I’ll tell you, I really need to figure out WHY I get so far behind on these updates! I’m developing a theory, but I’m not 100% sure… I think that we have so many BIG things going on, that I want to give those BIG things justice by writing a lot about them, but since I want to do it well, and I never have enough time to do a good article on them, I just put it off until I do have time. Of course there NEVER is enough time. I decided this evening to just make some time. I have so many things to do, but hey… this is very important too!
This will be pretty long, so I’ll try to divide it up into sections and add quite a few pictures, that way it should be a little bit easier to read.
Third International Cell-Church Conference… Sucre, Bolivia 2008
Way back in April, from April 24-26th, we held our 3rd annual Cell-Church Conference. Pastors Gustavo and Susana Rossi and Sebastian Carnival, all from the mega-church “Catedral de la Fe” (Faith Cathedral) in Buenos Aires, Argentina came in for the conference. We had pastors and congregations from over half of Bolivia, plus the assistance of missionaries from Brazil, Venezuela and the United States (I’m NOT counting myself). This year we held the conference in our own church building, which holds about 350 people well seated.
The conference went very well. The theme was “From The Inside Out”. The classes and sermons were geared towards pastors and cell leaders, helping us all understand that success in the conquest of our city and country is for everyone who believes, not just for a select few. God will and does use those who believe and are willing to give their all towards that cause.
We’ve had several churches from other parts of Bolivia come to our conference over the past several years. One church, from Santa Cruz, who has taken us as their model church, began with the cell vision last year after our conference. We’ve been monitoring them, and one of our disciples, Luis Fernando Negrón has traveled there to help them several times over the past year. They came this year with an amazing testimony. In 1 year of work with cells, they now have 30 small groups! Wow.
One of the most important aspects of the conference was that God moved in an awesome way. His presence was so evident, and we feel that God did something supernatural during the conference. The leaders from our church came out of the conference with such a different way of looking at the ministry, and we are beginning to experience once again the enthusiasm, power and revival that has characterized our growth over the past several years.
Here are some very small pictures from the conference. To see them in a much higher resolution, just click on the picture itself.
Travels – Trips to Cochabamba and La Paz(2x)
The day after our conference, we drove to Cochabamba for “Carachipampa Christian School’s Field Days”. Erynn’s school is an extension of an English school in Cochabamba, and they require that all students attend the Cochabamba school for a week each year. The group in Sucre have the custom of going for what they call “Field Days”. They have all types of running, jumping, ball throw and more sports, and each student competes with other their age and sex. Erynn was in the 7 & 8 year old girls group with about 20 other students. She participated in 6 events. The 100 meter dash, the 200, 400 & 800 meter runs, the standing long jump and the ball throw. She is quite a runner! She won the 200, 400 & 800 meter races. The longer the race, the easier she won. She’s not the fastest girl out there, but she just keeps going, and everyone else just falls behind. She won the 1st place prize for her age group, winning the most amount of points for her team from her group. Needless to say, she was VERY happy. Here’s a few pictures of Erynn there in Cochabamba… (Actually, the last one is in Potosí a few days ago… but it’s a nice picture so I added it in there too. )
After 5 days in Cochabamba, we traveled to La Paz for two main things. One, to fill out papers and apply for Derrick’s U.S. Birth Certificate and Passport, which wasn’t too hard to do. We should be getting them in the mail within a few days. We also had to do some medical tests on Jordan.
Jordan is now 4 1/2 years old, and he is not talking well at all. For quite awhile we hoped that he was just a late talker, but it has become obvious that he has some sort of problem in that area. We’ve checked some things out in Sucre, but honestly there is very little knowledge or help from doctors here.
So we did quite a lot of tests on him… a tomography and a EEG. We also took him to a phonologist, and had him checked out with several different types of pediatricians. After several weeks of studies and traveling back and forth from La Paz twice , we’ve come to the conclusion that Jordan has an expressive speech disorder… basically in the articulation side of it. He understands English and Spanish very well, and he is now speaking 4 and 5 word sentences. The problem isn’t his knowledge of language, it is his pronunciation of it.
We had him tested for several other disorders… apraxia, autism, etc., but the doctors have pretty well ruled out any type of sickness or other disorders. From my understanding, there really is no known medical reason for these articulation disorders in about 90% of children who have them. The good thing is that they are treatable. We were given quite a few exercises to teach Jordan to move his tongue and lips in certain ways. These seem to be helping him a lot. We need to go back to La Paz every 3 months or so to get him checked out and to get some more exercises for him.
All in all, we feel pretty good about him getting over this. I think within a few years he will be just fine. For more information, you can read these articles in Wikipedia…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_sound_disorder#Articulation_Disorders (Also read Residual Errors and Causes)
Upcoming Activities in the Church
After so many weeks of traveling, we’re happy to be back in Sucre, continuing with our work here. One thing that God put on our hearts after the conference was the amount of people who have slipped away from us and God over the past several years. We’ve taken about 1500 people to the Encounter retreat, but many, if not a majority of those people are not with us now. All though the month of May, we began praying for these people, and we have now named June as the “Month of the Prodigal”, of course I’m talking about those who resemble the prodigal son in Luke 15. We will be going out and looking for these people throughout the month, doing activities weekly, and we will be finishing up the month with an Encounter Retreat for these people, and a huge celebration for them on Sunday June 29th. We may do that celebration service in a coliseum/arena here in the city. We’ll see how everything goes.
We have a baptism planned for this coming Thursday, June 5th. We also are starting a new school in the church… for those who have finished our “School of Life”. This school is called the “School of Vision” and is focused intensely on cell group leadership and multiplication. We will be starting that on Thursday, June 8th.
In August, we will be uniting with several other cell churches in the southern region of Bolivia… Sucre, Potosí, and Taríja, and will be doing a combined conference for all of the cell leaders of our churches. There is a lot of expectation for this. I’ll let you know more about that as we come closer to the date.
I could probably sit here and write for 8 more hours about all that is going on, but I’m sure no one would read it, so I’ll stop after ONE MORE THING!…
I’d like to finish with a cry for HELP! I know that sounds awful, but it’s true. We didn’t do much fund-raising last year while we were home, thinking that we would be coming back very soon. Now things have changed and we remain here. We don’t know how much longer, but we can’t leave yet. (You can read earlier posts if you’d like more information on that.) The problem is that we are literally out of money, and we owe money on our credit-card. We used that to buy the plane tickets for the Pastors from Argentina (+/- $2000), and the inscription money did not cover the amount. The Hand of Hur is now 2 months behind on paying us our salary, and we owe two months rent ($500) and have to pay Erynn’s school bill by the end of next week ($750). I also had to do something that I think is terrible… I had to withdraw cash from my credit card to be able to buy groceries and pay several of the bills in the house. We haven’t wanted to say anything about this to you all, but we are in dire need right now, and that doesn’t count all that we need to do here to accommodate the growth that we are experiencing in our ministry.
I really hate asking for your help, but that’s what we live and work with down here, and we are doing it for God’s glory. I know that he will provide (he always does), but it’s important for me and you to understand that many times that provision is through you. So… if it is possible, PLEASE help. You can do it online securely with Paypal or you can send checks made out to “The Hand of Hur, Inc., 293 Bray Hill Lane, Oakland, MD 21550”. All gifts are tax deductible. Thank you so much, and may the Lord bless you richly!
As always, sooner or later, I’ll continue updating the site! Check in often! Lot’s of love…
Jason, Norah, Erynn, Jordan & Derrick Skipper