1-1-05, Fresh Start
1-9-05, Call for Help
Top 1-26-05, Chimneys
Happy New Year! Spaniards celebrate at midnight by eating 12 grapes, one at each stroke of midnight. We have
no idea what it means, but we participated at a party last night like good missionaries. Ian said he and his
friends looked like chipmunks with nuts in their cheeks.
As I started a new year of devotions with a new structure to my reading of the Word, it occurred to me that our God specializes
in fresh starts. My first New Year's resolution is simply to thank our Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and
forgiveness. I know He will use me this year because He specializes in using weak vessels, and I praise Him for allowing
me, and you, to be part of His plan to expand His Kingdom.
With that in mind, please pray for us and our ministry partners, Ned and Joanie Steffens, tomorrow (Sunday). Each
of us are hosting neighbors in our homes for an informal coffee, snack and conversation time. Pray that God will bring
people, and that we'll be sensitive to what the Spirit would like to do through us.
We wish you a year of God's richest blessings,
Mark and Kay
You prayed with us last week for the Christmas/New Years "merienda" that we offered in our home, and our partners the
Steffens in their home, last Sunday. Each of us had about half a dozen families from the neighborhood and we felt like
friendships were deepened. Beyond that, a very interesting religious discussion developed in our event. One lady,
Merchi, said that her faith has been permanently damaged. I asked if she meant faith in the church or faith in God,
and she answered, "Both." That is a very sad legacy of the Catholic church here. Many unfortunately are throwing
the baby out with the bath water and rejecting God altogether.
We are trying to discern if it is God's timing to begin something in our neighborhood, specifically based on an outline
of the Alpha Course. Alpha is an evangelistic cell group concept built upon a meal time together, presentation of a
theme and then open discussion. I went to an Alpha seminar yesterday, and it seems like it has possibilities.
So could you please pray for wisdom and sensitivity in following up?
Secondly, we've been asked to develop a mentoring relationship with a Venezuelan missionary serving in Morocco, just
a few miles across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain. It could be strategic for our missions agency, TEAM, as they
would like to send missionaries into Northern Africa. At the same time, this seems to build on some other contacts we
have with ministry in Morocco and we want to be sensitive to God's leading. Time and finances are both issues, neither
of which we are concerned about if the Holy Spirit is leading us to do it. So again, please pray for wisdom and direction.
The final area we are requesting help is the most difficult, probably because we like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient
North Americans. The truth is that we're not, and one of the ways God likes to remind us is in our pocketbook!
When we came to the field a year ago, we arrived with a shortage of about $400 a month in our regular monthly income.
In the last year we have had to furnish a home and get established in Spain. At the same time the dollar has fallen
about 10% against the euro, meaning that our purchasing power has also dropped 10%. This has resulted in a significant
deficit in our account with TEAM. And our monthly shortage is now about $500.
So above all, please pray for us. We are trusting our Lord to provide all our needs, but insufficient income is
If God has provided you with the resources this new year, and He has touched you to help us, please respond to us and
we'll tell you how to get the funds to TEAM.
Thanks so much,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian
We've a decision to make and can't seem to get a real clear perspective on what to do. We've been offered the opportunity
to do an English Club for the elementary school in Camarma. On the one hand, we'd love to develop some more credibility
in the community and contacts. On the other hand, we have asked for some help from the local Christian school, and haven't
exactly been overwhelmed by volunteers. We're not sure we can or should try to pull it off by ourselves at this point.
Please pray with us for wisdom about whether or not to pursue this.
And we need God's perspective about when and how to begin evangelistic Bible studies.
Thanks for partnering with us with your prayers,
Mark and Kay
What does climbing up on a roof and lifting a 50 pound slab of concrete off the top of a chimney have to do with church
planting? I asked myself the same question when I was up there!
This story requires a bit of background. We live in what might be called in the USA a row house, or town house,
side by side with our neighbors. We have a fireplace, that's the good news. The bad news is that the construction
is so poor that whenever we light a fire smoke pours into our neighbor's house and our bathroom. Seems that the
chimneys from two houses, and the bathroom ventilation, go up through the same concrete structure that looks like a chimney
from the outside. And there is a concrete slab on the top of it, with small vents on the sides, that doesn't allow all
the smoke to escape.
This is the kind of thing that I would have given up on a long time ago, except that several neighbors have offered to
help fix our problem. So yesterday found me on the roof with two shifts, our immediate next door neighbor first, then
two more later in the afternoon. Fortunately, the second shift had some construction experience, so the problem might
More importantly, one of the wives came over while we were working, and Kay showed her how to make her "magic cookie
bars" (which we men definitely appreciated!) while they were talking. And we all sat around and had coffee after the
work was done, and had some good conversation. One step closer to sharing the Lord.
This morning I went into downtown Madrid and helped my friend Rick with his Christian book table. It reminded me
of a similar exhibition we had in Caracas. We had several good conversations about the Lord with people, and it encouraged
me to think about doing something similar on our side of town, maybe in Acalá de Henares. Regardless, I'm going to try
to get to Madrid to help my friend periodically.
Thanks so much for your prayers and support regarding our decision on doing an English Club in the public school.
The jury is still out, but we really appreciated the input that several of you sent us regarding the decision. There
was no consensus about whether to go for it (take a step of faith) or to wait on the Lord, but there was some great spiritual
insight, and it was very helpful. Thanks so much to those that took the time to respond!
This evening Kay and I are going to an Alpha course. We're still considering Alpha, or at least the outline of
it, to do in our neighborhood. Again, please pray for us as we consider how to get something started here with our neighbors,
and build on the momentum from our Christmas party.
And thanks again for praying with us,
Mark, Kay, Greg and Ian
"Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink". I'm not sure where that phrase comes from, but it sure applied
to us this week. It has been unusually cold all across Spain. Two mornings in a row we awoke to snow on the
ground, which we'd never seen before around here. That was beautiful, the boys loved it and so did
we, especially since it melted right away so that we didn't have to shovel anything! Then Thursday night while
Kay and I were out a water pipe burst in our storage shed. Spaniards aren't used to deep freezes here, so the pipes
are not placed with that in mind. The boys did a good job responding to the crisis and were able to get the water main
turned off. A plumber came and fixed the pipe, not before water covered everything in the shed with a covering that
soon became ice. Unfortunately, without water running, the water meter out on the street broke, so we were another day
without water before the water company could get here to replace it. And it's still not right, the meter they put on
was too big, and the door doesn't close, so we wrapped blankets and plastic around it, and are still waiting for the water
company to bring the right sized meter.
The first night Greg got sick with diarrhea and vomiting, so you can imagine what that was like without water.
And this was the eve of a "think tank" meeting that had been planned for months to discuss how TEAM Spain can better
meet it's goal of establishing reproducing churches. It had been planned for months around the schedule of a pastor
from the US who was to help us with the process. The same night Greg got the flu John, who was to lead the group, came
down with the same thing, only a worse case. Fortunately Bill, the pastor, was able to step in and did a good job leading
us. You could pray for us as we try to assimilate our thoughts, and then all TEAM Spain missionaries go
to a mini-conference in two weeks to try to come to some conclusions.
More importantly, this serves as a snap shot of what sometimes happens on the mission field. I would not
attribute every negative circumstance to the enemy, but there are times that it seems more than just coincidence,
bad timing or whatever. I was telling Kay that my "to do" list is longer than anytime we've been in Spain, just at the
time that some of our neighbors are showing signs of being ready for the next step toward the Lord.
Some of you have sent great insights regarding a decision on English classes (we may offer to do something on a
reduced basis, not weekly) that also apply to the myriad of things to do this week. We'll need your prayers for God's
direction, for His priorities and for His blessing, particularly as we have times with our neighbors. I hope to go biking
with Fernando this afternoon and talk over coffee afterward.
Thanks for praying with us!
Mark and Kay