Monday, May 12, 2008

May Update

Time seems to be passing quickly--can't believe its been almost 2 months since I last wrote!

The last couple of months have been full of ministry and events--much evidence of God's work--but as always, reminders of the Enemy's activity and his schemes to distract, divide, discourage and destroy. We want to mention a few things for your thanksgiving and prayer.

Family News
It is extremely hot and dry here--our rainy season should start sometime in the next few weeks. The girls are doing well--ready for school to be out for the summer! Their classes carry on until the last week of June. Morgan and Natali continue to play on the school volleyball team--they even one a match last week!
Ceci will turn 7 in a few weeks. Yesterday, she was telling me about the birthday party she is having at school. She wanted to know if I would go for the party. When I told her I would think about it, she was thoughful a moment, and then said: "But the kids aren't going to be able to say your name dad--so could you just call yourself 'Pancho'"?

April also marked 2 full years since Ceci's adoption became final. We thank God for Ceci and the gift she is to us and so many others. Since two years have passed, we are now able to make application for her citizenship in the U.S. We've put in all the paperwork and are now waiting to be invited for an interview at the border--are hoping that this interview will coincide with a trip in July to Texas. Please pray with us that all of the legal work will happen easily and quickly!

Youth Weekend with the House Church in La Piedad

A little over a month ago, we participated with the house church in La Piedad in their outreach to youth and children who live around them. With them and members of 2 of the other churches in Guadalajara, we spent Saturday and Sunday in and around their house with nearly 30 kids and youth. These are kids who have a background of broken families, parents with addictions, violence and despair. So many things about this are awesome: the participation with our Mexican brothers and sisters...seeing them minister incarnationally and in ways that so clearly connect to their own woundedness and healing in Christ...seeing Jesus minister to hurting kids through his body...seeing signs of transformation at multiple levels.

We thank God for his work and light in this dark area. We pray for protection against the Enemy's scheming...we pray for countless kids and their families. We pray that God will help more of his people to discover their mission to the people around them.

All Church Retreat Last Weekend - May 9-11

This past weekend, we participated in our annual all-church retreat. About 80 of us gathered at a rustic retreat site outside the city. The group was made up of members from five house churches (Mariano Otero, Jocotan, La Piedad, Jardines del Valle, and Cerro del Cuatro) along with several seeking visitors and a slew of kids.

It was a great time for fellowship, Biblical teaching (Joe Pruett gave several hours of teaching on spiritual formation and our practices), mutual edification and lots of fun. We saw evidence of God's work in so many ways. We are especially encouraged to see clear growth in shared leadership and responsibility among our Mexican brothers and sisters. We praise God for this important growth.

On Sunday, two new sisters were immersed into Christ--they are family members of the Cerro del Cuatro church: Manuela Juarez Cantero and Maria de Rosario Medina Benitez. Their family calls them Manuela and Rosa! We praise God for his salvation in this family--we pray for continued growth and maturity. I'll try to put up some video footage of the baptisms soon!
Leaders' Retreat - May 2-5
Two weekends ago we facilitated a leaders' retreat for several of the house church leaders from Mexico City and Guadalajara. We spent 4 days (including travel) at a mountain retreat site between the two cities. 6 Mexican families and 3 missionary families participated in this time (33 people I think)--what a wonderful experience to see these leaders connect with one another, share stories of struggle and victory, pray and study together, fellowship and build one another up. We were especially impressed with the deep pain and suffering that almost all of these leaders have experienced--how that pain has found healing in Christ--how their faith has grown through this--and how these experiences have contributed to a deep maturity in them.
We thank God for this maturity--We pray that God will continue to shape and mature this group--that their numbers will grow.

Upcoming Activities
We anticipate alot of activity in the next few weeks. Please pray specifically for these things:
  • The arrival of a team of missionary apprentices from the Adventures in Missions Program (AIM) this week. We are expecting 6 young people to arrive tomorrow. Our coworkers Cory and Toni Burns will be coordinating their apprenticeship. Pray for God's grace and guidance for all of them. We especially pray that God will use them to connect with unreached people.
  • Youth groups from at least 3 churches (about 75 campaigners) will be with us in June and early July. We pray that this will be a good experience for them--that God will also use their time to serve needy people and open doors into new groupings of people.
  • Marriage Encounter Seminar. We hope to offer a marriage encounter seminar in one or two colonias in the next few weeks. We are talking with some of the house churches about the possibility of hosting us and inviting friends and neighbors to a seminar designed to promote healthy marriages. We are praying that this will be a help to hurting families--that it will give opportunity to speak of Good News and connect families with God's people in those colonias. Pleas pray for God's grace and guidance in this.

As always, we thank God for you and our partnership!