It’s due time for a Cocal Update and I apologize for not getting one out sooner. We had sign-ups for classes at the end of February and beginning of March and enrolled 143 students this semester! We found a new mechanic teacher named Olman Carrales. He is a mechanic that lives really close to the ministry. This semester, for the first time ever, I also have help with my English classes. Monica Faraj worked with me in the bilingual schools many years ago and has now taken over three of my classes, giving me opportunity to focus more on bible studies, administrative work, and construction.
Last year, we did something in the ministry I never thought we would do; we built up. I had been praying for a new property to move the ministry to, but that prayer has gone unanswered for a long time, and it was our welding teacher, Percy, who prayed for a classroom. We imagined one on a second level over the mechanic shops and his prayer was answered. We started building what would eventually become a new sewing room, giving Percy the old sewing room. After we started, our good friend Jason Courtney spoke to me about bringing a team down and a vision to continue the building over the workshops was formed. We envisioned a workshop with proper space for working in mechanics and welding, with new electric installations, and a multi-purpose/worship space above it where we could hold service, orientations, Thanksgiving and other big events. It was a big vision, but we felt the Lord move us into it. Jason’s team was a confirmation to start the work.
We had three weeks of classes and then Spring Break for Easter, and then Jason’s team came. Southwest Indiana District of the Nazarene has been here with us all week. They have been a great team. It is funny though, because they are not a Cocal Gracias team, but a Nazarene team and Jason Courtney is their coordinator. For the first time, Rina and I are not staying at the hotel with the them, or cooking their meals; Jason is in charge of all of that. We get to see them on the work days. They work hard and then they pack up and leave and we see don’t see them until the following day. It’s a good thing Jason is here to coordinate them though because it has been a rough week, but a week of blessings.
The team arrived and got to work right away. Doug and Pastor Gary took responsibility for finishing up the sewing classroom, taping, mudding, sanding, and painting the walls. They installed light fixtures and got it all ready for the ladies. The ladies had their first class in the new room on Saturday and they loved it. Corbin, Carlyle, and Darrin, and Donny took over the construction of the second floor over the welding shop and Tim along with Darrel have been working to correct all of our electrical problems. The ladies on the team give support to the men, do all the cooking, and helped me in bible studies and English classes over the weekend. As I said, they are a great team, very hard working. Corbin’s wife is Princess, from the Philippines and Angie loves her name, PRINCESS.
Last Friday, I was in the hardware store talking with the owner and asked him an electrical question. He put me in contact with another client at the store who was an electrician. He came out to the school to see what we were doing and offered me his professional services free of charge! He is going to hook our building up to the street post, and when we are ready, he says he can do all the other installation work for us free of charge. His name is Alex, and he has been a huge blessing we never anticipated.
The first line of business for the team was to install all the joists that would hold the second level floor. The team gathered around a 400 lb. joist to lift it up. A bunch of us lifted in the middle, up to the point men on the edges who took it up a ladder to put in place. Once it was in their hands, we stood back as they pushed it back and forth to get it where they wanted it. After joking around about it maybe happening, suddenly there was a loud crash as 400 lbs. of steel came down into the windshield of the mechanic shop’s car! The windshield broke the beam’s fall, but did not survive. It shattered into innumerable pieces. We all stared at the accident thankful that no one was standing under it that could have been hurt. The men reassessed their technique and we got it up and welded it in place.
Over the weekend, our students enjoyed testimonies from the team and a sewing student gave her life to Christ in bible study. In fact, we have had several give their lives to Christ this year. When Rina and I first came back from the states, someone from our worship service accepted the Lord each week for a month! This last Wednesday Carlos gave his life to Christ. We had service with the team and worship was amazing! We prayed for healings and God was at work.
On Saturday, Donny from the team and I went out into the community to pray for people. We were going to pray for Torivia, an elderly neighbor who was sick, but she was not home. In front of her house was a group of guys who I knew when they were little. John, Heidy’s brother, Jeffery who took our mechanic class for a month, Jared, and Kevin. As we prayed for them, the Lord gave me words for each of them and spoke to them personally. John and Jared gave their lives to Jesus and Kevin was encouraged. It was an unexpected blessing to be used by God with them. The truth is, the last two months have been a really good start to the year, but not without some struggle.
The first day the team worked at the ministry, Angeliene was sent home from school with a fever. She had tonsillitis. The doctor gave us an antibiotic and she took it for five days. The following day, I woke up with a severe allergic reaction and my eyes swollen and red. Then Nathanael got a fever and broke out in a rash with some funny spots on his body. It turns out they think he has chicken pox. I then got food poisoning and high fevers and have not been able to contribute to the team as I would have liked. Angie finished her antibiotic only to catch a cold and have the fevers return. It has been one thing after another all week and poor Rina has had to take care of two sick kids while I try and be useful with the team.
This week also had a surprise when Brayan and Heidy’s mom, Rosa, announced that they were moving to Progresso. Heidy and Brayan have grown up in the ministry. They help Rina in the kitchen and have been our special kids. They go home with us on weekends and holidays. Rosa took both of them out of school in past years to save money and to have free baby-sitting for their younger siblings, but this year Rina and I were able to get them to study again. We just got Heidy placed in eighth grade to finish, and I placed Brayan in the welding program. The news of them moving was sudden and a shock. Rosa showed up one night at the ministry telling us her plans and the next day they were gone. After much discussion, Rosa sent Heidy with us and she has been living with us to go to school. Brayan unfortunately went to Progresso with the promise that he would still come to welding class, but last week he did not show up. With a team, construction, sickness and work, Rina and I have not had time to figure out what we can do, but we miss Brayan and he needs to learn a trade or he will have nothing going for him. We hope we can get him back.
We don’t always put prayer requests at the end of the emails, but I would ask that those of you who pray would pray for Brayan and Heidy. Pray for their direction and future. Pray for the construction and for the building to be finished. This year starts a new chapter for us in the ministry and I have heard God say, that a second level is symbolic of what he wants to do in the ministry. He wants to take us to a new level also, spiritually. I really want this new construction to be beautiful, you know? Top notch. I want it to have all the bells and whistles and look like something my heavenly father did. Pray also for this year, the students and teachers and for God’s Word to find a home in their hearts.
As I am thinking of it, Mario has been working really hard this month on some commissioned paintings. Mario is our artist student who painted the murals in the ministry last year. A friend from San Diego liked his work and asked for two paintings! It has been a blessing for Mario to be able to make a living doing what he loves. I want to brag about him, so here are his paintings so you can see.
God bless all of you!
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COCAL GRACIAS TEAM For JULY 4-15 2018!
For information about Joining, contact:
Amy Caffarella. firstname.lastname@example.org