Report on Work New York City area
* Fatima (pictured below on the right with her friend, Rosa Martinez) is a Dominican woman in her forties who has studied with "Jehovahs Witnesses" but has been unhappy with their pick-and-choose style of "Bible study." Her friend Rosa Martinez invited her to study with us and she has responded with great enthusiasm to reading the book of Acts with us. It is a joy to see lights turn on in peoples heads as they read the Bible with us and see that it is understandable in its context. Fatima lives not far from Kennedy Airport.
* Zoila is a Dominican woman in her thirties who lives in an apartment building in the Bronx where Francisco Medina lives. Francisco has talked with her about the Bible, seen her interest, and arranged the study. We are reading portions of Luke with her every Tuesday and she responds well. She attended our services last Sunday.
* I received an email from a new convert in Bogotá Colombia named Andry Garcia requesting that I contact her father, Hiccson Gomez in Trenton, New Jersey. We arranged to study with Hiccson, his wife Marleny and mother-in-law, Margarita. Jerry Falk accompanied me their home in Trenton where we enjoyed a pleasant visit and first Bible study session. Hiccson and Marleny have attended a Pentecostal church, but expressed their concern over some of the abuses they had seen there. Both will have to deal with spiritual challenges
I ate seviche for the first time at Hiccsons house. Seviche is raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice and other condiments and considered a delicacy in Peru and parts of Colombia. I have always resisted the raw fish, telling my Peruvian friends that the only thing that can truly cook is heat. However, after eating seviche for the first time I realized that it was good!
The efforts of zealous young Christians have resulted in two baptisms during the last reporting period.
Madelín (pictured with her sisters and Esther Rodriguez in the picture below right. She is in the upper left of the picture) is a super-sweet young fifteen-year old who has recently arrived in New York from the Dominican Republic. She always has a smile on her face and wants now to grow in the Lord. She brings three of her little sisters with her to services and they have added to our big crowd of kids.
The influx of so many children and other visitors has made the building at Upper Manhattan increasingly crowded again. We had some relief from the crowding after the division last year, but are again tightly squeezed some Sundays with few resources and opportunities to enlarge our building space. Last Sunday Ramón Perez counted an attendance of 85. The building is designed to hold 60!
Diana Cataño (in top picture, white sweater) was converted primarily through the efforts of Brigham Eubanks. She is from Colombia, is very mature for her age (15) and attends at Piscataway. She visits often at Fair Lawn.
After some bridge-building efforts, some of the brethren who left the Upper Manhattan congregation a year ago returned and apologized for the things they did when they left. We appreciated their gesture very much, but pointed out that there are still several doctrinal problems that we need to work through. The leaders of the faction still feel that God leads them apart from the Word through their feelings, they clap rhythmically to the singing of their hymns and have some other spiritually questionable concepts. However, personal reconciliation will certainly make it easier for us to work with them on these issues even as they continue to worship apart.
I enjoyed a meeting in Odessa, Texas. One of the big highlights was spending time with Wayne and Faye Partain (pictured to the left). Wayne, a pioneer in the Spanish speaking work, is still going strong at 81 years of age. I have always known that he did an astonishing amount of work mailing out commentaries and studies. He is also bombarded with email, letters and phone calls from Latin America. The quantity of emails, letters and calls I have do deal with is nothing compared to his. In addition to the publishing, mailing and correspondence he does, the Lord has used him to build up the congregation in Odessa. He and Faye have taught several impressive young couples and baptized them. Faye is having to deal with some nagging health problems, but always has a sunny and happy disposition. They are amazing people.
We are blessed to have good churches to support us in our work and many friends who pray for us. Thanks to all!