Friday, January 01, 2010

November/December 2009

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

December 12, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron virgin of Mexico who is the object of unbelievable efforts and sacrifice on the part of those who are steeped in her traditional religion, marked thirty-two years since the day Kirt and I drove into Tepic as missionaries. We had no idea what all of God’s plans and thoughts for us were, but we did know that He had foreordained an expected end. In eager expectation of His plans for this New Year we reflect back on just a few of the highlights of the past two months.

November started off with the 8th official Huichol Old Testament translation workshop with Mother-Tongue-Translators (MTTs) Emilia, Manuel, Hilario, José, Joaquín and Román, a new MTT candidate, Venancio, all from remote mountain villages; linguists, Joe and Barbara Grimes, and The Seed Company Our Word software programmer, John Wimbish, all in attendance. They are working selflessly and in unity making remarkable progress on a priceless project. The next 2-week workshop will be held January 24 through February 6.

Benita, José López’ beloved wife, was promoted to Heaven the week after the OT workshop. We are grateful for the assurance we have that Benita has arrived at the feet of the Savior she loved and served. She was the instrument God used to inspire her lost husband, José, to seek the Truth of the Gospel. Román, the very first Huichol believer, led José to Christ more than 30 years ago. Benita encouraged José to learn to read and to study with Román and Kirt in order to see firsthand what God’s Word teaches. She played a very significant role in motivating him to accept and use his divine gift and to become the key evangelist and leader among the Huichol churches scattered throughout the Sierra Madre Mountains of our state. José misses Benita deeply; we all will miss Benita.

December has been a month of celebrations. Over 100 OANSA/AWANA kids celebrated Jesus’ birthday at our annual “posada.” Mellberg grandkids, Anders, Mara and Brianna got to join in the fun this year and loved listening to the Christmas drama, hitting piñatas, participating in the games, and getting to know lots of friends in the Tepic church.

For over 25 years the villagers of José López’ natal village, Guásima del Caimán, had rejected the Gospel that José had traveled to share with them soon after he became a believer. At long last, in October of 2005, Refugio, along with some 40 villagers, repented of his sin and accepted God’s forgiveness. Immediately they were subjected to inconceivable persecution from the remaining unbelieving villagers who continued to adhere to their traditional belief in nearly 150 false gods. So fleeing that and desiring to be closer to teaching about their new-found faith in Cacaüyari, the one true God, they established and moved to the village of La Bendición (meaning The Blessing), about a 30-minute drive from Tepic. Two weeks ago, Refugio and a half-dozen men from his village church at La Bendición came to town to share with the members of the Tepic church some very good news. On their own, now that they have learned more of God’s Word, a group of them chose to make the long and strenuous trip (many hours by launch and on foot) “back home” to share the Gospel again with those who had initially rejected the truth and persecuted them so much. The “good news” that Refugio came to share with us in Tepic is that “many more now have believed!” Refugio, Antonio and Emilio sang us a few songs they have composed about their new life in Christ. What cause for celebration...32 years to the day that Kirt and I arrived in Tepic! “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

Luis Armando and Hugo collaborated in the writing of the script for this year’s Christmas celebration play, entitled, “Ven a Jesús” (Come to Jesus). The story was told from the viewpoint of Baltazar, one of the old wisemen, as he flashed back on his first sighting of the “Star in the East” and the decision of the three to leave behind their life and comforts to journey to find the Christ child. It was pretty imaginative, and they did a great job of incorporating music including our 4 budding violinists and Caleb with his sax debut of, “I Wonder as I Wander.” The final scene was of the old wiseman giving account of his life-changing encounter with Jesus and inviting the congregation to do the same. My friend, Dawn, and the girls in her junior high and high school sewing class made the beautiful costumes that our actors wore for the first time at the Christmas celebration. Their labor of love made a very important statement to all of us of the importance of every single player doing his or her very best to fulfill his or her role in God’s gigantic scenario. Their example of putting hands, feet and love into action speaks way louder than words could ever preach.

We received word that the semi-truck full of “Operation Christmas Child” Christmas boxes earmarked for Tepic is now at the US/Mexico border. All they need is clearance from customs and a very long ride to Tepic before we can begin the task of helping unload and hosting “Christmas” parties to share the Good News and the 700 shoeboxes we have been allotted this year for distribution among the invited children of the Mexican Tepic church and Huichol village churches.

Our Father’s plans for us have included days full of unpredicted joy, hearts full of unforeseen peace, and lives full of unanticipated love.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11