We have now been through 8 months of this year, and it has been a time that involved much prayer and hard work. We have prayed a lot, and we know that (and have felt that) you have been faithful in praying for us also -- and for that we thank you and ask our great and gracious God to bless each and every one of you. Without our collective prayers we would not have been able to overcome the challenges we encountered in these 8 months. The Local ELM Activities ended this summer with five days of Vacation Bible Study (VBS), with 58 children attending. Of those 58 children, 8 made professions of faith. We had some volunteers helping us who had never done a VBS before, but we were able to help them learn as we went along. We experienced a special blessing when some students from previous years came to help us with the children. What a blessing to see those young people again and to see them interested in helping others along the path they walked in coming to believe in Jesus and accept Him as their personal Savior; their love for the children was an inspiration to all of us.
The international ELM Activity this year was primarily involved with the mission trip to the Wayuu people in Colombia, South America. We were able to return to those we had worked with last year. We have been showered with blessings since God called Nestor to be the director of this mission trip and God sent us special team members. The rains were always spiritually refreshing; they allowed us to achieve the purpose that God had for ELM and our partnership with JVBC for this return trip to Colombia. God provided the needed resources in various ways, and this year that included the making and sales of Colombian arepas. However, the most impressive way was to see how God moved all of our hearts (a) to give scholarships, (b) to buy medicines, and (c) to purchase supplies to build a church building. Once we assembled our team in Colombia we were escorted to the various villages by members of the Colombian army. They assisted us in being able to reach the Galacia Church for the first time. The soldiers were helpful in that they also assisted us with the various children activities, and even for a couple of days they assisted with our church construction efforts.
Galacia Church: The members of the church in Galacia gave us a big welcome with big smiles on their faces because we were the first missionaries to ever visit them. This excitement was very valuable to us as the children ran to the surrounding communities to tell of our coming. What a delight to see God drawing more and more children to hear about His beloved Son. Matthew 18:16 Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. What a blessing to watch God bring children to come to Jesus in order that they may become a member of the kingdom of God! Our Medical Team members were quite busy attending to patients from several close by Rancherias. While our Medical Team worked with the parents, the VBS Team worked with the children, and our Service Team helped more than 50 women by giving pedicures, shampoos and haircuts.
During our stay with the Church of Galacia, God showed us that we must pray to return again in the future because the Church building needs many repairs. They have a water well, but the water is salty and they are in need of filtered water to make it potable. By fixing their water system they would be able to plant crops and the irrigation would provide water for their crops and animals. The land is beautiful and fertile but there has been a drought for many years which has made the land barren. If it is in God’s will He could send missionaries like us (and/or others) who could help restore this land. This would demonstrate God’s love for these people, which in turn would lead them to turn more and more to Him as they grow spiritually. We believe this restoration of the land to producing life’s necessities is possible as these people turn more and more to God’s Son, and begin to depend more on Him and participate more in His work in bringing people to His Son to be saved from their sins.
Vida Nueva Church: The second church we visited was the Vida Nueva (New Life) Church. This is where our Construction Team began laboring on the planned work of building a church building. It is always difficult in the beginning of a new building. God led our team to insure that we began with a solid foundation to avoid future problems with the structure. There were helpers who assisted our Construction Team, and after we left pad workers were able to finish the Church and hold the first service in the building on September 4th. During this time God taught us that no matter what our human plan is His plan is perfect. Even though we began the construction of the church but were unable to complete it in our short time there, the Wayuu people were able to continue with the work so that the building was available for use about a month later. God is so good!
While our Construction Team continued to labor on this significant challenge, the Medical Team worked continuously with both adults and children. Our VBS Team was blessed to have a classroom to use to teach Bible stories. We were able to capture the attention of the children in this classroom, while our praise and recreation times were held outdoors. God used our Service Team significantly. They were able to use the parsonage to give pedicures to the women. As it turned out this place also became the refuge of men, women, and the youth who were interested in the Good News of Jesus. Many women actually professed their faith in Jesus as their personal Savior.
Our son Diego was a tremendous help, always filling in wherever help was needed. He helped Nestor coordinate all of our activities and was often Daisy’s personal assistant. He also prepared lunch for four days by making sandwiches for the whole group (over 60 people) on the lid of a foam cooler. Nestor’s youngest sister, Luz Melida, lives in Colombia and accompanied our group to our various locations. She was especially effective in directing the donations to more than 450 Wayuu people; the donations included toothbrushes, tooth paste, underwear for men and women, baby clothes, shorts for children, shampoos, soaps, and sandals. As it worked out there was enough to also share some of these goods with the Colombian Army troops that accompanied us.
After four days of hard work, on the fifth day the entire group participated in a VBS for elementary school students at a Wayuu school. The program was such a wonderful event that the director of the school invited us to use their facilities for the Medical Team in 2017. This would be important because it would help us reach four Rancherias in this sector. For most of these children it was the first time they had ever heard the Bible story of Zacchaeus. We were excited when seven of these children accepted Jesus in their hearts! We pray that the Holy Spirit will begin His lifelong work in them to grow them spiritually.
Other Information: Our mission group was composed of 22 people from Houston, 2 from Bogota and 28 from Barranquilla and Riohacha. God used everybody with their unique spiritual gifts, their natural talents and their kind hearts. We all served with the love that characterizes us as workers in the fields ripe unto the harvest. We left behind our testimony of love in the hearts and minds of the Wayuu people. In days of work;
We all give praise to God for what He did through the Mission Team.
During this trip we also participated in the forging of an agreement between the Wayuu Baptist Association (REDESKA) and the Baptist Denomination of Colombia. The two sides signed agreements, and the Wayuu Baptist Churches are now protected by the Baptist denomination both nationally and internationally. The Wayuu Baptist Churches will now get help in areas such as the stewardship of resources, Sunday School, spiritual growth seminars for pastors and protection of the Wayuu children so they are not removed from their ethnicity.
We began to set the agenda for a 2017 mission trip to the area. It is our feeling that this could consider:
While talking with the Colombian Baptist Denomination, we discussed starting what could be called MANA, i.e. Mission de avance para un nuevo amanecer (Advanced Mission To a New Dawn). This could include:
It would seem reasonable that the initial centers for these projects could be the three Wayuu Baptist Churches; Galacia, Vida Nueva and Poromana.
Upcoming Local ELM Activities: In addition to the weekly kids clubs ELM will have the following activities. Volunteers are always welcome:
Upcoming International ELM Activities: There are two major activities that will take place amongst the Wayuu people:
Here at ELM we will continue to work under the promise that God gave us earlier this year from John 15. John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
We want to thank all of our prayer partners, because without your prayers and petitions on our behalf ELM would not have been effective messengers of the good news of Jesus Christ for the children here in Houston and the children in Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras -- and not only for the children but often for their parents also. And a special thank you goes out to all of our volunteers who labored with us in the fields while unto the harvest. It is our earnest prayer that the Lord bless all of you and your families and that all of us may remain faithful to the work the Lord gives us to do with our time here on earth. May we abide in Christ that through us He may produce much fruit (John 15:5) that the Father may be glorified (John 15:8). Blessings to you from ELM,
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God bless you, Daisy.
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