My family and I, along with 16 other members of our church, attended the CORENO or Northwest Regional Convention that was held in Hermosillo over the weekend. 7 had to travel on to Jalisco for a funeral in their extended family, and probably will not be back for at least another week or so.
We are very exhausted but joyful in the Lord. The trip was packed with all kinds of adventures, answers to pray, and most of all with manifestations of the outpouring of the love of God toward us. Just organizing and coordinating our trip took a great deal of patience as we had to change our original plans at least 10 times. At the end, I was forced to drive my mini van to Mexicali with 9 people on board, in order to reach our scheduled rendezvous with the charter bus that was leaving from Mexicali to Hermosillo early on Friday morning.
We packed all of our gear in the Everything was going well until we reached Mexicali. Upon arrival, I discovered that my transmission was neutralized. It turns out that it decided to burnout on us right then and there. It was already close to 10 p.m. and we were tired from all of the preparations, including 7 pies that the youth and I baked to share with the rest of the passengers on the charter bus.
As pulled off to one side as best I could to get out of the flow of traffic, and we called Esau, who is one of our brothers in Christ from the church in Colonia Polvora. He is a mechaninc and we were only a few blocks from his house. He promptly came out to meet us and together we did everything we could to get it to run again. It was useless. The trans was shot. The only way that I was able to get it to engage was by letting it cool down for a while and restarting the vehicle. We were able to move one block at a time that way. Then my son Naphtali gave me a great piece of advice. He told me that by turning off the engine in neutral and restarting it we could force the trans to engage. It worked! We were able to make it to Martin’s place where would be staying until it was time to meet with the bus the next morning. By the time we arrived there it was 11:30 p.m., and the departure time was 5 a.m. In the end we got less than 4 hours of sleep.
I must confess that by that time I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel. Although I was scheduled to speak twice during the convention, I was willing to stay behind to work on the vehicle in order to have it ready for the return trip. That was not to be however, as my wife Miriam insisted that I trust in the Lord of a solution upon our return to Mexicali. Although I remained unconvinced of the proposition, I decided to take her advice as there was very little that I could do by staying.
Our hosts in Mexicali had to make two trips the next morning to transport all of the passengers and gear to the bus about five to ten miles from where we were staying. Others were also arriving late, so wea were delayed another 2 hours. By 7 a.m. we were on the move toward Hermosillo. Brother Aldo had to “run trough hoops” just to make sure that the bus was filled up to capacity. People kept changing their plans at the last minute, and for a while it looked like we were going to be stuck with having to pay the difference for 3 to five missing passengers. But the Lord answered our prayers and it was completely full upon departure. Praise God!
Early on during our trip, God began to deal with me in personal way. He began to show me His will and His faithfulness to meet our needs in surprising ways. All I was asked to do is to sit back and “enjoy the ride.” Brother Benjamin from Ejido Puebla shared a couple of inspiring Christian videos that he had brought along, and I must say that I was deeply moved by them. They dealt with this matter of having faith and trust in God no matter what the circumstances might be. By the time they were over, I had streams of tears running down my cheeks. It was then that I knew that God was going to surprise us with an outpouring of His merciful provision.
The road ahead was not going to be an easy ride. It was littered with checking points all the way, and passengers are frequently required to disembark and go through the whole ordeal of the inspection. It is time-consuming and extremely annoying. However, in response to our prayers we were waved through several times during the trip. While buses in front of us were being inspected with a “fine tooth brush”, we were only briefly delayed a couple of times. Clearly all of these incidents were a result of prayer. Praise God!
Mom is a survivor if there ever was one! Born into a rather large family of Swedish immigrants who first settled in Canada and later on in Minnesota, Mom knew what it was like to weather the extreme cold in the winter when the snow would often reach the height of the edge of the roofs. She is also a survivor of the infamous “Great Depression” that swept through the United States shortly before Word War 2. Unlike my Dad who had access to fish and wild game when he was growing up in the State of Washington, Mom and her siblings sometimes had to make due with oatmeal morning, noon and night. Yikes!
She and Dad first met in Hollywood where Mom worked as an accountant for a piano factory. When they decided to date each other, Mom made it a point to share the Gospel with my Dad which eventually led him giving his life to Christ and to the ministry. My two sisters were born during the time when Dad was attending what was then Pacific Bible Seminary, now “HOPE University.” Neither of them had any idea of the calling that God had for them to the mission field.
My Mom has suffered from a variety of illnesses. Among them, elephantiasis, hepatitis and breast cancer for which she required an invasive mastectomy. When she was sick with cancer, she prayed “God let me live until Phil’s 16th birthday when he can fend for himself.” Who would have guessed that she would have survived the ordeal, and that she would also outlive my father. Not only that, I am delighted to report that she is in reasonably good health, walks frequently, and is very lucid. We praise God for this miracle of His mercy.
I have some good and not-so-good news to report. First of all, the sale of the property in Rosarito fell through. Apparently, the potential buyer had other expectations in mind so we are back to square one. The good news is that we have discovered the property’s true current value in the process. On the down side, we will need to invest in clean up, proper fencing, publicity and further paper work if we want to get the most out of it. Obviously it’s going to take time and money to that, so so we may end up in a bind in terms of paying off the Ensenada church property.
And speaking of expenses, our personal income is at its lowest ever. We are hurting BIG TIME? I can’t even provide maintenance for my vehicle. I have had continual health problems since Dad died 6 years ago. Now Miriam is beginning to have problems with back pain and leg cramps. What am I suppose to do if I can’t even provide for my family? Meanwhile, we are struggling to keep the local church here going. The average offering is less than $60 dollars a week. There are days that I am so tired and overwhelmed that I can hardly function at all. Please pray for us. Who knows, this could be my last update.
Starting as early as the second week of August, many young people return to school, beginning with the University students. My son Santiago began his courses in computer engineering this semester at the State University UABC. He has maintained a high grade level and the Lord has been good to him. At first they had told him that he wouldn’t be able to start until February, but thanks to an intervention by a friend of ours we discovered that this had been an administrative “error.” Public schools in Mexico are notorious for this sort of goof-up, but with the Lord’s help everything was corrected and he is enrolled.
Earlier this summer, one of Santiago’s fellow graduates from the technical prep school died in an unfortunate swimming accident. Apparently he was caught in a rip tide that pulled him out to see. His body was found on the shore several days later. This sort of thing happens every year in spite of multiple warnings by the authorities. We are deeply saddened for his family’s loss and I am sure that this whole incident has caused an enormous amount of pain to the fellow students as well. Please keep them in prayer.
My daughter Kimberly began her classes just this past week. The days have been unusually warm here lately due to a late summer, and it has been a little rough on both teachers as well as on the kids. Nevertheless, she seems to be enjoying her return to school hours and seeing her friends again. She was sick with a throat infection a couple of weeks ago, but she seems to be over it now. Last Saturday we all went down to the beach to cool off for a while and she enjoyed an afternoon of playing in the waves with her older brother Naphtali and cousin Dylan. They were also able to dig up a few clams which was a lot of fun.
Speaking of Naphtali, he gets started with his master’s program today with the center for scientific investigation: http://www.cicese.edu.mx/index.php I am sure that he is excited about going back to school after a long vacation period. We are thankful that we were able to count on him to help us with all the activities in church this year. He has been a real godsend for us in terms of the Lord’s work, praise the Lord. Keep him in your prayers as well.
Miriam has been a little under the weather lately with another bout of laryngitis. It seems that the constant changes in weather and atmospheric pressure contribute to the situation. She is taking prescribed medication for it at present, but it just lingers on it seems. Pray for her also as she begins yet another semester of teaching English in Kimberly’s school.
These past two weeks were very intense for our camp team as we made preparations and purchased all of the necessities. My wife took care of the menu, kitchen, housing arrangements, and the negotiations with the camp owners. She is very good with that. She also helped in anything else that required here assistance. Miriam is a warrior for the Lord and I couldn’t have done it without her.
I was the general director of the camp, but my job was made a whole lot easier because of the quality teamwork that we had. I also taught several classes on Biblical discernment and basic doctrine.
My son Naphtali was the main coordinator for the camp and wore several hats at one time. He taught the beginner’s class for the seekers and new Christians, supervised all of the team events, and helped with transportation and logistics. He has been such a tremendous help that I cannot begin to thank the Lord enough for having given me a hard-working son. Santiago also took part in as many activities as he could, but he had to come in to town a couple of times to tend to school business. He will be attending the State University this August. Naphtali will be entering the Master’s program in one of the main research institutions in the area. Please pray for them both.
We had an excellent team working in the kitchen this year, in spite of a last minute change in personnel. Sister Carmen could not be with us for most of the week because of work schedules, but Celia and her son Victor stepped in as replacements and proved to be a tremendous help. Lolita, Hernan, Teresa, Ruth, Miriam, and even I contributed to the cooking department. It was a lot of fun. This was the first time ever for freshly backed homemade apple pies with a side of ice-scream. How does that sound? The kids were blown away by this surprise.
Brother Esau and his family helped with the sports activities and with the teams. They planned their vacation time especially for the week of camp, as did our evangelist Aldo Dominguez. Aldo did an excellent job with the preaching every evening, and we enjoyed fellowship with both he and his lovely wife. Brother Ruben was there a couple of times to give us moral support, which was a blessing.
When asked what they had thought about their camp experience, several of the youth gave us glowing reviews. That’s always nice to know, and it gives us something to go by. It was especially appreciated as the churches in Tijuana decided to be absent from the official camp this year and will be holding a camp of their own in El Condor near La Rumorosa.
Just like in the States, summer youth camp has become a real bone of contention over the last two decades. This was the first time that we have hosted the official regional camp in nearly 25 years. The issues are many and far too complex to list hear. So we were pleased to know that at least the three churches that were present had a very enjoyable week.