Rachel and Abraham invited friends and neighbors over to celebrate and learn about Holy Week this year:
I had planned to go down to Mexico last August, taking a team from my local church to prayer walk the area of Huejotzingo where our TUtP team works. Huejo is a very spiritually dark area and so we wanted to bring more of the light of Jesus into the neighborhood. My illness which resulted in my getting a pacemaker implanted made it necessary to postpone that trip. I was finally cleared by my doctor to go the end of November.
Due to the change in dates, I was unable to take a team with me, so instead of prayer walking, I helped with some of the children’s work and with building a convertible table that can be used effectively
in the small space available for our center activities. Abraham and Rachel Lechuga, our team, do a variety of things in Huejo. They conduct Bible studies for adults and children. Many of the children who participate in these studies are also part of the craft and English language classes we offer throughout the week. Rachel and her mother-inlaw, Six, teach the kids and some of the adults to cook and to sew. At least once a year they conduct a very popular vacation Bible school in the neighborhood.
It has been a slow growing work over the years they have been living in this village. It has taken time to make friends and to build trust within the community. Now they have made a number of friends with those living near our center. More adults are participating in their Bible studies, even inviting them to teach in some their homes nearby. The goal is to start a number of small home churches throughout the area.
We are in the process of purchasing land where we can build a more adequate center to carry out our work. This would help save the money currently used to rent our present building. With enough land, we can grow a good garden, keep bees and raise small animals as well.
One great benefit in having to postpone this trip was that Rachel, our youngest daughter, gave birth to our second grandchild, a daughter named Leilani Joy, just a few days prior to my arrival. Leilani is, of course, a most perfect and beautiful little girl. Her two-year-old big brother, Abishael, doesn’t know quite what to make of her yet. He is all about playing non-stop. Leilani doesn’t know what to do with all the toys he offers her. He adores her, but she also demands lots of Mom’s time, which is taking him a while to get used to. He hasn’t had to share his Mom and Dad before. He’s adjusting, though, and he was a lot of fun as well. He is pretty much in non-stop motion from morning until bedtime. A true delight!
This afternoon, I watched my daughter, Rachel, who is a TUtP missionary in Huejotzingo Mexico where I am this week, teaching reading to one of the young girls we work with here. The girl read a passage from the Bible and answered questions Rachel asked her from the passage to make sure she understood what she just read. The Catholic Church in this area discourages people from reading the Bible. We believe everyone should read and study the Bible to gain an understanding of what Jesus has done for them and to let them know how much He loves them.
The Bible she was reading a simplified version of the Spanish Bible with a more limited vocabulary. I brought this version down for Rachel to use in her classes. She starts her students in Matthew 1 and they read straight through. The most advanced student has reached Luke. That girl this afternoon is twelve years old and no longer attends school. Rachel and Abraham tried to do home schooling with her and some others, but her parents don’t believe in education. Still she is the most advanced reader.
The teaching that Rachel and her husband Abraham do with these children is often the only exposure to Scripture these children receive. The kids also get to do multiple types of crafts, play games, and generally have fun in a safe, loving and accepting environment. Many of these kids also participate in our Vacation Bible School and other activities and occasional trips to places of interest in surrounding communities.
Sometimes our interest in their children sparks an interest in their parents to learn about the Bible since we encourage the kids to tell their parents what they are studying. As I am writing this evening, Rachel and Abraham took my 6-day old granddaughter with them to a neighbor’s house to continue a Bible study with a woman who has said she wants to know more about the Scriptures–friendship evangelism in action. Rachel just returned to say that the daughter of the hostess is going into premature labor, so Abraham is arranging to get her to the doctor that delivered their daughter–love in action.
Wherever TUtP works, we try to meet whatever needs we encounter as best we are able.
Teaching in Transylvania, Romania[/caption]I was in Romania most of November, 2013 teaching pastors and other Church leaders on various prayer topics and addressing a number of other practical ministry concerns. Initially I was with the same pastors and churches I’d ministered to in 2011. They asked me to return to help them more fully implement what I had previously taught and to expand into other prayer areas. These pastors face unique challenges. Most have multiple congregations. Many work with gypsy churches in difficult situations. My traveling companion, Pastor Paul Muerson, and I ministered in over 20 churches and met one-on-one with a number of key leaders to strategize for the future. I’ve been asked to return and teach in two training schools that have been set up to prepare new pastors for ministry. There would be around 125 men in just one of these seminaries. A pastor who focuses on gypsy congregations says he can guarantee an equal number of men in his location. Paul and I are discussing when to return this year to take up this opportunity.
During the first week, I taught for 3 hours in the morning and 2 1/2 hours in the evening. My translator had hurt his back as a boy and had been in some degree of pain ever since. During a practicum on healing prayer, as the group prayed for another man, I was quietly praying for Lucian, with my hand on his lower back. God took away all of his pain immediately, though he did not tell me this at the time. He didn’t want to be premature in claiming healing of a problem he’d had for so many years. Four days later, after a day of chopping firewood, he finally told me what God had done. He has since emailed to say that he remains free of all pain. Praise the Lord! God is so very good.
In two weeks I will head to Fiji to review the progress in our beekeeping and agricultural initiatives and to plan for our summer outreach. I will travel to both of the main islands–Viti Levu and Vanua Levu–to meet with those with whom I work. In the past, we have not done any outreaches on Vanua Levu. However, Aisake Emmanuel, the general secretary of GIFT ministries, the Fijian doctors group under whose auspices we conduct the medical portion of our work, moved to that island to build a new home and to establish his own beekeeping activities. He believes there is a great opportunity for us to work among those where he now lives.
Most of the time, however, will be spent in the area of the Lomawai Trade School where we have moved all of our beekeeping activities. There are a number of Indian schools in the area that we want to make the focus of our medical and dental clinics. In the past we have seen many Hindus and Muslims accept Christ as a result of what God does as we work among them. Students from Azusa Pacific University will join us to conduct Vacation Bible School activities for the various students. Please be in prayer.
The Huejotzingo neighborhood VBS was a very successful event. A total of 31 kids participated in the Bible studies, skits, Bible memorization, crafts and games. One of the things that amazed me is how enthusiastically these children, ages 4-15, participated in all that was going on. What Abraham and Rachel did with their leadership team reminded me in many ways of the sorts of more simple things we used to do at such events when I was a kid. Nothing high-tech or slick, just simple, straight forward games using a variety of things at hand. They had a lot of games that used car tires or hula hoops and balls. They made crafts using toilet paper tubes, etc. A lot of thought and effort on the part of the leaders went into preparation. Everything was very hands on. There was a lot of individual attention to and encouragement towards each child. Each kid responded well. Many of these kids are in at risk situations.
At the graduation ceremony on Sunday, a few parents showed up to watch their kids repeat their memory verses, recap the stories of creation, fall and redemption, receive a certificate of completion, and eat cake. This is a great way for Abraham and Rachel to gain greater acceptance in the local community. One of the families invited Abraham and Rachel over to their home for the evening meal. This is very encouraging to them.
One of the girls that attended most of the week and on Sunday is a pre-teen of 11 years. She began coming to their house with her sister almost 2 years ago. Now she attends every event she can. She is a member of the English class and studies diligently. She also enjoys the Tuesday craft nights, and she recently opened up about a very difficult situation that she experienced and continues to struggle with at home. She and her sister come every Sunday afternoon that they are allowed, and they learn the Bible stories that Abraham and Rachel teach. She lives with her mother and grandparents. Her father is in the States, but he left her mother and now has another family. Her story is very typical of what many of the youth Abraham and Rachel are reaching with the love of Jesus.
Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for being a vital part of the ministry of Teach Us to Pray.
Thanks to all of you who prayed regarding my food poisoning. All I can say is the Lord has answered in a powerful way with what I deem to be a miracle. I am completely recovered without even beginning the course of antibiotics. To God be the glory! I have never experienced this kind of recovery from this type of sickness.
I wanted to get out the final report on the last two days of VBS today. I spent 8 hours preparing the multimedia presentation Abraham and Rachel need for their wrap up tomorrow afternoon and for their church. For the last hour of that time I was getting sicker and sicker. My stomach was mildly upset at first, but progressed to full-on food poisoning. Haven’t been this sick in quite some time. Let’s just say I’ve been keeping both outputs very busy over the last hour or so. I’m beginning to feel somewhat stable after most everything I’ve eaten over the past couple of days has made dramatic exit from my body.
Would very much appreciate your prayers as I need to be well enough to travel on Tuesday. I do have antibiotics which my doctor prescribed for just such a possibility. I hope I can begin to take them in the morning. No use trying while I couldn’t keep them down.
Would like very much to be able to get some sleep tonight.
Thanks and Blessings!
Our third day of VBS is over. We are staying around the low 20’s in attendance, which is pretty good for the neighborhood. The kids are really into the stories and memory verses. Each day they learn a new verse and they go over the ones from prior days. They are asked to share the verses and stories with their parents at home.
The days have been quite pleasant. Glad to have the tarp over the courtyard, though, or it would be too hot. This evening it rained quite hard and the tarp pole collapsed. Will have to refasten it tomorrow morning before the kids arrive. About 6 of them come at least 1/2 hour early every day, sometimes even earlier. There is a lot of work for them to do at home, but not a lot of play time, so they are delighted to be with us.
Please keep us in prayer as we go into the home stretch.
We have completed our second day of VBS in Huejotzingo. A few kids who were here yesterday were not here today, but a few came who weren’t here the first day, so things pretty much balanced out. The kids were very enthusiastic in their skits, games, projects and Scripture memorization. Today we focused on Adam and Eve and the creation of all the animals. Tomorrow we go to the fall.
One of the helpers from a local church where Abraham and Rachel serve is a professional clown. He was a great hit. He specializes in making balloon creations. Periodically we would be startled by an explosion as a balloon popped. Part of the fun.
We so appreciate your prayers.
We spent the weekend getting all of the supplies, handouts and crafts ready for the VBS. This included a walk into downtown Huejotzingo, where we are working, to go to the Saturday market. I absolutely love the outdoor markets I’ve been in all around the world–various African countries, Korea, Japan, etc. It is just plan fun to look at the variety of goods on sale and to bargain for purchases.
Today VBS in Huejo started. We actually had several kids come two hours early! Fortunately they live just across the street, so we could let them know to come back at noon. We were hanging a tarp over the courtyard where the kids would do some crafts and have their snacks. If the sun is out, the courtyard is very hot as there is no shade. And if it rains, as it did later in the day, the tarp provides protection. I had a metal ladder made that was delivered on Sunday, so we could get up onto the roof to hang the tarp. Everything worked out well.
We had 23 kids today, from age 4 to age 15. Everyone had a great time. Everyone learned the chosen verses. Abraham and Rachel put everything together rather than trying to buy a pre-made program. They’re doing the creation story. Lots of crafts, songs, skits and memory work.
The kids were all fully engaged in every aspect of what was going on. Most don’t get any Bible in their homes. Most don’t attend any church with any regularity. Most are “at risk” for various forms of abuse. So the love and attention they get here can be truly transforming.
Since I don’t speak Spanish, I’m the photographer, gopher and all-around handyman. I also talk with the students who are in Rachel’s English class.
We are trying to work out details that would allow a group (perhaps our youth) to come here from our church next year to help with VBS.
Rachel is our youngest daughter. She and her husband, Abraham, are parents to Judy and my only grandchild. So it has been an absolute delight to get to spend some quality time as a grandpa as well.
Appreciate your prayers that all will continue to go well. So far I’ve stayed fairly healthy–bit of stomach problems, but not as bad as has happened in the past. Also I’ve had a bit of a problem sleeping two of the nights since I arrived. There was a very loud party going on across the street one night until well after 1 a.m. Fireworks, a live brass band, etc.