Thursday, June 30, 2005

Our newsletter for the summer of 2005

Summer is upon us in the world’s second largest desert. We are routinely having afternoon temperatures in the 100s. If we get a break, the mercury drops into the high 70s at night! Thank God for the swimming pool we bought the kids earlier this spring.

The kids only have a few days of school left and Erica has moved the schooling to the afternoon so that she and the kids can spend the mornings in the pool before the temperatures rise and the sun is directly over head. It can get to 120° in the sun. Even if we keep the van windows open, the steering wheel can get to hot to touch! In the afternoons, after 4:00 pm, the pool is in the shade but the water is like a bath tub. Oh, the trials and tribulations of the mission field. ;-)

As you know, after leaving our previous position at the boys’ home, we felt of God to establish an outreach center for women and young girls. Two things have transpired that have put that on hold for the time being. The first was getting reacquainted with some old friends from Pittsburgh who are now living in the Phoenix area, Randy and Diane Shrekengast.

Randy served for many years as the missions pastor for a church on the east side of the city. Several years ago, he and his family moved to Arizona to work with a ministry called the Antioch Network. ( The purpose of this network is to pair up local independent churches with unreached people groups throughout the world, giving them an opportunity to be involved in missions.

During our visit, Randy gave us a book to read entitled “Loving the Church… Blessing the Nations”. In this book, the author discusses how to go about planting churches on the mission field. Among the first steps is to establish a team. We felt that this was God speaking to us that before we dive into a building project or go any further with establishing Hope House, we needed to raise up a team.

As we set ourselves to prayer regarding this team, several of the key members came to mind from folks we knew here in San Luis. However, before we could even take the first step, we ran smack dab into a situation with the Mexican authorities. I’ll not go into detail at this time but suffice it to say that it was serious and discouraging.

As a result of that, for which we hope to have resolution soon, we have put all plans for training a team or setting up the house on hold. But that hasn’t deterred God one bit in what He has wanted us to do.

Since last fall, we have been attending a newly planted Baptist church, called La Sombra, in the southeast corner of the city. Almost eight years ago now, Rich and Lori Barcelona came to Mexico from northern California in answer to the call of God to plant a church. I mentioned that it is a Baptist church but it is by no means your “normal” Baptist church nor are the Barcelonas your “normal” missionaries.

The church recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. They have seen the church almost double in size since last fall. We are doing what we always do– whatever we can to help.

The Barcelona’s daughter, Brittney, was playing the keyboard for their worship with two of the Mexican ladies singing along with her. However, she was not having any fun! We joined her for a while as backup instruments and voices and then stepped up to lead after a few weeks. We are now leading worship on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings. We are taking the opportunity to teach new music and music styles but also we are teaching the congregation how to worship. Being made up almost entirely of new Christians, the church has no experience in worshipping. It is quite a challenge to bring a people to that place in God where they can truly sense His presence and be those who worship in spirit and in truth and not just sing songs. But this is not our first time at this.

We have also been asked by the pastor, Rich Barcelona, to serve on the leadership team to give counsel and help in any way we can. Joe has continued to use his computer experience to update and troubleshoot the Barcelona’s home computers. He will also be working with a computer lab that has just been set up in the dorms on the church property. By the way, the dorm can house from 1 to 60 people if you should want to plan a short term missions trip. There is plenty of opportunity for ministry in the church, the community and the city. From nursing home visitation to reaching out to the homeless in the city center, from Sidewalk Sunday School to full-blown evangelistic campaigns, the opportunities are infinite!

Erica spends her day homeschooling Cody who is 10 and Alissa who is 8. The kids are growing up fast. They will be turning 11 and 9 respectively this September. Cody is playing drums for the worship and doing a great job of it. God has really blessed him and through him is blessing us. Alissa is still too shy to join us in singing but we hope that she will soon!

Joe has started a “blog” which is a web log where he has been writing, almost daily. It is mostly teachings that may some day be gathered into a book. He has called the blog “Musings of an Iconoclast”. You can read his entries at We have also started a family blog where both Joe and Erica will be making occasional entries. This one is more chatty and is about was is happening day to day, often with pictures. You can view it at Both of these blogs allow you to leave comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for us. Recently in a time of prayer, the Lord took Joe to Jeremiah. We have continued to seek God as to His will and direction. Anyhow, Jeremiah is giving the word of the Lord to the nation of Judah and says,

'If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.' Jer 42:10-12 NIV
We have felt strongly to stay in Mexico and continuing working with this local church and whatever else the Father brings our way. We covet your prayers.

Please do drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

In service to the King,

Joe, Erica, Cody and Alissa

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