International Ministries

Lessons from Mexico

March 1, 2005 Journal

It has been a joy to get to know so many more of you a bit better as our travels have taken us around. As you know, Mercy and I (and our children) are on US/Puerto Rico assignment. That means that we are visiting churches in the US and Puerto Rico, and are away from our Mexico duties for this year. It is hard to be away from our Mexican brothers and sisters, because they mean so much to us. But even though we live 13 miles north of the border, we have made it a point to honor the break in our time together as much as possible. This makes it much easier to focus our stateside duties, and also gives the ConvencionDios Con Nosotros (Our partners in Mexico) and us a break from each other, which really makes each of us able to refocus with clarity in the ways we can be most helpful to the convention when we return.

One of the best questions many of you have asked is: "What lessons have you learned in your time in Mexico?" I could be a smart Alec and give a flippant remark like "don't drink the tap water, and be careful how you ask if the storeowner has any eggs". But really, we have learned some very valuable lessons that I would like to pass on to you as you seek to minister in your own context.

My Mexican sisters and brothers have taught me once again that resources follow vision, not the other way around. I think in the US, we are tempted to wait until we have all of our resources lined up before beginning on something. Taken to the extreme, it can mean that nothing is accomplished because we are always waiting for something more before we get going. I have seen in Mexico that they start from the standpoint of having a clear vision. When that vision becomes a compelling, burning desire, they start work on it. Oftentimes, they have no money, and very few who have caught the vision. But poco a poco (little by little), they start to enact the vision. That vision becomes clearer, and more people start buying into it. And little by little the resources come, and we see a snowball effect, where it gets bigger and bigger. Vital ministries happen, and grow.

Now I know that Jesus says to count the cost before getting underway, and not everything started by the Baptists in Baja gets completed in the way they had envisioned. But with what little they have, good and vital things are happening.

I have also learned hospitality in fantastic ways. "Mi casa essu casa (my home is your home)" is certainly evident in so many situations here. Some of these people have nothing by our standards, but what they have they willingly and graciously share. Countless times, I have been in a situation where I could have gone home and thought nothing of picking up something on the way home, only to have someone insist that I stay for a meal. This is done with such a warm and genuine manner that makes me feel like an honored guest, not a burden.

And I have seen a genuine faith that has been tested in many ways. I have seen people deeply committed to the cause of Christ, even when the rest of their world is so uncertain. Or perhaps it is because the rest of their world is so uncertain; they have realized where their trust really needs to be.

I see these lessons or my Brothers and Sisters in Christ in Mexico, and as I see their examples, I hear the words of Jesus ringing in my ears "to those whom much has been given much is required." It seems that the temptation to be more self-preoccupied gets worse as we obtain more. But I look at what my compañeros (literally the ones with whom I share bread) do, and the attitude with which they do it, and I am humbled and inspired for better. I hope you are too.


Family Update

As Rick and I take turns traveling and visiting our American Baptist Churches, our personal lives continue as normally as yours. Rick enjoys working on his model railroad and biking. We have a tandem bike and every once in a while we enjoyThanksgiving 2004 riding through the desert. I (Mercy) enjoy listening to music, and reading. Our children continuously challenge us to keep up with what they are currently reading and viewing. I have seen Pride and Prejudice about five times now.

Richie was voted most likely to succeed in his sixth grade class. He will be entering Junior High next September and is extremely excited about it. He loves reading, and is an easy going and full of fun boy. His teacher describes him as generous and compassionate and still boyish at times. We are very proud of him.

Aida, our 14 year old daughter is finishing the eighth grade and will be entering High School. She just participated in a modern version of Cinderella where she played the wicked step aunt. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and I think discovered how much fun it is to play the villain and be so out of character. She also enjoys reading and talks about someday joining the Peace Corps.

Joshua is finishing his first year of school (Kindergarten) and will be entering full day first grade next September. His social skills are getting much better and he enjoys going to the naval air base to watch the Blue Angels practice. He still won't sleep by himself which is an ongoing challenge. He is leaning to read, loves to draw airplanes and follows his siblings around.

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