Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last week the young people and I gathered around a folding table to discuss the homework assignments for youth group. We do that every week, partly because the questions are complicated and very hard for them to read alone (Six out of the seven who do homework with me are deaf, and the other is barely getting confident in reading), and partly because it provides good conversation material.

 Sometimes, it’s frustrating, I’ll admit. Sometimes I wonder what on earth it’s accomplishing. Sometimes I wonder if they’re extremely bored by it, or if it’s all just going right over their heads. But sometimes, God kindly lets me see little encouraging glimpses of what He’s doing. This week I’ve had a few of those glimpses. Like Ricardo coming to both Petra and me, overflowing with excitement about a night last weekend where he seemed to have had some kind of dream, and kept telling us he was staying up late, talking with God and studying the Bible… or Maria sweetly wondering if we can know if we’re saved or not…

 I was sobered, too, by a couple of the young men saying (somewhat jokingly, but I don’t think completely) that they were standing in the middle, not completely Christian but not un-Christian either. We talked about that, how there really is no middle ground, but I don’t know how much they agreed. Please, if you think of them or if God puts them on your heart, pray for these young people!

Daily classes are going well… I actually got a whiteboard hung on the wall by the children’s desks today, so that made me feel very happily settled into the class (Sometimes it really doesn’t take much. J) We are all learning, I right along with the kids, both academically and in matters of the heart. Well, at least I am. J

And how am I doing otherwise? Doing well, thank you. Gracias a Dios, as they say here. I am still very grateful to be living with my friend’s family here in town, going back and forth to the school every school day and sometimes on weekends to help out so other staff can get some time off. I enjoy getting to join the worship team once a week playing piano, and being involved with the church family in other ways. I’ve been challenged again lately to step out and let God use me to share with people outside just the sphere of the school and my students, so you can pray for me in that. The fear of man is so tricky, so easy to fall into. Don’t think that just because I’m a “missionary” it comes easy to me. J But thankfully my God is bigger than my flesh or my fears!

Kelly was down here for several weeks the beginning of the year! I sure enjoyed having her around.
If all goes according to plan, my parents and three youngest siblings will be here by next weekend. I’m so excited to see them and have them here on my side of the world for a few weeks. J They plan to help out with projects at the school, hopefully host an afternoon/evening youth conference, teach some worship dance to the girls at the school, and enjoy time with friends and family (meJ) during spring break. I’m sure it will be great.

So… maybe you’ll hear from me again before another few months go by. Hopefully…

Planting a raised bed garden with my class
an aspiring songwriter

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This last week, I feel like God has been waking me up, again, to the reality of these kids’ need for Him. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into the routine of life, to get caught up in grading schoolwork and cooking dinner and settling arguments and trying to keep the house/school in some general order… and forget. Forget what these kids came from, what they’ve seen. Forget what they’ve done, what they’re capable of doing. Forget that, though they are young, they are far from innocent. Forget how badly they need the same Savior who rescued me.

This week I have seen it again. My heart is broken over it, and yet hopeful.

Juan Jesus is only 12. Sometimes he seems like such a little boy still; I see his tenderness, his need for affection. But I realize, knowing a little more about his past and the choices that people in his life have made that he is prone to follow, how easily he will be lost if Jesus doesn’t get a hold of his heart. He’s already around the age his older brother was when he decided the school was too hard and too restrictive, and took off to live in the ‘freedom’ of the streets. I see the same struggle in him.

I think it might have been Tuesday that I was working a little after class with Leonardo, and God put it on my heart to talk to him a little. It was nothing dramatic; the kid pretty much just let me say what I wanted to say. But I was so thankful that he listened, and that I had the privilege again of talking about this incredible miracle that is the Gospel!

Thursday we had our usual ‘coffee’ with the deaf young people, and we talked about how we can best spend that time; I explained to them what my heart was and asked what they want out of it, how I can get behind them and help them in their walks with Jesus, how we can learn and grow together. I was encouraged by their response and the hunger that at least some of them have for more of Jesus. I believe God wants to do great things in these lives. Let us watch and see what He will do!
(The following is a little snapshot from last week, if you feel like reading a happy story... :)

Friday morning in my class we read from 1 Corinthians 15. I felt like it was fitting to read about Christ’s victory over death and the grave at this time of year, with the famous Mexican holiday "Day of the Dead" taking place the next day. But interestingly enough, we didn’t even get to the triumphant end of the chapter. The children started asking questions, and we spent at least half an hour there in class with a torrent of questions, things they had heard, things they had seen or dreamed or wondered…

“Is it true, what that says, that we will all be resurrected?”

“What happens if you don’t believe in Jesus? What is hell like? Do you feel things there?”

“Are you going to heaven, Christy? How do you know?”

“No wonder you’re so happy!”

“What do you mean, Jesus paid the price for you?”

Eventually I said, “Look, children, I think we really need to do a little schoolwork… but how about this: if you want to talk some more about that, why don’t we talk together here during recess?” They all thought that was a great idea, and clamored off to their desks. I was so excited by their enthusiasm and sincere questions.

At recess, most of them ended up getting a little too distracted by all the commotion and didn’t end up coming back. Understandable. But Lupita did, followed later by a couple of the other girls. We just sat there and talked, about the Gospel, about forgiveness…  She asked how it was that I became a Christian, and she said that she always asks God to forgive her sins, but doesn’t know if He does or not. So we talked about His promises and His salvation. She was so open, so interested. “But,” she said at one point, “I don’t get it. How did you become a Christian?” I explained as simply and truthfully as I could, amazed and grateful for the chance.

Yeah, easily my favorite class ever. J
We miss you, Mary!! So thankful for the time you spent down here with us!
Our neighbor Tere, who makes the best tortillas!
Woodshop with Gideon

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On an ordinary Tuesday...

Welcome to my classroom! :) Welcome to broken pencils and lost erasers and torn pages and kids talking instead of working, or sitting in time out as a result. Welcome to the bell inducing a chorus of schoolbooks slamming shut and a stampede of kids running to get their snack or use the bathroom or play. But welcome also to a place of beauty, of learning (not just the kids!), of joy. Welcome to Margarita's sparkling smile that makes her look like a princess, and Juanito's uncontainable excitement about his progress in learning his times tables, and Ricardo's eager, wide-open expression as he works through a problem... and then those moments when you just have to laugh, because they really do come up with some pretty funny things to say sometimes. :)
Michelle's class
Pray that Jesus opens the minds and hearts of these precious kids to His salvation!
Last Wednesday I got to spend some time with a couple of the teenage deaf girls. It was such a treat to be able to catch up with them and connect again after the summer (I don't see them all that often, since they're usually in and out of class so fast and I am not their teacher), and they expressed to me that they would like to get together more often to be able to learn more about the Bible, since it is really hard for them to read. Wow. I suggested that we could go through a passage separately and then discuss it together, and Marisol said she'd also like to learn about living as a Christian woman, how to guard your purity, etc. I asked Flor what she would like to learn, and she said she wants to learn about what Jesus did when He died for us.
Does it get any better than that?? :)
It's complicated, with lots of difficult situations among the deaf kids, etc., but there is a hunger there and an opportunity for discipleship. I certainly do not feel qualified to really guide them, and of course I am not the only one, but I am thankful for this chance to let Jesus work. Please pray with me for these young people, that the Holy Spirit will keep working in their lives and filling them with the knowledge of Christ!!!
And last but not least, here's a picture of the family I live with down here, taken last weekend when the ones who don't live at home were back visiting. I can't thank God enough for the 'home away from home' He has given me in this precious family!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

A few days ago, Juanito came to me with a very pleased look on his mischievous face. "I wrote a song," he told me. I was impressed, and told him I wanted to hear it. He was so cute; he brought me his little yellow notebook where he had written a page of cute 10-year-old writing and showed me the song, called "Christ, how you love us!", then went off singing and beside himself with happiness.
Later on I convinced him to play it for me on the guitar. We sat on empty desks pushed into the corner of the building, across from each other, and he started in.  
I almost cried; it was amazing! Of course I couldn’t tell what the tune was, since the poor kid can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but the words are completely precious and the fact that he wrote them himself, and that he was sitting there in front of me playing and singing his heart out, touched me deeply. “That is beautiful,” I told him. He shook his head, embarrassed and trying to pretend he didn’t care, and said it was awful. “No,” I said. “If you sing that to God, and you sing it from your heart, He loves it, Juanito!” He just kept strumming away. Oh, I long to see that boy on fire with the love of Jesus!!!!
Last Monday was Mexican Independence Day, and it was absolutely adorable to see all the little kids dressed up in their Mexican costumes. Rosario went to kindergarten in her little outfit, and I couldn't help take a picture. :)
And then Antonio, a sweet new boy here at the school, decided he wanted a picture of himself in the same place. :)
So, here I go, entering into my third week of classes tomorrow. Pray with me that Jesus will be glorified in and through me as I delight in Him and serve Him through serving these kids and the other workers, and that He gives me wisdom and patience as I teach.
Have a wonderful week delighting in Jesus!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Open my heart, Jesus. Open my mouth. Open my hands.

Open my heart to embrace all that is dear to Yours. You’ve already opened it in so many ways, even this week; those little moments when You let me hear all those childish voices lift up your praises with more gusto than tune, J when I got to play cars with the three littlest kids, when You gave me the patience to see past the stubbornness or disinterest in my student Leonardo and remember his father dying of cancer, his kid sister several months pregnant, the abandoned housing project he lives in with his single mom… but open my heart more, please. Let me see what You see.

Open my mouth to be a messenger of You to Your people. There are still times I am quiet because I am afraid, and that is wrong. Let Your love so fill me that I cannot keep silent when You ask me to speak! Thank You for the times this week that I did get to speak of You: to the lady downtown, to the kids in the morning as we worship You together, to my new teacher friend that I sometimes walk with in the mornings with Jessica. But I see the deaf young people who come to school here, I hear about the violence in the city, the high suicide rate among teenagers… and I know in my heart that You want to do more. Have my mouth, and use it.

Open my hands, Lord; in two ways. Open my hands, like my mouth, to speak of You to the deaf in my life. There are so few hands that speak to them; please use mine! But also, open my hands so I can live free in Your presence, so I don’t hold on to what is dear to me and sin against You. You are my good Father, and I know I can trust You! You have blessed me beyond what I could ever deserve, Jesus—in the way You have provided for this trip even when I didn’t know how You would do it, the way You have given me a family and friends and a class of precious kids to teach and a place to live and so many rich gifts like sunsets and laughter and worship times and fruit juice and walks downtown and flowers in the morning… but I know that if I ever take my eyes off the Giver and start to hold onto the gifts, it is all wrong. You are the gift I long for! Open my hands to praise You in every moment instead of grasping onto what I have, protecting myself, or worshipping any other thing.
I realize that all of these are things I need to step out in faith and obey You in. But I also know that I need You for even the smallest step.
So here I am.
Open my heart, my mouth, my hands.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday, September 9
Aqui estoy!
It's so good to be back.
Today was the first day of classes at Colegio Cristiano Magdalena Rincon, and it was a good one. It's exciting to have my own "classroom" (a corner of the roofed area where my students' desks are arranged into a sort of room), and so fun to see all the kids again. I remember now why I love them. :) We had some crazy moments as we sort out what the new schedule is going to look like and all that, and I can tell I am going to have to be very consistent about my classroom management in order to set the pace for the rest of the school year, but it all worked out well.

 stopping for tacos on the trip down

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hi, friends!
I know I’ve kept in contact with some of you over the past year, and others probably never quite know what country I’m in or what I’m doing. I admit, I’ve been a little hard to keep track of, and not very good at communicating what is going on. So that’s why I’m writing. I would really like to be better at sharing what God is doing; not because you are all holding your breath waiting to hear from me (I know you have better things to do!), but because we are in this together, no matter how far apart we might be distance-wise, and frankly, we need each other. All of you who belong to Jesus are my family, and I need you. I need your prayers, I need your encouragement, I need your sharpening in my life.
I just returned to Colorado with my family after a wonderful month up in Idaho. We went up there to fix up our place, pick up supplies for our business, and spend time with friends that we haven’t seen in awhile. It’s been great, and I’m so thankful even just for the time we had together as a family through it all.
And the next step? It seems that God is leading me back down to Mexico for a season, so I’m walking through this open door and am excited to see what He has planned. I have my ticket down to Tucson for Thursday, and from there plan on driving down with  Petra and a few others in time to get to Los Mochis before school starts on the 9th.
I’m excited. This will be the first time that I will be teaching at the school for the whole semester, and I look forward to going into it with anticipation for what God will do and being intentional about my focus with the kids, whether in class or just spending time with them in the afternoons and investing in their lives however I can.
So as it stands now, I will be teaching a class of 5-9 beautiful, squirrelly, wounded, unique, precious 4th-graders every morning on school days, leading the time of singing and worship for devotions before school, helping supervise and play with the children in the afternoon, and supporting and spelling off the other staff as I can… and anything else that I’m called upon to do. I will be staying with a family in town who are friends of mine, which I believe will make it possible to be more focused and intentional during my time at the school and then have time to rest and refocus/prepare when I go home at night. I also look forward to being involved with the local church and encourage and walk alongside the youth there.
Will you pray for me as I step out into this new season? I will try to communicate better as far as what is going on with the kids, etc., so that whoever wants to can feel more a part of what God is doing and be able to pray with me toward that.
And I want to hear what He is doing in your lives, too. Please remember I am no more a ‘missionary’ than any of you just because God has me outside of the US right now. Your calling today, wherever you are, is just as valid and important. Let’s fight together in this battle!
Because of Him,
If anyone wants to partner with me in this ministry, here’s the situation: it doesn’t take me much to live down there, but since it’s a volunteer position I am trusting God for my basic living/travel expenses, which are around $250 per month.