Brenda’s Bulletin

May 5, 2020 Where does the time go?!!!

Posted on May 5, 2020 at 4:22 pm by Brenda Matthews

Once again, more restrictions have been put in place as they say that these next 15 days are the peak of the danger of contracting COVID-19 here in Mexico.  The state of Baja California Sur, of which La Paz is the capital, has the 2nd highest per capita rate of COVID-19.  I basically only leave the apartment once a week to do grocery/food basket shopping.  Three days a week I try to get up onto the roof of the building to both get some sun and some exercise. Please pray for our protection and good health.

In my last report, I erroneously stated, “After almost two weeks of high-pressure activity, the pace is finally starting to slow down a bit”.  I was sooooo wrong!  The following day, new restrictions were put in place which meant we could no longer do the live transmission from the church.  So, since the beginning of April, my apartment has turned into a movie studio… I write the scripts, hire the actors, direct rehearsals, film them, edit the recordings, Movie April Servicesand then produce and distribute an almost-feature length film (52-78 min.) — each week!!!  I’m referring to our on-line church service.  At first I was recording the sermon, but now Ps. Rafa sends me a video to edit.  The idea was to save me the time. It actually creates a little more work, but I appreciate the thought and better quality and that he just started recording the sermon a day earlier which definitely helps.  Clicking on the icon will take you to the playlist of the April services.

Saúl prepares the playlist of songs for the service.  I tried different ways to make them a part of the video, but we’ve decided to return to the original format of starting the “live” transmission when the songs would be ending.  I’m hoping that will ease my workload a little because I’ve been putting in at least one 40/hour day each week (two full days plus all night working on the video in a state of near-constant tension to have it ready for Sunday morning).  Sunday, during the broadcast, I work on interaction.  After that there is follow-up work to do (prepare and post the announcements, the questions for reflection, and a collage of the photos sent in by people reflecting their attendance along with some other items to post to the church WhatsApp group), and I try to get some rest.  Monday is the day to work at life (cleaning, washing, correspondence, phone calls, etc.) and I try to get some rest.  Tuesday mornings are the ladies’ prayer meeting which I host and then do the shopping before turning my focus to what to do for the service and who to involve.  I call those people Tuesday and Wednesday.  Wednesdays I’m rehearsing and recording the “extra pieces” using Zoom, and I participate in the church prayer meeting in the evening.   But Thursday to Sunday is an intense time editing all the pieces and preparing the video of the service.  The first week included one night of no sleep, one of 3 hours of sleep, and another of one hour of sleep finishing up at 8:30 am for our 10 am service.  I hope to never repeat that again!

The first week we used FB Live through OBS Studio, but I lost my internet connection about 40 minutes into the service and that messed it up for everyone.  Since then, we’ve been using FB Premiere and that has taken the stress out of Sunday mornings!  Let me take you through last Sunday’s service and explaining my role.

1 Singing 25At 10 am, I prayed and started the playlist of songs on YouTube.   It was a great time of worship.  And the seating is much more comfortable!

1 FB 15Then I opened the church’s FB page and saw the countdown.  For those who see the video at a later time or are not from our church, I include the links to the songs in the description.  We have several people joining us from the Americas and Spain as well others from La Paz.

1 David 10After some “announcements” that I prepare to allow time for people to connect, David gives the welcome.  He also closes the service, so he’s the last person that I record.  Since I’ve heard all the parts of the service, I coach him on what to say so that his comments feel like they’re real-time.

1 Castro 10Next I include 4 or 5 greetings, beginning with one of the church leaders and his wife.  I ask them to give their name, why they like the El Faro church (thanks for the idea Hazelglen!) and then they spontaneously express that they miss everyone.  Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you have to click on the photo to watch the video of this family. Iván (you may recognize him because you prayed for him through treatments for a rare cancer) introduces his son, Dante, his wife, Jimena, his son Esdras who is sleeping and himself.  Then Dante says he loves the church because “I adore God” followed by his parents with their reasons.  What the people say is their genuine statement, but I rehearse with them to get it to flow and make sure the lighting, sound, camera angle and background are the best we can make them.  Usually it takes 5-10 attempts to get it right – some because of internet problems.  So this was about the 4th time recording, but this time something distracts Dante.  He then pauses after, “I love the El Faro church because…” but, instead of “I adore God”, what came out was, “God adores me”.  Their response is priceless.  1 Dante goofYou can click here and advance about 4 minutes to see him do it right.  (Due to the treatments Iván underwent, he was told that he would probably not be able to have more children, or that they would suffer severe defects.  Jimena just announced that she’s pregnant and the doctors say she’ll have a healthy baby girl!  Praise God for His mercies!)

1 ScriptureSaúl prepares the visual for the sermon and I edit the sermon adding the main points and all the Scripture references (which I have to carefully type in myself).  In the first sermon in the playlist above, the pastor spoke on what we learn from birds in Matthew 6.  I had lots of fun adding my photos to illustrate the points in that one!

1 CommentsDuring the sermon, I interact and add comments to emphasize the main points and welcome people.  As mentioned, in the description, I include the links to all the songs.

1 SCThis was the third time to celebrate Communion together, 1 Jugobut in our homes.  I added a frame to the wall and put the visuals there and also the Scriptures.

1 SongJimena and her sister both gave greetings and also sang to accompany the Communion service.  (Click here and go to about 44 minutes.)  They sang an “Amazing Grace” hymn, I used another version for background music, and they ended with a modern version.  I also added thy lyrics to the videos.  Their harmony is wonderful.

In the midst of calls, meetings and messages, I try to stay up to date with WhatsApp, but I’m hopelessly behind on email.  At least now you know why I haven’t responded!  On top of all that, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like a global quarantine stop me from celebrating my birthday with friends.  It was a fun party, but I’ll tell you about that another day.  I will ask for prayer for the healing of my index finger because I burned it and still have a cap of hard, dead skin. (I wrote this letter yesterday.  Today it is starting to peel.)

I do trust that each of you is doing well and you’ve not been touched by sickness or economic struggles.  A lot of people here have no work due to the quarantine and no savings, so they are struggling.  El Faro is starting to help with food baskets as funds come in.  If you’d like to make a donation toward food baskets, please send it to TEAM TEAM logo 50clearly indicating: COVID19 Benevolence – El Faro account #524001.

Click on the logo for a message from the International Director of TEAM and to give.

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