Category Archives: Culture

Update – Funeral Service


Thank you all who prayed for the funeral this afternoon. Honestly, it was an incredible service and it was such and honor to speak God’s Word.

There were over 100 people inside our building and another dozen or two outside. I though we only had space in our church for 80. I guess I was wrong!It was packed.

We sung a few songs, shared a testimony of the deceased’s salvation and love for others, and I was able to share a Bible message of hope and salvation from John 14:1-6.

What God did next was amazing. A large number of those present decided to make a profession of faith in Jesus alone for salvation. Most had heard that Jesus died on the cross, and had some form of religion, but they admitted that having religion and trusting in our own works is simply not enough. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! They repented and believed in Him.

We praise Jesus for the work he did today and pray that this fruit will remain. Many expressed their desire to continue with us and grow in their new life.

What an honor to this elderly saint (who herself accepted Christ just last May!) that new birth would take place at the service celebrating her death.

God was glorified. The family was comforted. God’s family grew by a bunch.

Thank you for praying! Please continue to pray for this family, both those that started new life today and others who are still grieving their loss.

I stand in wonder of His grace to allow us to be a part of something much greater than ourselves.

I snapped a few pics after I finished preaching before we dismissed. Enjoy…

PS – The visiting group from our church in the States made it in just fine. Pray for a productive and fruitful trip, and for the upcoming official inauguration this Sunday!

20140709-164916-60556954.jpg

20140709-164920-60560443.jpg

20140709-164919-60559455.jpg

20140709-164913-60553230.jpg

20140709-204632-74792318.jpg

20140709-204649-74809835.jpg

Prayer Letter for January-February 2014


Dear Prayer Partners,

Ministry Update

Hello again from beautiful Bucaramanga, Colombia! The Lord has opened many doors for us since our last letter. We have seen people trust Christ as well as new discipleship and home Bible studies started, including one in our own home. As we establish these contacts, we plan to officially open a church within the next couple months. It is exciting to be a part of God’s work. Consider coming to join us!

I returned this week from an evangelistic campaign on the other side of Colombia where I was able to preach several times in small villages in open-air meetings and from house to house. Many attended, with over 30 trusting in Christ for salvation, and we were also able to encourage new believers. These campaigns were in preparation for church plants by the Colombian national pastor who invited me. Though I spent dozens of hours in buses, taxis, motorcycles, riverboats and on foot, this trip was a tremendous blessing! The culture, accent, and the weather is much different on the Coast than here in the mountains where we live. Thankfully, the Gospel message works the same!

Family Happenings

February kicks off the school year here in Colombia, so our girls began attending a nearby preschool in the mornings. They are learning well and have fun playing with the other children. Meanwhile, Aubrie is meeting with a personal tutor at the same time to improve her Spanish. I’m proud of how they are all coming along in the language and culture! When explaining to Amira she would be wearing a uniform like all the other children, she exclaimed, “Oh Yeah! Everybody likes Unicorns!” She still gets excited about wearing her unicorn each day. Ha…

Colombian Culture Corner

Many everyday words in Colombia are very vulgar and offensive in other Spanish-speaking countries. Coming from pastoring the Spanish ministry in GA with people from many different countries, it has been an adjustment using these words. It’s all part of learning the culture. We just have to be careful for the words that work the other way around! 🙂

Prayer Requests

  • New converts, discipleship groups & Bible studies
  • Wisdom as we choose a location for the church
  • Financial support — We could use several more partners as we launch the church
  • That God would continue to glorify himself in us!

Love In Christ Jesus,

Aaron Vance & Family

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Timothy 2:3-6

P.S. – Our new field address is: Carrera 51 #50-103 Bucaramanga, Santander Colombia You can also call us any time on a US number that rings on my cell here: 678-696-0082 or email us: aaronlvance@gmail.com

02-2014 prayer letter

Click to see a printable PDF of our letter (with pictures!)

Click to see a printable PDF of our letter (with pictures!)

November – December 2013 Prayer Letter


Dear Prayer Partners,

Hola From Colombia!

We have at last arrived on the field! It’s been quite a process, but now the easy part is done and the work has just begun.

The last month in the US was very hectic with 15 meetings in 5 states (what was I thinking??). We sincerely appreciate all that helped us prepare for our departure as well as those that gave monthly and one time gifts. God used you to get us here. You have advanced the cause of the Gospel and there will be eternal fruit to your account.

The Holidays

It was definitely a different experience spending Thanksgiving and Christmas in Colombia without the rest of our extended family, but God’s grace is always sufficient! Christmas is an exciting time here, as everything was completely decked out with lights and nativity scenes. On the surface it appears that Colombians celebrate the Christ of Christmas even more than in the States. However, it brings tears to my eyes that most Colombians don’t KNOW the Christ of Christmas. They know the religious traditions, holidays and rituals, but all without a sweet relationship with Jesus. There is a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). Please pray as we introduce Christ the Savior to those that know him only in tradition and religion.

Click to see a printable version of our letter.

Click to see a printable version of our letter.

Ministry Opportunities

We have been able to survey different areas of this growing city and have it narrowed down to a couple of neighborhoods for our first church plant, hopefully by Spring. The need here is incredible. We have seen some people saved and are currently working on making contacts and conducting home bible study groups in preparation for the church launch.

During our time getting established we have also been able to attend and help out another Baptist church started by a missionary brother from Panama on the other side of the city from us. I’m currently preaching here each Wednesday. Please pray for Pastor José Morales and this dear church.

Prayer Requests

Again, thank you for your support in prayers and financial gifts. For those that have been holding out, we remain at about 95% of our needed funds and could definitely use a few more monthly partners as we launch our ministry. Please prayerfully consider if God would have you support the work of church planting in Colombia. Souls are in the balance.

Also pray for wisdom in all that goes into starting a church, for open doors to present the Gospel, for men & women as well as young people that we could not only see saved but also trained and discipled.

Lastly, pray for the family as we adjust. The girls are doing great learning some Spanish and Aubrie is gaining fluency. It’s a big change to all but we’re excited to be here for the glory of our great God.

All for Jesus,

Aaron, Aubrie, Amira & Anabel Vance
Philippians 1:20-21

 

P.S. – Here is our new field address:

Carrera 51 #50-103
Bucaramanga, Santander
Colombia

You can also call us any time on an US number that rings on my cell here: 678-696-0082 or email us: aaronlvance@gmail.com

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! ~ Colombia’s [crazy] New Year Traditions


A view from the center of the town where we have moved.

A view from the center of the town where we have moved, Bucaramanga Colombia.

Happy New Year from the Vances in Colombia! I thought I’d share a fun little post of some [interesting] Colombian traditions and New Year’s rituals.

Colombia has a load of these New Year superstitions, and most people pick a couple to practice each year (you couldn’t possibly do all of them… lol). It’s amazing how many more of these I’m finding out about as we go along.

Enjoy

1. Vuelta A La Manzana (Trip Around the Block)

At midnight, many Colombians will grab an empty suitcase take a fast lap with it around the block. They believe this will increase chances of taking a big trip in the upcoming year. PS – our suitcases won’t be getting out again any time soon; moving to Colombia was enough for now! 🙂

2. Las Uvas (The Grapes)

It’s crazy how much I’ve been asked if we have prepared our “New Year’s Grapes.” 🙂 Colombians will get 12 grapes and once the clock strikes midnight, they’ll start eating them one by one (at each strike of the clock), making a wish on each. BUT, they believe you have to eat all 12 grapes before 12:01 to make sure the wishes come true!  

3. Calzón Amarillo (Yellow Underwear)

This ritual is supposed to bring good luck, especially with the lottery. If you really want to be lucky, you’re supposed to wear it inside-out and/or backwards!

4. Dinero En El Zapato (Money In The Shoe)

So, if you want to have a financially prosperous year, you need to stuff some bills in your shoe (then put it back on), or at least have some money in your pocket.

5. Las Lintejas (The Lentils)

Colombians put a few grains, particularly lentils, in their pocket to make sure they have enough food to put on the table for the year.

6. Subir La Escalera (Climb The Ladder)

If there’s no ladder available, a chair can be used, but this ritual takes the figurative saying literally, making sure one climbs the ladder of society and life during the year.

7. El Año Viejo (The Old Year)

Perhaps one of the most interesting, to me at least, is the Old Year doll. Many Colombians carry out this tradition each year, gathering a pair of clothes, stuffing it with paper, cardboard and even explosives, then setting it in the street and incinerating it at midnight. This represents the old year passing and a new year coming. Past mistakes, failures, sins, can be left behind, because it’s a new year. Now there is a new opportunity, another chance at life. The old has gone and the new has come.

By Etienne Le Cocq (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Etienne Le Cocq (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When I think of the new year traditions, particularly the Old Year doll, I cannot help but to think of the difference Christ makes in one’s life when they receive him as their Savior. When a person is born again, it is just that… they are born again! They really are made new! They really are a new creature! They really do have a different approach to life, a different hope, a different (and BETTER) purpose… What a difference Christ makes! We pray many Colombians come to know this Christ, not just as a religious figure or good luck charm, but on a personal level. On a complete-repentance-and-trusting-faith level.

 

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

 

This list of 7 New Year’s rituals in Colombia is not near conclusive (I’ve heard of another 7 or 8 more traditions but I thought you’d get bored…lol), but I wanted to give you an idea of what we see here. Our wish for you, our friends and family, as you enter this new year, is that you would be full of God’s love, growing in his grace, and in the knowledge in his Word. We pray for health, prosperity, success, and open doors to serve our great God. We love you all!

Things That Are Different And Not The Same


Here’s a fun post for you. These are a few adjustments we’ve had to make here in Colombia having to do with daily life. This list is definitely not conclusive, but they are just some things we’ve found interesting and had to learn. 🙂

"¡Mira las monitas!" (Look at the little monkeys!)

“¡Mira las monitas!” (Look at the little monkeys!)

At The Store

  • Fruit is dirt cheap. Just be sure to wash off the dirt.
  • Eggs are not sold nor stored in the refrigerated section but on a room temperature shelf.
  • Milk is not sold in jugs but in bags, also on the non-refrigerated shelf.
  • Cheese is used everywhere, but any type of yellow cheese is rare and expensive, that is if you can find any! (aka “Goodbye, Cheddar”)
  • Mountain Dew and Red Bull both are sometimes available, and are less than a dollar for what costs $2-4 in the States.
  • “Ragu” pasta sauce is imported and costs about $6 per jar.
  • Bottled carbonated water is as common as uncarbonated water.
  • Today we saw a tin of cookies (the same brand Aubrie used to buy for her Grandpa for Christmas at the Dollar Tree) for about $9.50 US.
  • We won’t be eating those cookies.

At Home

  • Hot water heaters are available, but not common. When we asked a real estate agent about this, he asked if the local water was too cold for us. We mentioned that we enjoy a warm/hot shower if we can get it, he gave us a serious look and asked, “But won’t that make you sick?” 🙂
  • Tile instead of carpet, bars on windows instead of screens, and open windows instead of air conditioning (The AC isn’t too much of a problem since it stays moderately warm).
  • Many friendly Colombian neighbors love to play music loudly at night. Salsa, Reggaeton, Mariachi… oh yeah.
  • Rent is a bit cheaper than the US, but buying a house or property is much more expensive!

Around Town

  • Traffic signals, lines, and signs are merely suggestions and often ignored.
  • On a 3 lane road, many times there will be 4 small cars and a couple of motorcycles squeezed in between each car. True story.
  • For a city of 2 million, I’ve only seen 1 small wreck in the week we’ve been here. Not sure how that’s possible as I’ve seen how people drive here. Lol…
  • Seat belts are almost never used. Just hold on for your lives!
  • Many people have multiple cell phones. In fact, there are over 49 million active cell phones and Colombia’s population is only 47 million.
  • On many street corners there are people who carry 50-100 new-release movies with copies of the cover and a burned DVD in a plastic bag, selling them for 1-2 dollars each. Yes, pirated. Right next to the cops. They don’t sell many in stores. I wonder why…
  • Public restrooms are between 25 cents and a dollar to use, toilet paper is rationed, and most public toilets do not have seats.
  • People that are strangers will often stop what they’re doing for hours to help you. I find this unique and refreshing, even coming from the Southern US! 
  • As I mentioned in my last post, our little blonde haired girls are referred to as “Monitas” or, little monkeys. There aren’t many foreigners, even in our big city, so they get lots of attention!
  • Colombians are very proud of their heritage and superiority in society (what people group isn’t?!). I had a taxi driver preach to me for 1/2 hour last night about how terrible each other Latin American county is, and how Colombia and its people, of course, is supreme in all things. I just smiled and said how much I liked Colombia. 😀 Inside I thought how great it would be if this man got the same passion for Christ and his glory… what a difference he could make!

Just because some people do certain things differently, doesn’t make them weird. Actually, it makes us weird, because we are prone to do things differently than them, in their own land. We try to have a student’s eye, watching and learning how people do things. We try to have a servant’s heart, helping and lifting up instead of expecting to be served. We try to have the Savior’s mind, who left it all, came to a different land, and gave his all for us so that we could be with Him.

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Let us all have the eyes of a student, the heart of a servant and the mind of our Savior!

Feel free to share, comment, or add to any of this. God bless!

%d bloggers like this: