August Update

Thanks for your prayers!

In case, some of you are wondering…God’s hands have continued to protect us and mission property. The men of the congregation guarded the property for a couple of weeks and one man was even shot at, but apparently the thieves were caught and imprisoned. Since then there has been no further cause for concern. We attempted to hire a guard, but that didn’t work out, so it was probably not the right thing. God willing, we hope to eventually have a guard that would be an asset.

Sadly, my (Jeanette’s) Grandma Popke in Edmonton passed away on June 1, 2008, less than a month after her cancer diagnosis. We greatly regretted the fact that we were not able to see her again before her death, nor be at the funeral, but it just wasn’t possible. I am very glad that I was still able to write her a thank you letter that she received and greatly appreciated prior to her death. We will miss her here on earth, but look forward to a reunion in heaven.
My sister, Lorraine Makus left Bolivia on June 17 after being here for over a year on a volunteer basis. She initially primarily came to help us as a family adjust to the new country, with small children and a brand-new baby, but quickly added many other duties to her days work. Lorraine was our choir director, orchestra director, Sunday school teacher, Children’s choir director, Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher, church treasurer, pianist, and piano teacher among other things. She will be missed by all, but we are grateful for the time she had here and wish her God’s continued blessings in the next chapter of her life. Lorraine married John Reimer on July 25 and we had a wonderful “excuse” to come back to Edmonton, Alberta for a visit and see all of our family and friends again and have a wonderful vacation.

By the way, for anyone that is thinking of visiting us here in Via Gracia, Bolivia, since we moved to the church our frog problem is a thing of the past. There are also no snakes inside the building and we have a lot less bugs since the entrances have been screened in. We also have running warm water in the kitchens and showers and I even have a dryer and dishwasher thanks to my dear parents-in-law. The volunteers that were here at the beginning will remember a much more primitive start, but it is nice to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Now, we are preparing for our official opening ceremony (Einweihung) of our church on September 14. We are expecting singers from Argentina as well as guests from Mexico and Canada. Our guest speaker will be Br. Harry Klinger from Hamilton, Ontario.

On a sadder note, the parents of one of our families, the Jakob Friesen family, have decided to move most of their family of 11 (all except their two eldest sons) to the USA (if possible). Most of the children serve the Lord sincerely, but the parents have been unable to leave their old lifestyle and traditions behind. We are thankful that we had the opportunity to share God’s Word with them for over a year and know that those seeds were not planted in vain. Please pray especially for the children who are very sad to leave the church here behind, that they may grow in their faith and be a blessing wherever they go.
Again, thanks for your prayers and hopefully I will become more punctual in my updates – there is still a lot more to write for next time
Love, the Stiebens