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"Even When I Can't See It, You're Working" 

The worship song "Waymaker" caught Latin American churches by storm a few years ago, even before it became well-known in English. The song speaks to the promise that God is making a way, even in dark and difficult times. It was especially impactful to hear when Xochilt Herrera led it, in part because her voice is incredible, and in part because we knew she and her family were declaring the promise by faith, even as they had no idea what was in store for them after they had fled violence in Nicaragua. 

The line that always struck us the most was, "Aunque no pueda ver, estás obrando...siempre estás obrando." Now that the song has become popular in English, we are frequently reminded in multiple languages of how God is working, even when we can't see it. 

The song came to mind in a humorous way not long ago when we were talking with other missionaries about how to share about our work when we cannot travel or do as many in-person ministry activities. Although life certainly looks different now, in our case, the pandemic has actually given us the chance to focus on preparation for the longer-term work that we sense the Lord wanting to do through us and the Church of God in the region. The day-to-day details do not always make for fascinating newsletter or social media updates, but we are excited about the foundations being laid. Some days we have jokingly thought about posting the song, "Even when you can't see it, we're working!" 

More importantly, however, we know and trust that God is working, even when so much remains unknown and unseen. Just as we have several projects in the works that are not yet fully developed or ready to announce broadly, we know that God on a much larger scale has something in store for His people in Latin America and around the world. His thoughts and ways are supremely higher than ours, and we look forward to the testimonies of all that will come out of this season. 

In the meantime, we ask for your prayers as we continue to walk alongside our missionaries and national leaders during these trying times. Give thanks for new opportunities that have come up to strengthen mission teams and their work with the Church of God in Costa Rica. Pray for wisdom as we explore a variety of opportunities for pastoral training in Latin America. And pray especially for the vision that is beginning to unfold in our hearts and in the hearts of many of our leaders for making disciples and promoting sustainable projects across our region. We hope to have more to talk about on that front soon, so stay tuned! God is definitely working! 

For those who were wondering, Xochilt is now the pastor of the Church of God in Nicoya, Costa Rica. Her mother Juanita has returned safely to Nicaragua, where she pastors the congregation in Jinotepe. These two incredible women have been through significant trials over the past three years, yet the Lord is using everything they are gone through and more to minister to countless people in their respective cities. We know the future is bright for both. 

Their story is a good reminder for all of us as life begins to settle into a new rhythm in Latin America, the United States, and beyond. After a year of so much uncertainty, we may be finding some new patterns, or we may find life more confusing than ever. The missionary journey is certainly never predictable, yet we are learning from our Latin brothers and sisters to trust the great Waymaker. Even when we can't see it, He is working, and we will spend eternity learning and telling the incredible story He is writing around the world. 

Mourning with Those Who Mourn

As conversation turns to getting back to normal in the United States, here in Latin America, we still have a long way to go. Many restrictions were removed as case counts began to drop a few months ago, but even as people began to enjoy their new-found freedom, the first evidence of the next round of infections began to rear its ugly head.

The region now finds itself in the throes of a third wave of the virus, which, for many countries, is the worst so far. Perhaps the best-known is the crisis in Brazil, where the so-called new variant has led to thousands of additional deaths, including countless critically ill patients across the country who were unable to access respirators or even ICU beds. As the healthcare system and workers became overwhelmed, the congregations in Itaituba organized worship services outside the main hospitals to bring an encouraging word to the hospital staff, patients, and those who arrived by ambulance, even as they sang. Countless church members have fallen ill, and many have died. 

Other countries in the region have been hit hard as well. In February of this year, Pastor Máximo Cocheres of the Church of God in Lumbaquí, Ecuador, and his wife Flor both succumbed to the virus. We have also lost pastors' wives in Honduras and Peru, and a significant number of other leaders have fallen ill. Some have recovered quickly, while others have struggled much more. 

The economic impact has been devastating, as some countries appear to have been set back years or decades in economic growth. The region cannot sustain more of the stringent lockdowns that kept people home for much of 2020, yet the healthcare systems in many places are quickly collapsing as the case counts keep rising. Vaccines have arrived, but the rollout is slow. Most countries will have to hold on for several months or even years before achieving any kind of herd immunity. 

Please pray for our brothers sisters throughout Latin America as they continue to take the crisis in stride. Although the response varies from country to country (and even person to person), we are overall awed by the faith and hope that we have seen from our leaders in the midst of the pandemic. As we mentioned above, they continue to trust that even when they can't see the future, God is still working, and they are ready and willing to give faithful testimony to all who will hear. 

Building a Future in Paraguay

One of many bright spots in our region is the work of the Church of God in Paraguay, especially the ministry of Timothy's School. Timothy's School is a Christian school that focuses on giving educational opportunities and spiritual instruction to children with a variety of abilities and disabilities. 

In its early years, the school has held classes inside the Church of God in Obligado, Paraguay, but its continued growth as the grade levels expand each year has created the need for a dedicated building. After much prayer, hard work, and support (including those of you who participated in a matching campaign in Pennsylvania two years ago), the property has been secured. Now the building can begin! 

Many of the students enrolled in Timothy's School would not find a place in public school in Paraguay. Their opportunities in life would be few, and their future grim. Thanks to Timothy's School, however, students from all walks of life learn that God has a special plan and purpose for their live, and they are given the opportunity to develop the gifts and talents He has given them. 

Will you be a part of building the future for children in Paraguay?

To partner with Timothy's School as they serve their students and create a space for them to learn, click here.  

Other Prayer Requests and Praises
  • Pray for our friend and mentor Kathi Sellers and her husband Wayne as Kathi's journey with cancer continues. Wayne and Kathi served in Costa Rica for many years and are much beloved here and across the Church of God. 
  • Praise God that the Thompsons, who will be joining us as missionaries here in Costa Rica, are more than 50% funded. Give thanks also for their baby, Matthew, born on February 28. 
  • Pray for missionaries Deborah and Sarah Hunnicutt and the Samuel Raymond Christian School that they run on the island of Roatán, Honduras. They are one of few schools given permission to resume limited in-person learning, and they currently serve as a model for other institutions looking to open their doors to students soon. 
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