Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

November-December 2007

Romans 11:33, 34: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?"

December is a very special month. This year we celebrate 32 years since Kirt and I arrived in Mexico as missionaries. As we all have come to realize, life rarely meets our expectations, whether good or bad; and thankfully, God has an incredible way of turning filthy rags into riches, mourning into dancing, sackcloth into rejoicing, and sow's ears into silk purses. You have been a vital part in our ministry, and I thank you for your encouraging words, for praying for me, and for your tangible support which all make you fellow reapers in His worldwide harvest.

November started off with the celebration of the 3-year anniversary of the completion of the church building in the relocated Huichol village of Zapote de Picachos. Apart from the usual preaching, singing, sharing, eating, and fellowshipping activities we always enjoy, we were able to deliver 65 soft, warm and meaningful blankets made by children of the Tri-City Baptist Temple in Oregon to the Huichol children who were present at the celebration.

Missionary, Frank Arrellanes, and 8 young people from the Gracia y Paz church in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, arrived in Tepic on a Saturday afternoon. They had prepared themselves and the tools necessary for their first mission trip to share God’s love and provide clean water for families in 4 Huichol villages, Puga, La Bendición (The name of the new village of believers who have relocated from Guásima del Caimán means “The Blessing.”), Zapote de Picachos, and La Mesa (the central hub for the Zapote de Picachos community). As usual, the sacrifice and effort made to reach out and be a blessing to our Huichol brothers and sisters was dimmed by their love and generosity toward us.

Noé and Caty were 100% sincere the night of August 18, 2004, when in their living room Kirt and I shared in their tears of rejoicing as they accepted Jesus’ forgiveness of their sins and turned their “everything” over to Him. From
that day to this, they have systematically gone about restoring past wrongs and seeking avenues of Christian service. Several months after coming to Christ, they acknowledged that though they had been together for 8 years, they had never been married, and the following day they headed to the government office of public records to officially tie the knot. It occurred to Noé that having moved in with Caty years ago without marrying her was an offense against her family, and he determined to make that right. Noé went to Caty’s father to ask forgiveness, explaining to him that since he and Caty are now members of God’s family, He expects them to live according to Bible standards. They completed a 6-month course on principles of biblical marriage with Martín and Erén then planned a beautiful consecration service with the goal in mind of setting an example for the young people in the church and of getting Caty’s parents and extended family to come to church to witness their commitment to Christ and to each other and to hear the clear presentation of the Gospel. Her parents are extremely antagonistic toward anything but their own traditional religion, and they have rejected Caty’s choice to become a Christian, but they agreed to attend the ceremony. It was a beautiful testimony to God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness; and Caty’s family was positively impacted by the love, unity, and supportiveness of the Tepic church “family.”

The OANSA (AWANA) children of the Tepic church celebrated Christmas last Saturday with a Christmas party called a “posada.” Every year the members of the church contribute candy, piñatas, food and time to provide for the big event. This year more than 80 children attended; almost 20 of them were invited visitors. All of the children heard the true meaning of Christmas and the plan of salvation in a dramatic presentation prepared by the leaders, and every child took home a copy of a story book entitled, “The Great Love of God” that was donated by friends in the States.

***Nearly eight years ago, Kirt and I sent out a letter requesting special prayer regarding the one-half acre plot of land directly adjacent to the Tepic church property. The federal government had confiscated it for back taxes nearly 5 years prior. We were told that Hacienda (the Mexican equivalent of IRS) would be auctioning the land to the highest bidder within the month, and many of you prayed with us and got involved in that project. After nearly two years of going dozens of times to the lawyer’s office of the department of government land affairs, it became obvious that the “month” that was originally promised, for some reason we have yet to discover, was thwarted. We opted to return funds that had been designated for that auction, though many of you requested that we use your contributions for other work-related needs. One friend of this ministry sent us the following encouraging note: “We believe with you that the Lord will provide that property next to the church, and we are also sure that His timing is perfect. He will overrule even the most clever schemes of men to interfere with His will.” We have clung to that truth as we prayed and waited for this day. Suddenly, with no previous notice, this week, I “just happened” to notice the government surveyors arrive on site with documents and camera in hand. To make an exciting, but long, story short, the property is being prepared, again, to be auctioned in February. The existing Tepic church campus is not only attractive, but also has been very practical and mostly adequate for our needs; however, the children’s classes are meeting in the Aldaco’s garage, and adult Bible studies meet in my living room (Thankfully, we both live next to the church.). That’s not bad, but we are land-locked, and this is a marvelous opportunity to make room for more! By no means do we want to cry "Wolf!", but it appears that this purchase will be either “now or never.” Please pray with me that our church leaders will make a wise decision in the amount they offer in the silent auction, that the auction will be carried out without fraud, that God will provide the resources necessary for the purchase when we do win the bid, and most of all, that the church, not the building, will continue to serve God joyfully and in unity.

How privileged I am to be a part of your missionary family and to experience God’s incomparable grace as He has provided and continues to provide the "means" for fulfilling His plan. Thank you for your part in making all of these blessings possible.

Quick Reference Version of November-December Prayer Requests:

• Annual Christmas celebration - Tepic Church 12-16-07
• 3 big Christmas celebrations in strategic Huichol villages throughout the mountains of Nayarit
• OANSA – club resumes 1-5-08
• Huichol Old Testament 2-week translation workshop – 1-28-08
• Huichol New Testament Mp3 project
• ***Upcoming auction of property adjacent to Tepic church – February 2008

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The annual Tepic church Christmas celebration is just around the corner on Dec 16, and we're all working like crazy to get everything in order.

The drama is coming along great; the actors are investing lots of time and effort. We're going to have another little mini concert this year, with 4 keyboards Carlita, Karla, Mishna and Jonatán) and the 3 violinists (Shadai, Erika and David). We put together a little arrangement of 3 Christmas songs, and even the instrumentalists are amazed at how good they sound!...not as amazed as I am, though! :) Imelda took charge of designing and organizing the workers to help with the church decorations this year, and they are beautiful. Luis Armando headed up the drama-writing job, with input from an army of offerers of suggestions. The story is adorable and very meaningful. Another Armando is designing and painting the 4 backdrops for scenery, and Sebastian and Ely are heading up the videography and lighting jobs. Mario is making our hodge-podge sound equipment work to the max. Erén and I are working with the kids’ choir that sings during the performance, and they sing their little hearts out! FINALLY, we’re getting some voices that are able to hear pitch…the next generation of church leaders will be invincible, IF they remember to guard their hearts!

One of us has volunteered to bring dinner for after every rehearsal so people can come straight from work or school. Of course, dinner is after 9:30 p.m…or later! I made tostadas Friday night, Laura made pozole for Saturday, and Nancy made tamales Sunday night. Maybe we should all just play the part of “Round John Virgin" or Santa Claus with our blossoming “bowls full of jelly”!