This cartoon shows exactly how I felt when I looked back on last month's newsletter. I wrote about a city waking up from a deep hibernation...about the pandemic fog lifting. In reality, what we were experiencing was a false start. Our perception was not at all equal to reality.

The reality is that Covid 19 cases have been rising steadily since Holy Week and this week saw an all-time high Coronavirus death rate in Colombia. The reality is that hospitals are collapsing from over-population and we are running out of oxygen reserves in Medellín. The reality is that although vaccinations have started, the supply is not equal to demand and the rollout has been slow. The reality is that we are back in quarantine every weekend - from Thursday at 8 p.m. to Monday at 5 a.m. and there is talk of prolonged quarantines of at least two weeks.
These quarantines are once again increasing hunger rates throughout the country. In the midst of it all, the government proposed an oppressive new tax program which feels like they are kicking the people while they are down. All week there have been widespread protests...which will probably only result in increased Covid 19 infection rates.

So, what seemed like a period of rebirth now seems like being stuck in a vicious cycle. Yet, we KNOW who holds the future. We KNOW God is at work. We KNOW the victory has already been WON. And so we press on...knowing that what we see now is only a reflection. What we know now, is only part. One day we will know fully, even as we are fully known. Even in the midst of present day difficulties, faith, hope and love remain. And we KNOW that the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:12-13 paraphrase mine). As Bishop Linda Adams said, "Our love for God and one another is what we [should] lead with"... especially in this present reality!

For God so loved the world...
We had a glorious celebration of God's love for us during Holy Week. The nightly, live devotional times were rich and meaningful. The Saturday morning prayer meeting was deep and the Sunday celebratory service was uplifting and encouraging. On Sunday alone over 49 people from 16 countries participated in the service...that doesn't even take into consideration the number of people watching with their families or church groups all over the region. The entire Free Methodist Latin American community was united around our love for God and it was a beautiful thing to see and participate in!
(Photo: A behind the scenes look at Ricardo recording his rooftop sermon.)

Spreading God's love to others...
In the midst of it all, the Community Church Planting movement continues to advance... multiplying disciples, leaders and churches throughout the region. We are delighted to hear daily reports of people joining the family of God because someone demonstrated God's love to them in a tangible way.

Ricardo and the Area leadership team have been teaching about effective administration, one part of our good stewardship. That involves providing for the needy and last week, thanks to the generosity of people like you, we were able to send more humanitarian aid to pastors and leaders who are struggling to survive throughout the region. At home, we've seen a lot more "Quarantine Carolers" (that's what we call people who set up in front of apartment buildings with their instruments or loud speakers and play or sing for donations). We are thankful for the opportunities God gives us to show His love to those in need...including a trunk full of groceries for members of the church.
Loving the family God gave us too...
Growing &
Ricardo celebrated his second birthday in quarantine this month. Last year we wanted to take him out to celebrate. This year we have grown in our acceptance of the way things are...and we are thankful to have a great dad & husband to celebrate! All we needed was a cake and a smile!
Juliana's Colombian school has been meeting exclusively online all month, including Saturday morning college entrance exam training.
She takes advantage of the days we can go out to continue her driving classes. If all goes well, she should be a licensed driver by the end of May.
New Things
Jonathan is really enjoying tennis classes, a new sport for him. Saturday classes have been canceled due to quarantine but he can still attend on Tuesday evenings. Since his school is always online, it provides a nice opportunity for social interaction with kids his age. I may be biased but I think he's doing great!
It has been a busy month, a month filled with administrative tasks like annual reviews, report writing and meetings. While those aren't the topic of exciting newsletters, they are a welcome part of our present reality. No matter the reality of our circumstances, we can always "lead with our love for God and others." May that be so for each and every one of us.

We thank God daily for your partnership in ministry with us. May God be glorified in your lives this week!

With much love,
Ricardo & Beth Gómez
Prayer Requests
In addition to the items on the area prayer guide (click on the picture to open it) and this newsletter, we invite you to also pray with us for...
  • Abel, a 12 year-old pastor's son in Paraguay who has bone cancer
  • A missionary kid who has continuing, unexplained health struggles
  • Beth's niece, Kristin, whose two foster sons will be returned to their birth family this week. We pray for ongoing transformation in their lives and we pray for comfort for the family that will deeply miss them.
  • The annual conference meeting in Ecuador on May 29 (online)

Praise God
  • We thank God for His healing work in Ricardo's brother, Rodolfo, who had Covid and his sister, Hilda, whose health problems have finally been diagnosed and she is receiving treatment. She still needs prayer for complete healing.
  • Meaningful Holy Week celebrations that united the region.