Friday, August 17, 2012

Report from Santiago for June and July 2012

            Greetings from Santiago.  I hope that all of you are doing well. The winter here has been nasty. The air in Santiago has been extremely dirty, and as a result, we have all been walking around, coughing and hacking. I will be glad to get out of this air for a couple of months. Maybe I can get my lungs to functioning again.
I will be going to the States in September and October. I am looking forward to visiting with you all. Here is a hint about my missions presentation. I am going to highlight as many members of the different congregations who are actively involved in evangelizing others as I can.
            One ministry that deserves special consideration is the benevolence ministry. If you recall, I mentioned that Camilla’s mom, Juanita, had come across a friend of hers that had been suffering. As a church, we have been able to help that family. Liza told Juanita that she was now famous in the USA because I had mentioned her in my previous report, which made her feel good. The church in La Villa has a benevolence ministry that has been helping several people that are out of work. Our different congregations really show the love of God in helping others.
Since we have several contacts in Machali, we decided to start meeting in Camila’s, Juanita’s and Rigoberto’s home. This actually is good for us in several ways. It allows us to meet as a church with three members of the church (Camila, Rodrigo, and Judit) instead of asking them to go into Rancagua. So we have been doing things a little different on Sunday evenings. I let Sergio off in Rancagua at Eduardo’s and Yaya’s house and then I drive on to Machali. Liza and Felo usually go with me to Machali. So far, in Machali, we have been meeting with Camila and Rodrigo, their little girl, Anais, who is a precious little thing, Judit,  Camila’s mother, and her father, her brother and her brother’s girlfriend, and their little girl. All of these people are really nice people. They are also interested in learning more about the Bible. Sergio and Liza have been doing magnificent work on Thursdays in teaching the Bible there. On Sundays, I have been doing the Bible class there and the preaching. Usually Felo coordinates the worship service. Sergio and Juan Carlos, one of the members from the congregation La Villa in Santiago, have been working with the congregation in Rancagua. This splitting up of the effort does have its cost. Aileen, Liza’s niece, told me the other day that she missed me. I should also mention a conversation that I had with Camila. I do not remember the reason why we started talking about this, but in the course of a conversation, Camila mentioned that the reason why we had so much credibility with her was because every time she asked a question, we always answered with the Bible. I never say stuff like, Look at us, we are super Biblical, which I think is interesting, since she came up with that on her own. Camila is a new Christian, and she has already been instrumental in bringing her friend, Judit, to Christ. Judit is an excellent young woman.

On Sunday mornings in La Villa and also on Tuesday evening in Los Andes, I have been teaching the book of Daniel in the two congregations. In Daniel, God uses narratives to communicate spiritual truths. As I have mentioned many times before, Chile is a people oriented culture. Chileans are interested in stories about people, such as we find in Daniel. So, the study in Daniel was well received in both congregations.

The church in La Villa is doing well. The future building has motivated the congregation. Beto and I met with an architect a couple of weeks ago. Here in Chile, there are many regulations in play as far as building a building. One concern is making sure that the building will be safe in earthquakes. For this reason, an architect has to sign the plans. If anything goes wrong, such as collapsing in an earthquake, then the architect has to answer for his plans. The building also has to meet requirements of the ministry of public works, such as a certain number of bathrooms for a certain amount of people and so on. It is more complicated that I would have imagined. One regulation is that no more than 70% of the lot can be constructed on. Financially, we will do what we can when we can. We saved money for fifteen years just to have enough to buy the property.

Marlene is teaching a Bible class on Sunday mornings for the 8 to 10 year olds. The other day, she told me that she had taught a class that I had written up a while back on discerning between right and wrong. I was pleased that she had done this, because it is necessary to combat some bad thinking concerning tolerance that is common in the public schools. Any lesson on discerning right and wrong starts with the assumption that there is right and wrong. This is an assumption that many (such as the homosexual lobby) do not want anyone to make, because then one evaluates their behavior. Their proposal is that one should tolerate that with which they disagree. I point out a couple of things about this. Tolerance of ideas is a bad concept. If it is a good idea, then we should accept it. If it is a bad idea, we should reject it. We also have to be careful how we understand the idea of tolerating people. 1 Corinthians 13 does speak of love as being longsuffering, but it is not the same as the concept of tolerating people, which is that we should put up with people that we really do not like. This is not a Christian idea. Those who ask us to tolerate people instead of loving them asks us to do something different than what a Christian should do, which is to love one another. Loving someone does not mean that I accept all of their bad behavior. Loving people also means that we call them to repent of their evil ways. By the way, I try to model repentance.

I appreciate your support for this work. Thank you for your help. May God bless you.

                                                                                    In Christ,

                                                                                    Harry R. Hamilton

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Report May 24, 2012

Report From Santiago, Chile, May 24, 2012

            Greetings from Santiago, Chile. I hope that all of you are enjoying your warm weather. It has been unseasonably warm here in Santiago. I am sure that we will be getting some cold weather next month.

            The other night, on the way to Los Andes, I was talking to Saul about his mother. Saul is serving as the minister for the congregation that meets on Domeyko street. He is a native of Ecuador. His mother was baptized several years ago when she made a visit to Santiago. As you might imagine, she is elderly. Saul was telling me about her activity in the town where she lives. She goes to church regularly and participates in activities like women’s meetings. Even more importantly, she has been sharing the gospel with her children and her grandchildren. Saul told me that several of his brothers and sisters are now Christians as are several of his nephews and nieces. The lesson for all of us is one is never too old to talk to others about being a Christian.

The Christians here in Chile are involved in outreach in a variety of ways. Newspapers do not have the circulation that they used to have, so it is difficult to justify an ad buy.Television and radio are mostly out of our reach, but Luis, the young minister who works with Pedro and Helmer in Los Nogales, is doing a radio program in Maipu at an independent radio station. Practically all the churches have web pages, but most of the congregations and the youth groups are doing Facebook more than anything else. Some of our young ladies post Bible verses on their pages. We have our most success when we invite people, so I remind them to invite, invite, invite. All of the congregations do outreach in their neighborhood through passing out leaflets.

Sergio and Milton went and taught the Bible in Peru during this month. They returned Tuesday. Sergio dropped by this morning to give me an abbreviated report. Ten people were baptized. Equally important, they were able to work with several of the ministers and elders from different congregations.

As a missionary, I have tried to shape my ministry through the use of strategic concepts. One, for example, is that I would be congregation oriented, working within congregations to establish long lasting churches. Another is that when I first arrived in Chile, I determined that it would not be about me. Rather, I would work with people that wanted to serve. I would work with anyone that God sent my way. I also determined that I would challenge them to be the most that they could be. The bottom line is that God has blessed us with some excellent people.

I believe that is due to the fact that we teach the Bible seriously and well. Last November, Camila was baptized. Before she was baptized, she really took her time considering becoming a Christian. Camila is Anais’ mom, for those of you who saw the photos of me with Anais. Camila and I have become good friends. I told her the other day, Camila, you fall well with me, which is the Chilean way of saying, I really like you. She told me, Tio (Uncle), you fall well with me, too. The reason that I like Camila is that she has taken being a Christian seriously. She talks to me about Bible questions. I do my best to teach her, so that she can teach others. However, I am not the one that teaches Camila the most. Elizabeth, the lady that cleans my house, goes to Machali every Thursday to teach in Camila’s home. A while back, Elizabeth told me that she would love to have been a missionary. I told her it is never too late. Then I told her we would have to see what doors God opens up. One door that opened was teaching Elizabeth’s own family in Rancagua, which we have been doing for the last five years or so. This is how we met Camila.

One day, Camila asked Elizabeth if she could teach a class in her home. Elizabeth agreed to do so. She started going on Wednesdays. Camila has really been an example for us. She invited her best friend, Judit, and her mom and several of their neighbors. Judit is a university student, studying something very similar to what I studied at Texas A&M University, which is Agricultural Engineering. I explained that at A&M, I disappointed all my professors. Judit laughed and said, me too. What I like about Judit is that she is a serious student of the Word. When I teach, she takes copious notes, and I have no doubt that she does that with Elizabeth. She reminds me of one of the elders at the congregation in Los Nogales, Raul. He heard the Word, found out what he had to do, and never looked back. Not too long ago, Judit was baptized. She is a good person and will be a great Christian young lady.

Meanwhile, Camila has been working on her mother. Every morning, she wakes up and talks with her mother, Juanita. She tells her, she needs to repent of her sin, or she will go to hell. Basically, Juanita has been sitting on the sidelines, studying the Bible on Thursdays, but not making any commitment. However, something happened yesterday that has her thinking. She was out on the street, when she saw an old friend of hers. The woman looked horrible, but Juanita did not want to ask her why she looked so bad. So she asked her instead, Luz Maria, what has happened that you look so beautiful this morning? Luz Maria told her, Juanita, I do not look beautiful this morning. I look bad, and I know it. It is just that I have had so many problems. My husband was thrown in jail, I got evicted from my house, I have nowhere to live, nothing to eat, so I tried to kill myself. The municipality had agreed to give her a shack to live in, but it was hardly fit to live in. Juanita told her that they were going to take care of that immediately. So she and Luz Marie went directly to the mayor’s office. Juanita, upon arriving at the mayor’s office, told him, Mister Mayor, you did very well to give Luz Maria a place to live, but it is hardly fit to live in. It needs to be fixed up. So the mayor told her, there are two businessmen outside that you can talk to. So Juanita talked to them, and they agreed to fix up the house. They made the arrangements and got to work on it. Everything worked out just fine. Juanita later told Camilla and Elizabeth that she had prayed to God that everything would work out. Liza told her, this is why you need to be a Christian. You have a good heart. I told Liza afterwards when she told me the story, now you need to tell her that she needs to glorify God with her good deeds instead of herself.

Later in the afternoon, when Elizabeth was teaching the ladies’ Bible class, the mayor went over to Juanita’s house. Juanita told the mayor; here we study the Bible every Thursday. The mayor met Liza. All the ladies told him that Liza was a great Bible teacher.

The lesson here is that you never know who will be a good Bible teacher and a good minister, which is why you challenge people. You never know who will step up. Marlene told me today that her yoga teacher was talking about how the world was going to come to an end in the next few days. The yoga teacher was talking about Nostradamus or the Mayans or maybe both. So Marlene told her, we do not really know when the world is going to end, maybe it will end in a few days, maybe sooner, which is why you need to repent of your sins. Elizabeth and Marlene are women of the Word. They are not the only ones. Pilar has brought several of her friends to the Bible class in her home. As a result, my Wednesday night Bible class has been packed. Romina has also invited a friend as has Fabiola. Just so you are aware of it, is not just the ladies that are making good ministers. Elizabeth’s husband Rafael (or Felo) coordinates the worship service every Sunday evening, when we go to Rancagua. Here in the last month or so, he has preached a couple of times and done quite well. Roberto has also preached some good lessons.

Two people were baptized in Paine.

The other day, I was in Los Andes, talking to Alexandra, a young lady who is married to a young man named Jorge, who recently became a Christian. She mentioned that she and her husband read the Bible together every day. I thought what an excellent way to get their marriage going. As a Christian minister, I am pro-marriage, without actually having to take the leap.

The congregation in Los Andes (an hour outside of Santiago) is motivated. The class on Tuesday evenings is growing slowly. The worship service on Sunday is evidently at least twice the number that shows up on Tuesdays. I only go on Tuesdays since I have other places I go on Sundays.

About six weeks ago, Marlene went down to the municipality and got a list from them of everything that we needed to do to get construction approved on our lot. The list is long. The first thing we had to do is get a certificate of some kind. They said it will take only fifteen working days to get it. Well, we are just now getting it back, so now we can move on to the second thing. This is all permits, which is not actual construction. If we started to build without all the permits we need, we could be asked to tear down what we built, and even pay a fine. This aspect of the situation really can try one’s patience. Fortunately, I have lived in Latin America so long that I am accustomed to this. My response is to tell Marlene and Elizabeth, you are the president and the secretary of our corporation, go get it done. They usually laugh in my face, but then from the goodness of their heart, they go do what needs to be done. That is different from me. I usually just do what they tell me to do.

I appreciate your support for our work. Due to your continued support, we have a vibrant and energetic church here in Chile. May God bless you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Report for February, 2012

             Greetings from Santiago, Chile. We are in the last stages of summer here. Already the nights are getting real cool.

Here is some important news. I have closed the post office box. Please do not send any mail to Casilla 9692, Santiago. They wanted to raise the price about five times what it was, so I decided to not continue it. This ends thirty years with that Post office box.

I finally had to move from my house. The real estate agents assured me that there were no houses available in La Florida, the municipality where I live. They were pretty much right. As fast as I could find a house, somebody else beat me to it. In the end, it amounted to who I knew. One of my neighbors found out that another neighbor wanted to rent a house. All of my neighbors in the passageway here told her that she should rent to me, so she did. The house is smaller, which is definitely complicating my Monday meetings. So far we are meeting outside. Several of the Chilean brothers helped me move. It was a lot of hard work. It was good for the weight loss program. I think I lost four kilos in four days.

The year 2011 was a good year for us. The congregation La Villa Los Andes Del Sur bought a lot. It was motivating for the congregation that they could see some fruit from the long years of saving money. The lot was a good buy, considering that the other lots and houses in the area sell for a lot more than what we paid. Since we bought it, we put up a fence on the two sides that border the street, in effect closing up the property. This cost about 6,000 dollars, of which I put up 1000 dollars and Delbert and Beverly Langford put up 1000 dollars, and the congregation put up the rest.

Apart from the lot, the Lord blessed us in other ways. The congregations that I work with baptized 52 people. Also, Pedro reports that 95 were baptized through his ministry in different parts of Latin America and also in the USA. Last year, we also had two wonderful retreats as well as several conferences and other activities. As all of you know, I have worked with several congregations in teaching and preaching. These activities will continue in this year.

In January, a young man (Wilson) arrived from Colombia to work with the congregation in Lota that was established as a result of the aid to the earthquake victims. The previous couple had returned to Colombia. Unfortunately, upon their return, the wife died from pneumonia that she had contracted in Chile.

We had a short visit (one day) from members of the Lake Houston Church of Christ. The Lattens visited the congregation in the Villa. I thought we had an excellent visit considering that it was so short. Maybe the word is getting out that the best way to visit Harry is in small doses.

The Bible study in Machali on Wednesdays is going well. Currently, about ten people are studying. You might remember that Machali is outside Rancagua. Anais had her first birthday in Machali. Camila, her mother, and our first Christian in Machali, invited several of us from Santiago to her birthday party. I met a lot of people who are related to Camila. One of Camila’s close friends, Judith, has been attending church with her in Rancagua.

I have also been sending Bible Correspondence courses to Collipulli. Thirty more people have signed up.

Three people were baptized in Los Andes. One person is the husband of one of the members of the congregation, Alesandra.  We have been studying with him for a while, so it was good to see that he had been baptized. Alesandra is the daughter of Teresa, who is the sister of Elizabeth in Los Andes. You may recall that I have mentioned in the past that Elizabeth in Los Andes has done everything she could to help her family become Christians. This is a different Elizabeth than the one who works in my house.

Also, a young man named Pedro was baptized. The third person that was baptized is the husband of one of Roberto Labra’s daughters. If you recall, Roberto Labra passed away last year. He was the first convert we had from our trips to the jail in San Felipe years ago. Earlier this year, his wife passed away. Pedro spoke at the funeral. Since the funeral, the church in Los Andes has been studying with several people. The result is that this man was baptized.

Recently, one of the professors from the Bible Institute in Quito, Ecuador (Juan) came and visited us. He came to my Men’s Meeting on Mondays. He also went with us to Los Andes Tuesday. He has been staying with Saul at least part of the time he was here.

One of the areas where I spend a lot of time is teaching others to evangelize. Most of this activity is on the informal level. People ask me questions about how to engage with their friends and family. During the class time, it is more formal training. Several concepts guide my activity in this area. First of all, I understand church leadership to be the lifting up of others. So I help people to be teachers, evangelists, preachers and other servants. Second, it is important that all the Chileans understand that they are the ones that need to take the initiative on this. If the church is to exist, then everything has to be done by them. I am the resource guy. I help them to learn, to think, and to communicate their faith. I mention this because I believe that we have an army of evangelists who are engaging with the people around them. Most of the time, efforts at evangelism are unsuccessful, because people often decide to be sinners rather than Christians. We can appreciate the efforts of our Christians, though. If the Lord is willing, we should have other stories of people who have come to Christ.

I want to remind you that we would appreciate any help with our building. Currently, we are in the planning stage for the building. Sunday, I will be talking with a builder. We have to get a plan approved by the municipality and then we can start building. Most likely, we will do what we can when we can.

I appreciate your faithfulness in supporting the work here. May God bless you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Report for November, 2011

Greetings from Santiago.

            In November, the congregation in La Villa held our Spring Retreat. We had 73 participants. The theme for the retreat was the Bond of Love, which comes from Colossians 3:14. I gave four presentations: Colossians 3:1-17, which speaks of the bond of love; Ephesians 5:1-21, which speaks of being imitators of God; 1 Peter 3:8-22, which speaks of returning good for evil; and Philippians 2:1-11, which speaks of being of the same mind and having the same love. In each case, the passage cites the example of Jesus, who offered himself in love upon the cross. The development of the idea is that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate expression of love. I wanted to show the relationship between the teaching of the gospel and the practice of learning to love. My thought was that I would try to make the emotional side of being a Christian more understandable. I wanted to avoid the pitfall of doing a “feel good” presentation, since I stress repeatedly to the Chileans that we want to do what pleases God rather than what pleases ourselves (which is a difficult enough task as it is). I wanted to balance the emotional with the doctrinal.

            A second thought that I had was I wanted to help the Christians understand the gospel of Jesus (his death, burial, and resurrection) better. All Christians should be able to explain the gospel convincingly to others. I thought that showing the sacrifice of Jesus as an expression of God’s love might help them to better share the gospel story. Time will tell if I have been successful with this theme.

            In the retreat, we sang a lot. All our Christians love to sing. Some are better than others. We sound good, though. We also had three baptisms in the retreat. Camila, from Machali, was baptized. You may recall that our sister in Christ, Liza, goes up there every Wednesday to study the Bible. Aileen, from Rancagua, was baptized. Also Mirella from the congregation La Villa was baptized. After the retreat was over, everyone agreed that it was an excellent retreat.

            As we were going home, I talked with Elsa about the retreat to see if she liked it. Since Elsa lives in Quilacura, which is on the extreme north side of Santiago, I give her a ride. It is a long way from where the rest of the congregation lives. We began talking about her family and how she wanted to share the gospel with them. They are devout Catholics. In fact, her parents at one time had prohibited her from being baptized. As we talked, I was surprised to hear how Elsa is sharing her faith with many of her friends. Every time we talk, I always give her something to think about. She is a great young woman. When we arrived at Elsa’s house, I had the opportunity to meet her entire family. Her older sister sported the look that a lot of the young folks like, tattoos on both shoulders and that kind of thing. Her parents were pretty conservative. They let me know they were Catholic. I talked with them a little bit. I told them that we were people of faith that believed that we should obey the Bible. I left them with some things to think about.

            Another person was baptized in Los Andes. Roberto, from Los Andes, had studied the Bible with the son in law of the brother who passed away this year, also named Roberto, who was from San Felipe. As Roberto from Los Andes talked to me about how he had evangelized this other person, Carlos, I could not help but think that he has come a long way. When I first met him fifteen or sixteen years ago, he came strolling into the room in the prison in Los Andes where Pedro and I were teaching a class. He was carrying a guitar. He told me later that he was only interested I what he could get from me. As we met at his home and began to teach him the Word, he was baptized, with his wife Elizabeth (not to be confused with the Elizabeth that works with me), who later became instrumental in leading many of her family to Christ. As Roberto related to me the way that he evangelized Carlos, I was happy to see the dedication and the patience that he exhibited in teaching him. Here in Chile, converting people to Christ is difficult, as it surely is anywhere. The more that our people are involved in evangelism, the better they get at it. I always tell them that the best thing they can do is do it.

            Since Thanksgiving was the day before our retreat, I did not celebrate it this year. I worked on my presentations for the retreat. Somewhere here in Chile, a turkey is more thankful than I was.

            Liza told me a story about one of our eight year olds. Cristobal was offered a ticket to the circus by his aunt. It was for noon on Sunday. His reply, Tia, I can’t go. I have to be at church. Later, I also asked him about the retreat, whether he liked it. He said it was great. He loved the singing. Another of the kids, Henry, who is five, was really shy around me. Now he comes up and greets me every chance he gets. These kids really pay attention when I preach, which I find amazing. One of the activities that we had at the retreat was group discussions. Liza did the group for the kids. It was great. We called on them to answer some questions. They all had good answers. It is great to see our ladies do a good job with the kids.

            We are still working on our lot. We can use all the help we can get. It is a great opportunity for us.

            Thank you for your support. May God bless you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Report From Santiago, Chile for September and October, 2011

                Greetings from Chile. In the congregation in La Villa, we had a traumatic episode that made us all mad, sad, and a whole range of emotions in between. Some of our young people (Daniel, Paulina, Elsa, and Paulina’s friend Carolina) were visiting Sergio Paulo’s house (Sergio Paulo is Milton and Jacqueline’s son) for his birthday. Daniel, Paulina, Elsa, and Carolina stepped out to buy some Cokes and stuff for the birthday party. On the way back, they were attacked by a gang of about twenty teenage boys.  One of the boys started trying to grab Elsa, so Daniel stepped in between them. Then they tried to get away from them by running. Unfortunately, Daniel fell down, and when he did, three of the boys started stabbing him. When Paulina saw what they were doing to her cousin, she ran back screaming at the boys. In doing so, she was able to distract their attention from hurting Daniel. When she went back, one boy pulled out a pistol and pointed it at her head. Fortunately, she was able to get Daniel up and they ran to Milton’s house. Even more fortunately, Milton was able to get Daniel to the hospital really quickly. The doctor said that they had delivered Daniel to the hospital just in the nick of time. Daniel told me later that he could hear the doctors and the nurses, but it was as if they were far away. We are extremely thankful that Daniel survived this traumatic episode, and that nothing happened to our beautiful young ladies. It was extremely traumatic for our girls. Paulina and Elsa (and I am sure Carolina) cried for days. Daniel is recovering quite well now.

                This affected our church. I am sure I weary all of you with the recital of the relationships of our members, but it is important to remember that many of our members are not just church family, but they are family. I have known Paulina, Daniel and Sergio Paulo all of their lives. Paulina and Daniel accompany me when I go to Los Andes. Paulina also has been doing secretary work for me, especially as we prepare for our retreat. Liza, who works in my house (Paulina is her daughter), Marlene (my dear friend who also worked with me for years here in the house, Daniel is her brother) and many others are upset about this as you can imagine. We all realize, though, that it could have been much worse. We are thankful that it was not.

                On Sunday mornings, I teach class and preach at the Villa, except for the last Sunday of the month when I go to Domeyko. Saul, our preacher there, is doing an excellent job. The attendance is up. They are evangelizing people. The congregation is participating with the Villa in the retreat that we will have the last weekend in November. In both congregations, I am teaching different themes rather than going through any books of the Bible. I have been teaching about sin, faith, and other themes central to an understanding of what it means to be a Christian. On Sunday evening, several members of the congregation in La Villa and I go to Rancagua where we meet with the church there. I always teach the class and I share the preaching with others, as is my practice. We have had several visitors to the congregation in Rancagua. Last Sunday, we had a lady who had visited before, but she freely confessed that she did not understand anything at all about the Bible. I used that as an opportunity to talk about how you would understand the Bible, if you were to sit down and start reading it. I explained that you understand the Bible at three levels: the Bible as an entire book, the different books of the Bible, and also the different passages, whatever they may be. I explained that at the level of the complete Bible, Genesis 1-11 is a prologue which describes the problem that man has with God, which is sin. What you do not find in Genesis 1-11 is the solution to the problem of sin. The solution begins in Genesis 12 where God makes three promises to Abraham and in Genesis 17 where a new promise is made. The four promises are the promised land, the great nation, blessings and cursings and the covenant. These four themes flow throughout the Bible. I then showed that each book has a central idea that helps one to understand why the author wrote the book. Then I showed that each book has many passages. Each passage has a central idea that God is trying to communicate to us. After we had discussed all this (and I did not go through all this just because of the lady, but because I thought it would be good for the others to hear it), the visitor told us that she had a great desire to learn the truth, but she also wanted to be spiritual. I used this opportunity to show her John 4:23-24. When I showed her that, she started crying, and said that was what she wanted. Liza’s sister Ya-ya told her to come every Sunday and we would all study the Bible together. Ya-ya is very good about inviting people to her house to be with us. A couple of weeks ago, Liza asked a little boy if he wanted to come to Bible class. He was playing in the little plaza in front of Ya-ya’s house. He asked Liza if she was going to teach him about Jesus. Liza replied that she would. The little boy shouted, “Yippee!” It made me laugh. He was excited though, because the next week, he brought one of his buddies.

                My Monday Bible Study with the ministers has been well attended. I am going over different themes related to studying the Bible and preaching. We have several younger people who are participating in this, such as Daniel that I mentioned before, as well as several of the older guys. One of the fellows who participated in my class in past years, Julio, is gravely ill. I went to see him yesterday in the hospital. He was not doing well at all.

                On Tuesdays, I still go to Los Andes. Sergio usually accompanies me, but he broke his hand, and so he has been in his house. Paulina and Daniel have also been accompanying me, but this week, Chile played against Paraguay in soccer, so they stayed at home to watch it. I have been studying some of the same themes that I studies in Rancagua. Not everybody that goes to church on Sundays in Los Andes goes to the Tuesday night class because of work and school, but we do have a regular bunch. The class is helping the church. The church in Los Andes had seven baptisms.

                On Wednesday evenings, I have my class in Beto and Pilar’s house. Their living room is packed. We have people sitting on the stairs and in the hall. We are currently looking at the theme of repentance. I talk to the Christians about establishing an environment of repentance in the congregation. (I searched my mind for how we say that in English and for the life of me, I cannot remember how we say this). We all do stupid things, and we need to be able to say, I am sorry I did that. I try to remember this when I do stupid things also.

                This month, I have been visited by several members from Collipulli in the South.  They have come to study the Bible with me on several occasions. They are really motivated. Due to the efforts of one of the brothers in Los Nogales, they have started studying the Bible with me, both in person and by correspondence. I have been able to get the Bible Correspondence Course started up again. I had several sign up from Talcahuano, several from Collipulli, and some from the other side of the mountains from Collipulli in Argentina. Paulina printed out a couple of boxes of Bible studies and sent them to Collipulli, Talcahuano, and Argentina. Unbelievably, I ran out of ink in both printers, and I also ran out of paper at the same time. It cost me 150 dollars to buy more ink, about 300 dollars for the paper, and then a hundred dollars more to send off the boxes. I also spent about 700 dollars on Bibles to give to the students that needed them. This is just to remind you all that the work fund expenses always mount up. So far, seven people have been baptized in Collipulli.

                Once a month on Saturday afternoon, the church in La Florida has invited me to give an evangelistic presentation. They have been good about inviting people. I usually follow the evangelism ideas that I presented in my doctoral thesis. What that means is that I teach passages that will transform the way that they think. This is where conversion takes place. Last time, I talked about the difference between the religion of the Old Testament and the religion of the New. Previous to that, I had talked about the darkened understanding in Ephesians 4:18. Most of my presentations are well received. The congregation in La Florida reports five baptisms.

                Liza, Sergio, Paulina, and Daniel have been going to Rancagua and Machali on Wednesdays. Liza has been a little bummed out because her father and brother told her and Sergio to not study with them anymore. They are still going to Machali and the study goes well there. Last Sunday night, I drove over there with Roberto and Fabiola and Felo and Elizabeth after the church service in Rancagua and we had once with Juanita and Camila. This was about ten pm, so I wound up getting back home about 1:00 am. These people are growing in their understanding of what God wants from them.

                One of the former members of the congregation in La Villa, Isaul, had moved to the town of Colina outside of Santiago to be closer to his work. He reports that five people were baptized in that town.

                Sometimes I feel like a gossip columnist more than a missionary, but I would like to remind you of a few things. Chile is a people oriented society. The church is about people, and the truth is we have a lot of fine people here in Chile. Newcomers want to be with serious, good people. I teach the Bible to inspire people. I also assume that people want to be treated as adults. So there is always the challenge to be better people. Our Christians have always been good about inviting people, and as a result, I always have new people in my classes.

Last Saturday afternoon, we had our Semi Annual Men’s Conference. The participation was about forty, which may be due to the fact that I changed the time to the afternoon. The men really enjoyed the topic which was creating spiritual growth in the church. The ladies had a similar conference in October with about 80 persons attending. They always do better than we do. They also do not invite me, for obvious reasons. That is probably why they have a better attendance.

I may not always talk about everybody, because it is hard to keep up with everyone. Pedro has responsibilities in different places, so I do not see much of him now. Milton comes every Monday to my Bible study, but I usually forget to ask him what he is up to. One of the elders at Los Nogales, Sebastian, always comes to my Monday class, except when he is in the extreme south. He visits the church in Punta Arenas. If you do not know where that is, get out your map. It is great that we have a congregation, even though it is small, there.

Currently, we are trying to get the municipality to cart off trash from our lot. They say they will do it, but have not yet. This is typical of Latin America, by the way. We may have to pay for it. Since we are short on money, we are trying to not spend any more money than we have to.

Delbert and Beverly Langford visited me from Texas. It was my first time to meet them, but we have common friends and acquaintances. They really liked the congregation in La Villa.

I would like for you all to know that I really appreciate the support that you all contribute to our effort. I know that times are difficult in the States. I look for ways to cut costs, but it is not always so easy. I do trust in the Lord. May God bless you.

In Christ,

Harry Hamilton

Friday, September 16, 2011

Report from Santiago, Chile for August, 2011

            Greetings from Santiago. I hope that all of you are well. During the winter here, it has rained and snowed about once a week, so we have had pretty mountains overhead for most of the winter. The other blessing of that is the air has been pretty clean. Of course, we have to put up with a lot of cold to get these benefits.

            I have a few things that I want to share with you so I will get right to it.  Last Sunday, we went to Rancagua in the morning instead of the usual evening hour, because it was the 11th of September, which in Chile is a protest day. In order to not get caught up in the protests, we went in the morning, held church services and had lunch together. Then we all returned to Santiago. On this particular morning, I preached about 1 John 1:5-2:2. John creates a tension in the reader as he draws a contrast between “God is light and there is no darkness in him” and “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The tension is between sinning and not sinning, which we all feel inside us. We do not want to sin, but we sin. John draws attention to this conflict so that we will not sin (v.1). John also mentions being in the light (v. 2:10) and walking in the light (v. 1:7). Being in the light is a reference to your spiritual position (Where are you?). Walking in the light refers to your practice (What do you do?). I mentioned that he who walks in darkness and is in darkness will not be saved. I also mentioned that he who is in darkness; even though he practices the light will not be saved. I then said that the person who is in the light but practices darkness will not be saved. The one who will be saved is he that is in the light and walks in the light. After church, I was sitting in the living room alone with Aileen who is a teenager, and Liza’s niece, Marlene’s cousin, etc. Aileen told me, Tio, your sermon really touched my heart. I used that as an opportunity to explain that in the church we all help one another to be the best Christians we can be.

            We had a lady come to church with us there in Rancagua. She heard us singing and asked Ya-ya if she could participate. Ya-ya is good about inviting her friends as is Aileen. We always have visitors.

I want the church to take root among the young people. I have known a lot of the young people, like Romina and Paulina, Daniel, Sergio Paolo, and others all of their life. This is one of the blessings of being a long term missionary. I always wonder if they understand and believe the things that I teach. So I am always looking for signs that they believe. An example of this is that Paulina is always putting up verses on her Facebook. She asked me the other day what she could put up there. I explained to her that what we want to do is attract people by helping them to think about things that they had not thought about before. So we want to put up Scriptures that challenge people. I offered as an example of that is 2 Chronicles 15. I often preach this chapter when I go to evangelize someplace, because it challenges people to look for God. It also makes an excellent sermon, at least in Spanish. So Paulina put the Scripture up. She has also put up a lot of others.

Pedro went to the USA for a couple of months. He did an excellent job of preaching to Hispanic congregations all over the place. Unfortunately, he became ill and returned to Chile, where he had an operation. He is currently recuperating.

Milton has been teaching in Peru. He has also gone down South. I see him every Monday, but I forgot to ask him last Monday how his latest trip went. Milton has also been teaching in Los Nogales.

Sergio has been involved in activities also. He helps with the young people in the Villa. He has classes with Domeyko on Thursdays and Fridays. He goes with me on Sundays to Rancagua and on Tuesdays to Los Andes. He has several ministries that seem to doing well.

I should mention that Sergio’s father passed away recently. I went to the funeral and also visited in the home. I have known the gentleman for many years, maybe thirty or so. It was a disappointment for Sergio that he never decided to become a Christian, even though we all had taught him through the years.

I continue to receive good reports from Pablo and Marcelo in New Zealand. The New Zealand folks evidently really like them.

On Saturdays, I have been helping to teach an evangelistic class with Eugenio in La Florida. We have had visitors. All of my classes are doing well. I have new people in all of them.

One of the blessings of being a long-term missionary is that people know where to find me. Not too long ago, one of the brothers who I had not seen in ten years or so called me up and asked to come by the house. I agreed. When he showed up, he brought his cousin with him. The cousin is from the South. We had a Bible study here in the house, and I signed him up for the Bible Correspondence Course. When he returned, he signed up twenty others to study the Bible through Bible Correspondence Courses. Since then, Helmer and Luis (one of the elders in Los Nogales) went down and studied with them. They report a group of people that want to know more about the Word.

            The young people meet every other Saturday in Beto and Pilar’s house, where we also meet on Wednesday evenings. Beto and Pilar I have known for more than twenty years. I know their children, Tomas and Javiera, all of their life. All of these children are now young adults. These young adults have been involved in different activities, such as going to Rancagua with us to help us get the church going. They have also been good about inviting their friends to their Saturday meetings, which Sergio teaches. Elsa, a young lady who was baptized last year, invited two of her friends last week. Paulina has also invited her friends, as has many of the others. I am hoping that our congregation will attract lots of young people.

            Another of our young people is Daniel, Roberto and Fabiola’s younger son, and Marlene’s younger brother (also Liza’s nephew, Romina and Paulina’s cousin- you get the idea). Daniel has been participating in my Monday class. He has also been going with me to Los Andes. He has been preparing a Bible study and sermon on Mondays, and has been participating in the youth activities, as well as the class on Wednesday night. This is encouraging to me to see that he is preparing himself like he is.

            Not too long ago, one of Liza’s neighbors rang her doorbell and asked to speak to her. This was a Monday morning right before she was supposed to come to work. The lady unburdened her heart. She said no one in her family had a job. She did not know what to do. Liza said she would talk to the church. Liza knows that I have a policy that no one will go hungry if I can help it. We have helped lots of people in this way. So after the men’s class, we went to the grocery store, which I do every Monday since they have a five percent discount on everything. I told Liza to get a basket for this family, and I would shop for my house. So we filled a shopping cart for them. I took it over to Liza’s house. She and her husband then took it to the neighbor. Liza told me that the woman started crying on the spot. From this, Liza began to talk with her about God. She had a Bible study.The lady has a daughter that is a young mother. When they started studying the Bible, the young lady said to Liza, “Tia, we do not know anything at all about the Bible. Nothing at all.” Liza said, “In that case, let’s start on page one. What is the first thing that God tells us in his Bible? He is the Creator. And we are his Creation. This is the basic spiritual relationship that everyone has with God.” When she said that, the young lady’s eyes got huge, and she said, “no one has ever told me that before.” I told Liza later that that reminded me of Hosea 4:1, where God complains that there is no faithfulness, no steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.

            Sergio and Liza go every Wednesday to Machali where they study the Bible with Camila’s mother and a few others. Camila is Anais’s mom, if you have seen the picture of Anais and me on Facebook. Anais is three or four months old. After they study with the group in Machali, they then go over to Liza’s dad’s house, where Sergio studies with him, and Liza studies with her sister-in-law Patricia. If all Christians worked as hard as Liza to ensure that their families were Christians, then the church would be growing.

            For the last twenty years, I have been meeting with the ministers and a few of the men on Mondays as we have a Bible study together, which lasts through the middle of the day. Obviously at that time, I do not expect many men to participate, because most people have to work. Here in this year, we have had people participate, that I generally do not expect to participate, such as students and working men. As it turns out, I have at least three participants who are taking off work to be with us. How they can arrange that, I do not know. The students I can explain, because all of the college students are on strike this year, and have been for the entire year. Here in Chile, being on strike means protesting in the streets, throwing rocks, burning tires, and general mayhem which the police respond to with water cannons and tear gas. A couple of weeks ago, I was returning from Los Andes with Saul who works with the congregation in Domeyko and Sergio. We were arriving at Domeyko about 10:30 p.m. I noticed that the area around the church in Domeyko looked a little foggy, so I rolled down the window to see better. A huge cloud of tear gas filled the car. Sergio started tearing up and complaining. I told him that he needed to man up. Then I looked over beside the car, and beside me was a water cannon. I decided I need to get out of there, because people always throw rocks at those things. The last thing I needed was a rock through the window. So I left there as quickly as I could. At any rate, I am happy to report that at least some of our students are not out on the streets throwing rocks, but are studying the Bible with us on Mondays. Of course, they might be doing both. We are having excellent classes on Mondays. The men are working at learning to study the Bible and preparing sermons from the passages in the Bible they are studying.

            I am happy to report that we bought the lot. The church paid for two thirds of it, I paid for a sixth (from my savings) and Austin Avenue Church of Christ paid for a sixth of it. The Smiths in Missouri gave $100.00. We have received the title to the property. The next step is that Marlene and Liza will go over to some government office somewhere and get it re-zoned to a house of prayer. Several members from the congregation, including myself went over to clean it up. That proved to be a daunting task. We moved a mountain of rubbish. We are now waiting for the municipality to send over a truck to haul off a ton of trash.

            The congregation is really excited about our purchase. We have all been going through our houses, finding out what we can donate to sell in the ferias so that we can make some money for the building. I had Liza go through the entire house, through every nook and cranny to see if we can find something to sell. I had given a lot of stuff away in the earthquake, I had given a lot of stuff to Sergio and Pedro and I had thrown a lot of stuff out, so there was not that much to sell. I did sell a space heater, at the wrong time of the year, because it got cold afterward. We have made a little bit of money. The next step after getting it all cleared away is to build a wall. That is to close it off. We cannot do that though until we get it re-zoned. So we have some things to do.

            We will need some help in the building, or we will have to wait until we get enough money to build. If you would like to help, please let me know.

            Thank you for your support.

            Harry R. Hamilton

Monday, June 27, 2011

Report from Santiago for June 2011

Since the last time I wrote, we have had a couple of earthquakes, a volcano has erupted, and a tornado showed up. We do have the occasional earthquake or volcano eruption, but a tornado is something we never see in Chile. The tornado struck the same town that our excellent brother and sister in Christ, Roberto and his wife Catalina, moved to earlier this year. God watched over them and they were not harmed in any way. They are pretty close to where the volcano erupted also. Maybe the good Lord is trying to tell them something. Here in Santiago, I am just dealing with the cold.

            Our retreat in November was such a success that we decided to have another. In May, we held our retreat at the same place where we held it in November. This place is convenient for us because they provide a place to meet, a place to sleep, and they provide all the meals for a low cost. The only complaint that I have about the place is that the beds are super hard. It is owned by a fellow who is the owner of a chain of jewelry stores. The fellow is a friend of our brother Toño from his evangelical days. Toño did us the service of suggesting that the owner invest in a bunch of new mattresses. Thank you, Toño.

            I made a mistake in the beginning. I tried to do the power point slick presentation. It soon was apparent that was not working so I returned to my usual way of presenting things, which is teaching. Sometimes we have to do what we do well. Fortunately, I was able to tell that it was not working. I apologized and told the congregation that I would not make that mistake again. The theme of the retreat was Singing Praises to God. Before we had the retreat, I asked the congregation if they had a theme in mind. They preferred this one. I thought it was a good choice, because we had attracted a lot of attention with our singing last time from the different groups that were meeting in the campgrounds. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to help everybody understand the worship that God asks of us. I started in Ephesians 1:3-14, where the formula God made us his adopted children in order to praise him was repeated three times. In verses 5 and 6, we find he predestined us … to the praise of his glorious grace. In verses 11 and 12, we find we have obtained an inheritance… so that we … might be to the praise of his glory. In verses 13 and 14, we find in him you also … were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit… to the praise of his glory. I mentioned that with this formula, God makes Christians the instruments of his praise. We are children of God so that we might praise him. The orientation is from us to God. I went on to show that this same orientation is mentioned in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19: to the Lord with your heart. One of the things that distinguishes the Churches of Christ from others is that we look for that form of worship that pleases God rather than the form of worship that pleases us, which is of course idolatry. We also looked at other scriptures such as Hebrews 13:15: let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. I spent some time talking about the worship service as a sacrifice that we offer to God. As you can imagine, after spending time with these themes, the singing in the retreat was spectacular. I am sure that everybody was motivated by our weekend together.

            Something that has me motivated is that I have several younger men coming to my Monday morning Bible study. A young man, David, from the Los Nogales congregation is participating. Also, Marlene’s youngest brother, Daniel, is coming to the class. Currently, I am teaching the theme of How to Study the Bible. Eugenio Palma and Juan Carlos Varas from the La Florida congregation have also been participating. Hector brought a friend of his last Monday. We also have the usual bunch, such as Saul from Domeyko and Sebastian from Los Nogales.

Milton is currently in Peru teaching. Pedro is in the USA visiting various congregations. He reports four baptisms in North Carolina. He visited churches in Winston Salem, Greensboro, and Charlotte. Evidently he has also visited Lexington, Kentucky, Houston, Texas, Searcy, Arkansas, and maybe a few other places. The brother spends more time in the USA than I do.

Sergio and Elizabeth spend every Wednesday in Rancagua, evangelizing a family there. Several of us go every Sunday to conduct worship at Eduardo and Yaya’s house. We always have visitors.

On Tuesdays, Sergio and I continue our studies in Los Andes. One person has been baptized. The congregation meets in the afternoon on Sundays. Several of the members from the congregation in La Villa are now going to help them in their worship services, while Felo, Liza, Serio, Romina, Paulina, and I go to Rancagua. So the entire congregation is busy on Sundays.

Domeyko reports a baptism. I am going every fourth Sunday to this congregation and preaching and teaching there. Saul is really helping the congregation to grow. They are planning to have more baptisms this Sunday. I will be preaching there then.

Pedro made a trip to Colombia. He reports that there were eleven baptisms in the different congregations there. He visited ten congregations there. I will see if I can make his report available to you.

I posted a video on YouTube. You can find it here. I may try to do more of this.

My class on Wednesday night has nearly doubled in size. We have some visitors and a couple of the young university group is coming. We are studying the dynamics of faith.

I had my stress level go up a lot the first of the month. The owner of the house that I live in called and said she wanted to sell the house. This means that I have to either buy it or leave. I have been looking at my different options.

One of the options that I looked at was buying a lot and building a house. Here in Santiago the lots are pretty expensive unless you buy in a poor neighborhood, which opens you up to having your house robbed. In my neighborhood, we had looked at the prices they were asking for a couple of spaces several years ago. One spot was on the market for half a million dollars, and they were asking a million dollars for another good sized lot. This was in the middle of the boom when they built two shopping malls close to here. Now the prices have gone down considerably. Since I have lots of visitors to my house, including women, I am looking to locate in a fairly secure neighborhood. So I am looking at either paying more rent of buying, if I can manage that. Either way, I am looking at spending more money. One of the benefits of living where I am is that the landlord has never raised the rent in sixteen years, which is pretty remarkable. So now I have to see what I can do.

While we were looking at my options, we came across a lot off of one of the major thoroughfares here in Santiago, Vicuña McKenna, not too far from my house. I was looking to see if I could but it, when several of the members started talking about buying it for the church. We started to look into it and we discovered several things.

·         It is a good location for a church, since it is a block from a major street in Santiago, located close to a major mall. It is two blocks from the subway.

·         The architect for the municipality told us that it was zoned to build a church on it. That is to say that a church building was one of the options of land use for this property.

·         The architect said that it also met the minimum space requirement for a church building.

·         A member of the church that works in building construction went over to the site to see if it was stable enough to handle a large building. It was.

·         Marlene’s husband, Alan, who is a banker for Banco Santander, contacted the real estate agent for the property. He negotiated the price to 27.000.000 pesos Chilean. The congregation has 17,000,000 pesos saved up, which is about two thirds of the price. Roughly, the lot costs 60,000 dollars USA and the church has about forty thousand dollars USA saved up (in Chilean pesos of course).

We have been saving up and looking for possibilities for sixteen years or so. We have spent time in prayer about this issue. We have considered this option, and we believe that God has given us a wonderful opportunity. As a congregation, we decided that we would buy this property. This is an enormous challenge for us. We have decided to move out on faith. We still lack twenty thousand dollars to complete the purchase. This will be for the purchase of the property only. Once we purchase it, we will still need to build on it.

I have decided that I will do whatever is necessary to buy the property for the church. If I need to sell my car, or get a loan, I will do that. I was thinking that I could buy the property and build a house on it, but when the church started showing interest, I remembered Haggai 1. It is time to build the Lord’s house.

I would like to invite you to help us in this project. If you are interested in helping, please write me. or .

Thank you for your consideration and your support. May God bless you;

In Christ,

Harry R. Hamilton