Saturday, March 31, 2012

3rd Day "Smothered with Love"

Saturday night, about 1000 people gathered outside the Missionary Donald Exley's Family Christian Center to see the movie "Courageous". It is a movie worth seeing.The weather was perfect. At the close Don gave an altar call and many came for salvation.

Before and after the movie I was literally smothered with typical Argentinean love by many folk that hadn't seen me, some for many years.

In the mid 90s Frances and I helped the parents of these three lovely girls start their church from day one deep in southern Argentina... raising a tent, having the first evangelism crusade, helping purchase property, etc. The three sisters and their little brother adopted us as grandparents right then and there. Their parents and younger brother are still way down south in Caleta Olivia, but the girls have moved to Buenos Aires area to study. Tonight upon seeing me in the crowd they literally rushed to me and smothered me with hugs and kisses on both cheeks. Wow! Am I blushing? I assure you... That made my day!


Friday, March 30, 2012

My 2nd Day Back in Argentina

Today I finally got my annual vehicle technical verification done for my sweet little Peugeot buggy. This verification is the equivalent to a smog check with many added bells and whistles. It should have taken one hour. It took me almost all day. I started promptly at 9:30 AM going to the nearby verification place that was suggested, took a number and waited in line for maybe 15 minutes. The girl seated behind bullet-proof glass looked at the green card registration and told me that, yes, they could do a technical verification, but that, since the vehicle was registered in the Federal Capital… it might not be considered valid in the interior. She said, “Maybe if you seldom travel outside the Federal Capital you might get by.” In my imagination I could see some hungry country policeman catching this minor discrepancy and holding me for ransom for hours. So I told her I travel a lot in the interior and wanted it to be valid, genuine and properly authorized.

She kindly wrote down an address on a piece of paper where I could get it properly verified: “Avenida Constituyentes 6821” and even a telephone number. I thanked her and tried calling the number… over and over again and no one ever answered, so I headed down to Avenida Constituyentes, in stand-still traffic most of the time.

Now everybody, who is anybody, knows where Avenida Constituyentes is. But behold, Avenida Constituyentes’ numbers don’t go up to 6821. Avenida Constituyentes goes up to 6300, no more.

So I pulled over and parked on Avenida Constituyentes, jumped out and asked a policeman who was guarding a bank, I think. His uniform was well pressed and his badge shiny. He looked important. But as I expected, (Oh, me of little faith!) he knew nothing about it… and a bystander man who knew “everything” (full-bloom-Argentinean style) overheard the conversation and insisted that for cars registered in the Capital, verification was not required. “That’s just for the campesinos out there in the provinces.” He followed me back to my car assuring me that he was an authority in these things. I knew better than to listen to anyone that was that sure of himself, so I thanked him, crawled in my car and shut the door to think… and, yes, I confess, to pray.

I should have started praying about this two hours earlier, but I was so sure I could pull this one off by myself, I didn’t want to bother the Lord about such trivia. Before I could say, “Amen.” A police car pulled to the curb right in front of my car to talk with this well dressed and pressed policeman. So I leaped out of my car and interrupted their conversation. They were just doing small talk anyway, probably about a bank robbery or something. So I asked the two policemen inside the car about technical verification of cars registered in the Capital. They said it is indeed required. They even called on the phone and got me the address… Larrazabal 2047, Capital. In all that traffic noise, I made them repeat “Larrazabal” about 4 times while I tried to write it on a tiny scrap of waste paper.

Hurrah! Great! Except for one tiny detail. I had not yet activated my GPS for Argentina and I had left it back at the ranch… that is, the church apartment in Martinez. And I had no idea where Larrazabal street was. The policemen thought it was somewhere in Barrio Barracas… Buzzz! Wrong! So now there was no other choice but to head to Martinez to get my trusty GPS and set it up for the streets of Argentina.

Traffic was, as usual, backed up in total gridlock in all directions everywhere. All on-ramps and off-ramps were solid with standing traffic, but by 2 PM I arrived, now hungry for lunch and ready for a siesta, at Larrazabal 2047. (applause here) It is a huge building and there was not a single car there. At first I figured they were closed, but no… they were happy to take my $150 (pesos) $32.50 US dollars. They put my poor, little Peugeot through all the paces. They rumbled and grumbled it, did the taffy-pull forty ways to see if they could break it. They wiggled, jiggled and squiggled the steering from below and above. They braked the brakes and lit the lights. They checked to see if it is a smoker or non-smoker. They did all the same stuff they do in California and much more.

I was right proud when my little year 2000 Peugeot passed with “blue-ribbon honors” and I got the sticker in the window to prove it. I felt just like when I was 7 years old in the first grade (I started late) and the teacher would stamp a little smiley brownie on my paper for good work.

Makes you feel like telling every policeman on the corner, “Come see what I’ve got in my car window!” The bad news is it expires on March 30, 2013.


Monday, March 26, 2012

My last weekend in the USA before Argentina. El Paso, Texas.

This past weekend, my last in the USA for the next 4 months, I had the privilege of ministering in El Paso, Texas with Pastor Cruz Chairez and his wife, Luz Maria dressed here to represent Israel in the missionary parade.  Just before service I captured a group outside all dressed in costume.  (You may click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

The Missions Director, Joel Torrecillas, did a bang up job organizing a great missions convention! 

He is seen here leading the worship service. 
Here they come now... each section of the parade representing a different country or culture!
Even Texas!
The theme was the single word, "Committed" and here are lives being committed to spread the message of the love of Jesus to the whole world. Sunday the total for the year was $8,400 in monthly "Faith Promises"! Praise the Lord!

I'm getting excited. On Wednesday this week I leave again for Argentina!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

San Francisco "City Impact Ministry"

My great niece Jessica and her husband Derek Seaberg lead the charge for "Chi Alpha" at University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Last week they brought a team of 15 students to minister at Roger Huang's incredible "City Impact" in the heart of the tenderloin area of San Francisco. Already I had wanted to witness Roger's ministry there, so Thursday I drove to San Francisco to participate in their outreach.  Here we stand in front of the Jefferson building where we have just delivered groceries to occupants.  Each of their adopted buildings has a separate pastor assigned to visit them in their tiny apartments, learn their names and their needs and win these lonely, forgotten people to Jesus. They even carry hot meals to them.  We were able to pray with some of them.  Many of them are affected by a life of drugs and alcohol. All of them are precious to Jesus.  He died for them. 

Meet Roger, He keeps a low profile while allowing his team to minister. They have about 80 kids in a Christian school, they care for the needy... and there are many, they minister one on one to the addicts and destitute on the streets. They major in giving out the love of Jesus.

Jessica holds Felipe's case as he shares a Bible story during lunch-time at the school.

"Is that skunk real?"  I get that question many times.  I sometimes answer, "She's real soft."

Right there on the street the Idaho University Team laid hands on me and prayed for me... sending me with God's blessing and the anointing of the Holy Spirit back to Argentina once again. Thanks, team! I need all the prayer backing I can get.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day with Ron and Elisabet

Saturday, day of rest and relaxation. I drove to the Santa Cruz coastal mountains for a day with Ron and Elisabet. After a meal at a restaurant on the wharf we drove north a few miles to one of the many beautiful beaches. 

Click on pictures to enlarge:

Ron and Elisabet from inside a cave.

Love the ocean!

Ron examines this dinasaur egg that never hatched... Well... who knows what it is? ... ha.

Relaxing on a leather couch 
Tall Dude

Happy couple 


 Horsing around.

Elisabet with Tango and Solo

Back at the ranch for the night.

Ron's high-tech cabinet shop
is on the 2nd floor of the barn.

Then Sunday morning we enjoyed a service at Redwood Christian Center in Felton. 

The church has this sign out in front of the church.

"If you're headed in the wrong direction God allows "U" turns! 


Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Dream Come True

Meet Victor Chico and Gabriela, his lovely bride.  They had just completed their required civil ceremony in the city the day before their church wedding.  In Argentina all religious wedding ceremonies must be preceded by a judicial ceremony before a justice of the peace.

Victor was a "baby in arms" 20 years ago when God literally slapped me in the chest as I was speeding past their dock heading home after a long day of ministry with Pastor Cocholo and his wife, Lilia.  We turned around and tied up to the fragile dock in front of their little humble shack. That evening standing on the dock, Victor's parents, Juan and Juana Chico, received Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Everything changed for them.  Their deep depression over the loss of their four year old son, Juancito, to a brain tumor... turned into the hope of seeing him in heaven one day soon.  With no prompting, except from the Spirit of God, Juan immediately quit his heavy drinking and smoking... and songs of joy flooded in where depression had been suggesting suicide. 

Now that same "little baby in arms", Victor, 20 years later is a musician and a worship leader at Bethel Island Church, located deep in the heart of the Parana River Delta, three hours trip by boat from the mainland.  Victor begged me to be at their wedding ceremony the 25th of February, but sadly I was not able.
The bride, Gabriela, and her father arrive at the dock of Bethel Island Church aboard the "Nelly", one of our five church bus boats.  This is the same boat that hit a submerged tree trunk and sank about a year ago.  It is now totally restored.

They stand on the dock for a photo. 
(Click on any picture to enlarge for better viewing)

The red carpet begins even before going up the church steps. 

Pastor Justo Urquiza, known by everyone as Cocholo, ties the knot.

A life-time Christian commitment is being sealed. 

Left to right, (mother) Juana, Victor, Gabriela and (father) Juan Chico.  Pastor Cocholo seated.

Background: It was 1982 when we purchased the "Messenger of Peace" boat and began our part of the ministry in the Parana Delta River Islands.  There are no roads and no bridges.  The grocery store boat arrives once a week and if you have money you can buy something to eat. Most men work planting and harvesting hundreds of acres of trees for paper pulp and boxes.  I have seen 75 year old men with every muscle trembling as they hand-carried huge logs across a gang plank to load them on a barge.  Life was very hard back then in these islands... and still is.  Many people live isolated, some not seeing another human face for days.  Sin of all kinds was rampant, alcohol abuse was a serious problem and very few families were legally married.  In fact there was no way to have a legal marriage without traveling by expensive bus boat many hours to the city.  I met old timers that had never seen the city, or any city for that matter, and they were only 50 miles away from Buenos Aires.  Incest was far too common.  Broken homes and broken lives abounded. 

From the very start many hearts were open and many came to Christ and their lives started to change.  Pastor Cocholo and Lilia and their faithful team are still reaching deep into this labyrinth of thousands of islands carrying the love of Jesus to the lost... every month.  Shoes for little bare feet, warm jackets for the cold winters, nice used clothing (In fact that's where Frances' nice dresses and jackets ended up) are shared with the needy.  Powdered milk, safe water, food, clinical education and help by doctors and dentists all this and more touch these remote people.  But most importantly the "Jesus-change" has arrived for every open heart. 

Sin has not been eradicated.  But there has been a notable positive change in the culture in many areas.  The Apostle Paul wrote: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..."  (Romans 1:16)  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just another religion with its candles and ceremonies.  This is the power of God to make you and me into brand new creations.  "Old things pass away.  Behold all things are made new!"  (2 Cor. 5:17)

So... to God be the glory!