Sunday, September 1, 2013

The past few days, there has been some strikes and farmers protesting for better pay in the markets due to the free trade agreement Colombia made with the US and other European nations about 2 years ago. As a result of the free trade agreements, the local farmers have been priced out of business with cheaper imports and increased fuel cost. Therefore, the farmers have been on strike. At first, the strikes started in their local towns and as of Thursday, those strikes and protests are now in the center square of Bogota. Due to the protest and unrest, school was closed on Thursday and Friday for the safety for the students as they commute to school. Praise the Lord, we did not see or sense any of the instability in our part of the city. Please be in prayer for the government here as they try and settle the disagreements and do what is best for the country.

Sept. Update

Our heavenly Father continues to do a good work in us, transforming us into His image. This year’s theme at ECA is Service. What does it mean to serve? What is our attitude to be in serving? Who and how are we to serve? All these questions are what we will be addressing throughout the year. As it turns out, God is teaching us a lot about service as well, both at home and at school.

At school we have taken on roles to serve the needs of the school and students. Without a principal for the first month of school, Steve stepped in temporarily to fill many of those responsibilities. We both decided to serve as small group leaders and advisers for the new 9th grade class. One of the girls in that class is currently undergoing treatments for leukemia. So we are learning how to balance service toward someone in need and not making them feel like a “special case” which many young adolescents fear to experience. Please pray for discernment and grace as we attempt to help this class navigate cancer while honoring and serving one another. We took advantage of a holiday weekend by having after school activities with our new group of students. Steve was able to have a great spiritual conversation with 2 of the guys after going paintballing. Please pray that the small groups this year will be a tool for the Holy Spirit to actively work in the lives of the 9th grade students. This past month has been somewhat of a difficult transition of routines and discerning how to balance personal devotions, marriage, parenting, school tasks, and connecting with new students and teachers. Please pray that we will be able to find a healthy balance of home and ministry.
 This next month includes staff retreat and High school fall retreat. Please pray that God will use these events to bring unity to the staff and revival to the High School.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Update

Family Update—Marlayna’s mom, Irene, came to visit for the last 2 weeks of the school year. With all the yearend activities going on, we were very thankful to have her support us in caring for Elleazah. Irene and Elleazah had a great time together while we finished final exams, helped lead Senior Trip, Senior Banquet, and attend graduation. We will be heading back to Colombia at the beginning of July to: 1. Take 4 weeks of intensive Spanish training and 2. Begin the process of adopting a Colombian child. Please pray that the Spanish training will be fruitful and that the Lord will guide our steps in the adoption process.
Roles at ECA—By working with the class of 2013 for the past 2 years, we were given opportunity to have leadership roles in the yearend activities for the graduating senior class. We spent much time working through fundraising problems for the Senior trip, logistics of the trip, and other final preparations for the graduating class. The Senior trip was a success with the Seniors keeping a positive attitude during their day of service at a YWAM facility, sharing their appreciation of one another, having closure with relationships, and enjoying various activities as a group in Cartegena. Steve ended the year having evaluation meetings for students who have struggled socially & academically and having a number of planning meetings for next year with parents and administration. Marlayna enjoyed enhancing the Health and Biology curriculum while building relationships with the underclassman. Please pray that the graduating seniors will live out their faith as salt and light to the world and that they will be responsive to God’s will as they continue taking steps in major life decisions.

Looking ahead
Discipleship—The last weeks of school provided opportunities to have heart- to- heart conversations and discussed issues of forgiveness, consistency in quiet times, fruit of the spirit, and giving your life to Christ. Marlayna was able to share the gospel several times with students from the US Embassy that had joined her small group. Steve was given the opportunity to explicitly share the gospel with a middle school boy from the US embassy he had been counseling for depression. A boy in Steve’s middle school small group was receptive to heart conversations about his desire to please people and yearned to change and live out Luke 9: 23-26. God has grown two of the high school students Steve was discipling in their integrity, fulfilling commitments, being more open to accountability. It is such an encouragement to see God’s grace in the lives of students and to be a part of their process of becoming more like Jesus. Please pray that we will make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Eph 5). We have 180 days of school with the students, and so it is critical that we take advantage of each opportunity to speak into their lives. Pray also that we will continue to navigate the cultural intricacies and live a gospel that is culturally attractive, one that does not require a person to adopt the USA culture before accepting Christ.
Looking ahead-
·The Lord has brought new staff to fulfill roles of Bible, English, Science, Electives, and Chaplain. The needs at ECA next school year are still for Middle School Computers and Middle & High School Math.
·         There will be a few newly married couples coming to ECA this fall. God has placed it on our hearts to facilitate a book study with them using Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller as they begin their new life together on the mission field.
·         Steve and another married couple who teach at ECA will focus on creating a support system for new students, with special emphasis on MKs and their challenges with transition to a new culture.
·         Marlayna’s role might be similar to this year, teaching both Health & Biology, or she will teach only one class, depending on our options for childcare. Since all the students she was discipling have left ECA, she hopes to begin new relationships with 1-2 students this next fall. She is also praying about the possibility of mentoring new teachers, since she is considered a veteran teacher.
·         Steve will be advising the 7th grade class (Steve has done a small group with the boys in that grade for the past two years). We are prayerfully considering if we are going to do a high school small group and be a high school adviser.
Please pray that we will connect with the new teachers coming and build unity amongst the staff. For the mission that God has given us and the school to succeed, we need to be unified as a team so that the students are all receiving the same messages. Pray also that we will make Spirit-led decisions about our involvement at the school and effectively balance ministry at home and at school.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Prayer update for February

January ended with a fantastic conference where Steve learned how to counteract bullying, helping students with dyslexia and written language difficulties, ethics involving standardized testing, and counseling children with anxiety. We also celebrated Elleazah’s 2nd birthday, and we praise God for her in our lives. It is a joy to watch her grow and learn each day.

 We are full swing in our second semester. Steve is planning professional development for teachers in response to his conference, problem-solving with principals & teachers on student issues, prepping a senior to speak at chapel, and doing educational planning for the influx of new students with learning challenges. Marlayna is teaching at school Biology to 10th graders and Health to the second half of the 9th graders. We are thankful for a new lady volunteering at ECA who is able to help watch Elleazah during the periods Marlayna is teaching.

 This month, our senior class will be going on a class retreat. This overnight retreat will be to discuss being salt and light to the world as they transition from a Christian high school to a secular college life. We, as the class advisors, are planning this retreat. In addition the senior retreat, we will also be going on the high school retreat, which is at the end of February.

Pray for:
1.      Pray for the new students who are starting new mid-year as they transition. New students, especially those from the USA, have historically struggled a lot in their transition
2.      Pray that the students will go to the retreats and that the Holy Spirit will transform their lives
3.      Pray that we are able to find new balance in our roles and get back into the routine of school.

Prayer update for January:

As we’ve entered a new year, we want to thank you for another year prayer and support. It was good to see some of you during our time in the States. It was wonderful to spend Christmas with family and participate in some of the traditions.

Anticipated activities for this next school quarter include a senior retreat which will focus on what to expect after graduation and transitioning to college. Steve is preparing a senior to give a devotional during chapel.  Steve will also be attending a professional school psychologist conference to maintain certification. Marlayna will be helping out at school more this semester; hopefully, she and Elleazah will be on a regular schedule by the end of the month.

The last thing we would like to keep you informed about is that we are prayerfully considering another year at ECA. Originally we made a two year commitment. The commitment is up at the end of the school year, but we considering staying for a third year. 

Please be in prayer for this upcoming activities and decisions.