Under the Southern Cross: A Blank Slate

Missionaries Curtis and Diane Steward sent their January update just a few days ago. Here is some of what they wrote:

Happy New Year! We did it…we FINALLY moved on the morning of New Year’s Eve! With the help of 8 guys from our church, most of the major furniture got transferred the 10 minutes out of town. Little by little, we’re digging out from the “avalanche,” getting electrical and plumbing functional, and continuing to pack/clean in preparation to turn over the rental house by the end of January. Now we have the fun of decorating our blank canvas of walls and (hopefully) beginning to use our new home as an investment for the glory of God.

However, the new year of 2021 looks like a blank slate too, as the possibility of making definite plans and preparations for the future is limited. Even the rush to move has been partly motivated by the almost weekly threat of a return to Phase 1 (total) quarantine. That hasn’t happened (yet), but unlike most Coquimbo churches, our Punta Mira group has been unable to return to using our small building because of restricted capacity. Though some one-on-one contacts and small groups have resumed, we’ve continued with our YouTube, Zoom, Facebook/Instagram, and WhatsApp ministries…and are admittedly very weary. Curtis is performing a wedding later this week…not sure just how that celebration will happen.

BUT in spite of a blank gray horizon, our future hope isn’t built on do-overs and dreams of perfection, but on the Solid Rock. Our trust remains firm in the One who knows the year ahead from beginning to end and fills in every week and month between. His presence with us is the only sure thing!

Thank you for praying for Chile as a country. The pandemic has only exacerbated the existing social and economic problems. Please remember all those in positions of authority and responsibility during these stressful times. Because of differing quarantine local phases throughout the country, our mission conference and national church convention (normally held in January) have been canceled. We continue to deal with many deaths among our church family, and ones who are sick and need the Lord.

 

Are you Missing Church Fellowship? So are People in Chile!

Daryl and Earlynne Thompson

Daryl and Earlynne Thompson have been ministering well into what many would call their “retirement years.” They live in Villa San Ramon near Temuco, Chile and are holding Bible studies by Zoom or Google classroom and in person when the government COVID restrictions are eased. They have prayer meeting tonight, Bible study on Friday, and “church” services on Sunday. Daryl also teaches theology and ministry courses at the Bible institute.

They have not been able to meet with Chilean believers in their church building since March 2020. A deacon has helped to maintain the facility in their absence. They have been able to meet on a limited basis in some church family homes, but only in very small groups.

Older folks in the church who do not have Internet or know how to use it are especially isolated. When they can finally see their fellow believers on Zoom after a long time apart, they are so delighted. It warmed this editor’s heart to hear that report and it seemed good to share it with our Southern Sentinel readers.

Please pray for countries where restrictions are even more difficult than what perhaps what you have experienced. Pray for believers who have been isolated. Pray for missionaries whose ministries have been curtailed, yet who have found new ways to serve the Lord. Pray for projects that have been stalled, camps that have been canceled, classes that have moved online, and for in-person fellowship once again to be restored.

 

Summer without Summer Ministries

The roses of the family

After much prayer and discussion, the ministry team made the hard decision of canceling summer camp activities. Although it is not what we would have desired, we recognize the Lord’s leading and are trusting Him to work all out for His glory.  We will take advantage of the “extra months” to continue working on the cabin and chapel projects. 

Camp will continue its ministry to pastors and their families during the summer, offering a couple furnished cabins as a retreat after a trying 2020.

Uruguay is still closed to tourists.  We have purchased tickets back to the U.S for a mini furlough/support-raising visit. We plan on being stateside from beginning of March to the end of April.  We would then make the move to our new field of service, Uruguay.

As the year comes quickly to a close, we can easily count the few times we have met as a Lican Church body due to COVID restrictions.  We have begun meeting again, but are unsure for how long before the case numbers rise and they lock down again.  We do not live in uncertainty as to what we ought do, we obey and we assemble while we can.  These times of fellowship are sweet and enriching. We only have a few months left with our Lican Church family, so we are making the most of it. 

On Wednesday Liz finished up the ladies Bible study she was teaching.  Most of the meetings were online, but they were able to finish up mostly in person. Several ladies gave testimony as to the encouragement the study had been.  We pray they will keep growing and obeying His Word. 

Please pray for:

  • The completion of Horeb cabin and camp chapel (pictures of the progress are on Facebook)
  • Last couple months investing and serving in the Lican-Ray Church.
  • Travel plans, paperwork to get in order before leaving (Madeline’s passport has expired), packing up our things for short term storage.
  • Continued training of Freddy and Editha.
  • Furlough plans and the need for new churches and individuals to partner with us in ministry.  If you would like a visit please contact us!

Thank you for your part in the ministry here in Chile. May we all be found faithful!

Your missionaries and His servants,
Danny and Liz,
Micah, Matthias, Morgan, and Madeline.

No shortage of work on the cabin!
What an upgrade to this cabin!

 

Consider Inviting the Vallettes to Your Church

Over the years on this blog we have highlighted the missionaries and ministries of GMSA. One family featured here quite often is Dan and Becca Vallette, who have ministered in Uruguay and most recently in Chile.

The Vallettes have been active in Christian camp ministry in Pirque, Chile near the capital of Santiago. A church even started on the camp property under the leadership of local gospel ministers. However, COVID has severely restricted the ministry in Chile, a fact that is probably not surprising to you.

Consequently, they are presently in the States, visiting churches and reporting on the ministry. Would your church consider inviting them for a visit to consider partnering with them in a work which can reach thousands of souls in and around the greater Santiago metropolitan area?

You can contact them through the U.S. Home office.

 

The Zeal of the Lord

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).

When someone is excited about getting a job done, their zeal drives them on and makes it happen. What is it that God will stop at nothing to do? Establish his worldwide and everlasting kingdom at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Politics don’t really excite me, but they do increase my desire for justice, truth, and godliness to win the day once and for all when the King comes!

We are thankful that the nationwide vote on October 25 was peaceful and quiet. The measure to write a new constitution overwhelmingly passed, so another election in April will elect 155 representatives to write the new document, and then another vote in two years will approve or reject the new constitution. As you can imagine, this will greatly disrupt the political and economic stability of the country. We appreciate your prayers. 

We are thanking the Lord that Bekah received a request from Immigration this past month for another document. We were pleased to see some movement on her residency application (the last movement was in February). Mark’s still hasn’t been touched since December. Please continue to pray.

Our city advanced to COVID “phase 3” this past week, removing all lockdowns except the nightly curfew. Since we now have freedom to move around the city on the weekends, that gives us the opportunity to gather on the Lord’s Day! We still cannot all gather in our new building since churches are subject to a multitude of restrictions. We plan to continue our Zoom meetings and make available a couple of homes to watch together and have a time of singing and prayer afterward since there are no restrictions on personal gatherings of up to 25 people.

We ask prayer for our teammates, Andrés and Cle, as they look for an apartment to move into December 1. The lockdown has wreaked havoc on the rental market. Please pray they could find the right apartment in the right area for the right price. 

Thank God with us:

  • For his grace in safety and health each day.
  • For his grace in the spiritual growth of our church family.

Pray to God with us:

  • For his grace to be consumed with zeal for God’s will like Jesus was (John 2:17).
  • For his grace as our church seeks to proclaim the gospel here in Antofagasta.
  • For his grace in the ongoing waiting process for our permanent residency documents (17 months so far).
A good time for a nap!

 

New Driveway in Fort Lauderdale!

Yesterday the new driveway was poured at one of the mission houses in Fort Lauderdale. They had a third of it poured in 30 minutes! It is incredible how equipment can speed things up. We’re humbled by the generosity of the folks at First Baptist Church of Coconut Creek who prayed, gave, and physically spent themselves on the project.

 

Lights in the Darkness

Missionaries Curtis and Diane Steward report from Chile:

No doubt about it, the last few months have been DARK around here. For one thing, winter moved in with early sunsets, overcast skies, and a 9 or 10 p.m. curfew. Then on July 28 a full lockdown quarantine was declared for our city and province. The initial two weeks stretched into two months to the day. Restrictions meant we could only leave the house for a few hours each week for medical attention or essentials (groceries, medications) and only with a laboriously obtained virtual permission.

What did that mean for daily life and ministry?

DEATHS: Since August, we have experienced the passing of several people connected to the church. Not all passed due to the virus. Most of the families don’t know Christ and have had to deal with their grief without much support or even normal funerals. And for a small church, a case of appendicitis and two emergency gall bladder surgeries in one month seem like…a lot?

DELAYS: Of course our house project has been on hold until just this week. Church finances took a nosedive as unemployment affected more and more households, and the congregation had to negotiate a lower rent for the building we’ve only used as storage space since March! Second semester Bible institute classes were cancelled, along with our January mission conference. Still waiting to hear about summer camps…

DISCOURAGEMENT: The Sept. 18 patriotic holiday, the biggest of the year here, was severely curtailed—a blow to Chileans. As masks become second skins and hugs are history, the temptation is to give into irritation, frustration, and despair. BUT…

Thank God for the LIGHTS in this present darkness:

• The Church Online: Sunday school on YouTube, Zoom prayer meetings, the new men’s group (Men of Courage), and our Ladies’ Time—all very valuable.

• The new families are growing and participating in virtual meetings.

• The bonds of friendship have strengthened. For example, the church overwhelmed us with birthday blessings recently.

• The faithful ongoing ministry is amazing. Everyone is doing their part!

• 2-weeks-early lifting of the most severe lockdown restrictions, though restaurants and malls are still closed. We can at least have small home get-togethers now and go out on weekdays. Curt and I celebrated our 41st anniversary by visiting a store!

 

Dan Thompson Family Eagerly Awaiting…

For their September update, Dan and Liz Thompson and family are awaiting…

  • the arrival of Freddy and Edita on camp.  They should arrive tomorrow.  After months of delays due to COVID, they are finally in a position to move to camp and start their training.  Please pray we can be an encouragement to them as they adjust to life and work on camp.
  • the summer months of ministry:  Only the Lord knows at this point whether we will be able to host and minister to people through camp ministry this summer.  Our confidence is in God who chooses to work according to his good pleasure so until He says a definite “NO”, we will plan, prepare, and pray for summer camp ministry.  
  • our transition to ministry in Uruguay:  we are looking into the cost of moving our belongings to a different country while also staying abreast of the government’s decisions on reopening travel between countries.  We have had to postpone our survey trip for the time being as Chile has extended their state of emergency.  
  • the windows for the camp chapel:  Work has stopped on the camp chapel while waiting for the windows we ordered back in May to arrive.  Again, because of COVID, supplies for making the windows were hard to find and then our window guy got tendinitis.  Please pray for the windows to arrive.  The doors also are on their way and soon we should be able to get the chapel closed in to finish the drywall and many other details in time for summer.
  • the start of a new ladies’ Bible Study: next week on Wednesday the ladies of our Lican church will meet weekly to study together the book of Philippians.  Pray for Liz as she prepares and leads the study.

Meanwhile, Micah is taking mid-terms at Appalachian Bible College and is doing well. Thank you to those who have sent him cards, care packages, and financial gifts to his college fund. He is learning some wonderful lessons in how God is providing for his every need.

Our first church service back together, distancing and masks required, but so thankful!
Finishing the siding on Horeb cabin. Matthias and Morgan working well together.

 Your partnership in the work of the Lord here in Chile means so much to us!  We know that 2020 has been a difficult year for many of you.  We do pray that in the Lord’s strength we can all finish this year focused on God’s faithfulness and care for each of us.  He knows our every need so we can boldly present ourselves to Him and receive of His good hand.  Thank you for your prayers for our family and ministry.  your missionaries and His servants,

Danny and Liz,
Micah, Matthias, Morgan, and Madeline.

 

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