Prayer Needs for Chile

Prayer Needs for Chile

This photo shows one of the points where fires have been burning during the weekend and now.
This particular one is behind the rural Mapuche community where Bishop Abelino was born and raised. Fortunately, in this case, the fire has gone away from homes.
But as we write, they are evacuating people from where Marita’s family lives and there the fires have reached to their nearest neighbor’s property.
On Saturday night, Pedro spent most of the night helping protect the school where his father works and right now he and Joyanne have gone out to Marita’s family home to offer their help.
In Malalche, houses have been burned, two people have died, and Pastor Antonio is worried.
In Dollinco, they have no electricity, so they have no water, and that makes it difficult for Pastor José’s family, as their daughter, Adriana, is terminally ill with cancer.
In our own church in Labranza, Sonia, one of the members, was worried yesterday that their wheat crop will be burned if they can’t get it harvested.

The sky is gray and smoky today in Temuco and a nearby hill is on fire.Please pray for us and especially our brothers and sisters in the rural churches whose livelihood depends on their crops, animals and wooded land.

Thank you for your prayers. We will keep you posted.
 

Russ and Heidi

My first hello from Chile!

My first hello from Chile!

Who am I?

Hi! This is my very first blog post from Chile, where I am serving as a SAMS Bridger for just over 2 months. This is the start of my third week here, and I figured I should probably post something to share about my experience so far! My name is Juliet Millard and I am 21 years old. I’m going to be a senior at Grove City College this fall where I’ll be finishing my final year as a PreK-4 Elementary Education major and Spanish minor.

What am I doing here?

I applied to be a SAMS Bridger almost a year ago and had know idea where I would be placed or what I would be doing. All I knew is that I would prefer somewhere Spanish-speaking. Well, many months later, and here I am in Chile!! I am living with a very sweet host family in Temuco and commuting daily to the town, Chol Chol where I am helping at an Anglican school here. My days consist of time spent helping with the English classes and Religion Classes. I’m also teaching my own English class/workshop for 45 mins after school 3x a week!

What is God doing?

That’s a big question. But, God is doing a lot. There are some incredibly faithful people here that are doing amazing things for God’s kingdom. It´s encouraging to see how intentional many of the people I’ve met here are with their walks with God. I think the greatest way I’ve felt God’s presence so far though, has been through other people. I’m a very people-oriented person! I love spending time with other people and making new friends. However, my transition here in Chile has been pretty difficult for me. I was super nervous to travel down and I’m having a much harder time than I thought I would communicating (Chilean Spanish is quite the challenge!!), which has made it very difficult to make new friends and be a “people person.” But, God has been placing people along my path to help me every step of the way.

On my very first flight from Pittsburgh to Toronto, I ended up sitting next to a girl who was my age, from my city, and getting on the same connecting flight as I was in Toronto to Santiago! We ended up talking the whole flight and navigating our following connection together. I don’t know if I could have done it without her! (Shout out to Haley if you ever happen to see this!)

Then, when I landed in Santiago (where I was crazy nervous about figuring out my connection), out of nowhere this man saw me and helped me every. single. step. of the way through the airport. He helped me check in, go through security, and find my gate! It turns out we were headed to the same flight anyway, which made it easier for him to help me, but I didn’t know him, didn’t ask for his help, but he just saw me and knew I needed it. He wasn’t sketchy, had no malicious intent, and didn’t want anything from me. He simply wanted to help. Just because.

Here in Chile, I am very grateful for the people God has placed in my path too. I have a wonderful host family (who let me come home to them and cry after long confusing days where I feel like I only understand two percent of what people say to me) and mentor family (thank you Smith Family for always driving me everywhere and asking how I’m doing)! But, I’m especially grateful for the English teacher here, whom I’ve connected with. She’s only a few years older than me and so kind and helpful. Without her, this whole experience would be a million times harder. We speak in Spanish but she graciously lets me make a million mistakes, ask a million questions, and never gets mad or frustrated. She has shown me everything I need to know in terms of navigating the school here, and she too, has let me cry when I was overwhelmed with emotion and all that comes with being in a new place! (Thank you Fabiola for being so wonderful!!)

How can you pray?

First and foremost, please be praying for all of the teachers and students that I’m spending most of my time with here. Pray that the Lord will give the teachers all the patience and strength that they need each day, and that the students would have the desire and willingness to listen and learn.

Second, please just be praying for me as I continue to navigate this new experience – especially Chilean Spanish!! I have discovered I´m really not that great at Spanish… ha-ha! It makes everything a little harder when I have a really hard time understanding everything everyone says!

Thank you to everyone for all your support and I promise I’ll post more pictures once I figure out how!! 

New Horizons

New Horizons

Dear friends, family and supporters,

Greetings from the Midwest of the United States! Our second son, James, was born this week, and as parents of two wonderful boys we could not be happier! Mary Beth’s pregnancy made it to a whopping 39 weeks, at which point her doctor recommended an induction, and for good reason: he was so big! Both mother and child are doing well, trying to rest, and get this new phase of life off to a great start.

While James’s arrival is bringing about so much change in our own family’s life at the moment, we should also add that he was born at the precise moment that our ministry as missionaries is undergoing an enormous shift. I’ll explain below, but first I encourage you to watch this little video that we put together (with the help of SAMS-USA President and Mission Director Stewart Wicker) that will explain what the next few months and years will likely hold for us in ministry:

In brief, Mary Beth and I have been sensing for some time that the Lord may be calling us to a ministry that is more focused on theological education and leadership development in the context of the Majority World, and not only on pastoral ministry in a parish setting. There is a tremendous need around the world for this targeted kind of ministry, one we often experienced in Belize (a country that currently has no formal seminary for training clergy for any denomination), and one that is often repeated when we speak with other missionaries and leaders in the Majority World. Having consulted with theological educators from around the Anglican Communion—from Myanmar to Chile, from Kenya to Mexico, from Indonesia to Egypt—the answer to the question, “What should our next steps be?” was clear: if I wish to train others to become leaders in the church, I should pursue a higher level of expertise in the things of God, a path that would take me to a research doctoral degree in theology, i.e. a PhD.

So, with the support of SAMS and the bishops to whom we are accountable, we began a process of formal enquiries and grueling applications (GRE included!) that have led us to Wycliffe College, an orthodox, evangelical Anglican theological college affiliated with the University of Toronto, currently ranked in the top twenty universities globally for the study of theology and religion. In the end, I accepted Wycliffe’s offer to join their PhD program as a full-time student with an emphasis in Historical Theology, a discipline that straddles both Church History and Systematic Theology. My courses and research over the next 4–6 years will supervised by the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, himself a former missionary, and one of the world’s leading Anglican experts on the Reformation, pneumatology, ecclesiology, and the history of biblical interpretation. I am very blessed and excited to be working with him, and with many of the other members of faculty at Wycliffe College and more broadly with the Toronto School of Theology.

Just to be clear: Mary Beth, our sons and I are still missionaries with SAMS, and we plan to be for many years! We are not leaving ministry at all, but we are beginning a season of what SAMS calls an “Educational Ministry Assignment,” a time of preparation for another kind of future ministry wherever in the world the Lord may call us. This means that we will soon be leaving our pastoral ministry in Belize to others, clearing the way for God to do new and amazing things through the people with whom we have been laboring, into whose lives we have been pouring ourselves. We are very torn up about leaving … it has been driving us crazy to think that we will be leaving a people and a place that mean so much to us, but we believe that this is where the Lord is leading, and where he leads we will follow.

At this time, there is much that we need from you as supporters of our ministry. First, please pray for us during this time of transition. There are so many things going on right now: because of COVID-19 we have not been able to cross the border into Canada, nor have we been able to return to Belize to pack up and say goodbye. We will need to be able to do both things as soon as possible, so please pray that the Lord makes a way for that to happen. I have begun the fall term online, which is not an ideal way to pursue graduate studies, but even the possibility of this approach would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. Please pray that my studies go well, that we can say goodbye to our home in Belize, and that we find a new home in Toronto very, very soon. And please pray for our churches and schools, lay leaders and Bishop in Belize as together they all grapple with this transition as well.

Second, since we are continuing as full-time SAMS missionaries and plan on going back on the mission field as soon as I finish this program, we are urging you to continue giving to our ministry, or to begin giving as the Lord would lead you. With these new horizons in view, our budget is only increasing. In addition to the tremendous deductible we will likely have to cover because of Mary Beth’s labor and delivery, we are also looking at moving to downtown Toronto as a family of four, and we project that expenses will be far above what they were for us in Belize. And although both Wycliffe and SAMS have both been very generous in their willingness to offer me some scholarship funds towards Wycliffe’s annual school tuition and fees, our family will still be covering well over half of these educational expenses out of our own pocket. Even if our missionary account won’t cover the international tuition rates for Wycliffe (and we don’t expect it to), your one-time and regular gifts will help us retain our salaries and make it possible for us to rent a modest apartment, feed our family, and raise our children without compromising either our dedication to this season of preparation or our determination to return to the mission field once we are prepared. To sum up: we desperately need your financial support, and we ask that you begin, continue, or increase your giving to our ministry as the Lord leads you.

And because we believe that the Lord has led us to this point in ministry by using precisely your gestures of support as his sacred instruments for sustaining our efforts and holding us accountable to his purpose, we want to thank you again for everything that you have already done. We would like to be able to thank you more personally, and to share our plans with you in greater depth than this post (or video) could possibly manage. Please contact us, and let us know if we can chat on the phone (or Zoom, or any number of other platforms). If you’re lucky, James might even be awake and showing his cuteness for the camera! And stay tuned for changes on this website: we will be updating our context very soon, although with everything going on (I know, I know, COVID-19 can become such an excuse!) it may be a few days or weeks before it’s all sorted out. But be ready for these new horizons to begin to appear in your view as well as ours.

May the Lord richly bless you all. We will be in touch again soon!