Tuesday, May 20

Christmas with our enlarged family

Christmas and New Year's season in 2013 was a time of many activities, between concerts at the kids' school, special activities at the church, and the special dinners of these days that we spent together with the married couples who are students at the seminary, and could not go back to their places of origen due to their kids' school.

Christmas Dinner
New Year

There was still time for a visit to one of our favorite places in Ecuador - the city of Otavalo - where we were received by two of our students of quitchua background at their house, and we finally had for the first time "cuy" to eat ("guinea pig").

Peguchi Waterfall - Otavalo

Our hosts

Learning to cut the cuy

Thursday, May 15

Significant Events in 2013

After a long time of silence, we want to re-establish, once again, contact with our readers and highlight a few events that marked the life and ministry of our family in the year 2013 which happened after our last published article in this blog.

We are thankful for our readers' patience during this time in which we have not published any additional news. Our ministerial responsibilities, and the whole learning process of our new functions both as president and administrator of the seminary has limited our time to keep this blog updated. But here are some of the most significant moments of the second part of 2013.

Golden Anniversary of the Pires family

In July of 2013, God gave us the privilege to be with Liliana's parents in Cape Verde to celebrate together with the whole family their 50th wedding anniversary. Fernando had the honor of conducting the ceremony as master of ceremonies, while Rev. Gilberto Évora was the minister conducting the renewal of vows for the Pires couple. The ceremony took place in the beautiful Mindelo Church of the Nazarene in Cape Verde.
50th Anniversary Celebration
During this time we had the opportunity to reestablish connection with some churches from the Cape Verde District where we had the opportunity to preach and share about our ministry in missionary services.
Missions' service in Mindelo

Distinguished Visitors at STNS

We had the privilege of hosting several events during 2013. Twice we received the Latin American students enrolled in the Doctoral program DMin of Nazarene Theological Seminary of Kansas City, USA. This group has representatives from the two Latin America Regions. South America and Mesoamerica. This is a NTS initiative that opens the opportunity for students to study in their own home regions without the need of moving to the US. STNS and SENDAS (in Costa Rica) were the approved institutions to receive this group of students.
Doctoral Students

We also had the joy of meeting and hosting the first president of STNS, Dr. Wilfrido Canales. Despite the little time we had together due to the responsibilities we both had to fulfill, it was great to meet him a bit better and listen to him preach in one of our chapel services.
Dr. Wilfrido Canales in Chapel

First and Current President

Another important guest was Dr. Alfonso Ropero. During the time of promoting his new Theological Dictionary, he reserved some time to be at STNS and share a conference about the "Bible in Post-Modernity".
Dr. Alfonso Ropero

VIII AETAL Continental Theological Conference

STNS is one of the affiliated institutions of the AETAL, the Associação de Educação Teológica de América Latina, as such we had the opportunity to participate at a Theology Conference with Latin American theologians serving in different institutions and with different theological backgrounds. We shared about theology, theological education, and the relationship between the church and the academia.

Group of Participants

XXV 2013 STNS Graduation: Lic. Liliana Almeida

The academic year ended with another graduation ceremony. This was the 25th ceremony that STNS organized in its history. The theme for the ceremony was "Servants with Clean Hands and Pure Hearts", thus focusing in the minister's character that concludes his/her studies at STNS
STNS Leadership Team

The tradition of South American seminaries is to name the graduating class after a person selected by the community to be honored by his/her ministry among students, and/or contribution for academic or ecclesiastical development. This year Liliana was the person selected to receive this honor from STNS.
Entrance of Faculty

We praise God for the 21 graduates of the 2013 Graduation, two of which were graduates of the Masters program that took place based on a partnership with our sister institution from Costa Rica, SENDAS. 5 of the graduates came from the ETED program thus concluding their ministerial studies through our Theological Education Extension Centers in the North Andean Field.
2013 Graduates

São Paulo District Missionary Conference

Although these highlights have been focused on STNS, both Liliana and Fernando keep involved with the Regional Ministries of Nazarene Missions International and Missionary Mobilization, respectively.
Missionary Service
Before the end of 2013, we participated in a Missionary Conference of the São Paulo District, Brazil, which took place at the Valinhos Church. Approximately 50 leaders including pastores, NMI Presidents and people interested in serving as missionaries participated of the event. The purpose of the event was to make known the NMI ministry and some of the resources available for the local churches, it was also a time to make known the missionary needs of the denomination in the world and how as Christian in local churches one can be involved in missionary projects, and at the same time, it was an inspiration time to listen to God through preaching and devotional times with a missionary focus.
Worshiping Congregation

Speakers and District NMI President

These are the highlights that we would like to share with you since our last article. Shortly we will be sending more news about current events that are marking our lives in this new year. Stay tuned for our next article!

Tuesday, May 21

Reconnecting with our readers

It was about time to update the news of the family and our ministry. It's incredible what God had done with us, to the point that sometimes we feel like we are on a roller-coaster. But the most incredible things is that He has been right there besides us in the middle of all the activity, and His faithfulness has been more noticeable than ever.
These first months of the year have been months of much activity. We will do our best to bring you up-to-date:

  1. Beginning of the school year at the seminary: In January, we started our new school year. We received new students from Colombia and Ecuador, and also for the first time in some time we also got students from Peru. In residence, we have a group of approximately 30 students. We are thankful to God for each one of these that has arrived, and that the Lord is still raising people to prepare themselves for ministry. Please pray with us for resources for students' scholarships as many of them come from a background of financial challenges.
  2. Change in Leadership: It was also in January that we got the news that our seminary rector had resigned and that he would be leaving the institution by the end of February. We started praying for the transition, knowing that God had the institution in His hands and he would certainly not let it fall with this change.
  3. District Assemblies in Bolivia: At the request of our Regional Director, Fernando had the privilege to travel once more to Bolivia to chair the District Assemblies in Bolivia El Alto and Bolivia La Paz districts. These are two phase 3 districts. It was a special time of personal challenge and for the Bolivian church in these assemblies. We felt blessed by God in this opportunity to serve Him once more in this Country.
    Bolivia La Paz District Assembly
  4. Cross-Cultural Orientación (CCO): In February we had the opportunity to visit the church in Indaiatuba in São Paulo, Brazil, where we were able to minister the CCO to some brothers and sisters who have shown interest in serving in missions. This is a basic training focusing on the dynamics of culture and cross-cultural communication, an explanation of the process to become a missionary in the Church of the Nazarene, and it's also an opportunity for the participants to gain further self-awareness about themselves. We had a group of 32 attending and 11 of which had a personalized interview in which we gave an orientation based on the individual's needs. We are now to the point of getting to the last steps of the process of sending one of these individuals to serve in Africa as volunteer missionary.
    CCO Participants - Indaiatuba
  5. NMI Convention in Guayaquil, Ecuador: It was a great privilege for Liliana and Fernando to serve the Costa District in Ecuador at the District NMI Convention. Liliana was chairing the Convention while Fernando had the opportunity to preach. It was a blessing to see these Nazarenes committed with the missionary work at the global scale. This district, through a new initiative, was able to triple the amount of offerings sent to the World Evangelism Fund. God continues to raise the means to further His Mission..
  6. New Challenges: March was Fernando's birthday, and as if it was a birthday gift, we received the news that the Board of Regents of Seminario Teológico Nazareno Sudamericano (STNS), had elected him to become the new rector for the institution for the period of two years. This was totally unexpected to us... it had never crossed our minds that this would happen, but God knows how He does things, and the only thing we did as family was to respond to the call and say: "Here we are, send us."
    Rector's Installation Service

    Rector's Installation Service
  7. South America Rectors' Council and Doctorate Classes: During April we hosted to important groups. The South America Council of Rectors meets once a year to share what is going on in each of the theological education institutions on the Region, as well as to receive new inspiration for the work that each of us undertake. This year, STNS was the host for this group and it was a great honor for us to have such a distinct group among us. During this event we also had the installation service for the new rector of STNS. We also hosted a group of Latinamerican students who are working on their D.Min sponsored by Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, USA.
    South American Rectors

    South American Rectors
  8. ETED Directors Meeting in Colombia. ETED stands for (in Spanish) "Theological Education by Extension". During the final days of April, Fernando traveled to Colombia to have a meeting with the TEE Directors of the Country in order to motivate, give orientation and challenge them regarding the work of our Extension Centers in Colombia. Each of the districts was represented by its director, which besides presenting a short report, allowed us to work together some steps towards the future of TEE education in Colombia. We explored opportunities for formal and informal education. It was also a good time for companionship and for the leadership of STNS to get a better grasp of the realities faced by the TEE Centers.
TEE Meeting - Colombia

TEE Meeting - Colombia

These first four months, as you can see were of great activity, but we were able to see God's hand in all things, directing, motivating, and renewing our strengths. God is faithful and will continue to be faithful!

Saturday, December 1

Fall Festival

Fall has arrived and with it so have come several important events for our family and for our ministry in Ecuador. One of such events was the Fall Festival at the Alliance Academy International.

High school students, besides the normal classes, can choose some of the classes they take. This year, Nicole chose to be a part of the AAI Choir. After auditioning, she was selected and soon practice started which resulted in the beautiful Fall Festival presentation.

Concert Band
The Festival lasted about a hour, and besides the choir, the concert band, jazz band and Ensemble (a select group of voices) also participated.

Jazz Band
The choir performances don't end here, though. In a few weeks we will have the Christmas Concert and besides the high school choir, it will also feature the participation of elementary classes. Later in the year we will also have the Spring Concert.

This made us go back in time a few years, when in the beginnings of our ministry Fernando was in the charge of conducting the church choir, and Liliana was part of the choir, and this was one of the first ministries that we developed.

Here's a short excerpt of the performance (if you can't see the video, please click here):

Tuesday, October 30

Celebrating 5 years of ministry in diversity

Two weeks ago we had the great joy of participating in the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the church that we chose to be a part of here in Ecuador. - The Comunidad Cristiana Nazarena Restauración (CCNR).

It was a full week of celebrations with activities for the youth, teens, men, ladies and children. Each group represented at the church had its special time to express its celebration for the 5 years of this church's ministry.

Children's Celebration Program
In the context of the celebrations there was a time for a short choreography presentation by a few little ones whom Nicole our daughter coached. This has always been a ministry that has been very dear to her heart and God used her to bless these little ones and also the congregation.

Pastor Jean-David
The church's pastor, Rev. Jean-David Larochelle, made of this time a very special time for the people who are members of this community. In the services on both Sundays we saw a congregation of over 200 people coming for the celebration.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the service when all the nations represented in the congregation presently were recognized. The diversity of nations has certainly been one of the sustained values of this church. We, thus, had nations represented from Europe, Caribbean  North America, Africa, and other Countries of South America.

Nations Represented at  CCNR

Liliana carrying the flag of Cape Verde
Fernando carrying the flag of Portugal
This celebration was a time to challenge the church to re-affirm its identity and to express it in the context of the community itself, but also in the context in which each member is immersed. In the opening service of the celebration, the church's pastors and some invited preachers preached about the Biblical images of the church. On the second Sunday service, pastor Jean-David focused his challenge in the text from Isaiah 6 and challenged the church to live holiness in a missional way.

Leadership Team of CCNR

These 5 years were also a celebration of God's faithfulness who, throughout the challenges lived individually and collectively by the community has always been the "ever-present help, in trouble." (Psa. 46:1)

We praise God for this Nazarene community and for its ministry and local mission of a global reach.