First of all, we want to thank all you who prayed for us! Sarah Ruth was a very good little traveler and did not cry for more than a few moments every once in a while. We got what we hoped in that we got to sit at the bulk-head, the front of our section, with a bassinet for Baby Ruthie hooked to the wall of the plane. So even with the fears we had of flying with our poor baby, it was in fact the most enjoyable flight to Spain we’ve ever had! Praise God for an uneventful flight! The only set back in the whole trip was that our luggage didn’t make it on to the second plane, but even that wasn’t so bad! Instead of having to carry all our suitcases across Madrid from the airport to the train station, all we had to lug was our carry-on’s (and Sarah Ruth). We got our suitcases delivered the next day to our door, thanks to the Sevilla airport lost baggage service.
So in all we traveled about twenty-hours to get home to Puebla by plane, train, and taxi. How happy Sara and I were to be home after seven months away from our ministry. We arrived home at a little before 11:00 pm on the Fourth of July! Our fireworks were turning the key to our house! The next day was Thursday July 5th, and I got to work at getting us back into the swing of things here. The first thing I did was walk a few blocks to the little supermarket by our church to buy some essentials that I could carry home, like distilled water for Sarah Ruth’s baby formula. I also couldn’t resist the cheap Manchego Cheese back in Andalucía. (Look at what it goes for at Albertsons, too much!) So I got my little fix of Queso Curado Manchego and also a carton of Gazpacho. Since we didn’t have much food besides canned goods in our house after seven months, we feasted on the fore-mentioned Manchego cheese, crackers, and also on turkey sandwiches (fancy!). Thursday night we didn’t have our car back from the mechanic as it needed several repairs to pass the equivalent to our Smog-check (but what the inspectors had replaced were tires and rusted parts of an axle). So we were without our car this first day and we went walking to church for the Thursday night Prayer meeting. We walked down a steep street leading to Puebla’s main avenue and said the customary “buenas tardes” (Good evening) to a local couple. After we made our way down the avenue a ways we crossed over and turned the corner onto the street where I lived and ministered for years, Calle Pastores. When we walked in the door of the church, the meeting basically stopped as everyone came rushing to see us and especially Sarah Ruth! All the ladies were delighted to see her in person finally! Our poor co-worker Frank, who was presiding over the service, was going to have to wait a few minutes before everyone would get settled again!
After Frank had given a great lesson on our assurance of salvation from Colossians chapter 2, he invited me to lead us in a few songs, so after all these months away I was finally back at my place in Puebla Evangelical Church, leading the music on guitar. I brought back music sheets of praise music that I liked in our months helping at Sara’s church in Mexico. From one photo-copy I played the familiar songs “Demos Gracias” and “Dios Esta Aqui” which were both in our church song book, I just hadn’t learned them until our months this year helping at Capilla Calvario San Quintin. We then took prayer requests and went around the circle praying for everyone’s motives for prayer. When we had finished praying a new couple had joined us, who Sara and I didn’t know, so Frank introduced us and the Ashcrafts who had also just returned from furlough. So then I got to come back up to play three special requests. It was a great time of being back with our small little church family in La Puebla del Rio!
Friday morning, Frank came by at 8:30 am to take me to the next town of Coria to run some errands then to get me my car from the mechanic. It was all passed through the government inspection center early thanks to the guys there at the shop in Puebla. I thanked them for everything and chatted a little with the owner before my car was ready. Once it was ready I picked up Sara and my baby girl and went to see our insurance man. When we got to his office, an elderly couple reminded us that they had seen us pass them yesterday as we walked to church. They were being friendly, reminding us a what time we passed them yesterday, and the old man told me “I said to her, No way are they from around these parts.” And she said “Of course not.” So we laughed and I told the man how when we passed him we were just recently arrived back from California, but that I had lived in Puebla several years. He brought up at what time they saw us pass again, so I told him we were on our way to church. I told him how I work in the evangelical church in Puebla. His wife asked then if we lived in Puebla, and we told them we did, that we came to work at the church in Puebla.
Please pray for us to continue to have “coincidences” like this that will allow us to make new friendships and to be a witness to this town.
Another thing like this happened today too. At the supermarket, another young couple were shopping with their two small children and they all got excited when they passed Baby Sarah Ruth. It appeared the mom was teaching English and French to her children so when she had her daughter tell Sarah Ruth “Bye bye” in English, we told them that we do speak English and that I had been an English teacher. This began a conversation with the father, who has traveled to Florida and California and Ireland with his tech-job. So the father was happy to practice English with me. He told me where he had been in San Diego and I told him where Sara and I had lived in San Diego when we were first married. So he asked what I was doing living in Coria, and I told him we lived in neighboring Puebla. So when he wanted to know what these Americans were doing there, I told him how we work in Puebla Evangelical Church. He seemed to take it better than the older couple at the insurance office, but this man had even traveled in our neighborhood so he knew how the US was more religiously diverse than Spain.
Please pray for these kinds of people that we get to plant a seed with every day, that we can find more divine coincidences to talk with these people again.
Almost a year ago we asked our prayer partners to pray for a young man named “Lucky” from Nigeria. I asked Frank if he had come back to church after we left. He told me yes, he had come one more time, but that he had found a church with other Nigerians in Seville. Our part may have been just picking him up and showing him some kindness as a church, to remind him that God has not forgotten about him. Last news we got was he was plugged into this other church. Praise God if we here in Puebla got to be the ones who turned him back to God and that this new church gets to minister to him where he lives.
We’re back now from seeing the thriving evangelical churches that support us in California and Baja California, and it is tough to see how slow and hard the ministry is here in Spain. Please pray for Spain, that one day some faithful servant will see a breakthrough in this land!