Monday, May 21, 2018

Spring Update 2018







Since January, our children’s ministry has grown. We have one combined class from ages 4 to 13. With such a different level of attention span and learning capacity, it is now more necessary to have two classes. The ladies are gathering material and planning to change things up a bit in the near future. 


We just celebrated Kid’s Day the end of April. A church service is dedicated every year around that time to reaching especially the children. We had 13 in attendance with some first-time visitors! The Sunday School teachers prepare lessons, songs, games, and food. This year, one of our teens got involved and taught the children new songs. She did a great job!  What a blessing to see them singing, learning, and playing. The church ladies served nachos, pinto beans, and cake. 






Our Mother’s Day service was followed by a meal of Barbacoa; bull’s head tacos with salsa.


Jonathan has just finished his first year in college. He really struggled with math at the beginning of the semester, but with a lot of hard work and dedication, he passed with a 'B'! He will be taking two summer courses in History starting in June. He enjoyed taking music classes and being a member of the college choir. We loved hearing him sing in individual performances as well as in choir concerts. His plans are to continue attending the community college for another semester and then transfer to the University of Texas at El Paso to major in History. 






Health Update: 


The thyroid removal surgery in March went well. The wound healed up in a short time. Right after the surgery, I started running a fever and was ill for nearly a week. I was suffering immensely with chills and sweating a few times overnight. My sleep was disturbed many of those nights. I am still in the process of getting my replacement thyroid hormone adjusted, but step by step I am improving.


The thyroid was about four times its normal size and much of it was dead. Fortunately, cancer was not found.


The trachea area is still agitated, but it may be caused by allergies.


I am still having numbness and pains in my right arm; the MRIs and x-rays signify that there is some damage to my spine and in my rotator cuff area. Recently some pains and numbness were experienced in my left arm too. With the other problems that I have experienced with arthritis, I will be checked for rheumatoid arthritis later this summer. I will be seeing doctors for this, but getting the thyroid taken care of was most important.

Thank you for your care and continued prayers for our family. 



Monday, January 29, 2018

Winter Update 2018



Health (John):

It has been awhile since this blog has been updated. My health has taken a twisted turn and I have had quite a few things going on concerning health and well-being. Last September, I had a dime-sized dysplastic nevus removed from the back of the neck. It was similar to a mole, but looked like melanoma. While it was not cancerous, I was told that it was one step away from it. From now on, I need to see a dermatologist several times a year for a bodily check up to look for any 'spots' that look suspicious.

I have been experiencing many interesting symptoms for several years and we may be a few steps closer to knowing what is going on with my health.

I was having numbness in my right arm and pains, so after a few MRIs and x-rays, it was noted that my thyroid is enlarged and then after a sonogram, four large nodules were found. 
The nodules were biopsied, and the results came back as “follicular lesions of uncertain significance”. This basically means that the chance of cancer is low, but there are cells that are of concern, just no specific diagnosis for them.
I had an endocrinologist appointment this month to discuss the technicalities of where to go from here. Due to a lot of swelling in the nodules, I was told my thyroid needs to be removed. The nodules have been causing some discomfort around my trachea and some difficulty in my breathing. Even after speaking for a period of time, my voice is hoarse, and words are limited. I am waiting for an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor appointment to discuss the surgery and all that entails. I was told the thyroid will be biopsied to make sure there is no cancer. 


Ministry:
Our church celebrated our annual Christmas meal together in the beginning of December. It is a time we all look forward to. Our church is still strong in spirit, the children’s ministry is doing well, and I believe our people are growing in the Lord. We are so thankful for your prayers for our family and for the work in Juárez, Mexico. Around the holidays, there are many more police out due to drunk driving and careless drivers due to partying. So far, we have been able to go back and forth over the border safely.

We are still praying for a National Pastor to take over the work. Our church family is content with us, but I am concerned some of my health issues will limit my effectiveness over there. Please pray with us that the Lord will make it clear what is the right path. We do not want to do any harm in leaving too soon or staying too long. God knows all, though, and for now, we are still ministering in La Iglesia Bautista Toribio Ortega.

Our church ladies decided on having Tacos for our annual meal. Of course, rice beans, and salsa were included! Jonathan and Rebecca baked and decorated Christmas cookies again, a long-time tradition. Each child received a gift bag of goodies.  



Our first service in 2018 was a good one. Everyone had a good Christmas spent with family and had testimonies of looking forward to seeing what God will do in the church in the new year. 

Happy New Year and God bless. 



1. For a National Pastor for the ministry in Juárez, Mexico
2. For upcoming appointments concerning thyroid removal surgery - for clarity of mind, clarity of diagnosis, and for the upcoming surgery. 
3. For my father-in-law as well who is scheduled to have rotor cuff surgery on February 21, 2018.
4. For Rebecca as she cares for us during this time. 
5. For Jonathan in his college studies. He is doing well and is seeking what God would have him do in his future. 





Friday, June 2, 2017

Spring Update 2017



Our church family is still doing well and our children's Sunday School class has a steady stream of kids attending church on a regular basis. Our teachers are doing a great job teaching them the Word of God. Each Sunday, the class stands in front of the church while the teacher reviews the lesson with them and they recite the day's Scripture memory verse. We enjoy hearing them review Bible stories that Rebecca and I grew up learning. It's a blessing to see the older girls putting effort into the class as well as helping the little ones. 


At the end of April, we celebrated "Kid's Day", a national holiday in Mexico.
Mrs. Chavez had a creative lesson planned, games with prizes, and songs. We all enjoyed eating tostadas afterwards. 





In the adult class,  our studies have gone in an interesting direction. Hebrews 7:4a, "Now consider how great his man was"..We have been studying through Genesis and also through Joshua after we finished the life of Moses. Genesis is the beginning of all dealings of God and man and it is the foundation of much doctrine. Joshua teaches us that it is God's plan that will continue even when God puts another in charge of His people. The timing of this is based on God, not on our understanding. In Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua met the captain of the host of the Lord and then worshiped Him. In combination with Moses at the burning bush, God walking in the garden with Adam, and even Enoch walking with God, God has had direct contact with men from the beginning. We were studying about Abraham and Melchisedec real close to the same time as we were covering Joshua 5 and are now working through the book of Hebrews. This study combines God's work, His interaction with man, and His grace for mankind. I believe without a doubt that Melchisedec was God in the flesh. 


Our son Jonathan and I have finished spring classes at the community college and we are gearing up for courses in the summer. Jonathan has already started a 5 week Geology course. He is a collector of many things, and among them he has a collection of rocks he has picked up during our deputation travels. He's an enthusiastic student. The college environment is new for Jonathan as he was homeschooled most of his years. We took our time with him and enjoyed the homeschool journey and he finished his H.S. courses at age 20. He is among the 'older students' now due to younger high school students taking dual credit. Jonathan is learning how to hold to his faith in God as Creator and Sustainer of life in an atmosphere where he is the minority. A guy like Jonathan is easy to spot as having conservative values and he is doing well in being 'salt and light' in a darkened world. Several students gravitated to him last semester as he was a dependable person to ask questions, to find out what was going on in the class, and in general, he could be counted on to be a friend. 




My father-in-law, John Ridings, is recovering from rotor cuff surgery on his left shoulder. The staples are due to come out Thursday, June 8. Trying to keep the pain under control and healing in general, is hard work. So far, the incision site looks good and he is on the mend. Please pray for complete healing. He has in-house physical therapy 3 times a week and a nurse comes by regularly to make sure there is no infection. 

→ We are continuing to pray for a National pastor to take over the work. 


In closing, Thank you to those who continue to support the work in Mexico. We appreciate so much your support and prayers! 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Building a Memorial



“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20...even if it’s in the church kitchen. Our church building is made from cement blocks, tile floors, and our benches are welded metal.  It takes quite a while for the church building to heat up. Needless to say, it can get very cold in the main auditorium on windy winter days.  And since the furnace is in the kitchen and we are a small group, that’s where we’ve met on several Sundays for service.  We gather in the kitchen, share testimonies, sing hymns, and I preach.  The fellowship seems sweeter as we huddle trying to keep warm and we are grateful for the unity we share.

Our Sunday School class is growing and some of our girls are becoming teenagers. Please pray that these young girls will continue to come to church and further their knowledge of the Bible. Many young girls in Mexico don’t receive much education. They meet a boy who catches their interest and many become pregnant at a very young age. We hope to change this by teaching them the Word of God and that there is more to life than a boyfriend right now. We have strong women teachers in our church who are great leaders and examples and we pray for them that they can hold on to these girls for much longer to have more time to teach them in the right way.

This past Sunday, I was just preaching in Joshua chapter 4. God had commanded the children of Israel to take 12 stones to make an altar so that their children will ask about the meaning of them. They were to build a memorial, a visible testimony, of God’s deliverance. We pray we are building a visible testimony with the young generation in our church.

I am still attending classes at the local community college. It’s been an interesting journey so far because I seem to have collected some young friends around the age of my son.  These young men know I’m a Christian, that I believe and live by the Bible, and that I pastor a church in Juárez. I’ve counseled on dating, on life choices, on doing the responsible thing in life. Sometimes I feel I'm a little hard on them because, frankly, the truth can be hard when our will is bent to want to make our own choices. This week, though, one of the guys commented that he liked 'hanging around' me because I told it to him straight.  I will share some things with my wife and she has good advice for me to pass on to these guys when they have relationship questions. I truly hope I am being a help and an encouragement to these young men. Some days, they seem so lost in making right choices and I pray that I am leaving behind a visible testimony for them that points the way to Christ.

We are entering a new phase in life as our son just graduated from high school recently. Jonathan has been busy studying for the college entry exam for the state of Texas the last few weeks. He has applied to the community college where I attend and, for now, will be starting out with the basic courses. He’s a studious one, so he is excited to further his education. God gives one step of direction at a time and we are thrilled for this next step in Jonathan’s life. We look forward to see what God has in store for him. 

I was a nervous dad this week as my son took his college entry exam. I made sure he had all the papers needed, knew where he was supposed to go, and of course, I had to make sure before he took the exam, his nerves were calmed by taking him to Krispy Kreme for a donut. Or maybe that was my nerves. Or maybe because the "hot and ready" sign was lit up. Or maybe a little of all three? College days, here we come. 




Friday, November 11, 2016

Acknowledging Them




I am so grateful for these three men pictured below and I'd like to acknowledge them especially this month.  Bro. Chavez, our retired National pastor on the left, has been preaching on and off as he is able. He has been an encouragement to our family and a blessing in the church. He is going blind, and even with a magnifying glass and large print in his Bible, he has trouble reading. But his memory has not failed him. If a church member misreads a passage of Scripture, he is quick to say it correctly without looking at the passage of Scripture. The Word hidden in his heart is an amazing thing to witness.


Bro. Octoviano, in the middle, stepped down from a leadership position as a bread baker at his job to relieve stress and to be able to be more available to attend church services.  However, once he started the new position, he found out that he was lied to about his hours. He is able to come most Sunday mornings for the service, though, but has to leave soon after to head to work - And after he just worked a long shift the night before. He is a great teacher and we especially enjoy when he has a message to teach, even on the spur of the moment. He relates easily with our church group and his lessons are always practical.


Jonathan, our now-20-year-old-son, is our song leader and general director of services. Always kind to the elderly and helpful with the little ones. During our monthly men’s meetings, he will teach a short lesson on something he’s learned through the Scriptures. His love of history always comes out as he goes deeper into the context of a certain passage. He and Bro. Chavez have some interesting conversations about history, politics, genealogy, music –all in Spanish. 


We have 2 Sunday School teachers who rotate teaching in the class. Both do a great job teaching the children and in bringing grand-kids and neighbors to help build the class. Ages range from infant to 13 years old, but no one seems to mind. The older girls help care for the little ones which is a big help to Celia and Victoria. 





 Highlights:

· I just had ankle surgery 2 weeks ago to repair some damage due to arthritis. I am out of a splint now and have a boot. Recovery seems to be going well so far.

· Danger was at a high in Juárez in October due to gang shootings, beheadings, and turf wars  once again. We are safe and so are our church members.

· Your prayers and support mean so much and we thank you for your care for the ministry.













Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Let Them Come


We are still working here in Juárez in a Spanish work in the Ortega Colony. Even though we are near the mountains, it’s still HOT. Temperatures have been up in the 100's. Weather reports say that we've had 16 consecutive days of above 98 degrees.  Service times have been cut shorter due to the extreme heat. The work is doing well and growing spiritually. We are blessed with a good group of people who are unified in the faith.


Our children’s ministry is doing great. Each lesson book has 13 lessons and at the end of each book, the Sunday School teachers like to have a ‘party’. Because we are a small group, everyone is invited and it’s a great time of fellowship. Some of the children who come have a really rough background and they do not know how to sit still in church and listen. Our teachers are very good with the kids and we pray that the Gospel will touch their hearts and make a lasting impact. We love having the kids in church as they bring more life and laughter to all of us. And this meal that we have is the best meal some of the kids will have all week. The girls in the photo above are 2 of Celia's granddaughters that come on a regular basis. Celia is one of our Sunday School teachers and she is always bringing her crew of grandkids. What a blessing!

This last time for our end-of-the-lesson book-party, I grilled hamburgers and the ladies fixed them ‘Mexican style’ with avocados, hamburger, cheese, a grilled hotdog cut in fourths, a grilled piece of ham, and a grilled jalapeño to top it off. Although the pepper was quite hot this time, the burger was interestingly tasty. The children work at memorizing Scripture, learning Bible lessons, and singing specials. The meal is a nice rewarding time for them ..and the adults get to share!








Continue to pray for a National Pastor, please. While I am able to teach and the people are learning and growing, it is important for a National to take over to help them further in church growth due to a National's ability to teach with a greater depth in the people's true language. Our retired National Pastor, Bro. Chavez is not doing well. When we visited with him a few weeks ago, he could barely walk due to swollen feet. The heat is really getting to him and he cannot get out in it. The sun rays are very strong and it is easy to get weak if one is not careful. His wife, Rita,
still comes faithfully and she needs our prayers as well as she takes care of him and of the little convenience store they own to support themselves.


Another payer request is for my health. I had an ankle operation about 3.5 years ago at the VA and I had about six pain free months. I never hurt it again that I can remember and since then, it has never seemed to have recovered. I have talked with my orthopedist several times since the operation, and have tried different pain medications. At the community college where I am taking classes, I try to walk as much as I can and take the stairs to try to strengthen the ankle. I have worn braces and nothing is helping. During this last doctor's appointment, he suggested an outside source to see if the problem can be fixed. To add to this, I think the struggle with my ankle has caused knee problems now. I may need to have my ankle scoped out. As of right now an ankle specialist
from the Army hospital is scheduled to look at it.




Here is a photo me as a Boiler Tech in the Navy @1997. I am proud to have served my country. Let's pray that the torch of freedom is not soon to be extinguished!



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Remembering the Work of Faith




I. Thessalonians 1:3, "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sigh of God and our Father."

     ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



We celebrate two anniversaries every February. One is the wedding anniversary of Pastor and Mrs. Chavez and the other is the ministry anniversary of my father-in-law, John Ridings. Pastor and Mrs. Chavez have been married for 52 years! Rebecca and I cooked a few beef roasts in the crock-pot along with small potatoes and had some other side vegetables and we all enjoyed our time. Roast beef isn't a common meal for them, so it was a treat to them.

Bro. Ridings just celebrated 50 years of being in the ministry. His church had a big celebration for him and our church family wanted to do something special for him as well. All of our church members have been affected by Bro. Ridings' ministry at one time or another - whether they were saved under his ministry or whether they had worked with him some time in the past. We had one of his favorite meals, Barbacoa - bull's head tacos. 


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My first semester in school is coming to a close and I have been doing well in my classes. Finals Week is coming up and I have been wrapping up assignments and studying for exams. Opportunities have been given to be a testimony not only to fellow students, but to my instructors as well. People are looking for something, but most do not know what they are looking for, and for sure they do not know where to find it. The schools are a melting pot that includes people of various backgrounds and interests. I have spoken with Catholics, ex-Catholics, Mormons, and some who have sought other religions and have not yet found what (Who!) they need. They need the LORD. It's as simple as that. 


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have just recently finished our Wednesday Bible study in the book, To Seek and to Save, by Paul Chappell. Our church family has been a testimony to co-workers and family and they have been passing out tracts during the week. What a blessing! 

Celia, one of our Sunday School teachers, has been bringing her husband Manuel to church over the past few months. For many years, he attended elsewhere, and they were content with the way things were. We are so pleased they are coming to church together, and we pray that through the husband, we can reach more of the family.