Holy Week

Hello everyone! I know it's been a couple of weeks since the last time I posted, but I wanted to fill you in on what's been going on around here lately!

The big thing of course right now is that we're in the midst of Holy Week. We had an excellent Palm Sunday service last Sunday. We then moved ahead to Maundy Thursday, where we reenacted the scene where Jesus washes his disciples' feet and then moved to a final supper together after which we celebrated the Holy Supper and stripped the church of its ornaments and glory, ending in prayer. Good Friday came with a solemn service at 3:00 PM, the hour when Jesus gave up his spirit to his Father. Tomorrow we are looking forward to celebrating the Lord's Resurrection and feasting his eternal life in the church and in our homes. All good times!

Unfortunately, our mission to the Parana River communities, scheduled for today, has been derailed and we'll have to find another time and way to do it. We are still scheduled however to head North this week (we leave Thursday) to spend a couple of weeks with the Wichi tribes in Northern Argentina. I am very excited about this trip, and I'm going to be spending the first part of this coming week making sure I'm ready, including buying Gluten-Free food and a decent sleeping bag.

I will probably be out of touch during those weeks given the inconsistency with which I will have internet access. Some astute person will probably say, "David, hasn't your internet access been rather inconsistent so far anyway?" The answer to that is that yes, it has been inconsistent, but my hope is that after getting out of the (proverbial or literal) bush that I will have a more stable and reliable internet connection set up here in Hurlingham from which to work. Please, please, please pray that this is the case!

I wish you all a blessed Holy Week, and a joyous Resurrection Sunday!

Stuff and More Stuff

Last Sunday evening we had an amazing electrical storm. I stood at the door of my little apartment watching the waves of rain roll in as lightening lit the sky several times each second. After a bit, everything died down and the rain became a dull pitter-patter in the background. That is how things have more or less been in the last week following the diocesan synod.

The synod went very well! Though the nitty-gritty issues included the question of how to bring the diocese to a place where it is financially autonomous, with no deficit to be covered by foreign gifts, the larger issues on the table have to do with the Great Commission. How will the Diocese of Argentina be the church that Christ has called all of his church to be, that is, a church which passionately proclaims the Gospel in everything that it does, which is made up of disciples of Jesus who form other disciples of Jesus, in congregations which plant new congregations? We're trying to discern this right now. The immediate need of the church is to obey the great commission and to grow to the point where this diocese can become its own province (made up of 4 dioceses with 7 congregations each). This is an enormous task to tackle in 12 years, but we have begun well, and by God's grace we will end well.

Personally, after the exhausting weekend, this week has been nicely restful. I've made a few visits and spent time in coordination on a few projects, but nothing immensely stressful has been looming on the horizon, which has been nice. Some immediate challenges are coming to the fore, however.

First, Holy Week is coming up. This is exciting, but daunting, as it will be a lot of work. I will be preaching on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday, and Rev. Daniel and I will be going out to a small river delta community with no church on Holy Saturday to have a small pre-Easter service with them (we're rather excited about this little venture!).

Second, we've reserved plane tickets for our trip to the Wichi tribes up in Northern Argentina. While my presence on the team has as first importance to observe, learn, and link up with these churches, undoubtedly I will be busy teaching and training as well during my time there. Though the Gospel has exploded up north (the Wichis have 200 established Anglican churches, compared to 6 in Buenos Aires), there are great challenges on the horizon for these communities. I am looking forward to spending time with them, with their leadership, and with Bishop Drayson and his wife.

Third, some weeks after I return from my visit to the Wichi tribes, we intend to begin an evening service at St. Mark's, tentatively slated to be called a "Divine Service" (all the other names we thought of were too culturally loaded). The service is still in the planning stages, but it will serve several ends. First, it will give an alternative time for people to worship on Sunday, especially for those (many) who have difficultly coming to church in the morning (culturally speaking, it can be difficult). Second, it will give the possibility for additional teaching for those who are already coming in the morning who want more spiritual meat. Third, it will serve as a place for training and experimentation with emerging church leaders in the congregation: those who might one day be lay ministers or ordained pastors. More details to come!

Finally, I found today that the Lord is opening more doors for me to link up with St. Hilda's, a bilingual primary and secondary school which was historically linked to St. Mark's. Not only am I forming a part of the team overseeing and promoting a joint music program between the parish and the school, but I will hopefully be forming a link between the school and the Wichi tribes up north. This is all very exciting, and I am curious to see where the Lord will take it all.

Well, this has been, I think, quite the detailed update. Take care, everyone!

It's Synod Time!

Well, it's been more than a week, and more than a little has been happening since I last posted an update. Here goes.

I had a wonderful time of rest and relaxation on the two federal holidays that we had last week. I went with the other ministerial family here at St. Mark's to an island in the middle of the Paraná River, near the area of El Tigre. It was lovely and marvelous, and I came back feeling very refreshed!

Last Sunday, we had the installation service for me here at St. Mark's, and everything went smoothly. I am now officially licensed to serve as an assistant minister here in Hurlingham and within the Diocese of Argentina. Afterwards, I had a fantastic time with Bishop Nicholas Drayson and his wife as they came through and visited us that evening. We also began coordinating for our mission trip up to be the Wichi tribes at the end of April, and it looks like I may be staying there for a few more weeks than I thought. More details to come!

Tonight, we had a meeting of the clergy at the Bishop's house to discuss some of the upcoming issues that we will be addressing during the diocesan synod, which is tomorrow and Sunday. The main points for discussion will be: financial independence from foreign churches, growth and missional development among the churches, and a look to the future to begin thinking about beginning a new diocese. Also, more details here to come. This weekend is full, as was last weekend, and we've been trying to take things somewhat slowly here in between to keep from becoming overwhelmed. But a lot is happening, and I'm gradually getting used to life and ministry, week by week, here in Buenos Aires!

Two Weeks In

I cannot believe "how time flies when you're going through cultural shock and adaptation". Well, that may not be the expression, but it's close enough.

It has been a busy week! This past weekend saw the beginning of our youth group for the year here at Parroquia San Marcos, the same day that we had a six-hour workshop on the "Three Legs" of Anglicanism. Sunday, I preached my first sermon of my time here, in both Spanish and English, from John 3:1-17. All went well, I believe.

This week has proven to be a busy one as well. The team down here and I have spent a few days hunting down small things like a refrigerator, cell phone, and the like. I have joined a fitness center, and am rather sore from the additional requirements that I am placing on my body, in many ways for the first time in a long time. And this coming Sunday we will have not only my official installment in San Marcos by Bishop Venables, but later in the day we will have a visit from Bishop Nick Dreyson who is shepherding the churches of the Wichi tribes of Northern Argentina.

More than anything though, I am trying to take the time to adapt to this new culture even as I work out the larger details of my stay here (apparently my status here is not as "regular" as it needs to be ... more on that next week).  Thank you all so much for your prayers, and please send me a note when you get a chance!

A Whole New World

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Well, I am here! Nine days ago I arrived in Buenos Aires, tired and jet-lagged from the flight from L.A. to B.A. by way of Sao Paolo, but I was warmly received in the airport and by old and new friends here in Argentina!

The last week has been a week of overcoming a dramatic time difference (five hours), of getting used to Spanish again (and often becoming exhausted in the process), and of reconnecting with leaders and members of the churches in the area. Buenos Aires has changed little in the last three years, but there is just enough different (especially in the size of the children!) to give me plenty to work on adapting to in the next week or two.

Further beyond even that, my great initial task here will be slowly to begin soaking in the culture, forming and building relationships, and laying the foundations of a long-term ministry that will be informed and sensitive to the cultural in which I will be serving but equally centered on a Gospel which is a stumbling block both to Jews and Greeks but which is the power of God for salvation for all who believe.

This weekend we have a number of interesting goings on: a "Three Streams" training course will be happening on Saturday as well as the kick-off for the parish youth group. This Sunday I preach my first sermon in Hurlingham (the text will be John 3:1-17), and next week we will be easing into even more activities in which to be involved.

Thank you all for your prayers and continued support!

Post-Reno News

I cannot believe that the week has gone by so quickly, and that tomorrow the workweek will be over!

I had a fantastic time in Reno this past weekend with the good people of Sierra Anglican Church. Not only were they gracious enough to fly me out to speak with them about the mission to Argentina, but I was given the royal tour around Reno, Carson City, Virginia City, and Lake Tahoe by the rector Fr. Ron Longero, his family, and others from the congregation. It was a tremendous time of building relationships, and I pray that the Lord continues to build up and strengthen the connection between Sierra Anglican and his work through our mission in Argentina!

Apart from (once again) moving to a new location for myself, this time in Escondido, there is little to report for this weekend. I am in the process of nailing down where I will be at this coming weekend, but it is more a question of "which of these options?" than "can anyone suggest anything?" God has been very good to me in these last few weeks, and I am at a very low level of stress and anxiety, may he be praised.

Regarding finances, I have reached 90.6% of my budget in pledges, and we are getting close enough to taste a departure date, even if I cannot yet buy that plane ticket. We are still shooting for March 8th ... next week will be the time to reevaluate that goal.

Take care, and have a great weekend!

Pre-Reno News

Well, it has been an exciting week between two busy weekends. Here's the gist of what's been going on.

Last weekend, I made two trips up north which proved to be exhausting but fruitful. Saturday on I went to a Missions Committee meeting for the Diocese of Western Anglicans, helping to plan our diocesan Missions Conference at the end of September. Then Sunday, I made the drive up to North Hollywood to share about the mission with St. David's Church. I came out of the weekend genuinely exhausted, but thankful that the Lord had given me the opportunities to speak about this mission that he had.

This coming weekend, I am very excited to travel up to Sierra Anglican Church in Reno, Nevada! The church has very generously and openly not only invited me to come but is covering my travel expenses, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to involve this faithful congregation in the mission. Please pray that I am faithful to the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that the Lord would open the hearts of many to hear God's call to be involved in this mission to Argentina.

Regarding finances, we continue to move ahead, and the current level of pledged support hovers around 87%. Please pray that the Lord would continue to grant us financial commitments to this ministry!

Departure Needs and Date

One of the questions that I am most frequently asked regarding the mission to Argentina is: when are you leaving? The answer that I have been giving lately is, "When I receive the necessary pledged support for my missionary budget." In other words, in order to be certified by SAMS-USA, my missions society, to depart for Argentina, I need to have 100% of my budget covered by pledges and cash gifts.

My current average annual budget includes not only a salary and a housing allowance, but also benefits (e.g. health insurance), ministry costs (e.g. transportation in Argentina), communication costs (e.g. cell phone), and overhead (e.g. salaries for SAMS support staff in the U.S.). At last count, I have received support for approximately 81% of this budget.

My hope is to arrive and begin serving in Argentina by the end of this February. Given the level of support that the mission has at this point (81%), we are close! But, in order to make this goal, we need approximately 20 more people and churches to pledge to giving monthly to our ministry by the end of January.

Please take this need before the throne of the heavenly grace: pray that God our Father would move the hearts of his children to partner financially in this ministry. And please pray and ask our Lord if he might be calling you to be one of those partners!

Cambios y Despedidas

It has been a month since I've put a post up here: I apologize for my relative silence up here on the blogs and updates for the last month. Unfortunately, sometimes when there is the most to tell, the fact that I am so busy presents an obstacle to my giving supporters and prayer warriors the updates that they need. I'll try to work on being more regular on these updates.

The seasons of Advent and Christmastide went great at church as we finished up a year of ministry at Resurrection. However, in addition to the stress of special services and special sermons, I decided to move out of my apartment by January. This was due mostly to the termination of my salary at Resurrection at the end of 2010. However, I was able to effectively move out by December 31st, and I have been living on the very generous hospitality of families in the San Diego area since.

January 6 (Epiphany) saw my commissioning as a missionary from Resurrection. Our choirs did a wonderful job of leading the congregation in a traditional choral evensong, and Bishop Bill Thompson did me the honor of receiving my vows and laying his hands on me to send me out as a missionary. The following Sunday I gave my parting sermon at Resurrection (from Acts 20:25-35), and will be spending the balance of my Sundays in the States visiting churches to raise support regarding the mission. It has been a bittersweet pair of weeks, but necessary as I prepare to serve the Lord abroad.

I spent the past week at the Napa Valley Clericus with fourteen other brother clergy in what was a tremendous time of worship, fellowship, and encouragement. The following day (after driving back from Napa) was this past Sunday, and I had a great time visiting Church of the Blessed Trinity in Alpine, preaching and sharing about the mission.

This coming week will involve quite a lot: a trip up to a diocesan missions committee meeting on Saturday and sharing about the mission at St. David's Church in North Hollywood on Sunday. Please keep me and everyone involved in your prayers!