May 12, 2011
Linda has not been feeling well. Some sort of infection. We tried going to a doctor, but, they’re all sick, or on vacation, or at a convention, or something. Welcome to socialized medicine, er, I mean, “universal health care”. When we ask people around here what they do, they just shrug and tell us the stories of their family members who died waiting for treatment. So, we did what everyone else does here—we went to the pharmacy. She tried an antibiotic, which didn’t seem to help, but now she’s on another medicine, and seems to be pretty much over it. (Yes, we have insurance, which will fly us out of here if necessary for treatment in the USA, but, she didn’t want to do that yet). So, of course, please pray for her. On a brighter note, she has been teaching English twice a week (after all, she’s a certified teacher of English as a Second Language!) to a lady in the central church, Nelci. Nelci doesn’t get out much, since she’s in a wheelchair and has no car, and the streets and sidewalks here, when paved, are not smooth, so, it’s pretty rough with a wheelchair. So, she really enjoys the fellowship with Linda, and is a good and enthusiastic English student.
May 11, 2011
I went to prayer meeting tonight at the Santa Isabel church, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” Bible Church, and the lady who lives there and owns the property, Margarita, was very weak and sick. She is a godly lady who was converted later in life, but continues strong in her faith in Christ Jesus. She’s 88 now, and walks with a cane, but sings louder than all of the rest of the church put together! Her husband went to be with the Lord about nine months ago, and she’d like to go there too, but, is content to remain here as long as she can serve the Lord. She is a wonderful testimony to us all. A doctor had come to see her, and gave her a prescription, but, she had no way to get it filled, so after prayer, I went and got it for her. (Hey, what else could I do?) I knew of an all-night pharmacy across the street from the central bus station, and though I’d never been there, they knew me. Hmmm. They filled it right away and we got it over to Margarita. Please pray for her. I thought Linda would be angry (you’re always spending our money!), but, she was very happy, since she knows Margarita and knows that she is such a godly lady, and this time I wasn’t fooled into foolishness (this time!)
May 8, 2011
We had a visit from Tom and Sandra Kunkel. He´s a graduate of Westminster Seminary in Dallas (now Redeemer). They have travelled from there to here via all of the countries in between (in a VW bus) visiting Presbyterian missions and churches along the way. She´s Mexican (¡Viva México!) and he´s not, but, his Spanish is not bad. He exhorted at the mission work in Empalme on Saturday night and at the central church in Rivera on Sunday evening, and then they went off to Buenos Aires to return to the good ol’ USA. Please pray for their future plans for ministry.
May 1, 2011
Well, we had a sad week. The Falks left Uruguay to go back to the U.S. They will be visiting the churches in New England before John begins his new work as the associate pastor of the Menominee Falls OPC in Wisconsin. They flew down to Montevideo and we drove down with their luggage (too much luggage for the little plane that goes down there, and somebody had to drive the car back). We met them at the airport, gave them their luggage, and wished for God´s speed in their travels. We are grateful to the Lord for the blessing that they have been to the people of Uruguay, and before that, such strange places as Eritrea, Uganda, and Bangor, Maine (don´t worry—people from Bangor would just “ey-ah” to that comment). Afterwards, we went to Geant, a French based hypermarket where Linda went shopping for things we couldn´t get here. Of course, we had to pay top prices for two cans of green beans ($1.50 each) and two cans of frijoles ($3 a can! For beans!), but, well, it´s only once in a while. And now we´re back here in Rivera, by ourselves. The elders of the churches here asked if I was going to do everything Jonathan did (in addition to what I´m already doing) and I thought about it and said, well, no. (Hey, I already go to six worship services a week, and I accepted another, so, now seven). Pray for the Richlines, their study of Spanish in Costa Rica, and, their soon arrival in the Oriental Republic of Uruguay!
In other news, one of the key families in the mission work in Parque Paraiso in Sant´Ana, Brazil, is moving to another part of town. Not too far away, but, too far to walk, which is how 80% of the people get around here. So, Lord willing, a week from Sunday we will start worship services in their new neighbourhood, Villa Progresso, which will be the third preaching station in Sant´Ana do Livramento. Please pray for us as we evangelize in the new neighbourhood, and for this new witness to the cross of Christ there. Also, it´s a real blessing for the family, because they are being given the use of the house for free. Their current house has one bedroom, and the new house three, for a family with two parents and five kids living at home.
April 25, 2011
Remember the rule about how I can´t tell you about visitors until they leave? (security reasons) Well, we are rejoicing in the visit of David and Susan Winslow, from the Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Westminster, California, and David Nakhla, from the Committees on Foreign Missions and Diaconal work. We felt a little guilty about David N. coming down here since he is currently working so much on coordinating relief efforts in Japan, but, his visit had been scheduled for some time, and he thought it best to come down here. He needed to evaluate the needs of the field for short term missionaries, and I think he got a good bird´s eye view of the various missions and churches here. It was a joy to see Susan and David, since they are from our home church in California, and of course, from our Presbytery. It was only when I talked with him that I realized that my report to the 1st meeting of Presbytery never made it there (internet is so-so here, so, sometimes things go but don´t get there). But, David N. was able to touch base about Japan from here, so, maybe it´s not so bad (or, maybe it is the internet operator…I mean me!). David W. wanted to keep busy, so, in addition to visiting all of the missions and churches, he split up a lot of the cured logs for firewood for the winter. Even left kindling!
I hate to bring this up, because people tend to worry too much about such things, but, Linda has been sick for a few weeks. She has been taking antibiotics, and today we tried to see a doctor but they were all unavailable for the next week (last week they were on vacation, this week, they are sick, or at conventions, or Uruguayan—welcome to free medical care!). In any case, please don´t worry too much, but, please pray for her, and for her healing, if the Lord is willing.
Please pray as well for the Falks, who are leaving this week. They will be visiting churches, mostly in the Northeast, and then moving to Wisconsin, where they will be serving in a church in Menominee Falls (Jonathan has been called to be an associate pastor there). They will be greatly missed, by us, and by the people in the churches here.
Praise God as well for the work here. I mentioned Fernando and his wife. He comes to all the meetings of the Santa Isabel church, and his wife has been coming as well to the worship services (she still lives in Cerro Largo, hundreds of miles away). She has been very well received in Christian love and charity by the folks in the church, and I think it has made her feel much more comfortable about the possibility of moving here to live with her husband. Praise God that the people in the church are acting like what they are—children of our Heavenly Father in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Always something new. This weekend I attended three celebrations of the Lord’s Supper at our churches and missions here. One was at the mission in Empalme (a neighbourhood of Rivera), where the Lord, in His mercy, has seen fit to bless us with an ever-increasing attendance, both of regular attenders and new people. There were about 17 or 18 folks there. The second was at the new church in Santa Isabel (another Rivera neighbourhood). I was a little disappointed, because the last two weeks we had kids come for Sunday School, but, none came this week. But, there was good attendance by the adults, with about 15, and one of the regulars was missing. Then, there was the central church in Rivera, almost full, as it was last week. In Empalme, we celebrated the Supper before the service, but, everyone was there. In the Central church, also before the service, but, only those who were baptized came. And, in Santa Isabel, at the end of the service, again, with everyone there. One thing that caught my attention was the relatively low number of communicants. In each place, about half of those who come to the church did not participate. In a sense, that’s good, because they take it seriously. In other churches here, they not only permit, but invite, people who are living together without being married to participate, but they forbid it in our churches, and people respect that prohibition. Still, I don’t like to see so many people not being able to partake, and it is my hope that they will repent, and confess their sins, and turn to the Lord in faith, and, in the case of the unbaptized, receive the sign of the covenant. There actually are more unbaptized people here than in any other Latin American country where I’ve been (which would mean all of them except the Caribbean islands and Ecuador).
A prayer item: one of the faithful members at the Santa Isabel church, Fernando, got married last week. His wife is a lovely sister, who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and is a faithful member of His church. But, Fernando’s brothers and sisters (not his parents) hate her because she is black. Please pray for them, and for Fernando and his wife, that the Lord would reconcile them. They refuse to speak to her or allow Fernando to bring her to their home.
April 3, 2011
On Thursday, I had the joy of bringing an Audio Bible to Millel. He is the blind leader of one of the missions, in Empalme. An organization in Spain, Nueva Luz (New Light) donated the machine, which has just the New Testament, and now Michelle can go to any part of the New Testament and listen to it at will, by book and chapter. They also sent us CDs with the whole Bible, and for evangelism. What a blessing! We hope also to soon obtain a Braille Bible (in many volumes) for Millel. He preached on Saturday, and exhorted well from the Word of God on Romans 10:9-12.
March 27, 2011
OK, today was another strange Sunday. We were told on Friday that there would be no Sunday School or worship at the Mandubí mission. There are national elections for the retirement system, so, some people say we´re not allowed to meet. But, the Santa Isabel church did meet, and it was a great Sunday. Two of the three kids who came last week came back, and there were three new kids, so five altogether, which is nice start. Please pray for the kids, and their teachers, Mabel and Linda (Larson). In the worship service there were visitors as well, Rina, an older lady that we visited in door-to-door calling yesterday, and her adult son Gabriel and his wife Liliana, as well as most of the usual crowd, so, it was a good turnout. Deacon Sandín exhorted from Psalm 71 about the constant faithfulness of our God in Christ Jesus. Altogether, a very good Sunday for which we should praise God (and pray we don´t all get arrested for conducting an illegal meeting!).
Today was the first day of Sunday School at the Santa Isabel church. Mabel (deacon Sandín´s wife) taught the class, and Linda (Larson!) is there as a helper and for crowd control. OK, there wasn´t exactly a crowd—just three kids came, but, they were new to the church, and seemed happy about coming, and participated fully. Praise God for these three little souls, and pray that He would work in their hearts to bring them to Christ Jesus. And, please pray for the many kids in the community, that they would be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have important news about the Uruguay Mission. The Falks have been called to serve the church in Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, where Jonathan will be serving as the Associate Pastor. His call was approved by the Presbytery of the Midwest, and they will be leaving, Lord willing, at the end of April for two months of visits to the churches before going to Wisconsin. Please pray for their move and their new ministry there.
Also, the Foreign Missions Committee has called Mark Richline (currently pastor in Hughson, California) to serve as a missionary in Uruguay. He and his family will be attending missions training at SPLICE in Colorado, and then they will be going to Costa Rica for language training. His call to service was approved by the Presbytery of Northern California this week. Please pray for their move from Northern California, their training, and their eventual move to Uruguay to work here.
This Lord´s Day we had the joy of baptizing four of the young people who have been faithfully attending the church for some time. One of them, Mimí, is a covenant child raised in the faith by her godly parents. The other three come from (very) non-Christian homes, and ours is the first church that any of them have attended. I wasn´t able to attend the baptisms (had to preach elsewhere), but I was on the session that interviewed them each of them, and it was, well, joyful to listen to their confessions of faith. Yes, they know the doctrines well and have been well instructed in the faith, but, in each case, they were able to clearly explain how their faith had dramatically affected their lives, both in case of Mimí, the covenant child, and in the cases of the young people coming from unbelieving homes. Please pray for them, that the Lord would work in their lives to cause them to mature in the faith, and to grow in Christ Jesus.
Some of the kids who received presents from Samaritan´s Purse came to Sunday School, which was an encouragement. As last week, I went over to the new church in Santa Isabela. Deacon Sandín and I had gone out just one day this week to talk with people about the Lord and invite them to the church, and some of them came to the worship service. One lady, Graciela, said she was afraid to go to her home church, since like our central church, the worship service is in the evening, and coming home she feels unsafe, so she was very glad to come to our church in the morning. Please pray for the church, that it would grow, not just in numbers, but in their faithfulness to the Lord and to His Word.
This evening I went to the worship service in the Empalme mission (southeast side of the city) which is led by Millel Lima. For whatever reason, we had a good turnout, about 16 adults in the worship, and many children in the Sunday School. It really impressed me that a number of the people have been coming quite faithfully, and so when new people come, there is already a core group of faithful attendees. About four of the regular ladies can´t read—not a problem as such, in fact, I rejoice that the church here is reaching people who might otherwise not be reached.
Well, this was a little strange. Not bad, but, a little strange. About a week ago, we got a call from some Canadians who said they wanted to give things to our Sunday School kids. We checked them out, and they seemed OK (I later found out that they were from a group called Samaritan´s Purse (?)) Anyway, we invited all the kids we could, and they had gifts for 120 of them. We had more than 120, so we let the first 120 in (don´t worry, we made provision for the others later). There were also about 20 volunteers, mostly young people from our church, and about 30 people from Samaritans Purse, mostly Canadians. First we had an evangelistic presentation, and we sang, for about an hour (only the kids and some of our volunteers could go in, for lack of room—I stayed outside and chatted with parents and Canadians, most of whom couldn´t speak Spanish), and afterwards, the kids came out, and formed lines by ages, and were given their gifts. They were age and sex appropriate, with clothes and toys and such for each child. I found it interesting that there were only about ten kids I didn´t recognize.
Today was a great day at the Bible study over in Paraíso in Brazil. There were 17 people there, the most we´ve ever had (not enough chairs!) It was a good mix of people—the regular believers and members, some new folks who are believers, and one un-believer, but, interested. Pastor Mello preached from 2 Peter 1 about the need to listen to the Word of God, and to grow in the faith, in the light of going to be with the Lord. Please pray for the growth and conversion of those in the mission, and also that we might be able to occupy a building which is owned by one of our members and was formerly used by the Assembly of God (they no longer meet there, but, they don´t want to give up the use of the building).
Hi! Margaret Falk took this picture when we went out to eat at a Brazilian restaurant called a churrasquearia. I´m pointing to the two places where our missions meet. The one on the left is Prado, near the Uruguayan border, and the one on the right is Parque Paraíso, also called K-5, because, well, it´s five kilometers from the border, where the city begins. It´s the last neighbourhood in town, and after that, the highway and the countryside.
Today was the first day that Deacon Bentos Sandín and I went to the “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” Bible Church in Santa Isabel. We were invited to come there as the regular preachers. We were warmly received by the group there, about ten people, what is left of what was once a much larger church. The pastor´s widow, Margarita, who had been running the church since his death six months ago, was most gracious and gave us a free hand to lead the service and preach the Gospel. Please pray that the church would become reformed and join the presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Uruguay.
So, some people have asked me what I do on Sundays, and since my schedule has just changed, this seems like a good time to talk about that. Jonathan Falk, my wife Linda, and I head out to Sunday School in Mandubí, which starts at 9:30. We don´t really “do” anything, since the Sunday School is conducted by Elder Henry Vega and his wife Cristina, but, Linda says she goes for “moral support” and because going to Sunday School, as she sings, is “her weekly rule.” And Jonathan goes partly to “control the herd” of kids. But, then, I´ll be going every week at 10:00 to the worship service in Santa Isabela, about a five minute drive from Mandubí. After, I´ll go back for the 11:30 worship in Mandubí, where I alternate preaching with elder Henry Vega. Then, in the afternoon, I pick up Deacon Sandín, and we out into the countryside to Parada Medina. We have a home service in the home of Doña Santa at 2:00, and then another in the home of Artigas Sandín at 3:00. We drive the half hour back to Rivera, cross the border into Brazil, and have a service in Prado, a neighbourhood of the city of Sant´Ana do Livramento. Finally, Jonathan, his wife Margaret, my wife Linda, and I, all go the worship service at the central church in Rivera at 8:00 p.m. But don´t get the wrong idea. I don´t preach at all the services, just sometimes.
So, what do I do the rest of the week? On Tuesdays, I go out to Paraíso, in Sant´Ana, on the Brazilian side, where there is a home where we have Bible study (in Portuguese, of course), then on Saturday evening, I go to the service in the Empalme neighbourhood. It meets in the modified home of Millel (pronounced Michelle) Lima. He is blind, but loves the Lord. He preached this past Saturday, with 1” high notes. The rest of the time I go out calling. For example, this week, I´ll be calling on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in Mandubí with Elder Henry, and then on Tuesday in Santa Isabela with Deacon Sandín. I also have two Portuguese classes, one that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays (a formal language) and on Thursdays and Saturdays (tutoring). Then, in my spare time, I keep up contact with people in Latin America who want to start up reformed denominations in their countries. Right now I´m working on Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay (where I visited) and Bolivia, and finally, Villa Cisneros (look it up—I shouldn´t write where it is—you´ll get it).
So, of course, we need your prayers, dear brothers and sisters. I know, people don´t say “dear brothers and sisters” anymore, because they´re so modern. But, dear brothers and sisters, we need your prayers, because, as I said today to one sister, and as the preacher said this evening, “Except the Lord build a house, they labour in vain that build it.”
OK, OK, I haven´t written in a while, and yes, it´s all my fault. Been busy with this missionary stuff, preaching the Gospel, visiting, and so forth. Sorry about that! But, I might add, very Uruguayan of me. Yesterday, I finally got my birth certificate, which had to be “certified” by the Uruguayan consulate nearest to my home, in Santa Monica, California. It was mailed to me in August. The envelope looked in pristine condition. Where has it been for the last six months?
Good news! Tomorrow, deacon Bentos Sandin and I are going to make our first visit to a church which has invited us to become their preachers (?). Why, you ask? The pastor who founded the church, many years ago, went to be with the Lord some six months ago. His wife tried to keep it going, but there was no male leadership, and she agreed with the Biblical principle about that. So finally, she asked us to begin preaching there every Sunday. So, Lord willing, tomorrow deacon Sandin and I will be making our first visit, and preach, and hopefully, we will continue to do so.
A few days ago I went over to Paraguay (a twenty-four hour bus trip!). I was met by Fernando Agustín, who was trained by Korean Presbyterians and wishes to begin a presbyterian church in Asunción, the capital. We visited with a number of other interested folks, especially Andrés, who was a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and now teaches at the Mennonite Seminary in Asunción (yes, he´s reformed, and, yes they know it, but, he knows Greek and Hebrew, and I guess they overlook his somewhat less-than-Mennonite background). As in the USA, the Mennonites there are a mixed group, some quite sound theologically and in their personal faith, others, well… He is from a Waldensian background. They have a wonderful history, but have largely fallen into liberalism and traditionalism. Thankfully, his grandmother taught him the faith well, and he continues to hold to it. Please pray about the possibility of beginning the new work in Paraguay. It actually has a lot of churches, but, mostly the “health and wealth” type, and few that preach the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
OK, OK, I haven’t written in a while. We’ve been recuperating from VBS and Team Uruguay. They were a great, a wonderful help (see below) but they kind of ran me ragged (did I hear a cheering sound?). Our motto was “This is not a vacation” but they seemed to live up to it more than I could imagine.
Right now we’re in Montevideo. Jon had to go home to see his mom and do some other things (don’t worry; his trip wasn’t paid for by the FMC). I can tell you now that we have picked him up (we’re not supposed to tell you about comings and goings, for security reasons).
But, we also had to go to INTERPOL, the International Police. Just one more of the small irritants of a missionary’s life. They took our fingerprints about three months ago. The results came in and I passed the test! But, Linda’s prints didn’t take right, and she has to redo them. They said she might have scrubbed too many floors and wiped out her fingerprints. Hmmm. So, we came down to have her do them again. We had to bring an $18 money order made payable to the US Treasury. Sounds reasonable, except that it cost us $7 for the check (!!!) and then another $50 to mail it (???).
Geoff Downey, from the Escondido OPC, has come down to help us for a few weeks. Geoff speaks good Spanish and even better Portuguese (which he learned just a few years ago). He is a middler at Westminster in California, with a year and a half to go. Don’t tell him I told you, but, when he told his boss at the insurance company where he works that he was taking a few weeks off to come and help us, they laid him off. Anyone know of a job opportunity in the Escondido area? In any case, please pray for Geoff’s time of ministry among us. He loves to talk with people about the Lord, and has a real gift for it.
Please continue in prayer for Linda in the loss of her father. Her mother passed away a number of years ago, and so, it is even more difficult for her.
The Team Uruguay members, James, Kathleen, and Vanessa, all arrived safely. Jonathan went down to pick them up on Saturday (they all arrived on the same COPA flight at 5:30 a.m.—in the morning, for you Yorba Linda fans), and they got here by 1:00 p.m. They rested and then went to the Damas (Ladies) group at 5:00, and then the young people´s meeting (about 20 out) at 8:00 p.m. I took them home at 10, but the young people were still going strong, asking questions of Henry, the teacher (an elder). Then, Sunday morning, they all went out with us to Mandubí Sunday School, and then worship. I went out to the preaching stations in Parada Medina by myself (Deacon Sandín is a policeman, and was required to work—something he tries to avoid) and then picked him and the Team up to go to the Prado worship service in Sant´Ana do Livramento, in Brazil. There were about ten people there, and all well-engaged in the worship service, although most needed help finding the Scripture passage. Then we all (Linda, Jonathan and Margaret, the Team, and myself) went to the worship service at the central church, where Jonathan preached. A long day for Team Uruguay! Then, bright and early Monday morning, we went to the first day of VBS. It started out slowly, perhaps because it was raining, but attendance picked up over the morning. Vanessa and Kathleen led singing, along with Cristina from the church, and they all taught lessons, together with a drama. The Team really seemed to fit right in, and the next two days were even better. Attendance was up (today, Wednesday, there were 50 people there), and the lessons and crafts and singing all went smoothly (remarkable in a country where kids pretty much do what they feel like doing). Please pray for Kathleen, Vanessa, and James, and the work they are doing (they also teach English, and playing the keyboard, and are speaking to the young people´s group a number of times).
I just got back from Portuguese class, and Linda told me that her Dad had passed away early this morning, and she had just gotten word about his passing. Truthfully, we don´t know if he was a believer, and so we commend him to His mercy. Please pray for Linda and her sister Susan in the loss of their father.
(A letter from Linda to one of the young people of one of our churches in the USA. I just thought it was interesting.)
It is always an encouragement to hear from teenagers in the OPC. This is Linda Larson speaking or shall I say writing? I was a school teacher for the last 32 years so I love corresponding with young people about missions. My last assignment, the last school year, was teaching high school English in a public high school in Los Angeles. I am currently retired!!!
Life is Uruguay for us is very, very interesting. The people of Uruguay are extremely friendly and helpful. I am not fluent in Spanish; my husband is!!! The people here are always helpful to me, even though, I struggle to communicate. They are lighter skinned people. Their ancestors came here from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Some here mix the two languages, Spanish and Portuguese to speak a dialect called Portenol. The land is somewhat flat. They raise lots of beef cows here so beef is often eaten with some vegetables and rice. Uruguayans like bland food; they are not into spicy food at all.
The climate is semi-tropical, and the seasons are reversed. We are currently in spring, and headed shortly into summer. We are currently in a dry spell; although, the Falks, whom have been here for 2 years tell us that this is untypical, and that the weather is usually rainy. We live on a mission compound, which the Larsons own. The Falks have lived in the big house (3 bedrooms and one bath) for over two years. We live in a smaller home (a great room, bedroom and bath) on the same plot of land. We share a patio, car, garage and washing machine. One of the things I love about living here is that the two families get along so well. Everyone is flexible and easy to get along with. Living on the compound is fun!!!
Our responsibilities include our husbands helping native pastors with 6 different churches. Some churches are very small, and the Central Church has about 60 people. It is growing rapidly with teenagers and young adults. People are receptive to the gospel. Most have not heard the good news as this is a communist country where all kinds of churches have been abandoned. No one offers the excuse, "I am Catholic" like our previous work with Mexicans in California. It sometimes makes me sad that the people like clerks in a store that have been so kind to me are spirtually lost. There is a work that my husband and I go to every Sunday out in the country. It is in a place called Manubi. The people are poor, and send their children to Sunday School. Most adults do not come to church, but my husband and Pastor Henry are visiting lots of families and inviting them. The kids are poorly behaved and it is a challenge to hold their interest. Pastor Henry leads the singing and his wife, Cristina teaches a Bible story. They are like a father and mother to many of these children. They love the kids, and it is a joy to see this work. My husband then goes on each Sunday to help with three other newly started churches. At 8:00 in the evening, the Central Church in downtown Rivera meets. We live about a mile away away from downtown Rivera in the outskirts of town.
During the week, there are various Bible studies and worship services in the different small works and Central Church. Pastor Falk also teaches local pastors Greek and Hebrew.
My husband, Steve Larson is also enrolled in a Portuguese class so that he can advance his abilities in that language. Some of the new works worship in Portuguese in Brazil, which is very nearby---like 2 blocks away from our house.
Karen, if I did not answer all your questions, feel free to write me. I enjoy getting e-mails. Yours in Christ, Linda Larson
October 26, 2012
In the providence of God, some problems arose in the ministry in Rivera. The local pastor appointed an arminian Baptist pastor to be a pastor of the church there, and we were unable to continue as a part of the church, although we tried to do so for a few months. As a result, we have had to leave Rivera. It was very sad for us, but, had we remained there, we were afraid that our continued presence would divide the church and undo the work that we had done. I went to Montevideo to prepare for the Rich line’s coming, and brought them all our furniture when they had arrived, and spent some time with them before returning home to the U.S.
I am very sad about leaving, but, I know that all things work together for good. Many of the people there called us or came by to say good-bye, and we will miss them. Please pray for the church in Rivera, that it would continue to be faithful to the Lord, and please pray for the ministry of the Richlines in Montevideo.
September 11, 2012
Well, I´m back from vacation up north. Linda stayed up north for a little longer to see friends and family, and will return soon. She says I (or we) visited 12 churches during my three weeks up north. Douglas Clawson and Stephen Payson (who speaks Spanish) visited with me and the churches here after my return, and it was a real joy to have fellowship with them. It was decided that we should relocate closer to the Richlines in Montevideo, so, I´ve been checking out possibilities down there. Please pray that we can begin a new work closer to Montevideo.
July 8, 2012
Well, it´s been an exciting two weeks. We have mini-team Uruguay here, Kathleen Winslow, Celeste García, and James Stafford. Kathleen is from Westminster OPC in Westminster, California; Celeste is from Bayview OPC in Chula Vista, California; and James is from Grace OPC in Columbus, Ohio. They got here on July 14th and got right to work. They had activities with the young people in the church (the “jóvenes”). But, mostly, they went around the neighbourhood of the church to invite kids to the Vacation Bible School. We went to every house in the neighbourhood, repeatedly, until we found someone home to invite the kids to the VBS. In the providence of God, not many children came the first week, when we had it in the morning (it is winter, and very cold in the morning). I admit I was greatly disappointed, but, as always, the Lord has his purposes. The kids were very attentive, and fully participated in learning their memory verses and catechism questions. The second week was little better attendance-wise, but, we had some kids that were a real handful. Thankfully, our teachers had the time and patience to teach them well, and they too learned. Today, in Sunday School, thirteen of the VBS kids came, most of whom who had never been before. Please pray that they might come to Christ Jesus in faith, and become a part of the church here, and that their families would come as well (none presently attend the church). Praise God as well for the work of the team from the USA, and pray for them as they return home this week. Here's pictures of Sunday School!
June 6, 2012
We´ve moved! The house we lived in before was quite large, and was actually a compound to be shared by multiple families, with two homes as well as guest quarters. Since the Falks returned to serve in the US, and the Richlines are headed for Montevideo, well, it just seemed wiser (and cheaper) to move to a smaller home. It still has room for guests and short-term missionaries. But, as usual, it was no fun moving. Although some men from the church helped, Steve over-exerted himself and was laid up for a few days with back pain (hey Steve, you´re an old man now!). Pray that we would have an effective ministry in our new neighbourhood. Our address now is Simón del Pino 065, Rivera, Rivera, CP 40.000, Uruguay. Linda misses her cat (she was actually a neighbour´s cat).
May 29, 2012
Thank you for your prayers for Elena. She is doing better, and is stable and out of the hospital. But, of course, your continued prayer for her is greatly appreciated. I ask you to pray for Fausta, a 97 years young lady. I visited her on Sunday, between services, since she was going into the hospital on Monday for an operation. The result was not successful, and now her leg must be amputated. Please pray for her and her extensive family. I saw her today and she was in good spirits, but, she has not been told about her leg. She makes a profession of faith and listens eagerly and attentively when I read the Scriptures with her.
May 27, 2012
Please pray for Elena. She suffered a heart attack this evening during the evening worship at the central church. Please pray as well for her husband Antonio, and her daughter Fernanda, and her husband, Junior. When she had the heart attack, I took her and Antonio to the hospital in the mission´s car, and they saw her right away in the emergency room. Elena and Antonio got married three months ago, after living together for some twenty years, and so we see the work in the Spirit in bringing them to the point of recognizing their sin and making things right in the eyes of the Lord (other churches here accept concubinage as part of the culture, since it is so prevalent). Fernanda and Junior were married about a year before (without living together first!), which set a good example of godliness for all of the members of the church. So, please be in prayer for the whole family as your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
May 16, 2012
Deacon Sandín and I went over to visit Kevin´s sister, Andrea, who had asked for a visit. She wasn´t there, so, we thought we´d try to find Maxi´s house. We had never been there, but, we knew the neighbourhood, so, we drove over there and parked in front of a house with some people sitting in front. We asked, “Do you know Maxi?” and the lady said, “Yes, I´m his mom.” So, she introduced us to her neighbours, who were drinking mate with her, and then invited us into her house. Maxi was still sleeping (at 10:30 in the morning!) so we talked with her about the Lord. She said she´s a believer, but, she doesn´t go to a church. Hmmm. I asked if she had a Bible, and she said no, so, I gave her a Bible, which she gladly received. We read to her from John 20 and talked about trusting in the Lord. Eventually Maxi came out and joined us, and then his sister, Zamanta, whom I had never met. She´s 16 (Maxi is 19) and we talked with her about the Lord. I asked why she hadn´t come to church with Maxi, and she said, “Because no one has invited me.” So, we invited her, and then she explained that she was friends with another new member in our church, Luciana (see below!), who actually told her about the church. She was looking at her mother´s Bible, and since I had brought in two for her mom (Kelly) to look at, I asked if she would like the other one, and she said yes, and gladly received it. Then, one of the mate-drinking neighbours, Graciela came in to listen, and she saw the Bibles, and asked, “Can I have one too?” I asked if she goes to a church, and she said yes, but, she doesn´t have a Bible. I didn´t have another one there, but, I told her I would bring her one (still, why doesn't someone who goes to church have a Bible?) So, please pray for Maxi, his mom Kelly, his sister Zamanta, and their neighbour Graciela.
May 6, 2012
Hi folks! Things have been going very well in the young peoples´ meetings. Last night, we again had 35 or 40 out. But, something strange happened. Last week after the meeting one of the young people asked me a good question about why the Lord created people knowing that they would not repent. There was not time to sit down and talk, so, I told her to read Romans 9, and we would talk about it later. Last night she came up to me, and I greeted her, as we do here, with “Is everything well?” (¿Todo bien?) She responded by saying, “Yes, everything is well.” (Sí, todo bien) But then she said, “no, I´m lying, it´s not well.” (no, miento, no está bien). I asked her “why not?” and she responded, “I read it.” I said, “And?” and she said, “I didn´t like it.” I asked, “why not?” She said, “It´s not what I´ve always believed.” But, she seems receptive to teaching, and it wasn´t my interpretation of Romans 9 that offended her, just reading the passage, and she knows it´s the Word of God, so, we´ll get together this week to talk about it. Please pray for her—her name is Patricia.
Dear brothers and sisters: One of our brothers in Cuba wishes to receive Christian meditations in English by e-mail (like most people in Cuba, he has access to e-mail but not to the internet). If you, or your church, or a church you know of, sends out e-mails like this, please let me know at email@example.com, or send them directly to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He would also like a course of study of English by e-mail, so, again, if you know of anything like that, please contact us, if you can. Thank you!
March 25, 2012
I’m always reminded of David when he took a count of the people of Israel, and how the Lord punished him for that (2 Samuel 24). With that in mind, we really praise God for the good turnout at young people’s (jóvenes) last night. There were almost 40 people there, most of whom had been there before, and some new kids. All of the new kids from last week came back, which was encouraging too. Again, most are from non-Christian homes, or at best, very nominally Christian homes, and only a very few from covenant homes. But, for all this, we praise God, for the opportunity to reach out with the Gospel to kids who may have never heard. We sang hymns and Psalms for more than an hour, and then I taught from Genesis 3 about the origin of man´s sin. Just to give you an idea of what the kids are like, I´ll start with Kevin, who is 14. His mother claims to be a Christian, but only rarely goes to church. His older (16 years old) brother is living with a girl, and his sister has three kids by her husband that she doesn´t live with. Kevin comes faithfully to the young people´s meetings and Sunday School, and our hope is that he will soon confess his faith. His two cousins, Karen and Eduarda, also come. They had not been going to any church, but, have been coming to Sunday School, and after some visits, their mother Marion has come a few times to worship. Their father, Eduardo, says he trusts in Christ, and knows the Bible, but even though he walks the kids home, he never comes to services. Their cousin, Emanuel, has come faithfully to the church now for about six months. He started in Sunday School, but, now comes to worship and young people´s. His mother likes him coming, but, doesn´t come herself, or go anywhere else for worship. He dropped out of school last year (at the ripe old age of 13), but has gone back this year. Please pray for his genuine conversion, although he gives real signs of having come to the Lord. Kevin has another cousin (on his divorced father´s side), Dayana, who just moved up from Montevideo a month ago (she lives next door to Kevin´s father, who lives next door to Kevin´s brother, who lives next door to Kevin and his mom—think about it!). Her mother has a job and lives with a guy, but, she is also a drug addict and something else (not a good job). So, Dayana lives with her grandmother, and is in school, and not doing the things that her mother does. She came to young people´s for the first time three weeks ago, and has come since. Please pray for her, and her difficult situation. Deacon Sandín and I will visit her tomorrow, and give her a Bible, and speak with her about the Lord. Emanuel has a cousin (we would say niece in the US) by marriage, Luciana. I first heard about her when I went to visit Emanuel´s family (his brother is married to her mother, but, she is the daughter of a “previous relationship”). Her mother couldn´t stop talking about how awful and rebellious she is. She came to young people´s for the first time last week, and was here again last night, and was perfectly behaved, and participated fully. Another visit! Please pray, again, for her genuine conversion, that she might hear the Gospel from us, and trust in Christ Jesus.
March 19, 2012
Last night, at the (main) evening worship service, now held in Santa Isabel, we had a “no more room” crowd. Literally every seat was filled. When the organist, Cristina, finished playing the hymns, she had to sit up on the platform, for lack of room (she sat next to her husband, Henry, the elder). The church had plans to extend their building, but now they’re thinking of knocking out a side wall and connected the main worship building with the Sunday School building, and so doubling the capacity of the worship area. Please pray that the church would be able to complete this project and continue to grow, and not be distracted by the project itself. I preached from Colossians 3, the last half, about putting on Christ as those who are chosen, beloved, and holy. The preaching seemed to be well-received. On the way home, I asked the ladies that we gave a ride to what they thought, and they seemed very much in favor of wives submitting to their husbands—not generally a popular idea here in non-Christian Uruguay.
March 17, 2012
I just got home from "jóvenes" (young people´s meeting). There were about thirty people there, one girl, Luciana, who came from the neighborhood for the first time, another, Dayana, who came for the second time, and a third, Sara, from a different neighborhood who came for the first time. We sing hymns and Psalms for about forty five minutes (no choruses, please, just hymns and Psalms), then I teach for another forty five (tonight I taught about the creation of man and the myth of human evolution from Genesis 2), then we have refreshments and fellowship, and then we play games. Their favorites are the ones I taught them--the animal game and "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?" (¿Quién robó las galletas de la jarra de galletas?) There used to be two groups but since we closed down the central church we´ve combined them, and I was a little afraid that the kids from Santa Isabel would feel intimidated (they are younger, and newer in the faith, and fewer in number), but, especially tonight they seemed to mesh well. Praise God for their enthusiasm and pray both for their conversions and for their growth in Christ. Most come from unbelieving homes, and many are coming to faith in Christ Jesus.
February 21, 2012
Due to the renovation of the Santa Isabel church, the pastor couldn´t go to preach in Parque Paraiso in Brazil, so, I had to preach (I usually go) for the second week in a row. My Portuguese continues to improve, but, it´s still a struggle to get most of the words right (no, not every word—sometimes I slip in Spanish words, and then repeat the sentence using the right Portuguese word). We had a good crowd—some 12 adults and 8 kids, and all seemed enthusiastic about worshipping the Lord. I preached from Rev. 21:1-7, and the preaching was well—received. Please pray for the two ladies who came for the first time today.
February 19, 2012
As mentioned earlier, the central church had to move its meeting place to Santa Isabel. So, last night was the first meeting of the two youth groups together (i.e., that of central church and that of Santa Isabel). There were 37 people there. Please pray for their continued faithfulness and growth in the Gospel.
This evening was the first worship service. Some of the Santa Isabel church people came (they had come in the morning as well), and most of the people from the central church were there too. Praise God that the time change has not interrupted the life of the church, and pray that we might grow and reach out in our new location. The lights went out in the middle of the service, but, the preacher (Henry, the elder) just kept on preaching, and nobody seemed to notice (there was an emergency light above the pulpit), and no one commented on it when the service was over. Life in Uruguay!
February 18, 2012
Please pray for Margaret and Jonathan Falk, former missionaries to Uruguay (and, before that, to Eritrea and Uganda). Jonathan´s mother, a long-time believer in our Saviour, went to be with her Lord this past week. Margaret is battling cancer and undergoing treatment. Please pray that our Lord´s grace would be theirs.
February 8, 2012
Wasps! We´ve had trouble with wasps for the last few weeks. Even though we have screens, somehow they were getting through. Last night it got must worse. Linda screamed, and I ran into the bedroom, and she had been bitten by a wasp that had flown into her eye. Thankfully, she got it out of her eye, although it stung her near her eye, and today it is still very badly swollen. She also got bitten on her thumb. We killed them off, and Linda went off to bed while I worked on the computer. About a half an hour later, I heard her scream again. She thought just one or two wasps had gotten in, but it turned out to be a whole hive. She went out to the living-dining room, and I stood behind the mosquito curtain that separates the two rooms, and sprayed them. There were hundreds—Linda says thousands—of wasps circling the ceiling light. I sprayed and sprayed, and got bit when I retrieved Linda´s shoes. Linda went to sleep in the big house (for the other missionary family), and I went out to buy some more spray. When I got back, all the wasps were dead. We spent the next hour collecting them and sweeping them up. At first Linda said there were five thousand, and then changed her estimate to ten. We took out many dustpans of them. Our neighbour Mari explained that this happens, and we need to go ask the firemen to come and spray. Our next door neighbour, Antonio, said he had already sprayed and burned them out twice, but, with little effect. Hmmm. Pray for us!
January 30, 2012
Well, good news and bad news. On Saturday night, there were 22 people in the young people´s meeting in Santa Isabel. Add that to the more than 20 in the young people´s meeting in the Central Church, and, well, it´s a real blessing from the Lord. Please pray for the spiritual growth of all of the young people, growing up in a very non-Christian culture and nation.
The bad news is that our Central Church has to move. The rent has gone up on the building we use, and the church can´t afford it anymore. I suppose it´s related to having so many young people. They come, they work, they are involved in every way, but, they are usually students, and so have little or no incomes. Please pray that the Lord would use our move to a less central location for His glory and the expansion of the Gospel.
January 16, 2012
Be careful what you ask for--you might get it! I mentioned Linda's need for a potato peeler, and number of you responded asking how you might send one down! In the providence of God, two ministers of the Conservative Presbyterian Church of Brazil came to visit us, and I took them shopping at the Free Shops in downtown Rivera (Rivera is the Tijuana of Uruguay, where Brazilians come to buy things that they don't have to pay taxes on--stores where Uruguayans cannot buy things). So, while the Brazilians were buying a cellphone, I went downstairs to the kitchen section, and what did I find there? A potato peeler. Just one. All by itself. And very reasonably priced. So, now Linda has her potato peeler. God is sovereign in even the smallest details of life.
January 13, 2012
After a good few weeks with Team Uruguay, Linda and I got some doses of reality. I had to go down to Uruguay to preach for Mauricio Rolím, the missionary from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil who is trying to start a church there. He hasn´t had a vacation in three years, so, he and his family went up north for a well-deserved rest. He is an experienced missionary (they were in West Africa for seven years), well-prepared and educated, and a hard worker. The first Sunday I preached there were four people there, and the second there were seven. They rent a suitable building to meet in, and not in a slum, but, Montevideo is a tough place to start a church. People seem to be immunized against the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Please pray for the church there, and for Mauricio and his wife Sandra and their children. Then we got a visit from some Brazilian short-term missionaries. I sort of wondered when they didn´t introduce the lady with them to me—it turned out she was the maid. And I warned them that the water goes out in the afternoon and doesn´t come back until sometime after midnight. They couldn´t take it and decided to stay over in Brazil. Hmmm. Missionary life isn´t always easy (ask Linda—she lost her potato peeler and now we´re wondering where we might find another one…)
December 31, 2011 (last time for that year!)
We had the joy and sorrow of seeing our short term missionaries, James Stafford, Vanessa Rubingh, and Rachel Knight, head off for California. The flight home for the sisters was no longer on the schedule, but, in the providence of God, they flew home on the same flight with James (when they got to Miami they were told that they didn’t have tickets, but, no matter, they got home, safe and sound). I say sorrow, because we hated to see such good helpers go, and joy, for the work that they had done. They not only invited many families to send their children to the VBSs, but they taught in two different VBSs during the week, in Mandubí in the morning, and in Santa Isabel in the afternoon. They also made presentations to the young people of the central church and Santa Isabel, visited with families in the church, taught piano, and when VBS was done, visited with all of the families of the children that had come to the VBS there. I get tired of just thinking about all the work they did! And the Lord, in His mercy, saw fit to greatly bless their labours. Last Lord´s Day, there were about eighty kids in the Sunday School in Mandubí, the most ever. And, about ten in Santa Isabel, even thought it was Christmas Sunday, and many families had stayed up until four in the morning to celebrate the holiday (usually in a not very Christian manner—hmmm). They´re talking about returning this winter in June or July, so, please pray for their studies, their walk with the Lord and growth in grace, and for their possible return. And, please pray that the work that they have done would have permanent effects in the lives of the people with whom they ministered.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Linda and I are in Montevideo. The missionary here, Mauricio Rolím, from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, is taking a vacation (after three years) in Brazil, so, we need to be here to I can preach tomorrow and next Sunday and minister during the week. Please pray for us, and for the saints in Rivera in our absence.
December 19, 2011
Hey, wow, I managed to write on the blog without waiting a month! Today was the first day of Summer (think about it) Vacation Bible School. We had the wonderful help and direction from people in the church, especially the young people, as well as our short-term missionaries, Rachel Knight (here for the first time) and James Stafford and Vanessa Rubingh. What can I say? They did a great job in working with the kids, teaching them songs, leading them in Bible memory, teaching the Catechism and Bible stories. I can´t say enough, except that Linda and I wish that they weren´t short term. In the mission in Mandubí, where we have had VBS and an active Sunday School for two years, there were 75 people. And, in the church in Santa Isabel, where we had our first VBS today, there were 25. Some were kids from the church, others had been to our Sunday School, and some were there for the first time. A teenager, named Cynthia, came with her little sister, and stayed for the whole program, seems excited about coming to our Saturday night young people’s meetings there too. In Santa Isabel, all of the kids were well-behaved and participated fully, and it was a joy to see them say their memory verses, and respond (correctly) to questions about the Bible story, and recite the catechism. Please continue in prayer that this might affect their lives, as the means that the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes to them, and to their families as well.
December 16, 2011
Hi from the guy who doesn´t update his blog! We are very busy now, since we have three young people down here to help with Vacation Bible Schools and young peoples’ meeting. Two are returnees from last year, Vanessa Rubingh from Michigan and James Stafford from Ohio, and a new helper, Rachel Knight, from Colorado (she´s a member of the RCUS in Greeley, but also attends the Ft. Collins OPC). They just got down here, but have already been busy visiting, and also passing out flyers in the two neighbourhoods where we will have VBS next week. Lord willing, we´ll be having VBS in the morning in Mandubí, and in the afternoon in Santa Isabel. Please pray for the VBS, for the workers (both from the US and here), for the children and for their parents, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be proclaimed in all its glory and hope.
November 6, 2011
Well, I’m back and very tired, but, a good kind of tired. Douglas Clawson, the Associate General Secretary of the Foreign Missions Committee was here to visit with us and see the work on the field. It was a good visit, and he had an opportunity to see a number of the mission works here. He also preached in the mission in Empalme, and presented to the central church the foreign missions of the OPC around the world. (If you’re wondering why I didn’t write about this earlier, we are not supposed to give details about our travels until after we travel).
After his visit here, Douglas and I went together to visit the Reformation Presbyterian Church in Colombia. We went to worship services in churches in Barranquilla and Cartagena. The worship service in Cartagena was well attended, with a variety of different people, some older Christians, and some who are new to the faith. Some are committed to the reformed faith, and some as well are new to it, but seem quite interested. We also attended the meeting of the presbytery, which conducted an examination of two candidates to be received as pastors, and one to be received as a licentiate. The two men who were examined as pastors are already serving in churches, and both were approved. Their two churches are some distance away, both on the border with Venezuela, and a few hundred miles away from each other. The man who was examined as a licentiate is a member of the La Paz church in Barranquilla, and serves there. Praise God for His work there, and please pray for His people and His church as well.
On leaving Colombia, Douglas went on to Costa Rica, where he visited with the Richline family (they’re coming here as missionaries after they complete language training there). I went on to Ecuador, to a city in the mountains of the south called Loja. It’s surrounded by mountains, and sits in a valley, climbing up the hills. It is very different from Uruguay in many ways. It’s a city of 150,000 people, and has 220 Roman Catholic priests. Uruguay, which has more than three million people, has only 30. When I was there, there was a big religious procession with more than 30,000 people, dedicated to the Virgin of Cisne. Most of the people are very Roman Catholic. All this works out well since our preacher there, Oswaldo Luna, was a Roman Catholic deacon for some twenty years, and served as a parish pastor at a variety of different parishes. He came to the reformed faith a few years ago, and has now gathered a group there. They meet twice on Saturday for catechism classes (their space is limited, and so they have to take turns in their meeting place). They need to rent a meeting place, but haven’t been able to come up with the cash to pay for it yet (about $300 a month). Oswaldo thinks that the group will grow well after they begin worship services, since people come to him frequently and talk with him about the faith, and he has a good reputation in the community, something that was confirmed by two foreign missionaries working there (one from the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, and one from the Reformed Churches of Australia). OK, I can’t figure out why they don’t go to, or start, a reformed church there, but, well…It’s the first orthodox Presbyterian church in Ecuador, but a number of men from other cities in Ecuador have contacted Oswaldo and expressed interest in joining with him, along with their congregations, and I have spoken with them. Please pray for the Lord’s work in Ecuador.
October 10, 2011
Well, lots of good news. Saturday evening we had a good turnout at the new young people´s meeting in Santa Isabel. Not everyone from last week came, but some new kids did. Then, Sunday morning there was a big attendance at the Sunday School in Mandubí (my wife calls it the ADHD convention because the kids come with a number of self-control problems), about 40 kids. Then, there were ten kids at the new Sunday School in Santa Isabel, some who had never been before. Their teachers were Yudit and her sister Paola, who did an excellent job. In the worship service, there were eight men, which is remarkable in a country where only women go to church. There was new family visiting in the worship service in Ciudad de Dios (City of God), and they seemed quite enthusiastic and participated fully. And then, in the evening service (the main Sunday service, at eight in the evening!) there was hardly room for all the people who came to worship.
Some people have asked what I do. Well, like any minister, I study and prepare sermons, and visit people in the church, especially the preachers. But, here are the “formal” things that I attended this week:
3:00 p.m. Worship service in Parque Paraiso, K5, in Sant´Ana do Livramento, in Brazil. Pastor Gustavo Mello preached.
8:00 p.m. Portuguese class, until 9:30 p.m.
3:00 p.m. Portuguese tutoring, again in Parque Paraiso.
6:00 p.m. Prayer meeting in Parada Medina, in Rivera. Claudio Mello, a member of the church, taught.
7:30 p.m. Session meeting.
8:30 p.m. Portuguese class, until 9:30 p.m. (I was late)
8:30 a.m. Portuguese class, until 11:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m. Portuguese tutoring, in Parque Paraiso
2:00 p.m. Worship in Parada Medina I, 35 kms. into the countryside. I preached.
3:00 p.m. Worship in Parada Medina II, I preached again.
6:00 p.m. Worship in Empalme, with elder Henry Vega preaching.
8:00 p.m. Young people´s meeting in Santa Isabel. I spoke.
9:30 a.m. Sunday School in Mandubí, in Rivera. We gathered people and took them there, but, left soon after
10:00 a.m. Worship in Santa Isabel. I preached.
11:15 a.m. Worship in Mandubí. Elder Henry Vega preached.
2:30 p.m. Worship in Ciudad de Dios, in Rivera. I preached.
5:00 p.m. Worship in Prado, Santa´Ana do Livramento, Brazil. I preached.
7:30 p.m. Communion service in the central church. Elder Henry Vega prepared us to come to the table.
8:00 p.m. Worship at the central church, in Rivera. Pastor Gustavo Mello preached.
October 3, 2011
Well, today was supposed to be my day off, but...We had an opportunity to get free wood to build a new church building, so, Deacon Sandin and I went with Claudio, a church member, in his truck, out to the countryside. There we picked up two loads of wood that were donated by the sister of another church member, Miriam. In the USA it would have cost at least a thousand dollars, but, here it’s the second industry after cows, so, they spend a lot of time preparing wood for export to Europe, and the rest they sell cheaply. But, thankfully, ours was free. The new building is in the neighbourhood of City of God (Ciudad de Dios), which is actually not yet a neighbourhood, but, a “settlement”. That’s a place where people put up fences and claim land, and, if they’re not expelled, they stay. They put up “homes”, which are really little more than wooden shacks. They have water, and they have “free” electricity, which comes from the state power company, but, no meters. Hmmm. Ours is the only church in the neighbourhood, and the family whose house where we meet thinks if we put up a building it will attract more people. "Except the Lord build a house, they labour in vain that build it."
Later, I was working on an answer to opc.org when the electricity went out, and so, no internet or lights. (Ah, missionary life) I decided to redeem the time by cutting wood until there was no more light. Later I went up the street for a “pancho” (a hot dog) sold by the "panchero" (the hot dog vendor--he uses a propane stove), and talked with him. I knew that he was one of the few people I know, and the only one outside of our church, who has been married to the same woman for all his life. But, today, I asked about his faith, and he told me that he went to an evangelical church, and even wrote hymns for them. I gave thanks that he was faithful to his wife as well as his Lord.
October 2, 2011
We praise God that last night some ten young people, all from the neighbourhood (i.e., none from the central church) came out for the first young people´s meeting in Santa Isabel. Pray that they would return and bring their friends. We had a good discussion about various Bible topics and I taught them from John 17:1-3. This morning, we had a good turnout of five or six kids in the Sunday School there, despite this being the first day of daylight savings time, which tends to confuse people.
September 30, 2011
No, I haven´t written for a while. Our computer was out of whack, and in the shop for a l-o-n-g time (welcome to Uruguay!)
Lord willing, we will be having a mini-team Uruguay. Once again, James Stafford and Vanessa Rubingh will be joining us this summer for Christmas vacation, accompanied by Rachel Knight from the Greely RCUS/Ft. Collins OPC. There´s still room for one more! Please pray for their ministry here. Lord willing, we hope to have two concurrent Vacation Bible School, one in Mandubí as last year, and one in the new church in Santa Isabel. Speaking of which, we had hoped to start young people´s meetings tonight there, but, it has been raining all day, very heavily, and so, we postponed it until tomorrow. Please pray for the young people in the community. I´ve seen large groups of young people, just hanging around in the evening, with nothing to do. Pray that the Lord will give them a purpose in their life.
In other news, we went to Immigration, where they approved us for our provisional residency visas. We went over to the police station, where we were fingerprinted again (third time? fourth time?), photographed, and given new names (they wouldn´t let Linda use the last name Larson, and they made me use my mother´s maiden name in addition to my own).
August 31, 2011
I know, I know, it’s been a while. Today is the first worship service at the new mission in Lagunon. Tido and Nelcí live there. They have been believers for many years, and first came to our church in Mandubí, looking for a church that preached from the Bible (think about it). For a while they went to the Santa Isabel mission, but, it´s pretty far away. So, they invited their neighbours to come to their home for Damas (Ladies’ fellowship) and a number came, and came back. So, it was decided to begin a weekly worship service there, and today is the first day. Please pray for the extension of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every barrio (neighbourhood) of the cities of Rivera and Sant´Ana do Livramento, and throughout Uruguay and the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Last Sunday the young people went to the Santa Isabel mission and called on the neighbours. None came to the worship service, but the two sisters that I´ve been training for teaching Sunday School taught, and had a great time with the kids there (seven came, none with parents). We also had the first communion service in Parque Paraíso over on the outskirts of Livramento. There were fifteen people there, although only seven took the Lord´s Supper. That´s good in a way, because other churches offer the Supper to all, regardless of their faith or if they´ve been baptized or joined a church. But, pray that those who did not participate might confess their faith, and be baptized and become members of the church of Jesus Christ.
August 7, 2011
Last night I had a training session with our two new Sunday School teachers, Yudit and Débora. They hope to teach Sunday School in the new mission in Santa Teresa. They have never taught before, so, I´ve been showing them the basic techniques for teaching, especially little kids (hey, I was a first grade teacher for twenty years!). They are very enthusiastic students, eager to learn and put into practice what they´ve learned. Actually, though, we don´t have any kids there yet, so they and about ten other teenagers from the church go around the neighbourhood on Sunday afternoons during the worship service and call on the neighbours to invite them and their kids to the church, and especially, the Sunday School (I know, I know, that means that the teenagers are not in the worship service, but they all go to the evening service at the central church, and some go to the morning service in Mandubí too, so, no sniping!). Please pray that people in the community would respond favourable to the invitation, and come to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while He is near.
August 1, 2011
Well, we´re finally back in Rivera! Linda and I went off to the US, partly to take our vacation (yes, Virginia, missionaries do get a vacation!) and partly to visit the churches and go to the wedding of Linda´s (only) nephew, Aaron, and his new wife, Megan. We praise God for them, and their marriage in the Lord.
We were able to visit a number of churches. I preached or presented the work in Uruguay to the OP churches in Westminster, Long Beach, Goleta, Torrance, Costa Mesa, Chula Vista, and San Marcos, California, Phoenix, Arizona, and in Cleveland and Sandusky, Ohio. We were very well received, and thank God for the prayers and support of all of the saints in these and other churches.
Since Linda had purchased her ticket expecting to see her father, who died in the interim, we went on separate routes. She went via New York City and then through Montevideo, and I went from Cleveland through Porto Alegre, Brazil. I was able to stop off in Porto Alegre at the Bible Society, which is only two blocks from the bus station, and get a bunch of Portuguese Bibles, at a very reasonable price. But, we´re happy to be at home in our little casita here.
During our absence, everything seems to have gone well. The number of young people has increased, now with about thirty coming out to Saturday meetings. It was cold and rainy last night, but there was still good attendance at the worship service. And yesterday, many of the young people came out to help with calling in the neighbourhood of the new work in Santa Teresa.
June 21, 2011
OK, I haven´t written in a while, but, this time it´s because my computer was on the fritz. But, a lot has been happening. We had our first worship service in the new building in Parque Paraíson, over in Sant´Ana do Livramento, Brazil. There were 15 adults there, and it was good service. We also took legal possession of the church building in Santa Isabel, where we have been conducting worship services for some months. Last Sunday there were some ten kids in Sunday School there, and they were very enthusiastic and attentive (unusual for kids here). This Sunday was the national pledge of allegiance day, so we didn´t expect any kids, because it´s a big celebration and they get all dressed up. But, both in Mandubí and in Santa Isabel, there were some kids, and they told us that they had chosen to come to church instead of going to the patriotic celebrations. This Sunday was our first worship service in the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, and there were just five of us there, but, we haven´t announced it or anything (we wanted to make sure it would actually happen). In the central church the pastor asked for two volunteers to teach Sunday School there, and right away two young sisters, Débora and Judith volunteered. Last night we had a training class for them, and they listened carefully, and seem eager to begin. An older sister, Miriam, gave them materials to teach some of the parables that our Lord Jesus taught us, and it was a real help. Sunday will be my last Lord´s Day here, and then I go on vacation up north, where Linda has already gone, so, please pray for us as we travel in California and Ohio, and then return home to Uruguay and Brazil.
June 4, 2011
OK, OK, I know, it´s been a while. Actually, things have gone reasonably well since the Falks left, and we really look forward to the Richlines´ arrival, but, we know that won´t be for some time. We´re taking most of July off on vacation (yes, we do get vacation!). Please pray for us as we travel and visit churches (don´t worry, you´re not paying for it!)
But, some very good news. For about six months we´ve been trying to get the use of a church building which is owned by one of our members, and abandoned by the Assemblies of God church which formerly occupied it. The owner felt honour-bound to continue to let them use it, since she had built it for them, and they kept promising to send preachers, and actually assigned people to do so, and announced that they would be coming to the community, but, they never showed up. So, they finally gave up, and moved out their pews and pulpit, and so, today, we moved out chairs in, and Lord willing, Tuesday we will begin out ministry in the new building. Please pray for the Lord´s work in the community of Parque Paraíso, a neighbourhood of the city of Sant´Ana do Livramento, Brazil. There is no other church there. And although it is technically inside the city limits, it is the last community before you are in the countryside. Most of the people who live there are gauchos (cowboys) by trade and tradition. Many of the men who live there work on the ranches and come home one or two days a week, but, during the week, they live in the countryside. Not in houses, or huts, but, sleeping on the ground, sipping their hot mate, and taking care of the cattle. One of the men in the church, Marcos, is a gaucho. When I first met him (some six years ago), he was very, very, unfriendly. I would visit him every time I came to Uruguay and Brazil, and gave him a Bible. When I moved here to be a missionary, he showed me that Bible (which I had forgotten about), and showed me the dedication to him that I wrote, and told me that he read it all the time (he has lots of time!). And now, he is very friendly, and comes to all the services that he can, and talks and participates freely in the church meetings. He is somewhat typical of the gauchos here. They tend to be very solitary and keep to themselves, and are rough people. He shoots at rustlers on a regular basis (OK, he shoots over their heads, but, they get the point, and yes, he will, if he has to, be more forceful). Few have been reached with the Gospel. So, please pray for him, and his family (his wife and 14 children), and for the other gauchos in the community. Many times the women will come to the services, and not the men, but that has not been our pattern here so far, and we want to reach the men with the Gospel as well.
In Santa Isabel, the godly lady who invited us to take over the church (where he husband was the pastor), Margarita, is 88 years young. She is frail, but, sings louder than us all. The Lord has blessed the work there, and there is now a Sunday School as well as a worship service and prayer meeting. She has decided to give the church building and her home to our church (it is her personal property), and this week passed the mental competency test with a medical doctor (yes, she is competent!). Please pray that there would be no obstacles to the transfer of the property, and please pray for Margarita and the I Know That My Redeemer Lives Bible Church in Santa Isabel, and all the folks who come and the unbelievers in the community.
On the other side of the same neighbourhood, Deacon Bentos Sandin and I have been visiting a family (Bentos´s sister Sandra and her husband Gilberto and their extended family). They want us to start worship services there, since there is no church in their community (there used to be one, but it closed). They are members of another church, so we went to speak with their pastor about it, and he received us warmly. Please pray about this, that the Lord would open the way.
Also, please pray about the finances of the central church. Many of the people who come are students, and while faithful church members, they have no incomes (good students receive a “free” education from the State here), and so offerings do not always reflect the attendance. They haven´t met their budget, and may have to move to another, less suitable building.
May 15, 2011
OK, it was an exciting week. We had a fire here at the compound. The washer caused the outlet to catch fire, and it burned up, and scorched the wall. Thankfully, it stopped there, and no one was hurt. We had just had our own little house (the “casita”) rewired, and in the providence of God, the same fellow was coming out that afternoon to fix the porch support posts, which have rotted away, so we diverted his efforts to the washroom. He fixed it up, and it seems OK. He even put in a circuit breaker! OOH-OOH!
Then, it now appears that we will be getting the hoped-for building in Parque Paraiso over in Santa´Ana do Livramento in Brazil. Please pray that this comes to fruition.
Deacon Sandín (one of the preachers that I work with) has decided to preach through the Shorter Catechism, and started this week (that should warm the hearts of some of the old-school dutchies). But, since his formal education is so limited, and the people have so little doctrinal knowledge of any kind, I think it was a great choice.
Finally, the central, and first, Reformed Presbyterian Church, celebrated its sixth anniversary today. There were sixty-six people out at the worship service, and we shared cake afterwards to celebrate what God has done in raising up a reformed church in this land of spiritual darkness. See the pictures below!