Wednesday, January 18, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

Sweet Wishes 5x7 folded card
Shop our collection of exclusive Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Very Merry Moments Christmas Card
Don't send boring Christmas cards , personalize them at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Good and The Bad

Well, it has been awhile since I have written! Time flies here in Mexico just like it did in Tennessee....who knew! September and October were jam-packed with events--a lot were wonderful, some were really hard. I'll give you a brief overview and try not to leave out too many details...

The Good
1.) On September 2nd we celebrated Micah's 3rd Birthday with homemade pizza and a yummy cake. It was our first birthday celebration since we have lived here! Since, we have also celebrated Elisabeth's 7th birthday and Emily's 1st. Isaac will turn 1 also on the 14th of this month! Birthdays are a nice time to enjoy each others' company and to thank God that we have family here with us on the mission field.
2.) We have gotten to know several people who live/work around our home. Besides the boys that I mentioned in my last post (Daniel, Israel, Luis Antonio, and Jose Uriel), we have met our next-door neighbors and some people who work at the nearby stores. One family--Jesus, Elisabeth, and their son, Jesus Aaron--have been studying the Bible with Daniel. Jesus lived in Washington state for 20 years, so he speaks and understands English very well. Daniel has really enjoyed this opportunity to teach the Bible, and it has been an encouragement in the midst of struggle to learn the language and communicate. They were attending a Nazarene church in the city, but haven't been in the past 5 months. Last week, they came to Aaron's house for Bible study in Spanish. We have had them to our house for dinner once and we have been to their house for dinner also. Please pray for this family, that they would truly know Christ and continue to come to church!
3.) Marco, our amigo who has been studying the Bible with Aaron for about a year and half, was baptized on September 18th! We went to a nearby creek and had a service and baptism followed by some swimming and carne asada (grilled meat). We rejoice with this first baptism and the addition of our first Mexican church member, thanks to the Lord's labor through Aaron. It truly is a JOY to see a soul delivered from darkness to light! Marco shared his testimony at this event, and it brought tears to my eyes. It makes me think of Luke 15, when Jesus said, "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Amen! May He use us to bring more into His Kingdom. Please pray for Marco, that he will stand strong and feel the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit and his brothers and sisters in Christ as he faces opposition and difficulty from his unbelieving family over this choice that he has made to follow Christ. Aaron and Alicia's landlords came to the baptism, as well as their neighbors. Tony was also their, our other amigo who has been studying with Aaron. Pray that they will truly contemplate the meaning of baptism and see their own need for Christ's saving death and resurrection. Since then, we have been back to the river for a day of relaxation and fun. We really enjoyed the green scenery and tranquil atmosphere!
5.) In the food department: I have learned to make chayote soup! Chayote squash (kind of like a mix between a potato and a squash?) is a staple here and is CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP! The other day, I saw a sign that said 20kg for 40 pesos....that's like 50 pounds for less than 4 dollars! Mind you, they are a bit more expensive if you buy less of them, but still! The ones that I used to make the soup came from our neighbor. The soup was pureed chayote with cilantro, garlic, onion, and some hot peppers (as well as milk and water).....we liked it a lot! Daniel, of course, liked it better with Fritos in it (he likes any soup with Fritos in it I think :-p) More good news....Mexican hamburgers are YUMMY! I got one the other day and it tasted deeeelicious. It had all of the basics, as well as a big slice of grilled pineapple, ham, bacon, and chile peppers. I can't wait for another one!
6.) Daniel is still teaching English. His current students are two little ones (age 5 and 7) who are Mexican but were born in the states. Their mother really wants them to learn English. They seem like they are more Americanized that most Mexicans we see, and she was pretty surprised to find a couple of Americans living in Huajuapan. Pray for them, that Daniel would be able to minister the Truth to the children and that their mother would be open to the Gospel as well. Yesterday, 4 more came to the class as well. Pray that they will keep coming!
7.) Spanish is coming along....slowly, but surely. Daniel is studying a lot and it has paid off. He is really doing well! I have hit a wall, but plan on studying more. It seems like an impossible task, but I know that with time we will speak the language. For now, we are getting by and can buy things and have simple conversations.
8.) I have worked up the courage to drive around the city! The system is different than the states, but it really isn't that much more dangerous. It revolves around taking turns at intersections, and people (in general) are very courteous drivers. I ran some errands about a month ago in the van for the first time by myself! I went to bodega (Mexican walmart), the market, pharmacy, and back home in one piece! I have also taken a taxi by myself (well, with Isaac) and did just fine!
9.) Daniel took a trip to TN for our dear friends' (The Calis') wedding in early October. While he was there he was able to bring back some more things for us that we can't buy here. That was fun, and a sweet little blessing from the Lord. He also brought back my apostilled birth certificate, a document that we need in order to get our work visa.

The Not so Good
1.) Well, if I were my Mom then this would be in the "good" category.....more bugs :) At least I am learning to cope with them and not be such a scaredy cat! Will there be bugs in heaven? I can't imagine enjoying having bugs around, but who knows :) To my repetoire has been added 3 big, meaty walking stick, a weird spider that looked like a scorpion and was running across the kitchen floor, 2 actual scorpions (one in the house, one in the back patio) several more cockroaches, some flat spiders, a giant, creepy looking centipede, and about 20 ants crawling on a pair of pants in Isaac's dresser drawer one day! We have learned to see the humor in it, since Isaac loves bugs and always wants to pick them up and/or eat them! If our baby boy isn't worried about them, why should I be?
2.) Early in September, our friends that I mentioned earlier (the young boys that live nearby) suffered a horrible loss--their grandmother had something which seemed to be like a stroke and passed away three days later. We had just met her the day before she got sick. This was a blow to Daniel and I although we barely knew her. It made us stare death in the face and hate the one who is here to steal, kill, and destroy. We went to the first part of the funeral (which seemed to last for several days) and were burdened for the people practicing Catholic rituals. Pray for them! They need the freedom of Christ. More than ever, we want to be able to teach them that He can deliver them. Oh, how we need to speak Spanish!
3.) Aaron and Daniel have been visiting a nearby pueblo (small village) and engaging in some evangelism with the people who are out and about. They were able to start studying the Bible with a family, and things seemed to be going pretty well. Since then, there has been some word that there are people who do not want them there. The one time that I went along with them, a man who seemed to be in some position of authority told them that their religion was not welcome and that they needed to go somewhere else....another time, someone told them that their was a warrant for their arrest! As far as we can tell (they have not been arrested!), this was a trumped up charge, but the point was clear--please leave us alone. To top it all off, the man that they were studying with was found drunk with some other men on two separate occasions when Aaron and Daniel went to see him. Pray for his true repentance and the salvation of his family. Pray that the strongholds of darkness would be torn down in this village that so desperately needs freedom. Last week, we were all able to go and visit with the family over Oaxacan mole (a type of yummy sauce served with meat and tortillas). They are extremely hospitable and kind, and it was a pleasure. We are growing to love this family and really want to see them following Christ is truth, no matter the cost. Please pray for them!
4.) Los Dias de los Muertos (The Days of the Dead) is a holiday that is celebrated here in the time surrounding Halloween in the states (from about the 28th of October to the 3rd of November). People really go all out during this ritualistic festival, and we saw everything from people dancing in street parades wearing devil masks, smiling little skeleton dolls, breads, candies, and cookies, flowers EVERYWHERE, and incense and candles burning or being sold in nearly every home and store. I did some research on the holiday, and discovered that it is a merging of both pagan native American and Catholic rituals from the time of the Spanish invaders. A great majority of people, especially in the pueblos, set up a type of altar in their home to welcome home the spirits of their dead (who are, I believe, thought to arrive in the home on the night of November 1st ). On this altar is placed food, drink, skeleton dolls, flowers (namely the marigold), candles, symbolic confetti, and other things. Some of the confetti is supposed to symbolize the blood of Christ; some of the skeletons are thought to represent the Trinity. Their goal is to “embrace” death and, as a result, cease to fear it. It is a very bizarre, sad thing to witness. I long to explain the truth of the Gospel to these people so that they can truly not fear death—not because they are ignoring it or trusting in their own works and good deeds, but because they have seen that Christ alone has conquered death and the sting of the grave. Pray that next year, when this fiesta rolls around again, we will be more able and ready to share the truth with those who are lost in darkness.

Above all, God has been exceedingly Faithful to us in the past few months. He has protected all three of us in various ways, directed our paths, and given us comfort through His Word and His people. We praise His name and thank Him for bringing us here to our new home in Mexico. We are growing to love this place and this people more each day. Thank the Lord for this! We know that many of you are praying, and we are so grateful. May God bless each of you and direct your steps!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Donkeys, Tacos, and EspaƱol

Tomorrow marks three weeks that we have been in Mexico. On one hand, it seems like we just got here...but on the other hand, it feels like we have been here forever! We have really enjoyed these last few weeks and have seen God's kindness and grace at work each day.

About a week and a half ago, we moved into our new home. It is on the outskirts of the center of Huajuapan, but it is very close to another populated area. This is the neat thing about Mexico--you can feel like you are in the middle of the countryside when you are, in reality, a 5-10 minute drive from downtown! We love our house! Out of the houses that we looked at, it is the nicest one, the one that we liked the most, and the most affordable! How often does that happen? We really feel like God hand-picked this place for us. We found it seemingly "by accident" when we were out looking for places to rent one morning. God is so kind! It is on a dirt road (which becomes a mud road when it rains--which happens a lot in the rainy season!) but that seems to add to the fun. We had five donkeys hanging out right next to our house yesterday! One of them was trying to come into the area where we park the van, but Daniel ran out and shut the gate :) Isaac loved watching them!

A few days after we moved in, we went out to walk around the area and meet people. We stopped at several tiendas (little shops) down the main street that runs to the city. There we met some young men who are now actually coming to our house for English classes three days a week! They have been very helpful in teaching us Spanish as well. Please pray for them as our relationship with them grows; that they would be receptive to the Gospel, that they would learn to trust us, and that they would ultimately come to trust Christ! A young girl also stopped by when Daniel was out, and I was able to "talk" with her for an hour or so (with the help of the dictionary, for sure!)

Spanish learning has been fun, albeit challenging. I am finding that I understand quite a bit of what people say (especially if they say it slowly!) because I speak French. A lot of the vocabulary is very similar in both languages, although the accent is completely different. Daniel has grown A LOT in his understanding and ability to speak also. Often times, I will tell him what someone says and he will answer them. It works out pretty well! Today, we were in the centro (landmark center of the city) walking to a tienda to buy some oats and dried fruit, etc. when we were trying to decide where to buy something to eat for lunch. Randomly, a lady holding a little boy walks up to us and says to us, "Parlez-vous francais?" I was both shocked and elated! Someone who spoke excellent French, here in this little city in the middle of Mexico! Who would have ever guessed it :) She helped us figure out what to order, and we were able to talk for a little while. It turns out that she lived in Toulouse, France for three years, and now her husband works at the university in Huajuapan. I believe that she is originally from Mexico, also. I told her that we were missionaries, and she said that they are fairly new Christians. Please pray for her! Her name was Candy. She gave me her phone number, so I hope to see her again sometime. What a joy it was to speak some French (although I was mixing in Spanish by accident! ha!)

Some new things that we have been getting used to are:

1.) Stoves and water heaters run by gas. The water heater has a button to start it, so it's no problem, but the stove/oven requires that you light a match and then light the burner. No problem, right? Well, I have always been a bit pyro-phobic (is that a word?), so it has taken some getting used to! Not to mention that Mexican matches are SMALL and FLIMSY! (about the girth of a toothpick, but not nearly as sturdy!) Today, I was able to show Daniel how much I have improved--I lit the match in one swipe and managed to light the burner without throwing anything on the floor or squealing!
2.) Bugs. We honestly have had it SO MILD at our house, and for that I praise God! Really, bugs are no big deal in the scheme of things. Even if we had roaches all in the house, we would still probably be living above a lot of people around here. But, graciously, God has given us smaller things like tiny spiders and ants. The ants have actually been pretty funny to watch! They come marching in through the 1/2 inch space under the front door and go hunting for bits of food that have been left behind. Several times, we have seen 8 or 10 of them trying to carry one oat back to their home. I even saw one fighting with another bug that was still alive, trying to drag it off! After trying to kill them off for days, we have kind of decided to just let them continue to clean up after us. They can have as many crumbs off the floor as they can get to, I suppose! We did have another run-in with the mysterious giant green leaf bug (the same kind that we saw when we came to visit in May.) Daniel will have to tell you about that one....
3.) Haggling. Today, we bought a birthday present for Daniel's nephew, Micah. The price tag said one thing, so Daniel offered about 20 pesos less. The shopkeeper said 15 pesos more. Daniel said 10 less. The shopkeeper said 4 pesos more. Somehow, we ended up paying 5 pesos less than the original price (less than 50 cents of a discount, haha!) It was good practice, though!
4.) Fireworks. They are shot off EVERY DAY, and they are mostly just sound. I still jump! I think that people shoot them for birthdays, and there are a lot of people in this city! I woke up at 4:30 am to feed Isaac, and heard some going off. I'm sure that in a few months, I won't even notice them anymore :)
5.) Chile...on everything. Last night we had corn on the cob with mayonnaise and chile. Interesting, to say the least....
6.) TACOS. Every kind that you can is taco paradise for those of you who like Mexican food! We have had tacos al pastor 4 times already (meat shaved off of a big hunk of pork, pineapple, onions, cilantro, salsa, lime juice, on homemade corn tortillas. Son muy ricos!
7.) Stares...and the word "guerro" (blonde-headed or white person). For Isaac, it's "guerrito" :)
8.) Stray dogs. They just go trotting by our house, like they have an appointment somewhere. Sorry, no time to stop and say hello! They have some garbage to get into or a car to chase.....
9.) The beauty of the mountains! This place is gorgeous. Really, you know that you want to come and visit ;)
10.) The fact that we really live here now. It still kind of feels like this is temporary, but sometimes it hits me that this is our home for an indefinite amount of time. This is our station in life, and God has placed us here! Although I do miss the U.S. (and all of you!), I am thankful to God for all that He has done so far. We really do love it here in Huajuapan, and we are so grateful! He hasn't had to give us all that He has. He didn't have to bless us with friends and family here. He didn't have to give us a beautiful and inexpensive house. He didn't have to help us to adjust slowly. But He has, and we are so humbled.

For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are ALL HIM be the glory forever!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

40 hours later.....we are here!

First of all, I want to thank each and everyone one of you who prayed for us as we made the forty hour drive to south-central Mexico! We felt the presence of the Lord with us each step of the way, and we felt Him strengthening us in our weakest moments. Praise Him!

Daniel sent out a short email update to let everyone know that we arrived safely, but I wanted to blog and give you all some more details of our memorable and very crazy long trip! We left from Dickson, TN at around 3pm on Tuesday. After a few hours of saying goodbye to friends in Jackson, we started on our way to Texas (we had decided to drive through the night so that Isaac would sleep.) The plan was for me to sleep the first four hours, then get up and drive while Daniel slept the next four hours. Well, that didn't work out so well and we both ended up needing to stay up all night to keep each other awake. But, praise the Lord, we did it and arrived in Dallas at Aunt Mary's house at about 8am. There we had a wonderful breakfast, saw some family, and got 2 hours of sleep! Our next stop was in Georgetown, TX (just north of Austin) to stay the night with the Fishers. We got there at around 3pm and had a good night's sleep.

At 5:00 the next morning, we were back on the road, heading south to meet up with Aaron and his family at the border town of Pharr, TX. We got there at 11am and crossed the border with no problem. We had to wait for about 2 hours in the border office to get visas and permits squared away, but it was a nice break from the car seat for Isaac! At 1:30 pm, we were on the road again. Shortly before we reached Monterrey, we were pulled over by some Mexican police with big machine guns. They asked us some questions and sent us on our way. It's nice to know that they have those guns when you know that they are on your side, but they were a little bit scary at first :) I think that they got a kick out of a bunch of Americans driving with big vans full of stuff!

We got a bit turned around just past Monterrey because of the confusing toll road system, but we finally figured out where we were supposed to go after about an hour. The mountains in this region are BEAUTIFUL! This was the point where the AC in our van stopped working, but thank God that it wasn't a few hours earlier when the temperature outside was 109F! In the mountains, with the breeze and some storm clouds, the temperature had dropped to the 70's! God is so Kind, even in these small details! I enjoyed driving for the next few hours as we passed several small houses on the plains with mountains all around. Horses, cows, and donkeys were all grazing in the median! That was definitely a new experience :) At 10pm, Daniel took over driving again and I started to fall asleep....from then on, I was practically a zombie! The physical exhaustion finally hit me, and there was virtually nothing that I could do to stay awake. Daniel would talk to Aaron on the walkie-talkie, but then the battery would die, so he would have to wake me up to help keep him awake!

Our original plan was to stop somewhere in Mexico for the night, but after the AC broke we decided to just keep driving through the night to avoid the extreme heat the next day. Let's just say that it was probably the longest trip that I have ever made in one day! By about 5am, Daniel and I were totally spent. He had been driving for 7 hours straight, and we had both been up for over 24 hours. We stopped and slept at a gas station for about an hour, and headed on again. It is truly amazing how one's body can adjust to such a demand! That hour of sleep really helped to revive us until the sun rose. Once the sun was up and we were only 2.5 hours from home, I was awake enough to drive. This was where the curvy mountain road replaced the straight toll road, so we could only go about 30mph. At about an hour from Huajuapan, we stopped for a bathroom break and instantly noticed the wheel well smoking and letting off an awful smell. All I could think was, "We made it this far, Lord! Please get us the rest of the way there!" Praise God, he did! After assessing the situation, it seemed that the mountain roads had been working the brakes really hard, so we tried to take it easy from there. At 11am on Friday, we pulled in front of Aaron's house with a hot car and squeaky brakes; we made it!!!!!

Through the whole trip, the Lord was Faithful to keep one of us awake enough to drive. When I was exhausted, Daniel was okay. When I was okay, Daniel was exhausted. It worked out pretty well! :) Isaac, also, did amazingly. There were only a few times where he was really inconsolable, but most of the way he played or slept or ate snacks and looked out the window. What a good boy! Lastly, we didn't see an accident the whole way and never got caught in a serious amount of traffic. A semi's tire blew when we were on the road to Georgetown, but it didn't harm us at all--we were far enough ahead of the section that lost the tire.

So, in short, God answers prayer! Thank you for praying :) Now is when the real labor begins. The labor for souls! Please keep praying for us as we settle in here and go through a whole range of emotions. We are eager to learn Spanish and meet people, but know that this will take some time.

We will update you again soon! Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We're Going to Mexico!

Dear friends and family,

We hope that this letter finds you all doing well and loving Christ more each day! We are writing to inform you all of the privilege and responsibility that we have been given by the Lord to become missionaries for Christ in Huajuapan de Leon, Oaxaca, Mexico. Shortly after Christmas, Daniel's older brother Aaron (who is a missionary in the aforementioned city along with his wife, family, and sister-in-law) asked us to consider joining their effort to plant a church in Mexico. We were both very interested but also a bit overwhelmed by such an opportunity presenting itself so quickly. We had been praying for months for the Lord to show us where He would have us go, and as time went on and we added the idea of moving to Mexico to our radar, things really seemed to fall into place. The Lord seemed to be confirming that this was what He wanted us to do, so for three weeks (April 28th- May 18th) we took a trip to Mexico to see what the ministry there was like and how we would fit into the picture. Our time there was such a blessing! We not only loved the culture (and the food, of course!) but we saw a great need for the true Gospel to be preached. There are very few evangelical churches in the area where Aaron and his family live, and many people only know of a works based religion that isn't Christianity at all. As we came home, we were both fairly certain that Mexico was in our future! After more prayer and thought, we decided to tell Aaron that we would join he and his family in Huajuapan. Lord willing, we will be leaving for Mexico on August 9th. This is a huge answer to the prayers that we have prayed since we were married and even before we knew each other. God has put a desire in both of our hearts to take His Gospel to other nations who are so much less knowledgeable of the truth than our own. For so many reasons, Mexico seems to be that place for us! Although neither of us ever thought we would go to any Spanish speaking nation, much less Mexico which is right across our border (we had envisioned traipsing across the world to southeast Asia or north Africa!), God has seen fit to draw us there. Not only do we have a peace, but we have a lot of joy and excitement as we wait to take this next step. Please pray for us as we make this step of faith! Some specific things that you can be praying for are:

  1. That we will learn the language quickly and that we will enjoy the process!

  2. That we will acclimate quickly to the culture, bacteria, etc. (and be joyful through it all!)

  3. For those whom we will meet within our first few months there; that God would open their hearts and their minds to both understand and desire the Gospel.

  4. For those whom Aaron and his family already know and are ministering to; that they would also come to know Christ as Lord.

  5. For protection and peace as we travel. We will be living in southern Mexico where there is very little problem with violence, but we will be traveling across the border on our trip down. Aaron has taken the trip a half dozen times and he will be with us, which is a huge blessing.

We love you all and are so thankful for your prayers!