Thursday, February 1, 2018

February 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you are doing well. Last month, we were in 8 scheduled meetings and 1 missions conference. We were also invited to attend one preachers meeting and a men's fellowship dinner. Jeremy was also able to book 7 new meetings. In one of the churches, a young girl had shared how she believed God was calling her to serve in missions. What an encouragement! When we had the opportunity, we were able to help visit with our home church. One Saturday, while visiting, we met a lady named Hilda. Hilda had attended church but had never rested her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. After sharing with her many Scriptures, she understood that salvation was only by grace through faith. She then placed her faith in Christ alone. Since being back in the states, we have seen some pictures of the church in Nicaragua. It was encouraging to see that the church is continuing to do well after we left. There was a report of 17 people receiving Christ recently. Praise God!

Life in the USA has been exciting for the girls. According to Ellowyn, every day we get to go to another new church! While it may not be "every" day, they have had to adjust to new places and new people on a regular basis. Elijah has been very happy to meet new people and get lots of special attention. Lila and Ellowyn have found their niche in giving out prayer cards to everyone they can. Some people may even receive 2 or 3 of them! All in all, it has been good for them. They are beginning to understand not just what we do as missionaries, but why we do it. What a privilege it is to bring the Gospel to those in need and report back on what God has done!

This month, there is only one Wednesday when we do not have a scheduled meeting. We will be very busy, yet we need God's blessing. This month, please pray:

1. That God will use us to share the gospel with the lost wherever we are.
2. That those who hear the Gospel will receive Christ by faith.
3. That God will use us to encourage churches in the Great Commission.
4. That God will provide a few new supporting churches during our furlough.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Friday, January 5, 2018

January 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Last month was very busy for us. During our last few days in Nicaragua, we held a baptism service. Jeremy baptized a boy who had been in his Sunday School class for over two years as well as a man whom he taught in a 1 on 1 discipleship course. Our final service in Nicaragua was held in the new church building. Pastor Berner and the church held a special going away service for our family. They made us feel very special and missed. After that, we finished up our packing, sold many things, and stored the rest at the homes of a few friends. We took an all night flight and arrived back in the states on December 7th. Upon arrival, we had to buy a used van and set up our cell phones to get ready for furlough travels. Thankfully, we were able to spend a few weeks at our home church, as well as participate in some of the Christmas festivities. Jeremy was given the opportunity to preach in Reformers Unanimous ministry of our home church. He also took a little time to help out with church visitation. There were two men who placed their faith in Christ to be saved. Jeremy also went to work putting together a new video with lots of pictures to show on furlough. Near the end of the month, we gave a brief furlough report to one of our supporting churches in TN.

It was very special to spend Christmas time with our families. That is something special which we should not take for granted! Everyone loved seeing how the girls had grown as well as get to know the newest member of the Blanz family, baby Elijah! It took Lila and Ellowyn a little time to get used to life in the United States. Sometimes, on our way to a place, Lila would ask whether we would speak in Spanish or English. At first, it seemed strange to her that everyone spoke English! The girls were also surprised to feel how cold it was up in Tennessee and to see puddles and ponds that had frozen over. They even got to see a little bit of snow! They really enjoyed getting to spend a little time reconnecting with our families.

We are so thankful for all who pray for us. This next month, will you please pray:

1. That God continues to strengthen the San Marcos church in our absence.
2. That God will use us to be a blessing and encouragement to the churches we visit.
3. That God will enable us to raise a little additional support during our time on furlough.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Monday, November 27, 2017

December 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are thankful that God has given us the privilege to serve Him here in Nicaragua. Though we are transitioning out of the ministry of our first church plant, Jeremy stayed very busy our month. He is working with several young people and one man in preparation for Baptism. Because there are so many denominations here which teach salvation by means of water baptism, we are sure to thoroughly teach both biblical salvation by grace through faith and believer's baptism to all baptismal candidates. As for the church building, it is now nearing completion. There is still a little work to be done on the floors and roof before finishing the last details. As for furlough preparation, Jeremy scheduled meetings in 13 more churches this last month. There was one setback. Despite conforming our furlough plans to the legal processes that affect our residency, we have had some problems getting our migratory status changed to permanent. At this point, we will simply have to trust God for everything to work out without any problems.

November was a very busy month for the family. Although Thanksgiving is an ordinary day here, we celebrated with some other missionary friends. Lila and Ellowyn both prepared special Spanish Christmas songs for their end of the school-year special event. They both have come a long way in their acquisition of the language. Here in Nicaragua, kindergarten has a graduation ceremony, so Lila was excited to "graduate." Elijah, of course, receives lots of special attention from all of the church ladies. As we prepare for furlough, it will be a big change for us. Lila and Ellie really don't remember much about the United States. Our families are looking forward to seeing the girls again and Elijah for the first time. We are now staying busy with final preparations such as packing, cleaning, and transporting our things to the places where they will be stored.

We are sending out this prayer letter a few days early because the days of our first term are coming to a close. This month, will you please pray:

1. That God will strengthen the church and guide it through this transition.
2. That God will guide our family through the transition of returning to the states for furlough.
3. That God will lead us as we continue making plans for furlough and our next term.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, Ellowyn, and Elijah Blanz

Friday, November 10, 2017

November 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month was very busy for us. In Jeremy's Sunday School class, there were several who had been really beginning to grasp the gospel. One morning, Jeremy stopped the class early and counseled six children who then made the decision to place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. One of our Sunday School teachers had been burdened to bring a girl to church each week for about a month. This girl received Christ in one of the services. We believe that God placed this burden in the Sunday School teacher's heart. It is hard to put this into writing, but one weekend the girl had gone missing. The city was rocked by the news that she had been murdered. Her family invited our church's national pastor Berner to come and preach the Gospel to all of the friends and family. This tragedy reminds us of two things: #1- That evil and wickedness exist in this world, and #2- That Jesus Christ is the only solution. Please pray for that God comfort the family and bring many to faith in Jesus Christ through this tragedy.

As for the church building, the main structure is now nearing completion. Work is now beginning on the roof. Pastor Berner is doing a great job managing the building process and working to get materials for the lowest prices possible. We are also working towards transferring our ministry roles in the church to faithful church members who will pick up where we leave off. Our family has been working every day to get ready for furlough. Jeremy has called several hundred churches. Last month, he booked 25 meetings, including many new churches. Michelle has been focusing upon cleaning, packing, and making plans for the storage of our things. We missed out on some opportunities to get things done last week due to a tropical storm. We spent 5 days with no electricity. Thankfully, we now have light again!

This next month will be extremely busy for us. We will be working to wrap things up here in Nicaragua as well as set things up for our furlough in the states. This month, will you please pray:

1. That God guide our church through this transition as the church becomes completely indigenous.
2. That God will use the tragedy from last month to bring others to Himself and for His glory.
3. That God will guide our family as we prepare for a big transition back to the states on furlough.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Saturday, September 30, 2017

October 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

It is hard to believe that we are now approaching the end of our first term here in Nicaragua. I am convinced we will stay busy until the end. Last month was a big month for us. Our church began building their own church building. Beyond all of the normal ministries of the church, Pastor Berner has also been leading home bible studies in different parts of the city each week. Through this outreach, several have received Christ. We pray that God continues working in the life of each person. We have invested much time this last month getting all of the legal documentation for our baby Elijah. Having dual citizenship, we now have his Nicaraguan passport and we are awaiting all of his legal documents from the USA Embassy. After obtaining lots of other government documents, we presented all of it before the Nicaraguan Immigration department only to be told that we could not change residency status until next year. This is contrary to what we were told the last three times. We have all been praying for God to give us favor and accomplish his perfect will on this matter. After asking the advice of the immigration agent, we were then advised that there was another process by which we could take our planned furlough without losing all of the work we have been building upon up to this point. This was a huge blessing. We can now move forward planning our furlough with greater confidence. Next month, Jeremy intends to spend some time visiting in the city of Dolores, which we are prayerfully considering for the location of our next church plant.

As for our family, Michelle has had a great recovery. Baby Elijah has now grown to 12 lbs! Our church was very excited to see him. The Nicaraguan Immigration Department is normally all business, but even the ladies there couldn’t help but to gush over him when they took his passport picture! Although we accomplished much last month in terms of government processes and documentation, there is still much to do. We are not only transitioning out of a church ministry, but also out of a home, a school, and a country… not to mention making plans for furlough. We have now made contact with nearly all of our supporting churches. We are looking forward to being able to see our families again, as well as the country from which we came.

We are so thankful for all of your prayers and support. This month, please pray:

1. That God will continue to bless our evangelistic efforts, save souls, and give spiritual growth.
2. That God will raise up servants in the church to take our place as we transition out.
3. That God will open doors in the city of Dolores, where we will begin visiting.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month was a very special month for us. As the month progressed, we had more and more visits to the capital city of Managua for Michelle’s prenatal doctor appointments. We also had to get prepared for a newborn baby. On Saturday, August 26th, our first baby boy, Elijah Nathaniel Blanz, was born. Thankfully, he and Michelle are both now healthy and doing great. Lila and Ellowyn are also very excited to have a little brother. Since then, we have been busy with other appointments. Since he will have dual citizenship, we are working to get both his passports and legal documentation from both the Nicaragua and United States governments. In early September, we are awaiting a visit from Michelle’s parents. It will be a very special trip for them to meet their first grandson. We are all looking forward to the trip.

Since the 2 year anniversary of the church plant, we have continue to see the church grow and strengthen. Pastor Berner and his wife Alma are doing a great job. Later this month, they will take a short trip to another city to help evangelize and area where a young Bible Institute graduate will begin planting a church. During this time, Jeremy will do a little more around the church. Other than that, Jeremy has been trying to work himself out of a job. We will be leaving for furlough in December and we want the church to be ready to keep pushing forward. Pastor Berner recently began a home outreach to hold in-home evangelistic services in different parts of the city. He has a great vision and will do a great job even after we leave. He also organized a “Soup and Sale” event at the church to raise funds for the building project. The other day on visitation, Jeremy spoke with a woman named Elsa who said she knew she would go to Hell. Jeremy explained to her that her only hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. She did not yet receive Christ that day, but the seed was planted. Please pray for her. Jeremy has continued making plans for furlough. We now have a few more meetings on the schedule. We have made our furlough schedule available to our supporting churches at “blanz2Nicaragua.blogspot.com” and under the tab “our schedule.”

This month, we intend to get our legal residency extended to 5 years. This is very important as it affects our furlough from March until October. After this, we will book more meetings. This month, please pray:

1. That God convict and save Elsa and others who have heard the Gospel preached clearly.
2. That God will help our residency extension to get approved without delay or problems.
3. That Michelle will have a great recovery from giving birth last month.

In Christ,

Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 2017 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

Last month was a special month for us. To celebrate the second anniversary of the church plant, we held a 3 day anniversary conference. Each night, the attendance was approximately 200 people. This included some visiting groups from other baptist churches in other cities. There were many visitors and each night, there were several professions of faith. We are thankful that the Lord is still adding to the church. During the regular services, Jeremy has continued his series on the Holy Spirit. While many churches have left people confused, it has been a great opportunity to provide clarity on the doctrines of the Holy Spirit. One other baptist church nearby has invited Jeremy to teach the same series. There have been great discussions and great questions, but it has been edifying to many. One man in our church recently began preparing for the ministry at the Bible Institute in Managua. It has been exciting for our church to rally behind him and pray for him as he begins his studies. As for the building project, we have now sorted out many of the obstacles including paying several years of back taxes on the land as well as obtaining permission from the local government to remove a few trees and begin construction. We expect to begin building very soon. In between everything else, Jeremy is continuing to contact our supporting churches regarding furlough. We are now scheduled to be in 15 churches. To view our online calendar, please visit Blanz2Nicaragua.blogspot.com and click the tab that says, “Our Schedule.”

Lord willing, this will be our last prayer letter before Michelle gives birth to our baby boy. He is due on the 24th. At our church plant, the ladies wanted to throw a surprise baby shower for Michelle. It was a special night and meant a lot to her. There were probably 50 people there easily. We are thankful to be part of such a loving church. Other events from the family last month would include Jeremy having to take a trip to Managua in the middle of the night to get stitches. Long story, but the good news is that he is okay. It was just warm up for when the baby comes!

We are looking forward to some big changes with our baby's birth this month. This month, will you please pray:
1. That God keeps his hand upon Michelle and the baby for a healthy delivery.
2. That God will continue to save souls, build, and strengthen His church here.
3. That God will guide us in our furlough planning.

In Christ,
Jeremy, Michelle, Lila, and Ellowyn Blanz