Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Inside the buildings were various shrines and statues of saints and the Virgin. Many of these statues had been rubbed until they were shiny (the people will rub the statues for a blessing) and everywhere we looked we could see people praying. We saw a bit of the Mexican history in paintings--there's quite a lot of pagan beliefs and gods mixed into Latin Catholicism (Aztec in particular). The traditional Basilica is being renovated (the ground around it is sinking; if you stand with the building in profile, you will see that it is leaning forward) and so worshipers were directed to another building on the grounds.
At the back of the new Basilica was a long line of supplicants waiting their turn in the confessionals. We watched as one family literally crawled on hands and knees from the cobblestone courtyard into the building in penitence, awaiting their blessing. At the front and one side of the sanctuary was a large shroud with the image of the Lady of Guadeloupe on it. For a better view of it, we went down a corridor and, at the base of the shroud were moving sidewalks where you could stand and pray as you were slowly carried to the other side. The sight that moved me the most was a woman just to one side of the moving sidewalk, her head bowed in fervent prayer, her hands clasped in front of her. She was unnerved by the motion around her--every fiber of her being was focused on that shroud as she prayed to the image imprinted on it. As I continue to watch her, my heart broke and the tears fell.
The kids asked Margaret if perhaps Mary is sad when the people worship her instead of Jesus. We all knew deep in our hearts the answer to that question. It is why we have been called to minister in Mexico. Why we have a burden so profound that it literally brings us to tears. We have hope in Jesus and it is through His grace we are sustained and set free--not because Mary or Juan Diego or anyone else interceded on our behalf. That is what we have been called to tell the hopeless people of Mexico. That is why we are hungry to return.
Sunday we had the privilege of attending a worship service with some fellow missionaries (the Mackinnon crew, Margaret and Robin). Before the service we sat down on the church grounds for a Mexican breakfast (not steak and eggs by any means but YUMMY; I think it will take me a long time to get used to eating refried beans for breakfast) and our kids had an opportunity to meet and play with the older Mackinnon kids. They all played and talked like they'd known each other for years, something that this mother's heart was thankful for. Of course, since I don't speak a lick of Spanish, as has already been stated, I mostly listened to the sounds of praise being lifted up in Spanish. Even though I didn't understand what was being said or sung my heart was content and felt at home. Half-way through the sermon I discovered that tears were streaming down my face (again) and I honestly couldn't explain why other than to say that I feel so at home among the Mexican people in the City that my heart was just crying out to be able to stay.
Another privilege for us was watching a Mexican missionary to India give his missionary presentation during the service. As something that we are currently doing ourselves, it was really neat to witness a Mexican going through the same process. Just like we are working to get to Mexico with the gospel, this Mexican is working to get to India with the gospel! Just as we will have to learn Spanish to effectively minister in Mexico, this man will have to learn the various dialects he will need to effectively minister in India.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
We began the day (Saturday) at a Mexican kids' club with a fellow OMS couple. For the first time in their lives the kids were separated by their age and not allowed to just stay together. Tayler, who is naturally outgoing, handled this much better than Clayton who is more shy-natured. It took quite a bit of convicing for him to stay in his age group. Because the kids do not speak any Spanish and we weren't sure how many of the helpers spoke English, at least one Spanish-speaking adult stayed with each of the kids. Troy went with Clayton (who did loosen up once the kids started to play tag), Paula went with Tayler and Tori (whom we did allow to stay with her sister), John and Troy alternately took Cody, and I stayed with one of the missionaries who taught an English lesson at her station. After no time at all, the girls in Tayler's group were holding her hand, wanting to play with her and asking the missionary to give them phrases in English to say to Tayler. The other kids were fussed over as well and were a delightful change for the Mexican kids. I enjoyed helping Julie, our fellow missionary, with her English lesson and having some of the kids ask questions of me. They were trying to learn English--something I could definitely relate to as someone trying to learn their language as well.
What really touched this mother's heart was how welcoming the kids were of our children and how much they "took them into" their groups. For a long time Troy and I were not sure how well the kids would adjust to Mexico--if this weekend is any indication of things to come, we are no longer concerned about this. They have boldly eaten everything that has been served to them and have liked it (everything from tacitos to sweet coffee with milk and cinnamon) and they have liked all the places we have gone. This is a tremendous answer to prayer for Troy and I.
After church we visited the Mayan pyramids outside of the city. The 3 oldest kids, Troy, and the other missionary, Jonny, all climbed up to the top of the pyramid and took pictures. John & Paula stayed outside of the park with Diogy (their poodle), as dogs are not allowed in the park. Julie, Cody and I sat at the base of the pyramid and tried to fend off the many vendors selling trinkets and watching everyone else make the long, high climb. I, having an issue with heights, of course opted not to make the climb.
It was a great day of ministry, fun at the pyramids and fellowship as we traveled around to the various places and had an opportunity to visit with Jonny and Julie about life as missionaries on the Mexican field. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post and for pictures!
Last night, Friday, we had the opportunity to attend one of the house churches here in the City. Now, of course I (Jenny) don't speak a lick of Spanish, so I was unsure of what to expect. As I honestly wasn't expecting anyone to speak any English, I planned for either Troy or his parents to interpret for me. We began the service with praise choruses (praising the Lord is MUCH more animated here in Mexico than it is in the States!), followed by a Bible study, prayer and then "fellowship time". I enjoyed listening to the praise songs in Spanish. I enjoyed hearing the Scripture read in Spanish. I enjoyed hearing the earnest prayers of the Mexicans there. During the Bible study on communion, one of the women asked a question that went something like this: "In the Catholic religion, in order to take communion, you must first confess your sins to a priest. In order to take communion in a Christian church, is there a pastor whom you confess to?" This question just broke my heart and, as I am an emotional person, the tears just started flowing. This is the very reason we are coming to Mexico--to tell the people that they don't need an intercessor: they can take their burdens and confess their sins to the Creator God Himself! What freedom! What unspeakable joy to be able to commune one on one with the Lord Jesus Christ! This woman's simple question served as God's reminder to me as to why He has called us to Mexico and I was humbled that He would send us.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday morning we checked out of the hotel around 8:30 and drove into Mexico! Although it took about an hour, we didn't have any problems procuring our visas and paperwork for the van (thank you, Jesus!). Just before lunch, we drove into the mountains (something I'd been looking forward to) and all of us enjoyed a feast for the eyes. At lunchtime, we enjoyed a feast for our stomachs, Mexican style! Initially unsure as to how the kids' reaction would be to "different food", they really liked the beef, mashed potatoes and rice they ate, and I enjoyed drinking an ice cold Coke straight from a bottle (a bottle)! After multiple stops, another Mexican meal, and numerous "fights" between the kids (Cody got so frustrated with his big sister, Tori, pestering him that he piped up at the top of his lungs, "I said no!" We were all shocked to hear this from him who had previously only said a few words at a time--never a whole sentence! Two guesses where he's heard that before?) we rolled into the seminary at around 1 AM. Let's just say that after being driven around the City last night and then again today, I'm pretty sure that it will be a LONG time before I'm comfortable enough to do any driving!
This morning we met with our new field director, Christian Mackinnon and his wife, Robin. Then, Margaret Neff took us to the missionary school so that we could see where the kids would be going to school and to one of the churches in the city. We packed a lunch and ate it in a quiet little park area near her house (the houses there were very beautiful even if they were packed together like sardines) where the kids had a good chance to run and play. And since all of us are adjusting to the altitude and the results of 3 nights of only about 4-5 hours of sleep each, we came back to the seminary and took a nap. Tonight we are going to a house church so that we can meet some of the Mexicans and ECC church planting workers there.
We are thankful for the safe travel. We are thankful for the lack of problems crossing the border. We are thankful for the way the kids have favorably responded to the country. Finally, we are thankful for the love and generosity shown us by our fellow missionaries. Stay tuned for future entries and pictures on our Mexican experience.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This past weekend, May 16-19, we attended our very first missions conference as official missionaries! While we had the privileged of attending a conference in Reidsville, NC in November, we had not been officially accepted by OMS yet. We attended the conference held at an EMC church in Douglasville, GA (Reverend Jimmy Garrett, Jr., pastor) with Troy's parents, John & Paula Gentry, Sr., as the missionaries involved in the conference. Friday evening after a time of fellowship and food (those two always go together) we watched "End of the Spear" about the 5 missionaries martyred in the '50s in Ecuador and how the events following their deaths brought the gospel to the Indians of that region. Saturday, after an afternoon of fishing, we each had the opportunity to talk about our ministry opportunities. The conference marked the first occasion our display was used (masterfully made by Troy) as well as our photos/informative slide power point presentation put to "And Now My Lifesong Sings" by Casting Crowns. It was very moving (and I've seen it many, many times before)! Sunday, we all had the opportunity to attend Sunday School and then John preached the morning message. At the end of the conference, we were thrilled to discover that we had 7 people decide to take out monthly support in us! Praise the LORD!
Not only do we want to thank Rev. Jimmy and the rest of the church family for inviting us to the conference, but we want to especially thank Jimmy and Jackie Garrett, Sr. and Dan & Regina Henly for their gracious hospitality as they welcomed us into their homes. Troy and the boys stayed with Garretts and the girls and I stayed with the Henleys. We all enjoyed our charming hosts and felt like we'd been welcomed as family. Thank you for your loving care of our family.
After church on Sunday, we drove to Macon where Richard and Tara Jelley live with their daughters, Caroline, Susannah, and Katie. We'd gotten to know the Jelleys while Richard attended WBS with Troy and were sad to have such good friends move away after his graduation in 2004. We spent the latter portion of the afternoon catching up, attending church with them, and then enjoying some more fellowship over dinner and again in their home. Richard invited Troy to a men's breakfast at 7 am Monday morning, so after the men returned home from that, we headed home. The wonderful thing about the Jelleys is the hospitality they showed to us was even as Richard finalized his preparations to leave for Zambia, Africa on a missions trip today. With all that they had going on that close to his departure for 2 weeks, they welcomed our family of 6 into their home. It would have been so easy for them not to make the offer - and anyone would have understood if they hadn't. So we are thankful for such great friends - brothers and sisters, really.
P.S. Thank you Richard and Tara for this picture.
The next morning, Troy's parents, John & Paula, arrived at our home about thirty minutes before we needed to be at the hospital for a family prayer session. John gently applied some anointing oil on Tayler's forehead and prayed for her, speaking for the family while the rest of us laid hands on her and prayed silently in agreement. We are firm believers in the use of anointing oil in occasions like this. We used it as we prayed over Tayler as a 12-day-old infant the morning of her open-heart surgery to correct the heard defect she'd been born with. We used it again as we prayed over her as a 6-month-old baby the night before her first angioplasty procedure, needed to open up her vessels narrowed by scar tissue from her surgery. The oil itself doesn't have healing powers, but there is something to be said for the calming, soothing scent of the oil breathed in as you gather around the one being prayed for.
When we had finished praying for her, we drove her to the hospital for the procedure. John, Paula and the kids waited in the waiting room while Troy and I sat with her in the procedure room while they prepped her for the angioplasty. The hardest thing for me as a mother is sitting helplessly by while my children suffer, knowing I can't take their place. I, who have bad veins, know the pain of having multiple needle sticks while the nurses try to start an IV in veins that don't want to cooperate. I, who have had four c-sections, know the fear of the unknown as you are lying on a narrow table, shivering to your very core because the room is so cold. And our daugther was scared, so very scared. Her pittifully uttered, "Mommy, I'm scared" tore right through me and made me long to grab her off of that table and bolt from the room. As she gradually fell asleep, I reminded her of the one thing that could bring comfort to her--indeed, the only comfort I was clinging to. As she went through that procedure, even though she'd be asleep for its entirety, she would not be alone. Yes, the doctors, nurses and technicians would be with her. More importantly, however, the One who made her, sustains her and saved her would be sitting right there with her in the room. "Even when Daddy and Mommy can't be with you, Tayler," I told her, "you won't be alone--Jesus will be with you." A beauteous smile slowly spread across her face and she nodded.
When everything was said and done, we know that the Lord was with her throughout the procedure. She came through it with flying colors, and, miraculously, did not need the stents at all! We are thankful for the way the Lord has touched Tayler and how He worked out all of the timing of this in the first place. A normal heart has about 35 percent pressure on it - before the procedure Tayler's was 85%. Obviously, this is something that desperately and immediately needed to be done! Amazingly, considering that her original check up was not scheduled until June 4, but because of our up-coming trip to Mexico City, had to re-scheduled, and the nurses "worked her in" for the May 12 appointment! I am thankful of this happening now while we still have such a good doctor and Children's hospital. I am thankful that it happened now while we had Troy's family living nearby to help take care of the kids. I am just thankful.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
After weeks of wiggling her front tooth and wondering when it was going to come out, Tayer finally lost her top tooth. She has a couple more that are loose and pretty soon she will be at that stage where she talks funny. When the other kids saw she was missing her tooth they all started checking theirs to see if they were loose (even Cody was checking his). Clayton was pretty upset with the fact that he has not lost any yet. He doesn't think it is fair for Tayler to "have all the fun". We will see if he thinks it is as fun when he actually looses his first. Of course for Jenny and I, this is just another reminder of how fast our kids are growing up.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It was also a great trip for us as well. We had a good time learning more about what it means to be a missionary with OMS International. We also received training on face-to-face fund-raising, which is something we can begin right away. Thus, we are currently making appointments with people who could partner with us in this ministry God has called us to. We would like to ask you to pray for us as we begin this new phase of our ministry. Funding face-to-face is not something that either of us are naturally comfortable with; we know we have quite a bit of stretching ahead. However, we view this whole process as an adventure--not a daunting chore to be completed. We are confident that the Lord will do great and mighty things on our behalf. In all honesty, we are humbled and privileged to be a part of what the Lord has planned for our ministry partners and for the Mexican field as well.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
For over a decade we have been praying about the chance to be missionaries. As of December 14, 2007, our prayers have finally been answered! We have formally been accepted with OMS, International with an assignment to the Mexican field--another direct answer to prayer!
We are committed to our church outside of Yazoo City until the end of February. Then, the weekend of March 7-8 we will be making a trip to OMS headquarters in Greenwood, Indiana (just south of Indianapolis) for some orientation meetings. We'll have our questions answered regarding fundraising (or as it's known among OMS staff, "friend-raising") and all the other things that will be necessary during the next phase of our missionary journey. We'll also be making our family prayer cards at that time as well and shortly after that we plan to begin traveling on weekends.
Please pray for us with that we are able to line up churches and that this stage of the process will proceed quickly! We are anxious to begin language studies on the field; our hope is that we'll be in Mexico by Christmas! While this doesn't seem very likely from a human perspective, with the Lord's help ALL THINGS are possible!
If you are interested in contributing to our account, please email us at one of the below email addresses and we will send you the information you need. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!
To contact Troy & Jenny and make a contribution to their account, or to arrange to have the Gentrys in your church, please email: