Greetings to our brothers in sisters in Christ. May the Lord bless you and enrich you always.
It’s my (Tabi’s) turn to write the newsletter, so be ready for a long (but fun, I hope) one! February is wrapping up, summer in Chile is at its peak, and everyone is on vacations. Even we took a vacation a few hours south with some friends. So . . . what have we been up to these last few months?
In November, we took a short trip to the United States. Mike was there for two weeks, so as to not leave his students for very long. I spent a month, during which time I visited a couple of churches. We are planning a 3-4 month furlough for 2014. Until then, work continues as usual here in Santiago.
In December, after swinging by Mexico for my niece’s wedding, I arrived back in Chile. Shortly thereafter, the church threw a Christmas party. They had breakfast, music, a service, and cake. They gave all the children in the church either a Bible or a Bible-themed book. It was a fun day.
January, of course, brought the New Year. We celebrated with Oscar Vera and his family. They also invited four of the kids from Residencia Familia Cristiana (a children’s home run by the Swansons). Once the New Year had been happily rung in, it was back to work.
Mike continued teaching his classes, and also began studying and researching to write three new courses: Restoration History, Revelation, and Hebrews. At the church, he wrote the first of a three-step discipleship program, the prayer and hope being that everyone in our church will grow in Christ and become not just a member of a church, but a true disciple.
I focused on improving my website (www.preguntasteologicas.com) and continuing to translate and post articles on it. Its main focus is to have questions asked of professors and preachers, and their responses in what could be called “bite-sized theology.” Sometimes, people need an answer that is short a
nd easy to access. So far, I have gained permission to translate the works of people like Dr. Jack Cottrell, Bob Russell, and Jim Estep. I have also begun to find Spanish-speaking teachers and preachers to offer short responses to questions, as well. All articles pass through my hands, and I endeavor always to make sure the theology is Bible-based. Most of the resources of this type in Spanish are highly Calvinist or charismatic. Preguntasteologicas.com offers a different point of view.
February is the month of vacations and of summer fun. Festivals pop up all over the country, taking advantage of the vacationers. Near the beginning of February, we took a church group out to one festival that marks years of tradition—the Trilla a Yegua Suelta, a wheat threshing event using mares to trample the wheat. Modern times have brought technology that makes the process more efficient and clean, but once a year, this event is held to remind young generations of what it used to be like. The actual threshing of the wheat is a small, but significant, part of the whole event. There is also dancing, singing, joke-telling, and lots of food. The huasos (Chilean cowboys) take the opportunity to show off their best and brightest clothing, and most beautiful mares.
During the threshing part of the event, the huasos go out and lay down a layer of wheat. Then, a small herd of mares are released onto the ground and chased around, so as to trample the wheat, separating the grains from the chaff. After a while, the mares are removed and the huasos go back in to throw the wheat up in the air, allowing the wind to blow away the chaff. Once that is done, they lay down another bed of wheat, and the process begins anew. I’ve read that in the past, many farmers were too poor to have a whole herd of mares come trample their wheat. They would go to a community market and offer to host a wheat-threshing festival in exchange for a mare.
Two verses came alive for me when I attended this event. Personally, I love when that happens.
“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Lk. 10:2
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Mt. 3:14
To finish up this letter, I’d like to share with you a little about the vacation we took with our friends, Cristian and Daniela. We went to a town that, technically, lies only about 4 hours to the south and up into the Andes a little ways. The road for the last quarter of the trip, however, is so rough that the little car we took had a very rough time making it in. After a total of about 6 hours, we reached our destination—Siete Tazas Park. We found a camp site and set up our tent, started up a fire, and got down to the serious task of enjoying our day.
The most beautiful part of our trip, however, was Sunday morning. Cristian, having talked extensively with Mike, decided that there would be no better place or time for him to be baptized than in the river that morning. We climbed down to the river and there, in the crystalline waters, Cristian was baptized. Two boys watched from a distance, curious about what was happening. So Cristian’s first act as a born-again Christian was to be a witness. We headed back to our campsite and had a small Communion service together. We asked if he had anything to share. He nodded.
“I’m a simple man,” he said, “a little shy, and not really into anything big and showy. And that’s what I love about Jesus. He was also a simple man. He taught using the things around him. I’m glad be baptized just as Jesus was, in a river. I’m glad to follow a simple man.”
Friends, may we learn to follow our savior in the same way—simply and sincerely.
Yours in Christ,