Last Full Day in Misiones

Sunday, January 28, 2018
Oberá, Misiones Province, Argentina
Today is our last day with the wonderful people that we have met here in Misiones.  They have made us most welcome and have been ultra hospitable with us…treating us to the finest barbecues on this planet. 
Today we went back to the Recreation Park where we were yesterday for Church.  An all-day picnic is scheduled to just socialize with one another.  Today I was able to put more pieces of the story about these people together.  When you hear it at first, it’s a bit difficult to follow, but it all begins to come together (I think) and I do have a handle on it (I think).
Let me do a stream of consciousness narrative of what I heard and hopefully it will bring more of the story together.  At the end I’m going to include a story from Jaime Gallardo written some time ago that tells the story.
We had two distinct meetings with groups during the day.  In the second meeting, Ariel Burger and Mario Ritter asked very directly:
What will it take to be part of the United Church of God?  How does one become part of the United Church of God? 
At this time, they have no ministers or deacons. There is no “big leader” and have to deal with all that ego. The principal leaders are these two men.  Mario Ritter who is 36 and Ariel Burger who is 40.  They both have young families. 
What they do on the Sabbath is have several who give sermonette type of messages to the people. There is also music and prayer.
We spoke to them about rules of association and how we could be associated or be administered by a senior pastor.  We talked about the Constitution that governs the entirety of Church.  The Article listing the 20 Fundamental Beliefs is one that must be accepted by all. They assured us that they were in agreement with all our Fundamental Beliefs.
We talked about some cultural differences such as difference in music and customs during the service such as kneeling in the opening prayer.  I personally do not have any problem with kneeling.  It is what they do in humility to start the worship of God on the Sabbath.
Their music is different from ours.  It is based on songs that they have been singing for decades.   I would not want to interfere with what they do.  Mario and I mentioned that we would like for them to become acquainted with our music, however. In the end, I have no problem with them singing and playing the music that they are familiar with.  It is beautiful, sung and played with gusto.  I don’t want be dampen that.
The other, the first meeting was with Vendomino and Esteban Freiburger (radio station).
Here is some information about them and their relationship to the whole.
They had broken off from the Commandment Keeping Church of God nine years ago and associated with the Israelite Church of God of the Covenant at that time and that’s when the radio station started.  They tried to contact the United Church of God ten years ago, but got no answer and stayed with the Israelite Church of God.  The full name of this church is The Church of God Keeping the Commandments in the Faith of Jesus.   In the report following this it is stated differently by Jaime Gallardo in translation.
Vendo (Vendomino) Rindfleisch bankrolled the radio station.  The Commandment Keeping Church owned the land that they were on and they had to move 50 yards.  The Israelite church would come in to the radio station and preach about the Holy Days  about 5-6 years ago.
Esteban Freiberger, the station owner, became convinced that they should keep the Holy Days. The COG Commandment Keeping church was against the Holy Days, but it owned the land on which the radio station was and they had to move 50 yards. Esteban said that they radio station is now financed by faith, Jaime Gallardo (UCG) and local church donations.
The group that we are associate with listened to Esteban on the radio.  Then Esteban became part of this group.  When they found us and the ministry in Chile they loved us.
Vendomino Rindfleisch lives in Primavera about 80 miles and has a separate Feast of Tabbernacles.  Esteban was baptized in the Commandment Keeping Church and had come from the Pentecostals and has an evangelical background.  He and Esteban are friends and have similar views.   While some of this group are allowed to drink wine, Esteban and Vendo do not and do not approve of dancing.
He said that 16 people have now been baptized as a result of the radio station’s broadcasts.  
They had a big problem was there was no minister to baptize them at first, but Jaime came from Chile and did the baptisms.
The Commandment Keeping Church originally split off from the Church of God 7th Day because of pastoral differences.  They said that they had good upbringing in the COG7 which was pastored from Mexico.  They said that the Sabbath Commandment keeper church of the faith of Jesus Christ has been getting sloppy with dress, permissiveness and the wearing of makeup.  One reason why they divided – they wanted to be more careful.
Vendo’s wife to be lived in the pastor’s home and when she married Vendo it was an unpleasant event for the Commandment Keeping Church and the feelings to this day are strained.  Vendo insisted on keeping the Feast and talked eventually to Mario Ritter about it.  In 2013 Mario Ritter joined Vendomin.
Strategy of Vendo was to get the Israelite church to talk about the FOT on the radio.
At the present time Ariel buys time on the radio, but is not always available to come and talk on his program so Esteban fills in.  They are happy for UCG supporting it with content the modest financial help that it does now.
Again, the radio station 600 watts as NON PROFIT and reaches into Brazil and Paraguay.
One person I spent time talking was Roberto (in the maroon shirt) who is a bricklayer by trade.  He does a weekly two hour evening slot from 8-10 on the three hour program.  He likes doing it, but was needing material to preach from and was asking Mario Seiglie for sermon notes and other resources.  Roberto originally came from a Pentecostal background.  Roberto has 3 girls and his wife is Sefara  -- Moses mother.
When Jaime first came, there were very few (before the baptisms). Now, they have really grown and need a home. They bought the land for the Feast site which we visited on Friday.   Roberto will help with bricklaying. There is also an electrician in the Church.    
Another note about the the Israelite Church of God
Some had left the Commandment Keeping Church of God  to come over to the Israelite Church of God because the Israelite Church kept the Holy Days, but they felt that UCG explained them a lot better. They first heard about the Holy Days through Herbert Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God.
Here are a few more milestones that I’ll just list:
Vendomno left COG7 and was in The Church of God that Keeps the Commandments in the Faith of Jesus.  He then left there 9 years ago and was  on his own and until Mario Ritter joined him in 2013.  This then became the Primavera church
Earlier,  COG7 and Commandment Keeper broke in 1996 regarding issue of governance and getting along
Israelite Church of the New Covenant was Caty Seiglie’s church  (Israelite Church was more loosely affiliated)
Here is a report that Jaime Gallardo also wrote about the Misiones experience written in October 2016
REPORT OF VISITS TO THE PROVINCE OF MISIONES, ARGENTINA
Jaime Gallardo 10, 2016
In north-east Argentina lies the province of Misiones, whose name comes from the missionary work in Guaraní lands, made by the Jesuits between 1609 and the expulsion of these decreed by King Charles III Spain in 1767. The province is surrounded by many rivers, among which the best known are the Parana, which serves as a boundary with Paraguay, the Iguazu, famous for its waterfalls, and the Uruguay River, located to the north and east, respectively. Starting in 2014, a group of Christian Sabbathkeepers contacted the United Church of God in Chile through the Internet portal. As of October 2015 Jaime Gallardo, pastor from Chile and Argentina has been visiting the families who requested personal contact.
The history of these families is quite interesting. Most are descendants of European immigrants of different nationalities. They came into contact with our doctrine at the time of the magazine The Plain Truth and still have some booklets by Mr. Armstrong and some magazines. In those years they belonged to the Seventh Day Church of God that existed in the area since 1912. As time passed, a part of this Church adopted the long name "Church of God Keeping the Commandments and Having the Testimony of Jesus Christ ", but they did not keep all the Holy Festivals, only Passover and Pentecost. In 2013 some families, after having studied in depth the Holy Festivities, began to keep them, which is why they were expelled from their congregation. Being left without pastors and not being organized, they began to consider the need to join some organization with similar beliefs. They met for some time with some local groups but they did not meet their expectations so they searched on the internet, and after praying and fasting decided to write to the church address in Chile. At first they expected to have contact with the UCG group in southern Argentina but it didn’t work out and understood it was the will of God and they continued asking for a contact. The answer to their requests was finally fulfilled in a visit of Jaime Gallardo in October of the 2015 that lasted 4 days. They considered that was very short, and needed to cover many subjects so Jaime decided to return in December accompanied by his wife and were there for 8 days. In total there have been five trips, the last one on Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread, when Jaime traveled alone. During the visits Jaime and Mara must travel from one locality to another and are hosted by the different families who want to talk. The same members are in charge of transporting them since the distances are long and the province is a low population density and little urban development. The climate is quite warm and humid and the presence of mosquitoes and diseases transmitted by them causes some fear in visitors, but the areas is beautiful and people are very kind, cheerful and humble. Particular attention is drawn to the great interest in religion that exists among the inhabitants of the area, since in the rest of the country the opposite is the case.
Among the topics discussed the one that had priority in the first visit was if our organization would validate their baptism. In reviewing the doctrine and form of baptism received by the majority of them, after talking with Mr. Seiglie, Jaime Gallardo informed them that we did validate his baptism although it was necessary to analyze each case separately. Thus, during the Passover ceremony twenty-two people participated in all, 12 men and 11 women. At the moment they are negotiating the lease of a place to meet on the Sabbaths the same place since until now they have been meeting in different localities. One of the participants owns a radio station that he uses to preach and is financed with some voluntary offerings of the listeners. It is noteworthy that he works there full-time, his livelihood and that of his family depends on these offerings.
The Misiones brothers are eager to receive administrative and doctrinal support; they recognize the importance of having a solid organization with a clear structure and expect to benefit from the experience of our organization. They fervently desire to participate in the work of preaching and understand that it is urgent to make the necessary efforts to achieve their desires. They hope to have a full-time minister in a not too distant time, so far they are satisfied with the attention received from the office in Santiago.
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