March 2019 update
It's been two months since my last newsletter so here are the highlights of what's happened since then.
First, we've had a snowy and cold winter. For those of you in northern climates, my statement is not meant as a lament, only a statement that the weather has been wacky down here. The early part of February was fairly slow with continued visits to the the Rio at Las Estancias (Long term care facility) that have produced many wonderful conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel of our Lord.
Recently we received notification from the Rocky Mountain District Constitution committee that we are within 3-4 months of becoming a constituted congregation in the Missouri Synod. This is wonderful news! We've had travelers from afar (Wisconsin and Rhode Island) stay at our home and the Lenten Season began just this last Wednesday. In addition to this, on February 26th I turned 41, which was anti-climactic coming off of my 40th last year but it was a wonderful day nevertheless.
Melissa continues to home school Knox andeven began doing a little acting for the big film productions that are everywhere here in Albuquerque. Her next gig is in Mid-March so make sure to look for her on the silver screen soon. Autographs however, are things that we'll have to wait on until she signs with a talent agent ;)
Knox continues to do well in school and is kept very busy with many wonderful things during the week. He just began water polo, a sport both Melissa and I know nothing about, and I am happy to report that he is doing very well. He begins baseball on the 9th of March with his first game on the 23rd.
Finally, it is with great joy that a announce that on the 20th of March we will be celebrating our official one year anniversary of arriving in Albuquerque! Please celebrate with us and continue to keep us in you prayers.
The Lord has continued to be faithful to us, as He always is and we are overjoyed at the many wonderful things that He has shown to us in the year that we've been here. We thank you all for your generous support and if you're ever in the area we'd love to see you. And if you know anyone in our neck of the woods that would like to have us visit, please let me know and we'll see if we can't get out to see them.
Adam, Melissa and Knox
January 2019 update
Happy New Year and a blessed Epiphany to you and yours! I bring you greetings from the snow covered desert Southwest, the congregation of St. Andrew Lutheran and the DeGroot Family!
Since my last newsletter we have traversed our first Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas here in Albuquerque. I am happy to report that the DeGroots continue to acclimate well to our first year here and I am pleased to say that friendships and relationships continue to flourish.
Thanksgiving brought nearly the whole congregation of St. Andrew through the doors of the DeGroot household and our feast was partaken of with great thankfulness for the gift of family, friends, traveling mercies for family from far away, and the gift of fellowship that is afforded to us as the family of God…
Advent brought wonderful reflections of our coming Lord during regular Sunday services and we were able to hold three semi-quiet Mid-week services. I say semi-quiet because our neighbors in the strip mall are a Zumba studio who holds regular classes at 6:30 every evening. This coincided with our time of service and the many that were gathered for service patiently and attentively listened to the preaching in the midst of BOOMING BASS that began every week at the precise moment that the sermon began. We chalked those evenings up as an experience that we will look back on and smile about as a young congregation but we've learned our lesson and as we continue through Christmas and Epiphany we continue to hold Wednesday evening services... at 5:30.
Christmas was wonderful with 100% turnout of our 25 members for our 7:00 Christmas Eve Service and Christmas day was well attended with 20. We rejoice together at the Birth of our Lord and are so thankful that we had this Christmas to gather together to receive our Lord's gifts.
On the 3rd of January, we celebrated Knox's 8th birthday with great fanfare! We had a quiet family dinner and opened presents while Melissa and I looked back over 8 years that have simply flown by. We pray daily that the moments we are afforded as Knox's Mother and Father will be cherished for we are quickly realizing that time really does fly.
December also brought new evangelism opportunities. I had been visiting hospitals in Central Albuquerque from March of 2018 but was given an opportunity to visit a long-term care facility in our neighborhood. Early in the month I began visiting the 120 residents of the Rio at Las Entancias. What a joy this has been in the opportunities it has presented to me to provide conversation and the Gospel of our Lord with people that are essentially shut-in. Along with this, the congregation at St. Andrew has had the opportunity to make visits with me and on the 19th of December we visited as a group to Carol for the residents.
Finally, we continue to await word from the Rocky Mountain District about our constitution and by-law review. We are eagerly awaiting the day that we will be a fully constituted congregation and in the mean time we are beginning discussions about the possibility of either expanding our space to accommodate our meager growth or purchasing land for the future St. Andrew Lutheran Church building. Excitement is palpable and the congregation continues to rise up to exceed expectations; we are truly blessed with such a faithful, pioneering and adventurous group. With that, I thank all of you for your continued support for my salary. Many of the things that we are discussing for the future would not be possible without your generous gifts. We pray that as the year progresses that you will continue to prayerfully consider ongoing giving and for our part we will continue to fare forth with the certain hope that the Lord goes before us to make our paths straight.
Continued blessings to you,
october 2018 update
September was a wonderful month as we began communion instruction for our five young people. The month was largely spent on the ground in the South Valley and we were able to make good contacts with people on the ground and extend invitations to Divine Services. Continuity has been a key for us and we continue to pray that the funding necessary for fiscal year 2019 and 2020 will come in so that we can spend 100% of our time on the ground working with the neighborhood and getting the word out that we continue to meet.
Two and a half weeks of October were spent on the road fundraising and this unfortunately halted much of the momentum that we had gained in September. Nevertheless, we set our shoes to the pavement again in Mid-October and have begun planning for mass canvassing events, an evening Community night and meetings with local business leaders to increase our 'footprint' in the neighborhood. Regular visits continue and I see all of the 22 regular parishioners on a weekly basis in their homes or out for special meetings.
By the end of October we had completed the instruction of our five young communicants and are making the final adjustments on our Constitution and By-laws in order to submit them to the Rocky Mountain District for approval. Many of you have perhaps been waiting with baited breath for this to be completed and it is with much joy that I assure you that, although things sometimes move slowly, we are on the brink of submitting our paperwork to be a fully recognized congregation in the LCMS by January of 2019.
Melissa continues to tutor at the Homeschool co-op, drives Knox to and from football, sees to many of the updates on the “DeGroot's in ABQ” Facebook page and Church website and is somehow finding time to still be a wonderful wife and mother. What a great blessing it is to have such a faithful wife.
Knox continues to grow and grow. He's still 7 years old but I think that he may shoot past both me and Melissa in height by the time he's 10. Flag football has come to an end and although his team, the Predators, only notched one win this season, I am happy to report that that win came in the last game of the season in a game all of his teammates came to call THE SUPERBOWL. Knox is an exceptional student and continues to excel in school, he is making friends in the neighborhood and takes trips to the park to play football and baseball with the neighborhood boys.
Overall, your missionary and his family are doing well. We continue to work toward our annual financial goals and in the meantime find the time to see to the business of the Lord's Church, take some rest and find joy and reprieve in our new home in the Southwest. Continue to keep us in prayer and look forward to the news that's to come in the November/ December Newsletter.
September 2018 Update
The dog days of summer have arrived and life at St. Andrew has begun to spring to a new life.
Beginning on the 9th of September we added regular Catechism classes for our youth (2:00 pm) and adult Bible study (4:00 pm). Regular Divine Services continue to meet at 3:00 pm every Sunday with regular attendees consistently coming for service.
We will review our constitution and by-laws this Sunday the 15th and will hope to have that paperwork submitted to the Rocky Mountain District by the end of September 2018.
It's been a whirlwind five months and the congregation of St. Andrew and I are exceedingly grateful to all of you who have contributed to this mission endeavor. We have made a strong start and your continued prayers and financial support are greatly appreciated.
Melissa and Knox are doing well. Knox is doing well in school and begins football on Saturday the 14th. Melissa continues to tutor and make a fantastic life for us here.
I will begin traveling again on the 4th of October and will be away for a large portion of the month until the 19th; your prayers for safe travel and ongoing financial support are greatly appreciated.
Christ's peace to you all and thank you again for your continued support.
August 2018 update - "We're constituting!"
We've been here for four months and after prayerful deliberation St. Andrew Church Plant has started and completed the process of writing her Constitution and By-Laws. Long story short, we're well on our way to becoming an officially sanctioned and recognized Church in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
What does constituting mean?
We're on our way to having a governing document for an officially recognized church in the LCMS.
We're close to beginning the process of delegating leadership responsibilities for the church.
We are making strides to become self-supporting, self-governing and an autonomous congregation with representation at District and Synodical conventions.
We are seeing to due diligence and the responsibility that we have to you as our donors to ensure you that we are moving forward along the path to self-sufficiency.
Your prayers and financial support have gotten us to the point where we can begin discussing what the short and long-term futures will look like for St. Andrew. We are not yet self-supporting and pray that you will continue to consider supporting us financially but I am over-joyed to let you know that we are moving forward to becoming a responsible, self-supporting, self-governed Church. Keep up with our progress, listen to sermons and provide words of encouragement by clicking on the link below.
Your missionary and his family continue to be in good spirits and enjoying our new placement and home in the desert Southwest. The summer has been filled with many fun and exciting things including travel, sun and many hours at the neighborhood pool (especially for Melissa and Knox).
We are adjusting well to the Summer heat and have found a reprieve here in the month of August with the annual monsoons. I have never seen such beautiful lightning and stunning sunsets as we have here in the rainy season. We recently returned from a fund-raising trip to New England and made many good connections with churches and individuals out there as we continue to work toward our annual funding mark of $135,000. Along the way we were able to spend some time with family and get caught up with them about the things that have happened since we left Rhode Island in March.
Your missionary has been busy traveling, pounding the pavement and seeing to regular Pastoral duties here. I am happy to report that I do get to the pool at least once a week and continue to work for more days as the Lord wills. I continue to network with local churches both for financial help and physical resources and I spend at least two Sundays a month attending/ preaching at area churches in order to raise awareness of St. Andrew and the work we are doing in the South Valley. I continue to network with churches, pastors and individuals around the United States in order that we might be able to have adequate resources to continue our work here.
Melissa has been a busy lady too! She recently began work with Bethesda Lutheran Communities as a regional representative and will be in contact with many of the regional churches about working with and supporting the work that Bethesda does. She is also making preparations for Homeschooling to begin on the 20th of August. She will be a tutor in Knox's Classical Conversations co-op and will be teaching 8 youngsters who are between the ages of 6 and 8. She continues to see to the care of her boys and does so with much style and exceeding grace. Along with all this she makes sure that Knox gets to the pool 3-4 times a week, she attends to the Mom's group here and has been an integral support for the direction St. Andrew has taken over the last month.
Knox continues to have fun, learn and grow. He will begin his home-school co-op next Monday, He will be involved with the Walther Group on Thursdays, Will begin Trail Life in early September and will also begin playing flag football. He has been waiting for years to finally run around like his hero (Zach Ertz TE Philadelphia Eagles) and catch touchdowns. He has been a trooper in the constituting process as well making a point to 'schedule' time with his ole dad to play catch and wrestle before I have to run off to see to the business of the Lord's church.
Overall, we are doing quite well. We continue to thank God for His generosity toward us; we thank Him for donors and supporters like you who make this Church Plant a possibility and we are so very thankful that in all things He has seen to our Physical and Spiritual needs through all things. I pray that as the weeks and months ahead come and go that we will rejoice together in what we hope and pray will one day be a thriving, strong and caring congregation, until then the Lord Bless all of you.
march 2018 update - "deployed!"
Thanks be to God! After nearly a year Melissa, Knox and I have arrived in Albuquerque New Mexico...the trip across country and our wait to be here; thanks be to God that the wait is over. We are so thankful that we are here and to arrive at the beginning of Holy Week has been quite a blessing.
To summarize the last 14 days we had to movers arrive in Rhode Island on the 12th of March to pack most of the things we accumulated over the 12 months we were there. The 13th of March, New England was hit hard by a Nor Easter that dumped 23 inches of snow, that was also the day we drove 20 miles in that Nor Easter to close on our house in Albuquerque. On Wednesday the 14th we headed out from Rhode Island, said our goodbyes to family and friends and made our way to Mt. Holly New Jersey. The morning of the 15th the movers loaded the rest of our earthly belongings from two separate PODS containers, Knox and Melissa got to see some long lost friends in Philadelphia and we were off again that afternoon to Strasburg Virginia for the night of the 15th. The 16th we drove toward Chatanooga Tennessee, Knox lost his first tooth!!!, we stopped off in Knoxville TN (For Obvious Reasons) and spent the night in Chatanooga. The 17th we made our way through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, through Memphis Tennessee and on to Bryant AR. On the 18th we went to Church in Bryant, continued with a jog into Louisiana and went on to Plano/ Dallas Texas. On the 19th we got to catch up with an old seminary classmate, see Dealy Plaza in Dallas and drove later that day to Amarillo Texas; my goodness Texas is HUGE!!!! Then finally.... on March 20th, ironically, one year to the day that we began our wait for re-deployment we drove into Albuquerque. The movers arrived later that afternoon and we have been unpacking boxes ever since.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to serve at Faith in Christ Lutheran on Wednesday the 21st and Sunday the 25th and it was later that day that I preached for the first official time at St. Andrew. I will be preaching on Maundy Thursday, Easter Vigil and twice on Easter, so we're off and running!!!! It's been quite a year, to say the least and we are so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness to us in all things. I do look forward to reporting to you how the transition goes and how the mission progresses. I thank you all for your continued financial support. Please continue to keep us and the saints of St. Andrew in your prayers. We look forward to giving you updated reports going forward.
Peace to you in Christ,
Pastor Adam DeGroot