Baptism Sunday Video

Our teammate Chadd Shroeder posted the video of our baptism Sunday at the water fall from 3 years ago. It is BEAUTIFUL! I'd love for you to check it out if you haven't seen it yet.


You won't be sorry.


Is this just human nature?

I'm reading a paper on the history of the effects of technology on culture, specifically the printing press's role in history. And I just read this quote: "Throughout the patristic and medieval periods, the quest for truth is thought of as the recovery of what is embedded in tradition... rather than the discovery of what is new."

Sounds oddly familiar.


The Garden and Compost by Kim Rush

We have lived in the same house these last six years in Mexico and have a small yard space that we share with the two other houses on our lot. It seems like every family picture we have taken here has been in that little yard. You can see the progress of the garden as our family grows from year to year. The garden has reflected the seasons of our life in Mexico as much as it displays the rainy and the dry seasons of the climate. Periods of time have passed when life demanded too much and the garden was neglected, lacking water and care. But as the kids got a bit older, and life became easier, that shows in the garden as well.

A couple of years ago, we started to compost our organic trash. The burial of the trash was really a decision Tim committed to, and my part was the saving of scraps. (If you know me, you know I am naturally good at saving scraps of all sorts). This decision is also a reflection of what had been growing in us; more simple, organic principles at work in ourselves and our churches. It seems that so much of our growth and faith can be illustrated in the compost, so much that I cannot explain everything God has taught us there. The garden, and especially the composting time, has become a favorite spot of refuge and prayer for both of us.

The most exciting principle God has shared is the promise of life. The house church we have spent the most time with in Jocotan came from such a rough past. Their lives were full of pain and scarred by cycles of hurt and abuse. From the time we met them (and with growing certainty even more today), we felt that only God could make a difference in the bitter reality they were living. But sometimes we saw nothing good happening, and it was discouraging and sad. At those times, some struggling seed would sprout from the compost . . . something that could have been trash sprouted to become a healthy, amazing plant. It never ceases to bring hope in our hearts for the Kingdom of God to reign over the chaos.

We have had countless spontaneous plants pop up: pumpkin, jalapeƱo, avocado trees, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, beans, flowers and most recently a pineapple plant! We try to do our best with what God has placed before us, and some have matured to produce fruit. Many we have given away, in hopes that the same seeds we are planting will begin to reproduce in other places. There is a small garden in Jocotan with Serrano chili, cucumber, pumpkin, tomato and avocado. These were not the first plants growing there, and hopefully will not be the last. Spiritually speaking, we pray that the plants mature to bear fruit and that the fruit is shared to nurture the whole neighborhood. We pray for more gardens to grow and spread.

More wisdom God imparted through the garden (for us seeing it has been more meaningful that hearing it): The best soil has plenty of fertilizer, (which left to itself would have been a stinky mess). Unless a seed dies and is buried, it will not grow. We need to give over our trash to God, he certainly has better things planned. The plants must have light and water. The ones that have sprouted in the shadows will stretch across the yard to the sun. We make mistakes. Sometimes our best efforts to help are damaging, like when I tried soap suds for organic pest removal (suggestion from another gardener) and all but killed off three big, beautiful tomato plants. But God revived them. What we watch other gardeners do, we will imitate. Home grown fruits taste better and has more meaning to us than what someone else has grown for us.

The most recent chapter is that we have a new neighbor after a year of having the garden to ourselves. Since the rainy season has not begun yet, this is another promise from God that He is really the one taking care of our garden. She wants to learn to compost, and she loves plants. Ha, I just realized that her name is Eva (Eve). Coincidence? In addition to caring for the garden, she is buying all of our potted plants from us, with the promise that we can buy whatever back if we have space when we return. One of our first cucumber plants is almost ready to be enjoyed. I was showing her the plants she was buying and she said excitedly, “Oh! I have a cucumber!” My insides said, “What? You have a cucumber?” She has not paid us or done any of the work. But God says that while one plants, another waters, and still another reaps the harvest . . . only He provides the increase.

I had some verses hanging on our bedroom wall as a banner, (now they are in Eva’s house). “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it sprout and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11.

There is a modern proverb that says “More things grow in the garden than the gardener sows.” Very true. Thank you, God.


Family Update for June

Celebrating Six Years
At the end of May, we celebrated our sixth year anniversary here in Guadalajara. It has been a wild and crazy ride to say the least. We are so thankful to God for all that he’s provided along the way. We’ve been blessed to be a part of a large simple-church network in Guadalajara, while focusing the majority of our attention on a the house church in a neighborhood that is marked by violence and addictions. We want to say thank you for all of your care, support and prayers. Especially in the scarier moments, we’ve been reminded that you are with us on our journey, lifting us up. Thank you so very much.

Each time we gather with our brothers in Jocotan, we prepare ourselves for a whole new adventure. One couple continues to face very difficult struggles. They are at odds with one another constantly. The one good thing about their struggle is that they don’t try to fake anything. They are real and honest so problems are dealt with as a community. We do not know if they will choose to be faithful to God or to each other. This makes are hearts very heavy. The other couple seems to be maturing more and more. They’ve also encountered a lot of stress. After time of fear and uncertainty, they’ve continued moving forward with Jesus. They are ministering to friends and have family members coming closer to God along with them. Please pray for all of us to place our hope and trust in God. There has been so much godly transformation and so much attacking from Satan.

Math Class in Jocotan
My Math class in Jocotan is coming to a close. It has been a learning experience on many levels. (I want to track down my high school math teacher and apologize for any and all distractions I caused in class.) Kim joined me this last week for a school party. We were touched to see all tha t the school is offering to this neighborhood and were encouraged to be a part of such a ministry in the name of Jesus. We don’t know what the harvest will hold, but seeds have been planted. Please pray for Sadai and Lupita, my most faithful students. Their lives are in such chaos that it often leaves me speechless. (Lupita’s dream is to be a drug runner and her dad is the manager of a famous strip club in Guadalajara.) Only Jesus can change their life’s course.

All-Church Farewell
On the last Sunday in May, all of the churches gathered together to say goodbye to us and the Pruett family. The Pruetts were a part of the original mission team that arrived in Guadalajara in 1998. When we arrived in Guadalajara in 2003, the Pruetts opened their home to us for our first month. They have been a great encouragement to us and to the churches in Guadalajara. They will be returning to the states (San Antonio) in July.

Sunday was very good. It was wonderful to be with the Christians from all over the city, gathered together as one family. We pray that our guys from Jocotan will stay connected to the body and continue to grow in their relationships with other Christians. We also lift the other groups up to God and pray that He be a powerful force that unites them together and fills them with His character and Spirit. We pray for our co-workers who will remain here to be surrounded by God’s presence, protection and blessings.

Crafts in the Park
Our good friend Adriana has begun a ministry in the park in her neighborhood. Each Saturday night she gathers the kids together for a Bible story and a craft. We love that God placed the needs of the kids on her heart and she obeyed His call. She is an answer to your prayers to the Lord of the Harvest. She’s been cautious to stay on the good side of the parents. This last week she asked Kim to join=2 0her to make cards with the kids. She was excited and surprised when a dad approached her afterwards to thank her for what she’s doing. He said he is afraid to let his girl play in the park by herself. But he is grateful that Adriana is making the park a place that his daughter can learn about the Bible.

Car Trouble and Headaches Galore
This last month has been horrible on our vehicles. The Taurus, which is the newer car with fewer miles is also our least reliable. This worries us all the more since it is the Expedition that was just released from the shop after a 40 day stay. During that span, the Taurus has been in and out of the shop due to a problem the mechanics were unable to diagnose. We’re hoping that if it breaks down on us, it will do it here and not while driving across Mexico later this month. Hopefully the Expedition is ready to make the trek north as well. Please pray for our safe travel and peace of mind.

What’s The Plan?
Our plan is to leave Guadalajara on the 25th of June for a year furlough, or for what some call “home assignment”. We will drive to Tulsa so that we can leave a load of our stuff, as well as the Taurus, before heading on to California for the month of July to be with Kim’s family. We will return to Tulsa at the beginning of August in time to get set up before the kids start school. Tim will also begin taking masters courses in communications at the University of Oklahoma. To do this, he’ll spend two weekends a month in Lawton as the courses are designed to be weekend intensive. Our plan is to return to Guadalajara in June of 2010.


the flu goes on

So I thought this flu business was winding down. After all, it seems CNN has stopped talking about it. But we just found out that the schools will remained closed until the 18th of May. Until two days ago, they were saying there were no reported cases in the state of Jalisco. (Guadalajara is in Jalisco.) But just recently they've said that there are 15 cases plus 11 more under observation. Four of those cases were reported to be grave. Sadly, three have died. I think that's influenced the decision to keep the schools closed.


Rush Family Update

One Crazy Summer

April has been a crazy month. The two weeks of Spring Break were a lot of fun. We got to do out-of-the-ordinary things and spend time with people that are not in our regular schedule. Grandma Kay came for 10 days and that was a blast.

She went camping with us and was a great trooper. She made camping a lot easier. Now, two weeks after the kids returned to school, everything has been shut down because of the Swine Flu scare.

Teaching English in Jocotan

Closing out 08’ we began realizing that we were being given the opportunity to plant a new church. This would mean not getting to spend every Sunday in Jocotan. With this in mind, we wanted to find more times during the week that we could be in Jocotan; both with our church family as well as the community. We’ve shared in the past about studying the Holy Spirit together on Friday nights and teaching Math two hours a week in a school for those trying to graduate from junior high.

In January we began teaching English for an hour each Thursday night. The church had the idea of inviting their neighbors into their home and offering this free class as a service. We generally have 5-10 students, half of which are not Christians. Three of our AIM students have been helping out, which allows us to break up into small groups and practice our pronunciation or grammar lesson as well as enhance personal relationships.

Camping Under the


Over Spring Break, we went with a group of about 15 to camp under the Volcano of Colima. A friend from the kids’ school is beginning to farm the land and planned the 4 day, 3 night excursion. The trip was a perfect microcosm of mission work.

It was a once in a lifetime experience filled with culture-shock, out of the ordinary living conditions, hard work, and a lot of hurry-up and wait moments all wrapped with just a taste of danger.

The dad who invited us, Gerardo, is a very spiritual man who describes himself as catholic-christian. He spent 11 years studying to be a priest but is now married and has a son just a year older than Quincy.

Being Easter weekend, we were expecting the opportunity to share our faith, and even worship together. A few of the others who joined the group, however, were not the least bit spiritual and weren’t too thrilled when they found out we are missionaries. (That is always an uncomfortable moment.)

So our course changed. Instead of opening our Bibles together and spending time singing, we tried to love people who at times were very difficult to love. It put a fresh perspective in our hearts about our ministry. Living side by side and working with people who are just getting to know God (or do not know him at all) is not the same as spending time with Jesus people.

We should not be so surprised to not see God’s fruit in their lives when our very purpose in ministry is to take the essence of Jesus to places that need Him. We also tried to encourage Gerardo, who seemed to be disappointed as we believe he was also hoping for some sort of a “spiritual” weekend as well.

Swine Flu

So life is again out of the ordinary because of the swine flu outbreak. On Monday our school opted to have all students and staff wear surgical masks. Later that day, all schools were closed until at least the 6th of May. The Government has asked everyone to avoid public gatherings and (without alarm) take necessary steps to prevent further outbreak. Since we were with a sister on Sunday who was ill and on Monday was afraid she might have it, we’ve pretty much stayed at home the last four days. Our sister went to the doctor Tuesday and has been cleared.

Guadalajara has not had any confirmed cases, only some people in observation. No one else that we know is sick at this time. However, we have canceled our group activities, including the all-church gathering for this Sunday. Thank you for your prayers. We feel good about the way the government and health officials are handling this outbreak.

Making the Most of it

Kim’s taken advantage of the time to get a head start on packing up the house. She’s also spent time doing school work with the kids. We keep in contact with people mostly through phone calls. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done and have even been inspired by Kim to pack up a bit of my office.

Since I haven’t been able to go to the gym, I’ve been having “exercise class” with the kids. It is quite different, but still a workout and so much more fun. Doing lunges at the gym is one of my least favorite things. However, Karsyn likes to hold hands when we do them together at home, and it actually makes them easier. When I try to touch my toes, the kids are trying (and achieving) touching their knees with their noses. Quincy can really pump out the push-ups and Karsyn kills on the chin-ups, though she still thinks they are called hick-ups. Clark, well, Clark giggles. A LOT! Yesterday, after I put them through a good workout, I let each child take a turn leading. It was sort of a follow the leader workout program. It was the first time I’ve done somersaults (Clark leading) since I was 5. Now I’ve got a whole new kind of post-workout soreness.

Working with


Since last May we’ve had the privilege of working with a team of 6 AIM students. Cory and Toni Burns have coordinated their time here and have done an excellent job. Kim and I have enjoyed the role of “fun aunt/uncle”. By that I mean we get to have fun with them without being responsible for them.

Cory and I have been teaching the book of Ephesians to the AIMers and, as mentioned earlier, 3 of the AIMers have been helping teach English in Jocotan once a week.

We’re about to enter an interesting time of transition as 3 new AIMers will be arriving shortly while our current team of 6 begin returning home. (There is no set return date so they will be leaving between July and November.) Please keep these young people in your prayers.


Happy Cinco de Mayo.

It still strikes me as odd that Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico as much as in the U.S. I don’t know why. But have a happy 5th of May anyway.

The school closings in Mexico have been extended until the 11th of May. People are still supposed to remain at home as much as possible, but I don’t think that is really happening. The kids haven’t left the house since coming home from school last Monday. They are doing surprisingly well though. Kim’s keeping them occupied and all are surviving well.

We did have friends from the kids’ school over on Sunday and had a blast with them. We worshipped, studied and took the Lord’s Supper together. Then we made sushi, colored shrinky-dinks and even roasted tiny marshmallows over candles.


swine flu

Taking Quincy to school today, I noticed EVERYONE had a surgical mask on... even the guy directing traffic. (That was odd.) They were even handing the masks out to the kids as they entered the school yard.

The lady that opened the door for Quincy and helped him get his backpack out of the car asked something about, "Who wants to leave their kids today?" It was all kind of quick and hurried, but left me puzzled as to what she was communicating. Kim took the twins an hour later and the same lady received them at the door. Kim reported that the lady said the same thing to her but then expanded on it a bit. She was saying that if you don't want to leave your kids here, you don't have to.

Kim just now picked the kids up from school and came home with the news that all schools in Mexico have been closed until the 6th of May. Everyone is encouraged to stay home as much as possible.

I'm curious to see if people will really stay home or not. My first impression is YES. I've been at home for most of the morning, but when I was out, there seemed to be a lot less trafic.


Rush Family Update for April

All-Church Retreat
In March, about 90 of us gathered for a weekend retreat. We were only a few miles outside of town, but it felt like 100. It was great! Cabins, tents, bugs, nasty showers, camp fires, hiking and soccer games... this place had it all.

The classes were great, but I think the highlight of the weekend was the time we spent alone with God. After each class time, we had questions that were prepared to help us examine our past and the effects it was having on our present relationship with God as well as its effect on our present Christian community. Chadd, Cory and I each taught a session, while Joe wrapped up each class and tied it into the questions he’d prepared for us.

Julian’s Family
Julian, our brother from Jocotan, (on the right, with his brother Nahum) invited many from his family to join us for the retreat. His brother, mom and nephew accepted the invitation and had a wonderful time. Julian and his wife Lilian have been spending a lot of time sharing with Julian’s family and we believe we are beginning to see the fruit that God is bearing in their lives. Please keep this family in your prayers. We believe Nahum and their mother (Felipa) are both making decisions about baptism.

Lilian Reaching Out
Lilian (on the right side of the table, sitting across from Quique and Monica) is gifted in evangelism. She’s also experienced a great change in her life which is noticeable to all of her family, friends, co-workers and bosses. If she hasn’t started the conversation, they will... asking why and how she’s made such a drastic change. A group of ladies in Jocotan have recently asked her to basically start preaching to them. They want to know more about what’s happened to her.
Please keep Lilian in your prayers. Though she has a great heart, she can be a bit overbearing at times. We pray that God blesses her with great wisdom when teaching about his peace which has taken over her life.

Baptisms in Ciudad Granja

In March we had our first baptisms from the new church plant in Ciudad Granja. Cory and Toni Burns have been working to plant a church there among a family of believers for some time. Finally, Quique and Monica (in the center, surrounded by Gerardo and Cory) decided to be baptized into Christ. We rejoice with the Burns and the young church in Ciudad Granja.
Ministry at Ker Liber
God is continuing to open doors at the kids’ school. Whether it is time Kim spends volunteering, presentations we are invited to attend, parent classes we are a part of, or just hanging out watching the kids practice soccer, we feel like God continues to bless us with opportunities to talk about his grace.
Please keep Omar in your prayers. One day he’ll seem to be back on track and the next we’ll be blindsided again by his poor decisions. We are
certain though that God hasn’t given up on him.
Please pray.

We’ve decided to take a year-long furlough beginning in July after the kids are out of school. We will travel to California to spend time with Kim’s family before heading to Tulsa in time for the kids to start school there. While in Tulsa, Tim will begin working on a Masters in Communications from Oklahoma University.

It will definitely be hard to pack the house into storage and say goodbye (for a year) to so many wonderful friends. But we are very excited about reconnecting with family and friends in the states.

Seminar in Morelia
On Saturday, the 28th of March, we traveled to Morelia for an all-day conference. The missionaries there invited Dr. Gailyn and Becky Van Reenan, from Mission Alive in Dallas to come and share some ideas with us on taking the next steps in our missions. There were leaders from five different mission works present and many of us are at the same places in our ministries.
While listening to the Van Reenans share with us, it was fun to be reminded that we are a part of a large team of church planters in Mexico. Some are older, some younger, but we are each working towards the same goal; to share Jesus with this great nation.


After the all-church retreat

I just want to thank those of you that read this blog and prayed for the retreat.  (That means you, mom and Kara.)  We had a GREAT time.  There were almost 90 who attended.  That number looks low, in retrospect, as there seemed to be over 100 kids... such a fun atmosphere!

The campgrounds have men and women's dorms, but we took our tent so that the kids would sleep better.  (Last year, people would turn the lights on at all hours of the night and the kids would wake up and cry.)  It was really fun.

On Saturday we had three classes, I Can't Do it, God Can, and I'll Let Him.  The classes were very well done, but I think the real growth will come from the questions Joe Pruett put together for each person to answer individually after each session.  We'd all find a quite place and spend between 45 minutes and an hour taking a personal inventory.  I think the time alone served to help us evaluate how our past (our fears and struggles) are effecting our present reality.  

On Sunday we worshipped together.  Quite a different experience, 90 together instead of 15 or so.  The youth put together a play, Gerardo had a sermon, Chadd took a moment for us to bless Guiye's 3 month old baby.  (Guiye isn't a Christian yet, but is walking in that direction, as the Mexicans would say.  She knows her baby doesn't need to be baptized, but longs for a blessing for her baby.  It was quite powerful.)  Sergio led us in praise.  And we divided into groups of 10 or so to take communion where we spent time praying together.  It was beautiful.

Thanks for being a part of the retreat through your prayers.


All-Church Retreat

The picture above is of Clark and Gerardo at last year's All-Church Retreat.  I'm not sure why, but it is one of my favorite pictures. You can't even see Clark's face, but seeing his little hands lifted up in praise touches me.  I almost want to question how much a little kid can praise God, but God says he's ordained their worship.  So I'll leave it at that.

I also love the connection he's making with Gerardo in the photo. I'm pretty sure his hands are lifted because that's what Gerardo is doing, not the other way around.  I guess little eyes are always on us.

And I love that Gerardo notices Clark.  Clark wasn't a distraction to Gerardo, he was a blessing.  Of course that was Gerardo's decision.  He could have been annoyed by the little mimic or he could value the opportunity to share his love for God with the little pair of eyes watching him.  

This week we are preparing for this years' retreat.  Would you mind keeping this retreat in your prayers?  In a lot of ways, it is like the picture above.  We are a part of a church that has some Gerardos... stronger Christians who want to help their younger brothers, and a ton of Clarks... babes in the faith who desperately need guidance and friendship.  


Family Update

Teaching Math
In January Tim began teaching a math class a few hours a week in a school that helps adults work towards their junior high graduation. The school is located in Jocotan, just two blocks from our church family. He was expecting to be teaching adults, but most of his students are between the ages of 13 and 18. The class changes in size each time so there is a lot of starting up only to start over again the next week. There aren’t books for each student nor is there a copy machine to use for tests and homework assignments. But Tim and the class have been quite resourceful. Tim is having a good time and most of his students seem to be enjoying themselves.

Tim’s happy to be helping them get an education, but especially excited to be meeting new people in Jocotan. By faith we believe God is allowing us the chance to plant kingdom seeds through math classes.

Marriage Seminar
On Valentine’s weekend, we traveled to Leon where we were invited to do a marriage seminar for the church there. The first night Tim talked about seeing the image of God in our spouses. On the second night he spoke about the Holy Spirit's role in recreating the image of God in us. We were glad to have a young couple from our church accompany us on the trip.

Tim had a great time teaching and we were so encouraging to see the church that our friends planted in Leon just a few years ago. We were able to spend a good amount of time with Shawn and Barbara Gary as well as with Omar and Tana Palafox.

Teaching at the kids’ school
Also in February Tim was invited to teach at the parents’ class he attends twice a month at the kids’ school. He worked with another dad on a presentation entitled “Molding Your Own Reality”. That just happened to be the chapter of the book they were assigned to present. The idea was that what we believe about ourselves and our world is the truth that we live. We believe God purposely gave him this opportunity. Tim was nervous about the class but excited to get the chance to teach.

A few weeks ago we wrote you concerning our good friend Omar so we won’t revisit all the specifics. He is still pretty tough to deal with though he is showing signs of surrendering to God. It’s hard though. Please continue to pray for Omar and his wife Lupe and their two children, especially to heal the hurt of all that was said in anger. In the very midst of his struggles, Omar is still being used by God as a light in his community. Lupe’s family continues seeking God, and knows that the peace of God has been growing in that house. We are truly amazed at God’s power to show Himself in the midst of chaos.

Another praise to mention at this time is the love the other leaders have shown for Omar and Lupe. We were certainly not alone in admonishing and rallying around them. We are thankful to see the body working together in this way.

Stress in Churches
Jocotan isn't the only struggling church at the moment. It seems like Satan is attacking each church right now in very overt ways. However, we are not totally discouraged by this fact. We believe that God is allowing each church an opportunity to mature and grow through this difficult process. We are preparing for an all church retreat in a couple of weeks. Please pray for God to use the time to help the churches recognize Satan’s schemes, surrender to God’s power and to unite us.

Kim’s New Neice
Kim and Karsyn traveled to California for a week in February to see the newest addition to the Blachly family: Khloe Gwin Olson. They had such a wonderful time getting to reconnect with family and getting to hold baby Khloe. Kim says it felt like a real luxury to get to be there at that time. The boys did survived well while she and Karsyn were gone.


Family update for January

Happy New Year from Guadalajara! We hope that your holiday season was equally fun and renewing. Thank you for your prayers and support. We know that God was at work in us and around us to bring a lot of joy and peace especially during the past month. We felt so tired leading up to the holidays, that we were honestly dreading some of the festivities. But God answered your prayers for us and we really feel rejuvenated.

Yuli’s 15th
In November we were honored to serve as god-parents for our friend Yuli’s 15th birthday party. Turning 15 is a big deal for girls in Mexico. They dress up like princesses and receive their last doll which is symbolic of leaving their childhood behind. The day traditionally begins with a Catholic mass and then the party lasts into the night. As a relatively young group of churches, we are still enjoying the firsts of many new traditions. This was a special day for the churches to come together.
Everyone enjoyed a time of worship as well as offered words of encouragement for Yuli and her family in their continuing walk with God. It was a great blessing to see the youth, especially, having fun making it memorable and honoring to God at the same time.

As Yuli’s actual birthday was on the 31st of October, she asked all the little kids to come in their costumes. Her aunt even made Karsyn a special Snow White costume, which she wears every chance she gets.

Planting Seeds at the Kids’ School
To be honest, the kids’ school is probably our largest source of stress. Schools operate differently here and it often collides with our idea of how much pressure/stress should be put on a small child. Having said that, the kids’ school seems to be one of our richest fields in which to sow seed. With soccer practice, parent groups, social events and such, we feel like we are constantly in conversations with other parents that lead back to Jesus. Sometimes we are even amazed at what we hear coming out of our mouths. That sounds weird, but God keeps popping up in places we weren’t expecting.

One of the greatest blessings of this season has been our growing friendship with the Perez family. Alejandro and Nallely have two sons (Alexis and Axel), the youngest of whom is in the kinder-class with our twins. They are a family that respects God and wants their kids to grow up knowing him and loving him. They are the friends who were with us when we walked into our ransacked house this fall, and we really believe God had us ministering to each other through that. Our prayer for this year with them is that we will continue to grow together in God and that Jesus can become the center of our friendship. We have met with them once for a time of worship and pray that will continue this year.

Missionary’s Retreat
For Thanksgiving, we traveled 3 hours to Guanajuato for the annual Missionary Retreat. There were upwards of 40 missionaries and perhaps another 40 kids. Jason and Heather Thornton from Tulsa, Oklahoma came down to encourage the missionaries; teaching several classes as well as just hanging out with old friends. It was great!

We had a huge meal together which made us all feel like we were at home (minus the week’s worth of turkey sandwiches to follow). The majority of the missionaries (as well as the Thorntons) are old friends from our days in Lubbock. So we had a blast reconnecting. But it is also fun getting to meet new missionaries and create new bonds.

Family Comes to Town
Over the last couple of months we’ve been blessed by visits from family. Tim’s dad, Terry, came down for a quick visit in early November and Kim’s aunt Pam and uncle Pete came down at the first of December. As well, the Thorntons spent some extra time in Guadalajara and we were blessed to keep them for a couple of nights.

Of course it all passed too quickly, but we are so grateful for their visits. We loved taking all to eat our favorite tacos and hanging out just visiting.

Visitors to Jocotan
Our family in Jocotan had a surprise visit over the holidays from their family from Tijuana, Mexico. Lalo, the oldest brother in the family, was instrumental in the conversions of his brother and sister, Omar and Lilian. In answer to Omar’s prayers for one of his brothers to come home for Christmas, Lalo, and several other family members arrived unannounced late Christmas Eve.

About four years ago, Lalo was a homeless addict living on the streets of Tijuana when he met Jesus. Sometime later, he returned to Guadalajara to take his son home to live with him. While here, he shared with his family all that Jesus was doing for him and in him. At the time, Omar and Lilian were in dire straights, wishing for lives of peace. Through an ex-Aim student, God brought us in touch with them the day their brother Lalo was returning to Tijuana.

The point of all that rambling is to somehow set for you the feel of thanksgiving and awe in these brothers and sister reunited for the first time in Christ. Now two and a half years later, it was amazing to sit and listen to this family reconnect over the holidays. It was as if every time we were together we were a part of an incredible worship assembly. They just couldn’t stop talking about the amazing grace they are seeing in each other’s lives and how God is changing their family. There was a lot of sharing, crying and laughing. Sometimes we also just sat in stunned silence, soaking it in.

Holidays in Mexico
Having spent the last three Christmases in the states, we weren’t quite sure how this holiday season would pass.

We agreed to spend Christmas Eve with our family in Jocotan, but were dreading it a bit as we just aren’t late-night people. The tradition here is to eat together at about 11:00 at night and then party into the wee hours of the morning. We warned them that we wouldn’t be able to stay that late but would need to get home early and put kids in bed. “So what time should we come?” we asked. They replied, “Oh, anytime after 8:00.” Ha! That’s the time our kids go to bed!

In the end, we arrived at about 5:00 for the pre-party. Madaline turned 2, so we had a birthday party first. Then the Christmas festivities began around 8:00 or so. We stayed until almost midnight but it was wonderful! Our kids all fell asleep on their bed and didn’t complain a bit. And the conversation turned toward the blessings of Christ. As much as we were missing our families, the tone of the night made it worth it. We were so thankful for how God has so radically blessed our family in Jocotan.

On New Years’ Eve, we were camping with 4 other families at a lake, inside a dormant volcano, two hours from Guadalajara. It was a lot of fun. It was the first time we’ve taken the kids camping and they all had a blast. Even our dog, Zeke, enjoyed herself.