Friday, February 24, 2006

January-February 2006

Philippians 1: 12 “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;”

After a 50-minute drive out of town to the Agua Milpa dam, then a 40-minute boat ride upriver, we are faced with a 30 to 40-minute hike to arrive at the Huichol village of Zapote de Picachos. The first 10 minutes of the climb appear to be straight up on a rock-strewn, slippery slope that for some, not the Huichols, seems impossible to scale. On my last trek to the village, I mentally flashed back in a time warp to seeming eons ago, when any one of our kids would tire of toddling and would say, “Daddy, carry me.” In those years, Kirt always seemed to have one of them on his shoulders with his or her legs dangling, shoes skimming against his clean shirt, and grimy, little hands disheveling his hair. Sometimes, life looks like a pretty overwhelming and intimidating uphill struggle, and we, and our Father, know we don’t have the strength to carry on. We will make it fruitfully to the end, however, not on our own, but as He carries us on His shoulders. We missionaries recognize that prayer is the force behind any achievements or victories we experience. Knowing that you are specifically interceding on my behalf motivates me as I continue serving in many facets of this ministry which is too big for any human being to supervise without God's supernatural power and strength and an army of workers alongside who willingly sacrifice and carry on the work with me.

Our hearts ached, and we longed for Kirt’s dynamic leadership abilities in pulling off the annual Tepic Christmas Celebration which took place on precisely, Kirt’s and my 35th wedding anniversary. Nearly everybody in the Tepic church worked together for weeks, some, day and night, on writing the drama, learning scripts and songs, designing costumes and props, preparing the tamale dinner and serving to make this annual community outreach the success that it was. Nearly 250 people crowded into the church to witness the Gospel story this year.

The Huichol believers gathered together in the remote village church of La Quemada to celebrate the birth of our Savior. They are faithful in spreading the Good News through the mountains, and many Huichols have accepted Christ this year after hearing the testimony and seeing the changed lives of their Christian neighbors. Their life is hard, and becoming a believer brings with it strong persecution from unbelieving Huichol neighbors, leaders and politicians, but most are determined to remain faithful to the one true God. They had hoped to have a baptismal service for all the new believers, but the river near La Quemada is nearly dry. They will be baptizing many in the Easter gathering in Zapote de Picachos, and we all are excited about that!

Our kids and their spouses came home to Tepic to celebrate New Year’s together. What a blessing! Jacob and Kiki brought along special recording equipment for an innovative new project. We set up a make-shift, sound-reduced recording studio in one of the bedrooms of my house, and Jacob engineered the details and technical end of the plan to record the New Testament in Huichol. It is estimated that over 80% of the adult population of Huichols is illiterate. The good news is that they have the New Testament in their heart language; the bad news is that many can’t read it. The plan is to digitally record the entire New Testament then transfer the recordings in mp3 format to palm-sized, solar-powered players, called MegaVoice Ambassadors (, designed to play either through personal earphones or for a group through small external speakers. Literally thousands could profit from the completion of this project. In the ten short days the kids were here, the books of Ephesians-II Thessalonians, and parts of Matthew and Luke were completed. If you want to hear how it sounds go to Jacob and Kiki will be back in Tepic in June after they graduate from ASU to finish up the recording process. Please pray with us that the recording will continue to go as planned, that the funding for the mp3 players and their distribution will be made available, and that many Huichols will hear the Word of God, believe it, accept it, and grow in it as a result of this project. If you want to see some pictures of the first phase of the recording process, go to

A longtime friend and colleague, David Berkey, a missionary on furlough from Venezuela, came to speak at our annual friendship banquet for the young people of the Tepic church. Every year, our young people take advantage of this outreach opportunity to invite their unbelieving friends to a delicious, candlelight dinner, exciting games and an evangelistic message. David’s excellent message at the dinner party entitled “Dare to Love,” invited the young people to place their faith in Jesus Christ. David also brought the Sunday morning message that motivated visitors to accept the invitation to come and see what Christ has to offer and helped strengthen believers in their Christian walk.

I am overwhelmed with the thought that God has chosen to allow me to continue participating in the most breathtaking yet humbling ministry I can imagine. I don't mean to insinuate that it's easy. This year has been the most difficult of my life, humanly impossible. Along with me, the Mexican and the Huichol works miss Kirt more than we ever would have dreamed, but we accept that God has a perfect plan, and we have chosen to “ride on His shoulders” and follow His leadership on a daily basis just as Kirt did, so that one day, we too, will hear that, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."


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