Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Student Leaders Did an Excellent Job!!!

Last Monday, November 16, four students took over Bible study while I was ministering in Argentina. All reports came back that they did an awesome job!

Paul and Jesse had the place setup and ready before anyone arrived and made sure it was packed up and locked up at the end.

took the praise items at the beginning of the study and led the students to the throne in prayer. Then after the Bible study time, he took prayer requests and had a time of prayer with the group.

Danny led the study itself on the theme of encouragement. He was engaging the youth to be involved, challenging small groups in discussions and presenting his thoughts from his own preparation. He even had the groups present skits representing the theme and had individuals write "encouragement notes" to help them begin applying this scriptural mandate.

I praise God for His leaders who responded to this call (and for all the others who pitched in as well) to step out of their comfort zones and step up in front to lead 25 of their peers.

Our challenge/theme this year, to be a godly example NO MATTER HOW YOUNG YOU ARE, is being lived out through our young people.

Praise God and Keep Praying!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Off to Argentina...

Sunday, November 15, I'll leave Santa Cruz for Cordoba, Argentina. I'll join our WGM missionaries to Argentina for their field conference and staff retreat. I'll be providing ministry to the young people while their parents are occupied in meetings.

I'm due back in Santa Cruz on Sunday evening, November 22. Our WGM staff conference here in Santa Cruz then begins on the morning of the 23rd. That is set to go through Wednesday and then we plan to spend Thanksgiving together. Should be a busy, but good week together.

After the holiday week off school, we only have 3 weeks before the end of the semester. These are busy, but good days...

Since my last blog, I've been involved in many activities. Monday, I had the drama crew over for dinner after a dress rehearsal, so they could stay on for our Monday evening Bible study.

Two weeks ago, we had a servant day with the youth.

Then, just last week, there was a four-school tournament involving our varsity soccer and volleyball teams. It was a full and tiring three-day event, but our young people did an excellent job in competition while conveying a godly testimony to the other schools.
Between two soccer games, the coach asked me to host the team for dinner so he could share a brief challenge and devotional with them. It was great to see how they worked together, supported each other and fought hard.
As I head off to Argentina, please pray with me that I will be used of God. I'm also praying for physical and spiritual rest as I "take a break" from the norm.

Please pray for our Monday night Bible study on the 16th as several of our young people take charge. I know God will use them in a mighty way as they reach outside their comfort zones!

Thank you for your vital part in this ministry!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raising the Bar...

High School Retreat - Raising the Bar - was an awesome time away with 67 students. We left Santa Cruz on Friday afternoon and spent the weekend in the mountain village of Samaipata at a place called CabaƱas Traudi. The weather was set to rain for the weekend, but we enjoyed the three days without a drop.

I was privileged to share the main messages on Friday and Saturday nights and the closing challenge on Sunday morning. Friday night, the focus was Got Expectations? - challenging each of us to quit living in the chicken coop, jump the fence and soar like eagles. Saturday evening's challenge was Raising the Bar - going deeper & higher both personally and spiritually. Several commitments were made that evening for salvation and, for others, to allow Christ to not only be Savior, but Lord. Sunday's closing session was to Do Hard Things, based on many of the challenges from the book with the same title.

Arianne loves to pose for the pictures...not sure if she realizes there's a dodge ball game going on???

It was a great group of young people and leaders. In all, we were some 84 people there for retreat (not all the staff made the picture).

At the end of small group time, each group presented a skit reminding us of the dangers of the "love for something" that has gone bad.

Susan Pedraza, a senior, shared her testimony for Saturday morning's devotional. She blessed each of us as she shared what God has been doing in and through her life. An encouraging challenge!

It takes a huge amount of work to have retreat. The staff of cooks, counselors, etc. did great. I'm also SO thankful for the group of young people that are willing to not only chip in, but work HARD!

Thank you for your prayers for the last week and a half of activity. God blessed both the Spiritual Emphasis Week and the retreat that followed. Pray for our youth who made some tough, but important decisions in their spiritual lives. Also pray for those who continue to search!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spiritual Emphasis Week...Going Well...

We're having a great Spiritual Emphasis week with Franco Salvatori. We got started first thing Monday morning with our first chapel. On Monday afternoon, the junior high students loaded up and headed to an ice cream shop to hang out and get to know Franco a little better. Afterward, we returned to the house and Franco shared his testimony with them and answered their questions about his life.
At 6:30, the high school students came over to enjoy fellowship and dinner together. 50 young people we in attendance as we ate and then Franco again shared his heart with them.
Chapels are going on each day and the young people are being challenged in their spiritual lives.
At the end of the week, 67 high school students are scheduled to go on a retreat. We're all excited about the time away and continued ministry to all involved.

Pray for the remaining chapels and for the upcoming retreat. I will be sharing on retreat about Raising the Bar! spiritually in our lives. Pray that I will be able to get all the preparations finished and that all of us attending will be open to the Lord's work in our lives.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Be Praying ... Spiritual Emphasis & High School Retreat

We're in the midst of preparations for our upcoming Spiritual Enrichment Week at the Santa Cruz Christian Learning Center. I'm thankful to have Franco Salvatori return to Santa Cruz to challenge us once again. We will have special chapels each day at school.On Monday, we're also having special times with Franco after the normal school schedule. The junior high will be going out for ice cream and then Franco will share his testimony and let them get to know him better.

After we return, the high school are invited over for dinner and a special Bible study with Franco.

I'm excited about Franco's challenge to RE-Think our relationship with Christ and understand what that looks like for each of us.
On Friday, October 16, we're having a retreat with the high school students. This is not a school event, but we're excited that most of our students will be attending this voluntary time away from Santa Cruz. I will be sharing messages loosely based on the book, Do Hard Things. Franco will attend the retreat to continue ministry with the youth one-on-one and lead our worship music.

Please be in prayer for both of these events. I've been in prayer for a real revival in the lives of our youth and within our staff and leadership! I'm also praying that God's message will be clearly conveyed by both me and Franco.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Portraits and Mission Meetings

This was the week for yearbook pictures. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I took the portrait pictures for our school yearbook. In all, I took some 600 pictures of the students, Pre-Kinder through twelfth grade, and staff. It was tiring, but fun. Right after the pictures on Friday, I headed to the mission office to participate in a mission board meeting.
Then today we had a mini-staff meeting with all the WGM missionaries in Bolivia. We had a good time of worship and discussion and went over some important information and further training.

Throughout the week, I continued the regular ministries of Bible study, accountability times, chapel music coordination and leading chapel on Wednesday.

I'm preparing for a junior high Bible study next week and I am getting ready for our upcoming Spiritual Enrichment week and high school retreat which will take place in Mid-October...always something to keep me busy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bible Studies and Chapels...

We're off to a great start for our weekly high school Bible studies and secondary chapels at school.Each Monday evening, about 35 to 40 young people have been gathering to study a series I've drawn from the book, Jesus Did It Anyway. It's a great challenge to live right no matter what the world throws at us!We've had a variety of chapels and I've been able to share twice from our theme verse, I Timothy 4:12. First I shared the challenge for ALL Christians to give a clear testimony and live a godly example, no matter our age. This last week, the message focused on giving a clear example of Christ through our words.This week's activities include: accountability time with a few of the guys; Bible study on Monday evening; set-up and shooting of yearbook pictures; direct the chapel music team and Wednesday's chapel; attend a mission board meeting; participate in an all-mission meeting; and continue preparations for upcoming Bible studies as well as our spiritual enrichment week and high school retreat in October.

Thank you so much for all your prayers! Blessings!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Senior Retreat...

Senior retreat went on last week from Thursday through Sunday. The school had a scheduled day off on Friday, so we took advantage of the extra time and left from my place on Thursday at 4. All, but 2, of this year's senior class were able to attend. Emily Barlow, far left in the middle row, went along to help as the female chaperon.
The class was able to goof-off, as well as get serious when it was appropriate. The focus of the weekend is to prepare them for transition that the senior year will bring continuing on after graduation. Another purpose of the weekend away is to build unity and acceptance.
We were involved in several group activities and team builders during the day. You would be amazed at how difficult it is to raise a 1-pound pole TOGETHER with only your fingertips!Although some of the activities were challenging, the class took the challenges and worked together...having fun doing it!
Building trust in each other and applying that to our trust in God was another focal point.
Yes, I trust them as well!
Of course, a good game of volleyball is always in order...well, a dozen games is even better.
We had a session each evening. My part in the session was not terribly lengthy, but each session seemed to get longer as they shared. God really blessed these times together and I believe He used them to draw the young people together!
Contrary to the photo at the beginning, they can be normal! They can also be leaders and set the spiritual atmosphere at the school, which they've already been doing...see below!

On Tuesday, the seniors instigated a student led prayer group.
17 young people met at 7:30 to have prayer for each other, the school, their teachers, etc.! PTL!!!

Please remember the class of 2010 as they take their "position" in school very seriously. They know how to have fun, but most of them also know the importance of their relationship with God. Pray that they will develop that relationship first and the overflow will be seen in their leadership and testimonies!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

SCCLC is Up and Running...

Classes started at the Learning Center on Monday, August 10. After the half-day at school, the seniors came over to have lunch together and spend some time catching up. They're a great class and I'm excited to be their sponsor. Remember them in prayer as the begin this adventure of their last year in school! They're pictured to the right...

I spoke from our theme verse, I Timothy 4:12, for our opening chapel on Wednesday. I will present 6 more chapels from that verse, interspersed throughout this semester, to challenge the students and staff to be Godly examples in all areas of life.

Friday the 14th, I opened up my house on Friday to all the high school to get together, fellowship and I was also able to share a challenge regarding chasing after temporal things...
Monday's Bible study this week with the high school went very well. Over 40 students attended as we began our study from the book Jesus Did It Anyway.

Tuesday, I hosted the junior high for their first outting. We had a Banana Split Bubble Bash. It was a fun time together with 21 7th and 8th graders...ah, to have 1/4 of their energy!
The semester is in full swing and I'm excited for what lies ahead. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to minister to these young people and encourage them to minister to each other.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Week with Cody Kargus' Team and Ministry Preparations...

Last Monday, I hosted the team of 35 for dinner and fellowship. About 15 of our youth joined us for fellowship as well.
On Thursday evening, we gathered again with the team for a night of drama. The youth also played games and continued to get to know each other.
Then on Friday, we had an all day discipleship workshop. A dozen of our youth and about a dozen from the team were together for sessions on their Christian walk and also meaningful times of prayer.
Cody continued to challenge us from the Word throughout the day.

Wednesday morning, Cody and his team will head back to Wisconsin. It's been a blessing to have them minister here in Bolivia at several orphanages, churches and with our youth.

Next week, August 10, classes begin. This week, we're in the midst of orientation and preparing the campus for the new school year. There's still much to do, but things are falling in place.

Please pray for each of us that we would be physically and mentally ready for the challenges that lay ahead.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Time with Cody Kargus' team...

Last night, several of the SCCLC youth joined Cody's team for games and fellowship. It was a great time of hanging-out and Cody gave us a great spiritual challenge!
On Monday evening, the team of 36 will join me at my place for dinner and sharing. We've also invited the SCCLC youth back to enjoy some fellowship as well. Pray that it's a great evening together. Also, please continue to pray for the team as they minister in orphanages and churches in the area.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Senior Class Get-together...

Last night, 5 of the up-and-coming senior class came over to have dinner and a Bible study. Most of the class of 20 are not here in Bolivia or at least not in Santa Cruz, but those that are here wanted to have the chance to fellowship and requested a Bible study. I was very happy to oblige and enjoyed our time over dinner and then a study in Matthew 16.

The discussion focus was on our perception and how that many times affects our attitude and how we see God working in situations. Christ saw things from God's point of view and his disciples had a hard time getting connected with that. The challenge for me, and I pray these students, is to open up to seeing things from His point of view and back off from the small picture we see and allow God to reveal the big picture.

We also talked about our priorities for their senior year, and life in general; about what's really important. Finally, we closed with prayer for the year to come as they lifted up their classmates, the school and God's leading throughout.

At school, I'm still helping to oversee much of the construction going on. We're only 3 weeks away from classes beginning and there's still much to do. Here at the house, I've been working on my office, going through paperwork and getting to the new calendar for the year as well as other projects in preparation for the new year.

Next Wednesday, Cody Kargus will arrive with a team of 31 students who will be doing ministry as well as a discipleship "course". I will be available to help out and look forward to the times together. We will be incorporating events with our "kids" too, so it should be a busy, but fun, couple of weeks.

Thanks for all your prayers!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Staff Retreat & getting some youth together...

Right after my trip to the States, I was getting things in line for our annual missionary staff retreat. This is an opportunity for the missionary staff to get together, take a short break from ministry and be personally challenged spiritually. We were privileged to have special speaker Tommy Anderson and his wife Laverne come all the way from Ireland to minister to our group. The Lord used his messages and their open lives to bless each of us.

Our last session together was communion. Tommy led this special time of worship and prayer.

My role, as retreat director, was to coordinate all the activities, meals (I didn't cook), accommodations, etc. I also led one of our sessions entitled "Jesus Did it Anyway" based on a book by Kent Keith.

On of our Bolivian missionaries currently on educational leave at Asbury Seminay, Kelly Langdoc, came back to Bolivia to help with retreat by leading music and the youth sessions. It was great to have her back and we really appreciated her ministry to us. Kaylynn Lampen, one of our "MK's" helped by accompanying Kelly for the singing.

Laura Boyce, a missionary with South Amercia Mission, joined us at the retreat to lead the children's program. The kids had a great time and were always excited about going to their "classes."

It was a great week and I believe the Lord really blessed our time. Since it's winter, the weather can get a bit cold, but we had a very mild week.

Since retreat, I've been working at the house, getting things in order for the new school year. I also participated in our mission board meeting on Monday and have been at the school a few times to help oversee much of the work going on there.

Thursday afternoon, three of the graduates came over to visit over lunch. We had a great time of fellowhip and it was good to catch up on how things are going for them. They will all be leaving over the next several weeks to head to college. The transitions continue, but it's been exciting to see how God will be using these young lives.

Friday night, a dozen of the youth came over to eat pizza and hang out. Many of the young people are traveling over break, so they've had a hard time getting together. We enjoyed the fellowship and the games.

"Summer" (it's winter here) break from classes is a great time to get caught up and even ahead on some the plans for the coming school year. Pray that I will be able to get as much done as possible before Cody Kargus' team arrives on July 22. I'm looking forward to working with this team as much as possible, but will continue prepare at school and here at the house to be ready for our first day of classes on August 10.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Taking a Short Break ... Vacation ...

During the last week of school and the first week after classes, I had the privilege of having a former student and friend, David Lotz, as a house guest. He was able to visit his friends and also helped me a ton with preparations for all the closing events at school. I left the same day as David, May 30, to head to the US for a few weeks of vacation. I was able to use the time to spend with family, visit with friends, have a brief meeting at the mission, speak in one of my supporting churches and visit another.

The end of the year is always an extremely busy time and emotionally, as well as physically draining. This short break was a great way to recoup and get refreshed for another year of ministry. Below are a few pictures from the time there:

My aunt and uncle, John & Gail, spent a week with us. We were able to hang out a lot and spend some quality time together. Isaac, my nephew, turned 3 in May and he's developed quite a personality. He was fun to get to know a little more and even took to uncle John.
Brook, my niece, turned 5 the week I arrived. She's quite a character as well. We had fun and she did her best to try to keep me in line.
Cindy Haren, her niece and nephew, Ashley & Bryant, and I had the privilege to spend the day in Northern Kentucky at the Creation Museum. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and was able to find quite a few resources. Ken Ham, the museum's founder, gave a presentation that day and it was a very challenging session.
My family: Steve, Warren, Diane, me & David

As always, it's a great joy to spend time with my family. My brothers, parents and I were able to meet for lunch just prior to my departure. Throughout my time in the States, we had several opportunities to catch up and be together. My sisters-in-law, sorry they aren't pictured here, Nina and Karla are fantastic hosts and always make me feel so much at home!

I had three former students and good friends, Nathan, David & Kyle, come to visit during my time there. They try to keep me young, so their visits were great fun. My family seems to always enjoy when the young people come through. It gives them a chance to find out the scoop on my life here in Bolivia!

It was a great time of rest and renewal. When I arrived back in Santa Cruz I hit the ground running, but my time away gave me the energy I needed!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

May is History...

It's hard to imagine how fast one month can pass by; however, May was such a month. After the Junior Senior Banquet on April 25, the hour hands on all my clocks seemed to speed up leaving me little time to update this site or even sleep at times.
The juniors did a fantastic job of putting together this banquet to honor the seniors...plus they looked mighty sharp in suits!!!
God is faithful and I praise Him for continuing to supply strength and health during these busy days, but also for all the blessings of being involved in His ministry to the youth in Bolivia.

Graduation planning, preparations and activities occupied much of my "off" time from normal youth activities. Yet, the ministry did continue and I'd like to share a little of what went on throughout the last several weeks of activities...

A week before all of the end of year events, Liz Morriss and I had a dinner with the senior class. It was a great time of fellowship and fun before life got too busy!


Our last Bible study wound up the series on how our perception of God greatly affects our relationship with Him. The youth stayed very invovled and I believe that God used these times not only to strengthen their relationships with the Lord, but also with each other.


Our junior high end-of-the-year cookout was a great time of fellowship and activities. As usual, Bill and Bev Smith hosted this event and did a fantistic job of preparing the meal and opening their home to some 30 junior high kids.


The following day, the Smiths hosted the high school cookout. It was a great group that came together to celebrate a wonderful year. The youth also honored Liz Morriss, Chad & Emily Jackson and Steve & Becky Swope for their leadership and involvement over the past several years.


Our last chapel was specifically focused on our seniors. It was such a blessing to have Whitney Belovicz and Alejandro Garcia, two of our seniors, share their testimonies and challenges to the student body. God really spoke through their lives!


Graduation activities (besides the weeks of preparation) began with a "walk-through" rehearsal in the school chapel.


Later that evening the senior class, Liz Morriss and I hosted the seniors and their parents for a dinner out. We talked about the graduation and had opportunities to share our thanks with the parents for their support and the privilege to be a part of their childrens' lives.


If it weren't for the junior class' help, I don't think the graduation ceremony would have gone as well. They did a great job making sure everyone found a seat, bringing in extra chairs as more and more people showed up, passing out the programs and escorting in the parents of the seniors. Susan and Maryodette, pictured on the far left of the group of junior girls here, sang a beautiful arrangement of In Christ Alone.


Graduation, held on May 23, was a great celebration for the class of 2009. It was such an honor to work with this class over the last six years. It's been fun to see them grow up and mature...well, somewhat...and I pray that God will continue to use them wherever they go.

Thank you too for your prayers during these busy days!

The end of the year is very difficult because of all that is going on, but mostly because of all the goodbyes. Only two of our twenty-one graduates will remain in Bolivia. The rest are spreading throughout the world. It's like saying goodbye to "my children" except we may never see each other again.

As I said, and firmly believe, God continues to provide peace and supply what's needed to prepare for another year. I'm excited for the next school year will bring, so pray with me that the coming weeks of preparation for 2009-2010 will go well.

I'll also be directing our annual missionary retreat with speaker, Tommy Anderson. Pray these days away will be the renewal we need spiritually and physically to continue the work to which God has called each of us.

Blessings on You!