Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One aspect of Avance that I haven't shared as much about is our mobilization of Mexicans in mission. Wendy Der, one of our co-workers is the person who mainly heads up this department and she has done an amazing job of raising awareness and support for Mexicans on the mission field all over the world, and also inspiring young Mexicans to explore their call into missions as we seek to do with their North-American counterparts. One way this happens is through a week long mission exploration to Honduras during Holy Week. This year the group that went had our Honduran partner pastors raving about the quality of the young people who went and their servant hearts. One of our YearOut students, Alisa, also joined the group. Below is a link for a video of their experience. Enjoy!

Click HERE!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Los Héroes Tecámac

Tuesday morning, bright and early, (after a stop by the lady on the corner selling tamales) our Avance team headed outside the city to the neighborhood of Los Héroes Tecámac. Los Heroes is a neighborhood of 70,000 houses built by the government, all alike. Street after street looks pretty much like the one pictured above. Some of the streets are fairly well-kept, others are already looking old and dilapidated, even though the community was only built six years ago. Most of these small "shoebox" homes host several generations. It is a very "suburban" community, there is a large grocery store, a school, and, of course, a Walmart.  But more than anything there is row, after row, after row of houses.

The Héroes Tecámac community is the site of a church plant headed up by LAM missionaries John and Tracey Pieters. A few years ago John and Tracey left their modest, yet spacious home that they rented in Ojo de Agua and moved to Héroes Tecámac. This community of 70,000 houses sprouted up and was populated almost over night, and its lack of Evangelical Christian presence (the Pieters' church plant is the first) drew the attention of two (relatively) nearby sister churches that regularly send teams to support the new church. One of the ways this community is being reached is through door to door evangelism.

Door to door evangelism isn't a primary form of evangelism for most Christians in the U.S., but in Mexico it is still widely accepted and is very effective. In order to give our YearOut students a taste of this "frontline" evangelism we decided to join John, Tracey and the evangelism team from their supporting sister churches, Maria, Lola and Cynthia. Before heading out, Maria shared with our group why it is that they go door to door. At its base, door to dor evangelism is a very real and raw way to join in with how God is already moving. Whether people receive you is not based on anything you do or say, rather on how the Holy Spirit is moving in their lives. It's like a treasure hunt that God allows us to join, the treasure being those who are open to the moving of the Spirit and ready to let him take the lead in their lives. If people aren't ready to open their lives up to God, door to door evangelism affords the church planting team to invite the community to take advantage of some of the services they offer (guitar and English lessons).

Overall it was a very positive experience for our students. It challenged them to step outside their comfort zone and initiated challenging questions. Overall it reminded each of us that evangelism should be a lifestyle, and that we are propelled by our love for Christ and the amazing opportunity he affords us to be a part of his reconciliation. Have you ever participated in door to door evangelism? What was your experience?

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Lately we have been....

Signing Eliana up for swim lessons!
      --- We don't swim on a regular basis here at any point in the year, so it struck me that this is a very
           important skill for our children to learn (whether they use it frequently or not) so we found a
           place that offers lessons at a very economical price. Hopefully she'll start next week!

Encountering some sensitive and complicated situations in ministry -- please pray for God's truth, wisdom and reconciliation to be evident.

Enjoying reconnecting with our YearOuters after spring break!

Learning that our neighborhood outdoor market has a little stand that sells chia seeds, roasted peanuts and dried cranberries, normally things I have bought at the grocery store.
     --- As a side note, Eliana LOVES peanut butter, but basically the only brand they sell here is
          Skippy, and it's not cheap either, so we have begun making our own peanut butter which is a
          much simpler process than I would have ever imagined!

Planting a little roof garden!

Preparing for the summer -- please pray for the final applications!

Helping Owen survive teething -- not so fun for anyone involved!

Enjoying the warm, dry weather, summer rains will be coming soon!

What have YOU been up to? :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Acts of Generosity and Inroads into the Neighborhood

When Kevin and I moved to our apartment, we both dreamed of the idea that we would quickly and easily connect with our neighbors. However, forging relationships has been far more difficult than we imagined. Part of the reason is that very few people spend time outside their houses on our street. The people we have the most relationship with are the people who are "on the street" the most -- the owner of the tiendita (or little store) on the corner, the people at the fruit and vegetable stands where I go to buy my produce every week, and the restaurants and coffee shops in our neighborhood that we frequent. By and large, our neighbors do not approach us, other than a quick "Hola!" if we see them briefly before they disappear into their homes. At Christmas I made cookies for our neighbors, and only one of all the people that we gave the cookies to invited us in to chat. The rest simply thanked us at the front door, and one didn't even come to the door but received the cookies through her window! All that said, we have been a little at a loss at how to get to know our neighbors better.

But now, I think we just might have found our secret weapon, visitors! When my mom came to help out at Owen's birth she was often approached by people in our neighborhood that wanted to practice their English. We generally speak Spanish outside the home as a general effort to fit better into our environment. However, the people that my Mom met back in September have continued to be people we greet when we see them on the street, and occasionally have conversations with. The most striking experience of meeting our neighbors because of our visitors ocurred this last month when my parents came to visit.

The evening before my parents were to fly home Kevin was bringing our car into our garage when he was stopped by one of our neighbors we had barely seen before. The neighbor asked if it was our family that was visiting (it was a bit of a weird feeling to realize how closely we are observed), and then mentioned he had hoped to bring them a cake. Kevin kindly said thank you and that they were leaving in the morning, so probably there wasn't going to be time for the cake. But the neighbor then insisted, saying, "I'll go get it right now!". We were all in our pajamas, I was folding laundry, and the house was hardly in order to receive visitors, so I was a little taken aback by Kevin's announcement that our neighbor was bringing a cake by! Still, the golden rule of life here in Mexico is "relationship, relationship, relationship", so, even though it was unexpected, I hurriedly tried to prepare for our visitors. Ten minutes later, after a flury of picking up, the doorbell rang and Kevin went down to answer our door. The couple who emerged through the door were probably a little older than my parents, and not only did they come bearing a cake (a big, beautiful, expensive one), but they also brought my parents coffee beans and farm fresh cheese for me. The man, was extremely friendly, employing all of the English he knew. He told us that he often has to fly to the States for work. The woman was a little more reserved -- she told Kevin on the way up the stairs that she was a little embarassed to drop in on us like this -- but also very sweet and friendly. In the end they were only able to stay for about ten minutes because they were on their way to an appointment, but when they heard my parents were leaving tomorrow they didn't want to miss the opportunity to extend hospitality to my parents.

We have lived in our neighborhood for a year and a half and never had an experience like this. It caught us by surprise and had us talking about their generosity for days. To be honest, I have no idea what spurred on the interest in meeting my parents and extending them hospitality, but I am thankful for an opportunity to get to know our neighbors more. The entire experience caused me to reflect on how I am perceived by the people around me. As a Christian, my main focus is to live out Christ's love for all of the people with whom I come into contact. I think, at best, living out Jesus' love would be a little like meeting these neighbors, surprising, enjoyable, and producing the question, "What is different about this person?". I think I have a long way to go to evoke this response, but it is a goal I would like to work toward, and I am thankful for any opportunity to get to know the people that God has placed around me.