November Update

News from Jocotan
The last few months we’ve seen highs and lows in our ministry in Jocotan. Omar, our strongest leader, has struggled a lot with his past life. As we’ve mentioned, he spends the week working a few hours from home but usually comes back to Guadalajara for the weekend. He went through a period where Satan was filling his head with lies. He could feel himself becoming more and more violent. He even broke his hand punching a wall. We think he’s turned the corner and is aware of Satan’s scheming, but we still worry for his safety and the safety of his family. The pull and damage of his past addictions has been a constant struggle. Please pray for God to be his constant strength and for the church (including ourselves) to rest in and put trust in God’s power.

Omar’s wife, Lupe, has been regularly reading her Bible and sharing what she’s learning with her family. They have been passing through a time of stress and crisis, and keep asking her what God has to say about their situation. They’ve even begun calling her “the Priest”. They say it jokingly, but also respectfully. She is pretty quiet about it,
but you can tell that she’s very excited about the direction Jesus is taking her and even more so to see her family responding as well. If you remember, she has seemed afraid to make the decision to be baptized because of the strong Catholic tradition in her family. But now, her family is excited that she is getting to know God in such a personal way. This is a great praise, and we expect God to do something amazing with the whole family. We pray that when Lupe is baptized, her family will be there.

Lilian and her husband, Julian, are continuing to share their faith with Julian’s family. If they are not together with us on a given Sunday it is because they’ve gone to be with Julian’s family to read the Bible together with his mother and brothers. His mom, Felipa even attended the Ladies’ Retreat with Lilian and Kim. They have also recently begun sharing their faith with another family in Jocotan, (Gameliel and Dominga). They are beginning to pray in a new and excited way that God will grow His church in their neighborhood.

Independence Day
The churches came together on the day before Mexico’s Independence Day to worship and celebrate together. Everyone met at the entrance to the forest, just outside of Guadalajara, and drove a few miles to a clearing where we had

space to assemble, eat and play together.

Omar and I were in charge of directing the Lord’s Supper. Omar began sharing about the struggles he’s been encountering lately.
He shared about his real need for communion with Christ and his body today. It was wonderful watching how the body responded to him in his pain and hurt. We are blessed to be a part of something much larger here in Guadalajara. God ministered to Omar through his family. And we believe that his family ministered to each other even as they were focusing on Omar.

Weekly Study in Jocotan
In September we began studying the Holy Spirit each Thursday evening in Jocotan. Together we’ve been encouraged to see the Holy Spirit’s role in renewing our inner selves. The study has helped us grow in our awareness of God’s work in our lives. The study is helping us make sense of the struggles and pain we go through as the Spirit has to throw out some of our old “furniture” before bringing in the new.

Ladies’ Retreat
For the first time in five years, our ladies planned an over-night retreat that was attended by over 30 women. As many had never had a similar experience, it was very exciting and spiritually nutritious.
Kim says the best part was getting to watch Liliana and Felipa (her mother-in-law) enjoying the time so much, sharing laughter and tears with the other ladies. Since we meet regularly in smaller
gatherings, the time together as a larger group gives our younger believers more opportunity to grow with more mature Christians. Plus, it was just fun for the ladies to get out of the city for a night away.

On Sunday, the 19th of October, our house was robbed. We were less than a block away, playing in a small park with our kids and another family for a couple of hours when it happened. We returned home to find the doors opened and quite a mess inside. They honestly didn’t take that much. They left everything that wouldn’t fit into my backpack. That’s right, they loaded up MY backpack with the goodies. But they did abscond with my laptop, wedding and engagement rings, video camera and a few other pricey items.
On the bright side… we’ve been trying to reach out to the family we were playing with at the park. They walked through our ransacked house with us and began telling us about when they were robbed a year or so ago. They each got a bit teary when the husband told about their kids’ Christmas presents being stolen. Going through this together, we’ve felt like our relationship quickly moved into a new zone. In the moment, I kept thinking, this is a God-moment, but how can we minister to them right now? Looking back, I think God used us by allowing us to be ministered to by them. Kind of weird, but it deepened the relationship.

Kid’s School
All three kids are in school this year. Quincy is in the second grade and Karsyn and Clark are in the first year of kindergarten. (They have 3 years of kindergarten in Mexico.)
Now it seems that our schedule is full of birthday parties and school events. Kim goes to school each Tuesday and helps out with the English classes. I attend a bi-monthly parents’ class.
Quincy has started soccer this year so that gives us two more afternoons a week to rub elbows with other moms and dads as we watch the kids play. It has been fun connecting with some of the parents and developing deeper friendships. Sometimes though, it is tempting to stick with the ones we know; the ones we are comfortable with. You can be praying for our vision and our boldness. It is incredible to think that at each gathering God is aware of the one hurting and in need of comfort.
Some of our conversations head toward how God makes life good, and we want to be talking more about that and less about the weather.
We pray that we keep our eyes open so that we’ll be aware of the brokenness around us, and the grace to speak what God wants to say in the moment.