|Issue #3||May 1997|
Originally scheduled for issue #2 was "a compressed history of the work in Santa María since its inception in 1981 under the sponsorship of Bible Mennonite Fellowship." Till I got the more current information in that issue, we had no room left for historical information. So I wrote, "Perhaps it will fit in the next issue...." As you will see, the same problem recurred this time around despite a hopefully-temporary 50% expansion of the newsletter's size.
|- Mark Roth, editor|
We have wondered what all God has in mind by our delay in going to the Everett area. But as I see God at work and I stop to realize at least some of the lessons I have learned by this delay, I really no longer wonder too much what the Lord is trying to do. It would take considerable time to explain what good has come from this circumstance. I do think that if I was not such a slow learner God could work faster. One of the lessons that I think the Lord has been trying to teach me, or should I say, teaching us as a congregation, is that the ministry does not have to do all of the work. Since Marvin is our resident worker in the Everett area, he has had many opportunities to serve. He has had a lot of responsibility laid on his shoulders. He is a living example of what God can do in a person who is willing to be used of the Lord. You can see him grow by leaps and bounds. He takes seriously his responsibility as superintendent and Sunday school teacher. After being superintendent, he either teaches the children's class or he teaches the adult class. And it is not uncommon for him to lead at least some of the songs. Then each Thursday evening he leads a Bible study and prayer meeting at their home. The Bible study begins at 8:00 and they try to finish by 9:00. They have been studying from 1 Peter.
Each Sunday morning we try to open the building at 10:30. Then we help each other set up chairs, tables, and put out our song books. The last while some have been meeting in the kitchen to pray together before the service.
The group up there has an understanding that before the morning service, those who wish to pray together, meet in the kitchen, those who wish to pray and meditate quietly, sit in the main room, and those who wish to visit, meet in the hall by the restrooms. It seems very few visit in the hall before the services.
We also have asked the children not to play on the chairs and tables stacked in the back corner, although it does look like a ready-made gym just waiting to be used for exercising limbs that are weary from sitting for long hours in cars and in church services. Also we are trying to be careful not to play in the flower beds around the building. We have defined flower beds to be almost every area that is not asphalt or concrete. We also respect the little sign that tells us not to go into the lower level; and we, of course, are very careful not to throw anything over the banister into the lower level. Yes, it looks like it would be lots of fun to practice our basketball skills by pitching things into the containers below, but, when we realize that it is not a very thoughtful thing to do, we don't.
We have been having Sunday school on Sunday mornings. After opening songs we read the Sunday school lesson together. Then we have the children's class for ages 4 through 14. This class is much like a Sunday school class up in front of the church with the adults listening. Then we have an adult class with the children listening in on the discussion. After the worship hour and our fellowship meal, we meet again at 3:00 for another service. We have been having hymn sings and Bible studies during the Sunday afternoon service. The last several months we have been studying out of the book of James with Mark Roth leading the study. We are now thinking of changing this service to be a time of study and discussion especially geared to those who would like to become members of the Everett Church (or whatever its name is). We would like to keep this time open to discuss questions that are on the minds of people. As a basis for the discussions, we will be using the study book Bible Studies for New Believers. Many of the people have not been staying for this service, but those of us who have been staying feel that it is very profitable. We have been blessed.
We are very encouraged by Hopewell's willingness to help and minister in the Everett Church. We appreciate your encouragement, your prayers, and your sharing of concerns. We know that it is a sacrifice for those who help out. The Maurice Boss family has been going to Everett on the third Sunday of each month. The Melvin Boss family goes on the first Sunday of each month. And now, Jim Volkovs have said they would like to go on the fourth Sunday of each month as they are able. We realize that it is not possible for all of you to be involved by going in person, but we appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
Sunday morning attendance last Sunday was 68. That was without any families from Hopewell.
Esther Boss's health has its ups and downs. She still has some bad days, but she is encouraged by more good days since she has settled into her own home. Keep praying that they would be able to find the best way to help her health.
Thanks again for your prayers, your support, your encouragement. We welcome your thoughts and advice. May God bless each of you as you have blessed our lives.
|- Ron & Corrine Bontrager|
THE BOSSES: Marvin & Esther, Reuben, Jason, Brandon, Jeremy, Caleb
3804 129th Place NW
Marysville, WA 98271 USA
phone: (360) 654-0159
For the past couple of months, we have been mostly concentrating our efforts in getting ready for Davids the house that has been purchased in Lázaro Cárdenas. An agreement was reached with owner of the house on March 10 to pay 30,000 pesos (US$3850.00) for it, and the actual transaction was made on March 24. Then there was a lull on our part as we waited for the owner to vacate the place. During that time, Davids went to Sinaloa (about five hours from here) to visit Betty's family and to help in street meetings in Los Mochis. After they returned, we got busy cleaning the place, slightly remodeling the house, and installing a "self-contained" water system which includes a cistern. None of these three items has been completed, but Davids did get moved on May 10. The house is quite liveable, and Davids spend more time working on it now.
Lázaro Cárdenas is 14 miles from Santa María and usually takes 45 minutes to get there. We are very happy David and Betty are there, although we miss having them so close. We need to learn to plan ahead a little more than we used to because we have no communication system between here and there. The other day a situation arose so that I was not going to be able to go to our regular service in Mariano Escobedo and we needed to get that message to David so he could take over. Since we needed to leave by noon, and since I was asked to bring someone home from the hospital that morning, Lindsey hitchhiked up to Cárdenas and back. A phone, a radio, or even a pigeon would have come in handy, but then Lindsey would have missed a good experience!
Relative to the work in the Valley of Guaymas, I have been sensing the value to focus my efforts more fully on the needs of the struggling church here in Santa María. As a result of that feeling, we have decided, along with the counsel of others, to place David in charge of the mission outreaches in Cárdenas and in Mariano, at least through the end of 1997. I am planning to preach once a month in each place. Please remember to pray for David in this new responsibility. Since moving to Cárdenas, he has given to Javier the youth Sunday School class in Santa María. A Sunday School class is in the plans for Cárdenas, also.
As noted in Betty's letter, Elvia from Mariano gave her heart to the Lord. She has been contemplating that decision for quite some time, and I believe has seriously counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. She realizes that the road ahead is going to be rough. Will each reader of this newsletter commit himself to be a "fellow helper to the truth" by praying fervently for her to make that road ahead a little smoother? Elvia, who looks much older than her 47 years, has had a hard life. But she has had some Christian influence from her mother, Joaquina, at whose place we have Thursday evening services. Her husband, Martin, is a heavy drinker, and has been quite friendly toward us. She has requested instruction in the ways of the Lord because, says she, she needs to learn more before being baptized. The town of Mariano is 18 miles from Santa María, about 12 miles from Cárdenas, and about 40 minutes from either place.
Vivian and Lindsey both helped in the street meeting effort referred to earlier in this article. The group of seven from the States that also helped stopped here on their way home. That afternoon we covered our town and invited everyone to a special service that evening. Sometimes we wonder what good our efforts are doing, but we are not required to know the results; we are instructed to sow the seed.
Margaret Miller arrived here on May 15 and plans to stay until June 7. The people in this town are very glad to see her again, and I believe God is using her to encourage some that are low as well as those who are faithful.
Last Sunday I preached a message on the importance of setting our sights on things above. I was reminded that I, too often, tend to focus on lower things; things that fade away and have no eternal value. May God help us all to "set (y)our affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).
|- Joe Mast|
Greetings in the precious name of Christ. We are well, thank the Lord.
I hear many people saying that it is very hot. The temperature has gotten up to 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
We moved to Lázaro Cárdenas on Saturday, May 10. We still have a lot of work to do here in the house, though we've already worked hard at cleaning the junk from the lot, plastering, putting in electrical outlets, and many other things.
To go to Guaymas for groceries and other necessary items now takes about 1 hour 25 minutes, which seems like quite a ways. The road is very bad, but we can thank the Lord that there is at least a road.
This is harvest time for cantaloupe and watermelon. As we were going from Lázaro Cárdenas to Santa María one day, we found 33 cantaloupes on the road. That was interesting to pick that many up. We had plenty of cantaloupes for a while.
The people here in Lázaro Cárdenas are very friendly and we've begun to make new friends. It isn't difficult for me to make friends and I have the advantage of speaking my own language.
In Mariano Escobedo we had a service this past Thursday as we are accustomed to and quite a few people attended. Elvia, one of the ladies, accepted the Lord. Praise the Lord! She is one of my good friends in Mariano Escobedo.
God has blessed us very much here as we serve Him, even though there is a lot of work to do. God always helps us and we want to accept what He gives us.
Thank you very much for your letters that we have received and also your prayers. We appreciate them very much. Please continue to pray for us and the work here. May God richly bless you.
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6).
|- Betty Smucker|
Turners Visit Santa María
We flew to Tucson on Friday, March 28. We had a happy reunion with Joe, Nancy, Travis, and Holly, there to pick up the six of us. We had eight suitcases, two large boxes and six carry-ons! We drove to Santa María and arrived at midnight. Saturday night we brought out and presented the many letters and gifts from you all. The Masts and Smuckers were very appreciative and felt much loved.
The children's Sunday school was at 9:30; Vivian led songs. The younger class is basically those who can't read, the older class those who can. Normally they sing all together and practice memory verses and pray before splitting up. Javier was out of town--he usually teaches the older children, so both classes were together. They have a Bible story and coloring. Their Sunday School papers are from Lamp and Light. After Sunday School, the sisters tidy up and sweep the floor. The youth class is at 11:30 for ages 12 and up. Nena led songs and then David gave the Lamp and Light lesson about Pharaoh's hard heart. A couple girls and a couple boys attended besides Travis, Lindsey and Vivian, my sisters and I. After Youth Class the girls and sisters sweep, mop, dust, clean the outhouses, and wash the blackboards.
The evening worship service started at 6:00. Joe, Steve, and the boys went over early to play music over a speaker (hymns, but sounding very Mexican) in order to announce and attract people to the service. Because Javier was absent Manuel was in charge of the service, and Nena led the singing. Benito did devotions, reading part of Psalm 73. There were testimonies (quite long by our standards) by a visiting lady and by Cosme. Joe announced our special singing and emphasized that we were singing in Spanish, but spoke Spanish only a little. We sang "Christ Arose" and "There's a Fountain Free." Then Joe preached a sermon on the resurrection of Jesus, it being Easter. Since the influence is so Catholic, Joe repeated frequently that Jesus was no longer hanging on the cross, and there is no power in a cross, but that He is risen, just as He said, and we don't need to be afraid because His power is with His believers.
After the service, everyone shakes hands with everyone else and says "Dios le bendiga" which means God bless you. Then everyone wanders outside to chat, or in our case mostly to smile. People dispersed, walking off in different groups. The women try to walk in at least twos for safety after dark. We had a wonderful view of the Hale-Bopp comet and the glorious night sky.
Monday afternoon the young people and David took the bus up to the village of Lázaro Cárdenas. They spent the afternoon passing out tracts, which included invitations to the service. The service was to start at sundown. The rest of us drove up later. Before the service Vivian works with the children that show up and tells Bible stories or teaches them truths about God. She is very good with the children and they feel free to ask her lots of questions. The service is held under the roof of a breezeway at the medical clinic, and Joe brought three long benches which Lindsey and David had made. One elderly man and numerous restless children sat on the benches. Some young men and boys were in the background shadows listening. Joe had us sing "Christ Arose" (Viv and Lindsey sang with us). Cosme preached a sermon about the serpent in the wilderness and Jesus being raised up for our salvation.
Wednesday evening was prayer meeting. Javier enthusiastically led the singing and Cosme gave a devotion and took prayer requests. Joe again had us sing a song in Spanish--"Follow Me." Three people prayed at great length and rapid speed. We tried to pray silently in English simultaneously; but a cement floor does get hard for kneeling after 45 minutes! Then Cosme closed.
Thursday we headed for Maríano Escobedo with a stop in Ortiz, where James Kropf, Marvins, Marks, Joes and Jameses, have lived at one time or another. The service at Maríano is held under a lemon tree in the yard of a very poor elderly lady--Doña Joaquina. She is the only Christian in her family and is very thankful for the Gospel message being brought to her village. She insists on feeding Masts and Smuckers each week, spending money she can not afford on giving them a meal. It is a humbling experience to them to see her love for the Lord and her selfless giving. Betty successfully persuaded her not to prepare food this time as so many extra guests were coming.
We waited for dark and people began drifting in, especially after David started leading the singing. Thankfully it did not rain during the service, even though it had rained quite a bit there and the benches had to be placed differently then usual due to puddles and mud. Several women with small children came, a few men and this time numerous young people. Some of these boys and girls appeared more interested in each other then in Joe's sermon and were somewhat chattery. Once again, we sang "Christ Arose," with Viv and Lindsey joining us. Joe had left his Bible at home and had to go from memory, giving essentially the Sunday sermon from Santa María. He had us sing "Follow Me" after the sermon. People stayed around fairly long after the service, greeting each other and us. Several girls gathered around Vivian, asking questions, and Lindsey chatted with some of the boys. Doña Joaquina, a very sweet lady, was so pleased to have so many people come to visit her place and gave us an open invitation to come any time, even though she knew her home was humble.
Saturday we had to leave early in the morning. We had worked out a way for all 13 of us to ride in the Suburban (we had a lot less luggage going back), and they drove us back up to Tucson. It was sad to say goodbye and fly home. They arrived back home about when we did, close to midnight.
Our impressions of the work there:
There is much work to do and much to overcome. One good point that makes sharing the Gospel easier is that God is more openly talked about in their culture. But there is much to counteract in the Catholic way of viewing life. Individuals who become Christians are subject to much ridicule by other family members. It is difficult for them and for those who are working to build them up. The biggest challenge is to build a church which can be self-sustaining through the faith, commitment and discipline of the members, and to develop strong, stable leaders is especially a challenge. We could see it may well be an undertaking of more than a generation to truly accomplish this. There are several consistently faithful members, whose faith was a blessing to see. We were told they would remember us at prayer meetings for a long time because of our visit. However, the mutual support we enjoy here at Hopewell is not nearly so developed there, so it is particularly important that we in the home church do all in our power to encourage our missionaries. They thrive on our letters and occasional visits, and are especially encouraged to know that we are constantly remembering them in our prayers.
Joes and Davids are working hard and it is clear that giving and giving so much is quite wearing, but they are definitely being used by the Lord in Santa María and the two other villages.
|- Steve & Pat, Dorothy, Libby, Peter and Emily Turner|
THE MASTS: Joe & Nancy, Vivian, Lindsey, Travis, Shaphan, Holly
THE SMUCKERS: David & Betty, Benjamin, Melisa
Field Address: Apdo. 582 85400 Guaymas, Sonora MEXICO Treasurer: Ray King 14377 Whiskey Hill Road NE Hubbard, OR 97032 USA Missions Committee Chairman: Dan Boskovich 6057 Waconda Road NE Salem, OR 97305 USA Editor: Mark Roth Other Committee Members: Mark Boss, Secretary-Treasurer Leland Smucker, Mexico Sub-Committee Chairman James Roth Marion Schrock Rupert Mullet Mark Roth
|Sponsored by Hopewell Mennonite Church, Hubbard, Oregon.|
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