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!
This December Rachelle was able to speak at our mother church’s Christmas tea, which was a blessing for her. We love to minister to other churches also, not only our own. We also culminated our WOMEN’s ministries by attending a special retreat at camp. Last year we had six women go, but this year we really pushed for more. Nine women were able to attend! They all felt blessed to be able to go and draw closer to God and each other. That is one thing that we have seen this year- our church family grow in unity. We praise God for this! Please pray it continues.
We are also investing in our MEN. Ben teaches in the local Bible Seminary, and a couple of our men have been training in it. As a result, they are being included in the teaching and preaching. Guillermo is one of those men. It is a joy to see him grow and mature into a man who seeks God and loves his family and God’s people. He preached for the first time in church in December. He also leads a discipleship small group, and personally disciples 3 men. We praise God for him and for other men who are growing in their relationship with God. Please pray for the men of our church!
CHRISTMAS came just as it does every year, with new opportunities to reach out to our community with the Gospel. Our church prepared 20 food baskets for our own church members who are in need, and also for neighbors and friends our church members were thinking of and praying for. Please pray that God would keep using our church to reach our community with the good news of Jesus! We also had a wonderful Christmas service. There were many Bible readings & special music including our family, and a sweet song by the kids’ choir.
September was pretty low key, with regular meetings, discipleships, etc. However, October was packed with many things: We traveled to the province of CORDOBA for a conference, so we took off a couple of days before we needed to and had a mini family vacation. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with each other just relaxing and having fun. We were thankful that our church family back home did well for themselves on their first Sunday without us. It’s always great to know they can do it on their own, even though they did say they missed us.
After our mini vacation, we headed into the capital city of Cordoba for a yearly CONFERENCE which we usually attend, to listen to good preaching, meet new missionaries and pastors, and fellowship with others serving in the southern cone of South America (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay). The host church put on a wonderful conference, even feeding those who attended at no cost! They were truly a blessing to everyone in how they served. And of course we left thoroughly blessed and encouraged to hear about all God is doing in and around our little corner of the world.
We celebrated MOTHER’S DAY once again this October, here in Argentina. This was the second Mother’s Day event we planned, and we were so very encouraged to have 28 mothers and daughters in attendance! Almost all of our women were present, including four brand new visitors, who heard the Gospel message! Please pray for these women: Florencia, Milagros, Liz, and Lucia to come to know the Lord as their Savior. Also, for Miriam, the mother of one of our youth, who comes to special events, but has not yet made a decision for Christ.