James and Christel Neuendorf – Puerto Rico February 2019 Update


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A few notes from LCMS Missionaries, James & Christel

The Ponce Carnaval is world famous for its colorful masks, strange traditions, and week-long festivities. Our very first weekend in Ponce happened to fall on the same date as this major tradition, and the location being rented for our worship facility happens to be right in the middle of the parade route, which was scheduled to pass by at the very moment of our normally scheduled service time!

Because of this, we determined that it would be difficult to have worship service at the regularly scheduled time, so together with some of the existing church members, we put on an outreach activity to invite people in the street to our upcoming Lenten services. It was an incredible opportunity, so we got together as a group and provided cold bottled water, candy for kids, and invitations to our Ash Wednesday service to passers by from the central square.

It was an amazing way to begin ministry in Ponce, working together with our small congregation there to share the love of Jesus with those around us, and to give a “cup of cold water” to those physically thirsty in order to invite them to receive the water of life from our pulpit later in the week. Although we didn’t plan it this way, we were struck later by how appropriate it was to give out free bottles of water, as the name of the congregation in Ponce is “Fuente de Vida” or “Fountain of Life.”

Already from the short time that we have been in the city, it is clear that the situation in Puerto Rico is incredibly difficult. Many people are struggling with depression and anxiety, and a general sense of hopelessness and despair hangs over the island. In addition to many other things, our half of the island is also facing a major drought, and in some parts of the cities they are rationing the water supply, yet the true drought in Puerto Rico is the spiritual thirst that we have found in almost every conversation from the moment we arrived.

What a privilege and a gift then, to be sent here to provide the water of life which comes from the bottomless well of the Living Rock which is Christ!

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Visual Faith – bringing God’s Word, prayer, and art together. Over this last year, I (Christel) have had the opportunity to learn more about what Visual Faith entails while also learning some new art techniques.

While in the Dominican Republic, I had the opportunity to work on a project of Psalms Devotionals. Fellow missionary, Lizz Warren, designed prayer cards with images and themes that corresponded to each Psalm devotional.

We used this resource as an outreach event in Pueblo Nuevo for the women of the community, a time of prayer and reflection for the missionary woman, a time to prepare for invitation and visits for the deaconesses in Las Americas, and a Bible Study aide in Ozama. It was such a joy to bring some color and art into a study while also giving those in attendance something to take home and remind them of the love God has for them.

I am looking forward to sharing this with Fuente de Vida here in Puerto Rico.  A very special thank you to my college friend, Val Mayatas, my sister-in-law, Katie Helmreich, and fellow missionary friend, Lizz Warren for all of their inspiration and work to make this project happen!

If you want to check out the free resources that are available, click here. Soon this Psalm Project, designed by Lizz, will be available for download!

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In the Dominican Republic, the team is composed of various missionaries and seminary students from all over Latin America. That means a lot of good food from all over the continent. We had the opportunity not only to eat this great food, but learn how to make it! Click on the photo below to view a quick video on how to make these great dishes!
Peruvian Ceviche – by Elvis y Alba
Venezuelan empanadas – by Yoxa
This coming month, and during the time of Lent, we are especially focused on getting acquainted with the members who are already confirmed in the church, as well as identifying local support resources such as homeless shelters, drug rehab facilities etc. Please pray for this critical stage of the mission in which we are learning about the people we are serving and beginning to form the base from which the mission will continue to expand!
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