Missionary Letters

Update from the Espinozas

Dear praying friends,

“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12

How incredible that we can approach God freely and with the confidence that He will gladly listen to our requests! We have seen Him delight in answering our prayers and helping us with our plans these last few months.

During Becky Ortega’s time in Canada she has found a number of new sponsors for our school which is a big answer to prayer. More sponsors means more people who are praying for and involved in our student’s lives and it means a lessening of the financial strain at the school.

At the end of July our church along with a couple other churches joined together for 3 days of family camp at the beach. It was beautiful to see families from all walks of life spend time together and get to know other families who desire to follow God’s way of life. Two Canadian families came down to join us. One family had 4 youth age kids and one family had 3 young boys in elementary. The kids joined in all the events and we loved seeing how kids could communicate across language barriers. Turns out play is a common language! Love is also a common language that needs no words and we saw that communicated again and again at camp. J After our time there one of our families from the Bastion church said that their 7 year old boy (who they normally have to coax to come to church) kept asking how many days left until Sunday because he couldn’t wait to see people again.

A few days after the Canadian families left, an American group of teachers arrived to spend a week at the school. They spent time observing our teachers at work and then gave ideas of how to teach Math in more interactive ways. Professional training days at our school are few and far between, so we were very grateful for that time.

Since then, life has been full of normal school work and youth. We continue enjoying working with our youth and the youth leaders have really been a blessing this year. They are pulling a lot of weight and are taking initiative in directing where the youth group should be headed. This type of teamwork is such a blessing, especially compared to other years!

We are deeply grateful to be able to continue working in this capacity thanks to your prayers and support,

Jessenia and Raúl

Family Camp

Family Camp

Family Camp

Family Camp

Youth Scavenger Hunt

Youth Scavenger Hunt

Stepping Onto Campus Once Again...

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Last Friday night I stepped onto campus at the University of Guelph. It was fun to once again feel the anticipation of another school year starting, and experience the hustle and bustle of students on campus.

I attended the Power to Change weekly meeting at the University of Guelph with over 100 students. It was neat to see all the new first year students checking out Power to Change and to also watch the upper year students leading the gathering with enthusiasm and energy.

This semester the University of Guelph is running a mentorship program and I signed up to mentor a few women. I'm looking forward to see who God will bring into my life and what he has in store for us as we meet. Please pray that this mentorship program would help students know Jesus more deeply and live an authentic Christian life on campus.

Fall Focuses

A current priority for me is helping my team (pictured above) finalize the different locations we will send mission trips to. We're talking to other missions organizations we want to partner with, we're looking for leaders for each trip, we're revising our application process, talking about how to promote these trips, and so much more. Please pray that God would lead and direct us to the right opportunities, that God would provide leaders for each trip, and that he would begin calling students to participate in these trips.

Thank you for all the ways you partner together with me to help students know Jesus more. Together God is using us in the lives of women at the U of G and he's using us to give students the opportunity to go on a mission trip.

A highlight from August was attending our intern orientation. This fall we sent out a team of 3 interns to North Africa, and 3 interns to East Asia. Here are a group of us (along with other new staff and interns) doing a hike during a break one afternoon.

A highlight from August was attending our intern orientation. This fall we sent out a team of 3 interns to North Africa, and 3 interns to East Asia. Here are a group of us (along with other new staff and interns) doing a hike during a break one afternoon.

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Kingston Prison Ministry

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

Following many months and often even many years behind prison barriers, an inmate's next step in their correctional plan is to be granted day parole by the National Parole Board to a halfway housein an appropriate community.

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These halfway houses are located in most of our larger city centres across the country. (There are two different types of halfway houses. Some are managed by Corrections Canada and others by private organizations, such as the Salvation Army.)

No longer with the accustomed previous physical barriers, an inmate in a halfway house must now abide by new regulations, and time schedules. As they progress through this gradual reintegration into society, the actual physical time spent at the halfway house lessens and more time is granted outside in the community in places of employment and with family contact. While they are away from this new facility they still need to report their whereabouts and their activity. This begins stringently where they report at regular intervals every few hours but then lessens as they are allowed more time away with less reporting back to the officers on duty.

Some of the goals of a halfway house is to reestablish family contact if this is a possibility, secure employment, and to continue necessary correctional programming on the street that successfully allows them to display a pro-social attitude along with evidence of law-abiding choices.

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Personal life skills of grocery shopping, food preparation, clothes shopping, and money management are all skills they need to learn or begin to implement again after several years.

General restrictions during time at a halfway house would include no association with other inmates...which makes it very interesting/challenging when you are actually housed in the same facility with such a person! There may also be restrictions on certain food establishments, shopping malls, schools, playgrounds, or beaches, depending on the nature of their offence. They must report financial information, employment status, and any relationships they have. 

Moving forward in their correctional plan to a halfway house is a whole new learning curve.  It is a mark of progress but not necessarily an easy or successful venture.   Their parole can be revoked simply by a subjective decision from their parole officer accusing them of a  “deteriorating attitude”. 

One of the keys to success for an inmate's stay in a halfway house is to build a healthy, open and trusting relationship with their newly assigned parole officer.  

Over the last five months, 8 guys we have had close contact with have moved on to a halfway house environment.  At this point they are remaining successful in this next stage of their correctional plan.  All of these men have professed salvation.  

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Pray for an ability for each of them to adapt to this new environment, to be able to find suitable employment, and to continue to choose patience and submission to authority whether it is logical or fair.

Pray they will be able to continue to enjoy Christian fellowship, to be able to find churches that will love them and receive them, and that as they return to their families that they would have the ability to communicate the gospel not only by what they say but also by consistent evidence of a changed life.


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Pray for Ben, Liam, Sam, Silas, Dennis, Peter, Curtis and Simon.* May God help them to continue to run the race set before them, knowing that He never will leave them or forsake them. *names have been changed

... for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
— Hebrews 13:5b

Thank you for your prayers for us as we seek to share the gospel inside prison walls and as we encourage inmate believers in their walk of faith. Thank you for your financial support that enables us to do this in a full time way. We are grateful for each of you and ask that God would cause your lives to be rich and full of His blessing.

We would love to hear from you as well!

Blessings,

Robert and Susan

Shoulder to Shoulder in Bangkok and Jakarta

Serving leaders in Southeast Asia.

Serving leaders in Southeast Asia.

We wanted to share two short stories that make us smile in terms of how we get to serve leaders in Southeast Asia.

Story 1: “Russ, can you give me a personal tutorial so I can study it? We need to use this information to reach my people in Vietnam,” explained Phoebe. “Of course,” said Russ, “That’s why I made this trip to Bangkok.” Over two hours later, the coaching session ended with Phoebe confidently equipped.

Story 2: Bayu, our team leader in Indonesia, pulled Russ aside during that same meeting in Bangkok. “My team needs to hear and learn what you just shared with us about measuring our missional progress.” 

Russ agreed to book a flight to spend the day with Bayu’s team in five days time. “I hope your family is ok with going to Jakarta,” Bayu continued. “It’s no problem, that’s why we moved to Singapore!” Russ explained. 

Previously, seizing opportunities like this were difficult. However, being based in Singapore, the cost is minimal, the jetlag non-existent and the impact of the relational presence is high. Our indigenous leaders in Asia are so hungry for encouragement, input, training and direction. They minister in some of the most difficult environments.

Thank you for your continued partnership in leading the next generation of digital missions and being a part of the team that is serving leaders like Phoebe and Bayu.

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Bonus: Just in case you ever wondered where french fries came from or how much electricity is in your brain, Wyatt and Gwenyth have started a YouTube channel. They would be thrilled if you subscribe.

We love air conditioned coffee shops.

We love air conditioned coffee shops.

We welcomed new team members.

We welcomed new team members.

Mommy-Daughter date.

Mommy-Daughter date.

A "Chill" Summer

An outreach at the University of Waterloo.

An outreach at the University of Waterloo.

CHILL WITH A CHRISTIAN

Chill with a Christian was the name of an outreach that we did at the University of Waterloo this summer. You can see students in the picture above having conversations as they gave away ice cream sandwiches and freezies. So many great conversations were had. Here are some of the highlights from the students:

"I was scared to do this because, I have never had a spiritual conversation before, but this was fun! Scary but fun!"

"My favourite part was talking to the guys from Dubai who had never had a freezie before. It was great being able to share the Gospel with him."

"That guy talking to Liam is in my class! We've never talked about spiritual things before. Now I can keep the conversation going"

"My friend came because I invited her. I've heard a lot about her faith but this time she asked me about what Christians believe."

"I just want people to come so that I can tell them about Jesus!!!!"


Please pray for the Christian students who have been trusting God as they share their faith as well as the non-Christians who are engaging with the story of Jesus.


CHILL AT HOME

Often our summers are full of travel. Either we are on a mission trip with students or we are doing biblical training or we are going around the country meeting our amazing supporters (like you!). But this summer we decided to stay close to home for Trevor's healing. It has been a great decision and the stability has helped Trevor continue to heal after his mental health crisis in the beginning of the year. He has somewhat of a routine throughout the week which includes meeting with people to talk about his mental health, going to the gym, meeting up with friends and spending quality time with Amelia and Hannah. The doctor said it will still be a couple of months until he goes back to work as the mind needs a lot of time to heal. Similar to a broken ankle, it might seem stronger than it actually is, and we don't want to put too much strain too early.

Thank you for all your continued prayers for our family.
Please pray that we would have wisdom to know how to walk this journey of healing.

Celebrating Amelia’s half birthday.

Celebrating Amelia’s half birthday.

Trevor and Amelia waiting for a show to start at the park.

Trevor and Amelia waiting for a show to start at the park.

Amelia ‘at work’.

Amelia ‘at work’.

Stopping in a small town to get butter tarts.

Stopping in a small town to get butter tarts.