“The Mountain Stream is More Pleasing to Me than the Sea.”

20140423cote-5Our dear friend, Wayne West, recently sent us a line from the song, “Guantanamera,” which says “El arroyo de la sierra me complace más que el mar.” In English it says, “The mountain stream is more pleasing to me than the sea.” Wayne commented, “You’re finding that out where you’re serving, I’m sure.” This expresses exactly what we have been learning. The waters around Pucallpa and throughout the Amazon have their head in the Andes Mountains in southern Peru. The streams of faithfulness flowing in and around this land and yours have their head in the mountain of the kingdom of God that is filling the earth…

Each day we see “mustard seed” realities of faithfulness in the kingdom of God. In the first part of July, a youth team from Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas, visited and served here in San Jose. This church has had a long relationship with the ministry here and they have watched the seeds planted over the years continue to bear fruit today. Also, two more college interns, Kelsie and Melinda, have completed a IMG_0643summer internship with us. In our fellowship together we marveled at the mission of God’s kingdom, which Daniel compared to a stone that “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35, 44). In the end, the fellowship of Eden will be both expanded and restored to fill “a new heaven and a new earth,” where “there is no longer any sea” (Rev 21:1; the sea was a place void of God’s presence in Hebrew thought). Meanwhile, God is gathering streams of faithfulness, especially those that seem so small and out of sight from the reaches and measures of man, into a powerful and eternal river that flows from His throne in the new creation, with the tree of life lining the banks of this river; “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev 22:1-2). Indeed, may it be said of all of IMG_5518us that the streams flowing from the mountain of God’s kingdom filling the earth are more pleasing to us than the ominous sea that will one day disappear in the new world God is creating, full of His presence. This happens when we turn from what can seem so big and oppressive to see what is small and so significant.
During the second part of June, we enjoyed the company and encouragement of seeing IMG_5494relationships and ministry here through the eyes of Kristin’s dad, her brother and his wife (Brent and Mandy), and her two nephews. This time was a gift to us and others in many ways. As illustrated with IMG_5542Kristin’s dad, Glen, at age 73, and her nephews, Luke and Ben, it is marvelous at all ages to have our eyes opened to the faithfulness of God among the nations.

Jesus’ parable of the soils explains how the key for seeing and hearing the seed scattered in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God is good soil: ears to hear and eyes to see (Matt 13:9, 16). G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim remind us that “participation in a cause…is not enough. Our urgency for causes like social justice…must grow out of deep, prayer-soaked submission to God’s word. The history of kingdom breakthrough is a history of faithful submission to God’s Word over time in difficult places. God’s presence and kingdom is manifest as God’s people daily submit themselves to God’s word” (from “God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth”).

IMG_0520At the beginning of July, Mark spent a week in Lima at the various Kids Alive ministry sites. He rejoiced to see those with ears to hear eagerly receive the teaching about education in the kingdom of God and the testimony of God’s victory by His grace in our family. Those with ears to hear and eyes to see included the Peruvian leaders in different sites, parents in school, faculty and staff from the IMG_20150703_193644[1]school and care center, moms from the mom’s ministry, and the house parents in the children’s home. Mark also had his eyes and ears opened by his fellowship with these brothers and sisters.

With the Kids Alive ministries in San Jose, outside of Pucallpa, we have shared our story of God’s victory by His grace in different ways, including an extended testimony with everyone. On multiple occasions, Mark has also been teaching the staff about kingdom education and God’s joy as our strength and source of ministry to one another and others. Resonating deeply with the message of Revelation 21 and 22, his teaching serves as a testimony based in Psalm 46 of the “river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High.” The reality of this river and city of God is His presence. This Psalm culminates with the promise of God’s mission that He “will be exalted among the nations…in the earth.” Why the certainty? Because “The LORD of hosts is with us…” May your hearts along with ours grow stronger in this certain hope as we see and hear the command to “cease striving and know” that He is God.

Kristin continues to lead our offering of hospitality to others, giving our home a taste and knowledge that is nourishing to our family and inviting to others. DSCF0858Our eyes continue to be opened as we hear through conversations with others in our living room and around our table. Along with coordinating and translating the kids’ homework each day, Kristin also serves a couple afternoons each week in the Awana program here at the care center, and she also helps out in the children’s ministry in our church, where Mark also preaches a couple times each month.

IMG_0647In a recent family meeting, we examined many areas of our children’s investment of time and energy, asking them to share their thankfulness in these areas, what the challenges are, and how they can overcome these challenges. Reflecting together on what is behind, around, and before us, it remains a joy to walk with them.

A few weeks ago, we participated as a family in a walk to raise awareness for the ministry of a pregnancyIMG_0625 center in Pucallpa. The police escorted this peaceful walk, and leading the way was the marine band as one half of the main road into Pucallpa was closed to allow for the procession. It was a celebration of the life God has given even in the most vulnerable conditions.

IMG_5603Six years ago, our family experienced God’s grace and rescue of Kristin and Rachel on the day of Rachel’s birth. We have not wavered in our gratitude for such a miraculous work of God to deliver Rachel and Kristin through the dangers of that day. To God’s glory, Rachel celebrated her 6th birthday on July 6, and she enjoyed a Peruvian/Rachel-style celebration with her class at school where she got to change her uniform for a dress. She is learning to read and write, and she IMG_5604recently wrote some of her first “kid writing” sentences: “God helps me a lot and loves me. God hears me. God created me.” What a blessing if these sentences remain the first sentences in all of our stories throughout our lives.

IMG_0602The children continue to attend their Peruvian Christian School, making friends and learning language and cultural as part of their education. Then they arrive home and usually work a few more hours on their homework and some studies in English. Right now they are in the middle of a two-week break, so their time for play has increased. It is an area where they experience great joy and contentment, and at times there is sadness too. Their dear playmates and friends, and our teammates, the Reid family, move back to the states in just over week. We all appreciate them very much and will miss them. We say goodbye grateful for their friendship and service here in Pucallpa.

The fulfillment of the Reid’s term is culminating in what they have devoted their time to – the opening of the Pucallpa Kids Alive Children’s home…tomorrow. It is the first Christian children’s home in the area. The first couple of children will arrive any day. We have watched over the years, and in the past few weeks helped in small ways, to see this mustard seed be planted, watered, and now begin its growth that others might take shelter in its branches (Mark 4:32). This place is called “The Orchard,” and there is more to come on its story in future updates.

Until then be alert in the reminder provided by Beale and Kim in their book referenced above, “God’s kingdom and temple often advance and take hold in surprising places.” May our lives, like that of C.S. Lewis, be filled with joyful surprise!

With joy,

Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel

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