Saturday, October 26, 2013

Some Urgent Prayer Requests - Part 3

And finally, the last urgent prayer request...

Urgent Prayer Request # 3 - Troy's dad

Some of you may already know this, but about a month ago Troy's dad (John) was diagnosed with state 4 prostrate cancer that has already spread. He was hospitalized recently for 12 days of chemotherapy and hormone treatments with the goal of killing off the cancer cells. The doctors have warned that there is no cure at this point for the cancer, but they are hoping that with the chemo and hormone treatments every 3 months, they can keep the cancer cells from growing and spreading further. They are, at this point, unsure about longevity.

John has been in some pretty intense pain as a result of the cancer having spread to the bones, and he is incredibly weak from his treatments. His doctor is confident, however, that he'll be able to recuperate enough to be able to do some work, provided he is very careful.

Please pray that God eases the pain for him and that he is able to regain enough strength to do some work. Please pray for Troy's mother, Paula, as she helps him through this time. Please also pray for Troy and his brother, John. I know from experience that it is very difficult to watch a parent suffer through cancer. It's very scary for all involved. The greatest blessing in all of this is that, from the first day of his diagnosis, John has felt a very real peace from God that everything would be all right. Sure, there are times of uncertainty and fear. But this peace--the peace that passes all understanding--is stronger still. Praise God for that!

There is another urgent prayer request that goes with this one, but it's not for us. Troy's parents do not have health insurance, and so the medical bills have really created a huge burden on them, especially with John unable to work. Please pray with us that God will provide all of their needs financially, and will provide above and beyond so that they are able to cover these medical bills.

These three requests lay heavy on our hearts. Please join with us in lifting them before the Lord. We greatly appreciate your willingness to carry these burdens with us. Thank you!

Some Urgent Prayer Requests - Part 2

Continuing the list of urgent prayer requests...

Urgent Request # 2 - The kids' Spanish

When we went to Costa Rica to learn Spanish, it was with the belief that we would all learn Spanish together. That was not quite the case. While we appreciated the kids' school in helping them make the transition from home-schooling to classroom learning, we were disappointed that they did not learn very much Spanish. We had also expected that they would possibly pick up some of the language by making Costa Rican friends. This also was not the case. The neighborhood we lived in was mainly American missionary families. On our street, there were no other kids our kids' ages besides Americans. And the Costa Rican kids in school all spoke to our kids in English. They did hear some Spanish each week in church, but clearly you don't learn a language only hearing/speaking it two hours a day once a week.

When we came here, we knew that their school would be in English. But we also prayed to live on a street with lots of Mexican kids our kids' ages. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We've heard that one of our neighbors have two girls our oldest kids' ages, but we've never seen them, as they are rarely home. They would be getting Spanish at church, but right now we are visiting a different church each Sunday with the goal of visiting all of the denominational churches before we are assigned one to work with. This will happen after the first of the year. The only other option we have is to seek out after-school activities for them to participate in. We're very happy to do that. The only problem is that every night, the two oldest kids come home with hours and hours of homework. There is no time to participate in after school activities and get their homework done. Which leaves us with weekend activities.

Please pray with us that God will help us figure out a way for our kids to learn Spanish and have an opportunity to practice what they've learned. Pray with us that God will show us just what to do and where to go to best help them. We want our kids to be able to speak and understand Spanish so that they can make friends and feel like they have a ministry of their own here in Mexico as well.

Thank you!

Some Urgent Prayer Requests - Part 1

There are three main areas where we need some urgent, concentrated prayer.

Number One - Our Missionary Account

As many of you know, we were in the funding process for a long time before receiving the green light to go. The green light came because our four-year term was reduced in length to two. Even then, we were warned that things would be very close. There was supposed to be just enough money in our account to get through the two years. However, language school was quite a bit more expensive than we anticipated, and so our account is running low faster than expected. We had originally wanted to stay through July, 2014. At this point, though, we're praying for enough to stay through the end of the kids' school year in May, but it doesn't appear that we'll make it.

Please pray with us that God will raise up supporters for us so that we can remain in Mexico through May. We have tried to be good stewards with what He has provided through our supporters, doing all we can to keep money in the account. Now, we need Him to provide the needed funds quickly.

Thank you for praying for this need with us. And if the Lord lays it on your heart to help with this need financially, we greatly appreciate your support.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My New Best Friend

This past Thursday a few of us missionaries and some national leaders had the chance take food, clothes, and basic supplies to the two churches OMS has in Acapulco. Due to the hurricane that passed through there a couple of weeks ago, they were in great need of some relief. I will share a bit more of that trip later. However, I first want to tell you about a little boy I met named Marvin. Marin was there with his two year old sister, his mom, his aunt & uncle, and his cousin. I know this because he was a very out going little boy and told me all of this without my asking. One thing I did ask however, was how old he was. He replied that he was nine and then proceeded to ask me how old I was. When I told him I was thirty-six his eyes got really big and he recoiled backward in shock. I chuckled and said, "I know, I'm old". Yet, without missing a beat, he got a very serious look on his face, leaned back forward and said, "But you have a young looking face". Well, played Marvin. Well, played. You are my new best friend.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Sunday marked the one month point of our arrival in Mexico. And what was my first thought? “One month later, and we still don’t have a house.” Frankly, I didn’t at the time see anything wrong with that thought or priority.

Until today.

This morning, we gathered together as a team for worship, a devotional, and prayer. And still, when our field director (Steve) mentioned that we’d spend a bit of time in prayer about our house situation, my first thought was, “Yeah! We definitely need God to get to work on this! I mean, c’mon already.”

During our devotional time God gave me a little spiritual chastisement. “Enough already, my daughter! Would you get a grip already? Enough with the pity parties!” (Yes, I believe God would talk to me in such a manner.)

I will admit that I’ve become rather obsessed with the whole house thing. These weeks have made it crystal clear just how important making a nest for my little chicks really is for me. Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a home for your family, or in wanting a home for your family. Those are good desires that God gives us, especially us Mamas.

But when we take it to the extreme I did, focusing solely on that and forgetting everything else, those good desires become idols.

How long did we wait and pray to be back here in Mexico City, working alongside our teammates and national brothers and sisters in Christ? Five long years. Yet instead of joyously celebrating our return, I was growing more and more frantic and centered on finding a house.

I took my eyes off why God brought us here--the spiritual need of the people--and focused instead on my own earthly needs.

It was painful to realize.

Who knows why it’s taken so long for us to find a house? (I promise it’s not because we’re being picky. In order to make our money stretch as far as it possibly can, we’ve restricted our housing budget--something, by the way, we felt led by God to do. Unfortunately, the houses within our budget are generally too small for our family of six. One was a good size and price, but was filled with mold, a major concern for us with my asthma and the boys’ allergies. Therefore, we’ve been waiting and searching for a house that fits all of our needs.) Maybe God has been using this time to show me just where my focus has been and where it needs to be. Maybe once we get to the point where we can just be content where we are--yes, even crammed together in one of the guest apartment bedrooms--things will begin to fall into place for us.

Stressing, fretting, and generally doing things my own way hasn’t worked. I think it’s time I just let go of it all and trust that God will throw wide open the doors to just the right house (and neighborhood) for us in His timing. He alone can see the future. He alone knows what is coming and what we need.

And in Him will I trust.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the blessing of being on the third floor and having the incredible views of the city to remind myself of why we’re really here.

For the people we see driving or walking by. For the families represented by the rows and rows of houses seen (sometimes) as far as the eye can see.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Getting to know our national colleagues

Today Jonny Forsythe, a fellow missionary, and I had the priviledge of helping a local church move some sound equipment to a different location where they were having a special event. We have been meeting various national colleagues throughout our two weeks here, and today we got the chance to meet a young man named Roberto. It was amazing to hear his testimony of how God had transformed the life of his father and then later his own life. His father had been an achoholic and a drug dealer before God completely changed his life. However, as a result of who his father was, at a young age Roberto found himself addicted to the same things his father had been addicted to. Yet, as a teenager Roberto's life was radically changed as he cried out to God asking Him to set him free from his addictions. And God did! As a result, he has grown strong in his faith and walk with The Lord. He works full time for UNIFAM planting churches. It was an honor to get to know him this morning and we look forward to meeting many more colleagues like Roberto.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sharing the Burden

August 15, 2013 will always be a special day for me. It is the day that my family of six arrived in Mexico City to begin our ministry among our brothers-and-sisters in Christ to the lost of the city. Troy and I first received our calling to serve in Mexico in 1999. Later, God changed the organization--and location--where we would serve to One Mission Society in Mexico City. We were accepted to OMS and appointed to MC in December, 2007, and began fundraising the following May. Therefore, this special day had been long awaited (14 years from the time we initially received our Mexican calling; 5 years after we began fundraising). Long anticipated and longed for. There are no words to adequately describe my emotions that day. In a previous post of our ministry blog, I tried to describe some of them. Suffice it to say I was a weepy mess all day. From the time we checked our bags in (although those were more tears of relief that it was done), to handing our tickets and passport to the agent at the gate, to the initial take off and landing, to walking outside after easing through customs and immigration and finding Steve, our field director, waiting for us, to the drive back to the seminary in the NW part of the city, to our first Sunday worshiping with our Mexican brothers-and-sisters in Christ at the Campanario church (interestingly enough, the very same church we attended 5 years ago when we visited MC with the kids), to the kids’ first day of school at Mexico City Christian Academy yesterday... Many, many moments where tears of gratitude, of extreme happiness would overcome me and rain down my face.

Of course there have been (and will continue to be, I’m sure) moments where I feel completely over my head. I’d never seen the city from the sky before. Let me tell you, it is quite overwhelming. Everywhere your eye falls, there are streets. Buildings. Houses. People. People who don’t know that Jesus came to set them free from a life of sin. People who don’t know that the saints they turn to for comfort can no more fill that hole inside them than I can.

There is a voice in my head that says, “You are just one person. What can you do for so many?” Of course, it’s not anything I do that matters. Jesus can reach out to these people Himself--He doesn’t need me. I’m blessed to be the vessel chosen to minister to His lost children. A few people came up to me this weekend, wanting to express how thankful they are that I left everything behind to come here and minister to their people. To reach the lost. Even as I type that, it gives me chills. There were many people along our fundraising journey who questioned us. Why, after struggling for so long in our funding, were we still determined to go to Mexico? Why not just stay and reach the Mexicans at home? The mission field has come to us, they said. And for some, this is true. But we knew with every fiber of our beings that God was calling us to go. The look on these faces, the tears of humble gratitude in their eyes as they thanked me confirms that we were right not to waver. I don’t know that we can reach the lost in Mexico any better than her own sons and daughters can. But we have something very special in common: we both feel a deep burden for these men, women, and children who live in spiritual bondage.

And so the ministry begins. Together.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mexico City - Coming Home

August 15, 2013 - This is a significant day that Troy and I are never going to forget. After five years of waiting, we will go to bed tonight on Mexican soil.

Our flight out of Costa Rica was at 7 AM. Due to the fact that many families were also leaving today, we ended up sharing two big van taxis with another family. As their flight was earlier than ours, we left our house at 4 AM. Between squeezing last minute items into the carry-on luggage and sheer excitement, I’m not sure that either of us got more than 2-3 hours of sleep last night. We were up at 2:45 in order to make sure we were ready for the 4 AM pickup. I’m so glad we arrived sooner than we’d originally planned. By the time we stood in line to pay the exit fees for all six of us, then got all of our 15 pieces of checked baggage tagged, checked (plus our six backpacks and 6 carry-on suitcases tagged), and paid for, we ate up a significant amount of time. (The sight of 6 gringos behind two enormous piles of luggage on baggage carts, carrying backpacks and pulling carry-on suitcases created quite a spectacle I can tell you.) Then, it took an additional 30 minutes or so to get through immigration and security before we could head to our gate. Just like in the Jackson airport when we came to Costa Rica a year ago, we had only just gone to the bathroom and sat down when they began boarding! Although this time, our seats were not all together. Tori and I had seats in row 9 on one side of the aisle and Tayler had the end seat across from me on the other side of the aisle. I offered to let her sit with Tori and I would sit next to the strangers, but she didn’t mind. She ended up spending the bulk of the flight entertaining the 4-year-old boy traveling with his 2 sisters, mom, and grandma who was sitting in the row right behind me. Indeed, he became so enamored of her that when we all saw each other again in the baggage area, he followed her around like a puppy. We had our mountain of luggage assembled before theirs (how, I’m not sure), so I had to watch to make sure he actually got back to where his mother was standing. The boys, however, were not so fortunate. I’m not sure how this happened, but they were each placed in different rows---in the back of the plane! Before takeoff, Troy told me that he’d managed to convince someone to trade places with him so that he could at least sit by Cody. But people weren’t cooperating to allow Clayton to join their row, to Troy’s great frustration. Thankfully, when he came up to get our customs paperwork during the breakfast service about 30 minutes into the flight, that problem had been resolved and the three of them were together in one row.

Our landing in Mexico City was a bit rough. Troy and I were talking about it this morning and it seems our landing experiences varied greatly just from being in opposite ends of the plane. In the front, we could feel the plane ascend and descend as there must have been significant wind the pilot had to contend with. Touchdown was fairly normal, but he had to really brake hard to get the plane to slow. Everyone in the front portion was jolted forward in their seats quite a bit--you could see people place restraining hands upon the seat backs in front of them. In the rear of the plane, however, they didn’t experience that part. The worst part was the actual touchdown. Troy said the pilot hovered quite a bit and then seemed to drop down, bounce back up again, before dropping back down again. Very rough. Amazing how different flights can seem from one end of the plan to another.

As the guys were in the very back of the plane, the girls and I let our seat mates out and then just waited for them to make their way to the front. This allowed most of the passengers to disembark and make their way through immigration before we got there. Unlike in Costa Rica, where we had to wait in line for about 45 minutes just to reach the counter, we walked right up to the counter. And unlike in Costa Rica, where we spent 20 minutes with the immigration agent before she allowed us to enter the country, we maybe spent a total of 5 minutes talking to the Mexican official before being waved on through. Yay for those preliminary Mexican visas! Next, we headed to baggage claim to gather our checked bags. As we watched for the little hot pink pieces of duct-tape wrapped around each handle (so that we could easier spot each piece), two men came over to help us with our luggage. I am so proud to say that I was able to communicate with them in Spanish--not always very well, but we at least understood each other. That is vastly different than one year ago! I’m also so thankful that all of our luggage arrived with us! God is good. With our baggage literally piled high on two small carts, we next proceeded to customs. Whether or not your luggage is searched is completely random--you push a button. If it’s green, you continue on to the security scanner and they push it through extremely quickly on the conveyer belt (some have told us that if you have less luggage and receive a green light, you can sometimes just skip that last part and leave the building). If it’s red, they search your bags--one piece, two, or even all. We prayed--and asked many of you to pray as well--for green lights. Troy pressed the button and God answered that prayer--green light! Another five minutes saw us out in the waiting area where Steve, our field director, was the first face we saw.

I’m so thankful for how God blessed our day and was with us through each step. It was during this process that we realized once again how truly miraculous our initial move to Costa Rica was. The afternoon before our flight then, we had nothing packed in our suitcases. Nothing. Yet, Troy managed to get everything to fit in a matter of six hours’ of straight packing. This time, however, we spent many more hours over several days packing and repacking, trying to get everything to fit. That God gave Troy supernatural abilities last time, I do not doubt. We had one extra bag this time than we did last time, yet we had to pay a significant overage fee for the 3 bags. Last time, we paid nothing for those two extra bags. Regardless, as we stepped outside the airport and eyed the Mexican landscape, we were overcome with emotions. I’ve been in tears often during the past (almost) 24 hours, but they are definitely tears of happiness. One of the sweet ladies in our church back in Mississippi made the comment that she was thankful we made it “safely home”. Home. Yes, indeed. Upon our arrival to Mexico City, we finally made it home.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family during these last weeks in particular. Please keep praying as we work this next week to get the kids in school (Monday) and begin the house and car shopping process. And stay tuned for future posts about our ministry experiences here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some Posts From Our Facebook Group

I've been reminded that some of you are not on Facebook and so do not see the posts made to our Facebook group, "Gentrys' Mission to Mexico".

So here are some of the recent posts made...


I know it's been a post-a-day kind of week, but many of y'all asked us to be specific in our requests, so I'm just trying to comply with those wishes. LOL!

Our new interim field director emailed last night asking what we are looking for in housing. While the kids would love a pool, that's not high on the list of necessities. ;-D Here are the things we have been praying for, and the things that we are looking for in a house. Again, we believe God ALREADY has the perfect house chosen for us, we just have to follow His leading.

3 bedrooms and 2 baths - a 4th bedroom would be a nice luxury we could turn into an office/guest room

A bit of a grassy yard for Troy & the kids, and for the dog we'll be getting

Rent under 10,000 pesos/month (preferably under 8,000). And preferably a home that includes the major appliances.

Within walking distance of the kids' school, as our car will be out of circulation one day per week (cars over a certain year model have to be parked one day a week because of the smog and traffic levels. We won't have the money for a brand new car).

Security without being totally isolated from our neighbors.

Lots of other Mexican kids in the neighborhood for our kids to play with. We believe their Spanish acquisition has been hindered this year because the only kids they see every day, both at school and at home, are English speakers. They've not been forced to use the Spanish they've learned.

These are the things we've all been praying for for a couple months now. We'd love to have you join us in praying for these as well. We appreciate how much you've covered us in prayer during this time!

August 8

Troy just checked the school's website that the kids will attend. As some of you may remember, we arrive in one week and they begin school the following Monday. We had conveniently forgotten that we would need to buy school supplies---just after arriving in country, without a car of our own, or the knowledge of where to find supplies so quickly. BUT! God provided before we even knew we had a need....for an extra fee (that is less than we paid for school supplies here, I will say) for each child, the school will *provide* the needed materials! So next weekend, the only thing we have to do is settle in, attend the kids' school orientation Saturday, and enjoy our first weekend, and Sunday, in Mexico City!

Thank You, Lord!

Gotta brag on my husband a little bit, so bear with me.

He received the results back from his ECCO and 3-hour grammar test and scored as a solid advanced high! In fact, he was one of 2 students (maybe 3, we're not positive on the 3rd person) who received this high a score!

I am so proud of how hard he has worked to increase his level of fluency this year. All glory to God for blessing Troy in this manner!

August 7 - a post by Troy

As we are packing up to head to Mexico, we are so thankful for our time here in Costa Rica. One of things I have enjoyed over the year has been watching Jenny grow in her spanish. Today I enjoyed not only seeing Jenny converse in Spanish all through lunch with a Costa Rican friend, but to also hear her auto-correct herself. She has come a long way and the fact that she is not only recognizing her mistakes, but correcting them herself shows just how far she has indeed come. I'm so proud of her.

T-Minus 3 Days

Look out Mexico City, the Gentrys are headed your way in less than 3 days!


We received a phone call early Friday afternoon from the consulate asking us to come in. They didn't say why, so immediately, I jumped to worst case scenario. Again, I should have learned this trust thing a long time ago. After waiting awhile, we were each interviewed by one of the workers and then sent home. If not for slow systems, we would've had our passports in hand WITH the visas stamped in them on Friday. However, we returned this morning and received them. We have until February to finish the process of applying for residency in Mexico. God is so good to us!

Saturday, I said "see ya later" to a couple ladies who have greatly helped me with my Spanish through weekly visits. Yesterday was our last day at the church we've attended since we arrived last August. That was bittersweet. We're excited to be moving on to the next phase of this journey, but it's hard to leave behind people we've grown close to this past year. As I alluded to earlier, we're not saying "adios" (goodbye). Rather, we've chosen to say "hasta luego" (until later). Goodbye seems so permanent. See ya later has the hope that we'll see each other again soon.

This morning, we had graduation practice and it was a morning of incredible fun and laughter. I'm sure our poor academic dean was frustrated with us for not taking things more seriously. We're all just so giddy and slap-happy about finishing formal language study and moving into our ministries. Tomorrow will be the last day of classes -- party day. In between, we're working like crazy to get things packed up. Although we said we'd work hard not to accumulate more stuff, somehow we managed to do it anyway. And so, Troy's work is cut out for him, figuring out a way to get everything packed while saying within weight allotments for each piece of luggage.

Wednesday morning is graduation. It will definitely be another bittersweet time for us as we celebrate our accomplishments yet say goodbye to the teachers, administrators, and staff who have ministered to us throughout the year. And I don't even want to THINK about the goodbyes to come among our fellow missionary friends. There is a large group of us (a little under 40 people) going to a local Chili's to enjoy one last meal of celebration together before we each move on to other ministries. We haven't eaten at a Chili's for over a year, so we're looking forward to "food from home" as well as the fellowship we'll share with good friends.

The next 3 days will fly by very quickly, so please keep us in your prayers as we finish our time here and prepare for our move to Mexico. Our flight is THURSDAY at 7 AM.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Residency Visas in Process

It's only Tuesday, yet it's already been a roller-coaster week emotionally.

Yesterday, we went to the Mexican consulate in San Jose to try and apply for our residency visas (note: these are not the actual visas, but the stamps that show we are in process. In order to continue the application process in Mexico, we must have these stamps in our passports. If you enter the country as tourists, you cannot apply for residency. It must be done from outside of the country).

It was a bust.

We needed copies of bank statements to show proof of income. But the biggest obstacle was that we still, at this time, have not received our Costa Rican student visas. We had documentation stating that they are being processed by the government, but it was dated in November and was deemed too old to use.

When we left the consulate yesterday, I was very frustrated and very discouraged. Poor Troy had to pull his mind away and concentrate on a three-hour Spanish grammar test in the afternoon! Honestly, although I knew I should show more faith, all I wanted to do yesterday was host my own pity party. And I did, for several hours.

Then, I realized that nothing had really changed. Sure, there was the chance we might need to leave the country for a short period 6 months in (to renew our tourist visas). But the point was that we were still going. That was the part I forgot. That after waiting since 1999, when God very first called Troy and me to Mexico, we are finally going to step foot on Mexican soil--for more than a week's visit--in just over 1 week's time. By indulging in my pity party, I was letting the disappointment over something we had absolutely no control of steal the joy of this next step.

Shame on me! Shame on me.

Today, Troy went to the consulate with our teammates to begin their process. Along with them went Miguel, one of the men who is directly involved in the student visa process at the language school. What a difference! He had copies of all the documents he has submitted on our behalf to the government. These, along with his confirmation that we have done everything the Costa Rican government has asked of us and are only waiting for its' response, helped us immensely. I thank God for Miguel and his help.

That doesn't mean it went completely smoothly, however. We still needed copies of our bank statements for the last 6 months---per child---something we hadn't been informed of yesterday. We also needed copies of Miguel's documentation for each person. So, they all raced back to campus and, at 11:25, Troy told me we had an hour to make the required copies, get the kids, and get back to the consulate before they closed for the day. The biggest problem was that the two older kids had gone to a nearby swimming pool as part of their summer program (the two younger kids' swimming session was earlier in the morning, so they were back at school). So, paperwork copied, Troy and the two youngest kids grabbed a taxi and hustled back over to the consulate so that they could get a "foot in the door", so to speak, and let the ladies there know we were coming. Once the kids returned at 12:20, our teammate, Jonny, called a taxi friend of his who picked the four of us up and sped over to the consulate. We arrived at 12:35. We said goodbye to Jonny, and worked to get all the documentation signed for the ladies.

As each person's mound of paperwork was assembled and signed, the ladies looked them over and STAMPED THEM. This was new! This hadn't happened yesterday! Finally, all the paperwork signed and stamped, they took them to the back room and both disappeared. About 10 minutes later, one of the ladies emerged with a big receipt book and called Troy over. Payment was exchanged. Again, this hadn't happened yesterday! Then, they asked for the kids' birth certificates. Thanks be to God, we'd had the foresight to have new ones, freshly issued and apostilled, delivered to Costa Rica (the Costa Rican government has our originals from last year)! One of the ladies made copies of them and added them to the pile. Finally, we were each called back to have our pictures taken and digital fingerprints made.

One of the ladies, upon hearing that we fly out very early next Thursday, was a bit concerned. But the other one was not, and since neither told us there was no way we could get the visas after all, we're hopeful. Indeed, I don't believe God would have brought us this far only for them to say, "Nope, can't do it. Sorry." Still, we'd love for you to join us in prayer as we pray these--and the visas for Jonny & Gemma and their family--are issued speedily.

On the way home, Troy and I were saying to each other, "What a difference 24 hours makes." You'd think I would've learned this lesson by now. That there is NOTHING impossible for God!

I can't even tell you how many people were praying for this process the last two days. If you were one of them, we thank you. We thank you for your continued prayers in this matter and as we settle into new ministries in Mexico.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Two Big Answers to Prayer and a HUGE Prayer Request

We have a couple big praises AND a BIG prayer request all relating to documentation needed for our Mexico visa paperwork.

Praise # 1 - We needed to have new apostilled copies of all of our birth certificates plus our marriage license mailed to us. All of the documents except Troy's birth certificate had long arrived at HQ and had spent this last month (almost) waiting for Troy's to arrive so it could be mailed together. TODAY, Troy's documents arrived, and the wonderful lady at HQ who helps us with mail is sending them to us air-delivery!

Praise # 2 - The paperwork from the denomination inviting us to come and the other documents from the Mexican government are on their way to us and should be here THIS WEEK! This has been about a month in process as well, and we were frankly getting rather concerned about them. We cannot go to the Mexican embassy here in Costa Rica without these documents, and we cannot apply for residence visas from within the country itself.

This leads me to the BIG prayer request. As I just mentioned, we can only apply for our residence visas outside of the country. If we enter Mexico under tourist visas, we can only stay for 6 months before we need to temporarily leave and then re-enter for another 6 months. We leave for Mexico 3 weeks from THURSDAY. There is, technically, still time to get appointments at the Mexican embassy here to receive our provisional visas for Mexico (it basically works out to a special stamp on our passports letting Immigration in Mexico know that we've begun the application process for residence visas and are not tourists). Some friends of ours received theirs in 3 weeks, but there were only two of them. There are six of us.

Now! You might remember that we received our passports in a record 8 days (give or take). So GOD CAN do this! He can make this miracle happen for our family. If not, we trust He has a different plan in mind instead.

Please join us in prayer that we will, God willing, receive these provisional visas in time for our August 15 flights.


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Beginning of the Goodbyes in Costa Rica

Please be praying for our kiddos, especially over the next few days. A family moved in next door in January with kids our kids' ages. And over the last four months, our kids have all grown really close. Well, tomorrow is their last full day in Costa Rica--they're moving back to the States. Goodbyes have never been easy for them, but especially so as they get older.

I'm thrilled that a new family with girls my girls' ages have just moved in two doors down, but the family doesn't have any boys. My boys are praying another family with boys moves in next door.

This is part and parcel to growing up as a missionary. You get to travel around and meet all kinds of new people. But on the flip side, you have to say a lot of goodbyes as well. It is a blessing *and* a sacrifice, and Troy and I don't take it lightly. We've said before that we are the ones with the definite calling of God to be missionaries. They may not have their own specific callings, but we have seen Him help them through the transitions, and through the waiting, with much grace. I believe He's going to help them over the next several months as the goodbyes keep coming.

But a large part His blessing comes because people like you prayed. And so we thank you in advance for your prayers on our children's behalf.

Friday, April 19, 2013

First Devotional in Spanish

(The following is the devotional I wrote for my lenguaje final. It is in English and Spanish. It is the first time I really made the effort to write something and translate it into Spanish all on my own, without just plugging it into an online translator. I only used the translator once for one sentence, as it was abstract, and restricted myself to using only my Spanish dictionary for the rest. This is a testimony to how far God has brought me in the last eight months--in the last month, really.)

Exodus 17:8-16

After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because they did not obey God. During this time, groups of people in the land attacked them. One of these were the Amalekites.

Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."

So, Joshua lead the Israelites against the Amalekites. Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed the hill and stayed. While Moses raised his hands, the Israelites were winning. But, Moses' hands grew tired and he lowered them. When this happened, the Amalekites were winning. As long as Moses' hands were raised, they were winning. Aaron and Hur got a rock for him to sit on. Then, when his arms grew tired, they held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other. In this way, they remained steady until sunset. God gave the Israelites the victory over the Amalekites.

Moses' arms were raised for hours and hours. Try raising your arms in the air for five minutes and see how difficult, how painful it is. I imagine they were sore and shaky. I imagine he wanted so badly to rest his arms. But God had told him to keep them raised for a purpose.

God may ask us to do things that are hard or painful for us to do. Things we, like Moses, can't do on our own. He prompted Aaron and Hur to support Moses by holding up his arms. Just as Moses needed supporters, so do we. We need people to pray for us unceasingly. We need people to work alongside of us. We need people to encourage us.

But just as Moses' arms grew tired, I imagine the arms of Aaron and Hur grew tired as well. Yet there was no one there to hold their arms.

We are missionaries and ministers of the gospel need people to come alongside of us and hold our arms as we minister, yes. But we also need to pray for and encourage those who support us in this way. Aaron and Hur could literally see the results of their efforts -- the Israelites were victorious! But our supporters, often times, do not have the luxury of being on the battlefield with us. It should be our joy to share with them the rewards of our labors -- stories of lives changed, prayers answered, and miracles given.

Éxodo 17:8-16

Después de que los israelitas salieron de egypto, ellos anduvieron por el desierto por 40 años porque ellos no le obedecían a Dios. Durante ese tiempo, grupos de gentes en la tierra atacaban a los israelitas. Unos eran los amalecitas.

Moisés le dijo a Josué, "Escoge algunos de nuestros hombres y sal a combatir a los amalecitas. Mañana yo estaré en la cima de la colina con la vara de Dios en la mano."

Entonces, Josué se dirigió a los israelitas contra los amalecitas. Moisés, Aarón y Jur escalaron la cima y se quedaran. Mientras Moisés levantó las manos, los israelitas ganaron. Pero, las manos de él se cansaron y las bajó. Cuando eso aconteció, los amalecitas ganaron. Aarón y Jur fundaron una piedra para que Moisés se sentora. Entonces, ellos le agarraron los brazos a Moisés y se los levantaron -- uno a cada lado. De ese modo, ellos se quedaron constantes hasta la puesta del sol. Dios les dio a los israelitas la victoria sobre los amalecitas.

Los brazos de Moisés se levantaron por horas y horas. Usted trata de levantar sus brazos por cinco minutos y ve que dificil y que doloroso es esto. Yo pensé que los brazos de Moisés sería doloridos. Yo pensé que los querría descansar. Pero, Dios le dijó que los levantara por un propósito.

Dios podrá pedirnos hacer algunas cosas dificiles o dolorosas para nosotros. Cosas, como Moisés, nosotros no podriámos hacer solos.

Dios se dirigió a Aarón y Jur y les pidio que apoyabaron a Moisés para que levantaron sus brazos. Como Moisés necesitó apoyo, así nosotros. Necesitamos a las personas que oraren constantemente. Necesitamos a las personas que trabajen con nosotros. Necesitamos a las personas que nos den ánimo.

Pero, como los brazos de Moisés se cansaron, yo pensé lo mismo para Aarón y Jur. Aún, no hay personas que levanten sus brazos.

Nosotros, como misioneros y ministerios del evangelio necesitamos a la gente que venga y levanta nuestros brazos mientras nosotros ministramos, sí. Pero, nosotros tenemos que orar por aquellas personas que nos apoyan. Aarón y Jur pudieron ver el resultado de su esfuerza -- los israelitas tuvieron la victoria. Pero, muchas veces, nuestro apoyo no tiene el lujo de estar en el campo de batalla con nosotros y ser testigo de esas victorias. Nosotros debemos compartir con ellos las recompensas de nuestro trabajado -- historias de vida cambiadas, oraciones contestadas y milagros dados.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Day in "Paradise"

Yes, we live in paradise. The weather is mostly warm (it does get chilly from time to time, mostly at night or when it rains, but I'll refrain from trying to convince those of you who've spent an entire winter shoveling out of your driveways from yet another snowfall of this fact). We are surrounded by Palm trees. There are beaches on two sides of the country. And the mountains! Mountains are my personal idea of paradise. Especially ones that remind me of the Smoky Mountains, my favorite place on earth. Not to mention the many scrumptious fruits and vegetables found each week in the local feria (farmer's market), and for a song, too!

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Before you either (1) decide to pack up your stuff and move here, or (2) grumble at our luck, there are some aspects of life in paradise that you need to be aware of.

(1) We have no car. Therefore, we must walk absolutely everywhere we go. Now, I'm aware that there are many of you big city dwellers who might scoff at this as no big deal. So, okay. It's more of an inconvenience, really. Especially when we currently patronize three or four different grocery stores, a pharmacy, a bread store, PLUS the aforementioned feria just to get our monthly groceries. None of which are necessarily close by. We shop weekly for the staples like meat, canned goods, or milk at one of two grocery stores (both of which are about a ten minute walk from our house). For the other items on my monthly grocery list (yes, monthly) Troy and I take a bus or a taxi to the other two stores on the list (on separate days) while the kids are still in school for the day. Bus or taxi fare for two is a WHOLE lot cheaper than it is for six.

We also walk to and from church and school. As we live just up a steep hill from the school, this isn't a big deal. Until you sprain your ankle and have no other way to get to school, that is. And did I mention that the sidewalks aren't of the best construction?

Oh, and the bank! Troy has to walk to the bank each week as well. A simple thing like a trip to the bank can be somewhat dangerous, even in broad daylight, as friends of ours discovered last week when they were robbed at gunpoint. A risk we take.

When Troy must be out late at night (after 7 PM, yes, 7 PM!), he does have a bicycle he can ride.

The flip side is that all of this walking has helped me to lose a bunch of weight. Score!

(2) Due to older plumbing in the homes, at school, and in most places we go, we cannot flush the toilet paper. It must instead be placed in a trashcan kept near the toilet and emptied a couple times each week. Are you thoroughly grossed out yet?

(3) Aside from the fresh produce that is very inexpensive (and soooo good), many things we would consider staples are very expensive. Mainly because they have been imported. A typical Costa Rican diet consists of a lot of rice and beans. A. Lot. So things like peanut butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and American chocolate, as they are naturally not necessities, cost more. You have to ask yourself how badly you want that $10 bag of Reese's peanut butter cups or the $25 bag of pecans for a pie (not badly enough, as it turns out. So thankful for folks who send it to us from home!). We joke here that cheese is more valuable than gold.

In an attempt to keep costs down, we've switched to many Costa Rican brands or try to incorporate more vegetables into our diet to help fill us up. There are times, however, when you just want something familiar from home. I think everyone understands that. In reality, trips out to McDonald's are extremely rare. We've found Costa Rican sodas (small restaurants) that are far less expensive, and far better for us, than the American burger joints.

(4) Housework here takes a lot longer than it did at home. To save electricity, I try not to use our dryer as much as possible. We have four short clotheslines and a rack in our laundry area, so I do about a load or two every day and hang the clothes. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, all of the jeans are washed and hung over our second story balcony railing. We look a little redneck, but why not take advantage of the hot dry-season sun?? We have extremely porous tile floors upstairs and down that take a very long time to scrub and clean. Plus, with the huge gap between our front door and the floor, lots of dirt blows into the living room. It is not unheard of for us to sweep four or even five times a day.

Yes, we have an empleada (maid). She works for us on Wednesdays from 7:30 AM until 2:30 PM. In that amount of time, she tackles laundry, dusting, cleaning, and the floors. Can I just say that what we give her each week wouldn't even feed the six of us at Taco Bell in the States? Yet, our meager amount helps put food on the table for her son and for her. Helps pay her rent. Provide the things she needs. And her hard work enables me to concentrate on my studies while providing a weekly opportunity to practice my Spanish over a shared meal together.

(5) Learning a second language in your mid-late thirties is hard. Very hard. Add in helping your children who have never attended school outside of the home adjust to life in the classroom, life in a new country, and as they learn a new language as well. Imagine sitting in classes taught all in Spanish. Or church services where the sermon and worship service are not in English. Then imagine trying to conduct daily errands and business in a language you are still learning. Stressful, huh? Very! By the time the weekend rolls around, all I want to do is climb under the covers and never leave the house. It's that exhausting. There have been a few times we've been able to get away on day trips around the nearby countryside, even a couple trips to the beach. And they have been so refreshing. Getting out of the urban jungle, even for a day, is sheer bliss! And so necessary to our sanity. But these trips are far less frequent than you'd expect. Maybe once a month. Maybe. And without a car, there's no such thing as just "going for a relaxing drive" in the country.

I hope I haven't painted too bleak a picture of life here. It truly is beautiful, most of the time. As in everywhere you go, there are things that aren't as pleasant. But I'm truly grateful God has led us here to learn Spanish. The classroom setting and the friendships we've made have made even life without a car completely worthwhile.

Even if we do wish we could flush the toilet paper.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beautiful Word Pictures in Isaiah 61

The following is a post I wrote for my writing blog. I want to share it with you here as well.

For one of my classes, we have to choose a few verses each week to read. We read them in Spanish, give a brief explanation of what they mean, and then explain why they are important to us. This week, I decided to look at the first three verses of Isaiah 61, the chosen verses that represent Hope61.

I can't tell you how many times I've read over these verses with out really reading them. Until tonight. Picture after picture kept leaping off of the page and striking me in the heart. Beautiful word pictures that demonstrate what God can do for the broken. The unlovely. The unloved. I understand like never before why these verses are were chosen to represent what we do. I want to share these word pictures with you as well.

Isaiah 61:1-3

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."

God called me to serve Him as a missionary when I was 21 years old. Not many years later, He called me to go to Mexico and tell the people there about Him. Recently, I believe He's added yet another calling. I am to tell those who have been exploited or used by others about their value and worth in Him. About how they can have a new life in Christ.

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,"

This was the first of the word pictures to strike me, and it literally gave me chills. Imagine a beautiful vase. Now, imagine how that vase looks after it's been dropped. It's shattered. Pieces perhaps missing. No longer beautiful, right? With glue, it can sometimes be made new again. Not the same as it was before. But more beautiful. Especially when you put a light inside of it and see the light emanating from the cracks and chips of the vase. Beautiful. God's Word alone can heal a broken heart. With the good news of the Gospel message, we can "bind up the brokenhearted". Heal their wounds. Heal their very hearts.

"to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,"

Freedom to those enslaved. Praise Jesus! But the only way they are going to have release from the darkness of their internal prisons is to become renewed. To accept Jesus as Savior and allow Him to renew them from the inside out.

"to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,"

This is a reminder to me that God is in control. Terrible, evil things happen every second of the day. But He has not abandoned us. He is a just God who hates evil even more than I do. Who hates injustice even more than I do. As Gary Haugen stated in his book "The Good News About Injustice", justice is not just a "cause" with God. It is His very character. His very Being. He will see that those who perpetrate these evil deeds are brought to justice. They will have to stand before Him and confess their deeds just like the rest of us.

"to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--"

The only comfort for those who have been broken, used, abused, etc. is Jesus.

"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

This is a beautiful picture to me. Imagine someone in the ugliest rags. Filthy. Hair matted. Stinky. Now imagine they've been cleaned. Arrayed in fresh, lovely garments. Instead of matted, stinky, ashen hair, they wear a crown. The life of someone who has been exploited is not pretty. They've gone through terrible things we can never even imagine. They bear scars we will never see. But through the redeeming grace of God, these lives can be transformed. Turned into something beautiful!

"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."

This one is the most powerful picture to me of all. My husband tells me that of all the domestic woods (not counting the exotics), oak is one of the most prized among woodworkers for its sturdiness, value, and beauty. Oak trees withstand at times great tempests. As do the exploited. A soul reborn, renewed through Christ Jesus is as the sturdy oak. Unmovable. Possessing great beauty and value to its Carpenter. These transformed lives become a living testament to what the saving grace of Jesus can do in a person's life.

They are living, walking, breathing displays of His splendor.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Facebook and Field Directors

If you've been dismayed by the lack of blog posts recently, that's because most of our updates have ended up on our Facebook group page. I'll try to do better about posting the same material in both places for those without Facebook accounts. But if you have one and have not already joined our group, please check out Gentrys' Mission To Mexico.

The field director for Mexico, David Cosby, and his wife, Carol, will be arriving on Thursday night. They are flying in to meet with us as well as our fellow Mexico City field-mates, Jonny and Gemma. The four of us are very excited to have this time of fellowship with David and Carol, as well as the opportunity to do a little dreaming and planning with regard to our time on the field, beginning in a few short months.

Won't you please pray that our meetings are productive and that God gives us wisdom and clarity about what His will is for our future ministries? Thank you!

Time Keeps Tickin' Away

Yesterday marked five months in Costa Rica. Five months! Time is flying by so quickly! Our first trimester of Spanish is behind us, and we've already begun the second. In less than seven months, we'll be packing up our belongings and flying to Mexico City.

As excited as we are to be here, and as long as we waited for this, we can't help but looking ahead. If the first quarter of our term flew by this quickly, I can only imagine how speedily the next three-quarters will go. Lord, we want more time!

It's taken four months to adjust to life in Costa Rica. I can only guess it'll take awhile to get used to life in Mexico City, as well. And we only have one year scheduled there. Lord, we want more time!

Thankfully, and because of God's grace and the faithfulness of our supporters, our account has held strong. Praise God! If it holds strong for two years, why not more? Lord, we want more time!

We all know that we serve a big God. To that end, Troy and I are stepping out in faith and asking something big of our big God. We are praying that our two-year term is extended to a three-year term. Or....dare we even ask it?...a four-year term. I believe God can do it! He can work that miracle!

Why do we want more time? Here's a little word picture for you that best explains our feelings.

After five years of dreaming about the beach, visualizing what we'd do at the beach, and planning and waiting for our trip to the beach, we don't want to settle for a little stroll in the sand. We don't want to merely get our feet wet! We want to swim in the ocean!

We want time to grow lasting, meaningful relationships with the men and women we meet. The kinds of relationships that don't just happen overnight. Time to really settle in to life in the country of our hearts. Time for the kids to truly experience the life of a missionary. Time for all of us to really get a great grasp of Spanish. Time for Troy and I to discover what ministry roles God has in store for us.

Won't you please commit to praying about this with us? If it is His will for our family, nothing is impossible for our big God. Thank you so much!