Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A third culture...

The 2011-2012 school year has kicked off at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center (SCCLC). This school truly is a culture all it’s own. It is an educational institution for missionary kids from many different countries, Bolivians, and other students who desire a private education based off of an American curriculum and schedule. Some of you may know that Molly has her degree in Elementary Education and from 2007-2009 she served as the 4th grade teacher at SCCLC. When we returned to Santa Cruz this past April we were feeling God directing us toward more ministry with our Spanish speaking churches and Molly knew that she wouldn’t be teaching full time. However, the key word in a missionary’s vocabulary is “flexibility”. As the school year was nearing the start, SCCLC still needed to fill many teaching positions. One of those positions was in the 4th grade. A teacher was lined up, but she was still in the States raising her support. Molly saw a need and decided to help out. For the first 2 weeks of classes Molly got back into her teaching mode. I was able to help with decorating bulletin boards and grading papers. It was actually quite fun for us to work together in that setting. Praise be to God that the other teacher was able to raise the rest of her support rather quickly and she is now safely in Santa Cruz and Molly has been able to step back from charge of the 4th graders.

We have also been able to fill the need of leadership with Jr. High and Sr. High ministry at SCCLC. On August 15th we jump started Sr. High Bible study. We had 35 youth show up for tacos, games, and a brief testimony sharing. Each Monday night from 7-9 at the house of some fellow missionaries, we will be meeting with the 9th-12th graders from SCCLC. We are really excited for how God will use us to mentor these youth this year.

Our goal is to have a couple Jr. High activities each month. This past Friday we hosted an ice cream party at our house. We did a gross ice cream sundae relay where we split the youth up into 2 teams and each team had to choose 5 non-traditional toppings out of a cup. Team 1 chose hot sauce, soy sauce, bbq sauce, a scoop of flour, and salsa. Team 2 received mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, pancake syrup, and pizza flavored crackers. When I designed the game I had not intended on playing, but we had uneven teams so I got in on the “fun”. With plastic spoons in hand, the relay began and I’m proud to say that my team won! They youth were able to get those gross flavors out of their mouths with some delicious brownies, ice cream, and regular ice cream toppings. As everyone enjoyed dessert, I shared a short devotional from Matthew 5:13. I challenged the youth to think about how they felt during our relay game. Some said it was gross and they wanted to quit or they wished they didn’t ever have to take another bite. Then I asked them to think about this thought. “Do we ever present ourselves like gross ice cream sundaes?” People expect us to be sweet, but once they get a taste of who we are, they find bitterness and wish that they never had to experience another taste. I really enjoy the Message paraphrase for this particular passage.

Matthew 5:13
The Message (MSG)

Salt and Light
 13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”

I asked the question to myself as well as the Jr. Highers. “Are you bringing out the God-flavors of this earth in your life?”

It was really fun to watch their brains work as they thought through that question. I am excited to see how they process these challenges and live them out this year.

Bryan acts like he knows how to play charango

Thank you so much for checking in on our ministry. Your prayers, encouragement, and support continually bless us.

In His Hands,
Bryan & Molly

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spanish with a southern accent

Work Team by the Numbers
15 Great New Friends
1 Trip Up the Mountain

1 Good looking couple

1 of many waterfalls at Las Cuevas
1 Flat Tire on the Bus

1 of 2 Spanish Sunday Morning Services
This one at Lineage of God Church
"GracePointe Choir" accompanied by Bryan on guitar

4 days of Manual Labor 

Half a dozen blisters on each hand
from this job of "tamping the floor"

12,000 bricks used for the project

5 Afternoons of Vacation Bible School

July15-26 were amazing days for us in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, As you can see from the pictures, we did many things and went many places. Looking up at the waterfalls at Las Cuevas was breath taking and helped me appreciate God’s creation more and more. On the days when it rained too much to work at the building site, we took the team shopping around down town. This gave me a sense of pride as I realized I was starting to better know my way around the city. There was great joy in seeing the smiles on the faces of kids at VBS each afternoon. There was a great sense of accomplishment when the last brick was laid for the building project. Yet there was such a great spirit of unity, openness, and spiritual surrender during our evening devotional times at the mission house, that I have to say those times were my favorite moments. As full time missionaries we seek to be good hosts, servants, and tour guides. Our main focus is making sure that the short-term mission team has the best experience possible. We desire that God will speak to them in a special way, as they are out of their normal environment and serving in a different culture. We anticipate that they will be challenged and God will speak to their hearts, but I have to confess that I was not expecting that for myself. We split the devotional leading responsibility between us missionaries and the work team. Each night we heard encouraging scriptures, personal testimonies, and spiritual challenges. My heart was truly blessed. I know this was a time of stretching and relying on God for many of the team members who were not extremely confident in sharing their stories. As each person shared, I thanked God for filling him or her with courage and wisdom. Let me encourage those that may feel like you have nothing to share about. Perhaps you think your testimony isn’t good enough. Everyone has something to share that will touch the heart of another. It was good to hear people talk about the change God has made in their lives, but even more amazing to see them live it out daily in ministry. I am still learning Spanish and have by no means mastered it. The work team can attest to the fact that I am not yet the greatest translator. To be honest there are days where I simply use all the words that are in my current vocabulary and then I get stuck. This is when I remember the words of Francis of Assisi. He said, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words”. Sometimes all it takes is a smile, a hug, picking up a crayon to color with someone, making a balloon animal that the child will likely pop 5 minutes later, making another balloon animal to replace the first, shoveling some sand, pushing a wheelbarrow, carrying some brick, mixing some cement, eating the food prepared for you even if it is the thirteenth time you’ve had chicken in the past ten days, dancing at VBS to a song you don’t know the words too, or making a fool of yourself on the soccer field. Through these simple things and more, we can show Christ’s love. Through these simple things the GracePointe church DID show Christ’s love to the people of Santa Cruz, Bolivia including us missionaries who call Santa Cruz home.

Thank You (English)
Gracias (Spanish)
Y’all did a jam up job (Georgian)

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