Midway through the year
Well, the midway mark of my time here in Ixtapaluca is quickly approaching. Time has really flown by… with the small exception of the times when I feel homesick. So, I am prompted to reflect back on where I was in February, and where I am now. This kind of thing is not my favorite thing to do because if forces me to evaluate myself and see the areas of my life that need attention. But it also allows me to see God’s faithfulness in his work and in his people.
When I arrived here, I knew very little Spanish (I still speak very little, but they tell me I am doing much better), I had just said “yes” to my fiancé, and then said goodbye to him and my family. I was extremely excited to be starting my ministry that God led me into, yet extremely sad and nervous about leaving my familiar home and my loved ones. I mean really, who gets engaged and then moves away for a year? The only other people I can think of are in the military.
I would like to say that my ministry involvement is grandly successful and I am seeing many people come to Christ, but it doesn’t quite work that way… and my ministries goals are not exactly the same as those of missionaries with lifetime commitments to an area. My goals for service here were (and still are) to live in a neighborhood where I can be involved with the people (some from our church and some not) and use my gifts to find opportunities to share and minister to them. My desire is mostly to support and aid the existing long-term missionaries and church leadership. Hopefully they feel helped and encouraged in this way.
At the same time, I desire to personalize my ministry as well. That has taken a little longer than I hoped (but then everything takes longer in Mexico). My first couple of months were spent adjusting and learning the language. Then, summer activities took over with interns and short-term ministry visitors. Now, I have a minute to see what I can do as things quiet down a bit. Right now, I am filling in for Tina’s English class in a neighborhood we are trying to break into for ministry (Monday and Wednesday evenings). I have also begun a “Conversation and Coffee” time at the community center coffee shop (not currently open, but we are able to use it for ministry purposes) on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I am sure this doesn’t surprise anyone given my love for coffee! People in the community are invited for an hour of free coffee and conversation in English, especially to practice pronunciation. This limits it to people who know some English, but since we offer separate basic classes, I thought it would be good to have some casual speaking time. We will see how it goes! Pray for a good response.
The short-term group from Nebraska spent some time sprucing up the church when they weren’t helping with Vacation Bible School. During that time, they started a mural on the entrance wall of the worship area. So, now… it is my mission to finish it. I am looking forward to having some dedicated time for painting. When things get busy, it is hard to allow myself time to do that. So now, I am “obligated” to (poor me… right?).
While the interns were here, we had several different outreaches going on. English classes in two different communities, sports outreaches in two different communities, with one having a grand finale futbol (soccer) tournament where a dramatic presentation was shared, followed by a gripping testimony and a clear presentation of the gospel. This time in the Las Palmas community was well received, with many asking for more events. We are definitely hoping to open up ministry more in this area.
The week Amanda and Joe arrived, they were able to witness our baptism service. We have it at a family’s home where a pool is set up to use. We heard the testimonies of those being baptized and enjoyed food and fellowship with the congregation. Definitely an amazing event to be a part of!
We were also invited to go into one of the local public schools and judge their English musical competition. Each English class chose a pop song (Grease, Beat it, Marry Me, etc.) and put together a choreographed performance to show off what they had learned. We had several categories to judge their proficiency, including pronunciation, choreography and costumes. It was a blast! More connections being made in Las Palmas!
As our big summer intern closing event in Jesús María, we had a Mini Feria (Mini Fair). Amanda and Joe were here to help with this event, and it ended up being a great time! The gospel was shared there as well, and several families have been to visit the church as a result. Our prayer as we were planning was for Christ to be shown and for the church to be promoted as a place for families in the community. Pray that people continue to see God working in the church and that they would long for the eternal life He has to give.
A week after the interns left, we had a group from Tina’s church in Nebraska come for a week long ministry. The timing was perfect, so we had a lot of helping hands for Vacation Bible School. It was a sweet time of fellowship for Tina and her visitors from home. Three of the girls stayed in my house, so I got to play “mom” for a few days. They were definitely sweethearts!
Photos of Summer Activities
As I started gathering photos for this post, I realized we did a TON of stuff in about a month and a half’s time! So I put the highlights here in a gallery for your viewing fun. Click one of the images and it will enlarge and allow you to click through the gallery. Please check out my Facebook pages here and here for all of the photos!