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Never arrive at a new church and say you want to change things. Just explain that you want to help them 'work out the bugs'.
                    Dr. Joel Hunter, to future pastors at
          Reformed Theological Seminary

Thanks to wise counsel like that, we didn't arrive at San Pablo Presbyterian Church in Toluca, Mexico planning to overhaul their youth ministry and impose a new organizational structure. Instead our desire was to learn from the existing ministry what does and doesn't work in this culture and only after that to help the church catch a vision for what could happen in and through the lives of their youth.

As we near the end of our first 4 year term (yes that means we'll soon be back in the States on "furlough" for a few months and hope to see you then. More details next month...), we have been analyzing what has happened during the last few years that we have been "Coordinators of Youth Ministries" at San Pablo. We hope the following brief scenes give you a taste of some of the changes:

F A L L   1996   :-(
F A L L   1999   :-)

Tim: Ay chihuahua, what a day. After all our work preparing this morning's study only two students showed up. I can't believe that the "junior high youth society" went to visit another church and no one even bothered to tell us.

Annette: And the two kids who came to class felt badly because they hadn't been invited to go along, and even as the others were leaving they didn't invite them.

Tim: (Sigh)It's so hard to know what to do on days like today, when the are almost no students and the other leaders don't even show up so we don't have the all the lesson materials.

Nahum (university student and leader in youth church): Youth church went fine this morning while you were gone. We had 25 kids and the leaders who couldn't make it this morning called to let us know yesterday. We passed around a card for Ana Paula and everyone signed it and told her how much she's missed.

Tim: Great! Thanks so much for taking care of those details. How'd the evening Bible study go?
Nahum: Of the 5 regular people only 3 of us were there for the study, but we all really enjoyed it and then one of the others showed up as we were finishing, so we all sat and talked till 11:30.

Like most volunteers (our work at church is a personal ministry, it's not our OC work) we have not had the time to do many things we would have loved to do. But we have seen God work in people's lives to bring about progress towards some of our goals: more unity and love among the youth, a shift in focus from programs to people and their needs, development of leadership within the older youth, and keeping jr. and sr. high students involved in the church. San Pablo doesn't have the ideal youth program, but we have seen God do exciting things in the lives of individuals. Thank you for your partnership with us.

Tim and Annette

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