Greetings from winter in cold Argentina. We are in the middle of winter break right now (end of July), and enjoying a rest from school and seminary, but will start back up soon at the beginning of August. We praise God for a good first half of the school year, with seminary classes being only online again since the lockdown in April and May. We have many taking classes to prepare for ministry that normally would not, so we praise God for that.
We had outdoor services for April- May, and even three weeks of virtual services when the country had a larger lockdown at the end of May, but praise God we were able to be inside in June, when the colder weather hit! We had many Sundays right above freezing which would not have been nice for having outdoor services.
Every time we go forward or backward in quarantine all the measures change for us so we are constantly having to re-plan and readjust how many services we can have per week, the length of each, and time of day. It is exhausting, but we must be flexible if we want the church to remain open and available to our members and the community. Because of our desire to be worshiping in-person as much as possible we have had families join who have not been able to find a church home during this time. Many churches have closed their doors and after almost a year and a half of Covid, many are almost desperate to find a good church home. We praise God we can be that spiritual home and refuge to them, while continuing to minister to the church family God has already given us to serve.
We have had grocery outreach in May and July because of many of you giving sacrificially. We thank God for this, because there is a great physical need in our area as a result of fewer jobs because of the pandemic. It is a wonderful time for our church family to serve the neighborhood, and talk to them of their greater need- salvation! We were also able to give used clothing in the July outreach, which was gratefully recieved also! We hope to keep doing these events as long as we are able. They are a light to our community during these dark times of the Covid pandemic. Covid is still running rampant here, and the health system collapses regularly because of the lack of resources. Please pray for both the spiritual and physical health needs of the Argentine people and our ministry.
Click the link below to download or view a printable version of our prayer letter:
The first quarter of the year has flown by as we have been almost back to normal with services, youth meetings, discipleships and events. Unfortunately, the CAMP SEASON had to be cancelled in January for the first time since the camp was founded almost sixty years ago. The health department would not approve overnight stays at the camp due to Covid, so we had a one day youth conference and also a one day marriage conference during a two day holiday in February instead. So many have missed in-person gatherings and both were well attended. We were able to take around twenty youth from our church alone to join others, and then the couples enjoyed a day concentrating on improving their marriages. All the time shared was a great blessing to everyone!
In February we re-started in-person Wednesday night Bible Studies and our kids’ class! It was thrilling to be able to meet together mid-week in person after a long ten months!
With things a little more relaxed at the beginning of the year, we had GREATER OPPORTUNITIES to minister and reach out to people. We held an outreach event at church to distribute groceries, school supplies, and the Gospel message. It was well-received, including people asking to take a Bible home with them. We have also been able to minister to our church people with activities for the youth and marriage enrichment activities, and a one-day Easter retreat. Our church people have really been praying, connecting, and inviting their family and friends, and God has been faithful to work. One lady accepted Christ as her Savior on Easter Sunday after being invited by her neighbor to come to church. So many people are searching for peace, comfort, and hope in these hard times, and we must lead them to the One who can provide hope and salvation. Unfortunately, APRIL brought new restrictions, prohibiting group indoor activities. As a result, many churches who do not have a patio have had to close their doors once again. We praise God that we can still meet, although at first we were led to believe that we would need to have at least two services, splitting our people up. However, we just found out we can fit everyone in one service since we have the space outside! We praise God for this! We also pray the ban will be lifted soon so churches can again gather to worship and freely carry out the Great Commission.
Happy Mother’s Day to Merry Christmas! October brought us Mother’s Day here in Argentina, and, as usual for this year, we celebrated it differently, without a large event at church because we were still not allowed by the government to meet for such things. So, we hosted an online and in-person Mother’s Day meeting in different houses of our church ladies, with a special speaker all the way from Mexico! Since all the houses connected to Zoom it was possible to be “together” with our church ladies. Once again we adapt to whatever way we can to be able to meet the spiritual needs of our people.
Starting in November churches were allowed to meet indoors once again! Restrictions still abound, and no one under twelve nor over sixty is supposed to attend our one-hour meeting. We, of course, struggle with this since our church has close to half our attendees in those two age brackets. As a result, church attendance is only half of what it used to be, along with people being discouraged because of multiple reasons. So, we ask you to pray that our people will prioritize being together as a church family.
In December Rachelle made a quick trip to the U.S. for a week for her grandmother’s funeral, who unexpectedly fell ill and passed away. It was a good time to be there for her grandfather, mom and dad, and aunts and uncles during this hard time in the family. Thank you to those of you who prayed for her and her family during that time! She made it back in time to finish things up for the many Christmas events.
This year Christmas church events were very different due to COVID restrictions, but Christ was still preached and God still worked. Through some generous supporters, God enabled us to be a blessing to our neighborhood. The church pitched in and we gave out 400 bags of groceries to needy families around the church. Approximately 100 families were also willing to receive a Bible and information about our church. We are praying that God works through this and other things to do His ministry here in our city.
Please PRAY for our church, city, and country in the New Year. Argentina suffers from moral and spiritual poverty along with economic poverty also. We pray God will work a revival in Argentine hearts. It is desperately needed.
Our lives continue to be bound by an endless quarantine, prohibiting social gatherings including church services. September 20th marked six months of remaining indoors and not gathering as a church family! However, amidst the upheaval and the setbacks this causes, we have seen the truth Paul highlights in 2 Timothy 2:9. The apostle, while imprisoned and in chains, describes his resolute focus for the sake of the Gospel. He expresses a passion to do all that is necessary, and endure even as a prisoner, so that others may hear the good news. The basis for it all: “God’s Word is not bound!” Even though we have been in this quarantine lockdown for so long, we can firmly state “God’s Word is not in quarantine!” Here are some of the ways this truth has played out recently:
We have been able to continue meeting through Facebook Live streams, Zoom and Whatsapp calls, and even visiting many in person during these months. One on one discipleship has increased, and people who normally would not reach out for help or counsel are doing so in this time. One of our church members has lived in her neighborhood for over 30 years, and everyone knows she is a Christian. In the past couple of months desperate neighbors or family members have reached out to her and she has been able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them, leading 3 of them to the Lord! She is also beginning to disciple them and see them grow in their walk with God. We praise God for how God is using her and others in our church to reach out in these hard times with the Gospel.
Sunday, September 20th we had a BAPTISM in our backyard pool! Martin and Carolina were saved last year, and have been discipled throughout the quarantine. Since we didn’t know when it would be possible to do a baptism at church, we did not to wait any longer. It was wonderful to see them take this important step in their spiritual growth and walk with Christ. We have also been inviting individual families of our church over to eat once a week. Some of the families do have immuno- compromised family members and we respect their need to stay isolated, but others so desperately need to be in contact with others, especially their church family. We are seeing small steps in this direction, but pray that churches will be allowed to legally gather and worship together very soon!
We were hoping that by now we would have some differences or changes in the lockdown situation here in Argentina to report to you. Unfortunately nothing much has changed. As of the end of June we have spent over 100 days in quarantine. Our kids have only left a couple of times each to go the the doctor, a trip to church in the van to check on the church building, and going to the corner stores to buy candy or dog food. The only two to go out are Ben and Rachelle, to the store regularly, do some visiting (always armed with a government-mandated mask and permit), or take some food boxes.
As a family we are coping fine, but 100 days indoors is still 100 days! We have a large back yard which we are thankful for, and a large enough house that we are not tripping over each other, but the novelty of it all wore off after the first month. We have tried to use the extra time (time that would normally be spent with other people, or traveling) to play with our kids and be more actively involved with them as compared to when we are running here and there with ministry that normally occurs outside the walls of our house.
Ministry is still occurring, but most of it has still continued to be delegated to Zoom through Wednesday night meetings, men, ladies, and youth Bible studies, and facebook live Sunday morning services and children’s classes. It has been a difficult time trying to continue to minister to our people who are tired of being indoors, some in hard family situations. Many are hurt and frustrated at loss of regular jobs, the lack of real connection, and poor internet adds to an ever increasing spiritual distancing from the rest of the church body.
The end is still not in sight. The government will not say when they will lift restrictions, and as of right now, restrictions state that people can only go out of their homes to do “necessary” errands such as grocery shop and go to some doctor appointments. Everything else is closed. Failure to have legal “papers to circulate” when stopped can result in fines, vehicle impounded, and even a night in jail. Tensions are high in the country, but so far only peaceful protests have taken place. Please pray for Argentina. Desperate economic times are resulting from this shutdown. We pray it will all be resolved soon.
MARCH came in quietly but busily. We had no clue what was in store for us as we prepared for the beginning of the school year, an evangelistic event and a missions team! However, amidst the preparation for the event and the missions team arriving we heard whispers about a virus that was making its way through many regions of the world. We did not put much stock in it and were genuinely saddened when the missions team had to cancel their trip just days before coming down, and then the news exploded with possible ramifications due to this virus and we knew something bigger was beginning to occur. Praise God, we were able to have our event on Saturday, March 14th! Our church family turned out as a collective unit to serve our community through handing out school supplies and providing discounted physical exams. Amidst all of this we all shared the Gospel to dozens of neighbors. What a privilege to not only serve their physical needs, but also their most basic spiritual need of all: their need for a Savior. Many were interested and said they would come to visit our services, and one young mom, Daniela, accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior! We Praise God for this decision!
That very next week, the government set a quarantine for the country, shutting down everything except the most basic services like food stores and hospitals. As a result, we have not been able to visit those who indicated they wanted a church visit from us, and also have discontinued church services and meetings. The quarantine began officially on March 20th and has continued through now, supposedly until May 27th. That might change however, as it has been continued to be pushed back every two weeks. As a result APRIL was a learning curve- figuring out how to meet our people’s needs virtually. This has included facebook live Sunday services, Wednesday night Zoom meetings, online ladies’ Bible studies, and discipleship and counseling sessions through Whatsapp video calls. Thankfully Both Ben and Rachelle now have religious ministry permits to do visiting, but we long for the day when we can once again meet as usual with our church family.
CAMP SEASON is finished and we are thankful for a full January, and part of February with different camps and retreats to keep us running besides the regular ministry. Ben was a counselor for 2 of the 3 weeks of youth camp. There were over 80 older teens and more than 60 kids , which was a high attendance, so we praise God for that! We especially praise God for all the decisions made for Christ during those weeks of camp. We thoroughly enjoy ministering during camp season, because so many life-changing decisions are made during those weeks. Ben also spoke at a camp that is over 2 hours from here, and was thankful for the opportunity to serve there. Please pray that the decisions made during these weeks will be long-lasting.
We also enjoyed a MISSIONARY & PASTORS’ RETREAT in February, which had helpful teaching, and great companionship with other ministry families. Also, we took eight couples (including Ben and I) from our church to the annual MARRIAGE RETREAT. The attendance was over double last year‘s attendance from 20 to 46 couples! We praise the Lord that there are so many couples in the area churches wanting to strengthen their marriages. Please pray for these marriages to be healthy and God-honoring so as to have spiritually healthy families in our churches here in Argentina. As far as our church’s couples, please pray specifically for Martin and Carolina, and Gabriel and Celeste. Both marriages have many obstacles to overcome.
The rest of February has been spent planning for the following events coming in MARCH:
* The beginning of the kids’ homeschool year
* The beginning of the seminary school year (for Ben)
* A large evangelistic event our church held on March 14th.
UPDATE: Since this prayer letter is being released after the community evangelistic event, we ask you to pray for the soul saved, and the many visitors who listened to the Gospel and showed a desire to know more. More details will be given in the next prayer leter. Also, Please pray our church will be a light in the community around us through this trying pandemic that is sweeping the world..
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.
Click the following link for a printable prayer letter:
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.