The last month has been so full of such wonderful moments for our family and ministry. It started off with the annual missionary retreat put on by the El Salvador Missionary Fellowship. Our kids had an amazing time hanging out with their missionary friends and running free at the beach.
There were times of worship and bible teaching for everyone. Our favorite part was the amazing time we were able to spend with other missionaries working here in El Salvador.
That weekend was followed by our annual ENLACE conference and retreat for the Pastors and Leaders we partner with in El Salvador. The conference was centered around The Vision of God! It was held out at Lake Coatepeque and over 300 where in attendance. This included all our pastors and leaders, as well as the entire ENLACE staff and missionaries. It was so encouraging to see so many people from so many different denominations worship our Lord together. They were encouraged by our Director Ron Bueno about God’s Vision and his faithfulness. As I sat listening in one of the general sessions during which Ron was explaining the relationship between the church and community, I overheard one of our pastors say, “the church and community were not meant to be divorced.” This pastor was coming to terms with the reality that while the two are often separated from one another, they were not intended to be. Such a great image of how the church and community should be in relationship with one another. John Mark was able to stay for the entire three days and it was a great celebration of the joys that God has given ENALCE as a whole.
During this time, John Mark was able to sit down with our Director Ron to discuss the study abroad program. We are so excited to be hosting a new group of MBA students this Spring semester. They will be arriving on January 2, 2017. As John Mark and Ron have been discussing the program Ron has asked John Mark to consider taking on more responsibility with the Center of Community Transformation. Now that he is done with the Ph.D. his engagement with the Center and ENLACE will continue to increase.
The following Sunday John Mark flew to Panama as a guest of the Pentecostal Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean. He had been invited to attend as a guest of his father, but to the surprise of both of them, he was asked to present during a session on “new pastoral challenges related to youth and children.” What an amazing time of learning and sharing for him. One of the highlights of the trip was a comment offered by one another attendee. She came up to John Mark and said “thank you for finding a balance between the academic and the pastoral.” This is exactly what John Mark hopes for in what we do.
Finally, this brings us to this past week where John Mark flew to California to defend is dissertation. Thank you to everyone for rallying with him as he struggled to get to CA and then successfully defended his dissertation. The hour before he would walk in to defend I was reminded of God’s faithfulness in his life. I was reminded of his story when he felt called to ministry. When God spoke to his heart in Costa Rica. I was reminded of the journey he first began alone and then how our family has continued together to get to that day. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness in our lives. I could see how faithful God has been to us and specifically to John Mark as he journeyed to get to this point. I was so thankful that John Mark has always put God before anything else. His life is a true testimony to us as his family as we continue to walk in faith together. As we looked back over the nine years of this journey one thing stood out. We were always with him. John Mark was very conscious about having our whole family respond to God’s call together. Our marriage and our kid’s relationships reflect that. I am so thankful for his faithfulness in pursuing his call but also so thankful for him continuously pursuing our family. The kids and I are so very proud of him and have felt God’s presence in our lives through this whole journey. The kids have started calling him Dr. Dad! Pretty cute!
This last year has been a year of waiting, teaching, learning and adjusting. We had the privilege of helping our local church by serving as interim pastors for the last 6 months. It has stretched us, encouraged us, and brought us closer to a community that we care so deeply about. As our pastors return from sabbatical we are looking forward to our next steps with ENLACE and working with the community around us. We are so grateful to be part of a church where we can use our gifts to encourage the body of Christ.
Thank you for journeying with us over this last year and trusting with us in God’s incredible plan. As you know it takes waiting, building, and time to create a sustainable program and we are so thankful that you continue to grow with us.
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