As we wrap up 2020 we are so extremely grateful to God for all of His blessings, many of which have come through our family, friends, and supporters. It has been a challenging year in many respects, but also a year of growth. Our heartfelt thanks to each of you for helping to make our mission possible and for going above and beyond to make sure that we are comfortable and have what we need. As I write this, just before Christmas, I am reminded, of course, of the generous birth of our Lord and Savior. He left some of His divine privileges to take on human nature and live among us. We know that His purpose in being born was to prepare a body that could be sacrificed on the cross, to be the atonement for our sins. That message was present from before His birth as the angel told Joseph that the baby to be called Jesus and known as Immanuel would save the people from their sins. This season is a time to reflect on the gifts God has given us, and primary among them, the salvation offered exclusively through Jesus Christ to all who would receive Him. We see God’s generosity to us in this reflected in your generosity toward our family and the mission here.
It will come as no surprise that 2020 has been a very different year from what was planned. At the beginning of the year I was excited to be working on a seminary project and brainstorming how to adapt to the new political situation in Chile. Covid restrictions have pretty well ended that endeavor for the time being. Class participation has shrunk. I still have two small groups active, but continuing will require major adaptation. That said, part of the adaptation is already in place. I started offering stand-alone classes with lower, shorter-term commitment and received much interest. Moving the classes to an online format has also allowed people from around Chile to be part of the classes, people too far away to be physically present. So, while my plans look little like what I was aiming for a year ago, the classes are progressing, and people are learning.
Our church group has gone through the same thing. We have been online since March as government restrictions prohibit gatherings of any kind (sometimes totally, sometimes just on the weekend). We moved into a more relaxed phase and were able to meet in person for two weeks, and then all of Santiago went back into the weekend lockdowns. So, our church services have moved online, through Facebook and Zoom. We have, in addition to Sunday services, two weekday Bible studies (one of which I teach) and a weekly prayer meeting. The church has seen some baptisms as a result of the online services, once again in areas we would not have reached otherwise. We have seen people coming to the Lord and growing in spite of the obstacles. Of course, there are challenges too as people feel isolated, struggle with economic and health fears, and don’t get the fellowship time that I think we all need.
Tabi has been striving hard to make progress on her translations while also practically homeschooling Lydia and taking care of a rambunctious toddler. Lydia is enrolled in a school, but the schooling has consisted in the teachers sending text messages with some assignments each week – not enough to challenge or teach Lydia, or really follow up on her progress. So, we have had to do that, but also supplement to make sure that she continues growing. Caleb is enrolled to start preschool next March but has some stuff we need to work on to get him ready for that. Still, somehow Tabi manages to get that done and work on her translation and is done with the first section of a Romans commentary she is working on with LATM.
With the uncertainty generated by Covid and the accompanying restrictions, Chile’s November vote to repeal its constitution (the new one is supposed to be written in 2021 and 2022) and continued social and political unrest (as the US embassy phrases it) it is hard to know how to approach plans for 2021. The plans we do have are for Tabi to finish her part of the Romans commentary, to figure out the kids’ schooling situation, to continue working in the church and continue with the stand-alone classes I have been doing online. I plan to rent an office space in January to try to increase productivity since working from home is difficult. We also need to figure out our furlough schedule (navigating quarantines, limited flights, and churches that aren’t doing physical meetings) and if/when furlough will be worthwhile. We appreciate your prayers for these situations and for wisdom as we look forward to working together in the Lord’s field in 2021.