Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vacation Bible School

Dear Praying Friends,

Whew, VBS is over and the last 2 weeks are a blur already, but certain impressions stand out:

Lack of teachers. The majority of the trained teachers had either full time employment or were enrolled in summer classes, so they could not be involved during the actual afternoon hours of 2-6. Right up until 2 days before it started there were only 2 teachers confirmed for the 5 classes! Also we had previously had a 10 day CEF training, then a week of evangelistic activities which delayed preparations. Only one week was left before VBS started!

How achy my legs felt on the Saturday before it started: I was on my feet pretty much from 8:30am til 10:30 pm. The group that came worked hard, but it was too late a start. The dramatizations that we did each day were put together in a frenzy.

Saturday night the church copy machine died: Someone mistook a transparency cover, a thin, floppy, clear plastic material, for a transparency and stuck it in the photocopy machine, melting it onto the cylinder and damaging it. We still had to use it (after the repairman came at almost 10pm and picked out all of the melted pieces) as a new one takes several days to order. All of the copies for the rest of the week came out light, but at least still legible.

Monday, how bewildered and helpless I felt on Opening Day when a teacher quit 15 minutes before VBS started. One of the 2 confirmed teachers for over a month up and left 15 minutes before on the first day with no explanation. (She returned the next day and did a tremendous job cleaning the rest of the week!) A fellow who previously had only wanted to help with music, stepped in and said that he would be willing to do it for the rest of the week.

Tuesday: food poisoning: Early Tuesday morning everyone who had eaten the lasagna for Monday lunch got pains and diarrhea. A couple people had fever! Everyone showed up feeling queasy. This happened to be the day selected to enter a whale’s mouth containing dead fish, seaweed, and opened cans of tuna on the sides to enhance the atmosphere.

Wednesday the Water Pump went out. No water for 130 people using the 4 toilets all day. This also happened to be the day selected for Jonah to be spit out of the whale, rolling onto the floor amidst seaweed and several dead fish. The poor fellow, Robinson, was a good sport about it though, even though he did smell like a fish for the rest of the day!

Thursday Air conditioner failure: Thursday, 4 of the 5 classrooms were without air-conditioning and both teachers and kids sweltered through it somehow. One class chose to sit on the cool floor!
Friday everything worked!

An hour before the closing activity on Sunday we arrive to find that the backdrop and props for the closing activity for VBS had all been mistakenly taken down!

Around 115-120 children ages 4-13 came expectantly every day. They brought their parents to church on Sunday, filling the sanctuary to overflowing. Several new Christians helped out for the first time. One of them, Amelyn, brought her in-laws one day to help, and they both accepted Christ as Savior during the closing activity on Sunday!

Peter was usually in and about helping in lots of areas as gofer, construction of props, repairman, transportation for the people who fixed the lunch for the workers, and snacks for VBS.

Sharon learned a lesson from Jonah. He was obstinate, hated the people that he ministered to, and was even outraged at the overwhelming results of his ministry, yet God used him anyway, even if he didn’t want to be used. It shows me how much God loves. It is his overpowering grace, combined with the power of His Word that brings about results, regardless of the attitude of the proclaimer.

Peter convened a small Christian Ed/ discipleship meeting at our church for 2 days. 7 were present from different churches. The purpose was to give exposure to several resources available, and categorize them. The 4 men from out of town stayed overnight at our apartment.
Even though October is several weeks away, Peter spends much time in planning, consulting, correspondence, and working out logistics for the International NDLL annual conference to be held in Venezuela. About 350 attendees are expected from South America.

In a couple of weeks our 12th grade daughter, Melissa will depart with her high school for a field trip…. to the Galapagos Islands! We are all excited about her new school and the opportunities it affords. She is taking 3 AP classes.

Thank you for your prayers,

Peter and Sharon McMillan

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For most folks this is vacation month, and also for most churches this is special activities month. Our church is no exception: From August 1-9 our church hosted the first ever regional Child Evangelism Fellowship training. The director, Andreina Hurtado, stayed in our home and fit in nicely with whatever else was going on. We had invited about 30 churches, but only 5 churches ended up participating. 22 people attended, including 9 from IBM. The sessions were in the evenings and all day for 2 Saturdays. Everyone who finished the course was excited and encouraged. It was agreed that we would do another one next year. They will be good promoters for next time! Besides Sunday School teachers, several of the members of our church also help out in neighborhood weekly outreaches aimed at children and adolescents.
The Lecheria cell groups celebrate Peter’s and Melissa’s birthday.

This past week, August 10-17, our church, together with another church, was busy with an evangelistic campaign. We focused on 5 areas where we have members or already have a cell group. Around 70 volunteers from all over the eastern side of Venezuela stayed in homes of church families. In the mornings they get together with another church for training time. After lunch the volunteers divide up and are transported to the area where they work. We had around 30 volunteers for our church. In five different sectors they, together with local members go out door to door and have a 1-11/2 hour long night program with skits, songs, movies, and brief message. Peter did various errands for the different sectors, and Sharon coordinated the evening meals for our group in Arabella, an apartment complex. Sunday evening the church was packed to overflowing, and every sector gave a report with the final results: 572 contacts, 189 completed studies turned in, 112 people who prayed to receive Christ. Now follows a 12 week period to incorporate the new believers into cell groups.
The group of workers at Arabella Melissa participates in the drama “Jesus, You Are My All”

Sharon is in charge of VBS, which starts on August 25 -29 from 2-5:30. Each class will prepare a presentation for the parents to be performed on Sunday night. It will be based on the life of Jonah. We will decorate the entrance, steps and door as if it were a dock and the children will get “tickets” and ascend the ramp (steps) to board the ship. The second day we will make the main hall look as if it were the inside of a whale, complete with opened cans of sardines and tuna fish for the smell effect! The snacks are also geared to the themes. One day they eat fish in blue gelatin, and on the last day they eat “worms.” We have a lot to do. We still need 2 more teachers. Most of the college age students, who help out a lot, are taking 1 or 2 summer intensive courses, and so I’m still on the lookout for new recruits.
Last Monday, August 11, Melissa started her senior year at a new school. By the grace and foreknowledge of God, the Venezuelan field had set aside funds to help the last mks on the field, since no boarding facilities are available. We were able to make use of these funds so that she can be at a good, international school. Otherwise, we would have to home school as her former school has rapidly declined in quality and number of students while hugely increasing the tuition. She is taking 3 AP classes and has started volleyball practice.

Also last Monday, after being with us for almost 3 months, Heather returned to the States to find a job. She was instrumental in getting together a new group of youth from this area who are either not Christians or are just beginning to grow. Please pray for José, Gina, Rosita, Vanessa, Pablo, and Gabriela, as well as Melissa, who will continue to reach out to them.
Peter is coordinating the III International Congress on Leadership to be held in Caracas in October. This organization (NDLL) seeks to encourage Latin leaders to grow, to be transparent, and to set their priorities correctly so as to finish well. There will be speakers from 8 different countries and we are expecting 350 leaders to be in attendance. We will focus on equipping leaders whose leadership is informed and shaped by the Bible, who have such a grasp of the content and intent of Scriptural books as to be able to apply them to current situations.

In Christ’s service,
Peter and Sharon