Greetings, dear friends. I know I am late getting this report out, but I wanted to include the latest information on my trips during the months of February and March. On February 27, I flew to Guatemala to teach the short course “1, 2 Peter & Jude.” Upon my arrival I learned that I would be accompanying the entire student body and staff of ITL to a funeral of a sister who had been struck by a car driven by a drunk driver the day before. It was truly a sad occasion for the congregation, since it was their second funeral in as many days.
I was able to finish my class that week by teaching until 5:00 p.m. each day. The class did well. Brother Ty Hale from the North MacArthur congregation in Oklahoma City (which is where my family and I attend) arrived to teach Personal Evangelism on Friday, March 2. I stayed until Monday, getting the opportunity to hear two hours of Ty’s class and it was very well done. Thanks, Ty!
On Friday, March 9, I headed to Denver, a couple of days early for our annual extension staff meeting. It was a good meeting with some important items being covered that I hope to be able to share in the coming months.
I returned home on March 13 and then left again early on the morning of the 15th, traveling with Bob Turner, director of extensions for Bear Valley, to Guatemala again, this time to speak at the Third Annual ITL Seminar. I have to say that Hawatthia Jones and Byron Benitez, missionaries in Guatemala City since 2000, have done a great job putting together this lectureship every year and this year was no exception. The weekend’s activities concluded with a worship service on Sunday of approximately 500 people, representing over 20 congregations of the Lord’s people from various parts of Guatemala. Nine people were restored at the conclusion of the last lesson of the day. It was truly a great day!
On Tuesday, March 20, Bob and I traveled to Asuncion, Paraguay. Having gotten used to the relatively short distance to Central America, it was a bit of an adjustment to make in traveling that far. We left Guatemala City at 7:05 a.m. and arrived in Asunción at 11:30 p.m. (with a two-hour time difference), making for a fourteen and a half hour trip from Guatemala.
Our time in Asunción was very productive, we felt. We met the mission team which currently works there (Troy and Andrea Spradlin, Josh and Cara Blackmer, Perry and Alba Hardin and Ale and Brittnea Yegros). We also met with most of the men of the congregation on Wednesday evening about the possibility of starting a school there next year. After a good meeting, we left the decision in the hands of the men of the congregation because if they decide to go forward, it will be their school, not ours (I have more to say about that below).
Bob and I boarded the plane for our flight home at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, March 23. After a 7-hour layover in Panama City, we continued on to Houston where we parted ways and headed on home; I arrived home around 11:00 p.m. Both Bob and I felt this trip to both Guatemala and Paraguay was very productive. In comparing notes, we shared the same excitement about the future possibilities in both locations.
On a Personal Note
I mentioned above that we wanted the men of the Sacramento Avenue congregation in Asunción to know that if they decide they want to have a school to train men to preach the Gospel in their country, it will be their school and not ours. This is not a new concept, but it may seem new because of, at least in part, a failure on our part to make that clear. It seems that some have gotten the idea that the schools that are involved in the extension program of Bear Valley are our schools and the brethren involved in the day-to-day operations of each school do our bidding.
For my part, I want to apologize for contributing to a misunderstanding about this that has resulted in some feeling unappreciated and taken for granted. I have always understood that we are working in partnership with hard-working brethren on the ground who do much more to see that these schools function effectively than I, or anyone else on the BV side of this, could do. However, I realize that when I give reports that say things like, “We have a school here or there...,” such can be taken to emphasize our importance and not that of those who built the school and keep it going.
Some of you who read this may think it a trivial point, but I assure you that it is not. The schools we work with could exist just fine without Bear Valley, but we could not have our program without them and I want everyone to understand that. We provide assistance that we feel makes our partnership something positive, but that does not give us ownership of the program and we want that to be clearly understood. I do not promise never to utter the phrase “our school” again in describing one of our extensions (see there?), but it never has been meant and will never mean that we do not appreciate those who actually do the vast majority of the work in training preachers in these schools.
As we have begun to announce in our reports, Noma and I are planning to move to Denver in the near future. Many ask about the time frame of our move and the answer is: when we sell our house, we plan to move. The end of the school year also comes into our thought process.
We have our house on the market now and have had some looking at it, especially with nicer weather. We are also looking at houses in Denver. As you may or may not know, the cost of living in Denver is higher than in central Oklahoma. Since we have not had full support since our move here, we are in need of raising more in making this move. Also, Noma has expressed a desire to become more involved in the work by traveling with me when possible and teaching ladies’ classes on the field, taking advantage of her language skills, as well. This will mean raising more support since she would not be able to work outside the home as she has done in the past.
Presently, the amount we are lacking to put us at full support to cover all of this is approximately $1,900.00/month. If you can help with any part of this, please contact me or our sponsoring congregation. The contact information is given below.
I know this is a little longer than the usual newsletter. I promise to work harder at getting the next one out on time so that there is not so much to include. I want to thank you again for your continued interest in this work and to thank you for the prayers that continually ascend to the throne of our Father on our behalf. We love each of you!
2013 Rushing Meadows
Edmond, OK 73013
4th & Jackson church of Christ
P.O. Drawer 549
Hugo, OK 74743