Thursday Update: Baranquilla

Our second leadership conference concludes today. Our days have been long with back to back events with little break in between. Moving around this city is difficult. Traffic is challenging. Today, looks to be even longer – after we finish up this afternoon, we’ll take a 2 hour drive down to Cartagena for a service there tonight. Then we’ll drive back 2 hours here to Baranquilla to stay in our hotel.

Yesterday was very good. Jason did a great job teaching on elder’s qualifications and following his session he and Mac ran a Q & A for around an hour. Just like last week, the questions were good and indicated they’ve been studying on the matter. Many of them wanted clarification on what the age of the elder should be. We got questions on how many children an elder should have, whether they all should be faithful, what “being faithful” means, and what “the husband of one wife” means. All were asked with sincerity and a group of brothers came up to me after the first session ended saying how this week has really challenged them. They are ready to help their congregations go to the next level. I reminded them that this is a process and takes time – perhaps decades in some congregations – but they could all play a role in helping their churches move in the right direction.

We ate lunch at a restaurant across the street from where we’ve been meeting. It serves traditional Colombian food. It was great to be able to spend more time with these brothers, visiting and catching up on details about their lives, etc.

I conducted the afternoon session on 6 principles that every leaders should be developing within himself. We worked together on an activity on decision making, answered a few questions and then dismissed for the afternoon. In pm traffic, it takes about 30 minutes to get back to our hotel. We were here long enough to change clothes and then we were off for a 45-60 min commute to the 7th of April church. The place was packed. Kids and people were standing in the back door and out on the sidewalk looking through the barred windows. And, boy was it hot. Metal roof. Concrete walls. Only windows were in the back entrance area. Mac & Jason preached last night. Kids got to teach a number of little kids. Leigha presented her lesson. All the kids here are just so adorable.

Let me take just a moment to brag on Jaime. 10 days of translation in a row is hard. It’ll wear a person out. But, he keeps going. And he goes out of his way to help us, encourage us, and provide for our every need – even helping us with our menu orders, etc. He’s doing all the driving (for which I’m extremely thankful) and helping coordinate logistical things on the ground here for us. For example, due to it being a national holiday here, our flights on Monday were goofed up by the airline, with Mac & Leigha being bumped to different flights. He was able to talk with the check-in agent and get us all on the same flights. Had it just been me trying to negotiate everything, things might not have ran so smooth. We absolutely could not do this trip without his assistance. Kettering family, I want to encourage each of you to take a few moments and send Jaime a personal email of thanks. He’s a great person, a dedicated servant, and a very good translator. We have been very blessed by his being with us, as well as Natalia.

Once we finish up today, we’ve been invited to the Castro home to be served by Pedro’s wife, Delsy. We’re excited about that and look forward to their hospitality.

Please remember Becky as well. She’s had just a little stress while I’m away. The night before we left, a lightning storm hit near our house and took out a TV, satellite receiver, and other electronic devices in our home. Evidently, the lightning hit a tree next to the back corner of our home. Most of that tree fell yesterday afternoon, hitting part of our patio, etc. It looks like Mom’s garden has been destroyed, etc. After speaking with mom this morning, we got power restored around 12.30 this morning. Looks like I’m going to be spending next week cutting up a tree.

We appreciate all your prayers, and emails. We’re enjoying ourselves. I have two great traveling companions and the girls all get along and are having a great time. Of the 7 trips I’ve done like this, this one has been by far the best. (Not that the other trips were not successful.) But as this one enters its last stage, the success we’ve had is easy to see.

thanks again for your prayers and encouragement.
More on Friday.

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