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O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good, for his lovingkindness
endures forever. (Psalm
I have just arrived at the office. Although we realize that tomorrow is Thanksgiving for many of you, it is not the case here in Colombia.
However, we are celebrating. Tomorrow night we have dinner together to celebrate the end of the academic year. Then Friday we have graduation. Some parents and guests are already arriving and will use today for some rest and family time. It is so wonderful to see everyone. We have fourteen graduating. At least two families arrive with new babies. Another couple are wishing that their little girl will wait to arrive until at least Friday after graduation so that they can enjoy the time with friends. I think graduation is the time when we most feel the joy of community celebration, so we will be THANKFUL for God's goodness.
Yesterday, I was able to give out notification of 18 scholarships for the next academic year. All are of significant amounts for our students, with the larger ones just about covering ALL of the tuition fees. You can imagine the happy faces around campus. Last week we distributed just over $2,000 among eleven students, and we are expecting a bank draft for about the same amount before the end of the year that is to be divided among ten students. If you are doing you math, you can see that there grants are not major in terms of cost in the U. S., but let me assure you that our students are richly blessed and thankful. Total yearly cost for a single student in our dormitory is between $5000 and $6,000, and a couple with a child about $12,000.
It sounds more like when I went to university. My total first year expenses were just a few cents under $1,000. You can imagine how many years ago I am talking about. Remember, I was just 64 in August.
These first two paragraphs talk of two of the hats I use here at the seminary. I am director of practical ministry (the fifth year, or
internship) of those who will graduate. I am also director of scholarships. This is the fun part of my job as I get to see the students at work in ministry, reading their monthly reports, calling them (I was just assigned a cellular telephone, so that the contacts will be easier), and also feeling the hurt of those who do not have the funding for their studies. I am thankful to each of you who share occasionally or monthly to help. May God truly bless you.
This semester, I have also taught my favorite course, Social Ministry of the Church. We look at the reality of the Colombian churches'
social outreach, look at what God requires of us in this area, and are challenged to do more in our personal lives and as we lead in ministry.
But, what of Elizabeth? I assure you that she has been much busier than I during this time. Remember that July first she took over as vice president and also academic dean. This week as she prepares for the graduation, the weight of the dean position is a bit more obvious.
Possibly the vice-rectorship seemed more real for the other months.
She was asked to travel to meeting in Germany for a week and was able to arrive and repack for another week in Brazil. Unfortunately, both trips were in September. Fortunately, this is not normal. She is thankful for the leadership and wisdom of the man who is rector, and who agreed to accept another four-year term (until 2012). They work well together, and there is a good team to support them. PRAY as this team is having many changes now with the end of the year. We are praying that God will direct the choice of each new person for next year, and the next years. Having some positions vacant is allowing for though about administrative changes and possible consolidation.
Elizabeth also continues to teach. She loves the classroom. Next year she is thinking of at least one less course, and the students are begging her to reconsider. I know that she cannot do everything and needs time to rest and conserve her health. So far she has used
weekends for heavy resting, and it has been sufficient. We are
thankful for those who have prayed specifically for this. The virus that she had last year is "dormant" within her body and could again attack if given the proper circumstances. Being tired and overly stressed are not what she needs.
What is ahead? Next week is a time to finish grading papers and grading. Then the following week we have three days of meetings for evaluation and planning followed by a workshop to learn more about investigation; how to design academic research projects, carry them
out, and also how to get funding. Investigation is an area that
needs to be strengthened in the seminary now that we have university status.
Christmas holidays seem to be directed to more time at home and rest, although Bogotá and time with family and friends are possible.
Elizabeth's mother will have her 84th birthday on December 30. Not allowing anyone to catch up, my mother celebrated her 86th on November 6. I was able to have a week with her in late September. We are thankful that after starting the year with serious health issues, Mom Sendek has been back in her apartment and continually reports that she is doing well. Wonderful doctors and lots of pills have kept her going. We are very appreciative of a good health insurance policy.
We pray for each of you that you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving, or have had one if you read this after a busy time with family and friends.
We are thankful that we are allowed to be in Christian service in Colombia, and that we do it together. December 27th will be our 32nd anniversary. How blessed we are that God has been wonderfully good to us during this time. We observe hurt and suffering and know that we have MUCH FOR WHICH TO BE THANKFUL. God is good.
In Christian service,
Don and Elizabeth Sendek
At the Biblical Seminary of Colombia in Medellin, with support through the Latin America Mission.