Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Feliz Navidad de Guatemala! Merry Christmas, Marvin!

We are so excited about our child sponsorship with Orphan's Heart! Thanks to the proceeds from your poinsettia purchases, SendMeMissions sponsors Marvin, a little boy living in Guatemala.

Last December Marvin and his family were invited to a Christmas party for all of the children in Guatemala sponsored through Orphan's Heart. 480 children and parents enjoyed games, door prizes, a Guatemalan Christmas dinner, and each child received a present. In addition, the Christmas story was told so that everyone could hear the Good News of Christ our Savior.

We are grateful for Orphan's Heart and the ministry they have in Guatemala and across the globe. If you'd like to read more about their mission or see more pictures from the Christmas party, check out the Orphan's Heart blog. Pray that the Lord would continue work in the lives of Marvin and his family.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hardee County Mission Teams Update 1-22-2017

First Baptist Church Bowling Green - Ecuador 
January 20, 2017 
It has been a rainy day here in Tabacundo. We started the day with half of our group having a Bible study with a gentleman whom the group unanimously agrees has been showing a positive change in his openness to the Lord. Satan is attacking him and his family presently and they are in need of much prayer.
The other group went up to the ministry above Cayambe that does work with the elderly. The ministry had a presentation of which they wanted us to be a part.
The first team made arrangements to visit with another family later in the day and that fell through because of a family health issue. We will keep trying to get over to see them. Pray for this family as well. We sense, but are not certain, something is in the air between them and our ministry. This family has been a vital part of our work here the past three years and things have just been different this trip.

I mentioned that it has been rainy today. Some would even say chilly or even cold. As a result, we only had 7 people make it to our Bible study tonight and 4 of them were new for us this week.

The young man who received Jesus last night was 1 of the 7. The man who brought him last night also came back and he brought another friend with him. At the end of the night these 3 were still with us until 10 p.m. talking. The new friend has not received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, but we encouraged him to truly think about it and we invited him back to the remainder of our studies.
1 of our repeat Bible study attenders has brought us a great deal of joy this week. We have seen some amazing growth in her life and she told us that her entire family did the Bible study lesson together and that her husband really enjoyed it. The mere fact her husband did the study with her is huge and an amazing praise report. Pray for God to do a work in his life.
Tomorrow is a "free" day, but we are already making plans for more contacts and trying to build on the work we have already done.
May the Lord be brought glory throughout the remainder of our time. - Pastor Scott Tharp 

January 21, 2017 
This is Saturday and our fourth update. The pastor has passed the duties along, so the content may lack some continuity with the previous ones. :-)
The team had hoped to have an off day today up on Mt. Cayambe, but the weather prediction for the mountain was for heavy rain all day, so we cancelled that and spent the biggest part of the morning trying to see and encourage those we have yet to make a connection. Part of the team was finally able to spend some quality time with the wife of the family that has been so vital the ministry the last three years. The husband and wife have both made professions of faith, but it seems satan is working on choking out their growth with the busyness of life. We left a copy of the Bible study we have been covering each night and encouraged her to try to include the whole family when completing it. At the the same time the other team mates made a couple of visits and shared some scripture on the other side of town.
We were all then treated to lunch with our sweet Ecuadorian family in Cayambe. It's so neat that we have friends in our own church at home that have family here that we can have such a special fellowship with.
With the cool, rainy conditions continuing, the number attending tonight's study was eight besides the team. But, among those were three new faces. Now the wonderful thing is that the new faces were not invited by us, but by others who have attended during the week! It was especially sweet to see one of our preadolescent friends, who's family has been attending for several years and who's mom has been baptized, show up again tonight but this time with a friend of his! They immediately sat down and, with heads together, began working on the study. (Prov. 22:6)
Quite a few who have been attending, have said they will be joining us for worship tomorrow. This includes the family in the previous post who has been in Satan's crosshairs for several months now. We know that our God is greater so join us in praying for restoration of this marriage.
Once again our pastor has been invited to share the message in the morning. Pray not only for the message and open hearts, but for our translator as she shares the message for us.
We have a full day of visits after church tomorrow that include two in La Esperanza. Please pray for those on our team with some cold symptoms to improve. (As my Sharon often says, "Ain't nobody got time for that!")
Praying for you all at home as well as you meet for worship tomorrow!
Bendiciones! -Janice Durrance 

January 22, 2017 
One of our other members has written tonights post, but I am typing what they wrote.
We began this beautiful Sunday morning meeting some friends and walking to church. Where a member of our team had the opportunity to share the gospel. We learned that we need to have a relationship with God on His terms instead of our terms. We also learned that we need to pray believing that God can and will answer our prayers, instead of just half believing. After church, we were invited to visit some friends for a meal.
In the afternoon, we went to visit a family and shared the gospel and gave our testimonies. Some members of the family were very interested in what we shared with them. Please pay their interest would grow and they keep learning more about God.
We also ask prayers as one of our team members is a little under the weather.

Chris Bishop & Family - Nicaragua 
January 21, 2017 
Since it has been a couple days since we posted I will try to be quick. Friday was a very full and busy day, we did two bible clubs on at 9:30am and one at 2pm and it was also the warmest day so far. btw the weather has been unseasonably cool and we are still getting the occasional rain shower but Friday was definitely warmer and sunnier so after a late night Thursday preparing and an early morning preparing, we went to morning club, then to lunch at a friends home, then to pick up our supplies for the afternoon club from the house and then back to the school for another couple hours. When we finished we cleaned the school as a thank you for letting us use their facilities, swept, mopped, clean windows, wipe down walls, doors and desks and donated the cleaning supplies to the school as well as a few tools for their projects with the students. We had planned on eating at home but After the long day we went out for pizza!
Yesterday we took as many helpers a spas could go to the river and waterfall near Juigalpa, it was beautiful and a fun day for those who could come. It is a blessing to bless those who serve so faithfully all year pouring in to the lives of these kids and their families in this neighborhood.
Today I am teaching Sunday School, then we will go town for the afternoon to Maxi Pali and the local market then to evening service. Hope everyone in the states has a great Sunday! Glory to God

Disaster Relief Updates from 2016

DISASTER RELIEF UPDATES

In 2016 so many of you said, "Here am I. Send Me," when we called for volunteers to serve with us during 2 different Disaster Relief trips. Thank you for your willingness to serve! We wanted to provide both teams with some updates from just a few of the families we impacted...

Please also keep those who are currently experiencing bad weather, including tornadoes, as the night begins to fall and the winds pick up. 

LA - Penny & David (House #1)  

Penny & David have kept in touch with SMM since we worked on their home in August. So we wanted to share with you all how they are doing...

Below are a few pictures that show their house coming along... One of the pictures also shows a painting that was donated by a local Hardee County Artist that we mailed to Penny & David just before Christmas as a reminder to them that God is faithful even during hard times.

They've asked for prayer in the following ways:
 Flood insurance is not paying enough for people to rebuild their homes. Pray we make very wise financial decisions and that God will bless and multiply the funds we do have. There are only so many Louisiana state licensed workers so most of them have inflated their prices. We had a painter that stole from us yesterday so we are trying to find an honest painter at reasonable price. Still a lot of work to do and pray for honest workers. Thank you so much for your prayers, work and continued support. - Penny 
     

FL - Nanette Hill (House #1) 
Ms Hill sent a card to us recently with the following update: 

 
11-18-16 Have to apologize to you great folks - taking so long to send from my heart a most grateful THANK YOU. You were a God "send" to me, I couldn't have asked for better people that surrounded me with the Lord's blessing. I have been going since the hurricane trying to get back to some sort of "normal." Today is the first time I haven't done something to clean or mend from the storm. I can now breath and slow down but my body have a much needed rest. My house is safely enclosed. I have continued to feel his blessing with others that have crossed my path. Thank you very much! God Bless you all, Nanette Hill (Mims, FL) 

Trip Photo Albums 
We were able to complete a photo album from the Melbourne Trip. If you did not get one and would like one, they are $23 each. Click here to view.
*We are still working on one for the Louisiana Trip.*

Disaster Relief TrainingFor those of you who are interested in Disaster Relief Training, there are several dates and times available in 2017. Currently SMM has not decided on 1 specific date that we will be attending. We will however, include this information in our monthly newsletter and post online via social media, when we have decided. 

Click here for Training Dates

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hardee County Mission Teams Update 1-20-17

There are two teams serving on the mission field from Hardee County this week. Below are some updates from their trips so far...

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH BOWLING GREEN - ECUADOR 
Jan 18, 2017
We have finished our first full day on the mission field. The morning was spent making phone calls inviting people to our Bible study tonight. In the afternoon we went and met with a lady who we met for the first time on the street in Cayambe back in August. We met her and her daughter and invited them to the Bible study tonight. They came with two others. Later we had a wonderful meeting with the local pastor and had a sweet time of prayer with him. After that we began preparing for the Bible study. We had 12 people show up and most of them were first time attendees. We went through the Bible study material we handed out in October. After the Bible study, we had one individual stay behind and speak us. This person was needing some advice and we gave the best answers we could and took them to the Scriptures. Pray for all that came tonight to return as we continue our study through this material we gave them and those in October. May more come even tomorrow to grow in God's grace. Thank you for your prayers and support. -Pastor Scott Tharp 

Jan 19, 2017 
It has been an adventure today. One of the things we did not mention yesterday was that our apartment floor had some damage (we believe from water). Our landlord brought a repairman to the apartment today and he spent the majority of the day fixing our floor. As a result, we were only able to use a very small portion of our apartment for this evenings Bible study. We had 15 people and it was VERY crowded. The day consisted of lots of contacts with people throughout Tabacundo. We also had a divine appointment with the local pastor with whom we are doing work. It was wonderful to see how God orchestrates events.

The main news of the day to report was the Bible study itself. We had the local pastor with us tonight and I hope the evening was a blessing to him and his congregational members who were present. At the end of the Bible study I asked if anyone needed to receive Jesus into their hearts as Lord and Savior. One young man said he needed Jesus. I asked the pastor to take him into and the friend that brought him to go back to one of the bedrooms and talk about receiving Jesus. After a little bit of time, they came out and he said he had prayed to receive Jesus. Pray for this young man to grow in his relationship with Jesus.
We also had three other ladies pull FBC Bowling Green's pastor aside and ask for prayer as well. Their prayer requests were not for salvation, but did regard very serious life issues. Because of the nature of Facebook we are not willing to share the specifics, but I would request you to prayer for these three ladies and for God to do an amazing work in their lives.
We have a full day in front of us again tomorrow. Our free day this trip will be on Saturday morning/afternoon, but we will have a Bible study that evening. On Sunday the local pastor has asked our pastor to preach and he has accepted. Sunday afternoon we have a meeting in La Esperanza. We resume having Bible studies on Monday and Tuesday. We have a few meetings in the day times as well. We need your prayers. Pray the Lord to show His favor on us. -Pastor Scott Tharp 

CHRIS BISHOP & FAMILY - NICARAGUA 
Jan 18, 2017 
Bible club day 1 began by doing some work on the family's home where Maricela does her Bible club every week... This is a very giving and loving family who's home essentially needed rebuilt. So the crew of guys worked all morning on the house came to bible club to help out there, got the whole house torn apart and the roof put back. Tomorrow they will finish the inside. 
At the bible club we had 152 name tags distributed and some additional moms there with their kiddos. It was a good day teaching about Jesus' birth!

Jan 19, 2017 
We spent the early morning choking on the house the Nicaraguan guys began repairing, Rebuilding yesterday, dropped the kids off with some of Mariicela's family and they spent the morning playing at one of the parks then we returned the house to make preparations for Day 2 of bible club getting snack. Drinks, and craft ready to go then it was an adventure just getting there because we are getting rain showers every 3-4 hours some for only a minute or two but today was for like 20 minutes and it made the roads bad enough our driver Miguel had difficulty navigating some roads, he is a great driver but his van has limitations. A good friend and servant of God, Sebastian came to the rescue with his flatbed cargo truck and loaded up our supplies and about two dozen of us on his truck, no problemo! 
At the bible club we had 148 kids and over 40 of them were different from yesterday. The bible story was about Jesus' last supper, death and resurrection. 
I want to say a special thanks to Maricela and her family for her hospitality as we are staying with her in her neighborhood and a special thanks to her team of volunteers they are awesome. 
Tomorrow we are doing 2 lessons in one day at 9:30 and at 2pm, that will be a busy day our team of volunteers here spent evening preparing the snacks and drinks and we went to an evening women's church service with some great music fun games and me preaching. Some impromptu ministry needs and prayers are needed for a few families here who we have gotten to know over the last few years and are facing some challenges. Greeting to all y'all back home! buenos noches.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ecuador Mission Team Update (Day 5, 6 & 7)

October 8, 2016 - Day 5
We have had such a fun and great day. Do we sound like a broken record? Today we began our day with an incredible devotional, followed by a wonderful breakfast, and then we had one of our team head to Cayambe to encourage a Christian Sister of ours, and the rest of the team began their "down time" day. Earlier this week we were invited to visit the lakes at the top of the mountains behind Tabacundo. At about 11:30 our friend came to the apartment to pick us up. We grabbed water and blankets and jumped in the back of pickup truck. Maybe I should rephrase that last sentence. Ten of us climbed into the bed of the pickup truck, then scrunched ourselves down so we wouldn't be pulled over, and off we went to the Lagunas de Mojanda. It's about an hour drive to the lakes, with the majority of the ride on a well kept dirt road. On the trip we experienced sunshine, clouds, rain, hail, more rain, cold, but most of all we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation and the fellowship of believers. The lakes are nestled in the mountains, originally created by volcanoes, and absolutely breathtaking. We probably spent about an hour up at the lake, taking pictures, laughing, getting soaked in the rain, drinking hot chocolate and coffee to try to warm up, and then finally headed back to Tabacundo. The return trip was dry, faster, and filled again with laughter and fellowship. Back in Tabacundo we changed into dry clothes, ate lunch, and then prepared the apartment for our evening meeting. And what a meeting it was!!!!! We had 19 people join the team in our apartment to learn more about discipleship and sharing their testimonies. We had a packed house! We recapped "one verse evangelism ", shared testimonies, and then officially closed the meeting making sure anyone who had questions was welcome to stay and talk. And stay and talk they did. The 11 year old girl from yesterday's post confirmed her understanding of salvation, expressed her desire to be baptized, then had her little heart broken because her dad and she are leaving Tabacundo in the morning to head to the coastal region to live, meaning she would not be able to be baptized tomorrow. After reminding her that obedience to her dad is more important than baptism, we gave her her own personal Bible, and her beautiful smile returned. Other conversations involved encouraging church attendance, confirmation of salvation, and just plain fellowship. It was an incredible evening! Tomorrow is our last full day here and as much as we miss our families and friends, we really wish we had more time. Now sleep must come, so we close wishing you grace and peace.

October 9, 2016 - Day 6 
This was our last full day in Ecuador! We can't believe it has passed so quickly. We're pretty sure this will be the last update, so hang on tight. We began our day with a surprise. The first interpreter we ever had in Ecuador was on his way to Otavalo, and popped by to say hello. What a sweet reunion! We then walked to the Iglesia Cristiana Betesda with one of our Ecuadorian friends and her three kids and worshipped our Lord and Savior, even though most of us couldn't understand a word of what was said. We did sense the Spirit who lives in us as we joined their service. Afterwards we went to lunch with a few friends, whom we met at church, and then went to the apartment to start the packing process and prepare for our last evening meeting. At 4 pm we headed to Cayambe to visit with one of our own's family, and then back to the apartment for our evening discipleship meeting. Perhaps because this was our last meeting, the discipleship training did not really occur. Instead our friends came and went, and we had one on one conversations and a short devotional. Although it was not what we had planned, it was a very good time, and we felt God's promptings throughout the meeting. We have now finished packing, cleaned the apartment and are as ready as we can be for our departure in the morning at 7:30. Thank you again for your prayers this past week. We could not do God's will without your prayer cover. Blessings to you all!

October 10, 2016 - Returning Home 
We have landed in Orlando and are on the van heading to Bowling Green. Today we began the day with an awesome praise time which we ended by singing Jesus Messiah. We are truly thankful for all He did this past week. We then loaded up the van and headed to Quito. We ate breakfast right outside the Middle of the World Museum, followed by an enjoyable tour of 00'00'00 Latitude. Then off to the airport where we ate lunch and then boarded our plane to Panama. Our plane from Panama to Orlando was slightly delayed, which might help you understand why we got in later than expected. Otherwise the flights were in essence routine. We are all tired, yet our hearts are so full of God's goodness. We have been so blessed to see growth in our Ecuadorian brothers and sisters in Christ. To God be all the glory!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Ecuador Mission Team Update (Day 4)

Ecuador Team Update - October 7, 2016 (Day 4)
We have had a great day!!!! May we stop right there? OK, OK... I know that isn't enough. After our morning devotional and breakfast we hit the streets. Some of the people we intentionally sought out, many we simply encountered on our walks from here to there. ALL we invited to join us for tonight's discipleship meeting. Just before noon we handed out tracts to the elementary and high school kids just below our apartment. For those of you who don't know, for reasons that are not completely known by our translators, school is divided into morning and afternoon sessions. Right around noontime some kids are going home for the day, and the others are headed to school, and this means the streets are teeming with kids. It was fun to hand out the tracts and we did not find any thrown away after the fact. We then continued with our visits around town, prepared the apartment for the evening, and rested just a bit before heading to eat some "quimbolitos" at one of our Christian sister's homes. Quimbolitos are little cakes cooked in leaves with steam and are delicious! Then back to the apartment for our meeting, which went very well. We had 16 plus the team and translators smushed in our living room. We recapped the previous evenings and then broke up into groups to practice sharing the one verse evangelism with one another. After some initial hesitation, everyone participated. YAY!!!!! We then shared testimonies, starting with one of our team, and then opened up the floor to anyone else. A few took us up on the offer and shared. It was very encouraging. A big shout out goes to a few on our team who took charge of the kids so the adults could pay better attention. THANK YOU!!! After the meeting was officially over, a man and his 11 year old daughter stayed behind for some more teaching. Please pray she grasps the difference between works based salvation and doing good because you love God. Now we are heading to bed. We can't believe we only have two full days left in this beautiful country. Please pray we accomplish God's will. May you be filled with peace.

Ecuador Mission Team Update (Day 2 & 3)

Ecuador Team Update Day 3 (10/6/16)
Hola mis amigos! Hello my friends! We began our day a little differently from most days. Last night, in the excitement of the evening, we all forgot to eat supper. Between preparing for the evening and then the great time we had, and the fact it lasted til 10 pm, food simply did not pass through our minds. However, this morning we all woke up HUNGRY!! So... as soon as we were all up and dressed, we headed out the door to a restaurant just a few yards away and had breakfast. THEN we returned to the apartment for our morning devotion. Afterwards we split up into two teams. One group headed to La Esperanza, where we attempted to visit with some friends, who ended up not being at their home, so instead we met them at a local park and had a very good time of encouragement and sharing. The other group stayed in Tabacundo, with certain ideas of whom we would visit. Instead God took us to meet some new friends with whom we shared about God's love. Both teams joined back up for lunch in Tabacundo with one of the first families whom we meet back in 2012 when we first began our ministry down here. What a blessing! After lunch our team went many different ways seeing old friends, making new ones, inviting all to join us for the evening discipleship time. We had a short rest time, prepared for the evening, visited with some dear friends and then we began our meeting. One of our translators started us off with a quick recap of "one verse evangelism", followed by testimonies. What was so exciting was only one of our team and one translator shared their testimony; the rest of the sharing was by those who joined us. Did you all catch that? THEY shared their testimonies! AWESOME!!!!!!!!! We are now finishing up the night, with empty tummies again and full hearts. Our heavenly daily bread is all we need.




Ecuador Team Update Day 2 (10/5/16)
Wednesday has come and is going, going, almost gone. Today has been a great day. The team started with a great devotional and then headed out the door at 7 am to catch the bus to Cayambe, where we met our farmer friend and caught another bus and a then took a short walk to his tomato farm. We spent the morning helping him support the vines, something he does every two weeks, and it takes him about 2-3 days. We truly found joy in assisting him in his manual labor and even had one of our Christian sisters here in Tabacundo join us in the work. After our fingers turned green, then black and beyond, we headed back to Cayambe, leaving our brother in Christ to finish his work (and possibly to undo anything we might have messed up). In Cayambe we had a quick snack, said see you later to our Ecuadorian sister who had to return home, then headed to the market to visit with another dear friend who graciously made us empanadas, which we devoured for a late lunch. After our tummies were full and happy, we took care of getting some snacks for our evening discipleship meeting and headed back to Tabacundo to rest a little and prepare the apartment. At 6:30 our first guest arrived and from there our day just got better and better. Our focus this evening (and for the next few evening meetings) is discipleship. Tonight we laid the groundwork why we should share our faith with others. We shared verses regarding being witnesses and sharing the good news, and then turned the floor over to our translators, who explained "one verse evangelism" as a tool for witnessing (Romans 6:23). Everyone was very receptive, and many great conversations occurred, before, during and after the actual share time. We had 15 people join the team this evening (the apartment was full), one who heard the gospel for the first time, and was VERY excited about what he heard. When asked if he had ever accepted Jesus into his heart, his response was "I think I just did". We will be following up on that response for sure! Praise God! The last person left at 10 and we are now winding down and heading to bed. Pray for continued opportunities to share Christ and equip the saints. May you experience God's peace and grace this day.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ecuador Mission Team Update - Day 1






Ecuador Team Update-How honored and humbled to be here in Tabacundo as ambassadors for our Lord and Savior. We have had a busy day, as we're sure you can imagine because of the time of this post. 

We began the day very early (one of us had a phone whose time did not update, and therefore we were up an hour earlier than expected), and God used that time so we could exercise, eat breakfast, have an awesome devotional time, and still be ready for the day by 8:30. We did a few housekeeping items in the apartment and then met with our awesome landlord who was in town to fix a potential problem which ended up not being a problem at all (Praise God!!!!). 

Then around 10:30 we broke up into several groups and hit the streets. We met with several friends in Tabacundo, some who were planned, many who just happened (divine appointments) to see us and want to chat, all who were a joyful reminder of God going before us. After reunions and eating lunch, some of us headed directly back to the apartment, where we barely arrived before the heavens opened up with rain and then HAIL! That was a first for all of us, and one we would prefer not to repeat (especially since it makes everything extra slippery, and can cause one to slip and fall-true story). 

While waiting for the skies to clear at least from the "raining rocks" some of us took a short nap (to make up for the extra early morning, we're sure), and others shared and laughed about the mornings experiences with one another. By early evening we were ready to go out again, but not before the skies cleared and we got some beautiful shots of Mt Cayambe. Our team split in two this time. Five of us went up the mountain from Tabacundo to meet with a group of leaders who want to know more about us and see if we can help their community. We are excited about this door which has opened for us to share Christ and his love with a people who seem very eager to know more. 

Please continue to pray for each step we take. The other four of our team went to the local "mall" where we have several contacts and invited them to join us for our discipleship sessions which we are going to have the next few days at the apartment. We ended the evening with supper at a Chinese restaurant, with a very dear couple. After our goodbyes we returned to the apartmen, had a short share time, prayer, and now most everyone is in bed, which is where yours truly is also headed. Please be in prayer for tomorrow. May the God who brought us here continue to go before us. Blessings to you!