Nov 14, 2006

Third wedding anniversary

God willing, Luz Maria and I will celebrate our third wedding anniversary, November 29, 2006, at my mother's house in the United States. We have been invited to talk about our work in Venezuela in Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, Tennessee and Washington state. I am eager to show Luz Maria these different parts of the United States (I have resided in or visited all of these states except Washington) and we both look forward to meeting our friends andsupporters. In a way it will be difficult to leave our peaceful life here in La Caramuca where the world's turmoil seems far away. Every morning Luz Maria and I have our personal devotions just after sunrise. We read Bible verses and say our prayers, then talk over cups of coffee as a cool breeze blows down from the Andes. Most of our concerns here are local, not global:José Jacinto Ramos with harpDia del Abrazo en FamiliaVaccination
  • A street repair crew managed to break a water main, so the whole town was without running water for over a week.
  • In Punta Gorda, José Jacinto Ramos, younger brother of Pastor Armando Ramos, was down with dengue fever, but now he is recovering.
  • In spite of the water problem and on-going street repair (it seems we are going to have our streets in Barrio Las Lomas paved with asphalt after all), we had a successful fiesta for our preschool children and their parents on el Dia del Abrazo en Familia (that translates as "Family Togetherness Day", more or less).
  • We had a nurse come to the preschool and vaccinate the children for yellow fever and other diseases as needed.
But for the sake of our little mission we must at times venture out into the wide world, starting this week. Luz Maria and I will travel to the Lutheran Church of Venezuela's annual convention in Puerto Ordaz. That's on the other side of the country, farther to the south and east of Caracas than we are to the south and west. But at least there is a four-lane highway all the way from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz.

Rio OrinocoPuerto Ordaz is one of the most prosperous - and newest - cities in Venezuela. It was built in 1952 where the Rio Caroni flows into the Rio Orinoco, the second-largest river in South America next to the Amazon. By way of comparison, San Felix de Guayana, the neighboring city on the other side of the Orinoco, was established in 1724. Barinas, the capital of our state, was founded more than 400 years ago when pirate ships still cruised the Orinoco.

Puerto Ordaz is an important center for the shipping of iron and bauxite, Venezuela's second and third most important exports after petroleum. It also is a center of hydroelectric power generation where 70 percent of the electricity in Venezuela is produced. In the early 1960s, Puerto Ordaz and San Felix merged into one metro area known collectively as "Ciudad Guayana" (Guayana City), a situation similar to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.Fuente de Vida Lutheran Church

Fuente de Vida (Fountain of Life) Lutheran Church in Puerto Ordaz and Ascension Lutheran Church in San Felix are two of the four largest ILV congregations. This means each has somewhere close to 200 members.

The national church, la Iglesia Luterana de Venezuela (ILV) faces a number of challenges. Perhaps the most pressing is the severe shortage of ordained pastors and other full-time church workers. There are not enough qualified people to serve all of the existing ILV congregations in nine Venezuelan states, but the ILV has set itself an ambitious goal of planting at least one church in all 23 states by 2017. We pray that this may be achieved with God's help.

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