Tag Archives: Alliance

Our Week with the Tarahumara

There are so many places I could start writing about last week in Northern Mexico in the Copper Canyon or (Barranca del Cobres). So many God stories! As the Compassion Track leader for the C&MA for this part of the world, I am always looking for our niche, where God points us in the direction we are to follow. When I heard about Pastor Tomás’ ministry to the Tarahumara, I instinctively knew I needed to explore this. What a journey this has led Linda and I on! I am still working internally through what we experienced. So I am thinking that this will be a 3 part series to get some of it out and written.

Through the Global Emergency Relief Fund of the C&MA, I submitted a proposal for a $36,000 emergency food aid to the Tarahumara people that Pastor Tomás works with directly. Now you may think that this amount of money is a large sum and that will buy a good amount of food,  it is and it does. But when you measure it against the need….I am still overwhelmed.

There are between 50,000-70,000 Tarahumara people living in the Copper Canyon. Many years ago, there were over a million. They have become a forgotten people, ignored by the government to the point of becoming extinct. One news report team recently called the Tarahumara “the poorest people in the world”. Seventeen years ago, Pastor Tomás and his sidekick Brenda were led to reach out to this people group. Travelling for hours and days on burros and walking  through the canyons, they searched out the people. As Pastor Tomás told me last week, these people have been waiting over 2000 years to hear about the life-saving love of Jesus.

The Tarahumara do not have a word for “love. That makes it kind of hard to share that concept. Each group of this people has a dialect that is just a bit different but between them, they can make themselves understood. There has been little to no interaction between the various groups. As one Tarahumara leader said, after seeing Tomás’ unfailing commitment to them of walking through the canyons and helping out wherever he could with food and medical help, they began to accept him and understand that this man was not going away. This opened the door to the Gospel. Last week, Tomás had tears in his eyes as he explained to me that through the growth of new believers, the interaction is starting to be shared between Tarahumara groups for the purpose of sharing the Gospel (after 17 years).

You and I would think their living conditions as completely unacceptable. Most live in caves.  They usually marry when they reach 12 or 13 years of age. There is rampant abuse of all kinds. Water is a luxury. Imagine hiking 4 or 6 hours or even more just to get some water. I met a girl of 13 with a child. Then Linda told me of a 16 year old with 6 children. Yes, you read that right! While giving food to one group, there was a unfamiliar smell in the air, but then I realized I was down-wind. It was the basic odours of humanity. There has been much written about the lack of disease and lack of medical problems with the Tarahumara. But it is still prevalent. TB is a killer. Hunger…Suicide…. It seems like if the kids can get past the age of 10, they have a greater chance of growing old but up to 50% die before reaching 10. Lack of water and the availability of food are enormous issues.

So you may thinking, how and why should we help these people? There are those that would say, let’s move them into a town where there are hospitals and laws and water and bathrooms or that we need to educate them and teach them what is right and wrong according to…. Others have said leave them alone, they have survived to this point in time…

Let me leave you until the next time with this. Read Isaiah 58:6-9.
In my mind, how we are supposed to deal with this is straightforward.
My question to you “how do these few verse relate to you and your community that you live in?”
Oh ya, give to the Global Emergency Relief Fund!

PS. Click here to see many of the pictures from this first trip. 

A quick note…then the Copper Canyon

Just a quick note as we want to keep you updated and we treasure
your praying. We are continuing to get together every Tuesday afternoon with our group of Tica and Nica (Costa Rican and Nicaraguan) ladies for their time of fellowship and worship. Praying Latina-women-style is quite something. The faith shown  is amazing. The noise is mind-blowing. It’s also our time to do some training in basic community transformation issues like the value of woman, understanding money, leadership and working within a cooperative. As Cecilia, a local leader, said yesterday, “It’s all about salvation!”. With the sewing cooperative that has developed, the last 1.5  hours are spent sewing. A leadership group has been chosen. Please pray as we are part of the development of this amazing opportunity of creating self-worth, skills and livelihood opportunities. We are now up to 8 sewing machines for 18 ladies. AND another group wants to get started in a nearby community! Pray for direction.

Next week, Linda and I are off to Mexico, specifically the Copper Canyon area to meet with Pastor Tomás and his team. They work with the Turahumara group of people. After 17 years of ministry, this team is making inroads into this indigenous group. There are are 50,000 people living in and around a canyon that is bigger than the Grand Canyon. The problem is that in many ways, these are a forgotten people so many C&MA churches have sent short-term missions teams into this area. Lot’s has been accomplished.

Yet….I watched a short video this morning about When a NGO Admits Failure. Take a look.  We are going in with an emergency food aid for the people in the region. Drought, lack of food and medical problems are problematic. It has been reported that less than 50% of kids in this people group reach the age of 10. In one community of 300 families where this Mexican mission team works, 98 people of have died in the last 3 years. Our plan is to bring in emergency funding from the Global Emergency Response Fund of the C&MA Canada to address immediate food supply problems. We will be exploring how we can come along side the local ministry goals and work together to create a sustainable answer to the physical problems. Pray as we meet, as we travel and see. We need open eyes and open hearts to see the needs and how we can be part of a long-term solution. As I write this, I am hearing that timing will be very tight with the transferring of funds to purchase the food. Please pray for the details to work out.

Gaining Traction….

It’s so gratifying after months of planning and preparation as you start to move ahead. But before we get into that, how was your Christmas? Did you have lot’s of great times with friends and family?  Our kids came down and we had a lot of fun together. Everyone except Linda learned to surf, we played lots of games and generally enjoyed spending time together. We had so much fun that Briana is still here! Actually she is down for 3 months spending time with us and getting recharged for going back to university in the fall. Jordan is back at Ambrose in his 3rd year.
Lately in the news here, tragedy struck in Honduras with a jail fire. 272 died and many injured. Please remember to uphold these families in prayer. I am currently putting together an emergency food security program for many families in the Copper Canyon area in Mexico. Due to food availability and medical issues, the statistics are heart wrenching. Less than half of all children live to 10 years of age. In one community of 300 families, 98 people have died in the last 3 years. Pray as we look to build a sustainable, long-term nutritional food response through the work of the local Mexican missionaries. We are planning an initial food response for the last week in March. Giving for this can be directed to the Global Emergency Response Fund through a local C&MA church or the national office in Toronto. 
Linda and I so much to be thankful for as God continues to provide through you and Canadian Alliance churches. Last month we were notified that our fund to pay for our work vehicle here is full. FULL!!! Amazing! A huge “gracias” to each of you for following God’s prompting in helping us. WOW.
With donated school supplies
Serving the children
Last week, 3 couples from Brooks Alliance came down for 6 days of interacting in our ministries and learning what sustainable ministry looks like with the idea of the church family extending their community outreach internationally to projects here in Costa Rica. We spent 2 days with Cecilia in Patarra with her love of the local, poor children and her daily feeding program. There was an emergency food suppply issue for the  children and this group brought down $$ that was donated from the High River Alliance and Brooks Alliance to supply food for this last week. Then a day was spent in Horquetas, Sarapiqui with Pastor Rodrigo and Aydeé  and being excited by their drug addiction program and their huge dreams of reaching out into their community for Christ. 
One of the highlights of the week, was enabling Cecilia and her leadership with her outreach to a group of Nicaraguan women who meet weekly for a Bible Study. After time in the Bible and praying, they break out the sewing machines where they have been learning to sew and trying to sell a couple of products locally. They have 3 old machines for 18-25 women. This Albertan group saw a need and we spent a day buying five new sewing machines and lots of material. Instead of just giving these machines to them and walking away like many “missionary-minded” teams have done in the past (read When Helping Hurts), we set up a sustainable, ministry approach by establishing a  sewing cooperative where this group gain self-respect and gain personal control of a 
 hopeless destiny. This will lead into a building a local savings and loans initiative that will enable them to take out emergency loans for food and medical issues. Also, this will build into a “livelihood” ministry where they make quality clothing and crafts, sell them in Canada and earn an income that goes back into the cooperative and can assist each member.  I can’t explain the joy in the faces of the women as this week, I presented the sewing cooperative to them and we unpacked the sewing machines together. We spent 2 hours with them practising and learning! Classes and training in areas such as women in leadership, budgets, working in groups… will occur over the next 4 months. If you have a desire to help out financially with these community development  initiatives in Patarra, you can give to “The Patarra Project” at your local C&MA church or here
If you are interested in partnering with prayer concerns, you can contact Linda to exchange prayer needs.

God is Sooo Good.

This is just a brief update for some great things that have happened recently. We had to cancel our Mexico trip to the Copper Canyon last week. I was having a knee joint issue that would have been impossible in the mountainous area in Copper Canyon. So after medical tests were done, other medical issues were discovered (one was a severe kidney infection). So this is now be looked after. After testing is done next week, we hope to discover if any long-term kidney damage has occurred due to the severity of the infection. Funny thing is I really haven’t felt a thing!

We just completed a 3 very full days of a retreat with the Regional Leadership team. The team consists of leaders representing Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica. What a rich time with relationships, inter-changing of ideas and leadership concepts and praying.

In our last blog, we mentioned the great need of raising the last 1/2 of the money required to pay the mission back for our ministry vehicle. We have received new news over the last 2 weeks including today’s report. God is amazing! People gave! And gave in extremely large amounts and smaller amounts. Unbelievable. We are so blessed! Thank you. The side issue to this is the trickle down effect as  international workers in Venezuela are now able to go ahead in full confidence with the purchase of their ministry vehicle.

As we move into the Christmas season, life gets busier. If we are unable to blog before then, we wish each of you the best during this season of Celebration. We are so thankful for the life that we have in Christ and we pray that for each one of you. Merry Christmas!

Development is Developing!

As the seasons change in Canada, Linda and I realize we don’t miss the snow! We have had to live with our own winter down here of having alot of rain. It’s quite amazing how down here they predict the week of the month that it will change from wet (winter) season to dry (summer) season. Nov 19 is supposed to be the date. Already we are seeing more sunshine as the transition happens.

Life continues to be busy as I am sure it is with you too. This last month has been full of translating and working through the details of creating a community needs assessment evaluation. I have had to adapt this to our situations. My short form is only 10 pages which will take a couple of weeks to work through with each community.  I am very excited when in 10 days I will be receiving much of the information or building blocks of working towards community transformation in Spanish.  This includes hundreds of lessons and all of the orientation information needed to get “a huge machine” moving forward. This is a huge springboard for our work!!!! In the meantime, I have been using a local pastor to help me with correcting my translations.

Last week, I took our puppy (a Great Dane) up to the Patarra community where we are building the personal relationships to complete a community needs assessments. It’s a community filled with Nicaraguans that moved to Costa Rica to seek a better life. This is where we work with Cecilia and her soup kitchen for the local children who don’t have enough food at home to eat.  In minutes, I had 20 children grouping around us. They are not used to seeing a friendly dog. Usually, dogs are either used for security and kept behind a fence or they are unfriendly strays on the streets that you don’t want to get near. Max (our big puppy) bridged alot of gaps that day. Please continue to pray as we step into this community and encourage the local church to reach out to this needy people group.

Last weekend, the Alliance people here in Costa Rica had an orientation retreat. It was focused on the International Workers who are studying Spanish as we did here.  As a small group, we were able to work through several sessions of the Global Leadership Summit sponsored by the Willow Creek Association. Amazing speakers! I was strongly convicted in the area of humility. Here is a definition that will give you food for thought and maybe the desire for more research. “More simply, you could say the humble person is marked by a willingness to hold power in service of others”.  Dickson

From Nov 20-27, Linda and I are traveling to Mexico to the Copper Canyon area working with Pastor Tomás Bencomo as we visit the Tarahumara Indians living there. The canyon area is abut 5 times larger than the Grand Canyon and there are an estimated 70,000 – 100,000 Indians living there who have never heard the Gospel. It is a 12-16  hour drive on a road that was recently built. We are thankful for the road otherwise it would be by burro or donkey. We are desiring to capture the heart of ministry of Pastor Tomás as we work alongside him. This is also as opportunity to do a quick food security assessment to the end of assisting them in their basic food needs.

I have thrown much information into this blog but I want to close with some answers to prayer and other needs.
1. Linda and I are so thankful for an Alberta church that stepped in to fill the gap and paid for Briana to join us for Christmas.
2. This need is great. We are still needing to raise the remaining funds for our ministry vehicle down here.  This is a huge prayer request as it effects another missionary couple in nearby country and their ability to purchase a vehicle for their ministry.  We are needing almost $6000. We are so grateful for what has been given in the last couple of months. You can specify “Doell Vehicle Fund” to your local Alliance church or designate your gift to the C&MA.
3. A huge answer to prayer to find much of the material that we need already translated!!!
4. As we work in the community of Patarra, doors will be opened to build relationships, ability to clearly communicate in Spanish will happen and the needed details will fall into place. We do have an account open to provide for this ministry where you can donate to the Patarra Project.
5. Pray for the San Francisco church and opportunities for Linda and I to be part of their community vision goals.
6. Over the course of the last year, we have been looking for a ministry name that would encompass all the areas of ministry we are involved in plus identify us to others. Our ministry name is “SunCompassion” and the email address is suncompassionla@gmail.com

Getting Food on the Table

Are there ever any times during the year when there is absolutely no food for your table? The kids are hungry and Dad and Mom are in despair. Read on!

The last 2 weeks have been a whirlwind for us. I started of in El Salvador spending 4 days with C&MA pastors from all over Central America. Once they understood that our ministry was in compassion work, we heard many stories of needs, usually centered around the poverty conditions for the kids in their communities. I am planning a driving trip through 3-4 countries to meet with the pastors and assess needs in the New Year. During my time there, I received word that a person from an Alliance church wanting to donate a sum of money for a clean water project so I was scrambling to gather information. It appears that a clean water source will be built for a children’s ministry in Honduras with the help of a partnering ministry (eMi). Pray for the details to work out.

After a 12 hour “layover” at home, I joined a Canadian Food Grains Bank delegation in Honduras. We visited with poor Honduran farmers and local development organizations about conservation agriculture. Through conservation/organic techniques, small-plot farmers (less than 2 acres) are able to increase their yields to beyond “subsistence” to actual selling produce at a market. This means that many farmers have been able to go from having no food to eat several times a year to having food to put on the table and actually think about having enough seed for the next crop. All of these farmers live in poor areas with varying soil conditions. After adopting new organic techniques, some farmers were able to afford to send some of their kids to school. It was very gratifying to see that through changing  their farming techniques to that of respect for the land around them, the land gave back. Reforestation, erosion prevention, water retention, crop rotations were some of the transferable and organic principles we worked with. These farmers had a history of killing the soil with crop burning and heavy use of insecticides/herbicides. To paint a clearer picture, this all occurred up in the mountains where soil differed from place to place and farming was being done on slopes up to 60 degrees. Very steep! Needless to say, we walked many mountain-sides.  I learned many new ways of assessing and enabling communities in their food needs towards poverty reduction.


Linda kept busy and adventurous while I was gone. She drove by herself for the first time with the local traffic conditions. Our regional directors were traveling too so Linda helped keep their household organized and making sure the girls got to school. She continues to develop her prayer ministry. I know that she communicates with several of you.

Continue to pray for the needs of the Alliance workers world-wide. Financial support was very short of the needed goal last month to provide for the basic living needs of the international workers. This has created budget issues. Linda and I remain faithful that our needs of funds to purchase our ministry vehicle will be supplied. As we look to the future, pray that God goes before us as we strive to work compassionately through the local churches to reach out to those in their communities that don’t know Jesus.

The Horizon is Huge!

Coming back from Canada, the focus has been about “getting focused”. The title of the blog says it all – “The Horizon is Huge”. When we look at where our Relief and Development ministry can go, it is overwhelming when you know the depth of the physical and spiritual needs that are all around us. God has been working in us too. Over the last 2 years, one of my prayers is that God will show us our niche, a ministry direction that we can have direct impact for Him by not doubling up on what others are doing (especially in terms of dollars and time), but being able to increase out effectiveness through relationships and partnerships. We want the local churches in our region to be the “hero”. We want to equip the local church to be more effective in being the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.

For those that are interested, here are our Ministry Objectives for 2012. I welcome any thoughts or questions.

My next 2 weeks is filled with travel. I am in El Salvador for the Alianza Congresso. This is a gathering of Alliance pastors from Central America. I am looking forward to this opportunity to network and hear what God is doing in the various churches. Also, this is a great opportunity to help to me know what and where there are areas that we can look at assisting with. It should be easier this year as my Spanish speaking has improved abit. I have a one day break at home and then I am part of a CFGB delegation (Canadian Food Grains Bank) to Honduras. I am joining 4 others from Canada to visit Honduran farmers and learn about how they are adapting their agriculture practices to farming on mountain-sides and steep slopes. We will also be evaluating how to improve farming practices and how to improve market access.  What we learn from here can now be transferred to other parts of the world. This is especially important to our ministry as Central America has the mountain chain running down the middle and we want to focus on improving food security issues for the poor. Honduras has similar statistics to other nearby countries. From a recent report, 49% of Hondurans living in the rural areas live in extreme poverty.

Linda has been working hard at developing a prayer network of individuals and Canadian churches. She has lofty goals of how to make this interactive. We desperately need you to be praying for us but vice versa, you need prayer too. Drop Linda an email with any questions or requests.

With our family, there has been a change. No, Linda is not pregnant! Briana has chosen not to go back to college this year. She is pursuing her dreams of being an EMT/Paramedic. Jordan is back for his 3rd year at Ambrose University College. He has changed programs to International Ministry.  We were wondering how we could have a family Christmas together. With using some airmiles, we have Jordan coming down during his Christmas break. We are still unsure of if and how Briana will make it down. That’s something to pray about.

Last but not least, I will close with a huge concern for us. Many of you have been following our vehicle saga. Our ministry vehicle was in the shop for 4 months due to transmission issues. We have it back now but it is not 100%. There are still computer codes errors showing. As one person put it, Linda and I have experienced “longsuffering” through this months-long ordeal. We pray for completion with this. The major concern for us on-top of this is our ministry vehicle funding. We are at just over 50% of raising support to purchase this. We have $6000 left to repay an account (for other international workers to get their vehicle). If you feel led to assist us with this, we would be grateful. Direct your giving to the Doell Vehicle Fund, through any Alliance church or through the C&MA office in Toronto. Until next time…..bendiciones.

“Mini” Cultural Adjustments

It’s been just over 3 weeks since we arrived back in Costa Rica. It felt like we went through a series of “mini” cultural adjustments as we were back in Canada for 3 months and then again when returning back to the spanish culture that we want to integrate as fully as we can in to. I lost some vocab but as we speak it daily, it is coming back slowly.

Our time back has been full of fun and excitement as we welcomed in a new member to our family. Maxima or Max is a Great Dane pup that we are getting to know. She is about 6 months old and like all Great Danes, seems to grow every day. She is about 50 lbs and should be double that when full-grown. She loves to cuddle and she tries to take up the whole couch when she relaxes with Linda.

As we look back on our 3 months in Canada, we think of all the blessings we received through the building of new friendships and strengthening of old ones. We didn’t plan on being part of the Alliance response to the Slave Lake (SP video reportwildfires but it was a highlight as we met amazing people and say God’s hand at work amongst the strife and heartache. We touch based with 12 churches and we walked away encouraged by what we saw God doing with His people. I was invited to observe the Canadian Food Grain Bank (CFGB) board meetings as an Alliance attendee. I am excited as I envision the food programming needs we can look towards within our community development focus. I will be joining a CFGB group as we tour food programs in Honduras this fall. As I write, I’m distracted as I think about all that we saw and did and the people we met. It was a rich time for us.

Our kids and our extended family were a highlight too. For the summer, Jordan and Briana are working out at Lake of the Trees Camp in BC. We were able to spend a day with them and see why they thrive out there as they invest in the lives of others. Pray for this fall as they look for guidance in their decision making. Jordan is returning to Ambrose for his 3rd year. Briana has very recently shifted directions and will be pursuing her EMT/Medic qualifications.

I mentioned earlier about “mini’ culture shocks. We are experiencing one right now. As many of you know, while we were in Canada, other Alliance personnel had borrowed our vehicle and the transmission gave out on them. Well, after approx. 2 months, it is still in the shop. My plan this week is to sit at the shop every day until it’s done and done well. (Another one) As I write, I’m munching on a cookie that some ants had got to. You can’t waste a good chocolate chip oatmeal cookie so you throw them in the freezer, kill the ants and voila, just brush the dead ants off. In the last weeks, our time has been filled with more ministry development as I am starting to put together the package for our disaster response teams as well as doing some translation work for a community development program. Linda is exploring how we can initiate an intentional daily prayer program that will provide the basis for a sharing of our prayer needs with you and you sharing your prayer needs with us. Before I forget, Linda and I need to return to Canada (Calgary) for a few days in August to meet with Alliance medical personnel as part of our insurance fulfillment responsibilities. Maybe we might run into each other.

Linda and I are very excited to be back though there are always little apprehensions that occur as you ask yourself if God has the right person here for the job. Pray for us for these little spiritual battles. Pray for other international workers as these spiritual battles are very real for them too. We pray for the churches we met with and the needs that were shared. Pray for our continued stepping forward in faith as the Spirit leads. We have not had a financial update lately but also pray for the financial needs of our vehicle, and the general giving to the GAF fund that supports the work of C&MA international workers world-wide.

Keep updated with our Tweet address  @SunJustice

Slave Lake Incineration and More!

Who would have thought that Linda and I would be asked to go to Slave Lake for the C&MA relief effort? God knew! Linda and I had the privilege of spending 10 days in total in 2 different time frames coming along side the Slave Lake Alliance church. We arrived 3 days before the town people were allowed in. Having never have been there before, we were not quite sure where along highway 2 it was located. But as we drove over the red  fire retardant coating the highways and trees dropped from water bombers and smelled that old smoky smell that all firefighters know, we knew were getting close. The devastation as we entered the town left us speechless. That sensation did not leave us while we were there as we listened over and over to the individual stories of the people affected. To hear a story, all we had to do in passing was ask how the person was doing. Without fail, we stood there 20-30 minutes as we heard their story of escape, their feelings of desperation and their sense of hopelessness as they saw their homes and town burning around them.

The local Alliance church building was spared so as we partnered with the Disaster Response unit of Samaritan’s purse, this became our base of operations. This included twice daily briefings by the provincial emergency operations crew that included police, fire and town officials as well as some NGO representation. Approx. 30-50 people in a room making decisions on how best to save the town and how to bring life back to normal so that the people could return.

But as we worked with the community members in our response, we quickly realized that it will be many months, maybe even years before “normal” would be the norm. Once the people returned (those with undamaged houses), they began the hard work of cleaning up, removing fridges/freezers that had spoiled and rotted food from 2 weeks without electricity. The grieving process started as they saw the state of their homes and of their town. People feeling guilt and anger as their home stood undamaged in the middle of all the destruction while others felt guilt and anger as they looked and stood in the cinders of their home at the undamaged houses around them.

The Alliance church had been praying for an opening into the community. Pastor Ottenbreit said afterwards, that the door could not get wider than this. Seven homes within the Alliance congregation were destroyed. Everyone in the church, everyone in the town had difficulties with internalizing what had happened and how to respond as individuals and as a community. Coping skills are saturated and worn out. The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team responded. These are chaplains trained in trauma counseling and critical incidence debriefing. Seventeen volunteers from Alliance churches across Alberta volunteered their time and emotional energy to come and serve the people of Slave Lake for 2-4 days. They received basic chaplain training and we sent them out to the hurting people. The stories we heard! But the exhilaration people felt as they saw God at work using them as the “hands and feet of Jesus” was indescribable. These volunteers went out to where the people were – in the coffee shops, in the campgrounds, in the donation sorting facility…wherever. The town has a long way to go. I ask that you continue to pray for the people of Slave Lake. Also pray for the Alliance church as they have made significant inroads in the community and town leadership for Christ.

 We did not know that this was going to be part of our 3 months in Canada. But we are thankful that we got to be part of it for many reasons. The relationships we formed will be life-lasting. The God-experiences we were part of were incredibly faith-building. We have less than three weeks to go before we head back to Costa Rica. We said goodbye to Jordan and Briana this weekend as they headed off to be camp counselors for the summer. We are hoping to see them once or twice more before we go. I fly off to Winnipeg to be an observer to the Canadian Food Grains Bank board meetings this week. This will give Linda to rest and catch her breath after a whirlwind few weeks of speaking in churches, back and forth from Slave Lake.  I have also been able to fit in some cardiologist appointments. It’s amazing how God can orchestrate our schedules.

We have 3 more churches to have meetings with or give presentations at. I don’t think we have a day free until we go due to family times and “things to do”. We have been richly blessed by the new relationships we have formed and by others that have been strengthened.

We ask you to uphold us in prayer for a few things
– safety in traveling
– closure as we leave Canada for another 2 years
– for the raising of $6000 for our ministry vehicle
– for continued learning of Spanish as we reintegrate back in to Spanish culture

– as we move forward in ministry initiatives focusing on transformational community development
– continues giving to the Global Advance Fund which funds International Workers

7 weeks in

It’s been 7 weeks in Canada, specifically in Calgary. Even though we grew up here, both Linda and I had a sense of trepidation stepping back into our passport culture. We  have had some hiccups but God has been faithful as we walked through some cultural changes. We had a lengthy ‘to-do” list and most of it is getting done. Unbelievable! We were provided a basement suite by a retired Wycliffe missionary and that has been great. Though I was thinking today (while driving), many of the days we have been here have required driving, alot of driving. Maybe not comparable to the typical Calgarian commute but in comparison to driving in a small country like Costa Rica….in CR the difference is mucho time for minimum distance while in Calgary less time in the driver’s seat but you see a lot of country. Whether it’s been visiting churches or spending time with the kids, it’s involved a lot of time. Now with being involved with the CMA response to the Slave Lake fires, I envision seeing alot more of the country. More about that later, probably in the next blog.

One major item on our “to-do” list has been downsizing our “stuff’ in storage (including our kid’s items) and moving from a pay-for storage area (thank you to the couple who has paid this for 4 years) to my sister’s garage where I built a more secure area. We had a lot of fun with our kids going through the memories.

Linda said to me yesterday we have been blessed by being able to spend time with “the cream of the crop”. We have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with people and building relationships with the churches in the Southern Alberta cluster though we regret we have not been able to have the level of contact that we wanted with all 18 of them. There is just not enough time; though we did see many leaders at the Western District Conference. We have had many meals with people that have touched us personally. Yesterday over Vietnamese food, we listened to a couple that had escaped from Iran and had arrived in Canada 6 weeks ago. Their story was filled with intrigue and interrogations but more importantly it was a story of God’s blessings and  sovereignty. We walked away both humbled and blessed.

I was able to complete a DART (Disaster Assistance Response Training) course sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. This was a God appointment. I had not planned on this.  In taking this  training, I was thinking that there is a large potential within this partnership for our justice and compassion ministry in Latin America. And then…during our course, the fires that devastated the community of Slave Lake where over 7000 people were evacuated and around 400 families were directly effected happened. I was asked by the Western Canadian District leadership to get involved heading a church response. Linda and I head up to Slave Lake this Thursday where we are working with Samaritan’s Purse’s response team.  There is so much to pray for. We ask that you think of us as you lift up your requests.

1. For the people of Slave Lake. The feelings of despair and frustration. For the town and provincial management teams as they try and work out a response that is best for the townspeople. For our response, that we can direct the Alliance church body in such a way that God’s love is shown to be real. For Pastor Tracy and his family, the pastor the the SL Alliance church.
2. For continued safety as we continue to meet with churches and their leadership about our ministry of justice and compassion in Latin America. It involves much traveling.
3. For continued support, both prayer and financial. Thank you for giving to GAF which support international worker in ministry all over the world. We have about $6,000 left to pay for our ministry vehicle. Also, we were told our transmission gave out as other CMA missionaries were using it. That’s about $1300. We had a couple in one church walk up and give us $500 towards the repairs. God is good! Donations can be given and directed to the Doell Vehicle fund.
4. Praise for much answered prayer.