Bienvenidos

Welcome to our blog!  We are so glad that you found your way here.  We hope to use this blog to share with you our lives as we seek to follow the Lord in Oaxaca, Mexico.  For security reasons we have decided to password protect parts of our blog. If you stumble across a post you cannot read and you do not have the password, feel free to email us or comment here requesting it.  If you don’t know us very well you can read our personal testimonies to the Lord’s grace under the about us tab.  We have also posted current prayer request for you to pray as you feel lead, and if you ever have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment here or to contact us.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

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Noche De Rábanos

This year we were able to attend the Noche de Rábanos for the first time here in Oaxaca. It is held every 23rd of December on the downtown square or Zocalo. It dates back to 1897 when the tradition began. Oversized radishes are carved to make sculptures, most of which display the culture of Oaxaca. They also have sections made of our corn husks and others out of flower. It was quite an impressive sight. Pictures are below:

Carvings made out of radishes.

These were all made out of corn husks.

These were made out of dyed corn husk. So pretty!

And these were made from fresh floweres.

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Annalise Serves as a Corista

Annalise had a wonderful privilege to serve a special role as a corista here in the village that we live in right outside of Oaxaca. Every year they choose one little girl or young lady to serve as the “America”. They then choose 6 girls who are named coristas. This rotates from the secondary school, to the primary school, and occasionally to the Kinder or Jardin de Niños. This year the Kinder was the school to choose the girls. All of the girls get to ride in a truck around town during the parade, while the remainder of the students and participants walk behind. Every so often they stop and sing the Hymno Nacional or national anthem along with several other patriotic songs. They do this parade twice, once on the night of September 15th and again on the morning of the 16th. Late at night on the 15th they do el grito or the yell where they cheer viva Mexico. It was a wonderful learning opportunity for us as we got to see up close a little more about how the culture of this village that we live in functions. Below are a few pictures from Annalise’s big day.

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Grace Español Visits Oaxaca

In July we were able to host a team from our home church, Grace Community Church, in Tyler. It was such a blessing to have them with us. Our sending church started a Spanish speaking congregation one year ago. The team that joined us this summer was a mix of people from the Spanish speaking congregation and the English speaking congregation. This team was a wonderful mix of Spanish speakers and medical personnel, who all love Jesus deeply and desired to serve. What a gift it was for us to see our sending church come alongside of our church here in Oaxaca and to serve together.

Some pictures of our team.

Edgar Galdámez, the pastor at Grace Español, started off the week by preaching at our church. He was very intentional about spending time with Fernando, our pastor here in Oaxaca, and trying to encourage him. Then Sunday night Edward and Ivette, a couple from Venezuela that attend Grace Español, were able to teach a small conference on biblical marriage. They did a great job and it was so great that they were able to speak without translators since they are Spanish speakers. They also were able to talk with several individuals afterwards and even got to meet with a couple before they left. It was a great blessing to have them with us and to be able to minister to our church in such a powerful way.

Pictures from Sunday Morning Church Service.

Edward and Ivette leading the marriage conference.

The remaining 3 days were spent hosting medical clinics. We went across town to Atzompa for one day where we did an outreach and then we did two days of clinics in our church, reaching out to those that live nearby. With multiple translators and 3 doctors everything went really smoothly.

Many people were blessed by this outreach and our church was incredibly encouraged. In recent months, there has been less access to free government sponsored medical care and medicines here in Oaxaca. We can see how if this continues that the need for medical clinics will continue to grow and can provide wonderful opportunities to extend the gospel to people both in Oaxaca City and in the villages around Oaxaca.

On the last day, we spent some time together exploring Oaxaca and eating some of the great food. What a blessing it was to have the team join us! Looking forward to next summer’s trip.

 

 

 

 

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Hope That Never Changes

Since we left for language school just over 4 years ago, we have been through many changes and struggles. We came to Oaxaca excited and eager to participate in great things with God. He has granted us this privilege, but most of all He has been teaching us that He really wants us to participate with him in the great work he plans to do in us. One that isn’t completed, and will only come to completion the day we meet Jesus face to face for eternity.

We have been through many changes within our organization. We have lost teammates, had 2 directors of our sending organization resign, as well as our field director. We have had several other co-workers within our organization return to the states. The only constant has been that there is always change.

We have struggled through conflict and hurts from other missionaries and we have caused hurts and conflict with other missionaries. We have felt completely misunderstood and completely confused.

We have missed family and faced loneliness. We have struggled through difficulties in language learning and feeling like we are unable to clearly express ourselves when we talk about things of the heart. We have lacked for community at times and missed the encouragement that comes with spurring one another on in the faith. We have had times of sickness and times of uncertainty. We have watched our family and friends walk through difficult times from afar, leaving us to feel completely helpless. We have seen political unrest in our city.

We have watched people suffer through life threatening illnesses. We have known babies who have died and a sick young mom who had to kiss her kids goodbye for the last time. We have prayed over people who we knew that if God did not move, they would die. We have been up close with poverty and wrestled with how to love people in need. There are experts who have written books about this, about how to do it the “right way”. The reality is that when you walk along side of it, in real life, the experience and the heartbreak is striking and there are times you don’t care about the “right way” to love, you just feel a need to do something, anything.

We have struggled in our family. We have sinned against one another and been too slow to ask for forgiveness. We have had moments of guilt, because we feel like our kids get second best.

We have questioned our call and wondered what we are doing here. We have wrestled with our faith. We have questioned our ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other and walking toward Jesus. This is who we are. We are weak. We are full of doubt. We are fragile. We are sinners.

But God has always reminded us that we are also sons and daughters of the King. We were purchased at a great price. We have been adopted into an eternal inheritance, that will never perish. We are covered in the only thing that has any real power to save us, the blood of Jesus Christ. Those sins mentioned above, they have been forgiven. We are sinners, but we have been made clean, redeemed from the pit. We have experienced grace and we have tasted joy. We have a hope. We have a future.

Over the last four years, we have seen pieces of our hearts exposed in ways that could have never happened if we had not made this step of faith. We have seen things about ourselves that we would have preferred to keep hidden. And we have come to understand more and more the Grace of God. Grace that covers us and washes us clean. Grace that accepts us and knows us and loves us. Grace that picks us up off the floor over and over again. Grace that keeps giving us the desire to keep going forward, towards Christ, because in Him we have everything. God has sustained us through every bit of this journey. He has never walked away from us, not even for a short time. We have had moments of being tossed to and fro by the storms of life, where life felt unstable and uncertain, where we did not choose to trust God enough and instead chose fear, anxiety, and anger. But God never moved, He never turned His back. He kept us and guarded us.

About 6 weeks ago, we were at the height of uncertainty. Our family was walking through some very hard realities and consequences of  sin in this fallen world in a way we could have never imagined we would have to. The country we live in and have come to love was in a state of unrest and instability. Our landlord had begun the work on the construction of a house for their son in our front yard, with plans to renovate this house and return here in the near future. Our second mission sending agency director, who walked with us through a very difficult time and was a clear blessing from Christ to our family, had just announced that he was resigning. There was violence between the two villages where we work and the locals were afraid to go from one village to the other. In short, things in our life felt uncertain.

We made a decision to do two things: First, we would pray every morning as a couple, as soon as we woke up, and second, we would have a time reading God’s word together as a family every morning over breakfast. It did not take long for some glimpses of stability to return. It became clear that our stability is not in this world. It isn’t in a home, or money, or relationships. It only exists in Jesus Christ. Of course we knew that, already, but truly believing it and experiencing it, well that is a different story.

We began reevaluating the pace of our lives. We began asking God, what He wanted us to do. What should our ministry life look like, what about our family life? What are the highest priorities He has for us?

A gentle answer came in the words of a command from scripture. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul. And Love your neighbor as yourself.

Over these four years, we have learned a lot and experienced much. Our knowledge might have increased, but bottom line, Do we love Jesus more today than when we arrived? Many times, that is a hard question to answer.  Lord, you want us to love you, to worship you, to follow you, to walk with you. Are we better at that today, than when we came here? Have we grown in our love and awe for you? We have seen some amazing things, we can tell stories of your power and answering prayer, we have been blessed to grow in our understanding of scripture and confidence to teach others, but what is it we desire to teach above everything else? What do we want to see? What did we come here for? To see people love Jesus more. To see us love Jesus more.We want to see others know and love and be deeply and eternally transformed by Jesus, the Person. And we can not fully participate in that if we ourselves are not loving Jesus more and literally being deeply transformed by Jesus, the Person. Although there is a necessary connection, the head can be full of things about Jesus, but the heart can be held back, trapped in fear or anger or anxiety or anything other than Jesus Christ.

The last month has been largely about just this. Seeking Jesus. Loving Jesus. Taking time to simply be with Jesus. Somehow that has gotten pushed to the side. If we want to help others know the person of Jesus and love Jesus more, we have to know and love and experience Jesus more. You don’t do that by busying yourself with the work of God, but simply by being with Him, remembering and believing and trusting that all of this, including the work in our own hearts, is His work, by His power. So easy to write about. So difficult to experience in our numbered days and overwhelming tasks and weak bodies and minds, the deceitfulness of sin, and our delusions of self sufficiency. But praise God, who gives grace to the humble, and opposes the proud. Always. This is how we know he will finish the work He has begun in us.

We have recently found a new house that we plan to move into. Everyone seems excited about the house, but we all acknowledge that we will miss things about this house. We are looking forward to what God has in store for us in our ministry and our family. We feel like He is beginning a new thing. Bringing some needed healing and beginning a new work, grounded on Him and on us knowing and loving Jesus more. He is our firm foundation, we cannot be shaken from His hand or separated from His love.

 

 

 

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Annalise’s Guelaguetza

The Guelaguetza is a festival that is held every year in Oaxaca. People from all parts of Oaxaca are given a chance to dress in the traditional clothing of their area and to perform a traditional dance. Several preschools around Oaxaca were able to participate in their own version of the guelaguetza. The kids dressed up in traditional clothing and danced. Annalise’s school was one of the schools that participated. Annalise loved every bit of it from dressing up to performing. Pictures are below. These are of Annalise getting ready, getting lined up with her class, and one with her partner.

And these are a few during the dance. Yes, I am biased, but she was adorable!

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Trips to the Children’s Hospital

Here are a few pictures from our May and June trips to the children’s hospital . We always take some type of food. In May we took tamales. This is what a pan of 200 tamales looks like. We bag them in bags of two and give them away. The next picture is of Fernando, our pastor, sharing the gospel outside the hospital. This family is a family we met a few times. There little boy was doing better in this picture and had been permitted to leave the hospital. He had a tumor in his brain. About one week after this picture, their son took a turn for the worse. They called us to ask for prayers. We offered to go and see them and pray for them and their son. We also printed this picture of their family and took it to them. The little boy did pass away, but the family was so very grateful. They have returned to their village. Please lift this family up in prayer and pray that God would continue to work in them.

It was also in our trip in May that Fernando had a chance to sit down with an older man that works at the hospital and clearly share the gospel. Fernando described the man as ready to receive the word. He accepted Christ and one of the women from our church gave up her own personal bible so that he could have his own bible.

Our trip in June was with a much smaller group. This time we took tortas that we gathered to make. When we arrived another group was there and giving out food. Many people had already received food and were walking away with their plates to eat. This other group was not sharing a message. Fernando was nervous since people were leaving and not sticking around ( we usually gather people and share a message and then give out food), but with great boldness he started proclaiming God’s word. The people drew near and listened. We are always so blessed by our trips to minister at the hospital.

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Rebecca’s Gymnastics

Rebecca has been taking gymnastics classes for the last 6 months and she absolutely loves it. She was invited to be a part of the team in January and her first team competition was scheduled mid- June. We planned a trip to Mexico City for her tournament, but due to the blockades around Oaxaca we were unable to get a bus to Mexico City and everyone advised us against driving there. We ended up having to cancel our trip. We were all a little bummed that we were unable to make the trip. This is the first time Rebecca has ever been able to participate in a sport. She has worked really hard over the past few months and has really improved significantly

Since Rebecca, and several other girls, were unable to make it to  the tournament, they were given a chance to participate in an inter-gym competition. Rebecca came in first place! You can see a few pictures below.

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