We give thanks for this child and the eight others in La Caramuca who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and the assurance of eternal life in the water and the Word of this sacrament. The older children now greatly desire the rite of confirmation and are busy copying by hand portions of Luther's Small Catechism, such as the Apostle's Creed, from the limited number of printed copies that we have.
For us this is the essence of mission work as defined in the Great Commission: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:19-20). In these words we read not only of the promise of baptismal regeneration, but also of on-going responsibility for the formation of disciples and the teaching of sound doctrine. The work that our Lord has entrusted to His church is not accomplished through one-time, chance encounters ("critical moments") and impulsive "decisions for Christ", but rather through the establishment of lasting Word-and-sacrament ministries.
And, of course, in the verses bracketing the Great Commission we have the pledge that if we proceed in this way, He to whom all authority has been given in heaven and on earth will be with us always, even to the end of the age.
Another milestone we observed last week was the graduation of Luz Maria's oldest daughter, Yepci, from her program of study to receive accreditation at the third level of elementary education in the Venezuelan school system. To function as a private preschool, we must have teachers accredited by the state. Toward this end we have relied on a visiting teacher to instruct the children in all non-religious subjects. Now Yepci is in a position to take over this role as well.
One of our goals is that, as the children graduate from our preschool and continue on to first grade, they will be able to display exceptional ability in basic skills such as reading. This will not only benefit them, but establish for us a reputation for quality education.
Another bit of news: After all the fuss, only one game in the Copa America soccer competition will be played in Barinas. The streets of our city still are decorated with the flags of all the countries competing in Copa America 2007 (including the United States), but at the last minute the executive committee of the South American Football Federation decided the stadium in Barinas did not have enough seating capacity for the prestigious quarterfinals games and the city did not have enough hotel space to host the event. So the Copa America quarterfinals have been moved to Puerto La Cruz, a city on the Caribbean coast with plenty of beaches and posh resorts. At least there is now plenty of cement available for the wall around our property and the community got wider roads out of the deal, too.