Friday, December 26, 2008

Momma's home!!! And a Very Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone!

"Momma's Home!" Those were the words of joy that would echo through the house whenever mom came back from grocery shopping. My brother and I would help her carry the groceries into the kitchen and might even help put them away, but mainly to see what kind of "Free Inside" was in the cereal she had bought that day.

If you're not familiar with the tradition of "Free Inside" let me introduce you. Cereal makers have long tried to induce children to ask their parents to purchase their brand of cereal by seducing them with promises of prizes inside the box. Though the prizes would change, the packaging always included the word "Free" when talking about what was inside! So my siblings and I began calling the prize "the Free Inside". We took turns getting the "Free Inside" and we were especially happy if we got to go with mom and pick out the cereal if it was our turn to get the "Free Inside".

But more often than not, Momma, like the wise woman she was, would leave the children at home when she shopped for groceries (probably to avoid the incessant requests for candy in the checkout aisle!). So we would await her arrival and someone would shout, "Momma's home!" whenever she arrived, bringing home the goods. It was a good feeling.

That's how I feel today that "Momma's home" from the hospital! And the "Free Inside" is the visit we had in her bedroom, just chatting about everything and nothing, all the while sitting on her bed, not being interrupted by people taking her blood pressure, giving her a pill or the sounds of someone being paged over the intercom! What a great gift it is to have mom home! She's doing well, looking good, feeling better and well on her way to recovery. Thank you for your prayers.

She came home the day AFTER Christmas, which was ok with us. We wanted her to get the best careChristmas Lunch at the Cabrini Cafeteria - hamburgers and gumbo, YUM!!! she could, for as long as it took to get better, and she did. We did get to enjoy part of our Christmas Day with her and Dad in her hospital room. We took our gifts up there for a grand revealing and really enjoyed visiting with them for awhile. (I took a few pictures with my cellphone camera. Don't tell her about the picture that she's in - she'll KILL me! ) Then we had lunch in the cafeteria before heading out to visit with a few friends. I was very appreciative of the cafeteria staff and all those who worked on Christmas Day serving others. What a blessing you are!

All in all, it was a great day - and the best gift we've received is getting mom back home, well on her way to recovery. Thank you to everyone who visited, called, sent flowers and gifts and prayed for her, and us. Your encouragement has been tremendous! Thank you again.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well. This morning as I drove though a drive-through window I noticed folks weren't as happy or cheerful as they had been leading up to Christmas. I started to say "Merry Christmas" in an effort to cheer them up but held back, thinking they would find that strange. But I've decided that since we celebrate Jesus' birth all year long that I can say "Merry Christmas" at any time - and hopefully it will bring a little cheer to someone's life. Even though "Christmas Day" is past, the message of Christmas lives on. So ..... Merry Christmas everybody!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Carols & Communion by Candlelight!

Hello everyone!

I'm SUPER excited about our Christmas Eve service at 5:00PM on Wednesday. "Carols and Communion by Candlelight" will be a great experience to everyone who comes, and YOU'RE invited!

We've got several folks who will be participating in leading various carols and we'll celebrate communion together, all in an atmosphere of worship and simplicity. I'm excited about the wide participation from several folks who will each add a special touch. And the candlelight portion of the service is always special and creates wonderful memories! All of this and we'll have you out by 6:00PM so you can enjoy the evening with your family. I'm really looking forward to spending part of our Christmas Eve with YOU!

I know you're looking for an update on my mom and I don't have a lot to report, other than she's doing better every day. Today was better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today! They did find a blood clot on her lung, which explains why she was struggling with getting her blood-oxygen levels up. They've got her on some additional blood thinners that should help with the clot. She'll feel so much better when she's not out of breath!

I really do appreciate the care she's been receiving from the fine folks at Cabrini. BTW, someone asked me about my use of the word "cracker jack" when I described one of mom's doctors in yesteday's post. I meant it in the most respectful way. Here's the definition from that shows what I meant:

  • crackerjack - expert
  • Definition: Having or demonstrating a high degree of
    knowledge or skill.
  • Synonyms: adept, crack, master, masterful, masterly,
    professional, proficient, skilled, skillful

I apologize for any confusion. I really am impressed with the care mom's received and I'm excited that she has a highly skilled team of physicians, nurses, techs and care-givers attending to her. They're definitely a crackerjack bunch of folks!!! :)

See you at our Christmas Eve service!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday's "Mom Message"

Hi guys!

I don't have a lot to update but I know you're curious. So just a quick blurb to say that Sis. Betty remains in Cabrini and we're not sure when she'll be home. She's on some new "big gun" medicine that has to be closely monitored. She had a little set-back this evening, but the whole thing was recorded on her heart monitor so hopefully that will help the cracker-jack heart doctor figure out what's going on with the fluttering, palpitations, arhythmia, or whatever you want to call it.

Everyone keeps asking me if she'll be home in time for Christmas. To be honest, I think all of us in the family really don't care. Not that we don't care about Christmas, but we want mom better - so if that means staying in the hospital over Christmas so the medical team can get all this straightened out, then so be it. We just want her better!

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. The cards, flowers, balloons, emails, text messages, IMs, phone calls, carrier pigeons (did I leave anything out?) are all very encouraging to us. And thanks for understanding when we don't respond right away - be we are uplifted by your love and prayers. Thank you.


P.S. Don't forget out AWESOME Christmas Eve service at 5:00PM Wednesday. "Carols and Communion by Candlelight!" It's going to be GREAT!

P.P.S (Or is that P.S.S.?) I'm going to bring ringing the bells for the Salvation Army tomorrow morning from 10:00-12:00 at the Pineville Walmart on the Grocery entrance. Come say "hello!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Update on Sis. Betty

Hello everyone,

I'm getting lots of emails, calls, texts, etc, asking for an update on my mom. Here's the synopsis - she's doing better. :)

Here's the longer version - Thursday morning she started experiencing severe heart palpitations and chest pain. Dad called me to come down to the parsonage to check on her. We called the doctor's office and told him we were headed to the ER, which we did quickly. Once there it didn't take long for them to have a lot of people working on her. They tried shocking her heart twice to get it to "convert" back into a regular rhythm and that didn't work. So they used some powerful meds that finally kicked in and called in a cardiac electrophysiologist who quickly got her on a relatively new drug that specializes in this type of problem. They eventually settled her into room 244.

She rested well last night (Friday night) and feels much better today. They're talking about doing another heart cath to make sure they didn't miss any blockages and a CT scan of her lungs to try to find out why her oxygen levels are not where they should be. We don't know how long she'll be up there, I'm guessing at least a couple of days. But she does feel good and would welcome visitors. She's at Christus St. Francis Cabrini hospital in room 244. You can call her at 318-449-2244 if you'd like. Thanks for your continued prayers for my mom!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

She's baaack!

Hello friends and family,

The picture at the right probably sums up my mom's feelings. No matter how wonderful the care at Christus St. Francis Cabrini, and it was indeed wonderful, still there's no place like home. Mom came home this afternoon and is settling in well. The folks at Cabrini were absolutely wonderful, as my dad commented on his blog. They take their mission seriously to extend the healing ministry of Jesus. But we are definitely glad to have mom home where we can love on her and serve her even more.

Please feel free to stop by the parsonage for a visit. She'd love to see everyone. (You might want to call first to make sure she's presentable! And don't tell her I said that or I'll be in trouble! ) Thank you to everyone who has visited, and especially for being considerate of her need to regain strength by keeping your visits brief. She really appreciates the words, hugs, balloons, flowers, etc.

Well, that's it for this update. I'll try to keep updating. We've got our AngelFood distribution this Saturday, which is always fun. I'm also wrapping up our "Old Carols in a New Light" sermon series this Sunday, talking about "O Holy Night". I've really enjoyed this series. And I'm looking forward to our Christmas Eve candlelight service next Wednesday evening at 5:00PM. It's FUN to serve Jesus!!! Especially with YOU!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Moving on up ... for real!!!

Sis. Betty is moving to room 352 at Cabrini

Hello everyone,

OK, the second time is the charm! Mom is being moved out of ICU - and believe it or not, she's being moved to the SAME ROOM she was scheduled to be in yesterday - room 352!

So, all the info from my previous post stands: You should be able to call her directly at 318-449-2352, once she's in the room. And she would LOVE visitors! Please keep in mind to keep the visits brief so she can get her rest and regain her strength. But she definitely looks forward to being loved on. (And she likes balloons!!!)

Thanks again for all the love and support. We sure do appreciate it!

Sent from my Treo 700p cellphone - Sorry for any tyops!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Well, it seems we got a little ahead of ourselves! The doctors decided they wanted to keep mom in ICU at least one more day! So disregard the previous post and stay tuned for updates - I'll let you know when they finally do move her and the room number. Thanks again for all the support!

Sent from my Treo 700p cellphone - Sorry for any tyops!

Moving on up!!! [Updated]

Sis. Betty is moving to room 352 at Cabrini

Hello friends and family!

Just a quick update on my mom. She's doing really well and should be moved from ICU to room 352 this afternoon. (Oops ... we were a little premature in this announcement. Read the next post.) Since ICU is on the 2nd floor, she's definitely "moving on up!"

I don't know how long she'll be in the hospital, anywhere from 2-5 days. You will be able to call her room directly at 318-449-2352. If you plan to visit, please be aware that she will tire quickly. She does want visitors but we in the family ask that everyone help us help her get better by keeping the visits brief. But she does look forward to being loved on!!! :)

Thank you all for your continued encouragement and prayers. We are uplifted by you. And we are very grateful to the fine people at Christus St. Francis Cabrini hospital for the wonderful care they've given my mom. More updates to come.

Sent from my Treo 700p cellphone - Sorry for any tyops!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank God for His Healing Hands

Liquid HealingHello friends,

It's been a whirlwind couple of days and by looking at the picture you can probably figure out that the medical field is involved. In this picture you can see a few of the 10 bags of liquid healing that are being pumped into my mom in the ICU at Cabrini. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My mom had been experiencing some chest pains off and on for some time. Finally she was referred for a stress test and then a heart cath, which showed 5 blockages. She was scheduled for bypass surgery the very next day.

While this was sudden news, we were filled with God's peace. Mom was glad to know it wasn't all in her head and that it was treatable. It was reassuring to know that her surgeon, Dr. Jones, had previously been tasked with providing care for Nelson Mandela some time back and President George W. Bush on his recent visit - so mom was definitely in good hands.

The morning dawned with many visitors, phone calls, texts, emails, etc - all expressing thoughts of prayer, support and encouragement. They finally took mom back and we migrated to the surgery waiting where we received frequent updates on her progress. Finally they were through and the doctor came out to inform us of her excellent progress - they had done 3 grafts, bypassing the 5 blockages, and he was very pleased with how well it had gone. They had not needed to give her any blood and there was no heart damage. A home run!

They brought her up to the ICU and eventually we got to go see her. Her color looked great! She wouldn't have approved of me snapping a photo of her, so I took a picture of the bags of healing. (Sorry for violating the "no cameras" rule, Cabrini!) Later tonight they actually took out the breathing tube and she's doing GREAT!

When I look at that picture, I think of how the Lord has sustained us with His peace and provided everything we needed throughout this entire journey. God is the Great Physician, and He extends His healing hands, sometimes through people. Thank You, Lord, for being our Shepherd, providing EVERYTHING we need. And thank YOU, friends and family, for being there for us. You overwhelm us with your love! Truly we are blessed to feel God's loving and healing hands through you.

Sent from my Treo 700p cellphone - Sorry for any tyops!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Last day in Mexico - and home, sweet, home!

Huevos Motuleños - my new favorite breakfast!
Hello everyone,

I'm a little late getting this blog out, but I wanted to post about our last day in Mexico. Thursday started with us all packing up and getting ready to leave. Lori and I had a leisurely breakfast at a brand new restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico called California. It's round and all the walls are made of glass so just about every seat looks out over the malecón (beachfront bullevard) onto the Gulf. Beautiful! I had my favorite, "huevos motuleños" - a dish that originated in the town of Motul in the the Mexican state of Yucatan. I used to love "huevos rancheros" as my favorite breakfast dish, but the motuleños have definitely replaced the rancheros, at least on this trip. (Who would ever think of putting green peas on a breakfast dish? And the fried plantains are a touch of genius!!!)

(BTW, pictures are available on my Flickr account at: )

After getting packed up we headed back into town for some last minute souveneir shopping. (I got my shoes shined instead. I also saw some motorcycles for sale on the street - I had to take a picture for my friends in CROP.) We also headed by the famous malecón for a couple more pictures, like this one of a man fishing in the Gulf with a hand-thrown net. Then we headed back to the Agua Viva offices for another wonderful lunch - but not before stopping at my favorite taco stand of all time for a quick "tacos de barbacoa" appetizer! (Thanks, Joel!) Back at the offices, they had taken the flowers from Sunday's service and created even more beautiful centerpieces, making the room stand out with elegance.

What our tiny bathroom looked like in our first apartmentBTW, the men's bathroom at the Agua Viva offices reminded me of the bathroom in the first apartment Lori and I lived in back in Matías Romero, Oaxaca. You could literally sit on the toilet, wash your hands in the sink and take a shower all at the same time! When I brought Lori down to Mexico, she didn't know what to expect. She thought I lived in a mud hut with a thatched roof, so she was happy to have running water! However, she did spruce it up by hanging a beach towel over the doorway for some privacy. Ah, the woman's touch!

After lunch Joel and I met with a couple of the leaders about a long-range leadership training initiative that Agua Viva is taking in cooperation with John Maxwell and Marcos Witt's ministries. Over the next 3 years Agua Viva will be hosting free leadership conferences for over 100 pastors in the region. Joel has invited me to participate and I'm praying seriously about the commitment to make regular trips down to sow into the lives of leaders from church all across the region. I admire Joel and Jose for taking this step of faith and investing in the lives of so many others.

Nathan, Jose, Pedro and Joel - some of the original Hijos del PactoAfter the meeting we hopped in the vehicles for our final trip out of Coatzacoalcos. We were headed for Las Choapas, Veracruz where the Agua Viva church is pastored by one of my favorite people, Pedro Chulin Gordillo. We first met Pedro when he was the chauffeur for an oil executive's wife who started coming to Agua Viva when we were in our first building that only seated 75 people. Doña Dora would come in but Pedro would sit out in the car, not wanting to come in. Eventually he started coming in, but would stand agains the back wall with his arms across his chest, almost daring God to love him. Eventually God's love broke through his tough exterior and he surrendered completely to the Lord. He soon led his brother, Alfredo, to the Lord and they became quick disciples and part of the group we called "Los Hijos del Pacto" or "The Sons of the Covenant". We met every Tuesday night for leadership training with a small group of men, including Jose, who is now the General Director of all the Agua Viva work. Alfredo is the pastor of the church in Agua Dulce, where we were on Wednesday night, and Pedro started the work in Las Choapas that has now grown to several hundred.

A view of the Agua Viva church in Las Choapas, Veracruz before the people arrivedThe Lord has really blessed them and their faithfulness. When I last visited with them 5 years ago they were just starting out in a rented building downtown and they had a decent sized group. now they own several acres and have built a beautiful sanctuary that seats almost a thousand and are just finishing up a Children's ministry center that will serve several hundred children. It should be open in January. And all of this is paid for!!!

Pedro is a dynamic leader who loves to praise and worship. His daughter Norma is now married to the worship leader and they have an exciting worship experience. Pedro bubbles with joy and enthusiasm and it's obvious his people love him and his wife Coqui very much.

Nathan ministering to husbands and fathers during the altar callI was privileged to get to preach in Las Choapas again and I shared a message to men from Psalm 127-128 about keeping their priorities right, not being work-aholics but instead loving their wives and demonstrating Godly character to their husbands. At the end I called up the men who wanted to retake lost ground and who wanted to be the Godly husbands and fathers God had called them to be. I then called their wives up and had them stand behind their husbands, praying for them. It was a powerful time of ministry that ended with the couples embracing in love and forgiveness. We also called up the single mothers who have to serve as mother and father and prayed for them, exhorting the church to reach out to these women and help them. Finally we had a time of ministry for the ushers and leaders before Pedro led out in an extended time of celebration and praise! Wow! What a night.

After a quick supper we loaded back up for the 2+ hour trip to Villahermosa, Tabasco, where we would catch our plane back to Houston. We got to the hotel around 1:30 and set a wake-up call for 4:30 since we had to leave by 5:30 for the airport. We made it just in time, some of the last passengers aboard the plane, and settled in the for 3 hour flight back to Houston.

Once in Houston, after passing through Immigration and Customs it was time to say goodbye to our traveling companions from Life Church West Monroe. It was such a pleasure to get to travel and minister with our old missionary partners, Joel and Angel Dyke. It felt like "old times" and it was hard to say goodbye. After changing our pesos back into dollars (at a HORRIBLE exchange rate) we took the shuttle to our car and started the drive back home (after filling up with gas, of course! ) We got in some time after 5:00PM and had a wonderful reunion with our other daughters, Faith and Hope, who had stayed with my mom and dad while we were gone.

I wish I could summarize this trip in just a few words, but that's not possible. I will say that this has been one of the highlights of my life. I honestly don't feel worthy of the honor they bestowed on us. We simply planted the seed and others watered, but God caused the growth. When Lori and I moved home to Pineville in November, 1990, the Agua Viva Coatza church was running somewhere around 200 people in attendance. We thought that was a significant thing, having started with just a handful in weeknight bible studies in an apartment and Sunday services in our living room. Now there are thousands of believers in several Agua Viva churches across southern Veracruz. And the mountain churches have continued, and have begun another generation of leadership. And they are investing in the region by providing training to pastors from churches from all denominations.

This is the work of God. He gets all the glory. Joel, Angel, Lori and I just happened to be the vessels He chose to use because we were willing. And we were simple enough to do what He said. We didn't know what we were doing. Everything was an experiment. But God worked through simple vessels and brought glory to Himself. It's like this:
He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES." (Mat 13:31-32 NASB)

That's how God grows His kingdom - one seed at a time that He then multiplies.

Thank you for reading this blog, for praying for us, for supporting us. Thank you to the churches who took a chance on a 22-year old kid who said he had a call on his life to be a missionary in Mexico. Thank you to the family who stood behind us and believed in us. And thank You, Jesus, most of all, for honoring us by using us. "Here we are, Lord. Use us again!"

I *love* serving Jesus with YOU!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not your daddy's Coatza! And a trip to Agua Dulce

Hello friends!

I hope you've enjoyed the blog so far. Thank you for the comments and the emails - keep them coming!!!

Wednesday was a day we would go to the Casa del Alfarero (Potter's House) church in Agua Dulce that was started in the past few years about an hour and a half from Coatza. DSC02121That gave us plenty of time during the day to look around town and do the most important thing for the female contingent among us - go to the mall!!!

Coatza has a new mall that is absolutely gorgeous! Lots of neat stores, many of which we have in the states, and a first rate food court, complete with Burger King, Domino's, KFC and a couple of taco stands!!! (I ate tacos, of course! ) They even have a Cajun food restaurant - although the pictures looked more like Chinese food than Cajun! :)

DSC02122As we've driven around Coatza, we've been amazed at the progress. There are so many stores and conveniences here that they didn't have 20 years ago. Just a quick sampling: Walmart, Sam's Club, Office Depot, Office Max, Home Depot, Bennigans, McDonald's, etc. I commented to the folks in our vehicle that "this is not your daddy's Coatza"! It's definitely more modern, more streets are paved, it's cleaner - it's come a long way from when we lived here. It would be much easier to live here now ... and sometime's I think we're a little tempted. Of course when we joke about coming back with Jose he says that's fine, but we'll have to raise up a new congregation because he already has his!!!

DSC02124They took us back to the Agua Viva building in town that now serves as offices, training center, and for special meetings. It also has a small book store and a coffee shop. They had prepared a spread for us in the back room that was decorated beautifully with flowers on each table and a wonderful meal that Joel had requested. They've treated us like royalty! It's very humbling.

We headed back to the hotel for a brief rest. (That's when I posted yesterday's blog - I should have rested !) Then we were off for the community of Agua Dulce (Sweet Water) where Alfredo Chulin is the pastor of this new work that has been raised up in the past few years. DSC02129Alfredo was a rough and tough guy when we met him 20 years ago. His brother, Pedro (now the pastor of the work in Las Choapas where we will visit tomorrow), had gotten saved in our ministry and asked us to visit with his brother. Over time God softened Alfredo's heart (we call him Freddy) and he has served in just about every capacity in the church in Coatza before coming to Agua Dulce to raise up the work here. It's fairly new and there were only about 50-60 adults in service, but it was a sweet, sweet time.

As we arrived in town Joel informed me I would be preaching! I thought we were going to tag-team it again but it was not to be. So I quickly asked the Lord to impress my heart - and I felt led to share two of the points I had shared the previous night, adding one more about being quick to confess our sins, based on 1 John 1:9 and Psalm 32. DSC02136I talked a good bit about the importance of living in good relationship with others because that impacted our relationship with God. I challenged the men to seek to honor their wives and make sure they didn't offend the precious gifts from God - and to seek forgiveness if they had so that they could walk in an undistrubed relationship with God and would be examples of the relationship between Christ and the church. At the end quite a few people came up for prayer - a very sweet time of ministry.

As quickly as the service was over they broke down the meeting room and brought in tables to feed supper to everyone who had come. We had "empanadas", basically the Mexican equivalent to the Natchitoches meat pie, but these had chicken. We also had one of my favorites, fried bananas!!! Yum!!! After supper it was back to the vehicles for the trek back to town and our last night in Coatzacoalcos.

As I write this we are packing in preparation to check out of the hotel. We will eat lunch at Agua Viva's offices again and perhaps go out to their property for prayer and pictures before heading to Las Choapas. I'm really looking forward to seeing Pedro and Coqui, some of our favorite people. (I'll tell you more about Pedro later.) After service tonight we'll head to Villa Hermosa, about 2-3 hours from here where' we'll spend the night and have to get up early to catch a 7:00AM flight back to Houston. And as quick as that, this trip is over. Hard to believe it has flown by so quickly. So many memories - and so many new ones. Thanks for making this trip with me.

I love serving Jesus with YOU!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday and Tuesday update

Hello everyone!

We've got a little time before we head back out to another service so I wanted to try to update you on the happenings of the last couple of days. I don't have time to write a lengthy blog (don't say "Praise the Lord" too loudly!) but I did want to update you as best I could. One of the best ways to update you is you show you some of the pictures we've taken. I've added descriptions that should walk you through what was going on. Here are two links to pictures from Monday and Tuesday:

Monday -

Tuesday -

Here's as brief a recap as I can give you -


We left around 7:00AM to head for the mountains of Oaxaca where we used to live. It took quite awhile to get down because the roads are (still) in poor condition. We headed into Matias to check into the hotel, because we wouldn't be back until very late and we wanted to make sure we had rooms. Then we headed out for a two-hour+ drive to Zacatal, the home of one of the main churches that our team founded in the mid 1980's.

On the way out we stopped at a little store we used to visit frequently, curious if the same lady was still there. She was, and she squealed when she saw Joel! It was a great visit!

DSC02105On through the narrow streets of San Juan Guichicovi, home of an ancient Catholic church that looks like a fortress (I'd love to know the story of this church) and then on the narrow, muddy trail that leads to Zacatal. We arrived to a great welcome from Pastor Eleuterio and his family. They had been awaiting our arrival and someone had donated a cow for a meal for everyone. The BBQ was delicious! Several other pastors from other churches we had planted arrived and we had a wonderful reunion.

DSC02109Bro. Eleuterio asked us if we would baptize four new believers but we didn't have changes of clothing and it was pretty cold so we asked if we could just witness and participate that way. We headed down to the river/creek in two borrowed people-haulers and had a wonderful time seeing four new believers being baptized into the body of Christ! Then it was back up to the church for the evening service.

The church was severely over-crowded and overflowing all around with people. The pastor's son, also named Eleuterio, led out in worship, after sharing about our impact on his life as a child. DSC00047More worship, and then the children of the church presented a song for us in Spanish - "Lord I lift Your name on high". It was beautiful. I shared some songs and Joel preached and then we had a time of prayer for the needs of the congregation. So many came up for prayer that it took a long time to finish. Just like in the olden days!

It was getting late and we were concerned about the muddy condition of the road so we decided to skip the after-church coffee and head back to Matias. The pastor sent another truck to follow us out past the worst of the muddy spots, just in case we got stuck. We made it back safely to Matias after midnight.

Before we turned in for the night, Lori and I walked around the downtown, reliving some of our memories from those days. DSC02119We walked past the places we lived and then came back by the market where the hot dog/hamburger carts hung out at night. We wondered if we'd find the fellow we used to do business with on a regular basis, and sure enough he was still there! We shared a hamburger and visited with him until it was very late. I thanked him for his friendship and shared the gospel with him, telling him I didn't want to go to heaven and find out he'd not made it because I had never shared the good news with him. He was very sober as he listened intently and affirmed his faith in Jesus. We had never tried to raise a church in Matias because we felt it might distract us from the mountain churches, but leaders from the Coatza church are feeling a leading to begin a work in Matias so we gave them his contact information. Then it was off to bed.


DSC00055We woke up to a wonderful breakfast and headed out to do a little shopping in the market and headed around town to view the sites in the daylight, including the houses we lived in and the post office that we visited every day to see if we had any mail. (Remember, this is well before the days of email!) We visited with some old friends who were still around, surprising them all. It was a great reunion - and amazing to know that they remembered us after all these years. One of them actually saw Joel walking by and chased him down, calling out for him in English: "I know you, I know you!"

DSC00080One of the more emotional visits was with Augustin, our mechanic. Joel thought he would recognize me easily because of my hair but wondered if he would recognize Joel since he's bald now and somewhat heavier. He walked into the mechanic's shop and Augustin looked at him with a puzzled look on his face. Then Joel said, "I need a mechanic" and Augustin began running towards Joel with his arms open wide! I stepped out around the corner and joined the celebration! This tough Mexican who had helped us through many scrapes had tears in his eyes as we visited and reminensced about old times. It was hard to leave.

We headed back towards Coatza with our planned stop for evening services in the Agua Viva Restauracion church in DSC00092Acayucan that had been started after we left. They used to meet in the Chamber of Commerce building but about five years ago bought a large stripper bar in downtown and completely renovated it. It's now paid for and they've outgrown it so they're looking at other properties on the edge of town.

We had a wonderful service - incredible worship led by the Pastor Sergio's sons, who had written some of the songs themselves. Then Joel and I did something we've never done before - we tag-teamed the sermon, each one taking turns sharing truths we've learned over the last 20 years, since the founding of Agua Viva. Here's what we shared:

  • Nathan: The most important thing for a Christian is to know how to hear the voice of God.
  • Joel: You must learn to be flexible, or you'll be broken.
  • Nathan: Your relationship with God is affected by your relationship with His children.
  • Joel: If you're going to err between justice and mercy, err on the side of mercy.
Joel then led an altar call and several people committed or recommitted their lives to the Lord. Then he called for a prayer service for those with needs. Our entire team came to the front and spent quite a bit of time in personal ministry - powerful time of tears and healing. It was a beautiful service.

DSC00093After church we stopped by a taco stand for some delicious "shepherd-style" tacos. Joel and I tied, eating 14 apiece! Then we headed back the hour+ ride to Coatza, getting in around midnight to the hotel, totally wiped out but thrilled to have been used by God and to have experienced such a wonderful time with our Christian family in the mountains and with our Christian "grandchildren" in Acayucan. What an honor it is to have been used by God to plant a seed that continues to bear fruit.

OK, I said I wasn't going to post a long blog, but apparently I don't know how to post a short blog! If you've read to this point, I hope it's blessed you. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post about tonight's service in Agua Dulce. We only have a couple of days left - it's hard to believe the time has flown by so quickly. Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement! See you soon!


Overwhelmed - and Wore Out! But beyond happy!

Hello everyone,

It's after midnight and we just got in from the jungle area of Matias Romero, Oaxaca and we're all wore slap out. I don't have the energy to post a full blog or upload any pictures, but I did want to let you know that we arrived safely back to the city.

The time in Matias was out of this world! It's hard to describe the impact being back in the city where we first lived as young missionaries. We visited some old friends, found the houses we lived in, got stopped several times by the police and the army to check us for drugs, bombs and firearms - just like old times sake!

We had two services - Monday night up in the mountains in Zacatal, our main church in this area. It was overwhelmingly packed out and very emotional. (More details later.) Then Tuesday night in Acayucan, on our way back to the city. Joel and I tag-teamed the sermon and had a great time with it. More details on that later as well.

I wish I could write more but I'm literally falling asleep at the keyboard. Thank you for your prayers and support. I'll upload some pictures as soon as I can.