By: Tom Gibbons
October 6, 2021
We have been thinking recently about a couple of texts from the Bible:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. (James 4:13-15) and,
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; (Psalm 31:14-15a)
Both texts remind us that our total existence is in the hands of the Lord. Whether it be life and death situations, ministry, pandemics, or even immigration issues, the processes of our lives are firmly held by God in His sovereign, benevolent hands.
We are finally emerging from our cooler winter temperatures and experiencing the warmer sun and comforting breezes. Our weather here is relatively mild – compared to, say, Charleston, SC, or Savanah, GA. It is enjoyable. We are enjoying doing much outside work around the Mission House to spruce it up and make it a pleasant place to visit. We have not made much use of the facilities since the quarantine, but we like to keep it ready for guests and as a testimony to the neighborhood.
The Bible Institute is running very smoothly this semester with our 14 students. All four teachers have become very adept at using the Zoom program for classes. I must confess that I was not at first an advocate of virtual classes, but we are seeing many advantages to using the virtual classroom. I cut back my hours of teaching from four hours of class to two. This schedule still allows me to complete the necessary work but without the additional pressure. Next semester I am planning to even it out to three hours for that class.
Our immigration situation is moving forward “un poquito”. It is very complicated how it came about, but the bottom line is that the Department of Religion will start receiving applications in November for the letter we need to continue to process our application for our new temporary residency card. When all that is finished (we are praying for an end-of-November resolution) we will be able to make a quick trip to the States. But all the timing is in the Lord’s hands (see texts above!). Please pray for an early resolution to our immigration processing.
Patti, Mike and I attend the UCB Church in Pasco. Patti has been asked to teach Sunday School to 7-9 year olds. She is thrilled! (Her students are the four younger ones in the foreground of the picture.) I have been put into the preaching rotation as well as filling in sometimes at the Ezeiza church and doing communion a couple of times in Gualeguaychú (the missionary at that church is on furlough). Mike is involved with the youth group where there are a couple of people who speak English – very important for Mike! He loves it.
We appreciate all of you who pray for us regularly. We never tire of telling you that knowing you are praying for us has encouraged us immensely. We appreciate all of you who give of your resources to sustain us here as well. Without you we could not live and serve the Lord in Argentina. We want to let you know that we love you and pray for you regularly.
By: Tom Gibbons
October 6, 2021
After almost exactly a year and a half of exclusively online services, this month of September we were able to resume once-a-week Sunday-evening meetings in a borrowed church building. Although Curtis and I were unable to attend the very first time (precaution due to bad colds, but apparently NOT Covid), this was a huge step forward and a wonderful CELEBRATION for the entire congregation. A moment for tears of joy!
September is always a big month of spring celebrations for us. First, the 3-day Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) picnics with our super-patriotic Chilean friends. Then we have 2 birthdays just weeks apart plus our 42nd wedding anniversary. Friends from around the country sent greetings for Diane’s online birthday, but by Curt’s birthday we were able to have friends in as well as actually go out for our anniversary!
During September, our kids’ club, Counter Current, celebrated a re-start. Our online Women’s Time continues well and has re-launched a Bible study on Revelation 1-3 which I wrote some years ago, with blessing! We also enjoyed a recent online celebration for retiring Chilean pastors, many lifelong colleagues.
Several months ago, our mission elected to hold our annual conference near the Florida headquarters this coming January, for the first time ever. This is due to the ongoing uncertainty of quarantine and travel restrictions in South America and the missionaries’ desire not to miss another year of fellowship and encouragement. Curtis and I plan to travel mid-November to visit our family for the first time in 3+ years (especially elderly parents) and care for necessary business and paperwork. Christina aims to return with us to consider working and serving in Chile. A welcome celebration—she hasn’t been back since leaving to study 4+ years ago.
• Praise the Lord for Francisco’s salvation. Pray for his marriage and family.
• Praise that the new-to-us vehicle (which broke down shortly after we bought it in July!) was finally fixed a couple of weeks ago.
• Celebrate with me the publication of my book, Destiny at Dolphin Bay, set in the Chiloé Islands of Chile. For more information, visit Seaglass Sagas or the book’s Amazon page.
• Thank the Lord for His direction NOT to move ahead with a couple of church properties recently looked at. Pray for the right place at the right price and the right time. (Hopefully soon… )
• Pray for details of our upcoming trip to the US and Canada: preparations, safety, blessing, etc.
• Pray for several dear ones with cancer: Myrian (a pastor’s wife here in Coquimbo), Raquel (a former student in Santiago), and my niece Jennifer.
By: Tom Gibbons
August 31, 2021
Life is full of debuts, departures, gooddays, and goodbyes.
We first crossed paths and shook hands with GMSA in the early 1980’s. A friend from Bible College, Pastor John Kenyon, and my late father in law, Pastor David Clarke, were on the Canadian Board, and twisted our arms until we said “ GMSA.”
At first we were observers, but before long we would see that GMSA was a “gospel mission.” So we pulled up a chair, sat down at the table, and with my wife Margaret have held hands with the Mission ever since. One’s steps are ordered by the LORD!
Along with being a Board member, we have served as Canadian Reps since 2014. Our objective has been threefold: to make GMSA better known, to challenge people to partner with their time, treasure, and/or talent, and to be a Barnabas to our many co-workers in the LORD.
We might have done more but hopefully we’ve done a little something to advance the great cause of Christ. We would be amiss if we didn’t mention our gratitude for your friendship and encouragement. Thank you, and God bless you really good!
On August 31 we will say “adios” to GMSA, and “hola” to a new season of life: retiring as “home missionaries,” but remaining as missionaries from home. We don’t know how the future will unfold, but we do know Who holds us in His hand (Is. 41:10; Ps. 90:1,2)! We’re not going to become “rock and rollers”: rolling out of bed in the morning, and rocking the rest of the day away in a chair. As God gives grace and strength, we want to finish well, and do something for Him (Deut. 33:25).
We praise the LORD that we can sit up and take nourishment, standing right side up, instead of laid out straight. We have hope from above, and help for below (Ps.146:5). God is faithful, and He is able (1 Thess. 5:24)!
God is faithful in calling and keeping you. Circumstances will change, but Providence will not. The LORD is unchangeable and immutable. Jesus is the same – yesterday, today, and forever (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8)! God can do what needs to be done. Imagine it, dream it, and be bold. Everything is possible, and little is much when God is in it (Eph. 3:20;, Phil. 4:13,19; Heb. 4:16).
As we part, we pray for one another. Things happen when we do. Blessings come down when prayer goes up! And so we end with “una bendición”: “The LORD bless you, protect you, smile on you, be gracious to you, show you favor and give you His peace” (Num. 6:24-26).
Keep looking up and going ahead. There’s a crown to wear and a ”well done” to hear. We will meet again – down here, in the air, or over there!
By: Tom Gibbons
August 30, 2021
Describing the life-changing power of the gospel ministry, Paul says that “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). Unlike Old Testament ministry, where Moses spoke with God and then had to cover his shining face with a veil, we trust God to “remove the veil” from blind eyes and thunder “Let there be light!” Only then will they see the full glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The opportunity to proclaim this life-transforming message and see God work is a glorious treasure, although we carry this treasure around in weak clay jars (2 Cor 4:7). We are thankful for many opportunities to talk with, listen to, and encourage people with the gospel. Sometimes we get to see God tear the veil off and create light out of darkness, and other times it’s the Lord’s Spirit making those gradual, progressive changes from one level of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18).
We still keep up with our regular Bible studies with several couples from the church. Our conversations are filled with honest questions, explanation and application of Scripture, and talking about bringing every area of our lives under the authority of Jesus. Our church continues to meet on Sunday afternoons at the beach park, which gives us plenty of time to pray, sing, fellowship, and disciple one another. The kids enjoy playing with one another and the younger ones find plenty of tíos (aunts and uncles) to keep an eye on them. The beach park is full of distractions and noise, but what church enjoys a sunset show like we do?!
We are hoping to be able to meet soon for the first time in the building our church bought last March. The constantly-changing requirements seem to allow us to meet (with many restrictions). We’re reminded often that in the world’s eyes, what we want to do is completely “non-essential” and should be avoided, but we view things a little differently, walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), so we aren’t discouraged (2 Cor 4:16).
Please continue to pray with us for the resolution of our permanent residency documents. We’re still in the same holding pattern we’ve been in since June 2019, with no change in over a year. We appreciate your prayers.
By: Kati Raven
August 30, 2021
“Teaching them to observe all things…” Matthew 28:20
We are so thankful for the faithful group of ladies who are eager to attend our ladies’ group every other Friday night. We are reading through a book together (Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth based on Titus 2) . The ladies are expected to read the chapter before class, then Monica and Becky take turns teaching/leading the group through a discussion and follow-up with verses and a short encouragement or challenge for the ladies over the content of that chapter. We began this study back in March, but then had to put a pause on extra church activities during the months of April-June when we had a high number of COVID cases in our town and in our country. We are so thankful that in July we were able to start all of our church activities back up again. This has been a great opportunity for our ladies to fellowship and grow as we encourage one another in our walk with the Lord about being a testimony and teaching the younger ladies in our church through our words and actions. Please pray that our ladies would continue to be interested in studying God’s Word and living out the Gospel!
“…commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2
Since the month of March, five men in our church began taking three classes with Mariano with the purpose to learn to study the Bible better but as well to lend a hand when there is a need to teach. We began with Bible Study Methods, we are currently studying hermeneutics, and then expository preaching. Eduardo already has shared a devotional in a men’s meeting and Ismael and Alejandro will share in prayer meeting while I am in the USA for 10 days. Pray as well for Lucas and Christian. My goal is to have these men fully trained in those classes to give a hand to Pastor Bobby during our 7 week furlough (Jan- Feb 2022).
A building project can be compared to a new Christian. We want to see changes quickly and often that doesn’t happen. We are experiencing some delays in OUR timeline. So, we are learning many things among them is to have lots of patience. We still don’t have a bathroom for our church facility. WHY? You are probably asking. We only have one man who is hired from Montevideo. He can only come a few days a week. So, this makes the process much slower than we expected. The installment of the bathroom is getting close, but we also have to get permits from the town (which all takes time due to Covid restrictions). We appreciate your prayers in this area and many of you who have given towards this project.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO GROUPS FROM THE USA COMING TO HELP IN THIS PROJECT IN 2022!! PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED.
Is there a difference? Many have asked me this question. The answer can be ambiguous. There are many things in the process of both that will repeat themselves. Last month the decision was made for me to lend a hand in a sister church an hour away from us. They have been without a pastor for 2 years and are down to 9 people attending. It is my desire and prayer that God will provide a faithful pastor for these folks. I also want to help them to grow in the areas where they have not been taught to function as a local body of believers. I am traveling every other Sunday (with a group from our church here) to provide 2 sermons and counseling. Please pray.
• To be able to finish the multipurpose building by early October
• Mariano’s paperwork for residency in Uruguay
• Souls to be saved in Carmelo
• For wisdom and discernment to help the church in Colonia
• For the body of Christ in Carmelo to grow in maturity and unity
By: Matt Postiff
August 27, 2021
Thank you for your prayers this summer. It’s been a great summer full of ministry opportunities for the whole family.
Regarding our return to Chile it is still uncertain. There are still restrictions in place that make travel back to Chile a challenge. After 4 months of closed borders, now they have entered a new stage called “protected” border. Some of the changes include a mandatory 10 day hotel stay (it used to be 5 days) with a penalty of $65,000 dollar fine for leaving the quarantine room. If vaccinated there is still a 10 day mandatory house stay. There are surprise visits and test being conducted during those first 10 days of quarantine. We are waiting on Dan’s passport renewal and Becca’s visa stamped to go back to Chile.
In the city of Santiago, slowly the city seems to be moving to be more open from the COVID lock-downs. This new “openness” has allowed workers to travel form one area of the city to another without restrictions. We are thankful for some progress at the Pirque Bible Camp in Chile during this last two weeks. There has been some advancements in some of the projects that were not finished last year. Below you can find some of the pictures that show some of the progress.
Once again thankful for your prayers. There are some decisions that we need to make in the near future regarding our travel plans and trust in the Lord’s timing.
Dan & Becca Vallette
By: Tom Gibbons
July 30, 2021
The Lord has heard and answered your prayers and by His grace our first semester with the Instituto Centro Bíblico was completed on July 8. (Just a note, this Bible Institute has been in existence for a several years, but it is our first time working with it). We praise the Lord for a good group of students and for the men who taught the classes. In addition to the good students and fine teachers, I was greatly assisted by Patti’s administrative work. She is an excellent record keeper and walking tickler file making sure that I am staying on task and looking good!
The semester was challenging in that all the classes were taught online. This was a first for our Bible Institute. Three of the classes were taught via live Zoom and my class was recorded and posted to YouTube for the students to watch. In my opinion, the virtual classroom is not the best way to teach a class, but if we did not use it, we would not have had any classes. It did seem to work well though. One major advantage was that we were able to offer classes outside of the Temperley area. We had six students from Bragado, 9 de Julio and Chivilcoy. This would not have been possible were we not using virtual classes. Administratively, we had to work out ways to receive payments, grade tests, turn in projects, etc. That was a bit of a problem. We will continue to work on this process as we move into the next semester.
In August we will, Lord willing, be offering five classes (Survey of the Old Testament II, Biblical Hebrew II, Hermeneutics, Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life and Christian Family). We will continue teaching exclusively on the virtual format but hopefully with most of the “bugs” worked out. The semester starts on August 9, so please keep that date in mind when you pray for us.
Our theme verse for our ministry is 2 Tim 2:2, “[A]nd what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” This has been our prayer all through our ministry, that we might impart to faithful students that which others have learned and done in walking with and serving the Lord. It is for God’s glory and for the strength of the local church that we put our efforts forward. Your prayers and support continue to assist us and encourage us.
All things considered, we three are doing well. We are very weary with the restrictions and complications of doing ministry during a pandemic. But we are getting along.
1. That the Lord would bring all our students back for the second semester and that we would see some new ones added.
2. That preparations for next semester would be fruitful.
3. That circumstances would allow us to make a short furlough during our summer break (Dec-Feb).
4. That God would clear the way through the muck, mire and confusion that is our immigration process.
5. Continued grace in acquiring skill with the language.
6. That we would walk faithfully and joyfully before the Lord in all circumstances.
By: Kati Raven
July 12, 2021
Hello today from our gigantic gravel pit: At our back towers a cactus-clad hill that would take two days to climb—not that we’re about to hike it! Before us is the cement-block wall of a neighbor’s half-built house, and beyond, the rocky Pacific shore of Totoralillo. Local wildlife consists of dry brush and tarantulas…and I don’t want to imagine what else! But in this barren place, the Lord has certainly provided us with “honey out of the rock” (Ps 81:16) during these challenging months.
Thankfully, our last total quarantine lasted only 30 days, but we’ve lived in Phase 2 (out Mon-Fri only) for several months now and with a 9 or 10 pm curfew for well over a year. Six weeks ago, our van finally died beyond feasible repair. While we wait for the Lord to provide something else, we’ve had to rely constantly on the generosity of others to meet our needs. Honey from the rock!
Another “sweet” spot in the stony landscape is a young man’s online Bible institute studies and his desire to go into fulltime ministry. He’d have to move south to Temuco (with his wife and two little daughters) to finish the pastoral course by the end of 2023. Thanks for praying about his future decisions and our own as we consider extending our term a bit past age 65 to support him in this project.
Finding property for a church in Punta Mira sometimes feels like getting water out a rock, for sure. Even the “leisure” and liberty to look seems like pulling hen’s teeth within the limits of our quarantine restrictions! Would you pray fervently that God would direct us to the last great corner of the neighborhood? We’ve been a homeless church now for three months. Some of the new believers have expressed curiosity about what a “real” church is like and their desire to meet brothers and sisters in Christ in person. Older members long to get back together on a regular basis, but we do need a meeting place big enough to be practical. Interestingly, even an unsaved dad recently asked, “But where are my boys going to go to Sunday school now?” He offered a piece of his own land, but it’s too far out in the country for most of the congregation.
In the meantime… the church leaders record Sunday services as well as Sunday school classes for YouTube each week. We’re studying the book of I Peter this year, a sweet encouragement for a church struggling through hard times. Our Zoom prayer meetings and ladies’ Bible study are well attended and enjoyed. God has abundantly blessed in spite of the difficulties.
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