Saturday, January 27, 2007

Back in San Pedro (and boycotting the car)

We arrived safely back from San Antonio yesterday afternoon after a busy but enjoyable week at missions conference. I have made a solemn vow not to step foot inside the van for at least a week...or at least until I run out of Diet Coke and have to go to the probably tomorrow. I'm glad that I got to meet some of you who read the blog - I now have faces to go with my list of email addresses! Thanks to everyone at Destiny who worked so hard to make the conference a success and to make us feel at home.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Missions Convention: San Antonio

A short update from Texas - right now we're in the middle of the yearly missions convention at Destiny Church in San Antonio. We've enjoyed the services very much; the worship and the speakers have been excellent. A special thanks to the kitchen teams for providing coffee every morning...

Marcela and Elisa will be flying back from Nashville tomorrow for the end of the conference. They have had a great time at the recording studio - initially, the producer had only planned to record 3 songs, but they were able to record 10! We are all excited to see where this will lead, and are praying that God will continue to provide opportunities for Elisa to use her gifts.

A final note - for those of you who read the blog and aren't at the conference, the next time you talk to David and Elizabeth, ask them what they had to do when they received pledges in the Tuesday night service...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Site Update

After several requests, we've finally updated the family pictures on the site. Re. the changes: Damara, Philip's daughter, recently got married and so isn't in the current family picture (yes, they still love her, and no, she's not an outcast...). Pedro, in the far right of Stephen's family picture, is Stephen and Marcela's nephew; he and his mother, Marcela's sister, live here on the property.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Update: Missions Convention

Just a short update today...we're getting ready to head off to missions convention in San Antonio on Friday. We're looking forward to the services and to connecting with people we don't have a chance to see very often (and I, personally, am looking forward to seeing more of Texas than just the interior of the DFW airport...). Please keep us in your prayers as we travel and minister this next week.

As always, feel free to leave comments here on the site or email me at If you are not on our regular mailing list and want to be, you can let me know at this same address.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Update: Cell Groups

In an earlier post I talked about our cell groups and how they have expanded beyond our expectations. This week the church and cell leaders met to decide how to restructure the cells to accommodate everyone. Several changes are set to take place in the next couple of weeks:
  • new locations - some groups are changing location to make attendance more convenient for their members
  • new leadership roles - every Monday, Stephen holds a leaders meeting where he instructs cell leaders in God's word and helps them prepare for that Wednesday's service. Now, leaders will be given a theme every week and then have to write their own message to deliver to their groups.
  • new worship roles - every cell group now has its own worship leader and musicians. When the groups started, this wasn't the case. The church trains all its young people on the instrument of their choice and a short time later they begin to minister in the church. Enough people have been trained now so that each cell can hold worship services every week.
We are excited to see these changes implemented. Not only do they mean that the church is growing and that God is blessing this ministry, but the increasing number of leaders and people trained in different roles means that the church is not dependent only on the leadership of a few people. The more people who are trained to minister, the greater the reach and influence of the church. This, and not a power hierarchy based on titles, training, or position in the church, is one of the most important goals of the church.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from everyone in San Pedro! We pray that God will continue to bless His work here and also bless all of you who continually support us.

I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
(Matt. 3:11)

This New Year's we had both water baptism and a kind of baptism with fire. On New Year's Day Stephen baptized his sister-in-law, who has been a Christian for some time but had never been baptized. A small group of us gathered at the baptism tank (outside and unheated! Thankfully the day wasn't too cold...) and we had a short service. Before coming here I had never been to a baptism for only one person, but there have been two such baptisms in the last month. Praise God that His people are willing to obey Him - even in the middle of winter! - and take this step of dedication and surrender.

On New Year's Eve we held our regular Sunday afternoon service and then had a special Thanksgiving service at 11 pm. We had a short time of worship and then gathered around a bonfire, where everyone shared one thing they were grateful for in their lives this year. These things ranged from simple things like another year of life and the blessings of family and friends, to life-changing miracles and works of God. After this, on a small piece of paper we each wrote down the things in our lives that we want to change this year - not as resolutions, but as prayers and needs that we presented to God, asking for His help to change us. We then threw the papers in the fire, symbolizing that we have surrendered these things to God. In the Bible fire is used for several purposes. The Israelites offered burnt sacrifices to atone for sins and also to offer thanks to God. God spoke to His people out of the fire, as when He gave the 10 Commandments, and to show His power, as in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. It is also used to purify and refine. What we did was a small sacrifice on our part; it didn't really cost us much, but as I looked at the things I wrote, I realized how merciful God is and how loving - despite our shortcomings, despite our sins, He is always faithful and willing to accept us as we are. Even though we tend to want to rescue that paper from the fire and take back control of our lives, He still wants nothing more than to purify us, filll us with His Spirit, and draw us closer to Him. The need for burnt offerings is gone because of Jesus' death and resurrection, but we still need to offer ourselves as sacrifices every day, laying our plans and our desires before Him and asking for His will to be done in us. It may hurt; we may smell smoke and see the ashes of things that we valued lying around us, but what is left in the end will be pure and everlasting.