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We recently surpassed our six month anniversary here, and it feels like a milestone. Tonya's dad attended a missions conference last weekend and it was stated there that the first year is the hardest, and especially around the six month mark. This certainly rang true for us, as although we've also had other mitigating circumstances to deal with (like the possibility that we need to move), life has felt a bit difficult recently.

In early January Ben's mom and her husband JT were able to come for two weeks and we had a really enjoyable visit. Once they left, we faced the discouraging reality that our hopes for doing a homework help program in our neighborhood were not coming to fruition. When we first made plans for this ministry almost three years ago, kids here only attended school for half days. That meant they had lots of free time and more homework which they needed help with. The government recently changed things and children now go to school from 8-4 or even 5. This means that they aren't given much homework because they are at school so long. We felt pretty disheartened for a little while, but now other opportunities for ministry are opening up and we are feeling excited!

We have begun the process of getting a Skatechurch started here! Ben met with the pastor of our church and he was encouraging about us doing this. We have several small ramps and seven skateboards, and Skatechurch in Portland is excited about it and will be sending us more. Ben will be meeting with some men from the church who can share the Gospel, as he is not yet fluent enough in Spanish to do it himself. We have several kids in our neighborhood already coming over once a week to skate in our garage, so we'll bring them with us, and there are many kids in the neighborhood where our church is, so if the response to skateboarding there has been anything like it has been in our neighborhood, we should have good attendance.
Please be in prayer as all the details come together and hopefully the next time we send out an update we'll have begun!
The other ministry opportunity is for Tonya to join our missionary friend Emilie, helping to teach English in a little country school where there are 100 students and only two teachers. Because there is no separation of church and state here, we will also be able to share the Gospel. We'll begin on February 1st!

 
Prayer requests:

A few months before we moved here we informed you that our home church had recently changed its policies for supporting missionaries and therefore we'd only be supported by them for our first year here.  That means we are halfway through the support they gave us, and are looking ahead to this summer when our support will be down by $500 a month. Please be in prayer that the Lord will raise up new supporters in its place.

Ben is still working towards being able to teach at the university, so please keep praying for this to work out if the Lord is willing.

Our older two children continue to struggle with being here. We know a lot of you pray diligently for them and we want to thank you and ask that you please continue to do so.

Thank you so much for your loving support and prayer on our behalf.

With grateful hearts,

Ben, Tonya, Jolie, Ivan, Samuel, and Melody

 
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Only four kids showed up for the last "class" we held before the holidays, but it was a sweet time of reading the Christmas story together and making ornaments.
On January !st I played in an all day domino tournament. I had an excellent partner, and we ended up winning first place! I'll never forget how it felt to have so many people, most of them new friends who haven't even known me very long, cheering for me and genuinely excited for me to win.
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