2002 left and 2003 is half way through and an update is definitely in order. Things happen at such a fast pace here that it is hard to believe almost nine months since our last journal entry have gone by already.
In October we had the Catedra Ismael Neveu (11-13) with Rev. Carlos Dario Peralta lecturing on Evangelistic Preaching. We enjoyed great attendance and great lectures.
In November we participated in the ordination of Victor Aguilar (9) one of our Institute graduates and current professor of our branches and pastor of Iglesia Bautista El Redentor in Santiago, This was a very special occasion for all involved at the Instituto for he is the first ordained pastor that has come from the Instituto´s program established by fellow missionaries Steve and Sheila Heneise.
In December we celebrated the graduation of Lucila Alvarez and Cristina Provoste (7) one with pastoral call and the other with missionary call; two fine ladies that love and serve the Lord. Lucila has gone to further her studies at our sister Baptist Theological Seminary in Santiago and Cristina was appointed national missionary to the North of Chile by the Convencion de Iglesias Bautistas de la Mision Chilena.
In January, Yocheved Elisheva Sáez Montalba was born (2). She´s the second daughter of our pastoral family. We participated at the yearly meetings of the Convencion (15-17) where Cristina was appointed national missionary to the North, as mentioned before. Since the Heneises were leaving for their US/PR assignment term, the Convention approved the recommendation from the Instituto´s Administrative Council for us to be Interim Rector and Dean of our Instituto for the remainder of our term in Chile, mid 2004. It is a big challenge and responsibility that we accepted as a confirmation of the love we have come to feel for one another in this time in Chile. Our main goal is to prepare local leadership to carry on the work of the Instituto when our term here is finished and we leave for our own US/PR assignment term.
Right after the yearly meetings of the Convencion, our local church, Comunidad Bautista Nueva Esperanza de San Carlos, held baptisms in the river. Roxana, an adolescent who teaches in our Bible School, was baptized and a Communion Service was held afterwards. The day started with lots of rain, yet it finished with the beauty of the sunshine. As we shared lunch and later the Communion, we experienced the real sense of community we are invited to live as new men and women in His Kingdom.
In February we took some time off to spend it getting to know some of the beauties of this country. With Mayra´s mother, Hilda, who came to visit from early December to the end of February, we visited north, south, east and west of this thin yet very long piece of land. We were very impressed with the warmth of Chilean people and the variety of scenery all over. It was refreshing to have a change of pace and to be able to spend some time as a family without a day-to-day schedule. In two occasions we gave a lift to locals, which gave a different flavor to our trips. Both old men, had many stories to share and were very grateful to get a ride from a friendly stranger.
In March we were back to our typical schedule including teaching every other Saturday at the Instituto in Chillán, teaching a one-week-a-month class in San Carlos, and our three monthly mother-to-mother breastfeeding support groups. Those are standard commitments that keep us quite busy, and along with them, we always have at least one invitation each to either preach or bring a special workshop to the churches in the Convencion. In March the invitations were from Coronel to pray for the beginning of the school year and in San Carlos to preach about the light of Christ, as we were sending off one of our members who moved to Santiago. Erika was encouraged to shine the light of Christ in her new work environment and remember she´s being prayed for in her local church in San Carlos.
In April the invitations came from Valdivia for a special workshop on unity for the Mapuches, Chilean natives. We went back to Coronel for a weekend on the roots of the Communion Service in the light of how Jesus shared it with His disciples. We shared some time with a dear friend who miscarried twins and with her family. As we were grieving with our friend, the translated book Our Stories of Miscarriage: Healing with Words came to our door. The book that we translated with the name Cuando el embarazo termina en pérdida: Nuestras historias is now available and was an encouragement for us to see it, as the completion of a long process that started with our own miscarriage of Minín Rut in 2001. Last weekend of April we were in Cerro Verde with the Convencion Femenil (Women´s Convention) and the theme was a call to integrity. In April, funds became available to purchase the house where the Instituto sits in Chillán. No more immediate worries about moving, rental expenses, where to put the library, etc.
In May we were very busy trying to get our PCs fixed, which slowed down our capacity to carry our work load. The technician finally found a way to fix them so we can continue our many tasks. We had a nice Mother´s Day with our Chilean family in San Carlos.
In June we bid farewell to the Heneises and had a nice Father's Day in San Carlos. These next couple of months will be devoted to the transition and planning of our last year of this first term in Chile. This Saturday is the last class for this first semester. We also were invited to the couples' retreat where we shared the biblical basis for marriage and family. There was a great attendance and participation of couples from the Central District. We've also been involved with arrangements for a pastoral family to be at the WMC in Green Lake end of July.
July has started, full of invitations… We will meet the Panguipulli's students this weekend; we have a wedding in Coronel, a meeting with the Convention's board, a Youth gathering, and a vigil… There's never a dull moment in life here in Chile!!! Can you believe that it's already been three years since we started our journey with ABC-BIM and that in a year we'll be heading out to our US/PR assignment??? This year will go by so fast that before we know it we'll be visiting with many of you. Make sure you put your requests for our visit with your Minister of Mission Support in your region. If you are not sure whom they are click here to find out: http://www.abcusamissions.org/contact/ministers.cfm We want to visit as many of you as we can during our year in the States. So far, we're planning on being at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, July-December 2004. No specific plans for our second lap… We pray we can see you then.
As a family, we've had a variety of experiences in this last couple of months. Nubia fell in November and broke her left hip, the same side where she had been affected by the stroke in February 2001. She´s back home after three months in the hospital and is recovering somewhat better than before her fall. Hilda was with us for three months and got to experience "our day-to-day life" and love those we minister to. Alberto finished his First Grade home schooling materials and is now able to read and write in English and Spanish! Carolina is very talkative and is eager to learn alongside her brother. We´re nearing our 14th wedding anniversary on September 3rd, 2 full-7-year (sabbatical) rounds!!! Alberto will turn 7 on August 3 and Carolina will turn 4 on September 11. They're growing so fast!
As you think of us, what the Lord has allowed us to do these last months and what lies ahead, please continue to remember us in your prayers, with your notes of encouragement (snail and/or email), and through your gifts of love. Continue to partner with us in this endeavor.
Continue to pray for our church Comunidad Bautista Nueva Esperanza de San Carlos, our pastoral family Rolando, Evangelina, Bastid Arlet, and Yocheved Elisheva, and our brothers and sisters. Continue to pray for our fellow workers, the Heneises and the Bolicks, their families, and ministries. The Heneises left June 10th and the Bolicks will leave some time next end of January 2004. Continue to pray for the Instituto Teologico Bautista and the Convencion de Iglesias Bautistas de la Mision Chilena. Please continue to pray for us as a family, our growth and our daily life in Chile. You are as much a part of this adventure as we are and without God's hand on us and your faithfulness we couldn't do it. Thanks for sharing with us in this journey.
With love and prayers,
Carlos & Mayra Bonilla
ABC Missionaries to Chile