Sunday, December 31, 2006

At Least It's Not Cantalope!

Final gratuitous picture of the kids for this year!

Hello All,

This is my last post of the year. Thank you all so much for your support and love as we have been here in Spain, and now from many who have dropped an email to support us in returning to the states. It is very encouraging and of course, welcomed. We hope that you all have a wonderful New Year in the Lord and are blessed by Him in fantastic ways this year. All who hope in the Lord can know that the Lord desires to bless His people.

For many of you that will be celebrating tonight, I bet you won't be eating a grape for every chime of the clock past 12! That's the deal here in Spain. If you can successfully down a grape for every chime, then you will have good luck for the coming year. (Of course, that means that if you weren't lucky last year, then the odds of you choking on a grape tonight are pretty good!) Stark traditionalists also hold that you are supposed to be wearing a certain color of underwear as well! We won't get into that and it's likely that we won't "grape" either, as we are not likely to make it past 11:30! (Gosh, we're getting old!) Actually, I think I will try it, but I am afraid of getting too psyched out and choking on a grape! Hopefully, I will live through this to blog again next year! If I make it past the grape ceremony, then I hope I will live through the inevitable gunfire that is sure to erupt from various sources all over Jerez. We have heard people "practicing" all week!

Don McClure, founding Pastor of the Packinghouse, used to end his messages with this blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. I repeat it here to all of our family and friends who frequent this site.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May He make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious to you
May He lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."

A blessed New Years to all of you.

To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank, Lela, Renae, Caleb & Elizabeth Sanchez

The Announcement From The Spain Chain

Hello All,

To those who are on the Spain Chain, this will not be new news. The Spain Chain has been our monthly email that has accompanied our ministry since it's incception. Below is our latest edition with some very pertinent information.

December 28, 2006

Dear Spain Chain,

We hope that you have had a wonderful Christmas, and our wish is that you and your family would have a Happy New Year. May 2007 be a landmark year in the Lord for each of your family members. May this be a year filled with growth and the presence of the Lord in a great measure. This past year has been a tremendous year spiritually for us, and though it has been difficult, the reward of becoming more intimate with Christ has been worth the cost. We pray that the same could be said by each of you. Now, onto some business.

Coming Home
After much prayer and counsel, it has been decided that we must come home from the mission field of Spain. The permanent visas which we have waited for the better part of this year and have still not come, are the catalyst issue, dealing mainly with our legal provision to be here longer than 90 days. Not having them has created quite a difficult emotional backdrop as we have traveled now three times back and forth between continents, and we feel now that we cannot continue under that circumstance. Therefore, as a family, we have decided that we will make our residence back in the States for an indefinite period of time.

There are many things to talk about with regard to the future of this ministry. Suffice it to say, our burden for Spain remains strong and our love for Calvario De Jerez, her Pastor and people, remains steadfast. At this point, the questions outnumber the answers, but we are confident that the Lord will bring those when we need them. At present, our energies will be focused on readying our house here in Spain for occupation, ironically for Pastor Carlos and his family! I’ll tell that story in a moment.

I feel that it is important to point out that we are not discouraged. We were ready to give many years of our life (and God may yet require that!) to overseas ministry service. We simply feel that God called us to and provided for the time that we have had. In that time, we have watched the church heal from difficult circumstances and we have gained a first hand perspective regarding the challenges that face missionaries on the field today.

We return to the states January 17th, just a day or two short of the permitted 90 day tourist stay.

• Please pray for this time of transition back to the states and back into respective workplaces.
• Pray that the Lord would make it clear where He would have us serve Him next, as this is currently not known to us.
• For those who might have the ability to help us with furniture donations, please contact us through email. We would very much appreciate it!
• Pray for Renae’s transition into yet a 3rd school for this year when we return. As of now, we are hoping to place her into The Packinghouse Academy.

Trading Places!
As I mentioned in the previous section, Pastor Carlos and his family will be moving into our house at the end of January. Carlos had been originally told that he had until July to vacate his current house. Just about a month ago, his landlord informed him that he would need to leave much earlier than that, specifically the end of January! We were all surprised, but immediately the idea of them moving into our place began to take shape, essentially since our homes are virtually identical.

We view this as another piece in the puzzle of how God is working from every angle to provide. We have had a wonderful relationship with our landlords, Antonio and Marguerite over the last year, and through that, they have also come to know and trust Carlos. For all parties involved, there is peace and a feeling that this is right.

It will also be exciting to see our neighbors response to Carlos. For the better part of a year, they have watched us and have talked with us, but because of the language barrier are hesitant to attempt deeper discussions. They know why we are here and there is no secret to our beliefs. However, now with Carlos living here, there is a real chance for him to complete what has been started through our life. It will be a very good fit for that purpose as well.

• Pray for our neighbors, that their curiosity will be piqued and that Carlos will begin a fruitful relationship with them. We pray that all will be blessed and touched personally by the Lord.

So What Now!?
At present, our Pastors who have been mainly responsible for sending us out have been notified. Likely before this reaches you, we will have at least sent out another email to them to begin a dialogue about what should happen next with regard to ministry.

Regarding Spain, there will likely be another trip that I will have to take for my visa sometime later in the year, around October, in order to renew it for another 2 years. As far as our family, it looks like we will eventually have to re-apply for our visas for Lela and the kids. When we feel that the time is right, we will make those applications again, should that be the Lord’s call to us.

Aside from that, I continue to remind myself of a story in the Bible that has tremendous meaning to me right now. King David looked around at his house and decided that he wanted to build God a house. He and Samuel the Prophet discussed this and Samuel gave the “go-ahead.” But then God told Samuel that he misspoke. David could not build the temple because he was a man of war. So what did David do? He assembled everything necessary for the building of the temple, so that when Solomon, his son, became King he could build it. That’s what I want to do. I want to help prepare others and join in the ministries that we already have personal contact with, so that we can continue to bless Spain and lay a foundation for a time when God might swing the doors wide open and ask us to return.

Until then, we will regather our strength and sense of bearing. Please note that the call of destiny has not grown faint! In fact, it grows ever more loud. A continent and an ocean shall not dissuade us from continuing to sow into this Harvest field.

Toward that end, our account with Intensive Care Ministries will remain open for a time until costs for possible return trips are covered and our family returned to the workforce.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us at And for the time being, our website will remain focused on life here in Spain, so please feel free to check that out at

Finally, and most sincerely, thank you all for your prayers, your gifts, your support and your love during this last year. Many times, because of your partnership with us, we felt comforted and encouraged in ways that we may never be able to express to you. Your presence has been felt. You have helped us to feel as though we were not so far away. Thank you a million times over!

Happy New Years and we will see you soon.

Frank Sanchez, Author
Lela Sanchez, Chief Editor
Renae, Caleb & Elizabeth Sanchez, Los Tres Terramotos (The Three Earthquakes!)

"Quien Dice Espana, Dice Todo!"

Hello All,

With the holidays fully encompassing us, even here in Spain, I have been a little out of touch. My apologies to those who check in with us quite often. Today, I plan on adding at least 2 more blog entries to finish out this year and catch you up with what has been taking place.

The quote above is from a book that I referenced earlier in the year on Spanish history which I have read and enjoyed entitled, "Spain, The Root & The Flower." This quote which says in English, "He who says Spain, says it all" refers mainly to the landscape of Spain, but is also applicable to the infamous pride of the Spaniard. This is expressed mostly about their region, but also extends to their nation's accomplishments. I have seen this in action many times, as I have been told about the greatness of the langauge of Spain, the greatness of Andalucia, the greatness of musical talent here, etc. And I must say, that they have some legitimate arguments on most accounts. For example, Paco De Lucia is one of the finest guitar players I have ever heard, and he is from Alegeciras, which is here in the southern portion of Spain, known as Andalucia.

Now, here are two more items from which to boast.

It seems to me that the saying might have some validity after all!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It Was Only 4 Days!?

Hello All,

Sorry to have been out of contact these last couple of days. Between looking for the magic recipe for Egg Nog and a boat load of parties, it has been a whirlwind for our family and our church. As a result, there has been no time for blogging, so I intend to give you a 3 in 1 recap. Before I get to that, to all of our faithful internet readership, we hope that you had an incredible time with family and friends during this wonderful time of the year, and we hope that the Lord would shower you with His affection and greater cognizance of His presence than ever before in your walk with Him in 2007!

The Obligatory Christmas Concert
This past Friday saw the stage debut of my oldest daughter Renae. She played the part of a tree. While not necessarily an actor's dream with regard to challenge, Renae did devote herself to
learning "The Goose Is Getting Fat," an English Christmas diddy about Christmas Dinner Goose. Renae was a little taken aback when she saw that she was not the only Christmas tree, but like the fine trooper she is, she swallowed her pride and stood tall. There must be some unwritten rule though that most plays are performed in undersized venues in front of oversized crowds. Additionally, it must always be that your kid is in the last class to perform! Sorry...

An ironic aside here: Silent Night was the only song sung that resembled a tune about Jesus! That's ironic
coming from a predominantly Catholic Country, and that I of all people would be missing the songs about Jesus tells me what a vacuum I am in.

I am very proud of Renae for how she has handled her short time of school here in Spain. She has been brave and strong in the face of quite a bit of change and instability. In the midst, she has won the approval and love of her teachers, who are quite taken with her. After her role was complete, we went and found her teachers and wished them a "Feliz Navidad" to which we received the typically kind "igualmente."

After the play was over, we drove over to our favorite Chinese restaurant, with Renae hardly aware that she was still dressed as a tree! Susanna, our usual waitress was impressed however!

Christmas Eve Service At Calvario De Jerez
The Big Night was finally here. The anticipation was killing us all! Our first Christmas Eve service in Spain! Normally we would not have an evening service, but it was decided that we would switch for this special night, "Nochebuena" to the Spaniards. The anticipation for the kids was an opportunity to sing "Our God Is So Big" and to participate in the church gift exchange. The anticipation for me was the intense feast that was being brought into the Church! In fact, in anticipation of incredible amounts of food, I decided to abstain from my normal dinner hour.

This proved to be a mistake, as I was unaware
that we weren't going to be eating for quite some time! Oh well! I can add it to my "fasting" hours for the year! Seeing that there aren't many, I am grateful to use all that I have!

The night was a great opportunity to hang as a church and it was filled with the usual acoutrements of the Christmas Eve service. Pastor Carlos spoke from Isaiah to us about the coming of the Lord in human flesh. Yolee, Andre and Angel (current love interest of my daughter Renae!) shared some beautiful Christmas songs, one led by Angel who has really gained a nice singing voice! There were dramas, and songs from the Kids Ministry. Lela and Yolee did a did a beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night" and we ended the service portion.

But then came the food and fellowship. I actually don't remember chewing...And after that, it just got crazy! There were impressions, dance demonstrations, and a lot of laughs. A particularly funny moment came when Domingo was surprised by the Bee Gees' classic hit "You Should Be Dancing" instead of the "Sevillana" (traditional flamenco tune) that he was expecting. (Now, how did that happen!?) That, and the fact that I broke out some breakdance moves from the early 80's, made it particularly...ahem...memorable! Of course, there was also the gift exchange, where Caleb got his first gift of cologne! I'll save that story for another entry.

The party lasted until 2AM! It was an absolute blast! Mostly, it was such a joy to see such a celebration and a great love for one another and for the Lord. It was such an honor to be part of it.

Christmas Day...the short version!
After getting home at 2AM, early for most Spaniards on Nochebuena I'm told, we were beat! The kids did not wake up until 11AM! Breakfast at noon!? Yep, that was us! Not having a Christmas
tree, we improvised and used Renae's costume from her concert. As you can see, we piled the presents on the couch, many of which were sent from our respective families, who shipped them weeks in advance providing the kids with the necessary temptations for the several days. Unlike their Father, they actually did pretty well facing the temptations. When I was their age, I all but X-rayed my gifts!

Then, believe it or not, it was time for another Church get together! The occasion was not for Christmas, but rather in honor of our Church's youngest member, who turned 2 on Christmas Day. Miqueas, Yolee's son had a "Puppy Christmas" and it was another occasion for fun and kicks...and did I mention: FOOD!!!

Miqueas had an awesome time, and our kids actually let him blow out his own candles, which was quite generous of them! Miqueas is a sweet little guy and we are blessed to be a small part of his life as well.

All in all, when all was said and done, we barely had any time to think about how much we missed certain aspects of being home with family. In fact, we almost didn't get a chance to call my parents! But what a wonderful thing about the family of God, that even when you are separated from all that makes this holiday season memorable, God allows His joy to be sensed from an entirely different group of people, who feel as close as a natural family. I thank God that He has done such a wonderful work of bonding here to make that sensation a possibility. No matter what happens from here, this Church will always be a precious group of friends and family to us. Only the love of God can do that.

Now, if we could only get that Egg Nog recipe right...

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Ah, Me Lucky Charms!"

Hello All,

I thought I would share this with you, as I found it somewhat amusing. I was talking with Carlos this morning about a visitor that we have to our church. He comes every once in a while and takes in the worship and the message. He is one of about 4 visitors that make it in every once in a while. Last night, he made another appearance, sat through the service and my teaching, translation and all, talked with Carlos and was on his way. He was cordial and friendly as always.

This morning, Carlos relayed to me what he told him before he left. He had come to Church because everytime he has done so, to quote him, "God has given him favor." The last time he came was right before he had his written driver's test and then he passed it. Today, he has the actual driving test, so he came last night! (By the way, there are about 50,000 autoescuelas in this city and the tests are "very subjective" to put it nicely!)

Before Carlos relayed this information to me, we had been at a stop light and a guy on a moped rapped on the passenger side window. Aside from scaring me to death, he talked about wanting to get to church sometime soon. Of course, Carlos told him the service times and he seemed to be genuinely interested in coming to visit soon. This is an oft repeated scene when I am out with Carlos. Carlos is such a friendly guy that many people are genuinely interested in visiting.

This is the plowing that has to be done. Little by little, people are getting to know the church and are hearing what things go on inside her walls. All are welcome for whatever motivation that inclines them to enter our doors. And ironically, we would love them to have favor from the Lord for having done so! I hope he passes his test and I hope he comes back for more! I'll keep you posted.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, December 18, 2006

More Pics From Barbate

Ah, that is what I am talking about!!! This food did not last that long once things got going.

Here is Lela waiting with Jeanette outside the church. Jeanette has been coming to our church for several months now. She is a character with a great sense of humor. She is originally from Guatemala, but has been in Spain now for some time.

Here is Jeanette again with daughter Karen, brother Jose, Angel Avila and Angel's Mom, Carmen.

Pastor Robert holding his oldest daughter, getting the afternoon started. As I mentioned in the previous entry, Robert is from Germany, but is absolutely fluent in Spanish. You can tell that he loves his congregation and their love for him is obvious as well.
Renae at the table, making sure that Mom is not looking as she picks up yet another tarta!

This is a view from the projector. I was in the front of the room, sitting next to Carlos, praying that the DVD player would work. Trying to look casual and under control, I took this picture and I think I might have scared Carlos half to death! Sorry hermano!

And finally, the pic of the day: Miqueas, Yolee's son, surrounded by a mob O' ladies! My daughter Elizabeth, usually has "rights" to Miqueas, but it's quite obvious that Miqueas is the MAN in Barbate!

Elizabeth is not quite sure what to do about the competition! I am sure she'll figure something out. I would'nt be surprised if it involves screaming!

This was such a sweet time of fellowship. I hope you got a small taste from these pictures just how great an event this was.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Behold How Good..."

Hello All,

What a picture perfect weekend we have had here in Spain! Two absolutely glorious days, brought to a climactic end with a pre-Christmas celebration in Barbate. Barbate is about an hour and a half from Jerez and it is the location of Iglesia Evangelica El Arca, pastored by Robert Shamell. We have a little bit of history with Pastor Robert, as our outreach team from Redlands came into Barbate on our first trip here back in 2004. Then, earlier this year, the Shamell family invited us to come and share at their evening service. There were a few really funny incidents that came about from that trip. Ask us sometime about Lela's embarrasing moment and we will tell you...I'm getting off track.

Pastor Shamell is a German Pastor with a great, infectious personality and love for the Lord. When we received the invitation to come to Barbate as a Church, it was an easy answer for us. Aside from the wonderful event, there would also be a breathtaking drive through the Spanish countryside, which is an unbelievable opportunity in and of itself.

After our morning service, we carpooled into Barbate. When we arrived the food was almost entirely set out. It was about 2PM, which is the normal dinner time for Spaniards. Fos us Americans though our bodies are usually screaming for food by that time! Needless to say, I was ready to devour everything! The banquet of Spanish food was presented and was awesome as usual. The most impressive food today was the Paella, which is Spanish rice with shellfish but I made sure that my opinion was well educated! After the food, and a lot of fellowship, came the desert portion of course, and the highlights were Lela's banana bread and Yolee's cheesecake. I was in heaven!

Everyone rolled to their seats and then the 2 visiting ministries, Calvario De Jerez and the Light House, presented some information for the church which is supportive of both. Carlos lead off with a slide show of his last trip to Morocco. As usual, the stories that Carlos tells about Morocco bring an excited hush to any crowd. This was really good for me, as the DVD player that I was working with was not cooperating. It's always embarrasing when something that should work does not work, and your the one in charge of it! Now I know how it feels to be a sound man! Well, the player finally got to working and the pictures were on the screen, but they were on sideways! It was classic looking out at all the people with their head tilted to the right!

After this, Ian Hardy, Pastor/Overseer of "The Light House/El Faro" shared a presentation about their ministry in Algeciras. Ian and his wife came with their new 3 week old daughter Elizabeth, so it's obvious they have taste in names! The ministry of the Light House is centered around the tourist industry of Morocco, as Algeciras is the most frequently used port to go to Morocco. The Light House invites all backpackers to enjoy a cheap meal and some conversation. Through the gift of hospitality, Ian has been able to share the love of Christ with many who come through Algeciras on their way to Moroccan adventures. Ian is a gentle man and it was great to spend some time with him.

After Ian finished, Ruth Shamell asked me to sing a song with Lela as we had done on our last trip. I was very reluctant and tried my best to beg out of it, citing lack of guitar and chord sheets. However, as it turns out, she does not give up very easily! She got a guitar, Lela quickly wrote out some words and I jotted down some chords. Lela, Yolee and I shared one of our theme songs to end the time together. The song is Kevin Green's tune "I Will Trust In You," "Confiare En Ti." It was the only one that we could remember under the circumstances. Then Yolee and Andre did one final song, which is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I don't know the name, but it's a song from Brazil that Yolee and Andre sing wonderfully for our church's worship service.

All in all, it was a fantastic time together. During the entire day I kept thinking about the verse that David penned so many centuries before in the Psalms.

" Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!" Psalm 133:1

These churches are not all part of the same denomination, nor are they of the same service construction. The giftings and ministries are vastly different. Yet, we can come together, enjoy a feast, rejoice in the effective ministry of God's servants and love one another because of Christ's work in our lives. It was a true joy to participate today with the body of Christ and celebrate His first coming in such a joyous fashion. We wish you could have been here!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Body At Work

Hello All,

Isn't amazing how a day can turn out and what you might be thankful for at the end of that day? Today, I am very grateful for the wisdom of the Lord in assembling the body of Christ in the way that He has. I would refer you to read Paul's treatise on this subject found in I Corinthians 12 in it's entirety, but I will quote just this small portion for you.

"But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?" (v.18,19)

Let me explain now what happened. This morning, my precious, sweet innocent daughter Elizabeth was seen playing near the keyhole of our front door. "What harm could a two year old do?" Well, it turns out that she put a staple into the keyhole, which prevented us from putting our key and locking the door from the inside. The outside was unaffected, but the inside was a problem. Fast forward to the afternoon. Carlos has been coming over and getting up to speed on one of my personal favorite programs: iTunes! I have been helping him with his teaching library, his iPod and the acquisition of free podcasts. (His favorite are two French language acquisition podcasts, which will be very helpful in Morocco.) It has been a joy to be able to help him out and sitting there with him for a few hours in the afternoon working on our computers is real fun for me. On his way out, just two hours before Wednesday Night Service, I mentioned our keyhole situation to him. He took a little piece of wire out of his wallet and began to work on it. In the process, the lock gave way and broke entirely. We are now an hour and a half from service. Carlos at this point goes into action. Of course, he knows where to get the parts and it must be replaced before service or else Lela cannot leave the house, a prospect that would not win any awards for popularity, especially with 3 kids at 5 and under! So we made our way out to purchase the lock.

Several things must be said here. First, the lock in question is not made in wide circulation any long
er. Second, there are three possible places where we might purchase said lock. Third, if we fail, a locksmith could be called for a very expensive repair. Oh, and it's an hour and 15 to service now!

At the store we went to first, the owner brings out the very last model of the lock that we need! Carlos gets it installed with his usual mechanical genius and we have an hour to spare before service!

What if God had placed two computer guys in this predicament? Or if he had two mechanical people in the same house with no idea what to do with a computer? If we were both musicians, we could write a song about how depressed the expensive locksmith made us, but little else would have been accomplished.

Later in the evening, another gifted member of our body, Carmen, presented our family with a handmade costume for Renae's school play that is coming up next week. (Renae will be playing a tree! Pictures will be posted exclusively here on this site of course!) It is so well done, her handiwork, her giftedness such a blessing to us. Just the fact that she was able to discern from the picture reference that the school gave us how to make the costume baffles my mind.

Now, I am sure that there are some out there who think that they could make a Christmas tree outfit for someone or that they can change a complicated door lock or work a program like iTunes. My challenge is that you would. Fulfill your calling. Find where and how you can be a blessing. There is no greater joy than to bless and function in this thing called "The Body Of Christ." Today, I am so thankful to God for His wisdom in creating such a wonderful entity. Now, if we could only find a full time nanny with a gift for corraling 2 year olds with a penchant for keyhole madness!Any takers?

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Gospel Truth, pt. 1

Hello All,

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to spend some blog time on the topic of sharing the gospel. My thoughts were provoked recently at this event that we did on Friday night and had been provoked when I wrote a blog titled "And Then 50 People Got Saved..." The gospel, to any who would call themselves "Christian," is the message mandated by Christ Himself that must be shared with every creature with whom we have opportunity and audience. It is a non-negotiable item. In it, the gospel, there is the power of salvation to those that would believe upon Christ, who is the center of this message.

You might recall that I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a man named Fernando. He was well on his way to intoxication, but when I had begun sharing with him, he was not totally there yet. I had a short window before he would be unable to really receive anything. This, coupled with the fact that I required translation, really made me feel a sense of urgency, necessitating a succint presentation.

What is important for a man who is about to be fully inebriated to know? Well, first, there has to be an understanding of his offence to the nature of God through his sin. Then, he has to understand that Christ is the only solution provided by God for the problem of His sin. And he must understand that only by placing his faith in Christ, can he have any hope of redemption. I needed to put this in as quick a statement as possible. It went something like this:

"Fernando, you are a sinner. You have offended God by your actions. God loves you enough to send me to tell you that forgiveness is possible if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Would you do that?"

At that point, Fernando heard what was said, and then chose to go off on a rabbit trail about something else. I know the message got through, even though he has chosen to reject it for the time being. But it made me think about some of the classic blunders Christians make in such moments. To me, they are as follows:

1) Ambiguity. "The Big Man Upstairs," "The Guy In The Sky," even God, the term, is lacking in specificity. James the Apostle told his readers, "You believe in God? You do well. Even the demons believe and TREMBLE!" Remember, that the name Jesus Christ is paramount in importance. It is in His name that we are called, it is His name and His name alone that any man can hope to have salvation. Jesus Christ is the name above all names, and at His name, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess His lordship.

2) Rabbit Chasing. "But what about the gift of tongues?" "What about televangelists?" This was actually one of Fernando's arguments against Christianity. I refused to talk with him about that. I retorted, "What about Jesus Christ? Has He failed? Is He trustworthy?" To spend any amount of time chasing rabbits is to lose the opportunity to clearly present the gospel.

3) Personal Decision. It's no use for a person to hear a message without having the opportunity to believe and affirm that he/she is taking the message for themselves. This is critical, as faith comes by is an action that must be presented as the imperative moment which the other two points lead to.

There are many more things that I want to talk about regarding this subject. Lord willing, over time I will have the opportunity. Understand, to anyone who might be reading this, that the Gospel is the greatest news of victory the world has ever seen and it is a priviledge to carry the banner of salvation to any whom the Lord might place in our path. Even, and perhaps especially the guy whose sole hope is found at the end of a bottle. It seems that he is just the type that Jesus would glorify Himself in through the work of regeneration.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Night Outreach

Hello All,

In my last post, I mentioned that we have some visitors among us. They are staying with the Casco family and are on their way to London. One of them is a professional skateboarder from Grand Rapids, Michigan named David Voetberg. David is part of a skateboarding ministry named "King Of Kings." He is an 18 year old with quite an impressive resume and arsenal of tricks. Last year, he participated in a tour that was lead by Christian actor Stephen Baldwin and has had the opportunity to be involved in many tour stops around the United States. Tonight's impromptu outreach may have been his first foray into International Skateboard Outreach.

The outreach was held in a recently completed courtyard in the center of town. It is called "Plaza Arenal and it's a beautiful part of the city. In the plaza, they have put up a Faux Ice Skating rink for the winter holidays. When we first saw it, we were really excited, only to discover that the "ice" was just white plastic! But everyone seems to be quite taken by it, as the rink is filled with people.

So this was the perfect place for a Friday evening. Pastor Carlos and David set out a few props for jumping, and off we went. As the rest of us walked up, you could see David jumping up in the air, and quite a crowd was assembled around him. After performing a few jumps over inanimate objects, he began to take some human volunteers. The first to volunteer was Andre (that brave Bible College Soul!), then Andre's friend M'Shell. Before you knew it, there were 5 people on the ground and David was jumping over all of them.

At about the time when we had the most amount of people, David took to the microphone and began to share the gospel with Carlos translating. He did a great job, despite the sound difficulties and the Spaniards all listened very attentively. It was really the perfect spot, as there was a large group of people seated at some outdoor tables, as captive an audience as possible.

While nobody came to the Lord that we are presently aware of, it was wonderful to be out and speaking the name of Jesus Christ to the people. I got to witness to a man named Fernando, who had a milkshake that he was continually refreshing with a bottle of wine from his coat pocket. I knew he was drunk, but I was so glad for the opportunity to share the gospel with him. When I realized that he was actively rejecting what I was saying, Andre took over and talked with him for another few minutes. (I will explore some of the things that I have been thinking about evangelism in the next post. This night got me really fired up!)
About this time, the "Policia Local" came over and shut us down "for safety reasons." We were able to stay a few more minutes playing some Christian music, but soon after, two new officers came and asked us to shut that down.

All in all, the entire thing lasted about 45 minutes and it was a joy to be involved. Please pray that the people who were there would sense a conviction from the Spirit of God and that the seed that was planted would bring fruit.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!!!

Hello All,

Wednesday was Elizabeth's 2nd birthday. We had been very busy with
preparations for her party on Thursday, and I neglected to let you all know! My bad. As usual, any of the kids require a few things to have a good birthday. There must be lots of people, food, pinatas and cake. Oh, and presents are nice to receive as well!

The birthday party was a blast, as we had all the usual suspects, but had additional guests from out of town. Three students have come to stay here for a week en route to London. Lisa, Mikala and David were wonderful additions to Lizzy's b-day celebration and hey, the more people singing "Cumpleanos Feliz" the better! Here are some pics from the celebration.
The birthday person can never expect to enjoy their presents alone. They will always have the willing help of the other two siblings!

This years favorite gifts...well, all of them! But she really loved her purse and her backpack! Pastor Carlos is probably thinking that she might be ready to go on a Morocco trip. And you know, so long as he takes all three, we're good with it! We'll furnish the backpacks!

Ok, so we don't have a T.V. to entertain the troops! Andre was good enough to bring his cell phone, complete with pictures from his recent trip to Germany's Bible College Extension Campus. Andre is planning on going to Brazil come the end of the year in order to attend the Bible College Extension Campus in Brazil. Andre is an awesome worship leader and a young man with a great heart for revival and evangelism. We are glad to have him here.
Finally, the cake! Spain's postres are amazing! Virtually every cake can be described as "Muy rico!" This cake did not last very long and Lizzy had more than her share for sure!

Happy birthday Lizzy! You are the only Sanchez kid who has had both of her birthdays in Spain! You are a true Spanish baby!

Oh, and to our Grandmas, Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles: The Official Video of the festivities will be in your email boxes come Sunday, Lord willing!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Spanish Bar

Hello All,

One of our favorite weekly activities is to visit one of 4 local bars. Of course, here in Spain, a bar is a local eatery, more like a diner than a pub. It is the local hangout for just about every segment of Spanish society. They are very loud places, as Spaniards are inclined to proclaim their opinions loudly!

The bar that we are showing you is the Bar Moy. It is a very busy place every time we go there. Mr. and Mrs. Moy act as Barista and short order cook. Many mornings, it can take quite a while to even get our order processed. It is however, always worth the wait, as they do an incredible job every time.

I want to dedicate this beautiful picture to one of the legendary coffee lovers, whose infectious love has indeed infected me deeply. He is Pastor Jim Scheer and Jim, this one was awesome!!! A Cafe Con Leche is one of the greatest draws to any cafe in Jerez. No matter where you go, the coffee is perfect. I haven't had a bad coffee yet! And for just 1 euro, you can't lose!
Here is the "bar" view. Behind the bar there are three very busy people, taking food orders and making Coffee non-stop. Mostly people at the bar are exchanging some valuable piece of advice or information with the busy workers. Also, you will notice the two machines in the far left of the picture. Those are coin operated Vegas style gambling machines. They are in virtually every bar in Jerez. It's rare, like in this picture, to see any empty. On the day this picture was taken, the owner was pulling out the revenue and there were a grip of Euros everywhere.

My son Caleb with his bar staple: Tostada con mantequilla.
Also known as "buttered toast!" He also likes to take the last drink of Mom's cafe con leche! We won't have any problem getting him to drink coffee later in life.

Our order is either a "serranito" or a "michtelobo." A serranito is a pork filet with jamon serrano, between two bread slices. A michtelobo is basically a glorified egg McMuffin, but it's fantastic!

Usually, Caleb and Elizabeth are the willing companions. Renae is usually in school when we go in the morning.

Just another little portrait into what we enjoy about Jerez. The people in these bars are mostly always friendly and it's fun to be a fly on the wall and watch their expressions and their conversations. While rarely understandable, it's always a lively scene.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, December 04, 2006

You Be The Judge...

Hello All,

They say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I am sure there is an equivalent saying with regard to art and architecture. Here are some views of the various art pieces that we see every day in Spain. Remember that Andalucia is very proud of it's flamenco and it's horses.

Here is a beautiful square in the middle of town.

We pass this next one on the way into the city center every time we walk. It baffles us every time!!

This Church is an old Gypsy Church and is pretty standard as far as what the churches look like. To be honest, the place gives me the creeps! That being said, I can appreciate the structure of the building...but I can't imagine going there on a Sunday morning!

Here's one of those "Abstract Art" pieces. I see it everyday and I always examine it at the stop light. I always think that Abstract Art is like a Rorschach Inkblot. Since I have never been given one of those tests, I use these pieces as a substitute. At various times I have thought this represented "Strength" or a ballet dance. Today, I thought it represented a mutated DNA strand. Last week, it was a cold virus molecule. You can have so much fun with this stuff!

"Now, that's a horse of a different color!"

And finally, my personal favorite: The Iron Pony! Aside from the unfortunate coincidence that I was in a Spandex Metal Band in the 80's of the same name, this one really makes me think. What was the artist trying to say? Here is my "Faux Art Critic" take on this: The artist is depicting the industrialization of his nation, even reaching into the deepest, most honored traditions of the people. Like the Iron Pony, he is saying, "We have become strong, but we have forced out the life and natural beauty of even our horses and traded it for rigidity."

My thoughts? I think they ran out of public funding on this one! And while I poke a little bit of fun (Ok, more than I should be having!) these are part of the memories that we are making here in Jerez. These are part of the fabric of this city that will be with us for many years. And ironically for us, like old photos from High School, these will be a source of both embarassment and nostalgia in years to come.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

P.S. If you have not seen our recent Thanksgiving Greetings Video, click on "What Are You Thankful For" on the right hand menu of previous posts. We think it's pretty cute!

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Quote From One Of My Favorites

Hello All,

Today was family food shopping day at the good ol' Mercadona. It happens every year, even here, but there comes a day when you are walking around and you hear it for the first time of the season: The First Christmas Carol! So there I was, getting the milk for the weekend, and my ears picked up the melody. It was Kenny G's version of "White Christmas!" And then, it was nothing but Christmas music for the rest of the shopping excursion. This is not my favorite time of the year, just for this reason.

But then my mind turned to a quote I was working on last week. "I never get what I want, so I want what I get, so that when I get what I get, I get what I want!" Ah, what pseudo, quasi, sarcastic depth. Frightening myself with my own shallowness, I turned to a great source of depth from a man, whose teaching I have long admired.

Alistair Begg is a fantastic teacher whose ministry offers a podcast on iTunes which I subscribe to. His podcast that I was listening to today was centered on the issue of service in the body of Christ. He made the point of saying that service is the greatest thing in the Church, because Jesus continues to serve His body through those that believe. Here is the quote:

"He, namely Jesus, gave His life for me, that He in turn might take my life from me, that He may then live His life through me." Alistair Begg, "A Call To Service, part A"

That is the depth of this season, as we begin to celebrate not a white Christmas (especially in Jerez, where snow has never happened!), but the coming of the Savior of the World, whose loving service extends even to this day when His people allow His Spirit to have authority over every area of life.

This season, I want to be less cynical about the commercialization of Christ and the frenzy that accompanies the celebration of His birth. I want to give my life as a gift to Him, so that He in turn can give His life to someone, anyone that would encounter Him through me.

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez