Dearest friends and family,
We cannot believe that it has been about four months since we departed the UK (six for Daniel really). There is much to tell and there has been little time to write. The return is somewhat messy and our hearts get troubled by wanting to be in two places. However, as we begin to settle that is changing. It was a little more difficult to adjust at first as there were a few mishaps and also new things to start but all in all, we are very grateful to God for his faithfulness and mercy towards us. The very used phrase that he is great in our weakness has taken on a different meaning this year as we look back towards his greatness in our time of need.
His light shines indeed with a brightness that sometimes we neglect to see but it is our prayer that we all see it and that our and your hearts melt with gratitude this Christmas and the coming year. So here is our news.
This year has been a year of transition and it is only now, with Christmas approaching, that I feel I’m fully up to speed again. Our church was very well looked after during our absence but a few missional communities have closed and attendance has fallen a little bit, with numbers changing more dramatically on Sundays (with between 35 and 50 attending regularly). A couple of students recently became Christians and are keen to move forwards with the Lord but they have been living together now for three years so deciding whether to move apart or get married quickly is a difficult decision for them.
We have been working on setting up a social foundation that will let us coordinate social projects in Valparaíso. We have raised about £2,000 locally and will have a board of five who will oversee different projects. We sign the legal documents this Friday and are excited about what we might do next year, wanting to begin with a focus on young mothers and/ or children. Please pray that we can serve the most vulnerable in Valparaiso as part of us making disciples of Jesus here.
Recently, we started a missional community in a neighbouring city which has hardly any churches. We hope to start another one there next year so please pray for contacts there so we can share the gospel with many. If all goes well, this could lead to a new church there in a couple of years time.
I was priested a month ago, which was a great occasion with my father preaching on Paul’s final words to the Ephesian elders and many friends present. I led Holy Communion for the first time today which was a privilege and was also recently asked to be the director of part of the archdeanery which means responsibility for four nearby churches. Hopefully that will lead to more cooperation in Bible teaching, training and mission in this area.
I have struggled a bit to keep up with the rhythm in Chile, especially as I have been homeschooling David. Part of me was thinking that I was getting into muddy waters as homeschooling a year 7 child is not the same as a kindergarten one. But I must say that I like it a lot. It takes time to prepare the classes but it’s a privilege to share a Christian perspective on the subjects we do and I am learning lots of things too, which is also a plus.
I did not engage in any public conferences this year as there was little time to prepare but would very much like to do something on 1 Peter for next year.
I started a discipleship with our assistant pastor´s wife, which has been a real delight, encouraging her in her role and lending a helping hand when needed. They have now moved to Valparaiso, not far from us, and it has been great to get to know them even better. Dan has already mentioned some of the things they are doing and I join him in saying they are a blessing to us and to our church community.
I am still doing a bit of counselling and mentoring but with only two ladies. One of them is currently on a trip so we will not restart until January. I also had the opportunity to write an article for a Christian website called “Acceso Directo”, which is a great website for finding articles and teaching resources in Spanish. I am preparing another article which might be published in January too. So all in all I have been kept quite busy.
In other news…
Some of you know that we had our house broken into just a few days before the kids and I arrived back but fortunately they did not take anything. Thank you for your prayers for security as we have been fine since then and my heart is more at peace. The car, which spent about three months in the garage, is finally back and we will try to sell it as we believe it might break down again, but thank you for your prayers on this matter also. What I have seen with all of these things is that despite everything, God is never far away, never too busy to care for the little things and his constant presence and love lifts our hearts so very much in so many ways. I mention all of this to you because you are part of this adventure and we want to reassure you that his hand and his wonderful provision is very much present even in cloudy days!
For the first time in five years, I was able to go to Mexico and see my mum. My nana was very ill and died a few days before I arrived but it was for the best as she was in a lot of pain after suffering dementia for five years. It was still very sad not to hold her once more though. My mum has arthritis but apart from that she seems fine and is holding on strongly to God. My sister has just had a beautiful baby girl, so there is some sadness and some happiness, a time for everything just as it is said in Ecclesiastes.
Josh started school on the right foot although he is quite tired now having not had a long holiday for almost two years. Fortunately school finishes in a couple of days. He was elected president of his course and has done extremely well. He re-started piano and is enjoying playing freely. He does miss England but is very grateful that some of his mates have kept in contact with him; with regards to his temper, he still struggles a bit with it but is improving a lot as he manages to express his feelings better. There were lots of changes for him this year that did not help and his emotions got tangled up. But fortunately the people that know him and love him have been caring for and accepting and loving him and that has made a difference in terms of improvement. He is a great little chap and it is a privilege to be his parents.
David has now taken all the Chilean open exams to validate his year 6 and is halfway through year 7. He is writing a lot – poetry, articles and reviews – and is also enjoying maths and science. All in all, the homeschooling has been really good. Both of them are doing lots of sports – basketball, football and tennis, and David has now become an orange belt in Karate. He has made new friends but still misses some of the daily interactions with boys his age. There are lots of girls inviting him to different things and a few doing homeschooling but very few boys. We are attending a homeschooling retreat in March and are hoping to create more links for him. It is also a great blessing to be his parents.
We now have a PO box as we were not able to receive any mail since we moved to Valparaiso. So if you want to use the snail mail the details are as follows: Daniel & Ellelein Kirk, Casilla 648, Vina del mar, Vina del mar, Chile.
Thanks a lot for your friendship, prayers and support. Blessings to you all
With our love in Christ