THE LAST FOUR MONTHS were both a very special and very hard time for us. We had the blessing of having my parents stay with us and serve alongside us in our community. Their help is a blessing for our community here and it is a pleasure to have them stay and share life together. (And no, I am not just writing this because they are going to be reading it.) We love having them here and it is inspiring to see how they fit right in, even with the language barrier. People here are always asking about them and how they are doing, which indicates that they really have been assimilated into this community. Really, I´m proud of them, as I know it´s not easy when communication doesn´t come as easy as it does for them in Canada.
The past few weeks have been filled with many emotions as we recently lost a dear friend. His name was Nelson and he was a great friend to our family and the father of one of Leidy´s best friends (Johana) as well as a father figure to Leidy who had known him since she was 8. He died of a severe heart attack, while he was alone in his house reading the Bible. He was only 46. This has been a hard time for his family and friends, but we do not grieve as those without hope. As hard as it is, and as much as we will miss him, we know without a doubt where he is and who he is with. His service was filled with tears, joy and sorrow. He was such a generous and kind man and taught me personally what it means to reflect Jesus. I thank God for the opportunity I had to know him. Please pray for his wife Patricia and his 3 children: Johana, Juan Esteban, and Manuela.
As for daily life, things are going really well. My work with the kids in La Mariela has been going really well since I now have a constant team of 4 women from the church who have volunteered their time to help with the classes. The kids are as cute and crazy as ever and I love them all dearly. The baking equipment that was purchased for them has turned from baking classes into a min-bakery that enables them to sell some of their baked goods in the community to help support some families and continue to offer lunch for all the kids from Monday to Friday. Our Young People´s group (Jovenes) is also involved in this process as we purchase the snacks from them as well.
Our group of young people has grown over the last four months as well. It is now between 80-130 on a weekly basis. The group has gone through a growth process and we are learning how to teach and pastor this group to the best of our abilities. Between preaching, planning social outreach programs, discipling, and our home groups, we are happily blessed to be busy. Please keep our home group and us in your prayers. They are very special and dear to us and we are constantly asking God for wisdom in how to guide and learn from one another every week. Our group consists of about 15-20 young people of which many are newcomers to the church.
As some of you know, we will be in Ontario for all of July. We hope to connect with many of you, but we also decided to take advantage of Leidy´s visa (which will expire the following year) and visit various foundations and centres that are doing the kind of work that we are in the process of starting here with young pregnant women. Teen pregnancy is a very big issue in our city, and yet we discovered that there are very few aid options for a young girl during pregnancy. Leidy has been accompanying a young 15 year-old girl from La Mariela as she goes to doctor´s appointments and a variety of other appointments. It has been both hard and encouraging to see the trials that a young girl may face, but to also know that God is leading us in the direction to help and to serve this vulnerable community.
Our idea was born out of a lot of prayer and waiting and now has begun to take form. Our hope is to visit, learn, share, and apply what we learn in order to start up a foundation under ZonaJ for pregnant youth in our city. We are nervous, but are sure that this is where God is leading us, so please pray for strength and vision as we go through the process of learning how to best help these young women. We want to help them and serve them, so that they will see and feel God´s love for them.
I should probably clarify that it is not our goal to do this alone…we are not baby and pregnancy experts. We are looking to build a team who will be committed to Jesus and committed to helping these women. Prayer would also be greatly appreciated for who will be on our team and how we will select them.
Sorry if this update has been rambling on. It´s been awhile, so I thought I should bring you all up to speed about where we are and what we are doing. It may sound redundant, but it needs to be said: We are so grateful for all of you. The support and love you offer us is a blessing. A blessing that we want to constantly turn back to God and to bless others. It is because of God´s help and your willingness that we are here working. I am truly humbled by your generosity and the time you put into praying for us.
May you all continue to be a blessing to others.
We love you so very much,
Jacob & Leidy