The best of the lot to start this letter! Little Benjamín came safely into the world, a child to Alan and Melanie. and both he and mum came through the millennial birth ordeal fantastically. He is brimming with intelligence and fun as well as being a peaceful boy. Thanks to modern legislation, Alan was able to spend the first week of baby’s life off work and with Melanie. Our in-laws, the Quigleys, of Irish origin, came from Puerto Varas to be with us and family bonding ensued. Hilary is now a full-time grandmother to nurse Benjamín as well during these first few weeks of early motherhood for Melanie. It is amazing how much commotion and joy one small birth can bring to the world.
Into the film business...
Yes, that is Alf dressed up as a Presbyterian elder who, in this scene from the recently released film “Canuto”, is plotting to cool down the fires of Juan Canut de Bons, a Chilean pioneer evangelist from the end of the 19th century. The film tells the story of this remarkable man of God who eventually died of tuberculosis contracted while evangelising in the south of Chile near Anglican missionaries. It is actually a secular film and is further evidence of how the evangelical church has marked Chile since the 1909 revival. I was asked to urgently fill the place of one of the actors who had fallen ill. I had to go on site, learn lines, get made up and shoot about 12 takes to get our five minutes right! But there it is, on the silver screen. The film has been launched and our church got a special viewing of it, which brought much hilarity and rejoicing. Hilary laughs and wonders “what next?” At least we never have a dull moment! It should be on Netflix sometime soon…
One of the delights of our Episcopal functions is to travel up and down Chile with Hilary, carrying out confirmations and interesting ceremonies like laying of the ashes of John and Betty Scott. We came together in the cemetery for dissidents in Valparaiso, a burial ground allowed in the 19th century for non Catholics. Before this, Anglicans and other Protestants, Jews or Freethinkers, had to bury their dead on hill tops and even rubbish dumps. When David Trumbull, one of the Presbyterians who eventually helped Juan Canut gain influence through the Bible Society, he managed to get civil laws passed in 1883 that began the legal separation of church and state although the full state of separation wasn’t achieved until 1925. All that time Anglican missionaries had been working among the Yagan, Ona and Mapuche indigenous peoples in the south of Chile establishing Anglicanism behind the backs of the government, deep in the heart of the countryside!
Finally ready for the printer
“Desde el Palacio”, memoirs of my four years spent working in the Palace. I have been writing this book for over three years as I lost four chapters in nether space and had to start again two furloughs ago! It seems to be rather good timing with the presidential elections at the end of this year! As it is, President Piñera is heading the polls and in primaries did so well that there is a strong feeling that he will preside again. The book should help his campaign although it is not a bootlicking book. I hope it will effectively give plenty of testimony about the way a government can be successful under God, how prayer works, how respecting God´s laws (as Angela Merkel calls Europe to do) will lead to true spiritual prosperity.
Four chapters are devoted to the Palace, the surrounds, the chapel, the evangelical church; two tell the story of the miners (including the 34th miner tour fielded by CMS in UK at the beginning of 2011) told from the inner workings of the palace; one chapter is devoted to our continuing struggles with the abortion (and other) laws we have managed to hold in check in our conservative, Catholic and now Evangelical country. And I also give a chaplain’s view of Piñera’s politics. Yes, it should be translated into English once it is up and running. I am thinking of printing with Bible Society so that it will reach a wider audience. It should go to print later this month and be ready in August for launching. Please pray for this please!
La Trinidad was sent into a tremble when the bishop, at my invitation, came to announce that our time of retirement was near! As we have mentioned before, we will not be retiring from CMS but instead from our role in La Trinidad as rector. In my capacity as a bishop, I will continue to be close to the leadership but support from a discreet distance. This means that we are looking for my replacement and four good names have been put forwards for interview. My dream is that there will be a team of young radicals, clergy and lay people who will take us on in the revival that we are currently experiencing. We have seen so many great young men and women come through now as missionaries and preparing for ministry that I have no doubt that my dream will be fulfilled. In the meantime it seems all our ministries, EMA, Cursillo, ENE, EME, Alpha, SHOC and TEC are moving powerfully as are the 120 programmes that strengthens the cell and Bible Study groups within the church.
Alf’s work among evangelical leaders has taken on a new urgency as we approach the 500 year Reformation anniversary. I am urgently working together with several of Chile’s main denominational leaders to bring unity and political clout to the evangelical church in Chile. This year´s Marcha por Jesús (Jesus March) will be just before the presidential and parliamentary elections. We have already stated that our vote goes along the lines of bringing into power all those who support life, family, Christian standards. Does this sound like evangelical bullying? If we don´t show some muscle, those who openly seek to undo Christian values in our society walk all over us. So, no, rather we are entering the political arena with candidates and with our massive vote.
Life at home
Life at home continues to be full with Ryan, Mariana, Nico, Cata, María and Felipe filling the house with joyful laughter and games! Grampy and Nanny (us!) have become so enamoured of them all that it will be a huge loss when they finally do move out. We praise God that Ryan is now getting jobs again and they should soon be getting back on their feet financially. His new Cientifika website is up and tells of the evaluation research they offer governments. Next week they will be on holiday and will go to visit our other in-laws in Buenos Aires, the Mackenzies. That should be fun for them! Ryan will be visiting one or two Latin American countries in response to invitations from them, so we are encouraged.
Mark and Dani have finally yielded to God´s irresistible call and have both given up their jobs to go to the Bethel School of Ministry for a year in California. This is a really big step for them as both were prospering famously in what they did, Mark in IMTrust and Dani as a physiotherapist. Pray for them as they leave in August.
Hilary and I are planning to go to the UK again at the end of the year, via Mark and Dani’s, to possibly take up the OCMS programme in April, studying for a doctorate in mission studies. Another big one! We only need be in Oxford six weeks a year as the rest is done in Chile. I reckon if I can write a book, I can do a doctorate!
His Holy Spirit burns in us more than ever! Jesus is precious in the Perfume Factory each day! We love you and pray for you!