Evangelical Covenant Church




Ministry 2008



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Montecito Covenant Church sends a team to Argentina!


Wow!  What an amazing two weeks!  Mark, Nicole and I waited in anticipation as the team landed in the Buenos Aires Airport after months of prayer and preparation.  We were excited to finally meet the youth group and their leaders in person.  After some brief introductions all 19 of us loaded into the van and 8 hours later we arrived in the northern town of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Argentina. 




We were greeted by Elia Piñeyro, pastor and president of the Argentine Covenant Church along with several other pastors and leaders.  We made our way to the worksite as Elia told us the plans for this 16,000 sq. meter property.  Several years earlier town officials donated this land to the Covenant Church to be developed jointly to serve as a community center for the entire town and a retreat/conference center for the Covenant. 

More importantly, the mayor asked that a swimming pool and soccer field be constructed which can also be accessed by the entire community as opposed to the current discriminating private clubs now operating in town.  Clubs that would not permit impoverished boys such as Brian and Carlos to enter.  (the two brothers pictured above) I was surprised to find this kind of prejudice in such a small town, but it seemed to spur us on in our service even more. 


It brought to mind something I read by Martin Luther King, JR.:

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow

confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."



montecito01These kids from Santa Barbara were amazing to watch as they learned to lay brick walls, make re-bar trellises, level dirt floors, move and stack bricks over and over again via the now infamous “brick toss-chain gang method,” (you should have heard the great songs they would sing to this!), chip bricks with mallet and chisel, pour cement columns, and mix mortar and cement concoctions!


Of course everyone enjoyed tasting the gastronomical delights of Argentina. Our hosts really wanted us to experience the ‘gaucho’ way of eating so they opted to slaughter their own cow and lamb instead of just buying it in a supermarket!



The black and white cow pictured above was dubbed Fred, so we snapped before and after pictures of Fred…. alive and cooked that is.  I’m pictured above with Fred’s cooked head ….Fred was definitely dead and so went my appetite!  Fred served us well as we (25 – 30) lived off of him for the whole week.   Meat with Meat became our motto.  We enjoyed grilled lamb, (a first for some) empanadas, Roquefort pizza, grilled mozzarella w/oregano, their amazing homemade breads with dulce de leche (similar but better than caramel) and gelato ice cream.  montecito05


You can also see pictured above one of Argentina’s most important cultural pastimes, the drinking of MATE.  This tea, or ‘heavenly herb’ is more than their traditional warm drink, it provides a way of building community as one gourd is shared around the room. 


Each team member received a gourd and bombilla (cup and straw) engraved with their names and a lesson in the art of preparing MATE.


Each afternoon the neighborhood children would attend the team’s Vacation Bible School.  It was a thrill to see these North American teenagers bond so quickly with the Argentine kids. 




They jumped right in and were well prepared with Spanish songs, Old Testament dramas and crafts which all centered on Jesus’ great love for each of them.  Of course a daily game of soccer topped off their time with the entire neighborhood! Some of our most precious times were spent sharing and worshiping with our Argentine hosts at the end of the day.  For me personally this was ‘Christianity at its best’ (if there is such a thing). 


It’s a “God Thing” when human beings from two different continents, cultures, economic groups, ages, races, politics and not to mention two different languages, can live and work in close quarters and still transcend and thrive in their dissimilarities.






As parents, we were thankful to see the team so inclusive with our daughter Nicole.  We realized this was her first work team experience and she did a fantastic job translating and enjoyed the children and even learned to bend rebar!  She has made some wonderful friends in the team and is invited to be a part of their youth group retreat this summer.  We Praise God for this life changing time for Nicole.


Our week in Bernardo de Irigoyen had flown by and we sadly said our good byes to our Argentine hosts.  They expressed their thanks and amazement that these kids and leaders would willingly come all the way from Santa Barbara, California to serve others.  We made our way to our home in Buenos Aires for a few days of sightseeing. 






The team rode horses with the GAUCHOS, visited the tomb of Evita Peron, walked to the Casa Rosada and saw the TANGO dancers in the famous painted barrio of La Boca. We thank God for the fun time and memories we made together here in the beautiful country of Argentina!





The Covenant Church in Argentina

has 10 churches in 8 different cities (& two new church plants in Uruguay) that are spread throughout the country; which sometimes makes them challenging to get to. However, we are excited and encouraged to participate in the National Church’s ministry plans over the next couple of years. Here are just a few of the areas we are working in right now:


1) The Covenant Church is constructing a community/ retreat center in the city of Bernardo de Irigoyen, Argentina.  This facility will have a men’s and women’s dormitory with adjacent bathrooms, a working kitchen and a large conference room.  The entire property is fenced and plans are pending for a large pool and soccer field with changing rooms.  There will also be a chapel on site.  We have had several Merge Ministry teams and most recently Montecito Covenant Church came down and assisted with this project and it has been quite a blessing.  The town donated this 16,000 square meter property to the Covenant Church and both will share use of the facility.  (See story above).


2) The Covenant Church has acquired a large cul-de-sac and has the blueprints to begin work on the construction of a K-12 Christian school in La Plata. This school will “loan” us the facilities to house our mission-sending school. This school is the main thrust of our work here in Argentina.


3) We are setting up a series of seminary level courses and also CHET (Hispanic Center for Theological Studies) courses to be taught by Mark and the national leadership, which will comprise the curriculum. The goal is to train leadership to run the school so that Latin Americans can be sent out as missionaries. Again, the thrust here is the training of missionaries.


4) We also have a project lined up to help one of our pastors build his house. He currently lives in a two room attachment to the local Covenant Church with his rather large family of 7! If you are interested in pursuing possible mission trips to assist in any of the 3 projects listed above, please contact us on alicewestlind@yahoo.com




cbCIPE in Argentina and Chile


Excitement runs deep this year as it is the inaugural year for cbCIPE in Argentina and Chile. This is a 6 week post high school Bible training school for 22 Latin American youth from Spain, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Colombia. Each one of these amazing university students were hand picked by their Covenant Church and represent the future leadership in each respective country. During this time they will explore their individual areas of giftedness. Some of the courses offered are; Missions, Pastorate, Worship, Drama, Evangelism, Youth, Sports ministries, and ministry to the disabled/special needs.

One special evening the Covenant Church in La Plata hosted a commissioning service presenting each student with a clay jar planted with seeds while reciting the verse from Mark 4:20,

"Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word,accept it, and produce a good crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown"

Our teachers come from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, the United States and offer different areas of specialization. Students are required to attend lab practicals both on campus and in the local neighborhoods. Some were even interviewed on a Christian radio station in a small town in Chile. We are most thrilled to see the tremendous interest these young leaders have for global mission work. Interestingly, most of them are aware of the financial constraints in Latin countries to send missionaries abroad and have thus embarked upon related professions so as to fund their future missional careers.

Imagine….Argentina for 4 weeks, Chile for 2! Talk about an exciting school! We invite you to pray for the students and leadership as this is the first time the cbCIPE school has attempted to carry out the 6 week course in two separate countries. So far, so good as you can see by the photos in GALLERY in the RED section above.






Ministry 2007



At last!!!!

As you can see we have a functioning automobile thanks to many of you! You contributed both to the purchase and the restoration/repair.

It is a 1979 Ford Falcon station wagon, with a purple sparkle paint job…..yeah, that’s right, sparkles!

We are so thankful since this enables much more flexibility for us, both personally and in ministry.






This collage shows the minister of music at the Trelew church with his fiancé, and the minister teaching the grandson of the pastor how to accompany in the service!

This foto shows the service with a mural with letters which say, “The New Covenant.”

Lastly, Mark is shown teaching the leadership.A very enthusiastic group who have just seen their minister of music recuperate from cancer.

He is one of the most sensitive and caring people I have ever met.


ministry04 ministry06


Iwas able to take a 26 hour bus ride to the Argentine Patagonia. I travelled with the president of the IPEA (Argentine Covenant Church) Patricio Valenzuela. We were able to preach and give seminars in two hurches in the Chubut province.

The vast acreage of ranches are evident in this foto of a gaucho and his dog bringing the sheep back to the corral.









The Camarones Church was another 2 ½ hours south of Trelew.

Camarones means “shrimp” in Spanish and this seaside village makes its living from fishing. When we were there one of the
pastors saw men cleaning fish on the beach, “can you have one of those
large Salmon cleaned and ready for us before we leave?” she asked. “Just
come back in 45 minutes” they replied.

The ensuing dinner was a veritable
feast! The pier is being refurbished (see foto) and this is the view from the front of the church to the bay.<BR>President Patricio (left) is pictured with members of the Camarones Church and the two pastors (right).

The church members are very concerned about their small community and wish to avail themselves to the locals for physical and spiritual needs.






Natalia and Nicole pictured with the pastor’s daughters of the Berasategui church. After visiting there several times, I told Ivan that their worship songs were incredible and I
was in a quandary as to why we did not know any of them.

“I thought that I knew so many different worship songs from Latin contexts,” I told him. He
smiled and told me that his daughter, Rebecca (between Natalia and Nicole) composes most of their music as well as leads the worship from her keyboard. His other daughter, Paz(on the right), adds very tasteful saxophone trills and solos to the worship band. We wish you could experience it!.






The Covenant Church we visit with most frequency is in Berasategui on the outskirts of the south eastern fringe of Buenos Aires. It is 1 ½ hours away from our house.

We have been so thrilled to be able to be involved with this church. They are very visionary and are planning a mission trip to the northern part of Argentina in July of this year. Alice and I are helping with the training for this team. In the foto, I am addressing the congregation along with the pastor, Ivan Carrasco.







Ministry 2006






In October we were blessed by the arrival
of a team of workers from First Covenant Church in Salina , Kansas . They came through the auspices of Merge Ministries, a wonderful arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church which puts short term teams together and travels to various points throughout Latin America . For more information on them, please see their website at: http://www.covmerge.org/

We were able to get together with them on
one of their last days in Buenos Aires and pose for this picture in the picturesque Boca neighbourhood.




Mark was also able to be with them for a few days at the worksite in Bernardo de Irigoyen (about 6 hours north of Bs As) where they were instrumental in supplying the funds and the work power for digging cisterns, laying brick for a future Covenant Conference Center , and installing a fence around the entire perimeter.


This center will also provide services to the local town and it is being built on land donated by the town. Future plans include a pool and a fútbol field. The team participated with the local Covenant Church with outreach programs while they were there.


The foto shows one of the team members in the foreground laying brick while two other members in the background pray and dedicate the day and the land to the Lord. (Foto courtesy of Andrew Vanover of Merge Ministries).






During this time, we have also been visiting the churches. We have preached and given conferences and seminars on a variety of topics.

The Covenant Churches of Argentina are also involved with Argentina’s National Scouting program, affiliated with Boy Scouts International. This work is enacted and sponsored by several of our Covenant Churches in Argentina and they are allowed to share the gospel in these meetings.


Alice was able to teach in a seminar at one of these meetings and it was quite a blessing. We have also attended our first Covenant Argentine Annual meeting (pictured below) and helped to propose some plans for the coming year. Basically we have had FUN just getting to know the Covenant leadership and their families and shared some great times together.