In September of 1982, we arrived in Colombia, a couple of green young missionaries with toddler Art and baby Esther, to join the staff of the newly formed Instituto Misionero.
Here’s a little “throwback Thursday” for you…
Juan Horta was one of the three young men who made up that first class of trainees. It had been ten years since I had left Vzla to go to college in the States and my Spanish vocabulary was a bit short of what I would have liked when I stood before the class to teach. But Juan, Andrés and Luis helped introduce us to the unique characteristics of Colombian Spanish and culture.
Juan, Andrés and Luis
When it was Juan’s turn to share from the Word or teach on a topic, he had a remarkable way of cutting through the extraneous issues and getting to the point in a very clear and incisive way with a quiet calm and intensity. He has a gift for seeing right through extraneous and distracting details and getting to the heart of things.
Juan then met and married Stella and we had the privilege of having them in training as a couple.
Since then, Juan has been on a team reaching a tribe, trained as a pilot and served the field for several years in that capacity, and he’s been a teacher in the training program and has served as a “pastor to missionaries” in Colombia. He’s also on the field leadership team and formed part of a mission-wide council charged with reevaluating and reorganizing our international missionary fellowship.
[We love this picture of Juan and Stella and their very accomplished daughters with his father and namesake, a cabinet-maker who built much of the student apartment furniture in the early days of the institute.]
Juan has now been asked to serve in a leadership position for our mission over the region of Latin America. He and Stella came to make an extended visit to consult with the field leadership in Mexico, but they wanted to take a week to see some old friends from Colombia. We really enjoyed having them in our home for a couple of days, catching up on each other’s families.
On Wednesday, we took them to a small nearby airfield where they were picked up by Paul Dye, the pilot who trained Juan, in the plane which Juan had flown in Colombia (which was also the plane in which Paul was hijacked, then escaped from the bad guys in the dark).
Juan was really moved as he shared his feelings about how this experience with the plane brought him full circle.
Latin American missionary leaders like the Hortas are the fruit of the ministry which you have helped to make possible with your encouragement, prayers and financial support. They made a point of letting us know how much they appreciated our investment in their lives, in the training and through the materials that we have been translating.
Thank you so much for your partnership with us. May God bless you richly!