Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Wall

My first reaction when I saw these 3 or 4 year old barefoot boys playing on this 4 foot high wall in the city park was: "Those kids could fall and break their heads on the cement below!"  The next thing I saw was them sliding down the light pole and effortlessly shimmying back up again. 

We were setting up for the Castle Kids' regular plaza meeting in a neigh-borhood near the city of Posadas and kids were coming running from all directions. The wall soon became the place to be.

I set up my Hawaiian guitar and let its strange sounds fill the neighbor-hood attracting curious looks. The Castle Kids did some interpretive dancing including some impressive break-dancing.  

Soon the wall was reaching capacity and adults were standing around.  I took out my accordion and taught them a chorus... and almost everybody joined in the fun.

I drew my "reversible face" and gave them the Bad News (Rom 3:23) that is necessary to be able to appreciate the Good News (John 3:16)

Kids workers joined the kids as they prayed with some below the wall.

Pastor Sergio was only a teenage leader of the Castle Kids outreach team when their efforts in this neighbor-hood blossomed into a church.  My nephew Dan Hiatt and his wife Nancy stand in front of the church still without a roof where we held our service that Saturday night.  We prayed for the Lord to stop the rain storm and He did that just for us... to do the kids thing in the plaza and a roofless church service under the stars.

Nancy does not speak Spanish and these girls speak little or no English, but some great communi-cation is going on here.

Check out this new congre-gation... the result of a bunch of teen age Castle Kids doing some serious evangelism.

This stroke victim has been touched by the Lord and is now able to walk. Everybody wants to pet Perfume the skunk.

Pastor Sergio stands with Nancy, Dan and me for a picture. They should have the roof on the church soon... and he will be married in a few months to a lovely girl who he met in Bible School and who lives far away in Buenos Aires. 

I confess that stories like this bless my socks off!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Iguazu Falls with Dan and Nancy Hiatt

Iguazu Falls is worth traveling 6,000 miles to see.  I took a short video for you to enjoy.  Click on this link https://vimeo.com/77452532 and it should show up. You may have to wait a minute or two for it to download, but it is only about 30 seconds long.  

Thanks for being a part of our prayer backing for this "Spiritual Retreat".  God answered.  I did not lose my voice.  Since I must translate for Dan… I have to minister alongside him each time.  If I count the four ten minute TV programs as one time of ministry… then this past weekend I have ministered eight times... as you will see in the details below:

All went wonderfully well over the weekend.  Thursday afternoon I took my nephew and his wife, Dan and Nancy Hiatt to the falls and had time to walk the upper hike which takes you along above the falls on walkways just at the edge of the great drop off.  It was a beautiful afternoon and the sight was striking as always.  On Friday morning we hiked down below the falls and then Dan and Nancy took the boat ride right up under the falls, getting totally drenched.  We hiked for several hours below the falls and then took the little train to the area above the falls where we could hike on a elevated walkway about a half mile out to the very edge of the famous Devil’s Throat. 

We enjoyed a great day at this marvelous creation of God then headed for the city of Eldorado (one hour’s travel) where we installed ourselves in two nice motel cabins in a place called “Las Vertientes” meaning the “The Springs”.  Little streams of fresh water flow down near the cabins.  

Now it was 6:30 PM, and Pastor Raul Micheloud took us to the TV station to record four 10 minute programs… interviewing me.  At 8 PM we went to the church to meet with the entire team of some 30 volunteers of all ages that had been working for weeks in preparation for this "Spiritual Retreat" to start on Saturday.  Friday night they would be maintaining an all night prayer vigil by taking turns.  The pastor, himself would take the two slots from 2 AM to 4 AM, since this is his regular time to meet with God anyway.  He asked me to minister to this group of over 30 dedicated people.  It was a humbling experience.  
It seemed to me that this team of workers along with the pastor were putting more into this retreat than we were.  And they were doing it for us!  I talked about how even Jesus Himself had sought the support of His disciples, Peter, James and John… in His most trying hour… in Gethsemane.  And gave other references of similar situations showing how we need one another’s support.  What a team!  It even included at least two 11 year old girls… who are ardently dedicated to Jesus.

So Friday night we were pretty much wiped out after hiking up and down hundreds of steep steps and through the beautiful jungle trails, followed by an hour’s drive, four TV interviews and a message to the workers.  

Saturday we were up early to get set up for the retreat. At 8:30 AM people were already arriving from many miles away.  I presented Dan and Nancy to the Argentine congregation made up of leadership from over 20 churches. Dan did a great job teaching on the importance of maintaining intimacy with Jesus… two hours, 9 to 11 AM much encouragement and with many practical tips.  

Then Pastor Raul had an hour session followed by the entire group of about 200 people on their faces seeking God for most of another hour.  Dan and Nancy joined in praying with the people.

At 1 PM we broke for lunch.  A lady had donated about 150 large chicken thighs each attached to its drumstick.  Men grilled them outdoors and they were absolutely delicious along with potatoes and several types of salads… and ice cream for dessert… and then a rest time.  

At 4 PM we reconvened for a final hour session with Dan (of course with me translating).  This continued until 6:30 PM.  I was scheduled to preach in less than an hour at the Saturday 7 PM service.  I talked them into starting at 7:30… to give everyone a little break... especially me.  

Many of the retreat people had Saturday night services in their home churches and had to leave.  But we enjoyed a powerful move of the Lord Saturday night.  After praying with many people, we returned to our cabins after midnight.  

Sunday at 6 AM I was up again ready to take Dan and Nancy to Pastor Raul’s other church in a city called Puerto Esperanza… about one hour’s distance away.  Here I ministered again and we had a wonderful time with several new people, one was a nice large family of six people there for the first time, that all came to the Lord.  

Then we had a rest after a nice lunch at Pastor Raul’s house.  Check out this home made wood burning oven. 

That night (last night) Dan preached and of course I translated.  Again we enjoyed a blessed and very powerful move of God and the prayer time extended until nearly midnight.  We hugged everybody and wept… then picked up our stuff and at midnight stopped to eat a sandwich before retiring.  When I got back to the cabin I had to handle some important email and didn’t get to bed until 2 AM.  But I slept well and awoke this morning (Monday) refreshed at 7 AM as usual with no alarm.

Today Dan and Nancy wanted to see the town.  So I drove them to the center and dropped them off.  Moments later a huge thunderstorm let loose with lots of rain, hail and the road literally became a torrent.  I parked under a tree for a few minutes during the hail storm, since it is common here to have hailstones large enough to damage a car with huge dents.  It was powerful, but the hailstones were only the size of marbles and no damage was done.

It is lunch time again.  The rain has let up, but it is still cloudy.  I don’t know where Dan and Nancy are.  They are going to walk back the 5 miles back to our cabins.  Oh, here they are.
We have services scheduled every night of this week except tonight in different cities… so I may not have time to blog.  We will see.

Keep praying for me.  I really need God's miracle power to keep my voice going.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Waiting in Line Can Be Fun!

In Argentina you have to get used to waiting in line.  You go to the pharmacy and wait in line... Go to the hardware store and wait in line. To the corner to take a bus and wait in line. You go to the bank and wait in line. I can remember lines at a bank that went clear down around the corner.  Frances was waiting in line at a bank one hot day when an elderly lady fainted on the sidewalk.

I took these shots while waiting in line at 5 PM (two hours prior to service time) to get into the indoor stadium for our annual General Council of the Assemblies of God Pastors in the mountains of Cordoba.    

The crowds have exceeded the stadium capacity of 2,300. Hundreds will be left outside to be in a tent with a large screen. They tell me that the line was three blocks long at this time. Every few minutes someone would come running to me to hug my neck.  

This little guy came out of nowhere and was hugging my legs and when I bent down he gave me a hug and a customary kiss on the cheek.  He was so cute I had to have someone take a picture of him.  I don't even know his name or who he belongs to.  

Waiting in line is a lot more fun when filled with Argentine hugs. 

Worship is heavenly! The presence of God is powerful. 

Every available seat is occupied. This morning's speaker is Pablo Silberbeib, part of a group of boys that came to Christ when I was preaching in a city park in 1977.  Now he is invited to speak in many countries all over the world. When he saw me in the stadium before service he came running with a big hug. 

The night service was over.  An hour passed as I was stopped by many long-time friends. As usual I was one of the last ones out. The lights were out and pretty much everyone gone.  I was waiting for a cab to my hotel when I was attacked by this delightful group of youth from over 1000 miles down south in La Patagonia... some of them from churches that I had helped to start.

I just wish you could be here to witness this!  Words cannot convey the love and excitement I feel.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Angel named “Milagros” (Spanish for “Miracles”)

It didn’t take many minutes upon arriving in Argentina Thursday before I faced my first challenge.  I discovered that somehow in my travels, probably in the San Francisco airport, I had lost my California driver’s license!

Since 2003, when my special Argentine truck driving license had expired, (special license to drive my 56 ft long truck with 5th wheel home attached) I have been legally driving here with my California valid license.  Now I found that I had no license to drive and had to get one quickly to begin my visits to many already confirmed preaching engagements.  I had intended to drive tomorrow the 450 miles to our Assemblies of God General Council week in the mountains of Cordoba.  Now I arranged to take a bus.  However after council I must have a valid driver’s license to begin my ministry.  So I contacted the equivalent of the DMV here and found that the first openings for appointments were in November and that once you start the process it takes a week to get the final product.  Not good!

So I needed a miracle.  I needed to begin the process Friday (yesterday) without an appointment.  Several brothers here at the church where I am staying gathered around me in a tight circle and asked God to provide the necessary “miracles” (“milagros” in Spanish) to get the process going and completed on time.  Shortly after this a pastor friend, that had been advised of my plight, called me.  He told me of a lady medical doctor in his church who used to work at the central DMV in Buenos Aires and was able and willing to help me.  Her name is “Milagros” (“Miracles”).  Ask God for “miracles” and what do you get?  “Miracles” with a capital M!

Milagros is acquainted with many of the staff at the very crowded DMV and helped me get immediate attention to get the process on its way.  In fact, my “personal angel” stayed with me for over two hours as I went through the hoops; eye exam (without glasses I was surprised to be able to read even the pin-point size numbers almost as clearly as the bigger ones), my hearing (again I was surprised to hear the ultra-high feeble tones in each ear), my medical exam (questions about my medical history and present meds) and my psychological exam (which consists of drawing copies of strange figures on a blank paper follow by an interview with a psychologist asking you “questions designed to be misunderstood”, or so it seemed… ha.)  They checked my past record (clean, praise the Lord), took my picture and on next Thursday I am scheduled to take a final written test and, if I pass (which I will), I’ll be able to walk out with the completed license in hand that afternoon.  

I will miss the final night at General Council in order to take the bus back to Buenos Aires.  But I can handle that if that gets me ready to legally drive again. 

My car is ready to go.  My personal mechanic’s name is Hugo.  He is another “angel” from the Lord.  During the past two weeks he had completely rebuilt the manual transmission which had run dry from a damaged seal caused by hitting a high rock on a very bad road… thoroughly checked out everything and even washed the car!  It looks and runs like brand new!

To see Hugo’s picture and remarkable story, just click on http://ralphhiatt.blogspot.com.ar/2012/02/hugo-hugo-who.html

What would I do without God’s wonderful angels?!


PS. I will replace my California license upon my return in December.  No problem.