Sunday, August 28, 2011

STEP Reunion 2011

The annual STEP outreach did not eventuate this year due to a birth, a wedding and a conference that affected the leadership.  However, Jeremy and Sonja Basset who have helped in the leadership and planning of past STEP outreaches had the idea of holding a reunion for former STEPPERS.  The reunion took place in Milwaukee at Wauwatosa Bible Chapel on August 27, 2011.  It was attended by about 14 former STEP members as well as some folk from Wauwatosa Bible Chapel and the focus was the challenge of world missions.  Paul and Carol Bramsen, missionaaries to Senegal brought a focus from North Africa and Joel and Amy Hernandez, former missionaries to Mexico, and now heading the Intercultural Studies Dept. at Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, talked about the need for adequate preparation for missionary service.  John Duckhorn and I spoke about the needs in Latin America and Colombia.

STEP members with speakers

Beth, Alissa and Kjiesti considering the world!

Jeremy Basset leading

Some participants

A lot of food for thought and challenges to the heart

Paul and Carol Bramsen & Joel and Any Hernandez

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Activities in our Westminster Latino Church

 Emphasis is placed on the children in our Latino churches so from an early age we have them involved in a time of singing on a Sunday morning using illustrated choruses.

 Ariel Corral helping two girls with a chorus.

 Samuel Membreño leading children at another service.

It is good to see young people set out on a pathway that honors God.  Baptism is one of the important steps of obedience after salvation.

Mauricio on the morning of his baptism.

Mauricio's baptism.

 Keyla on the day of her baptism.

 Keyla's baptism.

Recently a baby shower was held in our patio for the baby 
to be born to Samuel and Francis Membreño.

Francis and Samuel with their two children
Anyely and David

 Some of the men who attended.

 The ladies were the ones who really enjoyed it!
 Over the summer the youth in the church is encouraged to attend a Summer Camp.  This year we had a good group of senior young people who went excitedly off to camp.

 The young people ready to leave.

 The young people being farewelled.

Ministry in Los Angeles

 Latino Evangelistic Ministries exists to serve the Spanish speaking people of Los Angeles and Southern California.  This service involves preaching the gospel, planting churches, radio ministry and Emmaus Correspondence courses in Spanish.  It also has a fund that helps in the support of full-time workers in Los Angeles as well as Colombia.  To govern the activities of LEM we have a Board of Directors that meets four times a year.  The July meeting consists of a potluck meal that includes the wives of board members and then a board meeting. 

LEM Board Members

(L to R) Duane Delzer, Ariel Corral, Julio Lopez, Herbert Gentle, 
Jesus Robles, Rodney Hippenhammer (Secretary), 
Paul Luke, Richard Yarrall (Chairman), Doug Whitney (Treasurer).

These men bring a variety of skills and gifts as well as backgrounds in Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia  and other parts of the world.

 Potluck preceding the Board Meeting

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Last days in Colombia

Our last two days were spent together as a family.  Bill and Angela took us out to eat and we enjoyed a good steak meal at a nice restaurant.  Colombia produces fine beef.

The restaurant.

There's nothing like a good steak.

Gilberto, Sandra, Laura and Daniel Vanegas with Cedric.
The Vanegas family got some of the first smiles out of Cedric.

A "family" photo.
Bill and Angela with Cedric.
Richard & Nancye.
Sandra and Gilberto Vanegas.
Gilberto was one of our first disciples in Bogota back in 1972.  We have had a close relationship over  all these years.  Gilberto is a Bible teacher, elder and pastor in his church, leads a big Emmaus Bible course ministry in Bogotá and teaches in the Bible Institute. 

What is unique now is that our eldest daughter, Angela, works alongside of Gilberto (our eldest son in the faith) in the Aposento Alto church (a Brethren Assembly) in the suburb of J.J. Vargas.  
Bill and Gilberto are elders together in the church.

Retreat for Elders and Leaders - Galapa

Galapa, Barranquilla was the site for the annual National Retreat for Elders and Leaders in the Brethren assemblies in Colombia.  Galapa is a town on the western side of Barranquilla on the way to Cartagena.  The retreat was held at the campsite, Finca Emmaus.

 Entrance to Finca Emmaus

Meeting place.
Galapa is located on the north coast of Colombia where it is hot and humid.  The temperatures is usually above 30 degrees C 
(90 degrees F).  No one wants to be in an enclosed building, except at night to not be bitten alive by mosquitoes.
 Some of the men at one of the meetings.
 Making preparations!  Bringing in seats.
Some of the vegetables available in Colombia being prepared for a meal. 

The kitchen with chicken being prepared.

Good meals and fellowship.

Three men Jorge Silva and Fernando Sanmiguel from Bucaramanga sharing a devotional with Martin Sandoval from Málaga.

Mauricio Vargas and Victor Gonzalez from Bogotá having a discussion with Julian Rodriguez from Armenia.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Family Outing in Bogotá, Colombia

It's either a bus or a taxi.  But the taxi is best with a baby.
Bill hailing a taxi

Arriving at the home where we had lunch.
Angela & Cedric, Nancye, Bill

Angela and Cedric

Cedric.  Innocence!

Richard, Nancye, Angela, Cedric & Bill

Leadership Retreat - Villa de Leyva

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a Men's Retreat in the Historic town of Villa de Leyva about 4 hours north of Bogota in the mountains.  The town was where the King of Spain's representatives (Viceroy etc) had their country residences.  It is an interesting town as the valleys all around are fertile and produce great crops, but the valley in which Villa de Leyva is located is arid, with  cacti and other desert type plants growing.  It is an interesting town for all the fossils that are to be found, no doubt laid down in the flood associated with Noah.

The Men's Retreat was for mainly Elders and Deacons but this year wives and other interested men were invited as the purpose was to do a 20 hour seminar on the use of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible and at the end the members in attendance received a donated Bible.  The Thompson Bible is a good resource for many of those involved in church leadership.  I was asked to do three papers on "The Leader and His Family."  It was a great opportunity to have an input into the lives of the 140 from Brethren churches in Bogota, Villa de Leyva, Duitama and Yopal.

The town of Villa de Leyva.
It has the largest open plaza in Colombia - all in cobble stones.

Fossil in cobble stone.
Even walking along the cobble-stoned streets fossils can be seen in the rocks.
  Villa Peniel
The entrance to the campsite 2 kms. out in the country.

The main buildings at Villa Peniel

Villa Peniel courtyard
All the rooms - dormitories, dining room, conference rooms surround the inner courtyard.

Men from Cazuca Church
The Cazuca church is located in the very south of Bogota.  It is the result of the vision of Sergio Gomez (the tallest man in middle of group) who had the vision and dedication to go to a very poor barrio (suburb) to start a church. 

Men from Villa de Leyva Church
After resisting the gospel for many years a church was started about 10 years ago in this historic town. 

Seminar in progress
The people in the photo are busy completing some "homework" part of the requirements for receiving the donated Bible.

Tinto in the courtyard
Tinto is the customary drink in Colombia.  It is black coffee with plenty of sugar served in a small cup.

Breakfast in Ubate
Along the way going to the retreat we stopped at the local market in the town of Ubate for breakfast.  Mine consisted of caldo de papa (potato soup) with a chuck of meat.  Others had filled arepas (corn cakes with an egg in the middle) tamales (corn meal with everything in it such meat and vegetables and cooked in a banana leaf).

Mealtime at the retreat

Monday, June 20, 2011


Bucaramanga a city of 2 million that was home to us for 10 years in the 1970s and 80s.  The city is built on a meseta (tableland) at about 3,500 feet above sea level and there is limited room for expansion, apart from building on ridges and valleys.  This is what is taking place, but also old buildings are coming down and new highrise buildings are being constructed.  The impression on flying into the city is of the city growing upwards rather than outwards.  On being in the city the streets are congested with traffic and the downtown area is congested with pedestrians.   I was alone in my return to Bucaramanga but it was good seeing old friends and being encouraged by the growth of the church in Colombia.

Bucaramanga - a city set on a hill!

Bucaramanga - the city of parks

Highrise buildings going up!

The extended Pinzon family with whom we worked in the 1980s

Carlos Alberto and Martha Pinzon and family, my hosts in Bucaramanga.  Carlos was my constant companion in the early 1980s.  How good to see him as a leader in the church today.

Santa Maria Assembly in Bucaramanga.  
Ground (1st) floor is the hall for meetings, 2nd floor is the apartment that Carlos Alberto and Martha occupy, the 3rd floor is where I stayed and on top (4th floor) is the patio which is used for meals. 

Some of the Santa Maria congregation on Sunday morning.

Young people at Santa Maria.  What potential for God!

Plenty of kids.  
How great to see them growing up in Christian families under the influence of the gospel to avoid the pitfalls of life that their parents or grandparents experienced.

Eliseo Caicedo and his family, one of the very first families in the main Bucaramanga Assembly in the mid 1970s.