Friday, September 25, 2009

Camping for a Dream

Good afternoon this Fall day in Mexico. It actually feels a little bit like Fall and we are enjoying it. =)

This week has been a challenging one ministry wise, but is it coming to a good end. Tonight after Jennifer's ballet classes we are heading off to a youth camp to be counselors. Several small churches and missionaries in Leon are getting together to have a youth weekend to share a good time and teach youth who may not know Christ his love for the. The name of the camp is "CAMPING FOR A DREAM." We are going to talk about the dreams God has for us, the dreams we have, and the difference that a relationship with God makes in our lives. It will not look like a regular youth camp as it is geared toward youth who do not know God. We are excited about this opportunity to participate in an event with other churches and to work with youth. Please pray that God will use us to reach these youth, that we will be good listeners, and that our Spanish will be understandable.

Our Weekly Schedule and How You Can Pray:

Mondays: Our home group Bible Study and preparation for it

Tuesdays: Discipling of a couple in their home and home visits

Wednesday: Spanish study, English class in our home, (possible start of another Bible study in the near future)

Thursdays: Spanish study, theological class preparation, open supper in our home for whomever wants to have a free meal and fellowship.

Friday: Jennifer gives ballet classes, Bible study preparation, and marriage study with another small group here in Leon.

Saturday and Sunday: Devote time to have various people/families over for a meal and build relationships, Sunday we usually try to take as our sabbath.

(Every week is a little different and we try to be available for others and have a fairly flexible schedule)

Thanks for standing with us. Please continue to pray for those we are discipling, that God would give us wisdom in counseling, and that God would touch the lives of our friends!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good Boxes and Bad Boxes

Over a surprise breakfast that our neighbors planned to celebrate Jennifer's birthday the conversation quickly turned to religion. One friend commented that she doesn't believe in many of the beliefs of the Catholic church and that is why not all of her children were baptized. Instead she wants them to choose their confirmation and baptism for themselves. Some of the other women around the table became very silent because this women was questioning the core traditions of their faith. We began to discuss faith, God, and tradition and soon it struck me that for many of these women what they call their religion, what I call a branch of the Christian church, represents no more than baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew that before, but I was in awe of the fact that some of the women were following their faith and belief system just for these traditions. They do not go to "misa" every Sunday nor do they confess, two very important parts of the catholic faith, but they call themselves catholic. What shocked me more than anything was that one of my dear friends started to make fun of her brother who is a very devote catholic. He does follow it teachings closely yet for her he was a fanatic. When the topic turned to my beliefs my friends started commenting on how weird the evangelical church is and told me some strange stories about their experiences with the evangelical church, and my heart sunk. I tried to explain that I didn't believe in the same things as those evangelical churches with which they had come into contact with. They suggested I come up with another name for myself than Christian in order to avoid being placed in the same box with these other Christians, which honestly are teaching things that are not true. And so I left my birthday breakfast thankful for a group of neighbors that have, time and time again, gone out of their way to make me feel at home here, who love and respect me deeply, but who are weary to get involved with our "religion" for fear of what it may mean. On one hand they are hesitant to study with people that are not from the catholic tradition, though most of these friends do not agree 100% with its teachings, and are not devote in anyway, on the other hand they are afraid of becoming fanatics and maybe what it would mean to truly follow the teaching of Jesus, or possibly of merely being associated with the evangelical church which honestly has a pretty bad reputation here. And we, continue to pray that our neighbors and others would be able to get past labels, and see God, and understand that to know him changes our lives radically. We are not as concerned what label you put on it...We have people from various traditions in our small group, the point is that our faith impacts the way we live. If not it does not hold much value.

And so, this year after celebrating my birthday and Mexico's independence day yesterday, I am more resolved to live out my faith whole heartedly, to continue to show love to my neighbors and those I work with, and seek to not only call myself a follower of Christ, but live as part of his kingdom. Doing such a thing, no matter where we live in the world will most likely not be popular, but if it is done correctly, it will change they way we live and the world around us.

Jennifer Rebecca

We like the subtitle to Brian McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy"

"Why I am a missional+evangelical+post/protestant+liberal/conservative+mystical/poetic+biblical+charismatic/contemplative+fundamentalist/calvinist+anabaptist/anglican+methodist+catholic+green+incarnational+depresssed-yet-hopeful+emergent+unfishished CHRISTIAN"

1) Jennifer's surprise birthday breakfast with her group of neighbors
2) Small luncheon in Leon for local pastors
3) The ballet barres in the gym where Jennifer is teaching ballet classes...We are thankful she has the barres and appreciate your donations making them possible.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

God Can Do What We Cannot

Hello friends and family!

Our apologies for not writing a post sooner. One of our friends who is a missionary in Chile recently stated that it is super hard to take time out of ministry to take pictures. We agree that it not only seems intrusive at times to take pictures, but it is not an easy task, and sometimes we find it challenging to make the time to write a post. That is no excuse though for not keeping in touch with you all!

We have moments when we are frustrated in ministry, when we wonder why we are here, and when we still struggle to communicate fully in Spanish, but then there are moments like we had this week when we know that we are supposed to be here, we know we are here for a reason. One friend who has been coming to our group on and off, is struggling with his addiction to alcohol and is vacilating between going to rehab or not. This past week we almost had him convinced that he needed to go and that we were going to take him to a Christian rehab center in another city. However, after much prayer and several long conversations, he decided he wanted to give it another chance here at home, that he was going to concentrate on his work and going back to school. We remain very concerned for this friend, but know God can bring him to his knees and help him realize that he cannot get clean on his own.

Jennifer held inscriptions for her ballet classes last week and is slightly disappointed with how many students she will have to start with this week, but is not worried. We also attended the inauguration of the theological educational program by extension for WGM in Mexico. It was an exciting as we dedicated the program and look to the future of theological education in Mexico.

This weekend God answered our prayers in a big way. And we learned that he can do what we cannot! For months we've been praying for one of our friends in our small group who has helped us immensely with our Spanish and whom we've become very close to and that she would really know God, choose to accept him as savior of her life, that she would understand his love, and want to share that with others. Sadly, this weekend this friend passed through an extremely difficult situation. She called us to tell us what was happening and we prayed that God would give her strength, peace, and wisdom. And he did! The power of God moved in her life, and she told us yesterday after our small group that she met God, she wants to live for him, and never be the same. How prayer works is a mystery, but we are convinced it does! We have seen the hand of God move in this friend's life as he has revealed himself to her because she sought him with her whole heart. After spending lots of time with us, seeing the difference God makes in our lives, studying the Bible and feeling the love of God, she is a new person. And we are sure we have a purpose here in Leon, but that also we are merely empty vessels used by a loving and powerful God.

For those who pray for our ministry here:

*Would you continue to pray for our dear friends in our group and those whom we are discipling? That others too would understand who God is and want to change their lives completely, that they would sense the presence of God like our other friend did

*Jennifer's ballet classes, that they get off to a good start and would be a point of outreach

*Our Spanish, that we would find time to study and we would continually improve

*For our future as we plan for this year and the year that follows, for wisdom and guidance

-With our Mexican parents celebrating Manuel's birthday
-Cutting the ribbon at the inauguration of the theological education program
-Josh and the kids of a friend in our group. We spent a day and night with them to try and help teach them and their mom some new discipline ideas. (They are standing by the miniature arc in the mini Leon playtown at a the main park in Leon.)