Sorry we have not updated you sooner! We returned to Arkansas last Wednesday. It took a couple of days to get our internet and phone turned back on - not due to any fault of Yelcot Telephone Company!!!! They were awesome. Friday morning we called and asked if they could get us up and going as soon as possible. Two hours later we were ready to go! Thanks Christie and Yelcot!
We believe we have left the church in El Valle in the best of hands (God's) with the new Christians taking responsibility for regular activities and long time Christians from the church in David coming up regularly to help out and offer guidance. I prepared lessons for all the classes for 6 months before we left, and we provided all the supplies they will need for classes, both childrens' and adults'. One couple from the church in David is sacrificing greatly, and we are very indebted to them. Brother Gilberto Samaniego is coordination our speakers so that there will be someone there each Sunday to teach the adult class and preach. He and his family will be there twice monthly as well. His wife, Sister Ana is taking care of the finances of the work there. She will be responsible for all moneys sent to Panama, as well as organizing many activities for the women and children. She also teaches the children's class when she is there. Their daughter, Kathy and her boyfriend Bruce also attend when they can, and Bruce leads singing. Gilberto is also taking care of our truck while we are gone as well. He just started a new job that requires occasional use of a 4 wheel drive so God worked that out for us both!
We have a couple from the church staying in our house and taking care of it and the farm. They have a small house just up the road, which his mom and a friend are living in at this time so that they can live in and take care of ours. The friend is an unwed pregnant lady who was kicked out of her parents home for her indiscretion, so there is ministry within the ministry for them. Jose has plenty of experience on the farm, and I believe he loves animals as much as I do so I am confident that he will care for our cow, calf, chickens and dogs just fine. However, at this time he is still on crutches with a broken leg. he will be so for another month. His wife, Marleni, a woman very much in love with God and eagerly learning all she can, had a hysterectomy a few weeks ago, so she is recuperating as well. They have been without income for some time, relying on family and us for their food and medical needs. So, receiving the small amount we are able to pay them will actually offer them a regular farm wage. They are very humble, but don't interpret that they are 'takers'. We feel confident that the farm will be in top shape when we return, better than ever. He will work once his foot is ready, we know.
Dani, a dear sister and friend, will take care of the needs of the school for us. She will receive the donation from the Riverside Kingdom Kids each Sunday and purchase and deliver their food on Mondays. She will also serve as liaison for the Beka scholarship children, relaying their needs and in turn receiving the funds to purchase what they need. Yaritza, who was not able to return with us this year, will take care of the needs of Celinda's children - the Indian family that is part of the scholarship program. She is taking them breakfast foods each week. This is a great way for her to participate in the work, have some responsibility, and feel she is in touch with us as well. Yaritza is like one of our children to us. It is very hard for us to be so far apart. She is also a young lady in crisis with a mom who doesn't seem to see or care.
All of that to say - Wow! It is great to be here and see each of you who are so important to us, and to the work in Panama. The hugs and smiles did wonders for these hurting hearts. Worshiping with our first family was a true gift. I pray that we never take it for granted, but if you find yourself doing so, just go away for awhile! Not too long, mind you, but we are all truly blessed to be part of Riverside!We were doubly blessed that Randy Willingham was the speaker Sunday. Randy has been my mentor for many years now, and a faithful source for spiritual renewal for Lynn and I both. God knew just what we needed!
The only negative of our first Sunday was that Roger and Rogena were not there to greet us. Imagine the nerve of them to think that having their first grandson was more important than seeing us as soon as we returned! Ok, yes I have seen the pictures and he is absolutely adorable, so I will try to forgive ;)!
I will be posting photos very soon from our time in Santa Marta delivering the gifts you provided the church; Another amazing experience that I can only party share with words. The church there sends their greetings and love and thanks for all you do for them. They are very excited about the team coming in next June. There were tears when I told them that it looked like it would really happen. They have heard for years that one group or another would try to get in there with a medical team, but it has never happened. There is much sickness and need for medical attention.
We love you and thank you for your prayers and support. We are not sure how long we will stay in the States, as there are many concerns in the church, with families in crisis, or near crisis stage. You know that it is difficult to love so many folks of God, so far apart. We are listening to God, and trying to follow His lead. I still have not seen my own children here. Josh now lives in St Louis, and will be down for Thanksgiving, Lord willing. Ben is studying in England until mid December,so we will not see him until then. Please keep him in your prayers as he has been sick most of the semester with an undiagnosed problem.
We ask you to place the church at El Valle on your daily prayer list. As well, please keep Yaritza, and Kathy with her precious baby, Valery in your constant prayers. Both these precious souls are in an abusive situation at home, and seemingly stuck at this time there. Thank you in advance for that. We know that God can and does change lives.
Richest of God's blessings!
joy & Lynn