Happy Columbus Pan-American Day! It's a national holiday in Belize so I'm taking a few moments to send out an update before things get crazy again tomorrow.
We have been slammed with work around here. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working hard to set up rhythms for the rest of the semester: both with the schools, and with our congregations. In particular, as we approach the next dates for baptisms (November 1st) and confirmations (November 29th), not only have I been teaching classes but I've also been visiting these families, forging connections with the Church that will last longer than the end of this year. I enjoy it all, but for us it's one of the busiest times of year.
Making things even crazier, this week we are celebrating Harvest: a traditional service of giving, thanksgiving, and greengrocery. Wednesday St. Barnabas' (Central Farm) is celebrating Harvest, Thursday St. Hilda's (Georgeville) will do the same, and Sunday St. Andrew's (San Ignacio) will be holding three huge services spanning 8am to 3pm. When it comes to evangelism, this is by far our biggest occasion of the year ... let me see if I can put it in perspective. Ordinarily at St. Andrew's Church our maximum Sunday attendence is around 120 people (we can't fit many more in the building). However, last year our attendance was over 400: more than Christmas and Easter combined. For this reason, I really ask you to pray for us this week, that God would capture our hearts, bring revival, and make himself known as our churches fill up with visitors!
On top of this, there are a lot of diocesan activities this month. This coming Saturday I will be traveling to Belize City to represent our churches at the Mid-Synod Meeting, a convocation reporting and evaluating the progress we are making nation-wide as a church. Last week at the Bishop's request, I submitted my Personal Ministry Analysis to the Diocese, giving them a window on everything that I do, and how my service here in general is going. Please keep our deliberations on the 17th in your prayers. Additionally, here in the next few weeks we have visits from VIPs of all sorts: the Governor-General (Queen Elizabeth's representative in Belize) will be visiting St. Andrew's School, and an archidiaconal delegation from the Diocese of St. Albans (in England) will be visiting our churches, along with many others, and making a report to the Bishop on the state of our churches here in Belize. Here's a little map of the many communities in our area that this delegation will probably end up covering:
Other activities are going well. The systematic theology course I am teaching with our postulant is going well, and youth group has started up against strong, in part due to the increased participation with young people from our Hispanic missions. This past Sunday I once again travelled with Rev. Vasquez to our mission in Frank's Eddy, where the church is growing in numbers and strength. This past Saturday, I interviewed one of our Spanish-speaking priests, Rev. Juan Peralta García, and if you have a moment, definitely watch this short video:
I would also ask you to pray for Mary Beth. In addition to some other health problems that she has been having, Sunday she had an accident and ended up badly spraining her knee. She is wearing a leg brace which helps with the pain, but on the other hand it is incredibly restrictive for someone who has to play the piano, attend classes, and get up stairs. The doctor has said that she will probably be fully recovered within about six weeks. Please pray that God restores her to complete health very quickly!
Also, please keep my visa situation in your prayers. Not only have I applied for permament residency (and have been waiting 18 months for it to be processed ... no success so far), but this past month I applied to extend my year-long work permit for another year. The work permit application has not been processed yet either, so tomorrow I will be traveling to immigration to get my passport stamped (as a tourist!) for a month, while we wait for the work permit paperwork to go through, while we wait for the residency paperwork to go through. If it sounds complicated it is.
And finally, please pray that God would raise up financial supporters for our ministry. To return to Belize not only does our current giving need to triple, but in order to have at least one salary (mine) while we are raising support this coming winter and spring, giving needs to go up by at least 50% from where it is now. Please pray that God would provide for our needs, and also pray about giving to our ministry. Thank you all for your prayers and support: we love you and couldn't do it without you! Take care!