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August 2004
Dear Friends in Christ,
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11
We gave this verse to the girls at the beginning of the week as a theme verse for them. Our heart is for them to know that God has a plan for their lives. Monday morning we drove around to the different rendezvous points and picked up our fourteen girls. As you could imagine, there wasn’t a dull moment the rest of the week!
Our days began with a workout at 7:00 in the big room with Shelby. Then Sara led devotions each morning, from the Psalms and Proverbs. She also helped them memorize parts of 1st Corinthians 13. Shelby taught later in the day on being whole in Christ before marriage. She encouraged them to seek the Lord for their life calling, using this time of being single to its utmost potential, and to find happiness and joy in their service to the Lord. Holly shared with the girls throughout the week steps to living a lifestyle of purity; purity of the body as well as heart and mind. In the evening Carmen Torres taught on forgiveness and the grace of God. After each lesson we would have a time for questions and answers; this allowed the girls to be involved by bringing up questions and sharing from their hearts.
One morning after exercises Shelby gave a quick speech on nutrition. She laid out some obvious foods they should try to avoid, giving them a few ideas of things available to them that they should implement in their diet. A few girls talked to her later about how they were grateful for the tips. They had been experiencing some of the side effects of junk food she talked about, but they had never known why. (Nutrition Seminar - here we come!!)
We also had projects going on every moment that we were not teaching - from sewing formal skirts to wear for a banquet with their mothers, to making hair ribbons with Lourdes, to painting little denim bags. We also had activities each afternoon including skits, games, and lots of swimming. The last evening was the mother’s banquet. Each girl’s mother was invited to a dinner where their daughter served them and shared what they learned. The girls acted out the skit they had practiced all week. The message was on forgiveness, taken from Carmen’s lessons. Our family is incredibly grateful to Carmen for her labors in this seminar. She was certainly in high demand all week as she translated for each session, most being an hour long. We couldn’t have done it without her!!!
While the girls held the purity seminar, Debbi and Liz hosted a three day mother’s teaching. It was such a great time of bonding between Debbi, Liz, Carmen and these women. Many of these women live in very difficult situations with husbands who are not saved. They always voice their appreciation of our time with them.
Debbi taught the first day on having a strong relationship with the Lord, using Matthew 6:33. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." The second day she spoke on a Biblical relationship with their husbands. She explained how even with an ungodly husband, they can still have a good relationship with the Lord. The last day Liz spoke on having a good relationship with their children. She encouraged them to think about what their children will look back and remember about them. She showed them 2nd Timothy 1:5 where Paul speaks of Timothy’s grandmother and mother being sincere in their faith.
As the seminars were taking place, Dana Sweet, Kenny, James, Micah and local help were setting up forms and pouring two foundations. A group from the Bloomington, Illinois area will build these homes in September. They are being built on a piece of property that was donated to the Juan 3:16 church by the Nava Government two years ago. The tentative plans are to build seven homes, a tortilla factory (providing jobs in the colonia) and a new larger church building on the sixteen lots.
The plan has always been to build the Next Generation type home on these lots. The homes will have a full bath; toilet, shower and sink with mirror. A septic system will also be installed at the rear of the homes because city sewage is not available in this colonia. The changes have been our desire for a long time but we have been reluctant to implement them because of the extra cost. The full bath will also have a cement roof instead of wood and tin. This area of the home has always been constructed of mostly cement because of the possibility of water contact. Another addition will be an extended roof over the front door to make a small porch. We are excited about making these small changes that will hopefully make a big difference for the receiving families. We are looking into the possibility of helping a few of our Mexican family friends begin businesses. Please don’t think of these with an American mindset, these would be much more simple than businesses in the U.S. There are 3 ideas we are looking at.
1.) The family of Julio Cesar would like to open a school supply store in the colonia. There is not another store like it there, so we would hope he would get enough business to meet his family needs. Julio Cesar, a dear Christian man, now works in the coal mine which is very hard and dangerous work. He would need about $2,000 U.S. to build a store and stock it.
2.) The family of Paulina, who shared her testimony during the women’s seminar, needs to stock an existing store. She and her family have recently opened a little “convenience store” in the colonia and we would love to help them get a jump-start on their inventory. Her family would need about $1,000 to add inventory to her store.
3.) The final business project that we would love to help is by far the largest. Pastor Santos has expressed an interest in building a tortilla factory. This would give a few jobs. We would need a building and machines to make the tortillas. The cost of this business venture is about $18,000.
Once again we would like to ask you to keep Shelby and Kenny in your prayers as they will be leaving for Haiti the day this newsletter goes out. There will be a full account and plenty of pictures of their trip in the next newsletter.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
May the Lord bless you as you join us in our endeavors to serve the King!
Because of Christ,
The Kennedy Family
"A Sweet Field Report"
God’s grace has been abundant this past month. The logistics necessary to get us moved here, have been quite challenging at times, but we are slowly settling into our new dwelling in Nava.
We were blessed to receive some much-needed appliances for our house. A big "Thanks" from the Sweets to: Jeremy and Ladonna Day for a gas stove, Josh and Katie Day for a refrigerator and microwave, Kelly and Diane Carter for a gas dryer, and Lynn and Alex Hurtado for a wash machine.
This last weekend found Liz and me, along with several other couples, at a "Sanctus" weekend—a lovely, but intense marriage renewal weekend held at Headwaters Ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas. "Sanctus" means "Holy, Holy, Holy." One of the main emphasis during the conference was that we CANNOT give anything more to our spouses than what we have received from our Father God. In other words, we must maintain our "vertical" relationship with God if we expect to maintain a healthy "horizontal" relationship with our spouse. Understanding that all the conflicts that come to our marriages are designed for the purpose of bringing us to the cross, helps us to respond to each other positively rather than negatively. It was especially meaningful to Liz and me as we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary on the 25th of this month.
Liz has been working diligently to prepare for the beginning of a new school year. Joanna and Abe each have their spot in our school room "cubicle". We are also devoting a time each morning to study Spanish. Teaching Joanna and Abe gives Liz and me a chance to get our Spanish "up and running" once again. We are grateful to all of you who continue to stand with us. May God richly bless you.
In His Service,
Dana, Liz, Abe & Joanna