Monday, June 20, 2011

Last Minute June 2011

So, much of Mexican culture seems last-minute to those of western heritage. Within minutes of our arrival to San Vicente we received an invite to the high school to see some dramas. Several of the teenagers that we work with would be preforming and they feel encouraged by our presence. So, after bringing in our stuff, off I went. It's wonderful how many people you can visit with at one of these community wide events.

Encouring God's Shepards in San Vicente... June 2011

Hello, all! Lori and I just returned from 3 days in San Vicente, Baja Mexico, 90 minutes south of Ensenada, thru the mountains. We needed to connect with people after Lori’s inability to travel due to surgery.

How great it was to be in the Village; I actually got nostalgic at the smell of burning trash! Something about red dust in everything can be a blessing…

The Lord gave great grace to Lori in connecting with all her ‘ladies’ in their sewing cottage-industry-microenterprise stuff. I continued my community survey, exploring the very southern neighborhoods in this Village with +/- 4500 people, and made some interesting people-connections.

The real satisfying part of the trip was to sit with Pastor Jose Luis, listening to his stories of the last few weeks, and offer encouragement. Jose Luis and his precious esposa Marta have become padrinos for the people in this village. Padrino is a funny Mexican concept, which encompasses groomsman, duel opponent, financial sponsor/patron… but usually is more like adopted Grandparents for some extremely problematic children. In Mexico, where tele-novella is a way of life and more than drama TV, being padrinos is a full-time occupation

This week, Jose Luis and Marta were being padrinos to some very messy problems, and he needed to refresh his heart a bit, and gain some (more) encouragement from the Lord. We listened, and listened, and encouraged for quite some time. I prayed with him later. Little to add, he’s good, just needs encouragement.

Most pastors do, especially in Mexico. Being a Shepherd in San Vicente means trying to keep a rather stubborn and self-made bunch of sheep from running off cliffs. Shepherds get tired, they need encouragement. They need a cup of cool Kingdom water to keep pointing people and their problems to Jesus.

So, pray for Jose Luis and Marta. Pray for Lori and I to be great encouragement to them over the next year.

I can’t wait to be down in a few weeks and give them both big hugs and encouragement.

Your brother, Chris

Because you asked... Our Security and Safety in Baja...

Some have asked…

FIRST, we will not be sending out ‘prayer request’ emails, Facebook notices, WWW site or blogs with specific dates of our travels. This is to ‘keep under the radar’.

We hope this means you will pray for us REGULARLY… ;-}

SECOND, yes, we keep very close tabs on the security and travel safety situation in Baja. Remember, we lived IN Mexico for 9 years, and now have accumulated 20 years of ‘working foreign’. We navigate differently than tourists. We also go different routes and to different places than tourists.
Between news venues and local reports (from BOTH US and Mex sources), we talk to our partners in Baja, and they keep us up-to-date.

THIRD… the ‘security and safety’ issues where we are working (three hours south of the Border) have remained the same for over a decade. I am far more concerned about being involved in a traffic accident than any ‘narco-violence’…

Isaiah 41 definitely speaks to me, that the only (ONLY!) safe place in the Universe is in the middle of the secure Hand of God… sounds good…

No te preocupes, amigo! Hermano Cris

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lord, It's Not What, But Who... a 20 yr reflection

JUNE 1991- JUNE 2011


Lord, You called our family to serve You by going out in missions abroad.
You spoke to us about it for years, preparing, training, arranging.
It all came into focus in 1991 that it was time, and the people of Mexico.
Leaving our comfortable home, family and church in Michigan, we set out on what was supposed to be a one-year season of service.
First to Canada for training, then Mexico.
The Mexico stay changed from one year to nine years.
Then, stay in the region along the border in Southern Cal (a really strange place for 11 years).
Regular mission work in Baja. Ministry travel to many parts of Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Asia… even Africa.
This month, it’s now been twenty years.
Wow, that one-year season of service sure grew!

Thank You for Your tender mercies and abiding Presence, especially when far from home or in the middle of a long, hot ministry day
Thank You for all the wonderful people we’ve encountered in the strangest places.
Thank You for family, friends and ministry partners who continue to love us and pray for us long-distance, two decades out.
Thank You for bug nets, SPF 40, ORT, anti-malarials and the smell of DEET.
Thank You for providing coffee all around the world (oh, the coffee!).
Thank you for all the fellow travelers, the mission workers and outreachers, the national workers and leaders… what a bunch!
Thank You for the joy of worshipping with brothers and sisters in soooooo many cultures… and oh, such wonderful music!!

So, Lord, what is the legacy of the last twenty years?
No monuments. No pedestals. No big media blitz. No buildings with plaques.
Just hundreds of lives touched… touched by You… You!
Especially people with little resources, marginalized, difficult lives.
Touched through prayer, through healthcare ministry, by kind words and listening ears, by simple provisions, by hugs, laughs and relationship…
You were there, totally there.
Some people You touched quickly… yes, there have been miracles…
Many people You touched through the long-haul ministry of relationship and hard-work, helping them to overcome years of abandonment and marginalization (the slow-grow-miracle, deep roots).

Lord, the legacy is not what, but who.
Isn’t that what the Kingdom is all about?

Thank you that Your Presence is easily found in a family’s dirt-floor hut or a traffic-crazy street-corner.
Thank you that You really do show up where 2 or 3 are gathered in Your Name, even though we can’t speak each other’s dialect.
Thank you that you still break and bless and care for thousands… even when it’s us that end up broken and blessed.

Thanks for letting us work alongside You for the last 20 years.
Thanks for all the ministry partners You’ve placed us with, a part of every life touched… and help pay the bills.
Thanks for the churches that pray for us and help out.
Thanks for extending our family with two awesome son-in-laws and two awesome grandkids over these decades.

Thanks for it all.
What a ride!
What’s up for the next 20 years??

Your kid out working Your fields,