After the all-church retreat

I just want to thank those of you that read this blog and prayed for the retreat.  (That means you, mom and Kara.)  We had a GREAT time.  There were almost 90 who attended.  That number looks low, in retrospect, as there seemed to be over 100 kids... such a fun atmosphere!

The campgrounds have men and women's dorms, but we took our tent so that the kids would sleep better.  (Last year, people would turn the lights on at all hours of the night and the kids would wake up and cry.)  It was really fun.

On Saturday we had three classes, I Can't Do it, God Can, and I'll Let Him.  The classes were very well done, but I think the real growth will come from the questions Joe Pruett put together for each person to answer individually after each session.  We'd all find a quite place and spend between 45 minutes and an hour taking a personal inventory.  I think the time alone served to help us evaluate how our past (our fears and struggles) are effecting our present reality.  

On Sunday we worshipped together.  Quite a different experience, 90 together instead of 15 or so.  The youth put together a play, Gerardo had a sermon, Chadd took a moment for us to bless Guiye's 3 month old baby.  (Guiye isn't a Christian yet, but is walking in that direction, as the Mexicans would say.  She knows her baby doesn't need to be baptized, but longs for a blessing for her baby.  It was quite powerful.)  Sergio led us in praise.  And we divided into groups of 10 or so to take communion where we spent time praying together.  It was beautiful.

Thanks for being a part of the retreat through your prayers.


All-Church Retreat

The picture above is of Clark and Gerardo at last year's All-Church Retreat.  I'm not sure why, but it is one of my favorite pictures. You can't even see Clark's face, but seeing his little hands lifted up in praise touches me.  I almost want to question how much a little kid can praise God, but God says he's ordained their worship.  So I'll leave it at that.

I also love the connection he's making with Gerardo in the photo. I'm pretty sure his hands are lifted because that's what Gerardo is doing, not the other way around.  I guess little eyes are always on us.

And I love that Gerardo notices Clark.  Clark wasn't a distraction to Gerardo, he was a blessing.  Of course that was Gerardo's decision.  He could have been annoyed by the little mimic or he could value the opportunity to share his love for God with the little pair of eyes watching him.  

This week we are preparing for this years' retreat.  Would you mind keeping this retreat in your prayers?  In a lot of ways, it is like the picture above.  We are a part of a church that has some Gerardos... stronger Christians who want to help their younger brothers, and a ton of Clarks... babes in the faith who desperately need guidance and friendship.  


Family Update

Teaching Math
In January Tim began teaching a math class a few hours a week in a school that helps adults work towards their junior high graduation. The school is located in Jocotan, just two blocks from our church family. He was expecting to be teaching adults, but most of his students are between the ages of 13 and 18. The class changes in size each time so there is a lot of starting up only to start over again the next week. There aren’t books for each student nor is there a copy machine to use for tests and homework assignments. But Tim and the class have been quite resourceful. Tim is having a good time and most of his students seem to be enjoying themselves.

Tim’s happy to be helping them get an education, but especially excited to be meeting new people in Jocotan. By faith we believe God is allowing us the chance to plant kingdom seeds through math classes.

Marriage Seminar
On Valentine’s weekend, we traveled to Leon where we were invited to do a marriage seminar for the church there. The first night Tim talked about seeing the image of God in our spouses. On the second night he spoke about the Holy Spirit's role in recreating the image of God in us. We were glad to have a young couple from our church accompany us on the trip.

Tim had a great time teaching and we were so encouraging to see the church that our friends planted in Leon just a few years ago. We were able to spend a good amount of time with Shawn and Barbara Gary as well as with Omar and Tana Palafox.

Teaching at the kids’ school
Also in February Tim was invited to teach at the parents’ class he attends twice a month at the kids’ school. He worked with another dad on a presentation entitled “Molding Your Own Reality”. That just happened to be the chapter of the book they were assigned to present. The idea was that what we believe about ourselves and our world is the truth that we live. We believe God purposely gave him this opportunity. Tim was nervous about the class but excited to get the chance to teach.

A few weeks ago we wrote you concerning our good friend Omar so we won’t revisit all the specifics. He is still pretty tough to deal with though he is showing signs of surrendering to God. It’s hard though. Please continue to pray for Omar and his wife Lupe and their two children, especially to heal the hurt of all that was said in anger. In the very midst of his struggles, Omar is still being used by God as a light in his community. Lupe’s family continues seeking God, and knows that the peace of God has been growing in that house. We are truly amazed at God’s power to show Himself in the midst of chaos.

Another praise to mention at this time is the love the other leaders have shown for Omar and Lupe. We were certainly not alone in admonishing and rallying around them. We are thankful to see the body working together in this way.

Stress in Churches
Jocotan isn't the only struggling church at the moment. It seems like Satan is attacking each church right now in very overt ways. However, we are not totally discouraged by this fact. We believe that God is allowing each church an opportunity to mature and grow through this difficult process. We are preparing for an all church retreat in a couple of weeks. Please pray for God to use the time to help the churches recognize Satan’s schemes, surrender to God’s power and to unite us.

Kim’s New Neice
Kim and Karsyn traveled to California for a week in February to see the newest addition to the Blachly family: Khloe Gwin Olson. They had such a wonderful time getting to reconnect with family and getting to hold baby Khloe. Kim says it felt like a real luxury to get to be there at that time. The boys did survived well while she and Karsyn were gone.