Friday, December 25, 2009

Making Memories on our Last Noche Buena in Mexico

Last night was likely our last Christmas Eve—Noche Buena—in Mexico…at least for a while.  We spent the evening with the Zendejas clan.  The Zendejas sisters have been following Jesus for many years.  They live across the street from us—we’ve been doing a lot of our life with them lately.  

It was a fun night—and una experiencia muy Mexicana

We arrived at the sisters’ house about 9:30 pm—the only non-family guests.  The night was chilly—probably in the low 50’s.  As people arrived, we were served snacks and ponche—a hot, fruity drink.   By about 10:00 a group of 35 or so family members had arrived each bringing food and gifts.  Amparo welcomed us all and after a couple of prayers, we ate supper about 10:30 pm—two or three types of tamales, a spicy meat dish called Birria, a corn based stew called Pozole, beans, rice, tortillas, and lots of desserts.  They asked Nancy to bring Lasagna—also delicious but not so Mexicana.  Lots of food!

After the meal, the kids had put together a skit re-enacting the story of Jesus’ birth and they performed it for all the adults.  Then the family did the traditional Posada—which is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem.  Several songs were sung.  At midnight, everyone began giving the Christmas abrazo (a hug and “feliz navidad”) to every other person in the house.  So theoretically, everyone was hugged about 35 or 40 times from 12:00 to 12:05! 

There were Christmas gifts for everyone and lots of candy for the kids.  The sisters had made sure that our family had gifts under the tree—something we had not expected.  Everyone had lots of fun. 

We made it home about 1:00 am or so…feeling tired but very blessed to have experienced this special night. 

Something tells me that we’ll be drawing on these good memories for years to come! 

¡Feliz Navidad!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Blessed to be with Good Friends Yesterday

Yesterday several of us from 4 or 5 of the house churches met together at a park in the north of Guadalajara for a shared time of food, fellowship and fun.  After spending some time greeting one another and catching up in conversation, we began a time of singing and worship.  The children had worked up a rendition of the story of Jesus’ birth—cool to see them telling the story together.  We shared the Lord’s Supper and Gerardo gave an exhortation to the group on the importance of a life focused on Christ and our desire to grow together in 2010.  We spent the rest of the day eating and playing together.  A blessed day! 

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Monday, December 14, 2009

MAWLing at the Monthly Leaders' Gathering Last Night

I was encouraged last night as I sat with a group of house church leaders.  We try to all get together at least once each month.  Yesterday was fairly typical of these gatherings.  Everyone was with their particular church community in the 1st part of the day.  Several of the leaders then, gathered about 5pm at our house.  The main idea with these gatherings is to provide mutual encouragement and support for the leaders as each is involved in parenting spiritually a group of Christians—and usually also involved in helping several not-yet Christians in the journey towards Jesus.  The group tries to provide a safe environment for each to be honest about struggles and victories—and to encourage one another from Scripture—and discern God’s will as a group regarding different challenges—and spend lots of time praying together.  

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of the MAWL approach to leadership development.  Model.  Assist.  Watch.  Leave.  At this point in our ministry here and with our departure date coming up in a few months, we are trying to live squarely in the “Watch” stage.  We want to watch our Mexican brothers and sisters as they go about their life and ministry—and we want to be available to provide feedback and conversation along the way.  

Last night, I was encouraged to watch my Mexican brothers and sisters minister to one another.  It is cool to see so much evidence of growth and maturity.  I wonder what will happen in the years to come.  I continue to be hopeful!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Renewing our Missionary Visas in Mexico City

This past weekend we drove the six hours over to Mexico City to renew our FM3 missionary visas.  In addition to getting the legal stuff done and coming away with Nancy’s and my little green booklets (our girls were all born in Mexico and have dual citizenship), we also got to spend a little time with fellow missionary families in Mexico City—Benjy and Carolyn Brednich, James and Erin Henderson, Ryan and Amanda Gray and Nelly Javier de Molino.  Besides working in church planting with her husband Israel, Nelly is also a lawyer.  She does a great job helping people like us get our legal status sorted out.  

Oh yes—we may or may not have eaten some tacos and ice cream while we were there!  

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

In Mexican News Today

I try to pay attention to the daily newspaper and radio.  A few of the headlines and stories that caught my attention from the Mexican news today: 

  • Money From Remittances Has Fallen 36% Since This Time Last Year.   Money sent by Mexicans living in the U.S. to their families in Mexico (remittances) is the 2nd largest source of income for Mexico—petroleum sales is first and tourism is third.  The Bank of Mexico says this is the largest decrease in history.  Experts here say that the pullback in the construction industry in the U.S. has hit Mexican workers in the U.S. 20.9% were employed in 2008.  Estimates say that 13 of every 100 Mexican migrants living in the U.S. are presently unemployed.  

  • For the 2nd time in 12 days, a key witness in a huge case against massive police corruption was assassinated yesterday in a Starbucks in Colonia del Valle in Mexico City.  (This is very near to the Sunset House).  He was supposedly in a witness protection plan. 

  • President Felipe Calderon is finishing the first half of his 6-year presidential term this week.  There is lots of talk about his accomplishments, failures and challenges as President of Mexico.  A few of the lists that caught my attention:

  • Key Priorities of President Calderon’s 1st three years in office:

  1. The war on drug cartels
  2. Energy reform
  3. Trying to offset declining oil revenues with a tax reform
  4. A national infrastructure plan

  • Great Problems Faced by President Calderon in his 1st three years in Office: 

  1. The world economic crisis
  2. The H1N1 influenza outbreak with its effect on Mexico
  3. The drop in revenue for Mexico as a result of health concerns—tourism has been hard hit
  4. The 2009 drought in Mexico

  • Main Accomplishments of President Calderon in his 1st three years in Office

  1. The criminal law reform in Mexico
  2. The pension reform for public servants
  3. Elimination of a corrupt public utility company in central Mexico
  4. His decision to combat organized crime head on is considered courageous by most everyone
  5. Educational equality reform
  6. The tax and energy reforms (though limited) are being considered accomplishments

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving with Friends

What a feast!  About 35 of us—half Mexican and half from the U.S.—gathered at our house this past Thursday for a shared Mexican/American Thanksgiving meal.  Besides the traditional turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie—we also had Mexican Mole to go with the turkey, Frijoles Puercos and Flan.  Several card games were going on.  We cranked up the old Nintendo 64.  Good food.  Good fun.  Good friends.  And I got to watch the Cowboys win with several of my friends who were rooting against them.  Can it get any better?

For many things we are thankful!

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A Good Week with the Pruett Family

This past week we got to spend time with Joe and Elaine Pruett and their three boys: Seth, Parker and Cooper.  We go way back.  Joe was an AIM (Adventures in Missions) student back in 1992.  After he spent his AIM time with us in Mexico City, he went back to the U.S., did some more ministry and missions training and married Elaine—who Nancy and I knew even before we married.  Then, along with 3 other families, we all formed a mission team to Guadalajara and moved here in 1998.  We’ve been through a lot together!

This past summer, after almost 12 years in Guadalajara, they moved to San Antonio, Texas to begin a new chapter in their life and ministry.  We miss them.  But its cool to watch them with people and to imagine how God will use them for Kingdom purposes in the days to come.  They are educators.  Joe is working in the San Antonio school system—teaching 5th graders.  I can’t imagine a better influence on a 10 year-olds formation than Joe!  Or on anyone’s formation for that matter. 

It was fun to be with the Pruett family this past week.  They had been given a vacation package at the beach and invited us to join them for three days.  Then we spent the rest of the week in Guadalajara.  It was fun watching our three girls and their three boys together!  

A good week!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking Forward to Camping Again

I’m thinking about camping with my friends again next year.  

This past weekend 34 of us went camping together about 2 hours from Guadalajara at Santa Maria del Oro—on the banks of a lake that is in the crater of an old volcano.  Most all of the adults in this group have been following Jesus for some time now and are actively involved in leading and caring for (mothering and fathering) others—and in incarnating Christ among those who don’t know him well in their corners of the world.

During the weeks before our camping trip, we envisioned the weekend being mainly about spending time together with God—allowing God to draw us to and prepare us for this retreat—and to guide our time together.  For the weeks before many of us prayed with expectation to that end—that we would encounter God together.  We tried to structure our time for a balance of encounters with God over the weekend:  solitude, small groups of 2 or 3, large group conversations, and just having fun together.  We encouraged all of the participants to prepare for the time by being attentive to God and to come to the weekend prepared with what each believed God had given them—to be prepared to both give and to receive.

It was great fun—and a great blessing from God for all of us I think.  Lots of things happened: prayer, mutual encouragement, reading of scripture, singing, playing, confession, eating, discovery, crying, and laughing—lots of laughing.  It was a blessing to be with some of my fellow missionary coworkers—Cory & Toni Burns and James & Erin Henderson.  It was a blessing to be served by some of our AIM apprentices as they played with our little ones.  It was fun watching the interaction between older and younger leaders, between those with different experiences, gifts and styles.  It was cool to see the discoveries that were being made.  It was super cool to see the unity and the love and respect for one another that was shown.

We believe that this kind of regular retreating together and attentiveness to God together is an important practice for those who are intent on caring for others—for those who are in the trenches of kingdom leadership.  The desire of this group of friends is to continue this practice a time or two each year. 

I’m thinking that wherever they are camping this time next year is not going to be that far from Texas!  

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Polly the Parrot Dances to the Lord!

We are having fun living across the street from the Zendejas sisters. Their parrot, Polly has been raised listening to the house church that meets there sing praises. She gets excited and even dances when she hears the songs! We caught her a couple of weeks ago on video.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Baby Shower For Liliana Yesterday

This Saturday, the ladies in the churches gave a baby shower for Lilian who is expecting a little girl around Christmas time.  What I liked about our time together was the laughter that filled the house.  The ladies truly enjoyed each other as they played games and prayed for the family’s new addition.  

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Video: Family celebrates Dia de los Muertos in the cemetery

This past Monday, November 2 many Mexicans celebrated Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Because it is a national holiday and the girls were out of school, we decided to drive outside the city. We were impressed that the cemeteries were full of people.

I ran across this short video of a Mexican family explaining some of their beliefs and practices for Dia de Los Muertos.

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Worried about my Dad

I got news yesterday that my Dad was put in the Heart Hospital in Lubbock.  After having a heart stress test over a week ago, he had a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist yesterday.  He was told that he was in immediate danger and they admitted him to work to lower his blood pressure and do further tests.  

They are doing more tests today and will determine if he needs an angiogram. 

It feels tough not being able to be there.  

Please pray with us for he and my mom.  

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Three Years Ago Today...

One of the things that regularly brightens Nancy's and my life is the fun of parenthood--getting to live with and raise good girls. Our 16 year-olds have been trying to love God and follow Jesus all their lives. But on November 5, 2006, they along with some others in our community of house churches, decided to jump fully into God's Story--to be baptized into Christ. It was a great day!

My friend Tim Rush made this video of this special day. We've shown it to friends in the past but have only recently put it online.

Today, I'm remembering this day and the joy of sharing life with Morgan and Natali. Thought I'd share the memory...

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Robbed Again This Morning!

Its not what I wanted to be thinking about today—but this morning after dropping my girls off at school I stopped at a park for an early run.  While I was getting in my run, and for the second time in the last 7 months, thieves broke the locks on several cars in the parking lot—mine included.  My smart phone, ipod and wallet with cash, license and credit card were all taken from the console where I had them hidden.  Loss of money, loss of time and serious frustration are three things I hadn’t planned on receiving this morning!  

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Blessed by Time With The Krogsgaard Family

A couple of weeks back, we got to spend time with the Krogsgaard family.  Bernard and Logan stayed at our house with the girls and me while Nancy and Alicia participated in a retreat for missionary women.  It was a good week of reconnecting and remembering together.  

We had not seen the Krogsgaard family in almost 18 years.  Bernard and Alicia were young missionaries and part of the church planting team we joined in Mexico City back in 1991.  However, just as we were getting settled in Mexico City, they transitioned to life and ministry in Canada.  During these years since, they have been involved in local ministry with churches in Canada, teaching at Western Christian in Saskatchewan and leading numerous “Let’s Start Talking” campaigns to mission fields all over the world.  Last year, they joined a church planting team working in Lazaro Cardenas on the Pacific Coast of Mexico—about 6 hours or so from Guadalajara.  

One of the things that impressed me while spending time with Bernard again is the value of investing one’s life in others—of modeling simple discipleship and encouraging others.  Bernard did that for me over 18 years ago—and continued doing that as we reconnected.  I wonder what God is doing with all the kingdom seeds that have been planted through Bernard’s and Alicia’s life.  

We were blessed. 

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Most Mexicans Focused on Survival

Mexico is a mess these days.  I know most places on the planet are.  But it seems to me that now, perhaps more than ever during our years living here, Mexico is in crisis: economic, political, moral, social, family, health, security, etc.  The newspapers and television programs are full of story after story of crime, sickness and corruption. 


This morning, as I read the newspaper, I saw a summary from anthropologist and sociologist Roger Bartra.  Bartra is an award winning researcher and author who teaches at the UNAM (National Autonoumous University in Mexico City).  He will be speaking here this weekend on how he sees Mexico’s unfolding future.  The title of his keynote is:  La Sombra del Futuro” –“The Shadow of the Future.” 


But what caught my attention was the way he describes the state of mind of most Mexicans these days:


“…(Bartra) perceives that the Mexican society is depoliticized and apathetic; that common Mexicans are tied up in survival.  Their lives are preoccupied with family, security and the problem of finding a job” (my translation).


Bartra puts into words what I sense as I live among and talk with common Mexicans.  For the most part, they seem to me apathetic—disinterested in discussions of politics, religion, world issues.  They’ve heard and reheard all the proposals.  They’ve gotten their hopes up too many times.  Just not interested anymore.  


Or maybe it is not that they aren’t interested—but that most just don’t have the time and luxury to think of these things right now.  They are focused on survival: family, security, trying to make a dignified living. 


Often I wonder what God is really doing here…  I think I see evidence of hope—yet still so much darkness.   


This morning I’m thinking about the incarnation—about God’s presence among Mexicans. 


“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a).  

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last Sunday--My Kind of Day

This last Sunday was my kind of day.  

I was encouraged to be with the church this past weekend.  We almost always spend time with one of the younger and less mature groups, but this past Sunday we decided to spend time with the house church that lives and gathers in the Jardines del Valle Colonia on the northwest side of Guadalajara.  This particular group goes way back relationally, but specifically began forming as a house church about 5 years ago.  The core of the group are 3 families that all moved onto the same street—over time God became the center of their relationship and formed them into a family who together are now trying to flesh out the life of Christ to the people around them.  As much as any group I know, they really live as a family of God.  

About 20 of us gathered at Gerardo’s and Carola’s place and for the next couple of hours centered ourselves on Jesus—praise, prayer, mutual encouragement, reading of scripture, discussion, etc.  After remembering Jesus specifically in a simple taking of the Lord’s Supper, everyone chipped in to buy chickens, tacos and trimmings and we spent another couple of hours laughing, playing and eating together.  My kind of day! 

One of the things I really liked about that day was the way God’s Word came to us.  While the group was reading Acts 13, the conversation kept coming back to these verses:

“While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3).  

The group noticed that in a similar way as they gathered as a small church, among them were many “missionaries” who the Holy Spirit is sending out each week.  It was cool to hear the group put into words what they think this looks like.  Adriana is a single mom who is a “missionary” to children in a park near her home.  Arturo is a single man who has been following Jesus for nearly 10 years—he is working for a microfinance business that makes small business loans available to the poor—he sees himself as a “missionary” to the poor—and to those who work among them.  The Garcia family talked about the Foundation for Kid’s with Diabetes and their “missionary” work among so many families who are now lost in the same trauma they themselves were in a few years back.  Hector talked about his work as a psychiatrist and his desire to be a “missionary” to those who are marginalized and abused.  Martín, who began a new church a few years back among friends who worked at a factory with him, described his “missionary” desire to see this happen again soon.  It was cool to hear them articulating the way they see themselves as together a family of Jesus—but each one as missionaries sent from the community to incarnate Jesus to others.  

I noticed that a lot of the kids were listening to and participating in the conversation—including my three daughters.  I wondered what will come of all of this. 

Yep, it was my kind of day!  

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturdays and a Group of Young Disciples

Every other Saturday several of the youth have begun meeting for Bible study, prayer and fellowship.  This past Saturday night, they gathered at our house.  These kids (mostly high school and college aged young people) live in different parts of the city and each is part of one of the house churches.  The Saturday youth gatherings provide a sense of unity among the youth—one of several practices that emphasize that the house churches and their members also belong to a larger fellowship of Jesus’ people in this city—that they are not expected to walk alone as disciples.

One of my good friends Cory is working among these young Christians—he has a heart to help them and other young people grow into leaders who will join God in making a difference in God’s world.  Two things specifically encouraged me about their time together last night.  One was that Cory is helping them to consider “obedience-based discipleship.”  Last night they were working through the story told in the Gospel of Luke (8:19-21) where Jesus says that his family—his true “mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”  I was encouraged to hear that they were each trying to name something that they wanted to put into practice from God’s word this week. 

The other thing that encouraged me was that some of the youth are bringing friends who don’t yet follow Jesus.  I wonder what God will do among this group in the days to come.  I can imagine!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Diana and ministry in the park

I want to tell you about Adriana (Diana) and how she is ministering in the park near her house.  Many of you know Adriana.  She has been a part of us for 12 years.  Her ongoing transformation is encouraging.  She has been involved in teaching the children in the church for a long time.  Although she has shed tears of frustration she has continued to train herself.  A couple of years ago the little girls in the neighborhood started knocking on her door asking her if she would read them a story, a Bible story.  In between breaks of selling candy and raspados (snowcones) at her puesto outside of her house, she would sit with the neighbor kids and tell and read them stories of the Bible.  God has continued to bless the kids through Adriana and her faith.  On Saturdays, 8 young girls consistently knock on her door saying that they are waiting for her outside.  One of the girls is deaf and her mother sits and translates for her.  Last Saturday she told the story of the creation with resources she herself had made.  Four mothers sat at the table with her.  One older lady passed by and said, “Doña Diana wait right there…I’m bringing you another 10 kids.”  Diana told her it would have to be another day because she was limited on resources for that day.   I wonder what seeds God is planting in their hearts through Diana’s ministry in the park.  

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Sunday, October 11, 2009


I spent the last week in Texas.  With school and responsibilities at home, Nancy and the girls stayed in Guadalajara.  But I was blessed to spend time with dear friends, family and new acquaintances in Lubbock, Abilene and Lamb County.  This weekend, I’m unpacking—literally of course—but also “unpacking” the experiences with people, thinking about the last week or so and what God has left on my heart.  A few of those things:

  • I was encouraged as always by God’s people, their generous heart and the desire I see in so many to join God and make a difference in the world.  I’m specifically thinking of the Sunset Church of Christ and their generosity and desire to participate in world missions.  On October 4, they took up their annual mission contribution to fund their mission efforts for the next year.  Even in a year with so many financial struggles and worries, they surpassed their goal of $261,350.00 and ended up giving $276,555.29.  

  • In a similar way I was encouraged by listening in on and participating in many conversations with folks in Lubbock, Abilene and Lamb County who are seriously considering how they can live and encourage others to live a more missional lifestyle in their own neighborhoods, fleshing out Christ among unreached people there, and seeing new churches spring up.  One of those conversations was at a Church Planting seminar at the Sunset Church of Christ on October 3—cool to hear them talking about the possibility of planting new churches in Lubbock.  

  • I continue to notice that when we tell simple stories (especially ones that are recent and ongoing) of life on mission with Jesus, it is encouraging and even life-giving to the hearers.  Whether male or female, old or young, educated or not—there seems to be a general interest in what missional life looks like and a desire to participate in this life at deeper levels.  I think I understand more all the time the grace it has been to get to live the life of a missionary—and I am more convinced than ever that this life cannot end when we no longer live in Mexico.  I feel sure I will die if I can’t continue to live these stories of life and experience the blessing of sharing them with others.  

  • Finally, I am impressed with the brevity and frailty of human life.  Last Monday, on a farm road in Lamb County a truck driven by a farm worker lost control and collided with a car driven by a mother and her high school aged daughter.  All three lost their life.  On Tuesday night, Jorge, an old friend and Christian brother died in his sleep in Mexico City.  Some think he may have had the flu.  He was in his 30’s and had a newborn child.  Then on Wednesday, I heard of another tragic accident involving a school bus.  My reading this week has had me “chewing” on James 4.  These words leap off the page at me:  “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).  I think a lot about the future.  I desire to live my life squarely in the present and centered on Jesus.  

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Thursday Nights with Young Leaders

Thursday nights are fun.  For several weeks now, a group of us men—mostly young leaders—have been gathering at my house to talk and pray together.

Last night was typical.  A couple of the guys arrived early and we played a game of PIG (actually PUERCO) at the basketball net out back.  When the others arrived, we spent some time allowing each one to describe the state of their heart—sadness, worries, anger, happiness, excitement, etc.  Then, we each shared something that we had received from God in our personal walk with him this past week.  We have committed to each doing an inductive study of James, taking a chapter each week and “chewing” on it in our quiet times with God.  It was cool to hear each describe how they are wrestling with Scripture and discovering God’s Word—a Word that requires obedience.  

Finally, we spent 30 minutes or so reading and discussing Luke 5:1-11.  Last night we read the text aloud two times.  Then, one of the guys, Hector, retold the story in his own words to help us turn it over in our hearts and minds one more time.  Then, we began asking open ended questions of the text—discovering together what God wanted us to see about God, humans, disciples, sin, etc.  We each ended the time mentioning at least one thing that we believe God wants us to obey out of that passage. 

We ate together afterwards.  Thursday nights are fun!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Yesterday at Church

It was cool to see God at work in his church yesterday.  My family and I made our way up to a poor colonia in Guadalajara called Nueva Santa Maria to be with one of the house churches that lives and meets there.  When we arrived, Jose Luis had chairs and up-side-down buckets set around in a circle in area outside the door of his small house.  After about 15 or 20 minutes, Jose Luis welcomed about 23 of us (at least half not-yet Christians) and explained that we had gathered to praise God in song, read and discuss scripture, encourage one another and remember Jesus around the table—which we did for the next couple of hours.  Later we walked to the corner for roasted chickens and continued the feast until late afternoon. 

I especially liked how the group discussed God’s Word yesterday.  After a prayer recognizing our common need and desire to hear a living word from God, we began to read the text from Genesis 6, 7 & 8—a story that had been chosen beforehand.  Then Liliana retold the same story on a level that helped the kids to understand and be drawn into the story—so cool to see the children and adults alike really engaging the Bible.  Then, for the next 30 or 45 minutes, while the children continued to draw pictures about their ideas from the story, the adults engaged in a conversation about God’s sadness concerning the sin and violence in his world, God’s plan to make everything clean and new again and the possibility that we humans can join God in this plan.  I was blessed to see God working among us. 

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Dengue Fever, H1N1 Virus and Going on with Life in Mexico

This past week, the newspapers are full of stats and warnings that the H1N1 virus is making a comeback here.  Some are calling for the closing of schools again like we did last April and May.  However, for the moment everyone is emphasizing washing hands, not greeting one another by shaking hands and kissing cheeks, and wearing a cubreboca on your mouth if you are sick.  

Yesterday afternoon, about a dozen women gathered at our house to continue an ongoing workshop on spiritual formation in children.  It is especially geared to help families and house churches think more carefully about how they will take responsibility for the teaching and spiritual formation of the children among them.  There continues to be lots of interest in this semimonthly workshop.  

Here Juli is shown telling the story of Creation yesterday at the workshop using the props she had prepared since the last class—with a cubreboca on her mouth since she had cold symptoms.  

Also, Dengue, a serious illness carried by mosquitoes has reached epidemic levels here lately.  At least three members of our church fellowship have come down with this illness in the last few days, including Carola Garcia who was diagnosed with it this past Friday.  Please continue to pray for Carola, Diego and Sebastian…and for Mexico.  

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Running with Jose Luis

I got back a few hours ago from an “Independence” race with my friend Jose Luis.  It was Jose Luis’ first race and we had lots of fun.  We ran from the Centro of Guadalajara to the Basilica of Zapopan.  Pretty cool to run the streets of Guadalajara with 3500 Mexicans celebrating Mexican Independence!  It was especially fun to be with Jose Luis. 

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fiesta Mexicana

Viva Mexico!  This past Tuesday night, about 80 people (members and friends of the various house churches) celebrated Mexican Independence Day at our house.  The party started about 6 pm and was still going strong after midnight.  Good food, fun and friends! 

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


Its hard to believe that September is already in full swing. The last couple of months have seemed filled with out-of-the-ordinary things. Of course God has continued to bless us as a family. We also see evidence of God's work around us among the churches and in the lives of our Mexican brothers and sisters. A few things for thanksgiving and prayer:

Changes with Missionary Families

In July, two of the missionary families who work with us made moves to the U.S. Tim and Kim Rush and their children moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where they plan to spend the next year on furlough working with their sponsoring congregation and preparing to come back to Guadalajara in the summer of 2010. We've heard from them and they seem to be doing well. However, please pray for Kim's mother, Kay as she has been diagnosed with cancer. Pray for her this next Tuesday as she will be undergoing an operation.

Also, after 11 1/2 years working in Guadalajara, Joe and Elaine Pruett and their boys moved to Texas in July. They will begin a new phase of their life and ministry in San Antonio, Texas. Joe got a job teaching school. Please pray for the Pruett family in this important transition time. Pray for the Mexican churches as they continue their life and ministries without these two wonderful families.

House Churches and their Leaders

The Mexican house churches seem to be going through what we hope are growing pains right now. We know that difficulties are fairly common, but we are praying that God will help them grow stronger through the trials. We are especially praying for the Mexican leadership during this time. With so many changes among the missionary families, the Mexican leadership is being challenged to grow. Each of the groups has emerging leadership that is developing and maturing. However, Gerardo Garcia and Martin Iturrabiatez are growing to provide leadership and care among the churches. Please pray especially for these men and their maturity.

We believe one of our main assignments for this year is to walk alongside these leaders, encouraging and mentoring them, but all the while allowing them to resolve problems and discover how they want to lead. Of course sometimes the balance feels delicate. We are trying to do this through weekly one to one prayer and study times, monthly leadership group meetings and ongoing Bible studies. We are also seeking to participate with different house churches each Sunday. The churches have recently renewed their committment to meet all together once each month. Please continue to pray for the Mexican leadership and for our ministry among them.

Mexico in Crisis

We ask you to continue to pray for Mexico. The global economic downturn of the last year or so is hitting Mexico hard right now. I recently heard an analysty comment that the number of people in "extreme poverty" has increased 38% this year. He also quoted statistics saying that 48% of Mexicans (more than 50 million people) now live below the poverty line.

As you know along with this has been the recent escalation of violence associated with organized crime and drug trafficking. The government has made confrontation of this crime one of their main priorities. Yet it seems that this has exposed even more the deep-seated corruption in the society and the lack of a functioning judicial system. Even when criminals are caught, there is little confidence that they will stay caught.

Please continue to pray with us for a radical change in Mexico. Pray that the rule of God would come more fully to Mexico--that there would be a grassroots movement of God that would change everything!

We continue to thank God for his grace and goodness in our lives--for our partnership with Mexicans who long for change--for our partnership with you.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Summer Full of Fun

We spent about 3 1/2 weeks in July and August visiting family and supporters in Texas. It was good to see many of you. Our family visited supporters in Lubbock, Amarillo, Amherst and Petersburg. We also spent good time at the Schroeder farm in Amherst and in Lubbock with the Burris family.

This summer was landmark for our family in that the older girls, Morgan and Natali got their license to drive. Old Blue is still serving us on the farm as a good practice car!
We had a great time reconnecting with old friends, eating homemade ice cream and relaxing.

The Gossett family who were part of our original team in Guadalajara came for an afternoon visit. Their boys, Caleb and Aden had a blast with all the cousins in the the cow tank.

When we returned to Guadalajara we packed up the house and moved to a different place with lots of spill out room into the garden.

We met the first Sunday back with the house church in Mariano Otero. Many of you might remember the video of Angelina's baptism in the waterfalls of Tala a few years back. She fell and broke her leg several weeks ago and is bedfast. The church has met around her bed for the last few weeks. Here is Angelina with her granddaughter Carlita, Ceci, and Aime.

Across the street from our house lives Sara. This is Ceci, with Sara and Polly perched on top.

This past weekend some of the ladies enjoyed a sleep over without kids at our house. We enjoyed each others company as we talked, sang, watched a movie, made pizzas and worshipped together.

God continues to bless us in many ways.
Thank you for your partnership and prayers!

Our prayer is that God and God's Kingdom come more powerfully and more obviously to to Mexico and to all of our lives!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

God at Work at Diabetes Camp

What a powerful experience! I just spent this last Saturday, Sunday and Monday at a nearby mountain campsite with about 95 members of the Fundacion Esperanza--the only foundation for kids with diabetes in Mexico.

My good friends and co-workers, Gerardo and Carola Garcia began this foundation after their daughter Melonie was diagnosed with diabetes. Now, almost four years later, a team of parents, friends, doctors, pychologists, social workers and nutritionists have come together to provide encouragment, education and support for families like them.

One of the projects of this Foundation is to put on a camp two times a year for recently diagnosed kids and their parents from the Guadalajara area. A little over 30 kids and their parents attended the camp this past weekend.
At the camp, the parents were offered intense education and training on how to cope and how to care for their child with diabetes. They were led to express their pain and begin a road to acceptance and healing.

At the same time, the children were cared for and educated in the basics of this disease. Through classes, activities and conversation they too came to understand diabetes better and to begin to accept their reality and move forward.

It was fun to see God at work here! It was powerful to see how God is using the Garcia family to connect a group of people around a common pain and a common hope. It was powerful to see how God is using them to show Christ's love and healing in such a natural way--in a way that flows so clearly out of their own suffering and out of the consolation that they have found in Christ. It was powerful to see so many who are finding purpose in helping others. It was cool to see how Christ was so obviously seen in word and deed.

I pray for God's continued work here...for the healing seeds that are being planted!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Update

Wow! I can't believe how fast time has flown lately--and how bad we have been about writing here.

We are well--and want to take a minute to write about some of the things we have been up to in the last few weeks. As always, we are thankful to God for our friends and family who are interested in God's work here in Guadalajara and who join us in prayer for this work.

Nancy and the Kids

Several weekends back, Nancy and the girls had a pijamada (slumber party) with some of the girls that live in La Nueva Santa Maria--one of the colonias where there is a house church. Adrianaita, Fatima, Melani and Nicole joined Ceci, Morgan and Natali for a great time togehter making bracelets, watching a movie, eating popcorn and studying about Jesus around the table. We topped it off with a silly picture.

The youth also spent several weeks in February and March planning and practicing a play to perform at the all-church retreat. They worked up a spanish rendition of the story of Punchinello called Tu Eres Especial (You are Special). They worked each Saturday on the play, songs and the backdrop. The process and the final product were both lots of fun!

All Church Retreat

Three weekends ago, we had our annual all-church retreat at a camp ground outside of the city. Almost 90 of us representing at least six different house churches spent Friday night through Sunday afternoon playing, talking, praying, singing, eating, studying, working and listening to God together. It was a great time to recognize and celebrate God's work among us and to grow closer to one another and to the Lord.

The adults had a special workshop on Spiritual Cleansing called, "Get up and Walk." The children were blessed to be led by a group from the University Group of the Sunset Church of Christ in Lubbock who spent their Spring Break with us.

Several of the youth presented the larger group with their rendition of "You are Special"--based on a children's book by Max Lucado. It was a great success and lots of fun!

New Christians

Two Sundays ago, a young couple, Quique Garcia and his wife Monica were baptized into Christ. It seems that they began being drawn to Jesus several years back and since then have spent time off and on with Christians here. However, in the last couple of years, they have spent more time with Cory and Toni Burns--studying and beginning to live as a community of Jesus followers. What a great joy for them to take this step of faith!

As always, we thank God for your partnership with us in prayer!

Tu Eres Especial

This is a video clip of the skit several of the youth did a few weeks back at the All-Church retreat. It is a spanish version of "You are Special."



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January Update

Greetings from the Schroeder family! We hope that you have had a blessed Christmas holiday. We are well—wanted to take a few minutes to update you on recent happenings and some specific requests for prayer. As always, we thank God for your partnership with us!

Family News - Our Christmas Holiday

Even though we decided not to travel to spend Christmas with family this year, we had a great time. It was good to spend a couple of weeks resting, hanging out with friends, spending time with Mexican Christians and enjoying one another. We went on two camping trips! We were reminded of God’s goodness to us.

Turtle Camp. The day after the girls got out of school, we drove with four other families to a Campamento de Tortugas a couple of hours south of Puerto Vallarta. We spent three days and nights camping out on a beach and hanging out with a marine biologist who works to preserve endangered sea turtles. Late in the evenings (about 11:00 pm) we patrolled 12 kilometers of beach on 4-wheelers looking for female turtles which had already laid or were laying their eggs. The eggs are rescued and brought back to the camp where they were put in secure nests so they can incubate for about 50 days. Each female lays about 100 eggs. In the mornings, we would take the baby turtles that had hatched in the night (after having been rescued about 50 days earlier) and release them into the ocean. One day, we also got to go out in boats with a couple of the biologists to catch and study sea turtles swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Of course, we did a lot of playing, cooking, eating, sweeping sand out of our tent and having a general good time! It was a bit of work at times—but a fabulous experience! We came home on December 23 just in time for Christmas.

Santa Maria del Oro. We spent New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day at another camp site. Again, we traveled with five other families to a volcanic lake (in the crater of an old volcano) about 2 hours south of Guadalajara. This trip was a little more relaxing than the turtle camp—we swam in the lake, hiked, rented kayaks, ate, played cards, talked around the campfire, and enjoyed one another.

We are thankful the experience!

Church News

The churches seem to be doing generally well right now. Of course, the different groups are all at different stages of growth and maturity—dealing with their own unique challenges. We have been with many of the maturing leaders over the past few days—talking about challenges and dreams for this year. Most of the Christians are poor and there is a great deal of talk around Mexico that 2009 (as you would imagine) is going to be very difficult economically. Please pray with us for our Mexican family—that the trials will make us all stronger in our focus on Christ—that we would all see opportunities to bless others with generosity and service. Please continue to pray for our ministry among these churches, and especially among the maturing leadership. Pray for the churches and pre-church groups in La Piedad, Jardines del Valle, Mariano Otero, Jocotan, Nueva Santa Maria, Las Pintas and Ciudad Granja. Pray for leadership; for new opportunities to plant gospel seeds.

Proyectos de Vida

You may remember that one of the ways our Mexican brothers and sisters have begun talking about their mission as individuals, families and churches is with the idea of “proyectos de vida” (life projects).

In November, we wrote especially about the Garcia family and the work they are doing among children with diabetes and their families. We mentioned their need for funds to be able to minister to this group in 2009. In December, the Lord blessed them with the funds they had requested! Praise God!

They have begun working on a weekend camp planned in early April for children and their parents who have recently been diagnosed and are just learning how to live with their disease. They are also beginning a new course that will be offered twice weekly to help poor parents with basic orientation. Also, this coming Saturday, January 24 they are scheduled to do a radio program on a local Guadalajara station. Please pray for the Garcia family and those who are working with them to offer help. Pray that God will use this service to plant seeds of the kingdom and provide open doors into families and groups of people.

Pray for our brothers and sisters around us who are involved in similar “life projects” in their neighborhoods. Pray for them as they look for ways to use their God-given experiences, passions and gifts to join God in his mission. Pray for the countless seeds that are being sown among people that come in contact and begin conversations with God’s people.

Horse Therapy

Several months ago, Nancy and I took a course in Horse Therapy/Therapeutic Riding and began volunteering at a newly formed Horse Therapy center. The center was begun by the local mounted police force. On most Saturday mornings, we spend several hours working with dozens of children who have special needs (autism, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, ADD, etc.). By combining exercise and traditional physical therapy with horseback riding, we are working with several other volunteers to provide help to low-income families. Nancy and I have begun to see it as one of our “life-projects.” Its a lot of fun. Oftentimes the girls go with us. Please pray for us and these children. Pray that God will use this service to open doors into the lives of new families and groups of people.
A couple of months back, the local news did a video report on the new center. If you watch closely, you will see Nancy, Morgan and I working with children in this clip.