Saturday, December 19, 2015


Many, many months ago I ended a post with this quote and a promise to revisit the subject of poverty. 

"We must do our best to preach the gospel, to find cures for malaria, and to foster affordable housing.  But part of our striving is also to fall on our knees every day and pray, "Lord be merciful to me and my friends here, because we are both sinners."  And part of our striving means praying every day, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, for without You we cannot fix our communities, our nation, our world."  -When Helping Hurts
 And then I went almost completely silent.  I know I have been quiet, but I have been on a long and difficult journey, a lonely valley journey.  It has only been in the past several months that with the right people beside me, helping me process, even when they did not know they were, that I have been able to begin to climb the steep bank.  I know I have been quite, but I have been on a journey; a journey I did not really trust myself to share or be honest about for a lot of reasons.  Recently, D.L. Mayfield shared a post entitled "The Brutally Honest Christmas Card".  When I read the title I could not stop myself from reading.  From the caption and photo, I got the idea they had also done cross-cultural work and I thought to myself, "Oh-no!"  Her words drifted off the page at me:

 "birth and nearly died"  
                                                                                        "said goodbye to amazing friends"
                                     "We put our daughter through....a lot of transition"
                    "it is taking forever to get back on our feet"
                   "hard to edit when you are sad and aren't sleeping"

It caught my breath...a flood rushed in...the room was spinning.  Someone had put words to my experience.  She had said what I felt I could not because I did not trust myself to in a healthy way and because the religious culture we came from demanded I stay silent and only share the positive.  I still do not trust myself to be half as honest as she was, so if you want to read about what my last several years really looked like (not the exact same events, but our own hard things relating to cross-cultural work), you can go read her blog.  She says it honestly, but with the same hope our own hearts are filled with right now.  Mission work was amazing.  God was so good to us.  I am grateful for the things he allowed us to see and learn, and the people he let us work along side.  What a privilege to not just get to praise God in one tongue, but with fellow believers in their heart tongue.  One of my favorite moments in Mexico was in a little national church that was hosting a medical clinic, a prayer went up; at first a lone voice in Spanish and then one in English joined it, then Korean and the indigenous language of Amuzco.  Can you image! 

But it was also hard, I have some pretty deep battle scares, some of them in my back.  I have experienced things that have left my heart broken, but I am grateful I am broken and my heart is broken, maybe God can really use me now.  

"But perhaps the most significant thing is that Jesus is no longer an abstract person, a walking theology, a list of do's and dont's to me. This is the year I recognized him as my battered, bruised brother, and I see how he never once left my side. " -D.L. Mayfield

The words from the quote surprised me when I read them as I sat down to try to start blogging again.  Reread the quote.  There is a lot packed in that humble prayer.  We are all suffering from a sort of poverty that is brought on by living in this fallen world.  Does not my own story bear witness to this; my struggle these years in Mexico as I grappled with my own identity, my own sometimes ugly heart, my own feeling of shrinking options.  It also surprised me that, while I had not come back to this blog in months, this prayer had really become a part of me.  It is the eyes through which I see the world.  A broken girl, living in a broken world, called to not look away.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I know I promised to continue the series on poverty and the story about the lady that knocked on my door asking for help.  I will very soon, I promise.  It has proven much more difficult than I thought it would be, but after wrestling to find the right word all week, I am almost there and Sam says it is half way decent.  So stay tuned, I think it will be worth the wait.  In the mean time, here are some photos of a recent mission trip two of our boys were priveleged to be a part of.  Both the boys bonded with the young MK who lives there with his family.

They drove about six hours into the mountians.  This included a lot of curves, dirt roads and some fog, donkeys and turkeys.

 Their objective was to help paint a literacy center.  People will be able to come and learn to read in their indigenous language.  This is very important, since many indigenous people in Oaxaca understand their heart language better than Spanish or only speak the indigenous language.

What a good looking group!  All photo credit goes to Donna Shaver and Anna Perez.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Messy, Messy Missions Series: A honest look at poverty

Missions is not about projects, it is about people and, well, let's face it, sometimes getting involved in other peoples lives can get messy.  Many of us know this from experience.  Maybe we have tried to help someone and it did not work out the way we thought it would.  

Like my friend in the Philippines who offered her box of take home to a homeless person on the street.  Upon opening it and inspecting it, he remark he did not like this particular type of food.  I think I understand better why he did that now, but we will get to that later.  

The focus of our ministry here in Mexico is not to those in poverty, but we are faced with it often.  The fact that it is not our primary focus does not give us the liberty to turn our heads and pretend it does not exist.  Just because the situation seems too large for us to ever see results, does not me we are excused from doing anything. 

So what do you do?  What is a good way to help?  What will help the most?

A little over a year ago, I answered a knock at my door.  A woman was telling me her young daughter was pregnant and they needed money for doctor's visits and the birth.  As I asked more questions, she stated her daughter was having contractions.  

The need seemed urgent and I had the means to provide what she was asking, about 200 pesos, which is less than $20 U.S. dollars.  I could give it to her, accept her thanks, send her on her way, and go about my day feeling a little better about myself.

As I spoke with her and asked questions, I began to pray about the best way to handle the situation.  How we deal with people is messy, but important.  We can hurt ourselves and those we are trying to help without even realizing it.  

In the next several post, I will tell you how we handled this situation, and open myself up to the judgement that may come with that.  I do it gladly and humbly in hopes that maybe a conversation can be started about what poverty is, how to best help and if we should even help at all.  

For today I leave you with a quote from When Helping Hurts.
"We must do our best to preach the gospel, to find cures for maleria, and to foster affordable housing.  But part of our striving is also to fall on our knees every day and pray, "Lord be merciful to me and my friends here, because we are both sinners."  And part of our striving means praying every day, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, for without You we cannot fix our communities, our nation, our world."  
What are your intial thoughts on poverty?  

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mamut Cake

Here on the field life is a little different, we are aware our children miss out on somethings their counterparts in the U.S. have and do.  In light of this, we try to create traditions that the kids can look forward to, that make life unique and special and create memories.  For example, we did not have room to bring Christmas decorations when we came to Mexico, so we have a tradition of making decorations every year.  This year we made Peppermint ornaments, which you can see by (clicking here).  We also do Tostada Tuesdays, which you can see by (clicking here).  Another tradition is letting kids choose what kind of birthday cake they want to be made for them.  One year everyone wanted ice cream cakes, the next year everyone wanted cheesecake.  This year Josiah wanted pecan pie.

So this week Haden and I walked to the store for some carrots I needed for dinner.  He asked if he could bring a few pesos to buy a treat.  As we were walking along and he was thinking about his treat, he said he wanted a Mamut cake for his birthday.  I was a little confused, so he explains this is his favorite sweet treat at the tienda.  I tell him I have no idea what it is and need to take a look before I can promise anything.  After two tiendas we find carrots and mamut, which is what we called Moon Pies when I was growing up.  A round cookie sandwich with marshmallow filling, covered in chocolate.  When we got home I typed "Moon Pie" into the Pinterest search engine and there were actually several recipes for homemade moon pies.  Figuring out how to modify the recipe to make it the size of a cake was pretty easy.  It turned out very yummy, very sweet, but very yummy.

The kids and I had fun with the PicMonkey edits.
Mamut means Mammoth, by the way!  Before you get too impressed with my Spanish, I only know that because one of the kids told me.  This is the blog where I found the recipe for homemade Moon Pie. (Click here)

Pinterest Fail

When we moved to Mexico our Christmas ornaments were one of the things that just did not fit.  So, we began a new tradition of making Christmas ornaments.  We have made popcorn chains with chilis, popcorn balls (very yummy, they make great gifts also), paper snowflakes, origami cranes, dried apples and oranges (bonus: they smell great), cute little peanut snowmen, gingerbread cookies, ect.  The kids love this tradition.  

I turned to Pinterest for inspiration this year and I found this neat idea that SEEMED very easy and staight forward.  The idea was to place peppermint candies in cookie cutters and place them in the over to melt together, producing {these} cute ornaments.  Honestly, I thought the hardest part would be finding peppermint candy in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Super, mega easy...right?  I mean, I'm crafy...right?  :)

I think this is when you say...NAILED IT!

In the end, we did get a few to turn out nice enough to hang on the tree.  

How about you?  What Christmas tradition do you enjoy with your family?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hopping Around the Internet Today

So, I'm kind of doing a fun and new thing today...well new to me anyway.  Some of my missionary blogger friends around the world are doing a "Round Robin" hosted by Baptist Mission Women.  So be sure and click the link on the bottom of the page to go to the next blog and discover a whole new mission field and missionary family.

As part of the "Round Robin", I am sharing 5 interesting (hopefully interesting anyway) things about myself.

Five Interesting Things About Me:

1.) I am an outgoing's patient with me when I do not answer your call.

2.) I have ridden in an ambulance in a foreign country.  {click here}

3.) I have jumped out of a military airplane...five times.  Sorry I do not have any pictures, but I do have the wings to prove it.  Here is a picture of one of my boys, who is now big enough to wear my old uniform. 

4.)  I have swam in the Pacific Ocean, but never been to California.  {click here}  And I can not completely confirm, but we may have been invited over to a pastor's house to eat iguana while living on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.  

5.)  One time we built a sun oven from stuff we got at the thrift store and baked bread using only the energy from the sun.  {click here}

So I asked my kids to list some interesting things about me.  This was the best I could get:

1.) You have a very ominous oder in the morning.  I think hope he was joking.  :)  But you kind of have to be proud of the creative use of the word ominous.

2.) You wax your legs instead of shaving.

3.) You can come up with games and activities at a moments notice.

4)  You can grow a garden anywhere.

5.)  You have six kids that are oozing with awesomeness who do the dishes.

6.)  You take great pictures.

Thanks for reading today!  Now {click here} to visit Johvi, Estonia where Rachel writes Rachel's Reflections: My life as wife, mom and missionary.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thankful Thursday

I'll be straight with you.  I've been hurt very badly during this missionary people in "the ministry".  Much worse than I ever thought imaginable.  I have spoken of it to very, very few people.  Healing has been slow and painful.  Today someone posted a post by Women Living Well Ministries.  

She very concisely pens some things that I have journaled or thought in my journey to heal that is far from over.  One thing she said that I had never quite been able to put into words was "Moving on is not...Trust or reconciliation.  It takes two to reconcile.  When no acknowledgement of the pain they have caused you comes, this leaves an open wound that only Christ can fill."  

This struck me in two ways.  First, I am not the only one this has happened to, I am not crazy, I have been deeply wounded.  And secondly, for the moment, healing means a daily battle to turn my pain over to Christ and let him fill my open wound.  

Elizabeth Elliot, who knows great pain and great healing and forgiveness, adamantly and Biblically argues in her book A Pathway Through Suffering, that this was no surprise to God and He is in control, even in allowing this hurt. 

So, how am I working towards healing.  I'm doing lots of things.  I cry sometimes.  I journal.  I read my Bible and try to sit still at Jesus's feet.  I pray.  I pray blessings on those that wounded me (more on that later).  

One of my life lines during this time has been thankfulness.  I try to be actively thankful.  All. The. Time.  Not only is this Biblical, it is now being back up by research.  Don't believe me?  Check out this TedTalk by Shawn Achor, the founder of GoodThink. 

So, today, today I am thankful for my washing machine and water for my washing machine.  When we moved here, a Mexican lady gave us a washing machine.  It was in very bad shape and I tend to work my washing machine to death anyway (there are eight of us).  But it was a great sacrifice for her and a great blessing to us.  However, by the time it was put out to pasture, I don't think it really cleaned the clothes, I just put them in and pretended it did.  When we were in the U.S. for visa paperwork at the end of 2013 one of the families that supports us, bought us a brand new washing machine!  Hand wash a few loads of clothes and you will see why I am extremely thankful for my washing machine. 

So, thank you Lord:

  • For my washing machine.
  • For the new little person in our house that is making more laundry.
  • And for a pump, so we can wash clothes, even when there is no city water.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tostada Tuesday

Almost every Tuesday, and especially since the kids started school, we have tostadas.  For the most part we have also adopted Comida.  The tradition of eating your large meal in the early afternoon.  This works out great since 1.) Sam works a lot of evenings and dinner is over and cleaned up well before he needs to leave  2.) The kids come home hungry and waiting until dinner just makes them more hungry.  We have actually had left overs eating on this schedule.  That's pretty much a miracle with two teen boys.  3.)  Dinner is over and cleaned up and you have the rest of the evening free to do other things.  We usually have a lighter meal in the evening, something easy to fix and easy to clean cereal, a sandwich, or left overs.

Tostadas are perfect for this schedule, especially on Tuesdays and Thursday.  On these days the kids workout hard the last hour of school and I try to go workout also.  When we get home everybody helps get toppings out while the beans reheat and dinner is ready!  One of our friends told me tostadas are comida floja...or lazy food.  Lazy or not, it is defiantly easy.  It is really that fast when you have refried beans that you took out of the freezer in morning.  Once upon a time, I blogged my bean recipe, but that blog platform isn't even available anymore.  I'll try to repost the recipe soon.  

Toppings always include beans, cabbage, and salsa.  Other options are sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and chilis.  Everybody makes their own, which is even better.  

What is your favorite "comida floja"?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ministry Monday: Small recaps of the going-ons around here

We have a lot going on ministry wise.  The church hosted a Christmas movie night right before Christmas.  The movie had a clear presentation of the gospel and afterwards, one of the men of the church gave a short gospel centered sermon.  Almost everybody brought visitors.  I love seeing the church reach out.

That same week a church in Oaxaca city had a mission conference, so some of our church went a few nights.  The first night, Sam got a call from the pastor shortly after they had arrived at the church.  The conversation went something like this:

Pastor:  Brother Sam where are you?  (This is very odd, because culturally you always begin with a friendly greeting and then ask how the person is doing.)

Sam:  I'm here.

Pastor:  At the church?

Sam:  Yes.

Pastor:  Come up to my office!

When Sam arrives at the pastors office, the pastor informs him the speaker has not arrived and is having car problems.  You have to remember, a lot of planning has gone into this meeting, the church is packed and people from other churches have travelled to be here.  The pastor asked Sam to preach the first sermon, because "your a missionary".  So, Sam stands up and preaches in Spanish with almost no notice.  I stayed home with the baby that night, because he was still quite small, but I heard it was great!

We are also trying to minister to the family I spoke about in a previous post.  You can read about it by (clicking here).  Grandfather became very sick and was in the hospital and as soon as he was out grandmother fell and broke her wrist and is currently in the hospital.  There 18 year old granddaughter has been staying with her baby at what looks like a refugee camp just outside the hospital, leaving only grandfather to care for the children.  The church is taking meals this week and we have spoken with a Christian Children's Home here in the area that is ready to help.  This would allow Lupita to focus on her own baby knowing her brothers and sisters are taken care of and hopefully the church can continue ministering to her and her grandparents.  Please pray God's hand continues to guide us, as he already has.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking Ahead

As 2014 draws to a close and 2015 is brand new, it is very exciting to be making plans for a medical clinic to the island region.  You can read about our first trip to this area by clicking here.  This will be a collaborative effort of the missionaries currently church planting on the island, our church here in Huayapam, and a local group of doctors that often do mountain medical clinics as part of their ministry.  You can also read our latest prayer letter by clicking here.
Church Planters!
We had the privilege of being a part of something very similar in March of 2014, that you can read about by clicking here.  The trip will help the missionaries and their church on the island reach out to their community.  “We are the bait that the fisherman use,” as one of the doctors likes to put it. It will be exciting for the church members here having the opportunity to be a part missions, we are praying they catch a vision and passion for missions and reaching the state of Oaxaca.  There is much planning, coordinating, and prayer that needs to go into this trip.  We invite you to begin praying with us on this.  

How about you, what mission trips or Global Adventures ,as my BIL likes to call them, are you planning on going on this year?