Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Time in Gonzalez, Tamualipas Draws to a Close...on to Poza Rica, Veracruz

back to Our Walk of Faith
Tuesday (4/24) morning, we went to the middle school to chat with Prof. Aureliano (the principal of the school). We talked about the educational system in NC and in Mexico...comparing and contrasting...interestingly enough kids are the same...they have the same problems--their parents are fighting or one of their parents is missing...their family life is a disaster which causes trouble for them at school. After our discussion, he took us on a tour of the school. We were able to go into several of the elective classes. One of them was Prof. Cesar's class (and Isaí "just so happened" to be in that class at that time), then we visited a cosmetology class, then a cooking class. We also visited with Hna Paulita (one of the ladies who went out for the first time to visit on Thursday) who is a Biology teacher at the school. She was at church on Sunday night, so she started talking about some of our testimony. It was an open door to share inadvertently with Prof. Aureliano as well!! Hna Paulita told us that she would stop by later in the afternoon since we were planning on leaving that evening for Altamira with Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura and family to go to a conference on the family. We talked a little more with Prof. Aureliano before we went back to Eddy's house to pack our stuff.

Twelve days in Gonzalez...they are tied for the longest stay on the journey...right up there with Pearlington, MS and Gonzales, TX!! As we were finishing up a few last-minute details, Hna Paulita arrived at the house. The Lord has burdened her heart, and she wanted to share with us. The greatest of her burdens is for her unsaved family--her mom, her sons, Erik and Nelson, their wives, and their children. Erik and his family live with Hna Paulita and her mom. Erik has become verbally abusive to his mom and very disrespectful to his 80-yr-old grandmother. Hna Paulita is scared of him...she knows that only God can make a change in him. Please pray for this family!

Tuesday evening, we rode with Pastor Sergio, Hna Laura, Isaí, Jassiel, and Keyla to the 3rd Annual Family Conference that Ebenezer Baptist Church was having in

Altamira, Tamaulipas. Chris and I weren't sure whether we were going to stay or not, but we brought our stuff just in case. We knew that if we didn't stay that we would start walking from Gonzalez early Wednesday morning. We asked the Lord to reveal clearly if we were to stay one more night in Gonzalez or to stay in Altamira with the pastor and his family--Pastor Tomás and Hna More. We received our answer right as we were about to walk into the of the men of the church started talking to Chris in turns out that Rigo and his wife, Mari, lived near Raleigh, NC for several years. That's not the most baffling part...when I was in college, I went to a Hispanic church in Raleigh about once/month to keep Spanish fresh in my mind...they went to the same church!! We were just there at different times, but we knew a lot of the same people! I could barely believe it...needless to stay we decided to stay in Altamira!

The service was really good...Pastor Sergio was the featured speaker, and he talked about the kinds of memories that parents leave for their children. He explained that many adults have bad memories of their childhood which they can't change now, so what they must do now is turn those over to the Lord for His healing. What they can do now is work on the memories that they leave their children. He called our attention to the Prodigal Son and the kind of memories that his father left for him...they were so good that the son longed to be back in his father's house. Although Chris and I don't have children yet, we praise God for the good training that we are getting along this journey. We'll be better parents when the Lord grants us that privilege because of the schooling that He is giving us now!!

After the service, all of the Gonzalez crew (Pastor Sergio's family and Martin's family that we ate supper with on Monday night) stayed to eat supper with their new friends from Altamira (pictured below). Jassiel showed us how he could put his feet behind his head...I just had to smile...all 3 of their children are awesome!!! After the Gonzalez crew left, Chris and I shared testimony with Rigo, Mari, and Rigo's step dad-Bony. Before they went home, they invited us to breakfast at their house the next morning and to the beach the next day. We were pretty excited because we didn't think we'd make it to the beach in that city because it's out of our way on foot. We stayed the night with Pastor Tomás, Hna More, and their daughters--Abi (on left) and Karina (on right). (pictured here with baby Emily-Erendira's daughter)

Wednesday (4/25) morning we had a good breakfast, and then headed off to the beach...I wasn't sure what to expect because some people along the way told us that the beach at Tampico was dirty and ugly. (Altamira, Tampico, and CD Madero are 3 cities that might as well be one because you can't tell when you cross from one to the's a pretty busy area!!) Well, I'm not sure where they went because the beach was one of the cleanest and prettiest beaches that I've seen along this whole journey! We enjoyed walking on the beach and getting our feet wet. Chris and I knew we were walking on that afternoon, so we couldn't get our clothes wet...sad! It was beautiful just the same...the sound of the ocean is so relaxing! The door really never seemed to open up with the pastor, but we shared A LOT with Rigo. Apparently, he felt a call on his life a long time ago to be a pastor, but he got married and got distracted trying to earn his fortune in life. We just encouraged him to seek God first because He will lead Rigo (and anyone else who's willing) in His path. And oh, what an adventure...He provides everything you need...just seek Him!! Rigo definitely seemed to hear what we were saying, and he started to get excited about seeking the Lord's will for his life! Praise God!

After the trip to the beach, we went back to the pastor's house...he and his wife are from the northern part of Mexico, so the fixed lunch and FLOUR tortillas! tasty! I think I ate more than Chris...I'm not sure when we'll have them again, so I was storing's all corn tortillas down south! We left late in the afternoon...close to 5 pm, but we knew it was time. As we walked, we just prayed for the doors to open for us to be in a church service that night. It kept getting later and later 6:30, 7, 7:30 all came and went...those are the normal times for a service to start during the week, so we thought we had missed our opportunity. Shortly after 7:30, we saw a church on the opposite side of the street. As we started making our way to it, two guys in front started taking our picture. What a baffle! We walked over and it turns out that they are making a little infomercial because the church is starting a 2nd service on Sunday. So they asked if they could tape us saying "2 are better than 1." We agreed and then excitedly told them that phrase was part of the verse that was inside of our wedding bands from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Pretty funny, huh?! Lalo is the youth pastor and Jaime is his assistant, so they invited us to stay for the service. We went in and this guy named Cesar came up to us and started talking to us. He's an English teacher and does a lot of translating for teams who come from Texas. It was a good, up-beat service...the pastor defined a miracle as a solution to a problem that's not humanly possible to solve, and he talked about the things that block God's power from being lived out in our lives--religious traditions, fear, and unbelief.

After the service, the pastor's son came up to us and gave us an envelope saying "we collected this for you...use it on your journey." We were shocked...that was the first time something like that had ever happened. We thought that someone would invite us to stay with them as well, but nothing opened up. It was about 10:30 at night, and we had no idea where to go, so we did what we normally do when we don't know what to do...we prayed for the Lord's guidance. We ended up staying in a hotel about 30 minutes (on foot) down the road. When we opened the envelope we found the exact amount of money for the hotel and for our supper that evening. That's the God we serve!! (Sometimes running water, a hot shower and air conditioning are oh so nice to have!! Praise God for all of those things at the hotel!!)

Thursday (4/26) morning we slept in a bit since we hadn't done that in was so good to rest...God knew what was coming. By the time we were ready to walk, it was too hot to be able to do that, so we decided to spend a little time responding to e-mails. The lady working at the Cyber Cafe (pictured with her son) asked us to pray for her because she has a tumor. She has just recently started attending a Jehovah’s Witness church as well. So there are a lot of things that she needs prayer about! We tried to talk to her a little about the Bible and offered to pray for her right then, but she just said that later would be better. So we had to leave it at that...

We walked one of the city's many soccer fields, we saw several kids wearing the jersey of Chris's favorite Mexican soccer team--Cruz Azul! It turns out that it is a training camp for kids who want to play soccer and one day maybe play professionaly!! The more we walked the more we realized that big cities are a bit confusing, but we knew that we had to cross the big bridge to continue south into the state of Veracruz...we got near it, but couldn't figure out how to get to it in order to cross. We asked one lady, but it didn't seem to get us any closer to it. So we saw Miguel, a guy selling a synonym and antonym book, and we asked him. He walked us all the way to the bridge and dropped us off, so we shared a little with him along the way. Once we knew where to go, he went back to selling the books. We were amazed at his kindness!!

We crossed the bridge which gave us a beautiful view of the city, the river, and a huge lake. Once we crossed the bridge, we were in Veracruz (the state). It's shaped like a long chili pepper, so there's no telling how long it will take us to walk all the way through. It started getting pretty dark, and we were about 7-8 miles to the next closest town, so we stopped in a the gas station to pray and to decide what to do next. The man at the gas station told us if we made a right at the next road and followed it all the way down, we would come to a small town that had a hotel. We kept walking and walking, but didn't see anything, so we decided to ask someone else. As one man began to respond to us, a teenager named Memo walked up. He asked what we were looking for. We told him that we wanted food and a place to stay, so he offered to be our guide. We walked down towards the center of town and began to talk to him about his beliefs. He's pretty mixed up to say the least. He's worked some with the Mormons, and he has faith in a rock if it inspires him. I tried to talk to him about heaven and how to get there, but he just said that he doesn't think about that kind of stuff. The door was definitely shut as far as sharing openly about the Lord.

Memo took us down to the hotel, but the lady didn't even give us the time of day while we waited patiently to ask about rates. When she finally told us, we decided to eat first and then decided about where to stay. We asked Memo if there was anywhere else in town where we could stay. He responded, "That's the only hotel, but you can stay at my house if you want." We weren't sure what to do because he wasn't at all receptive to God's Word, but he was allowing us to share testimony of God's faithfulness. We finally decided to go with him. We walked back up hill to his house and met his mom, Doña Maria Isabel, his dad, Don Maco, his sister, Isaura, her daughter, Marcela, and another relative, Rodolfo. Several of his little cousins were playing at the house too...we wanted to offer them something for letting us stay with them, but we didn't know what. When we saw the little girls we both thought about the jump rope that Jassiel had given us. They would love it...sure enough the entire family liked it. Doña Maria Isabel used to be a jump rope champion when she was younger, so she showed us a few things and gave the younger girls a few pointers! None of them really go to any church on a regular basis except for Rodolfo. He was really interested in talking to us and even asked questions about the filling of the Holy Spirit. We were pumped up that he asked and that we had made copies of the messages that we listened to with Pastor Sergio. We left both of the messages with him!

Friday (4/27) morning, we learned that Isaura is a chef, and we got to sample some of her cooking. She made entomatadas that were out of this world. She also shared a few recipes with us! We prayed for Memo and for Isaura before we left. Please pray for this family...that God will grow the seeds that we planted. As we were leaving, Rodolfo was coming out of his house. He told us that he had already listened to one of the sermons and was excited to listen to the other one!! Praise God!

We walked the 8 or so miles to Tampico Alto--the next town, and then looked for a place to rest for the afternoon. We decided to eat lunch and see what opened up. After asking a man in the main plaza, we decided on a little taco stand just down the road. There was another couple already eating there, so we sat down at the other end of the table. When we ordered, we were pretty shocked to hear the guy who was cooking explain to us what each meat was in perfect English! He lived and worked in Charlotte, NC for 16 years. Then he decided that being with his family was more important to him than making money, so he came back home to Tampico Alto. We chatted with him and the other couple all through lunch. Before we knew it, the man at the other end of the table, Norberto, asked us if we would like a ride to the next town since they were headed there after they ran a few errands in Tampico Alto. We agreed to go with them, so we just waited at the little taco stand for them to come back.

When they pulled up in their van, I noticed that the tags were from Mexico City, so I figured they were tourists. Nope! They sell underwear and socks to stores all over Mexico. They spend 8 days on the road and 8 days at home. His wife, Rosa, is working with him this year, so that they can reduce their expenses and save money so that they can buy their own house. I rode in the back with Rosa and learned about their three children--Luz Maria, Rosario, and Julio--while Chris chatted with Norberto up front. We arrived in Ozuluama (the next town--not in walking distance!)) before any of us realized any time had passed. Before they went to their stores to sell merchandise, Norberto invited us to ride on further with them if we'd like. That evening they were going as far as Poza Rica. He bought us Cokes and left us on the benches in the plaza to pray about it and to look at the map.

After praying about it, we decided to ride on. Rosa and I continued to talk, and she shared that today was the first day that they had ever stopped in Tampico Alto (and Norberto has been selling clothes for years and years). Then she said that she couldn't believe how nice her husband was being. Normally, he didn't trust strangers, he didn't talk to strangers, and he most definitely didn't let strangers ride in his vehicle. I looked in amazement to the front of the van...he and Chris were talking as if they had been friends forever. I had no idea how Chris could understand him because I was struggling to figure out what he was saying. Before I knew it, Chris was turning around and telling me that Norberto had invited us to come visit them in their house in Mexico City (once we got back to NC and got settled again)...they were going to go to a soccer game at the Azteca. (This stadium is's been Chris's dream to go to this stadium to see a match, but Mexico City is dangerous, so we decided that we wouldn't ever go there unless we knew someone or God directly told us to go.) I just looked at Rosa and said "it's the hand of God!"

We chatted a little more, but the door didn't really seem to open to talk about the Bible or her beliefs. The further we went the more carsick I felt. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it or not, so I asked Norberto to pull over so that I could go to the bathroom. I almost told Chris that we needed to stay in that town, but I refrained realizing it was probably spiritual warfare. Sure enough, I started feeling better as I prayed to myself, and then the door began to open. I shared with Rosa for an hour or more from the Bible--answering her questions, showing her how to find books, chapters, and verses in the Bible, and talking about how to have eternal life. She didn't pray a prayer of salvation, but she knows that God is calling them to come close to Him. She was interested in reading the Bible but she told me that she didn't understand it. I encouraged her to John, Romans, or Psalms, but to just start with a little bit at a time and to pray and ask God to help her understand it. I had an extra Bible, so I offered it to her. She thanked me, but explained that she had one at home that she would get out when they got back to their house.

She continued to be surprised by her husband as he bought our supper, a snack, and bread for us to take with us the next day. Then she was even more surprised that he invited us to stay with them in their van that night! I just kept saying..."It's God!" We stopped in a parking lot beside a flea market where they would be working the next day. When we went to the bathroom, we met a guy who spoke English. He started talking to Chris about Jesus and how his life had been transformed. He had been in prison, but he accepted Christ there. Now he and all of his family were serving the Lord!! Praise God for another encouraging testimony. When we got back to the van, we saw what Rosa meant about Norberto not trusting people. He immediately warned us to be careful and not to trust people just because they were nice. Many people intended to do harm to others. What a change from how he interacted with us and how he reacted to the guy at the bathroom. I just thought to myself "It's God!" After a little snack, we went to sleep in the van...wondering what adventures awaited us on Saturday (4/28).

Pictures from the middle school...the girls wear a different color unifor according to what grade they are in pink for 7th graders, blue for 8th graders, and burgandy for the 9th graders.

Profesor Cesar's Class...

Cooking class...

The line-up for PE...

Fun at the beach... the whole gang (on left). Erendira's little boy, Israel, buried in the sand.

3) RE with Erendira (Rigo's sister), Emilia (Rigo's sister), and Mari at the beach.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Gonzalez, Tamualipas...looks like we are staying for a bit

back to Our Walk of Faith

Saturday (4/14) afternoon-Eddy's mom (Hna Isabel) and dad (Don Antonio) came over for lunch, and we were able to chat with them a bit. She's a pretty good cook!

Sunday (4/15) morning we went to church at Primera Iglesia Bautista (where we were dropped off on Friday). They have both Sunday school and church on Sunday morning which is fairly unusual in Mexico. They also have a service Sunday night--that's the service that most people come to. The pastor still hadn't arrived from visiting his family in Zacatecas (another state about 9 hours away). His van broke down, so it was taking longer than they thought to get back. Chris and I thought it was pretty interesting that we still hadn't met him. The people spoke highly of him, but we didn't know if something really good was going to happen or if we needed to leave as soon as we could. We just continued to pray for God to reveal this to us.

The Sunday school teacher taught from John 11--the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He talked about how sometimes we pray for something and try to give God the answer as well; whereas, we should just let Him work it out because He has something way better than we have in mind! His goal is to grow us more into His likeness...we can't see that far ahead! One thing that really caught our eye (& ear) was the guitars and violins...I've never seen violins in a church in Mexico. (We learned on Friday that a missionary from the US lived and worked in this community and started this church from 40-50 years. She just passed away last year. I could only imagine that the violins were part of her influence. I couldn't help but wonder what other influence she had had on the church.) Another man, Hno David filled in for the pastor. Sunday morning, he spoke from Acts chapters 1-2.

Sunday afternoon, we came back to Eddy's house to eat lunch. Hna Isabel cooked and Eddy made a salsa for the meal. It was pretty tasty...but too hot for me to eat much of. Chris and Eddy ate most of it by themselves! Chris and I had pretty much decided that we were leaving on Monday morning, but we prepared to go to church just the same. We finally met Pastor Sergio...he made it back from Zacatecas where he had been visiting his family. His wife and kids didn't come to church because they had only gotten home 30 minutes before the service started. He seemed pretty nice as he greeted us as we came into church, but nothing really out of the ordinary. During the service, we were able to enjoy a special by the choir. After church, he asked to talk to us when everyone left. He asked a few more questions, and wanted to know how the church could help us...we told him just to pray! He was having a hard time understanding what we were doing because he was so tired from the travel, so he asked us if we would stay long enough on Monday to have breakfast with him and his wife, Laura. We agreed.

Monday (4/16) morning...oh what a surprise...we hit it off so well with both Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura. They are an amazing couple who are passionately in love with the Lord! We shared stories, and they asked tons of questions. They invited us to stay the week with them and work with them-sharing the Gospel, and to speak at all of the meetings that week...the discipleship class, men's and women's Bible studies, children's church, youth group, and at the main Sunday service. Before we knew it, it was lunch time, and Pastor Sergio had to go pick up Jassiel and Keyla (their youngest 2 children). By the time we were ready to eat, Isaí (their oldest) was home from school as well. After lunch, Jassiel taught Chris and I how to play chess. (It actually ended up being 3 versus 1 because Isaí was helping us since we didn't understand all of the rules.) We won, but at an extremely unfair advantage...Jassiel is really good at chess...he held us off for a couple of hours! Then we went with them to look at some German Shepherd puppies...they had a German Shepherd before, but he just died...he's the daddy of the puppies, so they get the pick of the litter.

Monday night, I cooked (for the first time in months) spaghetti (CE's favorite) for Eddy, Hna Isabel (Eddy's mom) and us. Afterwards, Pastor Sergio y Hna Laura picked us up to go to the funeral home. The daughter of a lady in the church had passed away, so they were invited to share with the family and friends there. It was interesting...not anything like I expected. The main family was in one room, but others were in this big open room. The mother had requested several hymns and asked for Pastor Sergio to share the Gospel. It was one of the clearest presentations that I have ever heard in my life. He explained God's love for us and His desire for us to live with Him forever, but the only way was through belief in Jesus Christ...not through good works or a church or anything else. I was pretty sure that Pastor Sergio was right on, but when I heard him share that message...oh, I knew it without a doubt that he is a man of God.

Tuesday (4/17) morning, we had met Pastor Sergio y Hna Laura to go out and share the Gospel. They started in one area of Gonzalez, and they are going to every house in Gonzalez to explain to them how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. They have little booklets of John and Romans that they use to explain salvation. If a person accepts Christ, they continue visiting and sharing more and more of the Bible until they come to church. Then they get those people involved in the Discipleship class to get them grounded in the Word of God. It's pretty awesome! They've begun this program to help people grow beyond baby Christians. That is the majority of what all the members of the church are right now. Unfortunately, the missionary that spent the majority of her life in this church didn't encourage growth or leaders within the church. So even though 50-60 of the people who are regular attenders at church and have been for their entire lives, they don't know how to pray, read the Bible, or share their faith. It's reallly sad...I'm sure that she did a lot of good too, but it's been a struggle for Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura to get people to step up and do things in the church.

The four of us had a great morning...2 little boys Vincente and Ivan accepted Christ at the first house that we stopped at. Two more accepted Christ at the house where Pastor Sergio & Hna Laura stopped at. Then we stopped at another house and 2 men accepted Christ--Don Crecencio (far right) and Jose Luis (left of CE)...the other man Alfredo (far left) is Don Crecencio's son and goes to the church we were working with. Another man accepted Christ with Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura. It was a great day!!

Tuesday afternoon, Jassiel played us again in chess...this time only against Chris and me, and he won! They are such a great family!!! We are really enjoying their company! Then we went to work on e-mail, pictures, etc.

Tuesday evening, we had a surprise from Isaí...he knew it was our 200th day of the road, so he thought we should celebrate with cake!! We were so pumped up! We couldn't beleive how thoughtful he was. He's very careful about how he spends his money, so we were really touched!! He told us later that he went with the intention of paying, but when he explained what it was for, they just gave it to him. Isn't God great...He knows the intentions of our hearts and gives us such great gifts! So we celebrated with cake and ice cream. We even got to meet another pastor--Maximino--who has started a brand new church plant in Gonzalez!

Wednesday (4/18) morning, Jassiel was sick and not able to go to school, so we weren't able to go out visiting again. Instead Chris and I listened to this great sermon called "The Fullness of the Holy Spirit." Wow! He was speaking straight truth from the Word of God!! He said "the problem with today's Christians is that they are trying to live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit." It's so often we try to do the good things or be good--act like a Christian...but if it's just ourselves making the effort, we fail! AND there's no joy! The Holy Spirit is the one who gives us "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" Gal. 5:22-23.

When we finished listening to that sermon, we had about an hour before lunch. Pastor Sergio wanted us to visit a couple of people. We went to see Julio, a man who was recently baptized, to encourage him in his faith. He desires to live for Christ, but he struggles with a drinking's a problem because it often takes the grocery money and his kids don't have food to eat. It's been a lot better since he met Christ, but he's still struggling. Please pray for him and his wife, Lety, she's got a lot of hurt inside of her because of choices that Julio has made. From there we went to visit, Juanita and her daughter, Milagros. Pastor Sergio y Hna Laura met Juanita because they learned that she was extremely depressed and thinking of suicide. She has 3 children, but her husband left over a year ago to go to the US to make more money for the family. She has no idea of when he is coming back...she is feeling the strain & her oldest son has begun to rebel. It's really sad. We talked with her and invited her to church. Please pray for her and her family as well!

Right after we left Juanita's house, Chris started feeling really sick. I felt fine, so we were pretty sure it wasn't something that he had eaten. After lunch he felt a little better, but not 100%. We've learned about spiritual warfare on this trip and how sometimes you can feel it physically. We're pretty sure that's what it was because that afternoon, Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura had a lot of questions about the Holy Spirit, and we had a really good time of sharing. Then Chris felt see the power of the Holy Spirit is real, & the devil doesn't want people to know about. We must press on!! God will have the victory in the end!

Wednesday night, we went to the prayer was really good too! So different with Pastor Sergio preaching...he's lead by the Spirit! After church we went to a Bakery that Hna Ninfa owns...we met Hna Berta (in yellow) who's a good friend on Hna Ninfa (seated) and Victoria (in tan), Hna Ninfa's daughter. We prayed for their businesses and sampled a little of the delicious bread that they made there. Hna Ninfa invited us to come back the following afternoon to share the Gospel with her husband and to pray for her son-Lazaro.

Thursday (4/19) we washed clothes and worked on writing most of the morning. That afternoon we went out as a church to knock on doors and visit people in the community. Quite a few ladies showed up...most of the men are still working at 4 pm, so they can't go. Pastor Sergio and Chris went together and he paired me up with Dora...he paired everyone so that there was one person who was comfortable sharing with people and one person who was going out visiting for the first time. The Holy Spirit was definitely leading...many people prayed to accept Christ. Dora was a perfect partner for me because I'm comfortable talking to people about Christ, but I'm not very good at reading the Bible in Spanish out loud. So Dora read the passages, and I explained them. Now she feels more comfortable sharing as well!! Chris and Sergio walked by the part of town where there was a soccer field. They handed out a bunch of tracts to the boys who were there playing, and they invited Chris to come back on Friday afternoon to play with them.

After visiting for a couple of hours, we went back to the bakery to pray for Hna Ninfa's son-Lazaro and to talk to her husband. When we got there, her husband was sleeping and her son had already left for Monterrey. He had an appointment with the doctor about his back early Friday morning. They were going to set up a time for surgery and give him a prognosis. We prayed for him anyway...knowing that God can hear us and be with him in the journey at the same time! We also had the opportunity to talk to one of Hna. Ninfa's grandsons about Jesus. He wasn't really interested though because he feels like he's too young to think about those kind of things.

From the bakery, we went to church to the discipleship class. There were quite a few people there...16 or so of us...some are new believers, but others have been Christians for a long time, but haven't grown spiritually. They are starting to get hungry now...Praise the Lord!

After the discipleship class, we went to Hno Fernando y Hna Norma's house for supper. A lot of their family was there, so we met tons of people!! We enjoyed great fellowship and food!! (And to think we worried about not having enough food to eat along the way! ha, ha, ha! God's provision is out of this world!)

Friday (4/20) morning was another workday for us in the morning...for lunch we went over to Pastor Sergio y Hna Laura's house. From their we went over to the soccer field. Chris was able to play quite a bit to start with, but then as other players started showing up, the teams had to rotate. While we were waiting for Chris's team to play again, we saw to boys sitting up in the corner of the bleachers reading the tract that Pastor Sergio and Chris had handed out on Thursday afternoon! We were so excited...and started praying for the seeds that were being planted!!

Friday evening, Chris shared at the Men's fellowship/ Bible study. He encouraged the men to step up and lead their familiies according to God's spend time with their children...throwing money at a child isn't love...that the money they earned wasn't theirs but a gift from God--use it for His glory. While Chris was sharing with the men, I shared with the Women's Auxilary. (The moment I walked in the door, Hna Ninfa called me to talk with her. Lazaro found out that he doesn't need surgery...the Lord has healed him! She was soooo excited! Praise God!!) They are having a Conference meeting soon, so they practiced some Bible trivia and Sword drills. Then I talked to them about see, we can't live and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit without love...all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are useless without love...the fruit of the Spirit can all be traced back to love. People should be able to look at our lives and know by our love that we are followers of Christ! Chris and I both really enjoyed our time with the two groups!!

Saturday (4/21) afternoon we went out visiting with Pastor Sergio while Hna Laura had a children's lesson at church. First we went to see some members of the church--Hno Catarino, Hna Marta, and their daughter-Mitzari. Hna Marta had been sick, and Pastor Sergio wanted to go by to pray for her and to see how she was doing. Come to find out, she had been given the wrong medicine at the pharmacy...she has high blood pressure, but they gave her an anti-depressant instead of her blood pressure medicine. It, of course, made her really sick. The box was exactly the same on the outside and the pills looked the same as well. Finally on Thursday, she realized that the name of the medicine wasn't right. One small word makes a big difference! She's doing better now...Praise God!

Our second visit was Pastor Sergio y Hna Laura's former neighbors-Cesar y Dora. (Cesar is also Isaí's technical drawing teacher at school.) Their daughter, Edna, lives in Lexington, NC. We couldn't believe the connection. We are hoping to connect her with some of the folks we met when we passed through Lexington almost 7 months ago on this journey! She has had a really hard time since she's been there. Her husband was very abusive and has a really strong drug addiction. She finally left him, but he has tried to take her children. Please pray for her and the children. Cesar and Dora invited us to come for Sunday breakfast with them. They wanted us to chat with Edna, so we agreed to come back.

Saturday evening we spoke to the youth group. We talked to them about being on adventure with Jesus and that He has a plan for them and a job for each of them! At the end of the meeting we chatted awhile with some of the teens...especially Elenita. She wanted to help us with some computer work and to help Chris find a new cap for his walking stick. He's worn through the one that Joey Herndon put on it in Thomasville, GA more than 6 months ago.

Sunday (4/22) morning we were walking to Cesar and Dora's house, but we had our packs on because we were going to speak to at children's church. We wanted to be authentic, so we needed the packs. I prayed specifically that day that we wouldn't have to get all sweaty before church...we had walked no more than 3 blocks, and one of the men from church stopped to give us a ride the rest of the way! Praise God! We had a good breakfast, and we were able to talk to Edna in North Carolina. Before we left, we invited Cesar and Dora to church that night to hear more of our story--What God had been doing.

Sunday school was good that morning...Pastor Sergio talked about how the religious sects of Jesus's time united despite their differences in order to kill Jesus. He asked us about our relationships with others...were they based on a mutual dislike of another person or were they based on Christ. The lesson reminded me of the message that we heard when we were in Nueva Rosita, Mexico...Jesus united people of different sects as well, but they were united because of the call He had placed on their lives...which are we? United in the love of Jesus for the sake of the call or are we united because of dislike or hate?

Chris and I spoke to the children's church during the morning service. We taught them a few new songs and they taught us a few as well. Then we shared with them about being missionaries for Jesus even now! They can ask Jesus to use their hands and feet daily to serve Him! They had questions for us, and we asked them about how they could be God's hands and feet here on earth. Then we played a few games to help them learn the memory verse, and we sang a little more.

For Sunday lunch, the Padron family invited us to eat with them because they were celebrating
Sarai's 28th birthday!! It was wonderful being with a big family like that! We didn't get cake for my birthday, so we were really excited to celebrate with her and all the family! Hno Fernando played the guitar so that we could all sing Happy Birthday...her children and all of her nieces and nephews gathered around her to give her a hug and a kiss (& to get some cake!)

Sunday evening before church, Chris and I went over to Eddy's parent's house to pray for his dad, Don Antonio. He had been sick much of the week, and Hna Isabel asked us to come over to pray with him. From there we walked to church. Chris and I shared testimony of this journey...initally when we came into Mexico we were only sharing stories from the US. Although there's nothing wrong with that, God continues to move and to work in we wanted to share examples of the scripture from our time in Mexico. We were finally able to!! Chris also spoke with very little help from me!! Praise God for his language acquisition!! By the time we get to Peru, he won't need any help at all...He'll be helping me!! Many in the congregation
were moved to surrender a little more to the Lord. It was an amazing night of the Holy Spirit just flowing. Pastor Sergio wrapped it all up so well...he had been taking notes while we spoke to offer a challenge to his flock!

After the service, we all had supper together...a Mexican covered-dish supper. Oh so tasty!! We fellowshipped with a lot of the people, sang some more with the kids, and played a little bit with the kids as well!

Monday (4/23) we worked most of the morning we were leaving the Ciber Cafe, a familiar black SUV stopped right beside was Prof. Aureliano who had given us a ride into Gonzalez. We had been to his house several times looking for him, but we never found him. We just thought we weren't supposed to see him again, but in God's time, he crossed our paths again. He told us that we could come by the school on Tuesday morning to see the school and visit with him. (Praise God!) It was pretty crazy because the place we were working is a different ciber than the one we had used the entire previous week. AND we were heading to Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura's house much later than we normally went to eat lunch...God's timing!!

Monday afternoon and evening we hung out at Pastor Sergio and Hna Laura's house. We played with Isaí, Jassiel, and Kenya along with Hugo and Nalleli (two kids from church) and several kids from the neighborhood. Pastor Sergio grilled out and invited all the kids to eat with us...along with the family from the church Martin and Erika (the parents) and Nalleli, Hugo and Kevin (the kids). We enjoy more good fellowship and tasty food!!

A few more pictures...1)Eddy's dog, Chispa...His name means spark because he bounces around like a little spark!! I never thought I could like a little dog like that, but he made me smile every time we got "home." No, that's not a straw around his's the plastic piece off of a toilet...he has to wear it so he can't fit through the holes in the fence!! Now you can understand why I smile!! 2) Roy Jr.--his first night at home with the family! 3) Keyla and RE with one of their rabbits...she also has a cat...I think she wants to be a vet when she grows up!!

4)Isaí carrying my load to the house!! 5) Isaí's's our verse, just in Spanish!

More beautiful flowers from our journey...hope you enjoy them as much as I do!!