Hello, dear friends! We have news to tell, and big plans to share.
As Mary Beth shared last month, she had an amazing recital! By May 21st (two weeks later), she had taken her final exams and graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Music! I am so proud of her, and I’m happy to report that she has been undergoing a fantastic period of “academic decompression” over the last month.
A few days after her graduation, we ended our lease and moved out of our apartment in Fullerton and the, having packed up a few belongings, we headed to my parents’ home in Indiana to continue our deputation (raising support) among churches in the middle of the country. Hitting the road has been hard, and more than a little stressful at times, but the Lord has led us to connect with some amazing people, and we are so grateful for the new relationships we’ve been given!
But now, it’s crunch time. SAMS has worked with us to put together a plan for returning to Belize on August 1st for this year. This is not due (as we had hoped) to our having raised all of our necessary financial support: on the contrary, we are still about 25% short of our budget. However, our belief and hope is that we ought to begin ministry in Belize and continue to keep our supporters (including you!) up-to-date with what we are doing. Our prayer is that the Lord will stir up the hearts of current and new supporters to give and help us meet our budget in the next month before we leave (again, our arrival date in Belize is August 1st).
For us, this means that we are hurriedly trying to get everything ready for our return to Belize in five weeks. Tomorrow (June 28th) we fly back to San Diego for a wedding and to finalize the move of our California belongings, either to storage or to Belize. The following week we return to Indiana to visit with a few more churches and leaders, and to similarly finalize the move of our Indiana belongings. And then July 17th we fly to Toronto, where we will participate in a two-week MissionPREP training. From Toronto we will fly directly to Belize and begin this new (now married) missionary adventure in ministry.
Does this sound like a whirlwind? It’s felt like that to us.
We genuinely need your prayers for us in this transition, especially for the following:
- Financial support: pray that God will meet our financial needs and help us raise full support as soon as possible, whether before or after we return to Belize.
- Logistical success: pray that God will go before us and make our steps smooth as we prepare to return to Belize.
- Spiritual nourishment: pray that God will sustain us spiritually as we continue moving from place-to-place, and then plant ourselves back in Belize.
Thank you all so much, for your prayers and encouragement and your support! May the Lord richly bless you all!
|Rev. Victor with acolytes. Rehearsal for the Consecration.|
|Chander’s adobe house and meeting place for the mission.|
Soon Victor had a small group meeting regularly. After gathering in various places, eventually they were invited to the adobe home of Alexander (Chander) Flores, who converted his living room into a permanent meeting hall for the mission. Victor celebrated the Eucharist on Sundays, offered Bible studies, teachings, and other worship. He also did pastoral work, visiting families and the sick. The community continued to grow.
In gratitude for the Church of the Good Shepherd’s help, the mission voted to call themselves ‘Iglesia Buen Pastor’, which is ‘Good Shepherd’ in Spanish.
|The site of the future church. Jeannie Loving, SAMS missionary, with parishioner.|
|Fr. Tom Seitz and Rev Victor celebrating the Eucharist.|
The church has programs, in which they can participate, both spiritual and practical. They include a Savings with Education Program, which teaches people how to use their money; Cursillo, a retreat weekend with courses in basic Christianity; Happenings, a similar program for teenagers, and others. The church also gives its members the opportunity to be leaders in the church governance. Additionally, young girls, who are often neglected in favor of sons, are empowered by having women role models as priests and diocesan leaders.
|The meeting room inside Chander’s house.|
The mission’s primary work is to deepen the members’ faith in God. In Honduras, God is always present, unlike in the often agnostic US and Europe. He may be relegated to the periphery of life, as people engage in negative social behavior, such as promiscuity, drugs, family abuse and violence. But when called to task, Hondurans need no introduction to a spiritual world and know what God asks of them.
The work of the church, therefore, is to sharpen the sense of God through spiritual formation, both formal and informal, and to bring people’s lives in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.
|Alexander “Chander” Flores|
Through Victor’s efforts, the church today has 80 members and two peripheral missions starting in the mountains. And the original missionary vision that brought Victor to Santa Maria continues. Chander Flores is currently in training to be a Pastoral Leader. Upon completion of studies, he will be going into the mountains, as the pastor for one of the new missions.
1. Local leadership. The primary inspiration came from the Honduran church, in this case Fr. Juan Jose Diaz.
2. Teamwork. Although Victor provided the primary leadership, this church would not have been possible without the help of Chander, his family, the other lay Hondurans, the support of the larger church, the missionaries, and Good Shepherd Church in Florida.
3. Foreign missionary sources provided assistance only. The leadership was always in Honduran hands.
4. The Gospel was preached both by word and by example. Victor provided a positive role model for the church. He was concerned about both the spiritual and physical welfare of his parishioners.
5. The church continues to found new missions and the process begins again.