On October 19th the Chiconautla church celebrated its 24th anniversary. This year we celebrated with 3 special Sunday services instead of doing one big one out on the street. (Next year will be a big one!) It included a play, "Under the Same Roof", about getting along with all types of people, meant for all ages, and food after all 3 services. The days before Sunday's festivities we also held 2 services of testimonies, a women's breakfast, and a youth event. Here are a few pictures (and we just had to throw in a couple of our kids...):
The weekend after the church anniversary brought another quince años. While all such events are special, this one in particular had us taking a trip down memory lane. The quinceñera, Ana Karen, is niece to two of our full-time staff members, and her parents met in our youth group 18 years ago. They lived with us for a few months just before Ana Karen was born and were part of the Chiconautla church for many years before moving away. They went through some rough times and fell away from the church for a short time before newly taking hold of their faith in Christ and moving back to Chiconautla last year. They are now solid Christ-followers, and both parents and all 3 kids are very active in our church. Ana Karen's dad was the key speaker for our anniversary youth event in the pictures above. Once again we are reminded of the huge importance of long-term discipleship, of walking closely with first-generation believers as they go through the challenges life brings. We praise God for this family and so many others who continue to learn to apply their faith amidst any and all circumstances.
All of these unique events, plus regular activities and extra travels for Manuel for the Baptist Convention, proved to be a bit much in late October. We went through 10 days or so fighting a bad cold that swept through our family. Meanwhile something exciting was happening in the Chiconautla church building. The tile floor was being installed in the sanctuary, 21 years after we began construction! Besides the excitement over finally having a decent floor in there, the greatest part is how it came about. Long ago we got tired of pressuring the congregation to support the finishing of the building, and we basically stopped saying anything. So this is significant: A group of men formed a committee on their own, created an elaborate fund-raising plan, and presented it to the church. Several months later they had raised the funds, entirely from within the church, to purchase and install the tile floor. For a group of men, not women (who more readily tend to become active in evangelical churches in this area), to do this with no pressure from Manuel is more significant than you can imagine. It has taken 26 years to get to this point. Praise God with us for the new floor at the church, and even more for these men who rose to the occasion in voluntary leadership!
The first activity to take place after the new floor was put in was...you guessed it! Another quince años!
One more thing: Remember the Chiconautla missionary to the Mixtec people, Elsa, who had surgery on both eyes in August to the tune of $1500 US (an unthinkably large amount here)? Through many generous donations both here in Mexico and in the US, the entire expense has now been covered, even Elsa's new glasses! Thank you to those who gave, and for your continued prayers for Elsa as she continues to adapt to her new eyes and glasses. She has had some trouble with headaches but is doing better. Thank you also for praying for Elsa and Agapito's ministry among the people of San Pablo Anicano, Puebla.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! We have so much to be thankful for every day of the year!