We’ve finally moved and are more or less settled in, so it is high time for an update. It has been an exciting time as we have been adjusting to our new neighbourhood, arranging our new house and planning more ministry activities.
Back in November we decided that we would move into the Santa Barbara neighbourhood and rent out a house owned by Pan de Vida. In addition to needing some general repairs, we decided, together with Pan de Vida, to go ahead and have the kitchen extended and redone. Although it was a bit of a rush to get the remodeling done, we are happy with how it turned out and thankful for the guys at Pan de Vida who did the renovation. It has given us more space and has made the house quite comfortable for us. There is still work to be done, especially the backyard, but we are content to finally be settled in after months of planning to move and driving back and forth several times a week.
The neighbourhood we are now in is definitely different from where we were living. While not all the differences are positive (issues with power, lack of parks/playgrounds, etc.) we are enjoying certain things about our new location.
The first thing is having a bit of a backyard; although it is far from done, it gives us a bit of space to have campfires, let our puppy run around, and hopefully one day have a garden and a lawn.
Another thing is the neighbours who have introduced themselves and helped us out. One neighobur paid to have the dead tree in front of our house cut down for security reasons. There is more of a sense of community than where we were living and many people have spent their whole lives living on our street. We have also found out that there are more than a few people who remember Brian and Bety Heppner (current director of Children of Hope) who used to own and live in the house we are renting, as well as some the girls from Pan de Vida who have spent time here when it was used as a transition home. All of this has helped us not to feel like we are complete strangers here.
As mentioned, prior to moving to Santa Barbara, we had been doing a lot of driving back and forth. Not only were we getting the house ready, but we were also starting our new ministry. In April we started our first Sunday evening service and it was a bit hard to be living on the opposite end of town and also be starting a service in Santa Barbara and trying to get the word out about it. Now that we are living that has been far easier and to be able to walk down to the outreach centre on Sunday evenings has a lot of advantages.
Speaking of the Sunday evening service, it has been slow going. We have had a fair number of people express interest in coming, one guy even stopped me on the street to ask what kind of church we are from, but, as often happens, the interest expressed has not resulted in many bums in seats and people hearing the gospel. But we expected as much, knowing that we have to gain the trust of people in the community and that most people won’t just drop in on a Sunday service in a new place filled with faces they don’t know. So we plod on and keep praying and inviting. We are thankful that we have the help of Duane Visscher and his family which at least gives us a small crowd.
Next week we are planning to begin to offer English classes on Wednesday evenings for eight weeks. Hopefully this will bring people into the outreach centre and make them familiar with what we are doing. It is also a way to serve the community and win trust. There definitely are not any other native English speakers in the neighbourhood. I think we got the market cornered.
Another outreach activity we are planning is a kids’ club during the last week of July. We are going to recruit some help from people we know here, and already have a small team from Canada committed to coming. It is exciting to finally be able to plan activities like these and we think it will go a long way in making ourselves more visible in the community.
All in all, we are pleased with how things have gone and are eager to become a part of this community and be a witness of the good news of the Gospel. There is certainly need here, as well as opportunity. Pray that we would faithfully scatter seeds of the gospel and that God would make them grow.