James and Christel Neuendorf – Latin America April 2019 Update

 

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A few notes from LCMS Missionaries, James & Christel

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This month we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, and then like the disciples in the weeks following, we launched our outreach and mercy plan for the city of Ponce! During the Lenten season, we spent our time getting to know the members of the congregation and learning about the needs in the city, putting together a three-year plan. The Wednesday after Easter, we had a congregational convocation to discuss the plan and take the first steps towards implementing both the plan and the formation of a lay council for the congregation. The event was an incredible success and many good ideas were shared by the new believers who now form our congregation!

The congregation decided to focus on four different areas, building up fellowship in the congregation, dedicating ourselves to the study of the Word, prayer and worship, giving witness and mercy outreach to our surroundings, and faithfully administering the gifts that God has provided through His people. This will be accomplished through weekly, monthly, and annual activities in each area. We also were able to adopt a tentative budget for our activities, gradually moving from mission subsidies towards congregational funding for all ministry expenses. We also adopted a three-year curriculum for Bible Study, which covers the entire Bible in three years through weekly classes as well as special once a month courses in theology. We already started the first five-week course, which introduces the Bible, it’s major themes, and how to interpret what we read. The schedule of activities for outreach, study, and mercy are really starting to pack our schedule full!

The big unknown moving piece in all of these plans right now, and for which we ask your prayers, is that we have narrowed the search for a church and mercy house building to two properties, each with a lot of promise, but also some significant barriers to purchasing either of them. We are confident that God will open the right doors, but He nevertheless asks for us to ask that He would! Rest assured that when the building is secured, we will dedicate an entire newsletter to showing you the space!

Christ is Risen! Let’s go out and tell everyone!

 

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As a missionary team we work hand in hand with LCMS Disaster Response. We recently have been blessed  to start working alongside a group called ENDEAVORS. They are a group of social workers that are contracted through FEMA that identify cases of families who are still in need long after Maria has hit. As a missionary team we have been able to assist them in helping those who are still need of roof repair. It’s been a blessing to work hand in hand with a government agency here in caring for the people who are in real need. It’s also been a huge blessing in learning more about the culture and how the systems work here in Puerto Rico. Please pray that this relationship continues to grow and we are able to help and care for more people in our communities.

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Some photos of what continual water damage from a faulty roof looks like. The woman who lives in this house has moved from room to room since Maria in order to not get wet when it rains. The coolers on the bottom right are what she uses to collect water in her kitchen. 

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Maundy Thursday – we had the opportunity to share about “Hope” and share in some crafts with the kids at one of the residential housing units near church. 


We are so thankful to Lutheran Heritage Foundation for donating more “Santa Biblias” to our field here and to Emmanuel Lutheran in Fort Wayne, IN for sending them to us! This woman has been coming to the residential fellowship gatherings and was thrilled that she could have her own Bible to take home. 

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Our awesome missionary team! I pretty sure a day doesn’t go by that I think, “is this a dream that I get to serve with my good friends?” Most days are not easy, but knowing we have such a great team of support is an incredible blessing from God. 

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We were invited to a get-together the Saturday before Easter Sunday to hang out, play dominos, and eat some Puerto Rican Asopao. It has a soup like consistency with tomato sauce, vegetables, rice and shrimp! So good! It was a great afternoon of spending time with people near church and learning more about what it means to be Puerto Rican. 

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I took this photo to remember the moment. It was after Maundy Thursday service and we left the building in silence to prepare for Good Friday, however some words needed to be shared. One of our members lost her son about a month ago after he was shot.  After the service all of the members stayed and grieved with her, said a few words and let her know in more ways that I could ever really describe that they too are grieving with her. This is the church, walking together, supporting each other, being the body of Christ.

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On April 29, Deaconess Intern Stephanie Wilde was placed to serve in Ponce, PR! We are so excited to have her with us! Please pray for her transition from seminary to support raising to the field! 

Prayers:

·      Congregational Plan and activities
·      Physical and spiritual needs for members of Fuente de Vida
·      Carmen, who was moved to a full-time care facility in San Juan
·      The search for a building in Ponce, particularly the one which is slightly out of our price range but in negotiation. 

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April turned out to be another Mission Sender month! Thankful for family and Mission Senders who come to visit!

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