking the older kids through the Bible with hand motions. I had never seen this before, but it is an amazing way to keep the kids engaged, and help them really learn the Bible! David also has a lot of extra work with the schools since he is both the chaplain and the local manager. That means he has both pastoral responsibilities (like teacher devotions and counseling) as well as more administrative work (like responding to staffing issues). It’s a lot for one person, but he does it really well and has gotten to know the families much better through his involvement. Please continue to pray for him as he works on time management and dealing with stress.

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One of our big focuses this year have been on leadership development. We have so many youth that we work with who have hearts for God and a real ability to lead. There have been a few different ways we are working to build up these emerging leaders. To start, we have two young women who would like to be lay ministers in the church. Anytime people want to take on a leadership role in the church it is incredibly encouraging. David teaches classes each week to show the girls everything they could be doing both to assist in the church as well as to train new disciples themselves (this involves everything from going on pastoral visits to helping teach catechism classes).

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This Fall we have also started our evening service at St. Andrew’s Church. The whole purpose for starting this service was to both create more space in the mornings (as the morning service is getting rather full) as well as to have a youth lead/youth oriented service. We have two young lay ministers who lead the service, another girl who comes and helps lead music on her ukulele, and a few other girls who help lead the singing. While we are starting off on the smaller side, it is easily becoming one of the favorite services. Again, having a group of youth who want to step up and lead in the church is wonderful! We have also seen the growth in leadership with the two boys who help lead the evening service. They have taken on a more active role in the youth group (which has more than doubled in size this semester) by both planning the games and leading worship. I’m also continuing with a high school girls Bible study to both learn more about God through his Word, but to also build the relationships with these girls that hopefully will build them up into disciples who make more disciples. Please pray for our emerging leaders. There is so much going on! It is always hard to write these updates as I’m never sure what to say and what to leave out. Just know God is continuing to do big things here in Belize.

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Our most recent big event in the church over the past couple weeks has been the annual Harvest festivals. Each school and church has their own celebrations. Harvest is basically like Thanksgiving, but with a stronger focus on God’s blessings and provisions. The schools participate in the service by having the different grades prepare baskets of fruits/vegetables/cakes to process up with to the altar. Once they get to the front they give a presentation of thanks (usually a poem or song) and then present their gifts to God. After the service the pastries are sold and then the produce is given to needy families, with leftovers being sold. Each service, while similar, is very unique and easily our biggest services for the entire year. At St. Andrew’s alone we end up having close to 700 people attend the harvest!

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Here we are already at the end of October and wondering where the time went, but with so much going on it is no surprise that it is flying by!

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So now to look more towards the future. One of the big things we want you to pray for is the Hansens. As you may recall from a previous update, there is a family coming down to serve with us here in Belize for an entire year. We are very excited to meet and serve with each of them (Evan, Missy, and Annabelle)! Next week Evan is coming down for a week to go house-hunting and then he will return with his wife and daughter in December to officially start ministry here. Please be praying for their family as they continue to prepare for this huge transition. Please also pray that we are able to find the perfect house for them in the time that Evan will be with us. Moving is always stressful, and moving to another country is worse. So lots of prayers are appreciated for the Hansens.

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David and I are also looking towards next year for more personal reasons. Our baby is due at the end of April (right after Easter, because that’s not a busy time of year … hehe). We are very excited, and a little nervous. While April seems far away now we know the time is going to fly. So there are a few things we ask you to keep in your prayers. Please continue to pray for a healthy pregnancy, baby, and birth. We are planning on staying here in Belize for the birth of our Little Bean. This is not only a better option financially, but our child will have dual citizenship from birth. As someone who is still working on getting permanent residency (and living on a yearly visa), I’m very excited that our child will not have to deal with all of the immigration paperwork. What this does mean though is that almost immediately after birth we will be working with the US and Belizean consulates to get all the passports and documents in order quickly for our child. Please pray that everything comes together quickly with no complications. As you may already know, next year is our three year mark here in Belize since we moved back together. That means we are due to return to the States for a few months for our “home assignment”. This is where we travel around the country visiting our supporters and churches. We are very excited to come and see you! We are even more excited that we will get to introduce you to our new addition so soon after birth. Right now our plan is to come back to the States sometime in June and to stay through September (finishing off our trip with New Wineskins 2019 in North Carolina). While June is far away, a trip of this size, with a new baby, is going to take lots of planning. Especially since adding an addition to our family means an increase in our budget. Please pray for us as we already begin planning/organizing for next year. We want to see as many of you as possible, which takes a lot of organizing.

Please also pray for us as we will need to raise more financial support for the Little Bean. And finally, please pray that we will be able to fit everything into those four months next year. We are trying to miss as little of Fall 2019 here in Belize as possible. While we are super excited to come back to see you, we also love our ministry here (and the busiest/best time is the Fall).

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Lots going on, lots to plan. Thankfully God is always in control. And with all the planning we may try to do, His plans are always better! We will continue to update you on all things Belize as well as our plans for next year as they become more solid. We may even be contacting some of you directly as we work out schedules to visit next summer. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. And as always, if you would like to join our team (both in prayer and/or financially) please click on our support link. We know we are only able to stay here and serve because God has given us partners like you. Thank you!

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Growing Up in the Solomons: Part I

Growing Up in the Solomons: Part I

Alright, everyone. I know it’s dangerous to say things like this, but here goes. This is the first of a monthly blog series about what it’s like to grow up as a child in the Solomon Islands, written by people who have done some of their growing up there. The series will begin with some of my reflections and will be followed up by Ava’s, all the way down to Judah’s. We would ask Immanuel to contribute, but he speaks a Melanesian-English idiolect none of us understand…

SIBLINGS

It is perhaps unsurprising that the typical missionary kid in the Solomons develops strong relationships with his or her siblings. Most of the day is spent together. Everyone wakes up to the same rooster, competes with the early morning traffic to get to the external bathroom, and prepares for a day of homeschool together. Older children help younger ones while their mother focuses on the needs of one or two. By lunchtime, the heat has become difficult to cope with. The adult does so with coffee and a rest. The children do so with playtime or a nap. Then it’s afternoon playtime activities!

SWIMMING

Here’s our favorite one! We don’t get to do this every day, but the weekly trip to the swimming hole is pretty special. The Bio Waterfall has a pool – behind the children – that is shallow enough for Judah and Immanuel. A cataract, varying in height from 12 feet – where the photographer is standing – to 6 feet – where the children are about to jump – makes for a fun progression for budding jumpers and divers. The water is so deep that there’s little worry about hitting rocks. Today the joy is completed by the presence of friends who’ve found a long, sturdy vine to swing on! On other days, the pastime of choice is a game of “shell-coconuts.”

PRAYER

Before evening, cool and refreshed from the evening bathe (it’s called a “swim” in Solomons Pijin), they set off to evening prayer. What a blessing for everyone to have an enforced hour of contemplation and prayer every day! I love that my children are growing in prayer in a community that encourages this daily. Occasionally, when I’m unable to attend with them, they ask to go up on their own. The children end their day together with their playmates, siblings, and elders, before going home to the evening meal and an early bed. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us, sinners. King Jesus, keep us safe through all the troubles and dangers of this night.”

Jonathan is a professor at Trinity School for Theology in Malaita while Tess is involved in womens’ ministries. 

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

Juan and Maria Marentes Ministry Update

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

 (Mark 10: 27)

 

October 2018

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As Maria Isabel and I were praying on Mark 10: 17-31 (The rich Young Man) we re-discovered a brief and marvelous elucidation of the Gospel: If you want to partake of eternal life, you have to risk everything on which you trust for your safety and stability, share those things with the needy… leave everything behind… and then follow Jesus. Later on, He will multiply everything you gave away (not without troubles/persecutions), and in the age to come He will give you the ‘bonus’ of eternal life.

We can tell you from the bottom of our hearts how true is the Gospel. In our long missionary career we have left ‘something’ behind, and God has already abounded in countless blessings at every level of life. However, we are currently going through a temporary trouble*. Our SAMS Missionary Account has become below zero. Nobody expects, and let alone desires that kind of hardship. We invite all of you, dear friends and supporters, to join us in giving thanks for the multiple blessings we have enjoyed in the past, and also to pray to God, so He would send us the generous and sacrificial support we urgently need to make our ends meet. God is great and good all the time. We trust Him from the bottom to the top.

With the advice and blessing of our Bishop, we are now mostly concentrated in three places: Iglesia de la Gracia, a new ministry we started on the day of Pentecost in Oceanside, CA. This is part of Grace Anglican Church. We are learning a lot through the combined efforts of some Hispanics and   ‘Anglos’ (regardless their level of Spanish) with a heart for the Latino people and our culture. We have come to understand how crucial is having a good soil for the seed. The ‘Anglos’ are the good soil for the seed -the newcomers-, who experience God’s love, grace and acceptance from the seasoned believers.

Maria Isabel continues deeply committed in a discipleship path with a bilingual group at St. Stephen’s Anglican in Tustin, CA. Both of us are still connected with Christ the King Church-plant in Ramona. CA We’re praying for opportunities to connect to the Hispanic Community there, starting especially in Advent and Christmas seasons.

*  Our current need is US$15,000.00 to bring our Missionary Account where it needs to be. You can, as always, either send a check to SAMS (with “For the Marentes” in the memo line), or go to the SAMS website. This is the new link:

 

https://give.sams-usa.org/missionary/juan-and-maria-marentes

 

The snail-mail address of SAMS is: PO Box 399, Ambridge, PA 15003.   If you need more details, please contact Denise Cox at DeniseCox@sams-usa.org, Phone (724) 266 0669. She is the SAMS’ Associate Director

We give thanks to the Lord for having you as faithful and tireless supporters over the past years. May God’s richest blessings come on you, your families and ministries.

 

Versión en Español

Al releer una porción del Evangelio de Marcos (10: 17-31) pudimos volver a entender el Evangelio en pocas palabras: “Si quieres tener Vida Eterna, tienes que arriesgar todo lo que significa seguridad y estabilidad para ti… compartir esas cosas con los necesitados… dejar todo atrás y seguir a Jesús. La promesa firme es que El multiplicará todo lo que abandonaste -aún en esta vida- y luego te dará como ‘bonificación’ la Vida Eterna.” El complemento de la promesa es que, no por ello desaparecerán mientras tanto todos los problemas y dificultades.

Hasta el día de hoy podemos dar testimonio de la certeza de la promesa de Jesús, el Señor. Lo poco que hemos dejado atrás se ha tornado en ricas bendiciones a todo nivel. Sin embargo no faltan ni faltarán las dificultades. En estos días, por primera vez en 24 años, nuestros fondos para la Misión están bajo cero. Les pedimos el favor de unirse en oración con nosotros para que el Señor, dueño de todos los recursos en el mundo, mueva a corazones generosos que puedan apoyarnos como siempre en el pasado.

Tenemos ministerio interesante en tres lugares, vinculados a Iglesias Anglicanas locales: 1) Grupo de discipulado bilingüe en Irvine, CA., 2) Iglesia de la Gracia, ministerio Hispano, en Oceanside, CA., 3) Exploración de posibilidades de acercamiento a la comunidad Hispana en Ramona, CA.

Hemos agregado arriba los enlaces para donaciones a través de SAMS, nuestra agencia misionera.

Oramos también por ustedes, amigos y socios en la Misión de llevar el Evangelio hasta los confines de la tierra.

The Rev. Juan B & Maria I Marentes

 

 

Bridging Cultures: What You Need to Know about Short-term Mission

Bridging Cultures: What You Need to Know about Short-term Mission

What if you are looking for missionary experience, but you are not ready for a year-long commitment? Or perhaps you are discerning if long-term service is where God is calling you. SAMS has a short-term missionary program that will help you discern the next steps in your vocation and explore your potential missionary call. Are you ready to become a Missionary Bridger?

What is a Bridger?

A Bridger expands the bridge of service between missionaries and churches across the world!

What’s the point?

You will meet the desire for serving longer than traditional short-term mission work of two weeks, yet shorter than missionary service of three years.  Some want to extend ministry for a longer period of time than a short-term mission offers while others want to discern further the Lord’s calling for long-term missionary service.

How does a Bridger internship work?

Missionary Bridgers are partnered with and mentored by an experienced SAMS long-term missionary.  Missionary Bridgers have served with missionaries in Africa, Europe, South America, and Central America. SAMS’ Missionary Bridgers are often assigned a “Cultural Link Person” from their host country who will help them manage ordinary life experiences like going to the bank, locating a store, or navigating transportation.  Some Missionary Bridgers will also have formal language lessons.

How old do I have to be?

SAMS sends Missionary Bridgers from many age groups—pre-career, mid-career, and post-career.  To be considered for a SAMS internship, it is necessary for the applicant to have completed high school or the equivalent of high schoolat least one year beofre beginning the program.  You must be at least 18 years old at the beginning of your internship.  Some of our applicants are college graduates, currently enrolled in college, or have no college experience at all.   We look for Christians who are seeking God’s will for their lives and we consider life experiences as indicators of the applicant’s qualification to serve as a SAMS Missionary Bridger.

What is required to be a Bridger?

Accepted Missionary Bridgers will be required to attend a Missionary Bridger Training Workshop (3-day intensive conference in Ambridge, PA).  The primary focus of this workshop is to build relationships with Missionary Bridger applicants so that we can better serve you as you serve Christ in your later determined host country.  In the workshop we will discuss individual Missionary Bridger placement, expectations for the placement, cultural adaptation and, because Missionary Bridgers raise their own financial support like our long-term missionaries, we will develop your personal intern budget and prepare you to start raising your own support.  The training will be offered periodically so that at least six months prior to your departure date, you will be prepared for your placement and to raise financial and prayer support.

What can I except to achieve?

Grow personally in all aspects, especially spiritually as you face a new environment and the challenges that accompany it.

Expand your vision of God at work in the world.

Discover and develop gifts for ministry, increasing your effectiveness for wherever God calls you.

Discern next steps in your vocation, and particularly explore potential missionary call.

Offer yourself as a living sacrifice serving others under the guidance of your missionary mentor.

Build Christ-centered relationships with those God calls you.

Encourage your sending church by being an extension of their ministry and seeking to bridge the church to the world.

So, how do I sign up?

If you are interested in pursuing a Missionary Bridger internship with SAMS, please contact Lynn, SAMS Short-term Missions Coordinator at lynnbouterse@sams-usa.org.

 

A Realization About Giving

A Realization About Giving

The other night, my thoughts about Giving were rocked.

We have been studying spiritual giftings and the one for this week was giving. Growing up in Christian subculture in America, I have a very specific view of giving. The first thing to come to mind was the love language of gift giving. Gary Chapman names it as one of the 5 love languages.

But our pastor this evening defined giving a bit differently. Giving is the ability and desire to grab onto a vision.

“Huh.” I thought. “I have never thought of it like that.” When you give, you are giving to a vision of the future. A birthday present is a vision of a happy individual with a long life. A gift to building fund is a vision for a structure that will affect the community. And a gift to (say) a missionary in Zambia, is a vision for a thriving global community.

The more I thought about it, the more I LOVE this definition of giving as a spiritual gift and discipline.

You, my wonderful partners, have ALL exercised the spiritual gift of giving my grabbing onto the vision I have been called to here in Zambia to raise up healthy and world-changing youth. Your gifts and prayers are not just gifts and prayers. They are a physical manifestation of holding onto that amazing vision.

So I wanted to thank you for grabbing ahold of the vision with me! Together, we are creating the Kingdom on earth.

By April Sylvester

By April Sylvester

SAMS Missionary to Zambia