Hello, friends of Southern California Conference. Once again, we are here in In Touch online. The month of July is gone, so pretty much we already finished with seven months of this year.
For the last four months, we have been facing these COVID times. But anyway, we have been doing it, and we have been doing ministry. We have been already reporting about what the churches have been doing, how this schools concluded the school year and, now, how the schools are going to begin in this month of August.
During the month of July, among the routine things that I had to do, there were three things that I want to mention to you. A couple of them, these are personal. I don't share much about me and my family, but today I'm going to do it.
The first one is that during the month of July, my daughter, Melissa, she got married. Father of the bride. Not in the way that the movie shows this, but in some sense—yes. Father of the bride.
This brings with it some kind of preparation: emotionally, preparation for the event, preparation even mentally, that we have to change roles now as we expand our family.
This really reminded me about what Paul says about a bride. Actually, in the epistle of Ephesians, he talked about the church with three metaphors. The first one is the body, and he uses the human body to describe how the church works. He also uses the illustration of the building, how each one of the elements in that construction of this, the architecture of this unit, how each one of the parts is important.
But also he described the church as the bride, and he relates this also to Jesus, that He is the groom. He also compares how the bride has to be prepared for that encounter with the. That is the reflection that this experience brought me during the last weeks and months as my wife, Esther, and I, prepared for this event in July.
So this is a call for all of us to prepare ourselves for the big encounter with Jesus Christ. He is the groom, and Paul mentions that He gave His life for the bride, and He wants to prepare that bride for Himself in a very special way. Please go and read the book of Ephesians, especially chapter 5.
By the way, there some terminology there that this is interesting when we see how he compares, but let's focus on the general aspect of how the relationship between the bride and the groom should happen also between the church and Jesus, as we expect and we await for His second coming.
The second personal event that happened in my life is that a few days ago was my birthday.
I'm sure you want to know how many years I've been now living on this earth. OK, if you're curious, I'm going to give you some tips. I'm not going to give you my age. But if you really want to know, OK, I'm going to give you some trivia.
I was born in the year when, in this country, a new house could be bought for $11,700. When you can pay rent with only $88. Your annual salary will be $4,450, and when you when you will go to a gas station, you will be paying $0.22 per gallon.
So you want to know my age? Go and do your homework, and you will know. I am still young, and the Lord has blessed me.
This past weekend is when I turned one year older. For that day, our son spent the weekend with us. He said to me, "Dad, let's go now, I'm going to give you a gift. Let's go up there to the mountains that are right here in the backyard of our home." So then we made preparations, and we started our walk. We had to go up there, and it's about 3,000 feet in the altitude. So then we walked 10 miles. We did it in about close to five hours. We had an awesome time.
From up there, I had the opportunity to see all this—San Fernando Valley, clear around noon, and also the Glendale/Burbank area, and we could see even to downtown Los Angeles. I made it! I made it. It was hard, but I could do it. At times, I had to stop, rest and drink water. So, I made it.
Our life also is a journey. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes this Christian life, it takes effort, perseverance, persistence and the Lord, He has promised that He will help us by His spirit, keeping us faithful and focused in our target.
Our target is to meet Jesus when He comes, and we can make it. In two ways: when our loved ones, they go and sleep in Jesus. They have to wait, but they made it, if they believed and trust in Jesus Christ. If we are still alive as Paul mentioned in Thessalonians, when He comes, we can also make it. My brothers and sisters, I invite you to continue persisting in this journey to that encounter with Jesus when He comes. Regardless of our ups and downs, we will be seeing at a distance the Heavenly Jerusalem when the Lord comes.
The third thing that happened during the month of July, yes, you already know, we had to close our churches. We already had opened the churches a few weeks before, but we had to close again. The governor of this state, California, gave the order that it seems that this COVID virus is still working; the number of infections are increasing, and deaths are happening more and more.
This is frustrating. But we're doing this because we sense that we are responsible, that we need to take care of each other, that we cannot infect others or others also can infect us, even when we take all the precautions, even when we do everything possible in order to prevent this. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your cooperation.
Let's pray together that this pandemic can really end soon, soon, and then we can go back to where we are missing. We're missing this personal relationship among all of us.
So in the meantime, we continue doing ministry. Yes, and we will continue doing it—these pandemic times are not going to stop us. We have been creative in finding new ways, we will continue doing it—and the Lord will continue blessing us in that way.
Friends, as we go through this new month, it is my prayer that the Lord will continue keeping us faithful as we do His work and prepare people and prepare ourselves for that big encounter with the groom, Jesus Christ. Have a wonderful month of August. Blessings to all.