After some bittersweet farewells, we hopped on the plane bound for Buenos Aires! God gave us grace through all the hurdles of customs and typical traveling trials. The Crowders greeted us at the airport, and James was excited to get behind the wheel of his manual transmission to maneuver through big city traffic again. We honestly felt like we had been gone 5 days instead of 5 months in the sense of feeling “at home” in our surroundings right away.
James and the deacons had a debriefing meeting to discuss what they had learned during our absence as well as to plan out the year. We met five new people on Sunday who have begun attending since we’ve left. We are excited to see how God will continue to work.
We praise the Lord for the ministry of Roger and Sharon Crowder during our furlough. They took excellent care of our house and the ministry. Many church folks gave testimonies of how their example has impacted them. One resounding message we heard was, “I want to finish my life well as they are doing. Instead of retiring and putting my feet up, I want to keep working for the Lord as long as I am physically able.” They allowed God to work through them to encourage the spiritual leaders to even greater service. We hope and pray that the fire they kindled will lead to God calling a man to be the permanent pastor of this work.
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from sunny Florida where temperatures and gas prices just keep rising! We are in our last month of a 5½ month furlough here in the States. The Lord has been so good to provide above and beyond all we could ask or think – rent-free housing, a mini-van for $1, good friends for our children, encouraging fellowship at furlough meetings and many other blessings along the journey. We have been able to catch up with most of our family and many old friends, but sadly our short time here does not permit us to see everyone!
Twenty thirteen has been an exciting year for our family (well, actually, I don’t think we’ve ever had a boring or uneventful year!). Our teenagers went to three different summer camps in three different countries—Argentina, Uruguay, and the WILDS of North Carolina. The kids completed all of their schoolwork in 6 months (February–July) in order to be free for other opportunities during furlough. They have had a great time seeing their friends, participating in Bible Quiz Team at Hillsdale, doing various odd jobs, and, of course, traveling all around the Southeast with their parents.
Yes, our furlough meetings kept us only in the Southeast this time. Our omniscient God knew well before we did that Amy’s back problems would not permit her to travel to points beyond. Please pray that the cervical disc decompression surgery planned for the end of January would give her relief from her pain and that we would find a good physical therapist in Pilar, Argentina to help with the other issues. Staying close to home has also permitted us to spend more time at our home church, and they have received us with open arms. James has enjoyed completing carpentry projects at the church and for others in the Tampa area…keeping those skills and tools sharpened for what’s to come…
Looking ahead to 2014, we are excited to see how God will continue to work. Our hope and prayer is to buy property for the church, do some remodeling on the existing structure, move in and then begin the task of building a more permanent church building with the help of church members and work teams. We would love to have volunteers come down to help for a week in trade for some succulent steak and delicious ice cream!
The true joy of Christmas is in the everlasting and sacrificial love of Christ who left His heavenly throne to die on the cross to save us from our sin. We wish you a joyous Christmas and His rich blessings in the coming New Year as you seek to serve Him.
By His grace alone,
Jaden, Lauren and Josiah Greenwood
God has been blessing exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think. Through the generosity of His people, He provided a reliable minivan and a comfortable house in the Tampa area for us to use. He has given us especially sweet fellowship with our home church, extended family and friends. It is a joy to report to our supporting churches and observe them remaining true to God’s Word.
I once heard the story of a man whose neighbor was trying to install a television antenna on his roof and was really struggling to get it done by himself. The man walked over and offered to help. He had a collection of nice tools and everything needed for the task. When they finished the job, his neighbor looked at his rather impressive toolkit and asked what he made with such tools. “Friends mostly,” the man answered.
Since we have been home, God has given James many opportunities to use his carpentry skills, not just to make friends, but to express our gratitude to those who have been a blessing to us over the years, whether our home church, pastors, friends or other ministries.
We continue to receive positive reports from the work in Pilar. Pastor Crowder is encouraging the men to take on more leadership. One man, Hector, is now translating (from Portuguese to Spanish) on Wednesday nights, while Carlos is still interpreting on Sunday mornings. Our prayer is that God would work during this time to reveal the next pastor for this work.
Good News from a Far Country
Roger and Sharon Crowder, our furlough replacement missionaries, are truly being used of God in Argentina! Brother Crowder is encouraging the men to a greater level of service, and they are joyfully responding! Attendance is high in all services, visitors are coming and God is doing a great work!
This past Sunday was “Children’s Day” in Argentina. Since there are always several visitors for this holiday, the teens prepared a skit, and the teachers presented the Gospel. Two children made salvation decisions. To God be the glory!
Our very first furlough meeting this past Sunday was a particularly special one. We were at First Baptist Church of Westwood Lake in Miami, Florida, where former members of the church in Pilar (and special friends) are now actively involved. There is no greater joy than to see your “spiritual” children walk in truth!
James was privileged to preach four times–once in the Spanish service, once in the English service and in two chapel services. We look forward to reporting in many other churches on what the Lord has done in Pilar, as well as how He is leading the ministry toward the future.
Our goal is always to visit about half of our supporting churches on one furlough and the other half the next time. We would love to be able to visit all of you, but time (and energy!) just won’t allow us! Thank you for understanding if we have to take a rain check for another time.
Faith in Action
Another “first” for our church plant – missions. As a church, we have been putting 10% of the general fund aside for missions. We have actually had the opportunity to help with two projects–a building project for a sister work and a national pastor who needed car repairs. This month, a young Argentine man from a sister work presented his desire to go to China as a missionary. Our church people voted to help him by paying for almost 75% of his airfare to take a survey trip!
Even more amazing is the spirit of the people. In the business meeting to decide on how to help this future missionary, the church folks publicly expressed their thankfulness that God sent them a missionary, and that they wanted to give because of all God has given them for the building through local churches in the States. That is only a work God can do in their hearts! Isn’t it neat to realize that the impact of your giving goes beyond dollars and cents?
Good News from a Far Country
We were privileged to host our home pastor Travis Smith for a visit in June. Of course, he’s read and heard our reports and seen pictures of the ministry in Pilar, but this was his first opportunity to meet the very special people who make up our church. It was an extremely encouraging visit for our family to have quality time with him, and for our church people to get to meet the pastor of our sending church.
Jaden, Lauren and Josiah are furiously finishing up home schooling, so they can be free of their studies while on furlough. Please pray for them as they transition to life in the States. Plans are coming together for housing, renting a vehicle and reporting to churches. Pray for us as we wrap up details here and fly to the States on July 30. As our roots grow deeper in Argentina, it becomes increasingly more difficult to pull away for months at a time for furlough. At the same time, we anticipate the much-needed rest and fellowship in supporting churches.