What a Spring and Summer Sara and I have had! Our first 3 months of marriage are now under our belt, and we have seen many states and countries together already! We are just starting to catch our breath from everything! To illustrate, how much crazy running around we’ve done from our Wedding Rehearsal until today, I’ve put together our day by day schedule to give you an idea. Out Father in Heaven has been so gracious to us! We are so thankful to all of you who gave us a place to stay, who came to come hear us speak, who helped us financially in our expenses for moving to Spain. Thank you so much to all our friends and family for making our wedding beyond our dreams! If Sara and I were to sit down and count all our blessings and miracles form our wedding, we would both run out of fingers and toes to count!
Thank you to the Lakjer’s for your help with our cake! Thank you Eufemio for the bull from your farm for our reception! Thank you Basilio and Yoli and Calvary Chapel San Quintin for giving us the whole service on Sunday May15th, and your support in our outgoing expenses! How humbling and what an honor! Thank you Mrs. Sapinoso for all the orchids! Thank you to Lucy for all the flowers!
Thank you to the Russell’s for use of your truck! Thank you to the Coombs for use of your car for our Deputation trip! Thank you to the Wright’s for your help with video! Thank you to the Hahn’s for officiating our ceremony and for the church! Thank you to Kathy and Ranch Catering for the amazing reception and especially for the basket you gave us as we left for our honeymoon! Thank you to the Rojas family for use of your backyard garden which was beautiful! Thank you Shadow Mt. Community Church for giving me the dream of going to seminary! Thank you Adat Yeshua of Albuquerque for helping us with outgoing expenses! We could thank people all day for all the contributions and sacrifices made! We could list thank-you’s all day! Here’s how it played out:
The Wedding Rehearsal: April 29th: The Rehearsal with our whole bridal party, The rehearsal dinner which was like over 40 people involved, and finally my bachelor party (which was far from scandalous: my groomsmen walked with me on a pier and talked about success in marriage!)
Our Wedding: April 30th at Clairemont Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Diego, CA!
May 1-7 Our Honeymoon
May 10-15 San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico.
May 12th, Sara interviews with the TBM Board, via Skype, from Mexico and is accepted unanimously to Tentmakers!
May13th: I have to drive to ranch in San Quintin and select a bull being given to us by one of Sara’s father’s patient, Eufemio. I drag the bull behind my truck to the ranch to be slaughtered. I help the rancher and a local friend named Joel, skin the bulls and to cut it into 4 pieces then we carry the slaughtered bull in the truck to the butcher, then to the Mexican caterer, who made the beef into an amazing dish for our 300 wedding guests in Baja.
May 14: Reception in Baja California, Mexico: 300 friends and family of Sara gather to celebrate with us! Sara got to wear her wedding dress, again, and I got to wear my tuxedo again! How fun! I just inherited 100 family members in Jardin Toscana in Vicente Guererro. Near San Quintin, Baja, Mexico !
May 15-June 1st, Sara finishes strong at UCSD, Rady School of Management.
May 15th I preach and Sara gives her testimony at Calvary Chapel San Quintin. We also serve lots of cake between Sunday School and the service. Dr. Gonzalez gave a memorable study on circumcism at Sunday School! (since the lesson through Paul’s letters came to that passage in the curriculum!)
June 1st Her Co-workers throw a very nice farewell breakfast for Sara and I on her last day of work! Sara is there from 8:30am till-10:30pm on her last day!
June 3th Start Deputation tour in San Diego, California!
June 3rd, We arrive at Cliff Usher’s home in Las Vegas, Nevada. We enjoy fish tostadas with Cliff’s neighbors!
June 4th Arrive in Spanish Fork, UT at the home of Ben and Sarah Cline, Tentmakers! Grand greeting by Little Travis Cline!
June 5th I share about our work in Spain at Springville Grace Bible Church in the old JC Penny building. We get a very warm reception from the church body! That night we attend a church BBQ with the Clines and their friends, many of whom are natives of California.
June 6th We drive from Spanish Fork, UT to Grand Junction, CO.
June 6-11 we stay at the home of Clair and MayAnn Longuevan in Grand Junction, CO, The Longuevans were originally GMU missionaries in Mali are now Coordinators for European Christian Mission. The Longuevans and the Hornicks invite us to a Grand Junction Area Pastor’s meeting. We meet lots of nice people in ministry there, including Pastor Mark Fisher, who wanted to meet with Sara and me the next day.
June 8th, Sara and I went to Rocky Mt. Bible Church’s Mid-week Bible Study. RMBC had just seen off 41 short-term missionaries to Uganda, which is incredible! We enjoyed seeing Pastor Bruce Miles, and former TBM Super-Secretary Kristen Packett.
So June 9th Sara and I went out to lunch with Pastor Mark Fisher and his wife and we talked with them about church planting and Spain, and Israel, and missions, and we just had a tremendous afternoon with the Fishers in Grand Junction!
June 12: I preach at Grace Bible of Parachute, CO, then we follow Vince passed a torpid of accidents on I-70 to Glenwood Springs, where we had lunch with Pat, then we drive like crazy to Colorado Springs to share at Jeff Anderson’s Church, another Grace Bible. We drag in to my Aunt Prissy’s home in Pueblo, CO after 11pm.
June 13th My Aunt Prissy takes us around old town Pueblo, by the former border of the Spanish Empire in North America.
June 14th We also visited Bishop Castle and Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs with my Aunt Prissy.
June 15th there were tremendous fires on the border of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, we had to make a huge detour with the freeway closed by the wild fire.
June 18th We share our testimony and ministry at Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the response of the congregation was very touching.
June 19th We were interviewed during both services by the Mission’s Pastor at Grace Community Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We drove all day, a hot day, from Santa Fe to the Ft. Worth area! We arrive late at the home of my buddy Sam Gill, near Denton, Texas.
June 20th I woke up sick, but I managed to record 11 of my new songs that I’ve been writing for Sara, in Sam’s Spoken Hope Recording Studio.
Later, Sam, Sara, and I drove around trying to find the cemetery where my dad is buried in Denton. We finally found it before sundown!
June 21st we eat lunch with my aunt’s and uncle’s on my dad’s side of the family in Ft. Worth. Later that night, we roll into Greenfield, MO to stay the night with my Aunt Carolyn at her home on Stockton Lake, Missouri.
June 22nd We enjoy breakfast with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Carolyn. Then after a walk around Carolyn’s vast garden, we left Greenfield for Springfield to visit with the founders of Mexican Medical Ministries, Loren and Jean Long, who served the Lord and cared for the sick in Mexico their whole lives and now need constant care themselves. We also visited with their nice daughter and grandchildren, and even one of my buddies from Cal Baptist, Phil Cook, drove to their house to see Sara and I before we drove to Iowa!
Loren and Jean built the Hospital Buen Pastor where Sara was born, and where Sara’s parents have served for over 35 years. We arrive late at Sara’s Grandparent’s farmhouse outside Shell Rock, Iowa. Grandpa and Grandma Poppe were so edifying and amazing at 86 years old.
We took Grandma Poppe shopping at a grocery store in Waverly, Iowa, near to where they are moving to senior housing. We saw their new apartment, which is made to be senior friendly, in Waverly. It is next to the Waverly Library and the Iowa Lutheran College.
June 24th We drove across Iowa and Nebraska and drive into an electrical storm, where Sara and I were pelted by hail AND ONE BIRD!
We arrive tired, again, in La Grange, WY. TBM Directors Ron and Wanda Thompson let us in the base and had us over for lunch the next day. Then we drove to see our friends Levi and Madelyn Lenard in Ft. Collins, CO. Madelyn sang in a Christian Concert called “Praise in the Park” which was a highlight of the whole trip! If only we could have a concert at that scale in the plaza in Puebla del Rio, Spain! That would be dream come true!
June 26 we spent the night at a motel in Eastern Utah, then we finished up the trip, pulling in to our home in San Diego on June 27th!
July 4th Sara and I celebrated the Fourth of July with my mom at her home in Sun Lakes, CA. Later that day we spent it with dear friends of ours from our Hispanic Ministry at Trinity Church. Like in other years, our friend’s Rosa and Cecy made an Independence Day feast that could be beat, and we watched sky-divers and Fireworks by at the University of Redlands, CA.
Tuesday, July 5th Sara and I were the invited guest speakers at Mission Valley Christian fellowship in San Diego, CA. We shared our testimony of purity and about waiting on God to bring us together in His time. I preached to the youth from Ecclesiastes 3 and from Ephesians 3 and we saw some youth make some decisions about both missions and purity.
July 6th We drove to my mom’s home in Banning, then my Mom, Sara, and I go to LAX, to welcome Dan and the Leatherwood kids back to the U.S. They had just barely finished our Cowboy Camp at Siete Robles Camp, before coming to spend the rest of the summer on furlough.
July 7-9th Sara and I make one last drive to her parent’s home in Mexico before I leave for Spain. We bring back Sara’s sister, Rita, a Medical Missionary, and her two daughters.
July 9th, Saturday: The Bennett’s drive from San Quintin, Baja, Mexico, through Ensenada, Tijuana, San Diego, Riverside, up to Banning, CA, for our going away party at my mom’s home. Dan and my five nieces and nephews are there for our going away party! Sara’s nieces were also there, so we enjoyed all 7 of our nieces and nephews, who all participated in our wedding, at our going-away party. It was also great to spend a few hours with our good friends who came from my mom’s neighborhood, others from Trinity Church, and other dear friends made the drive from Shuvah Yisrael Messianic Congregation in Irvine!
July 10th We speak to the Shadow Mt. Community Church Mission’s Committee at Dr. & Mrs. Coombs home in El Cajon, CA. Dr. Coomb’s announces that Shadow Mt. Mission’s will be helping me through their Seminary Satellite in Sevilla.
July 12 I fly back to Sevilla, Spain, arriving July 13th at midnight with no luggage. Pastor JoseMaria from Coria Evangelical Church picked me up.
July 14: I was back leading music for the Thursday Night Prayer Meeting at the Puebla Church. Still no luggage.
July 17th: I was back to music leading on Sunday morning with Salud and Jonathon Benoit.
July18th: My first basketball practice back with the City of Puebla’s Men’s Team. I got a very warm welcome from my teammates, which was very encouraging, as they are one of my main contacts outside of the church!
July 19th: I return to my Bible study routine in Sefarad. I put in my hours of Torah and Brit Chadesha study alone in Iglesia Evangelica de La Puebla del Rio
July 19-21 Sara stays with mom at Sun Lakes so that my mom can accompany her to the Spanish Consulate, where my mom is already known by the Consul.
July 21st. Sara’s big appointment at the Spanish Consulate. Sara takes my mom with her into downtown L.A. Sara and my mom had to wait a while to get it all processed. Sara gave the Consul, Pilar, a thank you card with our wedding picture. Pilar looks out through the glass window and sees my mom and Sara. Then Pilar came out to greet Sara & my mom. With Pilar’s help, just like with me a year ago, Sara gets everything turned in and accepted. When the other official asks Sara for a new document that we hadn’t even heard of, proving that she has a place to live in Spain, the official goes back to talk to Pilar. After waiting for a little while, Pilar comes back out, and gives Sara her passport with a SEAL in it, saying Sara has a visa now in process. Pilar also gave Sara a receipt and told her she will be notified when her visa is ready for pickup. This was a Very good turn of events. For people who get more nervous or hostile with Spanish officials, during their appointment, do not get any grace not shown, but in our case, God gave us grace in the eyes of the Consulate, and they accepted all Sara presented, without even having the document proving she has a place to stay. (Which was not a requirement listed, so we didn’t know about it) The Consulate basically held that our marriage certificate (complete with three kinds of notarizations, and the photocopy of my Residency Card), shows that I have a place to live, was enough to prove that Sara also has a place to live in Spain. Thank God for His guidance in all this Labyrinth of Documentation!
July 21st JD returns from a 24 hour leadership retreat to Los Naranjos Christian Camp in Cazalla de la Sierra, Andalucia, Spain. We have a great time sharing and brainstorming, as the Puebla Evangelical Church Leadership, on how to improve from here. At Los Naranjo’s, JD meets Rickard and Eva, who direct a sister camp to Siete Robles. JD makes a contact and they are enthusiastic about the possibility doing an English Outreach Theatre Camp and Cowboy English Camp like we have seen come together so overwhelmingly successfully in Northern Spain at Siete Robles Christian Camp.
July 24th After Church, where Jonathon and I lead the worship time, (It was Jonathon’s 20th Birthday so we sang for him), I was invited over for lunch with JoseLuis and Sari, our couple the Lord has given us in our target town of Isla Mayor. Along with another couple from church, we enjoyed a tremendous time of fellowship together at their home from 1pm all the way until 6pm. This coming Wednesday, I’m going over to their home again, for our first “Isla Mayor Prayer and Praise” time at their house. This will be like the first Christian Bible Study ever in their town! It’s historical! We in Puebla have been praying to have something started in Isla Mayor for years! This is our tangible, concrete answer to prayer!
- Sara arrives here August 5th, please pray for her traveling mercies, to catch all her flights and for her luggage to arrive with her.
2. Please pray for us to be able to find a rental in Puebla del Rio soon, and that we will be able to have consistent support and work to pay for it!
3. Pray for me (JD) to find a part-time English teaching job in the Seville area.
4. Pray for my Spanish Residency Permit renewal and for Sara’s Spanish Residency Visa, which are both being processed.
5. For a new ministry to spout up in the completely unreached town of Isla Mayor, Andalucia, Spain.
6. For Sara’s and my marriage as we transition to being newly-weds on the mission field, that God will help us with all kinds of life-changes.