Live from Cieneguilla Peru - Wollbrink Update February 2017
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
We have come to believe that every new year is a new opportunity to step out in faith. We want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of your for your faithful prayers and giving over the last year, and share with you what God has been up to here in Peru.
December was a great and crazy month! The month began with the finish of the Peruvian school year here. As many of you know I (Jason) teach Bible at a local Christian bilingual school. It was a blessing to see a group of students, that I've been able to invest in for two years, graduate. My pray that each of them will take with them the lessons learned and will make an impact for God wherever their careers take them.
"This year, let's not forget the birthday boy! Let's make our first and best gift be to Jesus!" These words echoed through Fuente de Vida during the month of November and December as we challenged our people to raise a "BEST GIFT" offering that would, in its entirety, be spent outside of the walls of our church in outreach. The goal was to raise 5 thousand soles (about 1500 dollars), and we reached our goal!
We raised this offering in two parts; the first part we spent on a local outreach project in a shanty town at the entrance of Cieneguilla called "Estrellitas". With the funds we raised, we bought fruit cake and hot chocolate for 700 people, as well as 400 Christmas gifts for boys and girls that probably wouldn't have received any gift. We also purchased gifts baskets to give out to families in need both in this community, as well as single mothers in our church. On December 17th we took a team of nearly 30 people from our church, and put on an entire show for the families of Estrellitas about the true meaning of Christmas. We were able to share the message of hope in Jesus with 700 people that day. The great take-away for me was the impact on our team, several of whom had never participated in anything like this before.
After the excitement of this outreach, the very next Sunday, we took the second part of this offering (to complete our goal) which we sent to our missionaries (Jairo and Natalie Torres) in the Amazon to use for Christmas outreach in their church plants in Iquitos Peru.
Let's be honest, the first half of the month was BUSY! After all of this, we enjoyed some much needed family time at Christmas. Cris Johana's family came over for a few days to celebrate this holiday together. In Peru we celebrate on Christmas eve, and shoot fireworks off at midnight. Santiago, Caleb, and Jeremiah were excited to receive new Bicycles; the first they have had since we moved here over three years ago!
And of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete without a little decoration.... We always decorate inside, but this year, we decided to do a little something outside that would tell our community what the season is all about: So we built a 20 foot long lighted sign that says "Christmas is about Jesus" and hung it on our front wall. We plan on setting it up every year and adding to it as well.
We ended the year with a bang, celebrating with a little New year's party at our house, where we thanked God for what he had done in 2016 and prayed together to ask him to do great things in our lives in 2017. January was a month of work, where we fasted together, and worked hard at planning our Calendar. We also added a new member to our church staff: Gloria Document de Alva. Gloria is a great mature woman of God who has served faithfully for years in ministry, and who lives in Cieneguilla. After the death of her husband two years ago, she began to pray that God would give her the opportunity to serve in a ministry here in Cieneguilla. She has been a member of our church for over a year, and this year left all her other commitments in order to dedicate herself to serve on our volunteer staff. We are excited to have her on our team this year as she will be directing the woman's ministry!
In the month of January, we picked things back up after the holidays with a sermon series about being healthy in Body, Mind, and Spirit from 1 Thessalonians 5:23. As a part of this class we re-started our Vida fitness exercise class and Bible study in the town square on Saturdays. Continue to pray for God's blessing in this outreach.
This past Sunday we finished the last of our 4 class "New beginnings" course. This class is the entrance point to our church, and we were blessed to share with several new people about the basics of our faith. As a result of this class we have three people who have signed up to be baptized and two couples who are living together who have decided to get married this year!
Blessings in Christ, The Wollbrink Family