Thursday, June 10, 2021


 Argentina on Lockdown (God is not in quarantine)


We made it through that first online semester and we thank God that it was successful.  During the break, the lockdown continued and we began preparations to go online again for the second semester.  During the first semester we felt pretty safe as there were very few cases of COVID in our region, however, during the break, it did make its way to Gaiman and although we were only eight staff members here on campus, it made it’s way to IBP.  Thankfully, only
two staff members contracted the virus.  Our supervisor couple was sick for about two weeks but the rest of us managed to escape Covid’s grip.


Mom


Unexpectedly, we had to travel home.  Mom had suffered at least two more heart attacks and a stroke. Her prognosis was looking very grim and after several conversations with hospital staff and family, it was decided that it was time to travel home.  In fact, we were not sure if we were going to make it to see her alive.  In addition to our regular flight time, we had to drive one thousand miles from our town in Patagonia to the city of Buenos Aires because all transportation including domestic flights were shut down.  When we finally arrived home, Mom had just arrived home from the hospital.  She was very weak and fragile and although her health had declined significantly, she was stable, feeding herself, and better than just a week before.  In the days and weeks that followed, Mom had speech and physical therapy and we were there to witness her surprising improvement.  Thank you, God!


Itineration


In our absence, the staff held the fort but since we were already used to this lockdown life of working remotely, Eddie was very present and available at IBP even from California.  


Following this emergency trip, we had to get ready for another trip that was actually planned.  We are truly grateful for the staff that God has blessed us with.  They are capable, hard working, and loyal and we know that they will take care of things when we are away.  We have new supervisors, former students Juan Jose and Damaris.  They joined us in January and are a great addition to our staff.  


2021 is the year for our itineration in the states but this year things are scheduled differently than usual.  Our time away has been divided into two shorter trips of three to four months each.  This ensures that we are not absent from the Bible Institute for a whole year.  In previous years, there was another missionary couple, the directors, who would be here when we were gone and when it was their turn to be gone, we would hold the fort.  Now we are the directors and they have retired.  This new arrangement is also allowing us to be home for the weddings of our children.  Felicia in February and Jeremy in November.  Two weddings in one year! 


Felicia & Caleb


We’re already back from the first part of our itineration.   

We were blessed to be in Texas for Felicia’s wedding on February 26, when we welcomed Caleb Aaron Brown into our family.  

It seems like only yesterday our children were small and here with us.  Now they are grown adults and making lifelong decisions.  We miss them but are glad they are not alone.

IBP’s Doors Open in 2021


We were so thrilled to be able to open our doors and receive our students “in person” this semester. 
2020 was a long year and although we still had classes "online", it just wasn’t the same.  

Although most of our students were able to be here this semester, we still had some online presence; and because many parts of Argentina are still having high Covid counts and travel restrictions in place, not all of our professors were able to be here.

It’s been a different year for sure, but God has helped us every step of the way and classes continue to go on, one way or another.   There was sure a spirit of joy this semester and I believe everyone felt something special in the air from just being together.  Something about Covid and shutdowns can sure make a person thankful for the freedom to gather.  

To all of you who have continued to support us either with
your prayers or financially, we say a huge THANK YOU!
We pray the Lord would keep you close to his side and safe
during these crazy days in which we are living.

We will be home again soon for part two of our itineration so, 
Lord willing, we hope to see you in the coming months!
May our God bless you for your faithfulness.  Love and Hugs!

Eddie and Diana Echevarria







Friday, June 26, 2020

Life Under Quarantine

On March 20 the quarantine hit our corner of the world.  We didn’t know if it was going to be for one or two weeks or for longer.  It soon became apparent that it was going to be for longer and that we were not going to be given any assurance that this was going to end any time soon.  In just a couple of days the student supervisors were to arrive followed by the new students for registration and orientation.  As they were in the process of preparing for travel, the flights and buses began to shut down.   They would not be able to travel after all. We would soon be moving to a Plan B which did not yet exist.

Mom

On March 21, I received a phone call that my mom was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Later we would learn that she had suffered another major heart attack.  In California, the quarantine had just begun in full force. My sister was not even allowed to accompany Mom in to the hospital.  No one was allowed in except patients.  So we all waited to hear what was happening with Mom.  Praise God, she stabilized and was able to go home.  Even now, at almost ninety-two years of age, Mom is a strong woman.  Here she is home and with my brother, Ben.

Classes take shape at IBP

I am still amazed at how our staff was able to create and implement this Plan B in just a matter of days. Everyone was so ready and willing to do whatever was necessary to see classes go forth, albeit, in a different manner. Classes would continue online! Even though this was definitely not what our students were planning on, almost all of them agreed to take on this new challenge. Even our professors who had not taught this way before, were willing to take advantage of the technology within their reach to teach their classes.

On April 6, classes began and the semester came together beautifully.  In a normal semester, we have daily chapel times, and Sunday evening services. We also have small “Intimacy with God” groups which meet weekly and focus on different themes that encourage spiritual growth. How would we do all of this with the students not here on campus?  On line, of course!  


Broadcasting live from IBP we were able to bring all of our students together on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons for times of worship and encouragement from the Bible.  Students and professors alike took part in both leading the rest of us in worship and sharing from God’s word. Even though we were apart from one another physically, it was so awesome to still be together during these special times.

We are nearing the end of this very unusual semester at IBP and we are still under quarantine.  We are so thankful that we were able to keep pressing on in the face of this craziness in which we are living. May all of the glory go to our God who “…has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). For “…we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved”  (Hebrews 10:39). 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Beginnings of 2020

We kicked off 2020 by attending our Southern Cone Missionary Retreat, which is held every two years. This year it was held in a beautiful city here in Argentina.  The Southern Cone includes the five countries of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.  These retreats are special times of encouragement from God’s word, of prayer and of connecting with our counterparts in these countries. We are thankful to our leaders for investing in our continued growth so that we can be better prepared to do what we do.  

It seems like only yesterday that we were free to travel whenever we needed or wanted to.  Like our December trip to the states, this retreat mentioned above, a trip to renew a passport or perhaps to attend a national convention or meeting.  We did take the trip in late January to the capital city, Buenos Aires, to renew my passport.  We also made some trips to nearby cities to encourage and pray with pastors and to attend a wedding.  It wouldn’t be long, however, before everything would change.

In February, God must have been getting us ready for what was to come because we attended several online mentoring classes on ZOOM.  Of course we had no idea how important ZOOM would become to our Bible school in the coming days.

In these early months of 2020, we also welcomed new staff members Noé and Yanina.  They are IBP alums and newlyweds (pictured above).  Noé is serving as assistant to the director and Yanina as our administrative secretary.  


In recent months we also said goodbye to IBP’s cook who served us well for six years (pictured in red at right).  She and her husband are moving on to become pastors.  One thing we have learned, and have probably said before, God always provides the right people for our staff at just the right time.  He shows himself faithful as we place our trust in him. 

As we near the beginning of a new semester, we get busier and busier with all of the preparations.  Part of those preparations this break included the laying of a new brick pathway and continuing the work on the patio flooring between the academic center and the library.  Here you can see that floor being laid.  What a nice surprise for the students when they return for classes in April!  But will they be returning in April?  


Stay Tuned … The Quarantine hits IBP!     

Friday, January 10, 2020

Year end 2019

Holiday Update


It seems like so much has happened since our last post. I’m going to break this into two posts to keep things concise.  

Our last semester at IBP ended with a beautiful graduation night.  There was such joy and celebration in the air.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  It is at these times that our multipurpose building suddenly seems small.  Some wonderful friends visited that we hadn’t had the opportunity to spend quality time with in years.  
 We are so thankful for our time together, Solomon and Lori!  Love you, Friends!!!

December we also had the opportunity to travel home to the states and spend the holidays with family.  First, however, we were privileged to be in Texas for a very special occasion.  The engagement of our daughter, Felicia.  Her boyfriend, Caleb, knew we would be passing through Texas for a couple of days and so waited for us to be there before he popped the question.  She said, “Yes!

In Texas we were also able to see Eddie’s family.  We attended church together, exchanged gifts and simply enjoyed being together.  We are thankful to the Lord for allowing us that special time in Texas.

Our final destination was California, where I got to see my family.  I am always especially thankful to see my mom, who is now 91 years old.  Our son, Jeremy, flew in from Minnesota with his girlfriend, Ali, for this special family time.  Felicia flew in, too!  And all too soon it came to a close as we all headed back to our different corners of the world and to our unique responsibilities.  A special shoutout to my sister and brother-in-law for hosting all of us.  Actually, they are the ones who instigated this holiday get together.  Thank you, Beck & Chris!


    

Monday, December 9, 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

As we close this activity-filled year, we give thanks to the One who came to this earth...  who was born, lived as God and man and who gave his life as a sacrifice in our place so that we might know Him... Our Creator and Lover of our Souls!

That, Dear Friends, is the Good News!

And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone."  New Living Translation


We are glad to present to you the 
Patagonian Bible Institute,
 graduating class of 2019. 



Saturday, November 16, 2019

WHAT A PRIVILEGE!

TO SERVE AT IBP

The second semester was only one week away when we returned from our ministry trip to Cuba. Nothing like jumping back in with both feet.  We processed new students, trained our students who would be working for scholarships, and prepared for the weekend, when we would welcome back the greater part of the student body.  Such a great crop of kids and such a privilege to be a part of their
lives. (Right) Pic of our hard working scholarship students...

Every year we look forward to the sermons that our third year students will preach thoughout the year.  It warms my heart and makes me glad to hear and learn about what the Lord has been teaching each one of them during their time as students at IBP.  They have matured and grown in many ways and now they are prepared to take the good news of the gospel to those around them.


This semester's Spiritual Emphasis week was exactly was the doctor ordered.  A Spiritual challenge straight to the heart as Pastor Carlos Rendon (right) brought the devotional and evening messages from which we all received and benefited.  During class hours, motivational speaker Ivan Devia (left) taught our students about influence and evangelism through social media and the web.  We live in days of ever changing technology and this was precisely the right teaching at the right time.

There was such excitement in the air following Spiritual Emphasis for the annual IBP Youth Day (right) which we call IBP Joven (in Spanish).  This year's event was very well attended with 250 youth from nearly two dozen churches from cities near and far who joined in for a full day of learning, socializing, and celebrating our God together.  Ivan Devia stayed on to speak to the young people about the wise use of our devices and social media.  Students also attended workshops throughout the day on leadership, choreography, graphic design & multimedia, and worship leading.

Following IBP Joven, we received a special visit from missionary Charles Stewart (left), the host of a long running radio show and podcast called "A Message to the Conscience".  He gave a workshop to our students about communicating the gospel effectively via media.  We are pleased that so much knowledge has been made available to our students.

The second half of the semester flew by quickly with activities every weekend.  On one in particular we honored two couples who have worked along side of us and ministered to our students and who will soon be moving on.


Goodbyes - As if the goodbyes that come naturally every year were not enough, this semester we say goodbye to missionaries    Ben & Belu Grams (left).  They have been our Campus Chaplains for the past three years and have now come to the end of their time with us.  They created a niche that became a place of counsel and spiritual guidance for our students that bloomed and turned into something beautiful.  We will miss them and their two beautiful boys, Toby and Zeke.

After six years of being on staff as administrative secretary and assistant to the director, Rocio and Jonhy (right) have felt God calling them to step down and to devote more of themselves and their time into their role as church planting pastors in the small community of Playa Union.  They have travelled the forty minute drive almost daily after work to attend to their church responsibilities.  May God open doors as they take this step of faith to dedicate more time to the people God has called them to.  Please pray for housing and jobs as they move to Playa Union.
 

Monday, September 30, 2019

GOD SAID WHAT?

Get Out of the Boat!

God began doing something new a few months ago which took us by surprise this summer.  About the same time, God was speaking to us about getting out of the boat…getting out of our comfort zone and taking steps of faith…again.

The first step for me (Eddie) this time around, was taking a flight to the capital city of Buenos Aires and getting my Cuban passport renewed.  One month later it was ready to be picked up.  The next week I purchased tickets for Diana and I to travel to Cuba.  Many months prior, God had asked me to dream and then he put it all together and the dream became a reality.

Why was this a big deal? In recent years, God began to stir in me a desire to return to the country of my birth.  I knew that if I went to Cuba, I wanted it to be for a purpose… to minister.  Of course, I also wanted to see family I had not seen in years or ever.  After all, I was only four years old when our family left.  Lastly, I wanted to see the natural beauty of the Island.  It was a two week trip which unfolded in early September.

God is good, God is faithful, and God wants us to believe him for greater things.  With him nothing is impossible.

Below are some pictures where you can see that God gave me the desires of my heart...  

Left - Preaching at the church 
in Havana where my parents pastored in the early 60's.

Right - Preaching at my mom's home church in the city where I was born.



Preaching in my dad's home town of Ciego de Avila at the church he attended while in his teenage years.  From here he went to Bible school.




In each of the three cities we visited, I was able to connect with family.



God even blessed us with a day at one of  the lovely Cuban beaches.

We serve a good God, folks! One who is interested in every detail of our lives and One who wants to show us what it really means to live an abundant life.

To God be the Glory!