(We wrote this letter and sent it out on Jan. 18th. I wanted to post it here also)
Hello and Greetings from the FIVE of us!
Once again a New Year has come, and three weeks have flown by in seemingly a few minutes! We pray that this New Year has and will continue to bring you and your family God’s richest love, hope, grace and His most wonderful blessings.
Derrick Asher Skipper
These past few months have been full of activity, new life, health problems and changed plans! Derrick Asher Skipper was born on the morning of November 10th, here in Sucre. He had a normal birth, and at least in that aspect all went very well. He weighed 7 lbs 1 oz, and measured 20.1 inches long. In the past two months, he has almost doubled in weight, and he is a happy camper. At first, we thought that he was going to be pretty demanding, but lately he has turned into a smiling factory. He is a happy baby, is completely healthy, and is pretty cute too!
Norah’s Health and Jordan’s Pre-School
Norah hasn’t been so lucky. She has suffered from a number of health problems since Derrick’s birth. After his birth, she had a tubal ligation, and during that small surgery, her bladder was ruptured. Because of the birth, the ruptured bladder and an infection in her uterus, she lost a lot of blood. She passed out a few times, and we didn’t know what was wrong. Last week the doctor diagnosed her as having Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Thankfully, she is now being treated with iron supplements and has been feeling much better. The last few days, she’s turned into the happy, fun-loving girl that I met many years ago… and boy it is nice to have her back! I say “many years ago”, because we suspect that she has been unknowingly fighting this problem since her first miscarriage in 2001. She lost a lot of blood then, and was diagnosed and treated for anemia during that time, but she has never been tested or treated for the loss of iron in her blood. From my investigations, Iron-Deficiency Anemia can continue for years until it is treated, and she has had many of the symptoms that come with this type of Anemia. Our HOPE is that this diagnosis will fix a lot of problems that she’s had over the past seven years.
The rest of our family is doing very well. Erynn is in 2nd grade and is doing well there. Jordan turned 4 on January 15th, and he started pre-school that same day. I’m not big on putting kids into school too early, but I think that it will be really good for him. He still is not talking well at all, and one of his problems is that he isn’t FORCED to talk here at home. He can communicate pretty well to us without speaking clearly, and Erynn has turned into his official translator. We feel that getting him into an environment where he will be with other kids, with no one translating for him, should help him a lot.
As most of you who read our last letter know, we SHOULD have been back in the states by now. We planned to return home by the end of 2007, but God has His ways of slowing us down sometimes and making us follow His schedule, not ours. Let me explain.
For years, I have felt a strong calling and burden for the United States, and especially for the younger generations who are truly post-modern and post-Christian. During our trip home last year, many doors were opened, and we felt that the time was right for our exit from Bolivia and for the beginning of our ministry in the US. One of our main motivations was the feeling that our church here in Sucre was ready for us to leave. We were seeing spontaneous growth, sometimes over a hundred people a month coming to the Lord, and most of that had nothing to do with the work that Norah and I do through special events or direct evangelism. Most of those people and most of our growth have come through the small groups in our church, and our member’s personal evangelism to others. During our trip to the states, we decided to do a small test. We left the church and all decisions totally in the hands of one of our most dedicated couples, Joel and Veronica Cuellar. While we were there, we received almost daily reports of how things were going, and all that we heard was that people were on fire for God, and that God was moving in an awesome and powerful way in the church. Needless to say, that and all of the doors that were being opened in the states brought us to the conclusion that the time was right and if we’re going to be working there for the rest of our lives, we may as well get at it.
The State of Our Church in Sucre
Upon our return to Sucre, we found that the church was exactly like Joel and Veronica had told us, BUT the leaders had lost the focus on the small groups and on the vision that God has given us. They were doing great things… meeting daily in the church for prayer, holding week-long fasts and many other good and Godly activities. Many leaders substituted meeting with their groups with those “good” things, and soon the growth slowed down and discouragement was the obvious result. Since our return to Sucre, we have been working hard to get the church back on track. Finally this month we feel that we are back to where we were before our trip to the US. All of this made us question a few things… If we left for only two months and the church lost so much momentum during that time, is it REALLY ready for us to leave it for good?
Entropy Is Real
After talking to the Director of ELI, the organization that we plan to work with once we return to the states, we realized an undisputable truth. True leadership does basically two things. 1) It prepares and guides those under their care to do the work that needs to be done in an efficient and excellent way, and 2) it guides the church in the direction that it needs to go and it defines the battle plan (goals and plans) for the future. They have a simple saying “Entropy is Real,” meaning that if a church or organization (or anything) does not have a visionary leader guiding its way and constantly motivating the people, chaos WILL follow shortly after. With chaos comes the problems that cause stagnancy and division.
His point was this. This church has grown and the leaders have excelled BECAUSE we have done the job a leader has to do. (It’s not backwards where the church excels so much that it doesn’t need its leaders anymore) If we leave this church with someone who does not have the gift of leadership, or who isn’t a visionary leader, the church will NOT continue to grow and chaos will follow.
What Are We Going To Do?
Since we started planning our return to the states, we stated clearly that our number one priority is to make sure that our church here in Sucre continues forward without skipping a beat, and that’s what we intend to do. We are working hard to prepare the church for our departure, but we are also looking and praying that God would uncover or send that person He has prepared for this work.
One of the things I have to admit here is that I think we messed up. Not on God’s calling, but on his timing. I’m a naturally impulsive person, and I wanted to get started right away. I realize now that God has His own timing, and that timing isn’t always our timing. What we need to do is follow His lead and trust that He will open and close doors in His time.
We still plan to return as soon as possible to begin ministry in the US, but we do not know how soon that will be. It could be by this summer, or it could be a few years yet… but I don’t want to go out on a limb and mess up again. We’ll finish our job here and go when God allows for us to leave. We continue in contact with the Church Planting Organization that we plan to work with, and they are being a big help to us in our work right now. Hard Financial Times
Since our trip to the states, we have been struggling to get our bills paid every month. The great thing is that God always provides, but we have little extra to even think about doing larger events and to get the material and equipment that we need to continue to expand our ministry here in Bolivia. I do not enjoy asking for money, but I know that it’s not for us, but for God’s work. We ask that all those who support us monthly to PLEASE continue doing so, and we thank you SO much for the sacrifice you make to further God’s kingdom. If you don’t support us, we ask that you would consider doing so with a one-time gift or through monthly support. All gifts are tax deductible, and you can send them by check made out to The Hand of Hur, Inc. 293 Bray Hill Lane, Oakland, MD 21550, or you can also do it easily on our website www.hohnet.com through PayPal. ¡Gracias!
Thanks for taking the time to read this letter! Please keep us in your prayers. Bolivia is on the verge of civil war and Americans and Christians are not this president’s favorite people. Pray that God would protect us and our family, that He would guide us in all we do, and that He would supply all of our needs, and more, so we can continue to further His kingdom here and beyond. Also, VISIT our website WWW.HOHNET.COM. I have been updating it constantly and I´m sure it will be a blessing to you. Thanks again and may God bless you in a special way… Love,
Jason, Norah, Erynn, Jordan and Derrick