Catching Up…Miracles and Other Happenings

File May 03, 11 26 07 PM

Hello friends,

I apologize for the long time between posts. (Almost a month!) But it’s certainly been an eventful time.

But first the miracle. Our stuff had arrived in Mendoza, as I wrote in my last post but it ended up sitting in Customs for a week. The two guys highest up in the totem pole were absolutely not going to clear our container. We’re pretty sure they were waiting for a bribe. But since the freight forwarder we used is a believer and absolutely refuses to bribe anyone, we decided to pray that the Lord would just change their hearts. And the Lord did just that! The following week they were friendly, helpful and signed our papers to release the container. They still had to open it and pull a bunch of stuff out for a cursory inspection, but nobody tried to create problems, and, as you see in the photo above, Wednesday April 18 the container finally arrived at our house! (Two months and 4 days after it had left Franklin.)

File May 03, 11 16 43 PMThis is our furniture all over the Customs dock

I then spent the following week arranging it the best I could and unpacking the necessary items, in anticipation of Karina getting back. I hadn’t seen most of it since early January!

File May 03, 11 40 22 PM               Having coffee with the Argentina Partnership

The following Wednesday I traveled to Buenos Aires to meet up with US pastors from the Argentina Partnership: Ray Duran, John Aureli and his intern Julio Regla. It was great to see them and so encouraging. They have been extremely supportive of our venture into Argentina, and besides that they are really great guys. Then Karina finally arrived Friday and my joy was complete! Six weeks apart is a long time!

File May 03, 11 38 29 PM                          Teaching at the Viña La Ferrere ordination service

Anyway, last year at this time there were no Vineyard churches in Argentina. As of this week there are three! That same Friday we ordained pastor Cristian Mansilla and his wife Mabel from the city of La Ferrere in Buenos Aires province, then Saturday we traveled to the province of Entre Rios and ordained pastor Ezequiel Ferreira and his wife Gisela. It was an awesome time getting to meet them and their churches in person. We did a lot of teaching and ministry and it was a great blessing for them and for us.

          File May 03, 11 35 58 PM                     The pastors from the 3 Viña churches in Argentina (Missing Gisela Ferreyra)

I believe 2018 is a big year for the Gospel in Argentina and I am excited for the part the Vineyard gets to play. Now in Mendoza we need to get started! Up until now we’ve just been getting settled in and organized, and we still have plenty of that to do but we have the rest of our lives to do it.

Please pray the Lord will give us wisdom and discernment on how to begin reaching out to people. Please also pray for a couple or a few people that can come alongside us and be partners in helping get this thing off the ground. Also for work opportunities for Karina and myself.

Thank you all for your prayers and support! God bless you.

Mark

Our Container Has Arrived

MSC_ANZUAs I write this, the container has finally arrived in Mendoza and Monday the paperwork will be presented to Customs. (Pictured is the actual ship, but not the actual voyage.)

But that’s not the only thing that arrived. Our baby grandson, Chael, arrived early Saturday morning! Lisa and baby are doing great.

Baby ChaelProbably the cutest baby I have ever seen, and he was huge – 8lbs 11 oz!

So we are praying that we won’t have any trouble with Customs, especially since Karina is not here and everything is in her name. And we’ve already been warned there could be trouble, so we pray for favor. If everything goes smoothly we could have furniture by Wednesday! Certain of our friends will be glad to hear that we hired a moving company to unload it, and thank you to Franklin Vineyard for donating the cost! But the wait finally appears to be over.

So please pray for us. Since I last wrote I am still painting and fixing things in the house all day long, trying to get as much done as I can before the furniture comes. Karina will be flying back in two weeks. It will be so good to have her back!

Anyway, blessings to you all,

 

Mark

Two Months

mendoza 21Downtown Mendoza, sidewalk café

Today marks two months since we arrived in Mendoza. It seems like forever, because a lot of things have happened since then:

  • We stayed in a rented apartment for the first month and spent our days getting paperwork done government offices, walking a lot and learning the bus system
  • Our furniture was finally picked up and our friends in Franklin did an amazing job loading up the container
  • Our house in Franklin finally sold
  • We spent the first two weeks of March living at people’s homes and a hotel
  • We visited five different churches, and they were all very nice
  • Karina left to go back to the US due to the birth of our grandson
  • We bought a house (the day after she left)
  • Mark moved into the house and is camping out until our furniture arrives
  • Mark’s sister and brother in law spent a week helping him fix things in the house, clean and paint (it had been vacant for almost 2 years)

It’s been a very eventful time. Not to mention the setbacks, disappointments, and emotional ups and downs we went through during that time. But God’s timing is always perfect and he came though in every situation.

File Apr 01, 12 32 06 AMPainting the house

So what does April hold in store for us?

Lord willing our grandson will finally be born. Our furniture should finally arrive on the 10th or 11th. Mark should finally get his ID card so he can open a bank account, get a cell phone number and a drivers license, among other things.

We have a meeting at the end of the month in Buenos Aires with three US pastors from the Argentina Partnership and members of 2 other Argentine churches soon to become Vineyards. It will be great to meet these people in person, and one of them, Cristian, who is leading a church in his home, is going to be ordained that weekend. We will be visiting those two churches as well. And it will be great to be able to hang with some Vineyard folks from the US!

As far as the church planting business, it’s sort of hard to start a church when there’s just one of you, but of course that’s what Jesus did, so I’m keeping my eyes out for opportunities with people. I’ve met and chatted with quite a few people in the neighborhood and the current plan is to start up a meeting in a nearby coffee shop and invite people to “a group of people having conversations about God”. I think in May when Karina gets back we will begin to be a bit more proactive. We do have a list of people we are praying for and the list gets longer and longer.

File Apr 01, 12 33 19 AMMy brother in law, Alberto, hard at work

So two months in, I really miss the US and our home church and Franklin and our friends. But Mendoza is beautiful and we love the city, and after meeting so many “Mendocinos” I realize why God loves them so much and wants them to be part of His Kingdom.

Blessings and Happy Easter!

Mark

The Amazing House Story

Photo Feb 06, 6 14 03 PM (1)

Here I am, sitting in an empty house, waiting for our furniture to arrive. No refrigerator, no stove, sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. It’s been 6 days now, since the Lord provided this house for us, and it’s such a cool story I really needed to share it. So here goes…

Selling our house in Franklin was way more difficult than anyone expected and we ended up accepting an offer that was quite a bit less than we were hoping for. Which meant that here in Argentina we had less options than we would have had otherwise. But this house was the third one we looked at and when I tell you the story you’ll see that it was nothing short of miraculous!

The day we looked at the house, the realtor said there was another party attempting to buy it and their only hindrance was that their bank financing wasn’t coming through. He said if we offered cash the owner would take it. But although we loved the house, we didn’t want to make a rushed decision, and there were also a few other houses we wanted to see. The following day we were going to Cordoba for a week to visit our families, so we prayed and said to the Lord that if this was the house for us we trusted Him to save it for us.

One reason this house was a perfect option is that due to all the paperwork, closing on a house in Argentina usually takes 45 days or more. In this case most of the preliminary paperwork had already been done for this other buyer so it meant we could close in less that 30 days, which also meant we would have a place to put our furniture when it arrived!

The other reason was that so far all the other houses we had seen were a bit outside our price range and the seller would have had to come down quite a bit or we couldn’t do it. But this house was large, had a yard, and was the closest of all of them to the downtown area, besides being right in our price range.

 

Fridge

This is my fridge

So a week later we got back from Cordoba and the next day the realtor calls us and says the other party is coming to the house at 6:30 that evening to sign a contract because they received their financing, but that if we still wanted it we should make our offer first. Karina and I both felt bad for these other people, so we made the decision that if the Lord wanted us to have the house the owner would have to take the initiative, and that we would not force our way into the situation and steal it away from these other people.

Now if you have a hard time believing this next part, I understand, but that afternoon the owner was watching TV with his wife and was flipping channels when all of a sudden a guy on the TV said the word “Tennessee”. He turned to his wife and said “We need to sell the house to the people from Tennessee!And that is exactly what happened!

We have a big God!

One more story to show this really was from God, and one that regretfully I didn’t remember until afterwards: The day we first went to see the house we had the address wrong and thought it was 2 houses further down the street. But as we walked past this house I felt a voice inside me say – “this is the house”. It was like my heart sort of jumped. But as we continued to walk past I looked at it and said to myself “no way, this house is way too nice” so I dismissed it. You see, the Lord was telling me something, and if I had paid attention, it would have saved us days of heartache.

I know this is a long post, but let me tell you about the house. First it is an answer to prayer in that it is perfect for large groups of people – huge kitchen, dining room, and a living room that can easily fit 30 to 35 people, and the layout is open, so you could realistically fit more than 50! Second, it has 2 guest rooms for the many guests we are expecting, plus an office area for each of us, and 3 bathrooms. Third, like I said before, it’s very close to downtown, and in fact only 10 blocks (less than a mile) from the central plaza that is the heart of the city! (It’s also 11 blocks from a famous street filled with pubs where all the students hang out.)

And one last thing. There are 9 towers (nine!) just like this one being built literally 2 blocks up the street from where we live, which means there will be 4 to 5 thousand people waiting to be reached right in our neighborhood!

Buildings

So, like I said, it is a miracle, and I’m actually living in the house, although there is quite a bit of fixing and cosmetic work that needs to be done (the whole house needs to be painted). But at least we have a place to live now and can tackle one job at a time. And I’m thankful for my sister and brother-in-law who are coming tomorrow to stay for several days and help fix a bunch of stuff.

Please pray for Lisa, out daughter, who is having her baby any day now. Pray also for no issues with Customs when our stuff arrives in 2 weeks. (Karina is in the US for the baby arrival and everything is in her name.) Also next month we are having a meeting with pastors from the US partnership and people from 3 other potential Vineyards here in Argentina. It will be great to meet face to face.

Anyway, let me leave you with this: We have an amazing God!

Mark

Expect Delays

Expect Delays 2

Hello dear friends,

I guess the story of this move has been a lesson in “Hurry up and wait”. Starting with the delay in selling our Franklin house (more than two months longer than expected), to the delay in leaving for Mendoza (3 weeks later than expected), to the shipping of our household items (almost 2 months later than expected), well, you get the picture.

And here we are 4 1/2 weeks in Mendoza now, and still in “waiting mode”. And in the meantime we feel like any ministry has been placed on hold until we are “settled”, or at least until we have a place to call home. (Instead of living out of our suitcases as we have been since mid-January!) Still our list of people we are praying for is growing, and in fact one guy told me once we started up our meeting he’d like to come and check it out!

But what can I say? we know the Lord’s timing is always better than ours. And we have been trying to learn patience and perseverance and the Lord has been continually good to us. In fact, when we get to our lowest, or most anxious moments, He will drop a little bit of grace into our laps, to remind us He’s still carrying us in his hand. This has happened over and over again in the time we have been here.

So where do things stand? We should finally be closing on our new house this coming Friday (a week later than expected) and we can probably move in Friday or Saturday, although we won’t have any furniture or anything. We are praying that this will actually happen. In the meantime we had to move out of our apartment but are staying temporarily with some friends. Karina is leaving for the US next Tuesday for the baby’s arrival. (I’m going to be a grandfather, wow!) She’ll be gone for 6 weeks,  but I finally got an Argentine temporary document with which I should be able to drive and at least open a bank account in the meantime. Meanwhile I’m trying to apply for permanent residency, but I can’t get a hearing until April.

Maureen

So our stuff is finally on the ocean, on the MSC Maureen (above) scheduled to arrive at the end of the month which is a huge relief! That was one of the final loose ends that is now resolved. The last major loose end is that I had some translation work I bid for but the people never got back to me, so please pray for work for me (and for Karina too) in these upcoming months.

Well, I apologize for the long post. We are doing fine and in good health, enjoying the summer weather down here. Trusting in the Lord to keep smoothing the way one detail at a time. (And I have only shared a few of the issues we face!)

Lots of love to all of you, we appreciate the prayers!

Mark

 

Another Big Day!

Photo Feb 21, 6 42 40 PM.jpg

Today was a day that started off in confusion and ended up in immense gratitude. Three weeks to the day of having arrived in Mendoza we made an offer on a house and it was accepted! Not to get into all the details, but there seemed to be complications with almost every house we wanted to look at or they would be taken off the market. This house was one of the first we saw, and we loved it, but there was another buyer who had dibs on it. So we said “Lord, if you want us to have this house, you can make it happen”. But today, after being quite discouraged most of the day yesterday, the realtor called and said the owner wanted to sell to us! So, if all goes well, we close on our house in Franklin early next week and we should have this house ready by the time our furniture gets here at the end of March.  (Lord willing!)

Photo Feb 17, 11 33 43 AM.jpg

The house is older, but it’s in move-in condition with just cosmetic and minor work that will have to be done.  Very close to Mendoza city center, close to the universities, 3 blocks away from one of the main avenues in the city. It’s basically everything we prayed for, and at the right price too! Oh, and it has a vacant lot next door that we’re saying can be the future Viña church building!

Anyway, I can tell you all more about it in a future post. Right now I also need to thank the Lord because our furniture finally got picked up last week! As of now the container is being loaded on the ship. (We can track it on the web.) From there it will take about 4 weeks to get to us.

Photo Feb 14, 1 29 05 PM.jpg

And we want to thank our amazing friends from the Franklin Vineyard who worked so hard helping us sort our things, pack boxes, haul car loads to donation centers, clean the house, and the enormous job of loading the container. A huge thank you! You know who you are, and we are so deeply grateful to you and to your kind, generous and willing hearts. It goes without saying that we could not have done any of this without you!

So now that we will have a stable base of operations, it’s time to start praying about the next steps!

Blessings to you all, and thank you so much for your prayers. They are working!

Mark

A Very Big Day

Photo Feb 07, 3 58 56 PMHello dear friends,

We have been in Argentina for 2 weeks now. The time has really flown! After our first week in Mendoza, we took a 10 hour bus ride to Villa Maria, Cordoba to visit my mom and dad and sister. (That is us on the bus in the photo.) It was a most excellent time, and it was great too see them all in good health and doing fine. From there we came to the city of Cordoba, where I am writing now, to visit Karina’s side of the family. It’s also been a nice relaxing time and they are all doing great. Tomorrow we head back to Mendoza to start seriously house hunting.

So why is today a big day?

Not just because it’s Valentine’s day (They don’t celebrate it here anyway), but because today our container is finally supposed to arrive and we have our good friends on hand in Franklin ready to load it up! After all these false starts it’s finally happening! We are also praying for no rain because rain is forecasted all day. In all reality, we thank God for the delay because now it will arrive here at the end of March which gives us time to find a place to put our stuff in.

The other reason it’s a big day it that today we should hear back from the buyer of our old house as far as the final settlement of the contract. The buyer said that the home inspector found quite a few things that they wanted fixed, so we countered by offering him cash to fix the things himself. Today we should receive his answer, and hopefully that is the end of it and we can finally close!

It’s not over yet

But as in every step of the way, we have also had our setbacks, so please continue to pray for us. The first is that, because of the delay, now Karina won’t be here when the container arrives, and everything was done in her name. She will be traveling back to the US on March 13 for the birth of our grandson. But at Customs they told us she will need to be here in order for them to release our stuff. Still, our freight guy here says he can get a work-around, so we need to pray for that. Otherwise either Karina will have to come back early (with a penalty) or we will have to pay storage charges a the dry dock. (Which could be  a lot of money.)

The other thing is that we found out that from the time you put money down on a house here until you actually close the time could easily be 40 days. That could put us after the container arrives, so we need to pray that we be able to close quickly. We have already looked at a few houses and there are 2 we would be fine with (see photos below). But we have a list of around 10 more we want to see. All in the general area we want to live in, and within our price range.

So please don’t stop praying for us yet! And the list of people in Mendoza we have met  and are praying for is constantly growing. We are kind of waiting until Karina gets back from the States to start “seriously” meeting, but in the meantime we are trying to show the love of Jesus to all that come our way. We also need a place to live for the month of March, since we have to give back our little apartment. We’ll probably just rent a room in a house, especially since Karina will be gone 1/2 the month.

Thank you for being there for us!

Mark