- Please pray that I seek God first in all things.
- Praise God for our new friends in Howau!
- Please pray for the salvation of the family we are working with in Howau.
- Please pray for a group of my Oaxaqueño friends to share Christ with the people of Peru.
One of the main tools of the enemy is to distract…
He would love for me to stay inside my own head or choose to let emotion guide, rather than the Holy Spirit. The enemy would love for me to become isolated instead of talking to those who encourage me to pursue Christ. These last few weeks have brought their own challenges and distractions. Getting through this time required being in constant prayer, reading God’s word, and worshiping in the midst of struggle.
Through all the distractions that these past few weeks have brought, I find myself continuing to face a choice. Will I choose to let myself focus on the distractions of man or will I choose to persevere, endure, and run the race that the Lord has set before me? This question seems simple and yet it is amazing how easy it is to focus on physical self, rather than the faithful eternal.
Despite the challenges, the Lord is working and moving in the hearts of the Oaxaqueños. The three of us girls (Ashley, Dani, and I) have been welcomed into the home of a Zapotec (Indigenous group) family in the village of Howau. Last week we made a drink called tajate (made from cocoa and corn) with the grandmother. I watched eagerly as she carefully ground the cocoa beans and the cocoa flour together on a stone grinding table called a molcajate. The grandmother gave each one of us a chance to use the molcajate. It was backbreaking work that took all the strength of my arms to crush the ingredients into a paste-like dough.
After spending a few hours eating and drinking with the family, I shared the story of creation with them. It was during lunch hour, so there was a full table of both men and women. I proceeded to tell the story of Creation (Genesis 1-2) with kids playing loudly in the background, and the sound of tortillas ripping. The week before, we had learned how to make tortillas, and Dani had shared the story of Creation up to Christ. No matter what distractions are going on around me I want to choose to be involved in the work of the Lord. I don’t want to miss out on what He is doing.
New adventures call for taking on waves of change. The question is…how will I handle it? After being in Oaxaca for a few weeks, I have met more people than I knew during my four months of language school in Chiapas.
I have been teaching third, fifth, and sixth grade English in a village on Mondays and Thursdays. When I first heard about the opportunity to teach English in the school, my heart sank…I don’t know how to teach English. I’m not qualified for this. I didn’t receive a degree in teaching. But the Lord is teaching me that it doesn’t matter what the world would say. It only matters what He makes available. If He says, “Here is an open door, walk through it,” I want to be willing to walk through it, no matter what. I’ve found that in my willingness, He moves. When I submit to His leading, He leads. However, it is His voice that reminds me, His love that lifts me, and His strength that sustains me. It is a relationship–the most beautiful one I will have in my life.
I walked through the door–maybe not willingly at first. But I trust that He will provide me and equip me with the necessary skills. The kids are sweet and eager to learn from our team. The main purpose of our team teaching in the school is to share the Truth that we have come to know. Oh, that they would know of the only Savior, that they would place their faith in Jesus the Christ, the provider of eternal life and real relationships. I desire to be an example, to form relationships, to proclaim Truth, and to encourage and disciple. I desire to be on mission for Christ all the days of my life. He will handle the rest.
And by “rest,” I also mean physical and spiritual rest… There is much work to do. There are several opportunities and not enough people. This is a struggle. The Lord recently reminded me of my need to rely on Him and not man (Colossians 3:23). I want to share with you what I felt during a recent retreat on a beach in Mexico.
February 26, 2017
As I’ve looked at the power of the waves crashing against the sand of Puerto Escondido…I was feeling two specific things: Power and Fear. I felt POWER. I felt Him in the ocean breeze and in the smell of the salt in my hair. I felt Him in the misty salt water that kissed my skin and tongue. I thought…He is Lord. Only He can cause the oceans He created to sustain such power. I could only think of how little I truly understand about God. Yes, His character is fixed, unchanging. But, His character moves my very being…lifting my soul up, high like the waves of the ocean; He sustains me. He is what continues my existence, breathes life into my body. He has all of who I am. He is all I need. But there is also FEAR. With each rising and crashing blow, the waves scream of life and death. He is Judge. He is King. He is OVER ALL. My life could so easily be taken by that which God has created. Do I fear death? NO! I fear, and am in awe of, a God in control of life and death–in a God who has provided life for those who are dead, those who need Him. I, too, am screaming out, like the waves. Oh, let me cry out, “He is Lord! He has saved me from eternal drowning…”
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-29)
- Please pray for two of my female teachers (Dalia and Monica) to continue reading God’s Word, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their need for a Savior and that they would give their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Please pray for my male friends Jorge and Noé. Pray that Jorge continues to grow in his relationship with Christ and that their family finds a church community. Praise God for the new salvation of my friend Noé and pray that he continues to place his trust in Jesus to transform him into something beautiful.
- Please pray that Dani and I trust the Lord as we transition from language school to working in the city and villages of Oaxaca.
- Please pray for the unity of our missionary team in Oaxaca, new relationships to be formed, and listening ears to the gospel.
Time seems to fly by here, I have now been here for four months! Our last day of language school is tomorrow and then its off to the, “final destination” ha. It’s funny how your perspective changes when God brings new people into your life. It’s crazy how God prompts in you a heart to love those He’s placed right in front of you. I love my friends here in San Cristobal. This was so much more then a time to prepare for Oaxaca. Yes, my “primary” objective was to learn as much Spanish as possible…but God blessed me with so much more then learning how to speak Spanish better. I had the opportunity to draw near to those who need Jesus! I was given the freedom to practice my Spanish while sharing the truth of God’s Word!
Dani and I had 3 hours of School everyday followed by 3 hours of community time. God provided community as soon as we arrived here. I formed relationships with my teachers. Dani and I almost always spent time with our teachers out of class. We went on the walking street for coffee, pizza, and exploration. Dani and I are more skilled in racquetball. We also made some great missionary friends while we were here. These missionaries already had some wonderful things going on in the community. Dani and I attended or hosted a bible story cooking class every Thursday evening. This was a fantastic way to practice Spanish, and share the Word of God with nationals. We also attended or hosted a bible study every Saturday. I really looked forward to fellowship with my national and missionary friends on Saturdays. We sang songs, shared bible stories, ate together, and played games together. I had the privilege of sharing, Jesùs Aleminta a las Multitudes (Jesus Feeds the 5000) last Saturday. My time here has been productive and fruitful. I am excited to meet those whom the Lord is preparing me to meet in the city and villages of Oaxaca.
To be continued…
- Please pray that I take one day at a time, trusting that the Lord’s plans for me are real and good.
- Please continue to pray for the eyes of my friend Dalia to be opened to the truth, and receive Jesus Christ as Lord over her life.
- Please pray that new believers in San Cristóbal see the value in a Church family.
I had a discouraging moment during my Spanish class the other day. I had come to class excited and confident after translating a story from the bible from English to Spanish. I hesitantly handed the story to my teacher, and impatiently waited for him to tell me how great it was. He compared the story to my Spanish bible and then carefully proceeded to tell me that it was all in the wrong tense. Therefore, it was all wrong…
I wanted to cry, thinking things like, “How can I share the truth of God’s word, when I can’t write or speak the language correctly. Why can’t language learning happen through osmosis? I only have a month left of language school, and then I’m on my own.” During this whole time my wonderful teacher was staring at me with a confused expression on his face as I had my, “woe is me” moment. I was collapsed on the table, with my face under my arm saying, “I can’t do this.”
My teacher reminded me that I was expecting too much of myself. I was expecting myself to understand a tense I had not learned, written, or spoken. The true source of my frustration was coming from a lack of patience. Only the Lord sustains me with His gift of patience. As I seek Him, He calmly reminds me of my need for Him. Patience is a reminder of where my source of strength comes from. Patience humbles. Patience sustains. Patience allows change and growth to take place.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
I had a conversation with a sister named Irma over pizza and ping-pong. Irma got excited about Jesus. It didn’t matter to her that I was a student learning the language. She saw me as a sister in Christ. I was someone she could talk with about the most important relationship in her life. She spoke rather quickly as I desperately tried to understand everything she was passionately sharing in Spanish. She told me about her church. She loved her church family and the joy, peace, and comfort she had found in Christ Jesus. It was such an encouraging and wonderful conversation. Irma convicted me by the way she joyfully lived her life giving the glory, honor, and praise to the Father. The beauty of Christ radiated from Irma’s sweet face. Her parents taught her about the importance of the word of God when she was a child. She looked me in the eyes and asked, “Do you believe in the trinity?” I smiled and simply said, “Yes it is very important!” Then she leaned in and softly told me about the importance of believing in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for Catholics in Mexico. She said that the importance of the trinity is lost, specifically the significance of the Son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts of the need for Jesus Christ who allows us to have a relationship with the Father. The excitement never left her face, as she told me about how the Lord had blessed her. Irma described how the Lord often called her to prayer. She said she felt the Lord tap her wrist in the morning and evening calling her to talk with Him. She enjoyed being in the constant presence of the Lord. What a beautiful and tangible description of the Father’s love. What an example.
Dani and I don’t have school today because it is, “Día de Muertos” Day of the Dead. Tons of people from all over the world come to Southern Mexico to see this festival. However after talking with a solid national believer Dani and I have decided not to go out on this day for the sake of our witness. We have also chosen to fast and pray for those who make alters for their dead, believing they return and eat the food that they have prepared for them. This is a day when an illusion is created that man has power to control life and death. Only God has that power. Please pray for the salvation of those celebrating the death of loved ones who are spending eternity in eternal fire.
Only God holds the keys to eternity (Revelation 1:18).
- Please pray that I would be patient with myself and others while I am learning Spanish.
- Please pray that I humble myself in language learning.
- Please pray that I encourage Dani in her language learning.
- Please pray that I balance learning language with learning my surrounding culture and forming national relationships.
- Please pray that I continually stay in God’s word, seeking Him daily for support and direction.
Thank you for your prayers!!
I am so happy to be in country. Our apartment in Chiapas, Mexico is well furnished with all the necessities and more. I am in some sort of shock. Don’t worry it’s a good kind of shock, one that comes with being in a new place in a days time. The Grumbles (Missionaries) have been extremely helpful in gradually helping us to transition into life here. I have met a few nationals in church and at the grocery store. Mainly I can’t wait to practice my Spanish with nationals. Not to say my Spanish is good…but that’s how I’m going to learn! I have a lot of mixed feelings about language learning. It helps if I recognize what a blessing it is to receive language training! I am determined to try my best while being patient with myself at the same time. Dani and I will be taking public transportation to the language school here, learning for a few hours each day.
Tacos with the Grumbles!