After being back in Argentina for a month, we realize we have experienced some CULTURE SHOCK once again after coming back, even if we were only gone for 3 months! Living in a different country and culture rewires your brain in what to expect on a day by day basis, and going back to your “motherland” changes it all up. Then, just as you were getting comfortable and used to the many diferences (such as having a hundred varieties of cereal to choose from, shopping at a store where everything is available and even just the courteous and organized way people drive in the U.S.) you move back to the country God has called you to, and are shocked all over again at the lack of cleanliness, the chaos and disorder, and the other many differences in the cultures. No wonder missionaries have to be hardy, resilient people! However, we believe we are adjusting, and trying to guide the children through all the changes once again. Please PRAY that we will continue to adjust well so we can be most effective here as a family.
DECEMBER was spent unpacking, readjusting, getting ready for Christmas , but also dealing with some situations that had arisen while we were gone, encouraging the believers, and planning for this coming year. As it is in the United States, December is extremely busy, and flies by quickly.
We thank God for the hard work of our people while we were gone. They ministered to each other and also took care of visiting families, which have been coming faithfully, and were able to lead 2 people to the Lord! We praise God for the salvations of Martin and Ana Maria! PRAY they will both continue to grow in their walk with the Lord. Now we continue alongside our church people, building them up for the work of the ministry, and sharing the Gospel. Please PRAY that our church family will be rooted and grounded in the truth this year so as to better love each other and show Christ more effectively to the community around us. This is our desire.
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FURLOUGH is what has kept us busy these past 3 months! We flew up to the U.S. at the end of August, and are looking forward to flying back this coming week on December 3rd. What has come in between has been a whirlwind of traveling through or to twenty states, reporting to almost twenty churches, and seeing many family and friends on the way! We enjoyed ourselves, tired ourselves out, and thoroughly appreciated being able to report about what God has been doing during the past five years in Argentina.
We were very thankful to have been able to see Rachelle’s grandparents while in the US, and spend the Thanksgiving holiday with all of Ben’s family.
It is a privilege to serve there, and to represent our supporters on the field of Argentina. THANK YOU all for your prayers and your financial support. We do not take lightly the sacrifices others make so we can live in Argentina and dedicate ourselves full time to sharing the Gospel and discipling the believers God has given to our care. While we were gone, we left many of our CHURCH FAMILY in charge of the different ministries at the church. We are very thankful for many of our church people, who have ministered faithfully to each other and to new attenders while we have been gone. We are also thankful for the help from our church’s mother church, Calvary Baptist church. It has been good to know our church is taken care of, but we have missed our people and the country God has called us to, and look forward to being back just in time for a women’s retreat and Christmas events. Please pray that God will be glorified through the end of this year in our ministry, and that our yearly church planning and camp season in January will go smoothly.
We praise God for all He is doing! JULY brought with it winter vacation, which is always busy! Our youth attended two conferences during these two weeks, which helped strengthen them and unite them more as a youth group. Many spiritual decisions were made through these conferences, and we thank God for that! AUGUST came in with a whirlwind of activity because we had last preparations to make before leaving for furlough. Our church people banded together to take on the tasks we usually do.
The Sunday before we left was CHILDREN’S DAY, with a special event to celebrate it. We had a wonderful day celebrating the children of our church, with many visitors, and one mother accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior!
As I write this update, we are in Springfield, MO on our first weeks of our FIRST FURLOUGH! We cannot believe that it has been 5 years since we set foot on Argentine soil as missionaries. So many things have taken place, but two things have been confirmed to us repeatedly: 1. God is in control, 2. He has led us to serve and minister to the people of Argentina.
Because of this, it is a bittersweet time for us to be here in the United States. On one hand we are happy to see family and friends that we have missed, but on the other hand we miss our church family and home in Argentina. PLEASE PRAY for us during these three months that we are away: for it to be a profitable, restful, and enjoyable time for our family, and also that our church people will be spiritually strong and faithful during our absence.
We rejoice in all that God has done these past two months! MAY brought many work days at the new church building, along with a couple of church family work/picnic days. We were very encouraged to see our church family work together to get the new building ready for the official opening on our church’s anniversary. Having this new location, and a larger property has been a blessing for our church people, and it is more accesible for many who before traveled an hour by bus!
JUNE arrived, and along with it Iglesia Bautista Redención’s 2nd anniversary! We were blessed to have a full house, with many from our mother church, and also visitors from the neighborhood joining us! It was exciting to see how God worked it all out. And since then, for the past month we have had 1 new family, plus a few individuals, and one returning family coming faithfully to every service. Please pray for continued growth for these families. Some have not been attending church anywhere for over a decade!
A MISSIONS TEAM from Faith Baptist Temple in Ohio joined us at the end of June to help with painting, a multitude of other odd jobs, and to help coordinate an evangelistic event. They tirelessly worked to help us get everything together, and were such a blessing to our family and our church! Many neighbors showed up at the event to recieve free eye checkups, clothing, and haircuts. One young lady recieved Christ as her Savior, and a few more visited our church the next day as a result of the hard work and prayers! Praise God!
MARCH was definitely eventful for us. We had so many things happening at the same time, so we will just mention them quickly: the first week of March we participated in an awesome two-day MARRIAGE RETREAT, then held a baby shower for a new mother in our church.The second week of March we not only moved to a NEW HOUSE just a few blocks away, but also started a NEW HOMESCHOOL YEAR with the kids, and Ben started a new year teaching in the Bible college in Casanova!
We are, thankfuly, settled into the new house, and settled into the new routine of a new school year. The second Sunday in March, we had 5 follow the Lord in believers’ BAPTISM, and we had a special service in which we formally established church MEMBERSHIP! The end of March, saw us receiving a huge blessing as a church family. We have had a PROPERTY lent to our church rent free for now, with the possibility of it being GIFTED to us in the future. We are overwhelmed and grateful to God for His goodness to us!
APRIL was no less busy. Along with the usual ministry, we took part in a family EASTER RETREAT, with 39 going from our church. Rachelle was able to lead a young woman, Solange, to the Lord while there! April 27th was the date for a joint YOUTH EVENT, with our youth group involved, and Ben was able to lead a young man, Lucas, to salvation! Please pray for the UPCOMING months: May- working on the new church, June- 2nd church anniversary (at the new property), and Father’s Day, then hosting a team for ten days!
Who says summer is a restful time? This summer (January and February) were packed full of events. We were definitely out of our routine! It started out with CAMPS in January. Our whole family usually does not help out during all the three weeks of camp, but this year, because of unforeseen circumstances, we were there more than usual, with Ben directing the last two weeks, and our whole family also helping in whatever needed to be done. It was great but exhausting.
Then, after a week back home, Rachelle rushed off to a LADIES’ RETREAT on the west side of the country in the beautiful province of Mendonza. She had been asked to speak during the retreat, but also was able to enjoy the other speakers who spoke on the theme of prayer. At the end of February our whole family also attended a MISSIONARY and PASTORS’ RETREAT out at camp. What an encouraging time to share and learn alongside others who are in full-time ministry here in Argentina.
Our first COUPLES’ EVENT took place in February, with a banquet. One couple in the church was in charge, and planned it all wonderfully! We thank God that 8 couples came to invest in their marriages. On another note, Rachelle’s paternal grandfather passed away at the end of February, and she flew up to Minnesota to be with her family for the FUNERAL. It was a sad, but also glad time for the family, as her grandfather, Oliver Courts, was a Christian and is now in heaven. Thank you to those who prayed!