Posts in N&Ctrl America Caribbean
San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary - July 2019 Update

Dear friends and companions in the ministry,

Warm greetings from Mérida, Yucatán. What follows is a brief overview of the recent activities and new initiatives that San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary is undertaking. With your help, the witness of the church in Mexico and other Latin American countries is being strengthened.

Conferences
From June 2 to 4 we held our Continuing Education conference for pastors and leaders. There were 122 pastors and leaders of 10 different Presbyteries of the states of Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Mexico City in attendance. The theme was "The Theology of the Covenant" by Dr. Jonathan Gerstner, president of Yucatán International Academy.

Graduation
On Friday, June 7 we celebrated our graduation service and the end of the academic cycle that started in August 2018. We had thirty-six graduates:

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Don and Martha Wehmeyer - April 2019 Update

Dear friends,

This beautiful little girl with her pet was sitting on a doorstep in Lijiang, China. Martha and I traveled there for a two-week sixty-fifth birthday present. The trip was wonderful and in Shangri-La, Tibet we had a day of snow! Many of you see snow every year but for us, it was a cool novelty. This trip was mostly sightseeing. We did meet a few brothers and sisters but they had very limited English so we were not able to learn a great deal except that they had about twenty people in their home Bible study (without a pastor) on Mondays because Sunday is a workday. We are praying for a pastor to Lijiang as the population is Buddhist and atheist.

Our daughter Kristen is stronger now after the horrible accident in December. Thank you for your many notes of condolence. She is planning on going to Curitiba, Brazil to volunteer six weeks in a home the Independent Presbyterian Church has established for children of domestic abuse. She will be there from May 16 to June 26 so we ask for your prayers for her travel and being able to get along in Portuguese.

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Sureste Presbyterian Theological Seminary - December Update

Sureste Theological Seminary in Villahermosa, Tabasco is a place of strategic involvement for ministry in and from Mexico. Its youthful student body reflects the enthusiasm present in the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico as both the largest Protestant denomination in the country and the largest Reformed body in the Americas.

During 2018, with the help of congregations and individuals in the United States, The Outreach Foundation provided up to half of the tuition as well as room and board for fifteen promising students. Hear from some of them in their own words:

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Philip and Bacilia Beisswenger Update

Greetings Guatemala mission partners and friends!

“We have come from a far country,” said the Gibeonites to the Israelites. “Now therefore, make a covenant with us.” (Joshua 9:6) Thus we note the enduring biblical interest in making international connections. The practice continues today in “far countries” like Guatemala, with covenant partners witnessing personally to one another, enabling Christ’s mission to grow deeper and wider.

Presbyterian Complex: Five amazing groups traveled to Cobán, getting involved personally in all areas of ministry.

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Keith Vandegrift and Lana Bell - November 2018 Update

Greetings friends,

On October 15th our home assignment came to an end. We are in Antigua, Guatemala for two months of language learning and study. Following that, our plan is to go directly to Cuba when we have a visa in place.

In August I made contact with some friends in Cuba and said in so many words, “It’s now or never.” To our surprise, a pastor friend got back to us quickly with a plan. That’s right: a real, logical, doable plan to obtain a visa to live and work in Cuba. We’ll believe it when we see it, of course, but this is the best shot we’ve had so far of getting permission and a visa, so we are encouraged.

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Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary - October 2018 Update

I just came back from my 15th trip to Cuba leading another team from The Outreach Foundation. I am usually asked a simple question by those who are surprised to hear that there is a Presbyterian presence there: “Oh, really…how did you find the Church there (i.e. what is going on with it)?” My simple answer: “I find that it is persevering…”

Often you meet a person on these Cuban journeys who seems to embody this like Mercedes Cardenas, an 89-year old elder in the village church of Sabanilla. Rail thin, with thick glasses and an effervescent personality, this Afro-Cuban retired school teacher models an inspiring life of faithfulness – of perseverance. She remembers the first Presbyterian evangelist who came to town in the 1930s when she was a small child.

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CANIP, National Presbyterian Camp - October 2018 Update

Dear friends,

It was just over a year ago that Hurricane Irma slammed the northern coast of Cuba. Flooding in the capital of Havana was captured in iconic images like this one to the right. But further to the east the impact was even greater, and squarely in the center of the worst of the destructive wind and rain was the camp and conference center (CANIP, for short) of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba.

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Baryé Fè High School - September 2018 Update

Dear friends,

In a time in Haiti where only 5% of the children who start school will be able to earn their high school diplomas, we are pleased to announce a 99% passing rate for this past school year with 100% of our 9th graders passing the National Exam.

For the 2018-2019 school year, we will be adding 180 Pre-K students to our primary roster and welcoming 80 students who graduated from the 6th grade at Cite Soleil and Terre Noire to the 7th grade at Baryé Fè. A total of 228 students are expected to attend Baryé Fè this year. The projected completion of the second secondary building will allow for the accommodation of 10th grade students.

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Don and Martha Wehmeyer - July 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Yucatán. Martha and I were traveling during much of May. We had a wonderful first-time trip to Israel. Our tour took us to see many sites that are mentioned in the Scriptures, and we learned a great deal. We really liked the Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, and of course Jerusalem. What surprised us most was just how small the country really is. We had heard that before we left, but now we know for ourselves that it is really small. Would we go back? In a heartbeat. We were blessed to have been able to go and will savor many memories.

After Israel we went to our retreat with The Antioch Partners, which is held every three years. Mission folks from around the world gathered about an hour north of Budapest. It was great to see friends and hear the great things God is doing in so many places around the world. This time, however, it seems odd to be two of the “seniors” in the crowd. I remember not so long ago looking at the white-haired missionaries and admiring that they were still serving in their older years. Well now we have the white hair and we still enjoying serving in God’s great task of shepherding in the Kingdom of God.

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Berea Presbyterian Seminary - June 2018 Update

Equipping God’s people for ministry, Berea Presbyterian Theological Seminary is committed to developing leaders to serve faithfully and effectively, primarily among the Ch’ol people in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas. The Ch’ol language, which can be traced directly to its Mayan origins, is the native tongue of approximately 150,000 people in the state. 40,000 of those are monolingual (Ch’ol only) speakers.

Since the 1940s when pioneer mission work among the Ch’ol people was first undertaken by Presbyterians, much attention has been given to appreciating their language, cultural identity and formation of their own leaders. When the growth of the churches indicated the need for more formal theological education, Berea Bible Institute was established with support from missionaries from the Reformed Church of America and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary - May 2018 Update

Over its 36 years of ministry San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary has trained almost eight hundred students from twenty-one of the thirty Mexican states. The Yucatán Peninsula is known in the U.S. for the splendid beaches of the Cancun area, a 700-mile shoreline, and its astonishing Mayan ruins. Not as common is to find people who see the region as a place that has experienced a remarkable multiplication of Presbyterian congregations over the last decades.

The initial classes of the San Pablo Seminary were held on September 19, 1982 in the facilities of Divine Savior Presbyterian Church with Rev. Lucio Ek Canul as the first full- time instructor and Rev. David Brainerd Legters as the first president. The son of a missionary couple that coordinated the translation of the New Testament, Legters’ first language was Mayan, his second was English, and his third was Spanish.

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Todd and Maria Luke - May 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Below, you can read about:
•    twentieth anniversary for sanctuary 
•    twenty cisterns in January and February  
•    “Curious Creature” paradigm success
•    new cistern molds with a 10cm annulus
•    five cisterns in March and April – Mexican labor, Mexican funding  
•    invitation for 2019

Happy 20th Xpujil Sanctuary
The Xpujil Presbyterian Church sanctuary opened in the spring of 1998. Presbyterians from across Calakmul County recently joined the local congregation for a special worship service to celebrate the twentieth anniversary. Stories were shared about the early days of our new partnership, rooted in a simple “Amigos en Cristo” spirit. Also remembered were those Mexican men and women who came to Xpujil to teach, preach, and lead: Pastor Francisco Chan, Pastor Manuel Pech, Pastor Francisco Mutul, Obrera Ernestina Chan Pantí, Pastor Isaias Beh, Obrera Vernonica, y Obrero Abdiel. God used our little partnership to bring them to the region and make their families feel at home. Twenty years later, the Xpujil church is active and serving their neighbors.

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Philip and Bacilia Beisswenger - March 2018 Update

Our family deeply appreciates your commitment to God’s work in Guatemala. Thanks for the ways that you partner with indigenous churches in Cobán and the surrounding region, as well as your generous missionary support for our family through The Antioch Partners. Here’s some news from this corner of God’s vineyard:

Antioch Presbyterian Church
Started 3½ years ago, the church Philip pastors has 55 active members, with an average of 75 in worship. Most are ethnically Q’eqchi’ and new to the Reformed tradition. In 2017 24 new members joined, 12 by profession of faith. The congregation continues its hospitality ministry, receiving international groups and nearby theological students. In November the church hosted 300 Presbyterian women from across Guatemala for their annual convention.

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Shalom Teaching Ministry in Central America - January 2018 Update

2017 was a period of intense activity for Roy Soto, the pastor of Shalom Christian Community in Fraijanes, Costa Rica. The Outreach Foundation partners with Roy in providing learning opportunities to people that God has called to serve as Christian leaders in and around the country. The fact that only around twenty percent of Protestant pastors in the region have had access to formal theological education presents many opportunities for non-traditional ways of engaging and equipping church leaders.

Roy is invited by groups of pastors who long for personal and congregational transformation to come and teach a contextual approach to mission that, centered on the Kingdom of God, grows disciples and releases them to holistically serve their communities in the power of the Holy Spirit. What follows are words that Roy uses to describe the scope and the impact of this collaborative equipping ministry.

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Keith Vandegrift and Lana Bell - January 2018 Update

Dear friends,

Thank you for your love and support this past year. In many ways, this has been a hard year for us but we’ve been inspired and sustained by your encouragement. For that we thank you.

This is just a brief year-end update. Our move to the town of Jovellanos at the end of November has proven to be a good one. We felt we were moldering in Matanzas. We were bored and about to live in a construction site. In one week in Jovellanos we experienced more friendship, fellowship, support and ministry than the previous two months in Matanzas. That has been gratifying. To be sure, Matanzas is a nicer town in most ways, but our relationships here have been great.

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Don and Martha Wehmeyer - December 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Martha and I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy, Happy New Year. We have been blessed this year, your prayers and support have kept us preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Southern Mexico, Colombia and Chile.  We are so honored to have you as a part of the ministry our Lord has laid upon our hearts. Only one thing we ask, please write us ‘de vez en cuando’ – once in a while. Of course, we get emails and Martha is big on Facebook but we really want you to know it is not a problem to answer your emails or phone calls. We want you to feel a part of what we are doing because you are! In fact, come and visit. We have extra bedrooms and plenty of coffee to share.

Let me mention three prayer requests for 2018: 
First is our ministry with theological education, especially San Pablo Seminary in Mérida, Yucatán and Berea Seminary, Palenque, Chiapas. Both of these schools are teaching solid Reformed theology but have severe financial challenges. The best thing to do is to help with scholarships as this accomplishes two things at once. The students get to study, and the professors get paid. The Outreach Foundation is the best way to send scholarship funds. $160 dollars a month pays for room, board, tuition and books in Chiapas. Mérida is $200 a month. There is no future for the Church without leadership formation. The life of a pastor in Mexico is tough, yet young people who could be entering other professions are stepping forward, so we do want to encourage them.

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Sureste Presbyterian Theological Seminary- December 2017 Update

Good News Amidst Natural Disasters in Mexico

The 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and neighboring Oaxaca and Tabasco on September 8th resulted in a death toll of at least 90 people, with thousands of people injured. At least 70,000 people were displaced due to significant home and infrastructure damage. Felt strongly in places as far off as Mexico City and Guatemala City, it was described by President Enrique Pena Nieto as the worst earthquake to have hit Mexico in a century. Shortly after that on September 19th, Mexico City and its surrounding areas saw 370 people killed and 6,000 injured from the effects of a 7.1 earthquake in the Greater Mexico City area. 

The Outreach Foundation’s partner, The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, became actively involved in demonstrating Christ’s love through relief efforts by opening the facilities of its national headquarters to receive donations for those displaced by the destruction from the earthquakes as well as from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katia flooding in Veracruz.

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Haiti Outreach Ministries - November 2017

Dear friends,

In this season of gratitude, we at Haiti Outreach Ministries would like to say thank you for your support of our ministry over the past year. Your generosity, encouragement and prayers along with God’s grace have made possible many wonderful achievements. Thanks to donors like you we have accomplished so much; a few of these larger achievements include:

•    Needed classrooms and kitchen installed at Cite Soleil
•    Basketball courts built at the three primary schools
•    Cite Soleil library expanded
•    Services expanded at the Cite Soleil clinic with the addition of an Ultrasound exam room
•    Classrooms, church offices and bathrooms at Repatriote constructed
•    Expansion of the Terre Noire sanctuary started
•    Phase II classroom building at Baryé Fè started, on schedule to receive 9th grade students fall of 2018

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