January 2021

10 hour service?


Yesterday Abel's congregation held their service once again at our house. During lunch I told him that the "pre-service" and the "post-service" are just as important as the formal church service. Why? Because the objective of meeting together is "mutual edification" (Heb. 10:24-25). All the conversation and interaction that goes on before and after (and during) the service serves that purpose. The first folks showed up at 9:30. We talked and practiced some music until 11:00 when the service started. As usual I took on the children's class. Quite a challenge, but the kids love it. After the service, the congregation stayed around to talk. The pastor's family stayed for lunch, and then at 4pm Faby and I held a counseling session with a separated couple until 8pm. So for us we had a 10 1/2 hour Sunday "service." Why not? All part of ministry.


Wedding at Capulispungo


We spent the whole day Saturday helping Susana put together the flower arrangements, and decorating the sanctuary. Susana rents our front house in Quito, and runs a flower business. The groom wanted help with the flowers (I've been helping him with his university classes), so we reached an agreement and traveled to Capulispungo for the occasion. We didn't have much to do with the ceremony on Sunday, so we just enjoyed the wedding.


Could you give the message?


We had just finished the singing. I was mentally preparing my class for the two kids I usually teach when the pastor suddenly turned to me and asked me to give the sermon. Not that it surprised me, but I couldn't delegate the class to Faby because she was in a counseling session (which lasted until 1pm). When I finished the message at noon, the pastor had joined Faby in the counseling. So I asked the elder of the church to finish the service. He had different family groups give special songs before ending the service in prayer.
After the service, the pastor had another counseling session with a young couple who are planning to get married. He wanted Faby and I to join, but I defaulted and took on the two kids for their class. (They were bugging me the whole service to have their class. A good sign.) That counseling session ended at 3pm. The congregation went home, but Faby and I had another counseling session with the husband of the woman of the first session. We finished at 7:30pm.
All in a day's work. God gives us the strength to last a whole day, the wisdom for each situation, and the flexibility to adapt to sudden needs. He is faithful!
(BTW, the message dealt with: what is a marriage, the civil ceremony compared to the religious ceremony, and the sacredness of marriage vows.)


Our "Capulispungo Family"


Yesterday the Capulispungo migrants in Quito held their Christmas party to celebrate Christ's birthday. We also celebrated Faby's birthday which is today. For me, these folks are my second family here in Ecuador. We share their joys and sorrows. Yesterday we shared food and fellowship with a few songs and several birthday cakes. We also shared their struggles: two youth decided to get married. We congratulated them on their decision, only briefly later to learn that the real surprise is she is pregnant. Yet because of the marriage decision, her parents want counseling to help them reunite. They have recently separated. I also conversed with the pastor Abel about another youth who is about to get married. The date is set, but neither of us have heard a word from the groom. We suspect, but cannot confirm, something is wrong. After the birthday celebration we took one couple home, and met with her brother and sister-in-law who haven't attended church for some time. Turns out, they're broke. They took out a loan to start a business and the pandemic ruined them. Now his whole monthly salary goes to pay off the loan. Joys and sorrows. All part of being family.