All-Churches Retreat

One of our yearly highlights is the all-churches retreat in late February.

This year there were over 80 that came for fun and fellowship. Six of us prepared lessons on the different roles Jesus plays in our life, i.e. Friend, Teacher, Priest, Sacrifice.

Following each lesson there was a time dedicated to the practice of different spiritual disciplines. My (Tim’s) personal favorites were the classes taught by José Luis and Omar on Jesus is my Savior and Jesus is my Lord. It was great to see these young Christians give themselves to study so that they could share why they love Jesus. They were a bit nervous before beginning to speak, but as they moved into their lessons, their love for Jesus and for their audience was obvious. Though we spent a lot of time in the different classes, there were still plenty of opportunities to visit, play and relax. We all took turns cooking and cleaning, which were fun tasks when shared by everyone.

The boys and I set up the tent and had fun freezing to death in our sleeping bags while Karsyn was in little girl heaven as she and Kim bunked in the girl’s dorm. At times it seemed like half of those in attendance were little girls between the ages of 4 and 8.

Escalating Violence in Mexico

Chaos and Order

Last month we assured you that the violence in Mexico isn’t having a significant effect in Guadalajara. Just after sending that newsletter off, there was a flurry of grenade attacks throughout the city as well as a major road being cut off by a drug cartel. It appears that their motive is nothing more than invoking confusion and fear... in which they are succeeding. Some people here felt pretty shaken up by it.

What we’ve begun to notice though is God’s pattern of replacing our chaos with his order. We’ve been a part of conversations where folks are asking, “How have we gotten to this point? What have we done to let this sort of climate come about?” The fun thing about being here right now is knowing the Prince of Peace. We see God is using this overwhelming chaos to show people they need something more... something they’ve been denying... until now.

... the effect of violence on our friends in Tlajomulco.

A few weeks ago we arrived to study with the family of Jesus and Carmen in Tlajomulco only to find they had three unexpected visitors. Three of Carmen’s nephews arrived on very short notice. They were fleeing from a special fighting unit (which was formerly trained by the U.S. military) called the Zetas. Originally a part of the Mexican army, the Zetas later went to work for a leading cartel. When that cartel’s boss was killed, they decided to work for themselves. Recently the Zetas moved into Zacatecas, where Carmen’s nephews lived, and began recruiting the young men of the towns to join their squadrons. “Recruit” isn’t the right word to use, as they are abducting young people from their homes. Carmen’s nephews spent well over 10 hours hiding on the floor in their home as the Zetas shot up their town. When they thought it was safe, they fled to Tlajomulco.

The nephews, ages 22, 16 and 4, are very nice and polite young men. Their world has obviously been turned upside down, as has that of Jesus and Carmen to a lesser extent. But as chaos tries to take over their lives, they are humbly submitting to listen to the words of Christ. Since the nephews are now guests in their aunt’s home, they eat breakfast with us and open their bibles and read with us. And we have to imagine that God is planting his seed in soil that’s looking for something greater than the world is offering.

Saying Goodbye to Greg

We said goodbye last week to our last AIM apprentice, Greg Bell. After serving in Guadalajara for over 20 months, Greg returned to Texas. We are going to miss Greg as he’s become part of the family. It was a bit heart breaking when Quincy offered to sell all his toys and give the money to Greg if it would help him stay. (Seriously, how do you turn that down?)

Though we were sad to see Greg go, it’s heart warming to realize the fruit he’s leaving behind. Many from our youth group are now trying to make plans to go to AIM.

We don’t know what will happen with these plans, but it is obvious that they are a result of their admiration for Greg, Zach and our other AIMers. Our youth have seen young people willing to sacrifice for God’s mission and they’ve been inspired to do the same.

Update on Kim's family

Don and Kay are both on a much needed break from treatments. Don is waiting for the next round of tests to determine if he will need some radiation treatments in his neck.

Kay still has three more treatments to take, but they will be spread over three weeks beginning March 15, so that is quite a break.

Also, Kim’s little sister, Kara, had a baby last week. We are very excited to get to be an aunt and uncle again. Koen Micheal Olson is the 9th Blachly grandkid. What a fun, growing family.

Miss Cindy's Wedding

When Quincy started kindergarten five and a half years ago, we were nervous. Kim, especially, prayed for God to bless Q with Christian friends. At the end of the parents’ meeting (Miss) Sindy approached Kim to tell her that she would be Q’s English teacher. Sindy went on to explain that she saw on our paperwork that we are missionaries. She was so excited to tell Kim that she was a Christian, too, and that she couldn’t wait to have Quincy in her class. As she was an answer to our prayers, we soon realized that we (especially Kim) were also an answer to hers. She has told Kim in the past that she knows Kim has a completely different ministry here, but sometimes she thinks God sent us to Guadalajara just for her. She has had years of heartache and struggle. But God’s not let go.

This last weekend she invited us to take part in her wedding, where we were to present the couple with a bible and share a blessing with them. Her husband, Oscar, had little interest in God but has recently begun to ask more serious questions. We wish you’d add Oscar and Sindy to your prayers, that God will work in their marriage, moving both closer to him.

Holy Spirit Study with Arturo and Laura

Last fall, I began studying the Holy Spirit on Friday nights with the church in La Nueva Santa Maria. The study was an encouragement to me as it felt like I was connecting with my “sweet spot” in ministry (baseball term). God used the time to mature, teach, encourage and draw the group closer to Him.

This last month Kim and I began the same study on Monday nights with Arturo and Laura. Arturo is one of our church leaders and his girlfriend, Laura, is a relatively new Christian. Originally I intended to go over this study with the church in Jardines del Valle, but decided instead to teach Arturo and Laura and let them, in turn, teach the church in Jardines. It has been fun for Kim and I to get to spend some extra time with this young couple. (We expect them to announce their engagement very soon!) They generally arrive at our house an hour early to spend time with us as we finish getting the kids fed and into bed. Though we love the study time, I think this extra hour will be what we look back on with the fondest memories.