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12/17/03 Report on Work in the New York City area
Gardner Hall, P.O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ 07865-0123,

"Revival" in Upper Manhattan
Highly critical and negative attitudes can quickly contaminate God’s people and cause time together to deriorate into biting and devouring sessions. Through the years we have had to deal with people at Upper Manhattan who have sincerely felt that defending truth required them to be in constant conflict with their brethren. New Christians and the lost are often suffer the most when such a spirit prevails. We have just dealt with a sincere brother who felt that he needed to dedicate the adult Bible study session for a whole month to try to correct those of us out who differ with him on the covering of 1 Corinthians 11. Several of us have emphasized that while such matters should be studied and discussed in appropriate settings, we need to focus more on the weightier matters of God’s law: justice, mercy and faith. This teaching is bringing forth fruit. In the last few months…
* Brethren have begun using three way calling to pray in groups by phone every evening. Aida del Villar told me, "I prayed with more than 20 people last night."
* One Friday evening each month is dedicated to prayer in the building.
* Those who have cars are dedicating time to carrying others to visit those who are sick, shut in or discouraged.
* Several have dedicated long hours to repaint and decorate our old building. We seem to be the only place un Upper Manhattan with shrubbery by our front door. Yes, it has to be chained there to keep it from being stolen, but it has been there for several months with no vandalism.

Such signs of revival bring happy results. Some who had left in past years, discouraged about some of the arguing, have returned and made confession.

Two have been baptized in the past two weeks at Upper Manhattan.
I’m especially happy about Mirta (pictured in the picture to the right with the pink blouse) because she was taught primarily by my parents. Since I couldn’t work her into my schedule and since she speaks English, I set her up for a study with Dad and Mom who went through most of the book of Mark with her. Mirta was baptized for the remission of sins two Sundays ago.

The story behind Luz Rivera’s baptism brings a smile to my face. She is the sister of Carmen Rivera and is outspoken and opinionated even though she’s in her 80s. Many of us have visited with Doña Luz for several months, reading, praying and singing with her. A week and a half ago, Luz announced to Rossy Grado and some other visitors that she wanted to be baptized. Luz, however, is bedridden and unable to walk, so the logistics of the operation seemed almost impossible.
Someone thought of the fact that the cattle trough we use as a baptistry at Upper Manhattan might fit into the back of Melvin Vasquez’s Nisson Quest. Sure enough, he and Victor Grado were able to get it into the minivan and bring it to Doña Luz’s building in the Bronx. (I suppose the last time that part of the Bronx would have seen a cattle trough would have been during the time of the Dutch.) They carried the cattle trough up the stairwell to the apartment and somehow were able to drag it next to her bed. They then filled it up with buckets of warm water using a line of people between the bathroom and Doña Luz’s bedroom. Then about a half dozen of the men, gradually lowered Doña Luz from her bed into the water and raised her up into a new life. Then they used the same bucket brigade to the bathroom to empty the cattle trough.
Doña Luz says, "that’s the best thing I ever did. I going to call my son in Miami and tell him he needs to come up here and meet these Christians."

Brethren in Fair Lawn are well, though we have been hindered in our services and home studies the last two weekends by winter storms.

I had a very enjoyable meeting with Vernon Hawkins and the Spanish speaking brethren in Tucson. Before the meeting in Tucson, Vernon was able to drive me to visit brethren in Northern Sonora, México. They’re isolated, but dedicated to the Lord. I admire Vernon for all the travelling he does to encourage isolated brethren in Sonora as well as Tucson and southern Arizona.

I also enjoyed driving to Maine with Dad, Mom, Miguel Rosario and Jack Collazo toparticipate in the weekend lectures in Bangor. I admire the way most brethren in Maine seem to be "separatists" as far as the world is concerned in their dress, speech and outlook on life.

Glad to have Leah with us and look forward to going South the last full week in December for a bit of a family reunion.

family reunion. May God b