Monday, January 13, 2014

More Facebook Posts

Again, for those who don't follow our Facebook group, "Gentrys' Mission To Mexico":

A post from yesterday:

Today we had a good taste of what Sundays will be for us. The morning activities begin at 9 AM and end around 1 or 1:30. As Troy is a new pastor, there have been many afternoon meetings. Today's ended at 2:30. Then, we were invited to the home of one of the deacons, where we ate and visited with his family, leaving their house a little after 6. That's 9 hours of almost non-stop Spanish. Don't mistake me--it will be very good for us and will help us get to know the people. But I admit, I'm exhausted after that length of time in a language I'm not overly comfortable with. My brain feels really full right now. Please pray for us as we grow accustomed to our longer Sundays and for me as I work very hard to improve my Spanish.

Besides our full Sundays and my weekly lesson on Mondays, we are instigating Spanish only days in the house a couple days a week, I will be going with Helen to MEFI and working with street kids on Wednesdays, and on Fridays I'll be taking lessons on how to make Mexican dishes from one of the ladies in a nearby church. Every day except Saturdays, I will be speaking Spanish for at the least an hour or two a day. I look forward to seeing improvement by the time we return to the States the end of May/first of June.

From December 30:

Our family will have our first "house guest" in Mexico, but we've never met her before. A young woman from Tennessee is flying in on Friday for a short-term missions experience. She'll be staying in our spare room for the month. Inside of a small building located just a few steps from our back door, this room was originally intended to house live-in-maids. It has enough room for a bed, dresser, night stand, and desk/chair, plus it has its own bathroom--complete with the best water pressure of all the showers!

We look forward to meeting Rebecca and having her become part of the family, even if for a short while. Please pray we can be a blessing to her during her stay with us.

(Added note: After the first day with us, it feels like she's always been a part of our family. She has younger siblings near Tori's and Cody's ages, so she fits in with us incredibly well. Her presence here has been a huge blessing to us. It will seem very strange when she has to return to the States and we'll be back to a family of 6 again.)

From December 12:

Today is the day honoring Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe. All night long, we could hear the cannons firing on regular intervals, something we suspect will continue throughout the day. There were even fireworks.

All week pilgrims have been walking from across the surrounding area not unlike the pilgrims journeying to Mecca--except the Mexican Mecca is the basilica here in Mexico City that has been dedicated to her honor. Many will crawl on their knees the last several miles until their knees are literally bleeding. This demonstrates their utter devotion and piety. They also do it with the hope that she will pour out her favor and blessings upon them.

They will wait for hours to be blessed by or to give their confession to one of the many priests. They have spent precious hard-earned pesos on bouquets of flowers to present to the Virgin.

And they will leave the basilica even emptier than before.

For all their devotion, all their piety, they know not that she cannot fill the emptiness inside. She cannot take away their burdens, their pains, their sins. She cannot bring healing to the hurt and sick.

She is nothing but an idol.

This is the spiritual climate we find ourselves in. This is why God has called us to Mexico. To proclaim Truth to those who have been utterly deceived.

Please pray for us, our teammates, and our Mexican brothers-in-sisters in Christ as we work to bring the Gospel to those in spiritual darkness.

From December 3:

A long-awaited day has arrived: we received our temporary residence visas for Mexico!

New Ministry Opportunity and a Pleasant Surprise

While I don't want to go into too much detail (as our January newsletter will be focused on these two new ministry opportunities), I want to briefly explain the significance of one.

Due to certain circumstances which we will not relate, Troy has agreed to serve as interim pastor in one of the UNIFAM churches. He will serve in this roll until we return to the States on our Homeland Ministry Assignment at the end of May, first part of June.

There is something very precious about this particular church, however, that makes this opportunity to serve a real privilege for us.

In June, 2008 when we first visited Mexico City with the family, our first church visit was on a Saturday morning. We accompanied a missionary couple to the church they attended for their MEXI-Kids program (very similar to a weekly VBS program). Before the trip, Troy and I had been very concerned about our kids and how they would respond to living in a new country/culture/language. After all, we believed we had a call to Mexico, but it was one we'd received prior to our children's births. That day, however, the kids welcomed our children into the various groups they were in and made it an extremely enjoyable experience for our kids. We didn't understand how much they'd enjoyed it until later, however.

Upon arrival back home, almost the first thing the kids started asking us was, "When can we go back?" Not, "Do we have to go?" Troy and I were thrilled, of course, and so thankful for their positive attitudes. We realized that the kids' experience at the church greatly influenced their desire to return.

This is the very church we have been asked to serve in.

On Troy's first Sunday preaching, we showed the congregation some of the pictures I will post below. A couple of the children and leaders are still in the church--5 years older, of course, as are our kids. They helped us put names to the faces and enjoyed seeing themselves 5 years younger. Sharing the pictures and the story about our kids I just mentioned above has helped link us to them in a way nothing else could have. There are still challenges, naturally. But we have felt welcomed from the very first Sunday.

All those months when we visited church after church, praying about which one God would have us serve in, we never dreamed He would place us here. Where our kids' excitement to serve in Mexico first was nourished. And for that, we feel so blessed.

(Yes, I know I promised pictures. The internet is acting up in our house, so these will have to wait. Sorry!)