Saturday, December 17, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
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
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
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:
That we will learn the language quickly and that we will enjoy the process!
That we will acclimate quickly to the culture, bacteria, etc. (and be joyful through it all!)
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.
For those whom Aaron and his family already know and are ministering to; that they would also come to know Christ as Lord.
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!