Greetings in the Name of the Lord our Savior. May our Lord in grace raise up men of wisdom for our times as those “of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. . .” (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Changes in Plans
Quite a bit has happened since we last wrote! We had thought we might be boarding a flight to Philadelphia on March 23rd, and hoped to see many of you at Presbytery in Maryland and elsewhere during your spring and summer. Sarah and Geneva had flown ahead to Missouri earlier in March and were planning to meet us in Greenville. They are still with their grandpa Goldner and we have wondered when we might see them again, which is difficult.
According to reports, Covid-19 has still not peaked in Chile. Now there are fewer buses operating and only one airline is currently flying to the U.S. We are thankful that it appears that Air Canada has given us credit for our tickets, but it is not yet evident when they will resume service into Santiago, nor when it may be advisable to travel, even from here to Santiago. It seems that everything future is more contingent than ever! Of course, we knew it always was, but it was indeed a blessing to live in relative stability compared to “the new normal”!
We were very much looking forward to meeting with you again, enjoying blessed Christian fellowship and reporting on the Lord’s work, hoping also to impart a blessing from God’s Word among you all. So we were saddened by the change of schedule. However, under the circumstances of our Lord’s providence, we have been thankful that our furlough could be postponed and that we have been able to continue ministering here during this needy time instead of being penned up in the U.S., with all our visitation plans in limbo. We see the Lord’s hand of grace and blessing in the delay. We have had much work to do here and have been even busier than normal!
Since we live outside of town we have more flexibility than those who are in the cities and towns. We are also happy that our girls have been able to accompany and assist their grandfather during the crisis. It has been a special blessing, though, that Rocio and José Luis were able to bring their family onto our property just before the crisis developed here in Chile. Earlier in the year we helped Julio bring his belongings here from Concepción and several days before our planned departure we helped Rocio and her family move here from Santiago. Then, just one week before our scheduled departure we received two more young families from Santiago for the week: our friends Juan and Susana and Ricardo and Paulina and their children. The latter planned to stay one night on their way to camp, but had an accident nearby as they were leaving and had to return and camp out here! We all enjoyed a wonderful fellowship together just as early cases of the corona virus were cropping up in Chile.
On the 29th of March we broadcasted our worship services for the first time through Google Hangouts and were joined by Francisco’s family, Julio’s parents and Johanna, another young couple from the north, and Geneva and Sarah! We have continued to have online participants during our worship which normally takes place in our home, ever since. Our Lord’s Day afternoon Bible classes restarted on April 12th, meeting in our home now as well. It has been necessary to suspend the meetings in Las Lomas for the time being. Please pray for the children there, and that we may be able to meet there again when circumstances permit.
Another New Neighbor and More Guests
In the middle of April we had some significant pump-suction troubles at our well for over a week and are very thankful they have ended. Then on May 8th, Samuel José Santander was born to our new neighbors! The grandparents and Aunt Johanna arrived just in time the night before, and it has been great to have another baby in the house again, especially since we don’t have to change any diapers. Paul placed the covenant sign of baptism on Samuel on the 17th. Our visitors were planning to leave on Monday the 18th, but by that time all of Santiago was placed on quarantine and a special permit to return home which had been available was hastily withdrawn, so now we have all been stuck here together ever since! So Julio’s entire family, including Rebeca, Josefa and Samuel, have “taken the place” of Joaquín and Isaac who have been absent due to the viral danger. It has been great to have a set of grandparents here with us through these days. (Julio’s dad is now John-Baptiste’s Spanish professor and Bapty is his English teacher!)
On the negative side, we have missed having Rosita here for worship. She has not yet been able to follow along with us through the internet. We have also missed Joaquín and Isaac, but their parents, who work in the medical field, have been able to work alternate weeks and continue to supervise their education at home, which has been an answer to prayer, along with their progress in having regular family worship. They have also been faithful in joining us for worship online. We have kept them supplied with Christian home education materials.
Projects and Classes
Julio and Paul have been working on the translation of an essay by R. L. Dabney, which has been challenging. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing on this project. We have also begun second semester Greek classes since we have continued in Chile.
We are thankful that another project has just been completed, which is a new Spanish edition of the Catechism for Young Children with Scripture References. We thank those of you who have prayed for this project which is now being used and circulated and are thankful for Julio’s invaluable assistance in revising the Spanish translation. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing upon its use. It is a valuable tool for home instruction and discipleship and may prove a timely blessing to many South American families who have their children at home during these winter months (here below the equator), who would normally be in schools at this time, but are home due to governmental closures.
- Please continue to pray for Julio’s progress in ministerial preparation, and for Paul’s pastoral ministry and preaching (currently continuing through the Ten Commandments).
- Please pray for Francisco and Marjorie, and especially Joaquín and Isaac who have been sad for not being able to continue studying in our home for the time being.
- Please pray also for the children at El Faro and Las Lomas, as the current crisis has been prohibitive with respect to continued visits and in-person Bible classes with them. Prior to the coronavirus Josiah was used to seeing his friends there almost every day.
- Please pray for Rosita and Alonso and her family, and that she will be able to attend worship services again soon.
- Please pray for Geneva and Sarah in Missouri and Grandpa Marv.
- Please continue to pray for Rocio and José Luis and their family as they work to begin a new family business and prepare to build a new home.
- Please pray for Julio’s family as they continue with us and await changes in the quarantine restrictions in Santiago to be able to return home.
- Please pray for our health, safety and well-being, liberty, the lifting of travel restrictions, freedom to gather for worship around the world free from persecution, and for the Lord’s wisdom.
May you and yours enjoy a blessed anniversary celebration of the signing of our United States’ Declaration of Independence from English tyranny. We would like to close with a few quotations from this great document of vast importance and testimony:
“… That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men … But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security..In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury…We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here…We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent State…with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence…”
Let us remember, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) May our Lord continue to watch over you and keep you as you worship and serve Him. Thank you for your prayers and support!
In Joyful Service,
Paul and Cheryl Durand and family