Thursday, November 30, 2006

Updates On Past Prayer Requests

Hello All,

On my way home from dropping Renae off, I realized that I have asked for a lot of prayer for various people and then perhaps not given any update! So, in this entry, I want to give some information about various people and items that we have asked you to pray for over the last year.

Antonio & Marguerite
Our landlords, who have been so kind to us over the last year. We have been praying for their salvation. There is nothing new in this area to report. Marguerite is always interested in things regarding our church and spiritual truths. Antonio has not been as interested. We are seeing at least Antonio tonight, as we have scheduled to see him to give him our rent. Please continue to pray for them. These two are always on my heart, and every time we are with them, I do my best to stir conversation to things of the Lord, and have as yet been unsuccessful. Maybe tonight!

The Picaduena Alta Gang
Ah, our favorite taggers! When we were gone back in the early part of the year, they gave us their autographs on our wall outside of our house. When we came back, we learned their names and had a visual reminder on the wall. This second time that we returned, we had been tagged a second time. This time, it seems the neighbors had had enough and chased them away for good. We have not seen them anywhere near our neighborhood since returning.

Ignacio & Javier, The Guitar Center Guys
Lord willing, I will get to see them again soon. When we first met them, they were both still reeling from the tragic loss of their Father. We have played music together a few times, and these brothers are very kind. I stopped by today, and must have just missed them due to Siesta time.

Mari Carmen
Since she gave her life to the Lord a few weeks ago, we have not seen her again at church. Juan Carlos and Claudia, the Bolivian believers who attend our church and work for Mari Carmen, have told us that she remains very interested and has been reading her Bible. Pray that she will be able to truly walk away from whatever might be holding her back.

Jaime, My Language Coach
Our relationship was predicated on his relationship with the young lady that Yolee was tutoring in English. Unfortunately, their relationship ended and we have not seen Jaime around. I explained in detail the Gospel to Jaime and he seemed to be surprised that I didn't already know that Spaniards believed the same thing! "" Pray that the seed that the Lord planted with our relationship might someday blossom.

Acquiring The Spanish Language
Can I just say "Don't Ask!?" There are days when I walk out the door with all the confidence in the world...until someone talks to me! I don't think Lela feels the same way, but I get all nervous and sweaty and I think that mostly our neighbors feel sorry for me! Our vocabulary has improved and we are employing many resources to help. The Rosetta Stone is a great resource, as are the two Podcasts that I am subscribed to. (Let me recommend "Coffee Break Spanish." All I can say is that a Scottish man is teaching Spanish. When he speaks Spanish, he sounds like a Spaniard. The cool thing about this Podcast is you get two for one; I've always wanted to learn a Scottish accent!) One other resource that I have found helpful has been my own recorded messages with Pastor Carlos translating. All that to say: PLEASE PRAY FOR THE GIFT OF TONGUES!

Pastor Carlos' Vehicle Needs
When Pastor Carlos goes into Morroco, he needs an all terrain vehicle to visit remote parts of Morroco. He is currently praying for provision to purchase a new vehicle. There is one that he found recently that is very low priced. We trust that if that is the one for him, then the Lord will provide. Please pray that God would meet that need.

Finally...The VISA Issue
Ah, the mother of all prayer requests. As of today, we still have heard nothing about the visas for Lela and the kids. If we do not hear, we will again have to leave in January. Please pray that God would confirm His call for us to remain here by the provision of these papers.

Thank you for praying. I hope that it won't take me as long to update you on the next set of prayer requests. Ah, I almost forgot: We are slowly feeling better. Elizabeth is recovering from bronchitis nicely according to her pediatrician. Renae seems to be doing a bit better herself. However, Lela could use some extra prayer, as she seems to be stuck near the border of bronchitis. We ask for her complete healing especially. If not, it's spam and cereal again tonight!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Joy Of Sickness

Hello All (cough, cough, hack, hack!!!),

As you have likely guessed from the title of this entry, our entire family has come down with various degrees of the cold/flu bug. We all started feeling this way around Thanksgiving Eve and the "sickies" just continued to progress on through the weekend. It has become some part of my personal tradition to get sick on Thanksgiving. I count it my first sickness of the season. Perhaps I passed it around, I don't know. But it got bad enough to consult with a Doctor on Monday morning.

So we all climbed into the "coche de terror," along with our good friend and very able translator Yolee, and went to the clinic. We got there around 10:30AM, which is the Spanish equivalent of 8:30AM. We got there as they were just opening for business. Thankfully, it was a short wait and the Sanchez ladies were seen rather quickly. We came out with a severe cough, minor bronchitis and tonsilitis. After a quick trip to the local pharmacy, we were equipped to fight our various viruses.

I was intrigued by the Spanish Doctor and his manner with us as patients, in comparison to what we are used to in the U.S. health care system. For the most part, there was no separation. He talked to us like any person would talk to another here in Spain. He was very bold and passionate, even for just talking about a cold symptom. For those from the States, the way they talk here would almost be considered provocative. In fact, on a few occasions, I have been observing what I thought were heated conversations, but were in fact merely a "Hello, how are you!"

The other thing I noticed, and notice quite often here is the lack of personal space. No one seems to be worried about crowding you! The Doctor was no exception. He moved right on in and was "up in our business!" It can tend to be a little claustrophobic at times, but nobody here seems to mind. In fact, they look at you a little funny when you seem to mind!

We left the Doctor's office feeling good about our chances for survival! Thanks a lot Doc! We'll see what happens, but if you think about us, pray that we'll feel better soon.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving At The Casco's

Hello All,

"The Spanish people do not have a Thanksgiving day equivalent." I thought, "Ok, maybe I'm not called here after all!" While I am not a big fan of Turkey, I am a big fan of sitting down to a huge feast! How could you not have Thanksgiving!? Well, thankfully, our friends, the Casco's, host Thanksgiving at their house, with almost all of the traditional food, plus a few Spanish and Ecuadorian treats. The celebration is very similar to an American Thanksgiving. Carlos reads a Psalm and talks a bit about the meaning of Thanksgiving. Then we all went around and talked about what we are thankful for. It was a fun time of fellowship and a blessing to be together. Our thanks to the Casco family for their wonderful hospitality. Special thanks to Yolanda Casco, whose food preparation was incredible. Now, here are a few pics from the evening:
Here is my lovely wife Lela with Carmen and Angel Avila. My daughter is quite taken with Angel and just prior to my taking the picture, she reached over and grabbed his hand! Sly little girl! I really need to get to work on that all girls Christian Convent!

What Thanksgiving Day celebration is complete without a kid's table!? Renae and Elizabeth enjoyed their Thanksgiving Cuisine at the Mini!

Here is the table fully laid out, with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Ecuadorian stuffing and one of the largest sweet potatoes my wife had ever seen. My first thought was, "Alright, where is the food for everyone else!?"

Just a quick side note: I had to come to Spain to get my first taste of a sweet potato! Carmen prepared it and it was just delicious. I am now going to request a sweet potato every night! At least for a week or 2!

Here is my wife with our good friend Yolee, who is Pastor Carlos' daughter. Aside from being a fine singer and worship leader, she also is an incredible hair dresser. She has the exclusive haircutting rights to the entire Sanchez family over here in Spain! She has a strict "No Mullet" policy, which we are all thankful for!

Ah, the post food entertainment. Here is Juan on the left and Angel on the right. They are using the force to extinguish the candles. As you can see this was a futile effort as the force is not a real deal. So, they decided to use their fingers to pinch out the flames. Renae, not shown in the picture, was enthralled by this show of Spanish machismo. I am proud to say that despite suffering third degree burns, the boys were able to extinguish the flame. These type of events won't be held at the all girls Christian Convent!

We hope that you and yours had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What Are You Thankful For?

As far back as I can remember, this has been the question that us Sanchez kids had to answer before we dug into the blessed bird! I thought that in keeping with that tradition, we would ask the kids what they are thankful for. What you are about to watch is their response.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"And Then 50 People Got Saved..."

Hello All,

Alright, so the title of this post might be a tad misleading! In fact, I believe it is one of the things about missionary work that is the most misleading. And it's not really due to false advertising per se, as many missionaries report great success. It's just that "success" is such a relative term. Spain makes me wonder how I will define success.

I have been really struck by just how difficult this mission field really is. It's not that it's a new revelation, as Jesus said clearly that we can do NOTHING spiritual, lasting, effective, salvific apart from Him. It is however coming to grips with the reality that it seems that there is nothing that shakes at the heart of the Spaniard that I have been able to tap into. I have tried impassioned reasoning with my now former language coach. He looked at me as though I were telling him what he has known all of his life. I argued with a man over coffee, steadily answering questions and tearing down arguments that even left him speechless. All that to have him pull out his Catholic Medallion and swear that he would never betray his belief, no matter what I said. I tried playing it cool with a fellow musician. No breakthrough where there is nothing breaking!

But the kicker was just about 2 weeks ago on a Sunday. We had two men attend the church, who had been before. I happened to be preaching from Genesis 24, which is the story of Isaac's bride. I relayed how this story was a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit drawing a bride away from her closest ties to a groom that she had never met, and teaching her about him along the way, only to present her to Him at the end of the story. I mentioned that choice was a key aspect of the story and that just like Rebekah made a conscious choice, so also must we each make an individual choice to receive Christ. I was preaching my guts out and I gave the altar call, believing, hoping, praying and nothing.

It just so happened that we were doing communion that morning. Pastor Carlos explained communion, as he always does, and gave another altar call. Still no effect. Then, we took communion, an act which affirms that we are in covenant with Christ and are invested personally in the claims of the cross. Still nothing.

I went away mentally exhausted, just wondering what it would take. It could not have been any clearer! Of course, I know the verses: "Some plant, some water..." "Satan has blinded the eyes..." etc. I do not mention these lightly, as I understand the comfort that I am to derive from these passages. I merely remain shocked at the impossibility of how a man is saved and what forces of heaven must be involved to bring that process to fruition.

I say all this to say that if there is to be a spiritual work of revival in Spain, it cannot come from anything short of a miraculous intervention from God. Is this discouraging? It would indeed be so if God was unable or unwilling, but He is not.

I remembered that Jesus Himself was not known to the people of his time as a success. A man cut down at 33 with 12 disciples, all of whom were scattered at his ignominious public execution. One could say that Jesus did not win Jerusalem to Himself, so how much more difficult for us little Christ "life extension cords?"

So what is the conclusion to all this? How am I to continue? I will keep loving, keep preaching, and keep dispensing what God has put in me to dispense in the time and season that I have. I don't know how long I will have and I don't know how I will define success. None of that is important as long as I am faithful to give out what I have with all that I am! He is in charge of the results!

Thanks for listening. I needed to hear this from and for myself. Maybe you needed it too.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Morroco Report

Hello All,

Earlier this month, Pastor Carlos and my good friend Johnny Love took a 10 day trip to Morocco. This is one of the main reasons why my family and I have been attempting to come to Spain, so that Carlos can continue his work among the Berber people.

That is what really impressed us when we first came. Here we were thinking that we were coming to show this congregation about a missions heart, and they blew our minds by showing us that they already knew all about it! The entire church (except for our family and a few others) has been to Morocco with Carlos at one time or another. And, every time Carlos gets ready to go, the entire church springs into action, helping to prepare items and load the vehicle.

When Carlos goes, he takes all manner of items, from toys and candy for the kids to medical supplies for the clinics that he takes people to in the mountains. It takes about 2 days to prepare his 4 wheel drive for the trip, and that is rushing it! I am always amazed at how much he fits into that car!

And Carlos never goes alone. He has always had someone with him. This time he went with my longtime friend Johnny Love. Johnny has been on many trips in his life, but none have ever been quite like this.

After the trip, I sat down with Johnny and got a little feedback on the trip. This is sort of my little moment to be the night time anchor man on the news! Not quite a dream of mine, but...anyway, here is a little sample.

Frank : What unexpected things did you find about this trip?

Johnny : I did'nt expect so much hospitality. The hospitality that we were given there, fresh tea and bread, everywhere we went, these people just welcomed us with open arms. They had basically nothing, but gave us what little that they had.

F : Talk about the poverty that you experienced. You mentioned that it was unlike anything else you have ever experienced.

J : Yes, this is the first missions trip where I stayed with different families. The houses were made of stone, there was no running water except from the creek and there was no natural gas. They always made due. They made room for us and we slept on blankets (on the floor). They made the most of what they had.

F : You mentioned that Carlos did a lot of medical type work. What else did you guys do?

J : We gave medication for common ailments, like colds and headaches. Carlos performed a minor surgery with the aid of a physician. In addition we painted the school rooms. Everyday was different and I did'nt know what to expect.

This mission trip really impacted my friend John and I know that both he and Carlos had many other stories, which would require much more space. Suffice it say, it was an encouragement to the people of Morocco and an encouragement to our church here in Jerez. Please continue to pray for provision for Pastor Carlos regarding these trips. One of his biggest needs currently is a vehicle which will traverse the rugged roads of the Moroccan mountains.

For now, another trip is in the books and the Lord has again shown Himself to be faithful and true.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

More Pics From Morocco

When Carlos comes to town, the kids meet him out on the road. He distributes an assortment of candies and chocolates. The people of the mountains recognize the vehicle and are excited to see it because they know it is loaded with supplies for the poor. And did I mention candies...

Having a Bible in your own language...seems like everyone has seven or eight versions in their home in America, but it's not the case in Morocco. Consequently, to read it and be committed to it is also quite telling.

Ah, the spiritual gift of grub! Johnny and Carlos told tales of freshly produced meat at virtually every house they visited. This, plus all the bread they could eat and all the tea they could drink.

Before and after pics of the school room that was painted by Carlos and Johnny.

"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:14,15

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Arcos De La Frontera

Hello All,

Tonight we got a chance to go down to Arcos De La Frontera. It is a beautiful white city set on the top of a very steep hill. As usual the drive up the city hill was curvy and claustrophobic, but if Carlos' land rover could make it, our little Ford Fiesta was going to make it as well. Unfortunately, we did not bring our camera with us, so if you want to get a taste of where we were, check out these sites:

Thanks for checking in on us. This week, I hope to have a first video diary up here on the site through Youtube and a full report on Carlos and Johnny's successful mission trip to Morocco.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome Mari Carmen!

Hello All,

Tonight, I had the priviledge of seeing the Lord add a daughter to his family. Her name is Mari Carmen. She is wheelchair bound, but has been a true inspiration with regard to how boundless she seems. It is not rare to see her wheeling through town with a lovely smile on her face. Yet, for all outward appearance, she had never received the Lord before. One of the first times I met her, I had spoken on the basis for the doctrine of Justification by faith. Other times, Pastor Carlos has shared similar messages that she took in quite regularly. While the Lord has been using us, the most obvious tool of the Lord's have been Juan Carlos and Claudia, who attend to her and are exceptionally dedicated Christians.

Tonight, she made that confession with her lips that she would take Jesus Christ as her Savior! It was truly exciting and makes sense of the last two difficult days that we have had here in Jerez personally.

Pray for Mari Carmen, that she would show signs of genuine conversion and bear fruits of repentance. But more than anything, that the joy of life that she has naturally would now blossom into real beauty, as the source becomes the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and not simple predisposition. I would ask you to pray that she would shine the love of Jesus in a wonderful, miraculous way.

Of course, at the same time, we ask that you would pray that the enemy would not be able to steal away what the Lord has planted in her heart. The appeal of tradition and familial pressure is very intense here.

What a joy to see and be part of it! Praise the Lord!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, November 06, 2006

Paying It Forward!

Hello All,

Many of you have likely heard of or seen the movie "Pay It Forward." I have not seen it, but the phrase has been resonating in my head for the last two weeks. Wikipedia gives this definition: "Pay it forward or paying it forward refers to repaying the good deeds one has received by doing good things for other unrelated people." If this is what the movie is about, then it is also not my intention to use this phrase that way. The phrase came to me when I was teaching Genesis 23 last week. (Many of you will notice that my last Genesis related blog was in chapter 21. Well, go ahead and try to find anything of great spiritual value from chapter 22! Now, let me pull my tongue out from the deep indention in my cheek and move on!)

You might recall to memory that Sarah dies in chapter 23 and Abraham is faced with a choice. Just prior to chapter 23, he receives news from home and his family there. They have grown and there seems to be much rejoicing in their neck of the woods. I wonder if Abraham might have had a moment's hesitation about staying in Canaan, the land of promise. For in Sarah's death, there was a new awareness of his own mortality. Where she would lie, he would lie. What does Abraham do? He purchases a grave in Canaan, for an exorbitant price, from the Hititte people.

At first, I felt that there was little there worth rummaging through. I know: BLASPHEMY! But upon further reflection, I realized what Abraham was doing. He was buying into the promise, fully investing himself and his family in the veracity of the claim that God would one day deliver this land to his seed. He was "Paying It Forward." (I believe this is further corroborated in chapter 24 when he forbids his servant to take Isaac back to the land of his family.) And you know what: He was buried in Macpelah. So was Isaac, Rebekah, Leah and Joseph. All came back to this land in death, believing that this was to be their land. None of them saw the fulfillment, but they all came back to Macpelah and were laid to rest there.

I don't want you to think that I have purchased a grave in Jerez! Not yet anyway! But I will bury my life in Christ, so that my children will come back to that reality as well. We all may live without seeing fulfillment, but I will "Pay It Forward" on their behalf as well. I noted in my sermon two Wednesdays ago that Lela can look back and see a Pastor in every successive decade, even to this day when her father Dan continues to teach in many nations and her brother Nate leads worship. This is not the case in my family. My Dad's conversion to Christ began the first generation of Christianity in our family. I would be the next in line, so I don't look to my past. I focus on the future and the hope that I have to see my children bury their lives in Jesus Christ.

Along the way, I pray that these nations that surround me, Lord willing Spain, will watch my life and the lives of other missionaries, and see us "pay forward" in the promise. I pray that as we do this, they will be won to the love of Jesus that would constrain them to do likewise.

I pray that you will join me in redeeming the time that is given you, making the most of every opportunity for the days are evil and the time is short. Perhaps most of us will live without seeing fulfillment. But if we hope to see someone enjoy that blessing in the future, then we must pay for it now.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Little Family Prayer Time

Three Prayers

Here is a little glimpse into the Sanchez Family prayer life. This is what it's like right before bed each night. Lizzy obviously loves to pray the most! We would provide translation, but while we are sure it's biblical, we cannot quite figure it out either!

Mostly this is a little bit of an experiment with YouTube and our page. Lord willing, we will be able to post a few video diary clips soon from around Jerez. For now, hope you enjoy the kids.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lizzy And The Chocolate!

"It all happened so fast..."

Halloween Jerez Style

Hello All,

Perhaps the sign should have told us something! Last year, Halloween was a non-event. 2 teenagers came to our door, neither of them dressed up, and begged for candy. That was the extent of the celebration. This year, the above handwritten signs were posted around our neighborhood about a week ago. Then, just a day or so before, a small hand drawn pumpkin leaflet was put into our mailbox. It reminded me of political mail, but this campaign was quite well done.

So last night, Lela and I decided that we would get a small bag of suckers for the kids. I felt that we at least needed two bags. We had gone out to Carrefour Sur (not the infamous Carrefour Norte where I was interrogated last week by the Security detail...see a few posts down for more info) and came back to find, a decent size band of kids roaming through our neighborhood. I surmised that we would have just enough. By the time they reached our house, the band had grown to about 60 kids armed with some sort of very loud firecrackers! At this point, I was pretty sure we would not have enough suckers, so we quietly went upstairs and retired for the night! We'll be ready next year for all contingencies!

The party just kept going on last night, mainly due to the fact that today is All Saints Day here in Spain. Everyone is off from school and work today, but tomorrow is also an important day on the calendar known as "The Feast Of All Souls." Obviously, those of us in America have little understanding of what these days signify, so I thought I would do a little research.

Much of what follows will be from Catholic source material found on the internet. The Catholic Encyclopedia on All Saints Day: "It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year." In other words, today is a day where all the saints that did not get celebrated, or did not get celebrated enough, get their fair share. Originally, this was meant to be a celebration of the martyrs, who were the only ones granted sainthood. However, it was later changed. The site further explains, "The change in the name of the event from Feast of All Holy Martyrs to Feast of All Saints probably became about because there was a change in the customs regarding who was listed as a "Saint." In the early years of the Church, only martyrs were given that title, but after the Roman persecutions ended the title was given to others who had led meritorious lives and who were credited with miraculous intercession."

This day is held in the same regard as Labor Day or Memorial Day is for Americans. It is just another day off for most Spaniards, though some might actually make it to Mass. Tomorrow, there is not a national holiday observance, but "The Feast Of All Souls" will be talked about. Yet a third Catholic site, and we get this information: "While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls on November 2 reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven - in this life or in purgatory."

Again, these are Catholic sources and my posting them here is by no means an endorsement or a statement to the veracity of the claims. I found it interesting though, just how deep the beliefs of this country are, and yet, how incredibly divorced they are from them in their daily lives. There is nothing wrong with celebrating martyrs or thinking upon the lives that we are to lead upon this Earth. However, to honor these days without honoring the faith of the one's who have given their lives for the name of Christ and to think upon our duties upon this earth, apart from the one who calls us to that duty and empowers us to perform, is to miss the proverbial forest for the trees. Those who died for the call of the faith would be insulted if we celebrated their heroism and did not embrace their Savior. And if we have a day where we think about the lives that are meant to be the extension of the Savior's ministry to a dying world around us, and then not live that way, what sort of insult is that to the name of Christ?

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox I need to go and help finish those few lolipops that we have left!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez