Archive for October, 2013

Here in Madrid
October 17, 2013

I arrived in Madrid, Spain, on October 14 with a group of six people in what we call a vision trip. This is an opportunity for church leaders and interested members to see a cross-cultural ministry area in person, meet our global workers for Brethren in Christ World Missions, and get a vision of how to pray better for our work and how to speak up more wisely about global outreach when we return home.

Here is one of the frequently photographed sites in Madrid.

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It is the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), one of the central plazas in the city. It is rectangular in shape; here, of course, you are looking at only one side of the rectangle. The Plaza was started in 1617 and finished in its present shape after 1790. Residential apartments fill all fours sides of the building, with stores and restaurants on the ground floor.

Here is our group.

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My regular blog followers will recognize some of those in the group.  If you have any questions, let me know.

We are meeting with our global workers and learning about the network of meaningful friendships that each one has. We attended house groups, which are the foundation of our churches. We have two churches in this part of Spain, one in Madrid, and one in the town of Hoyo de Manzanares, west of Madrid. There is also a BIC church in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

We are listening to talks about Spanish culture, secularism, postmodernism, the religious situation, the Spanish expression of the Roman  Catholic Church, and the challenges confronting anyone who tries to start an evangelical church in this situation.

We visited the walled city of Toledo to learn about King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who united Spain in the 1400s and established Spain as a Catholic nation. As you know, they also sponsored Christopher Columbus in his voyage of discovery that led to his finding the Americas. We walked through the huge cathedral.

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This is the third largest in the world. Its official name is the Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo.

We also saw horrendous instruments of torture in a museum about the Spanish Inquisition. And we visited the Synagogue of El Transito, a historic building famous for it stucco decoration in the Moorish style. Once a functioning Jewish synagogue, it is now a museum.

We are here through October 20 and will fly home on the 21st.

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Welcome to Guatemala
October 1, 2013

So here we are in Xela (pronounced SHAY-lah) the local name for the city of Quetzaltenango, where our daughter Melanie and her family live and serve as missionary workers among the poor.

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You are now in Central Park in Xela, looking at the flag of Guatemala on the left and the flag of Xela on the right. September 15 is Independence Day for this nation, as they gained their independence from Spain on that day in 1821.

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Facing Central Park is the ancient cathedral, the Church of the Holy Spirit. The banner mentions that “We are celebrating the Year of Faith.” It also mentions 30 years and a Papal coronation, a reference I do not understand since 30 years ago ago was several years into the papacy of John Paul II, who chose not to have a coronation but simply an investiture. The banner also shows the Virgin of the Rosary, one of the titles the Roman Catholic Church gives to Mary. The feast day for the Virgin of the Rosary is October 7.

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Here you see two lovely girls posing in Central Park – Samaya, age 6, and Genesis, age 4.

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And here is the whole Avila family, with baby Kayla Jolene, born  August 1 of this year.

On Sunday, September 29, we had a baby dedication for Kayla at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, Melanie and Julio’s home church here in Xela. Pastor Moses had asked in advance that I would conduct the dedication, which I was honored to do. He had me explain briefly the meaning of baby dedication since the Presbyterian Church normally practices baptism for the children of believers, so I commented briefly on the Anabaptists and believers baptism and the significance of baby dedication.

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Here is Kayla, relaxing on her mother’s lap during the service. Kayla had a serious crying spell (she may have colic) before we left for church, and then she slept peacefully through the service and dedication and Sunday school, much to our relief!

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And here is our whole family after the service. For those of you who are interested in historic details, the shirt I am wearing is the one I first wore at Melanie and Julio’s wedding in Los Angeles in 2005.