We will no longer be posting our newsletters on our website. We need to be careful about the information we put out now that our roles in Caracas are more defined and as we move ahead with ministry plans.
If you would like to receive the newsletter that we published this past week, fill out the form here and we will send it too you.
You can also signup to receive newsletters on the right hand side of this webpage where it says: “SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTERS”.
Thanks for following along with us. We always appreciate your prayers!
These last days have been so interesting to live through with the people around us. There have been constant speeches, heartfelt conversations, pot-banging (called a Cacerolazo), there have been fireworks, today there is salsa music playing, and in the midst of it all, lots of tension. While we find ourselves distracted (and rightly so) with all that is going on around us, we have also felt a deep peace as we have prayed on behalf of this country that we are growing to love more deeply. I think that in a strangely personal way, these days have entwined our hearts more closely with the people and country that we have really just begun to get to know.
When we were first asked to go to Venezuela, specifically Caracas, we said “ok!” as we didn’t feel a specific heart-pull to a certain “location” or “people.” We just knew that we were to pursue working internationally in obedience to something God had very clearly put in both of our hearts. So after that initial, “yes,” we began poking around the internet to find out all we could about this country and its capital city. We quickly learned that Venezuela is not very high on many people’s “must visit” list. But as we began to learn what we could about Venezuela and Caracas, two things began to happen: 1. God began growing a love for the people in our hearts and 2. we realized that we couldn’t let the internet shape our perspective and impressions of this country that we had never visited. What Google doesn’t tell you at first glance is that Venezuelans are passionate, warm, vibrant and loving people. Google doesn’t tell you is that this country is breath-takingly beautiful and as diverse as its people. What we did learn is the obvious and desperate need for a savior.
There is no question, it has been a difficult transition for us here in many ways but we are also still full of hope and are learning afresh every day to be faithful to the One who has brought us here. I had two people share with me this week the need to pray for kindness/love and loyalty amongst the believers. We need your prayers. So thank you for being faithful in praying for our family and the people of this country.
Our boys have loved going to school here. They love their friends, they love their teachers, and they love to learn. This has been a huge blessing and we are so thankful.
Because of all that has been happening on a national level in this country, the boys have only had 2 full weeks of school since the beginning of March. And they would rather be in school. With their friends. Learning there.
I suspect that if we were a homeschooling family, we would have our rhythm and our outings, and times with friends so this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But in these days where school is suspended and work needs to carry on at home both for Chris and I and the boys, it has been a challenge at times. Lots of sighs are heard around our table.
We are just one family in the midst of all the families in this country right now whose rhythm has been changed, where parents are choosing who stays home from work or who will look after the kids while they work. And they face something even bigger. The disruption to daily life is a reminder of what is coming on Sunday. Most feel the weight of what is happening. Please pray for the people of this country as they go to the polls to vote on who will lead this country for the next six years. We are thankful that we love and serve a God who knows all and is sovereign over all.
I think what we eat here is one of the most popular questions we are asked from people in North America.
We have shared lots that one of the delightful suprises for our family in moving here to Caracas was the diversity of cultures in the food. We have grown to love Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian (oh the fresh pasta and pizza!), Sushi, amazing freshly made hamburgers, and so much more! If a person had the money to go to a different restaurant each day for a whole year, we have been told, you still would not be able to visit all of the amazing restaurants here in our city. And the cheese. It is soooo good here…..!!!
So while Caracans love the diversity of cultures and flavors, they love and take great pride in their traditional food as well. We have shared how we have learned about Arepas, a daily staple in most Venezuelan’s diet. Another very common meal is the Cachapa.
Good Friday we hosted friends who taught us how to make traditional Cachapas with special Venezuelan cheese. Chris had gone with one of our friends to a popular market where he bought freshly made masa from corn on the cob. The venders literally husk the corn, and grind it into a liquid puree that you use to the make the cachapas fresh right before you. They also went to a little market to buy cheese from a man who had freshly made cheeses to enjoy with the cachapas.
While the men were allowed to buy the supplies, when they arrived at our house, the women took over the kitchen and told the men to go visit (sounds familiar to some of our mennonite backgrounds) and we spent a couple of hours talking while cooking the cachapas. It was fun and chaotic. As a side, I had thought it would be nice to have something with the Cachapas, so I cut up fruit and made a fruit platter – because of that fruit platter, our Venezuelan meal became “Veneuzelan-Canadian Fusion!” I’m always learning – they loved it but it had never been done before! And of course we had Papelón con limón to drink.
We shared a lively meal and conversation - if you sit back here, you won’t eat! You must go for it and fill up your plate! Food is eaten with gusto and quickly! After the meal, we had a much more relaxed coffee and dessert time which led into an impromptu worship time in both spanish and english.
It was a fill-up-the-heart kind of day. In these cases, you have to grab on tight and enjoy the ride because you never know what is going to happen next!
At the beginning of Semana Santa (Holy Week), we went on our first longer road trip here in Venezuela. We travelled 7 hours to the city of Coro. I was nervous before we left and tried to think of everything we would need – extra food, water, etc. I have heard so many stories that while it is good to be prepared, we desire to be wise but not fearful. We do truly love experiencing this beautiful country.
Coro, one of the oldest cities in Venezuela was founded in 1527. It is in the most northwestern point of Venezuela along the coast of the Caribbean sea. It was the first capital city of Venezuela as well as we are told that the first Catholic missionaries arrived in Coro and so the first churches were built in this city. We were taken on a tour at the end of our visit to experience a bit of colonial life. They have taken great care in the restoration and care of these colonial areas and there is great pride in their beautiful city. Coro is also known for Los Médanos, a national park with huge sand dunes.
However, at the heart of our visit was to spend time with our friend Leonardo and his family. Chris and Leonardo had been emailing for several months but because of the length of drive, we had not been able to meet him in person before this. Chris and Leonardo have had a connection which in spending time in person, became even more apparent. It was a rich time of hearing each other’s stories and what God is doing in our lives. We also spent time with Leonardo’s dad (his mom was away visiting her family) who is the pastor of the local Alliance church in Coro. They are a lovely family and we were impressed with the genuinely warm welcome and time that we spent with the people in their congregation. The boys made fast friends with some kids from one of the families in particular and we ended up going for lunch and spending the rest of the day together touring Coro, the amazing sand dunes, and spending time with them over arepas in their home.
When we think back on our time there, our hearts are full. It never gets old, in fact I think the privilege of being able to spend time with people, hearing their stories, praying with them, grows each time we have the opportunity to do so. We are so diverse in our cultures, backgrounds, life experiences and yet there is so much unity and love in the Holy Spirit. There is a healthy, vibrant community of believers living amongst the people of Coro and we are excited to see what God will continue to do there.
I’m thankful for this house that has become our home. Today I have been busy getting it ready for photographers to come to take pictures in order for it to be sold. Even though it means moving on, I’m thankful for the gift that this house has been. And more so, I’m thankful today for the wonderful, sweet woman that has been our landlord. With gentleness and helpfulness, she has been such an encouragement and blessing to us. Pray for her today as this change will be way more significant for her as she leaves the home she built with her late husband and in which she raised her three children. And pray that we can support and encourage her in this time. May His kingdom peace be evident in our home and in our lives as we walk these next days together.
We have really sensed that this season of ministry is about prayer and building relationships. While we are also working on other things – leadership training materials and workshops, among other projects, it seems to always come back to taking time to be with people here and now without a big agenda. We would never want to make “relationships” the project or on the “TO DO LIST” but we have also found that in living in a city and country as huge as these are, we have to be intentional, persistent, and willing to make an effort to spend time with people, having them in our home, driving to where they are, or serving in ways that they would like us to serve. But never in the midst of making the effort, do we ever want people to feel as though they are the project. We have loved hearing the stories and asking questions and praying with pastors and leaders over the last few months. Often we simply pray that the Holy Spirit would guide our conversations and give us understanding, wisdom, and discernment. We have had opportunities for Chris to preach, to be involved in music, to cook together, to share stories, to go on city adventures, or even more often to simply share a meal together. And while not all not all these times together have profound meaning in themselves, it is allowing trust and love to grow.
We have shared in a bit more detail in our prayer updates about some of the people that we have been getting to know that do not know Jesus yet as well. We are praying specifically for opportunities to build trust and to have spiritual conversations with these people. Because of the nature of these stories, we are not able to share them on a public blog but we appreciate your prayers as we love and spend time with our new friends.
May they know Him and that we are His by our love.
Last week we were sitting in the kitchen and totally out of context of our conversation but with such sincerity, Mackenzie said “I’m so glad we moved here, I love living in Caracas.”
I am so thankful for the joy and contentment of our boys. These have been hard days where sometimes life has been like walking through deep mud, sometimes getting stuck…or even losing a boot in the muck while just trying to put one foot in front of the other….So I continue to write down these special moments in my journal to give thanks and praise to God and to remember when I need help in the remembering.
We have realized that while we have done alot of learning since we arrived here in Caracas, we haven’t spent much time being tourists so when our language tutor suggested combining our sessions on Tuesday to go to a museum in a colonial house here in the city, we were excited to take her up on her offer to be our guide. Kelly (our fabulous friend and teammate!) joined us along with our friend Terry who was visiting us for the week. We loved hearing the history from the tour guide and then trying to translate it for Terry afterward. Our tutor loved showing us a glimpse of the history of her city and country and she enjoyed the morning as much as we did!
La Quinta de Anauco is the home of the Colonial Art Museum of Caracas or El Museo del Arte Colonial de Caracas. Each room in the house exhibits objects and items from the colonial era to give visitors a glimpse of how Venezuelans lived during that time.
La Quinta or the house, originally named Casa de Solórzano, was built by Captain Juan Javier Mijares de Solórzano in colonial times between 1796 and 1797 as a home for relaxation, amid coffee plantations, sugar cane and various fruit trees.
The home was also said to be where Simón Bolívar spent his last night in Caracas before leaving for Columbia never again to return to Venezuela.
I have been reminded again the importance of story and history and how much it can tell us about ourselves and why we do the things we do. We learned so much more than just the story of the house and the artifacts in our time together. The history of this country is rich and diverse and the more we learn, the more we are beginning to understand the culture today.
I’m thankful that we are always growing and changing. God is using many different things in my life to remove the layers that I had, in many cases, unknowingly put on that I thought were part of defining who I am. One of the majors ways has been language. For the first two years, I was more gentle with myself. Giving time and freedom to make mistakes and learn and taking risks. I would get weary and frustrated, yes, but there was still freedom to learn. But I noticed in the Fall how I would allow the words to catch on my tongue and allow my feelings to keep me from speaking in freedom. In November, I was able to identify that and I began to shrug off my insecurities and fears but then it got caught….
I was shrugging off the fears like I used to shrug off my heavy winter coat that was laden with wet snow. Sometimes it took a few hard shrugs to get the coat to fall off my shoulders and even then sometimes it would catch in my arms at the elbows before falling to the floor in a big, wet heap.
This week as I’ve been spending time in Philippians, I was struck with the part in chapter 3 where Paul talks about his “credentials” but that none of these credentials mean anything. All that truly matters is knowing Christ. With all of my being I want to know Christ more fully…but….
Like the coat that is stuck on my arms, I am weary of bumbling through language….I hold in my heart thoughts and feelings that I want people to know… that I have friends and have shared life richly with people, that I did my job well, that I do know how to share and study with people, that I do have qualificiations and education, that I am more than in learning this language, I am able to express with words….
And then…I am reminded of the image that God gave me as this new year began of roots growing deep….I want to KNOW HIM, be flooded with Light and filled with confident hope. And grow roots deeper and deeper into Him. (Eph. 1:17-18 and 3:14-21)
And then for today, it becomes easier to shrug off the heavy coat that has been stuck on my arms. It becomes easy to risk again as my eyes are drawn to Him.