Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We Have a Beautiful, New Addition to the Family!!

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Tuesday Evening, May 29, 2007: Margaret Adele Embler came into this world...a month early, but healthy just the same!! Praise God!!!

Addie, our adorable neice, we can't wait to hold you in our arms!

Congratulations, Ross and Molly!! We love you guys and wish we could be there with you!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Flat Tire Gave Us a Long Ride to Matias Romero, Oaxaca (Still in Mexico)

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(Thursday 5/24) We had only walked 2.5 miles when we got our first ride...Juan and Rafael stopped to see if they could take us a few miles. They both worked in the US for 10 or more years. Juan is ready to start a family and plant some roots. Rafael's girlfriend is still in the US so he's anxious to get back. Both of them accepted Christ while they were in the US...Praise God...this is a pretty common phenomenon from what we have heard. There's more good than many realize about the immigration to the US. If Jesus finds them while they are there and they carry Him back to their families, I'd say it's worth whatever price they had to pay.

They dropped us out about 10.5 miles later...right in front of a cross...we continued our walk...about 5 miles later we took a break in the shade. All of the sudden, I felt like I was going to pass out because I was so hot! I was fine... It was just God telling us it was time for a divine appointment. Almost as soon as we sat down, Abel, a waiter, walked out from the restaurant. I was sharing with him about our walk when we heard a tire burst and a white VW Bug coast to a stop right in front of us. They had a jack and 5 guys in the car, so we didn't think they needed any help initially. The jack didn't work thought, so Chris went over to see if he could help. They ended up having to pick up that end of the car. As we were helping, we learned that they are all Christians...4 of the guys were taking an evangelist, Jorge, to Tierra Blanca to catch a bus back to his house. They only just had a few minutes to get him there. One of the remaining 4 is the pastor. That's about all we had time for because as soon as the tire was on, it was time for them to hurry on.

We wondered why it was that we met them...It was definitely a God thing, but we didn't get to talk to them at all really...may be we were there just to help with the tire?! We went back over to pick up our packs, but 3 ladies were standing outside...Lulú, Carmen and Carmen. (in the picture with RE left to right) They were interested in knowing about what we were doing...Lulú is a Christian, so she was really encouraged. We debated about getting a bite to eat or heading on...we decided to head on...

When we were less than 2 miles from Tierra Blanca, a white VW Bug pulled over. Out hopped 4 guys...Pastor Jorge, Miguel, Magdiel, and Manuel. Pastor Jorge told us that they had been watching out for us since they dropped off the evangelist. If they saw us again, they had already decided to invite us to go with them to their church. (Pretty funny...Chris and I were already formulating a plan of what to do when we got to Tierra Blanca!!) We, of course, accepted even though it meant some backtracking--going NW instead of SE towards Peru. It meant adding on at least 50 miles in the "wrong" direction. We knew it was from God so we went without hesitation!! All 6 of us piled into the Bug with CE's pack because only mine fit in the trunk!!

Off we went to Acatlan de Perez Figueroa...a town not even on our map...oh, but what a huge God we serve!! Our first stop was a Miguel's parent's house-Hno Roberto y Hna Matilde Bonilla. They offered us a delicious lunch, and Miguel shared his testimony with us!

Miguel (in the orange shirt beside CE) was a coyote (He led groups of illegal immigrants to the US.) before he knew the Lord. He'd been caught 25 times. It was a very lucrative business for him...about 5 years ago he was put in prison, and his lawyer could do nothing to get him out...there wasn't enough money anywhere to buy his freedom...the least he would serve was 7 years. He was scared, so he called his parents in Mexico and told them what happened. When they found out, they were at a church conference with about 800 other Christians. They all prayed for his safe release. Miguel told God that if He set him free that he would always serve Him. Six DAYS later, Miguel walked out of prison a free man. That very day he was back with his old friend and up to his old habits. He said, “God is faithful and keeps His word...it's us who fail Him!” Two years later, God touched his heart at a revival meeting at the top of a mountain...fixing some one’s car brought him to the church. (Or so he thought)…But really God was reminding him of his promise and asking him to be faithful just as God had been faithful to him. Now, Miguel is a different man...God has changed him completely! He loves the Lord and seeks to serve Him with all he has. He explained that it was difficult at times to make ends meet, but he prefers this life to the other...there's no comparison!!

After lunch, we were off to the room that the evangelist had just evacuated. Within an hour we were back on the road...this time we were headed to a little ranchito (smaller than a town...way off the main road) called Guadalupe Reyes to the Church of God of Prophecy where Hno Jorge is the pastor. They had service that evening, and Pastor Jorge invited us to speak. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what we saw...It's an open-air church with a palm-thatched roof. It was awesome!!

The Holy Spirit was so strong...it was a wonderful service!!

Hna Lety, Hna Eva, and Hna Raquel (pictured with RE) invited us to their house to eat supper after the service...homegrown beans, eggs straight from the hen, and hand-made corn tortillas...wow! I thought we had been eating fresh food before! It was oh so good! After supper, we headed back to Pastor Jorge and Hna Juanita's house for coffee, milk, and sweet bread and more fellowship. We even met their youngest son, Dony. They only just started pastoring this church 6 months ago, so they are still getting adjusted to small town life. Pray for them in their growth and in the growth of the church.

Friday (5/25) morning, the plan was to head out early and visit several families in Guadalupe Reyes to share the Gospel with them, but God had other plans...it was pouring rain, so we had to wait. Hno Elias from Guadalupe Reyes arrived right on time to give us a ride out to the ranchito. Hno Guadalupe (pictured with CE) went with Pastor Jorge, Hna Juana, and us to visit. Hno Guadalupe has such a powerful testimony! He accepted Christ, and his family left him...he was heart-broken, but he's not willing to give up his relationship with Jesus! He continues to pray for reconcilliation!!

Once we got to Guadalupe Reyes, we stopped in to pray for a retired teacher who is battling with a lot of health problems. The doctors think he may have lung cancer...after we prayed for him we asked if He had accepted Jesus as his Savior. He told us no...he was still thinking about it. It was a really important decision, and he was going to make it whole heartedly when he decided it was time.

Hna Eva joined us at the church, and we went on to another house...her sister and brother-in-law's house (Hno Concepcion y Doña Mari). We talked with them for about 2 hours...They both used to attend the Jehovah's Witness church, but not too long ago, Hno Concepcion decided that they weren't teaching the truth, and he was going to go to an evangelical church. His wife said that he went crazy. He's still a little confused, but we were able to answer some of his questions. His wife, however, is still attending the Jehovah's Witness church from time to time. She's even more confused than he is because she grew up in a Christian church. There was a Christian church in Guadalupe Reyes about 60 years ago, but the missionaries died and so did the church. About 20 or so years later, the Jehovah's Witnesses came in...because the missionaries hadn't made disciples, people weren't firm in their faith. They were easily confused and lead astray. About 20 years ago, the Church of God of Prophecy started the mission that is now a church. They've begun to take back what the devil stole. Unfortunately, Doña Mari's beliefs are really mixed up...please pray for her salvation!

After our visit with them, we went to visit another family. Hna Eva and Hno Guadalupe talked to the wife and Pastor Jorge and Hna Juanita talked to the husband. Chris and I talked to Leonarda--the wife's cousin. Both the husband, Telesforo, and Leonarda accepted Jesus as their Savior...pray that these seeds will take root in fertile ground and that Telesforo's wife will soon accept God's gift to her as well!

Hno Elias and Hna Reyna invited us to eat lunch at their house, so that was our last stop. We ate, and then the door opened for us to talk to Pancho, their son, Loreta, his wife, and their tiny, 9 day old baby-Francisco. Loreta just made a decision to follow Jesus, but Pancho isn't sure that he's ready yet.

Friday night, Hno Elias and Pancho played the guitar and keyboard, and we sang praise songs!! It was an awesome time of worship. Hno Elias picked out songs to encourage us on our journey...songs about unity in the body of Christ, God's faithfulness, and the Holy Spirit's guidance!! What a great gift!! We had a wonderful time fellowshipping with them! ( in the picture l to r: Hno Elias & Hna Reyna, Loreta & Pancho, Pastor Jorge & Hna Juanita)

After we left Guadalupe Reyes, we went over to the Bonilla family's house for supper. Then we got a big surprise...Miguel had talked to one of his friends who is a Christian truck driver. He was going to pass through Acatlan on his way to Tabasco...he would be willing to drop us off in Acayucan on Sunday. Then Pastor Jorge spoke up and said, “I've also taken up a collection for them to buy a bus ticket to Matias Romero, Oaxaca. They can go with me on the bus part of the way tomorrow (Saturday) and then continue on their own in another bus all the way to Matias Romero.” We told them that we would pray about it...Miguel thought we should take the pastor up on the bus tickets. We weren't sure what to do, but we don't like to travel on Sundays. It's the Lord's day, and we like to rest and to worship in His house. After talking and praying Friday night, Chris and I decided to head on with Pastor Jorge.

Saturday (5/26) we spent most of the day traveling...we hadn't slept much the two night we stayed in Acatlan because of getting in so late and leaving so early in the morning, so we basically slept the whole time on the bus. We arrived in Matias Romero around 4:30 pm. We looked around, ate lunch, and prayed. Nothing opened up by suppertime, so we decided to stay in a hotel. We got a really good rate and it had hot, running water!!! We rested a little more and then went to sleep early.

Sunday (5/27) we got up early to find a church. We weren't sure about bringing our stuff or not, so we decided not to bring it...sometimes when we arrive with our packs it's a distraction or it makes us stand out even more. At times we don't have another option, but this day we did, so we left them in the room...making the decision that we were going to stay another night.

We had learned about a church on Saturday that was nearby, but we asked the guy at the front desk if he knew of a church. We thought he was giving us the same directions, so we figured it was where we were supposed to go to church. When we got to the church, we realized it was a Nazerene church, not the one we had learned about the day before. It was obvious that we were supposed to be there though. The pastor was praying when we got there, so we went in and started praying too. When he finished praying, he approached us. He wasn't sure who or what we were (because we're so white...he thought we might be angels...I had to laugh about that...little did he know that I am an Angel...a Meredith College graduated!! ha, ha, ha) The pastor started asking questions, and we started sharing our testimony. Before we knew it, Pastor Jose Luis was inviting us to speak that morning to the church.

After we spoke, they had Sunday School. The Sunday School teacher makes her living as a teacher, so she did a great job with the lesson. She talked about the earth not being our home and that we needed to be focused on the Lord...working for Him! The Holy Spirit tied her lesson in with our testimony...it was as if they were meant to go together.

We told the pastor after church that we looked forward to seeing them in the afternoon. One of the women in the church invited us to her house for lunch and to spend the afternoon with them. Then the pastor told us that he and his wife--Hna Clemina--would like to invite us for supper. Also, Pastor Jose Luis asked if we would bring the message on Sunday night. We told him we would, but we didn't have any idea of what to speak about. We just knew God would speak to our hearts and give us words...His Words!

Hna Hilda (left of RE) is the lady who invited us to eat with her and her daughters--Nury (in peach and black) and Reyna(in green). We quickly learned that Hna Hilda's husband was the former pastor at the church, but 4 years ago to the day he passed away unexpectedly. This left her alone with 3 kids to raise and to send to school, and a church congregation looking to her. It was a difficult time in their lives...lots of struggles. They are beginning to come out of that time in their lives and are going through the process of restoration. Nury and Abimael (her husband--pictured with the family) attend church together, but Reyna's husband, Abisai has no interest in church. Nury and Reyna sang a couple of songs during the special music time. Please continue to lift up this family and this church...God is working through the pain and division that followed Pastor Josue's death. Pray for Pastor Jose Luis and Hna Clemina also...they stepped into the middle of this situation without really knowing what was going on, so they've been struggling as well!

Sunday night, God really laid discipleship on our hearts...so many times people read the great commission, and they get pumped up about the going and telling all the nations about Jesus and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but they MISS THE PART ABOUT MAKING DISCIPLES. If God's Word is taking root in your heart, you should be discipling someone. Someone should be discipling you too. We have seen numerous examples on this walk of what happens to ministries if you aren't making disciples. It's really sad...the work is abandoned when the person who had the vision is absent. Discipleship will be a part of whatever we do after this walk. The importance of discipleship is huge...it's where authentic growth takes place!

Monday (5/28) we worked most of the day on writing...it seems that every now and then we have to just stop and write down what God is doing...it's amazing how things get moving daily! He is amazing!! While we were writing at a restaurant Hno Abram from church on Sunday drove by on his tricicleta. We invited him in for a Coke, and he sat down with us to share his testimony. He shared of coming to Jesus because of a serious injury...he needed healing, and God touched his body! His daughter was also radically healed...the entire family now serves the Lord.

After Hno Abram left, it started raining really hard. This guy on his bike stopped right in front of where we were seated. Chris saw him looking for money to buy a drink, but he didn't have enough. So Chris offered him a Coke, and he accepted. It turns out that Pedro used to go to church, but then he went out of town to work for a while, and he got mixed up with the wrong crowd. Now he stays drunk and never goes to church. We had a good talk about the prodigal son and how Jesus was waiting for him with open arms...full of love and forgiveness. He was really interested in the pastor coming to visit him later. Praise God!!

We're planning to head out early on Tuesday (5/29)...God bless you and keep you! We love you!

Of course...more flowers!!

These are actually docorative chili peppers!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Recovering in La Tinaja, Veracruz, Mex...440 miles from the Guatemalan border

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Wednesday (5/16)--We decided to wait until the afternoon to leave since the next town is close, and we didn't know how my knee was going to hold up. Dra. Dulce told us that she might have to go to Veracruz (the city) that evening, so we were praying about that... In the morning, we worked on catching up some more on the internet, made some thank you cards and a little sand dollar magnet for Dra. Dulce and the Agua Viva Church.

Wednesday afternoon, we went over to see Pastor Francisco...to thank him again for allowing us to speak at his church. We also got all of his contact information, so that we can stay in touch. Before he would let us go, he gave us each a t-shirt with scripture on it. We prayed together and then Chris and I went back to pack up.

When we got home, Dra. Dulce said that she would be ready in about an hour. She had forgotten some disks in Veracruz at her mom's house, and she needed them to study for an exam that she is taking this Saturday. So we decided that we should go with her. Wow...God knew...the road was very narrow almost all the way to Veracruz (approx. 80 miles), and unlike other narrow roads we have walked on, there was no shoulder to move on to when a car was coming! Praise God for His provision...that He goes before us and behind us!! (Picture is of the scenery along the way...God's creation is so beautiful!!)

We spent the night at Dra. Dulce's mom's house, and headed out early Thursday morning (5/17)...we weren't sure where the next town was or even if it was possible for us to make it to it...but we walk by faith!! Eight and a half miles later at our midday break, we still haven't met anyone. We'll see what happens when the sun goes down a bit!!

We waited until about 4:30 to start walking again...thinking that would give us about 4 hours to get somewhere. (We decided to try walking on the toll-road today because the shoulder is so much wider. The problem was that there was no where to exit the entire day!) Well 5 hours later, we still hadn't seen an open door anywhere...there were no towns, no houses, no nothing--Including 3 signs for a restaurant that didn't even exist...we were pretty disappointed until we realized we were putting our faith in things of this world & it should be in God!! (Actually, we did see this family plowing the field with oxen!! That was rather interesting...we didn't know people still worked the land like that. The lady on the left is swinging a machete like there's no tomorrow...I'd say she was at least in her 60s.) We saw some lights across the street, but we had no idea how to get to them. We sat down under the bridge and just prayed. We wanted to be where God wanted us to be, but we had no idea where that was. After having walked at least 21 miles (We broke the record again!), we were exhausted. We had long since given up trying to walk on our own strength...God was definitely carrying us! My first day back walking...God confirmed in my mind that it's His strength that sustains us. We don't have to worry! What we think is physically impossible...He's already got it taken care of! We finally decided to see if we could climb up the embankment to get to the lights. It took quite a bit of effort. (We learned another reason for having the walking sticks...Chris used his to pull me up several times.) The lady we met (Daría) was really nice...she let us set up our tent, and we went straight to bed!

Friday morning (5/18) by the time we were out of the tent, only Carlos (one of the sons) was at home. He was studying for the entrance exam for law school that he has to take tomorrow in Veracruz. We told him that we would be praying for him. We shared just a little bit with him, but he wasn't really interested. He offered us some tamales and water to fill our water bottles. Then he showed us how to get back on the road using a path that we couldn't see in the dark.

We had walked about 4.5 miles when we came to a restaurant, so we stopped in to eat. Once we realized it was also a hotel, we got a room. We were still exhausted & NASTY. We don't really know what yesterday or today are all about, but we continue to trust that God is in control of even these circumstances. I think we have decided to stick to the federal roads from now on. They are usually a little more narrow, but there are people on those roads. Honestly, if there aren't people for us to share Christ's love with, there's no point in doing what we are doing!

Saturday (5/19) morning, we got up really early and started walking. We still didn't see anyone or talk to anyone until we were about 1 mile from the very first exit sign we had seen in 3 days. We saw a mango stand, and José and his mom, Eva, called us over. We shared with them about our journey and Jesus' love for them. José met Jesus when he was living in Wilson, NC (just 25 minutes from where we used to live in Smithfield, NC). He was excited and so were we! As we were about to leave, José started filling a plastic bag with mangos to give to us!! (Chris and I both LOVE mangos!)

We walked just a little further and we came to a truck stop. We were going to walk on by because neither of us really needed anything, but one of the truck drivers--Alberto--called us over. We went over to see what he wanted...he had seen us they day before when we were walking, and he wanted to know what we were doing and where we were going. He was sad to hear that we weren't going in the same direction because he wanted to give us a ride. We stayed and talked to him a little more. I even pulled out the map and talked to him about the best route to take into Guatemala. One of the roads that I was thinking about taking is pretty dangerous and deserted, so he showed us the best way to go...even though it is a little longer. Praise God for guidance!!

Just a few minutes later we came upon another fruit stand. They had ciruelas (a variation of our plums--red fruit above guy in the hat's left shoulder) and mangos. The guys there wanted to talk to...we shared with them about our journey, they gave us a bag of ciruelas! We couldn't believe it...things really seemed to be opening up...the last 3 days had been so hard...probably the hardest 3 since we started. We had spent a lot more time than normal in prayer and just seeking God. We knew He was there, we just couldn't see Him. We just kept trusting Him and having faith that a door was going to open soon.

When we finally exited off the toll road, we thought we would immediately be in La Tinaja (the town we were trying to get to), but it was another hour and a half walk (4 miles). We finally arrived...we stopped at one of the first restaurants that we came to because after 13 miles we were pretty hungry. Nothing opened up so we kept walking. It was starting to get really hot, so we decided to take a break at the gas station. We learned later it's also a restaurant and a bus station, so it was really busy. We sat down to read and to pray.

Almost immediately a guy named Daniel came up to talk with us. He's a believer and wanted to know what we were doing. We thought this was the open door, but no...a girl appeared pretty soon and we realized that he was going on a date. Then another couple stopped to talk to us...they wanted to give us a ride, but they were going in the opposite direction. It was becoming more and more obvious that we weren't supposed to go anywhere...we were supposed to be in La Tinaja. We just didn't know where. After an hour or so, I asked a lady in the restaurant if there was a Cyber nearby so we could check our e-mail. She gave us directions, and we started on our way.

As we were walking out of the parking lot, a man called for us to come over to the taco stand. Juan Carlos (middle) offered us something to eat if we wanted it. I was still hungry, so I accepted the offer. He introduced us to his assistant, Marcelino (right), and to the owner of the taco stand, Petra. She has been selling tacos for 50 years in that same spot!! Anyway...we started sharing testimony about our journey and Juan Carlos was more and more interested. Before we knew it, he was offering to pay for us to take a bus on to another town or to find a place for us to stay that night. We didn't know what to do, but we knew we couldn't walk anymore. We asked Juan Carlos what he thought would be best, and he said staying and resting. So we agreed to stay.

He took us to a barber shop where his friend, Oscar, works and lives during the week. He's from Tierra Blanca, but he came to La Tinaja to find work. He goes home on the weekends to see his family, but he's hoping to bring them to live in La Tinaja really soon. He agreed to let us sleep there even though he was going home that night. Pretty amazing, huh?! We even got Chris a haircut!

While Oscar was working, we walked around to see if we could find a church for Sunday...we'd been told that there were no evangelical churches, but we didn't believe that could be true. We asked one more man, and he gave us directions to what he thought was a church. When we got there, we were excited to see that it was a church. The schedule wasn't painted on the outside though, so we didn't know when to come back. As we were walking back, we saw a lady (Sarah) in her yard, so we asked her if she knew where the pastor lived. She told us that the lady who had the keys lived across the street, but she wasn't home. We saw a poster for a revival in the next city that was taking place that night, so we figured that everyone was at that. I was intrigued by all of the beautiful flowers in her yard, so I asked her about them, and she showed me around. While we were talking, Chris visited with her son, Julian. They also told us about another Christian church in town, so we set out to find it. We weren't sure which of the two churches we were supposed to be in on Sunday, but God did. We just trusted Him to guide us.

When we got near the other church, we asked for directions. Several people directed us on down the path, and we ran into the lady that had the keys for the church--Maura. They had just finished their service, and everyone had gone home. Maura introduced us to her daughters-Betsaira and Laura. They were really nice, and we were able to share just a little with them before we needed to go back to the barber shop. Maura invited us for breakfast the next morning at their house...from there we could go to the first church that we found. We agreed and headed back to see if Oscar was ready to go home yet.

Much to our surprise, when we arrived at the barber shop, Juan Carlos and Marcelino were waiting on us. Juan Carlos was concerned because we hadn't eaten supper yet, so he took us to supper. We couldn't believe his kindness!! (He's not a Christian...and was pretty intoxicated to tell you the truth, but he was concerned about our well-being. How many times do we as Christians just walk by when we see a need? I was convicted to do more!)

Sunday morning, we had a really tasty breakfast...picadas also known as Mexican pizzas!! We were able to talk quite a bit with Maura's husband, Abel, who isn't a Christian. Maura and the girls were preparing the food, but we were able to talk to them a little while we were eating. We said our goodbyes and promised to come back and let them know before we left town. (In the picture...Betsaira, Hna Maura, Abel, Samuel, Laura, CE)

When we arrived at church, a tarp was set up, but only a little boy was sitting underneath. We asked him about a service, but he called to his mom. Just them Hna Rosa came out and gave us a big huge. Apparently the neighbor told her that we would be coming by in the morning. The service didn't start until 11 am, so we were early. We helped them set up and met Maritza, Humberto, and Moises. (They have one more daughter-Maria Ester, but she stayed with her grandma this weekend.) Then we sat down under the tarp to pray and read until the pastor finished getting ready. About 10 minutes later, Pastor Humberto sat down in front of us and said "talk to me...tell me what you are doing." We shared with him testimony of our journey, and he invited us to speak to the church. The night before at the revival, the speaker told the congregation that God would be doing a new thing...to get ready. Pastor Humberto was so excited because he felt that our coming the very next day was just confirmation! Praise God...the 3 days in the wilderness were starting to make sense.

The service was sooo good! Many people came forward to ask for the Lord to use their hands and feet. The Holy Spirit spoke to the pastor and said that we should anoint the feet of those who came forward. So Chris and I anointed their feet and prayed for each one who came forward. After that, Hna Angela gave an amazing testimony...her son who is not a Christian nor does he want anything to do with God was miraculously healed about a month ago because of his parent's faith. They had been saving money for the surgery that they were sure that he was going to have to have...so when God healed him and he didn't have to have the surgery, they decided to give the money they'd been saving to God. Isn't that unbelievable?!! We were really touched!! After the service, many of the people invited us to eat at their house. The door opened wide for us to fellowship with the congregation.

We learned that the pastor and his family don't live here full-time. Pastor Humberto is here from Wednesday to Sunday, and his family (pictured heading to catch the bus with their own packs--they don't have a car either!!) comes Friday night to Sunday. They've been working in this church for 5 years...there was only one family attending, but that was all. They didn't even have a church building. Two years ago, they built the little building, but they've out-grown it!! It won't be much longer before the Pastor and his family can move here full-time. The plan is to build a new church building, and they will take over the old building as their house. There's no group in the US who are supporting them...God's just raising money little by little. It's such an amazing testimony of faith!!

We had a great time fellowshipping over lunch at Hno Rafael and Hna Angela's house with them and the pastor and his family. Hno Rafael and Hna Angela invited us to stay at their house for as long as we were in town. Praise God for His provision!! But it didn't stop there...Hna Angela had 8 years of training in massage therapy! So she massaged Chris's feet (which had huge, blood blisters left over from the 20.5 miles that we walked the previous Thursday) and my feet! What a blessing! She's a true servant...she reminded us that we didn't come to this earth to be served but to serve!! (Jesus shared this same message!!)

Monday (5/21) we washed a few clothes and Juan Carlos (the guy who bought us lunch and supper on Saturday and found us a place to stay) came looking for us. He was concerned about our safety and if we had eaten enough. We were humbled by his kindness and concern!!

Don Tomas and Hna Berta invited us to their house for lunch. Don Tomas isn't a Christian, but he's willing to listen. Right now he's more worried about what his family will think than about what God thinks. We shared a lot with them. Don Tomas seems to be getting closer and closer to making a decision to follow Jesus. Pray for him!!

When we got back to the house, Hno Rafael was getting ready to go to the doctor in Cotaxtla (a nearby town). Hna Angela wanted us all to go with him, so we got ready and left. While he was at the doctor, we walked around to see the town and to look at the river. Then we went back to the plaza to wait for him to finish at the doctor. Two men came up to us while we were waiting-Arturo (right) and Luis (left). Both had worked for some time in the US and were interested in knowing what we were doing. We explained and they were intrigued. Arturo even wanted us to come to his house for lunch on Tuesday. (We'll see what God allows.) Luis wanted us to pray for his wife, Carolina. He met Jesus when he was in the US, but his wife didn't understand why he was so different. She couldn't believe that a relationship with Jesus could change a person.

When we still hadn't seen Hno Rafael after 2 hours, we went to find him. Apparently there are a lot of sick people at 8 pm...he was still waiting in line to see the doctor. So we waited with him...our waiter from the restaurant on Friday at lunch appeared from out of no where. That had to be a God thing...we were in a completely different town, 3 days later. We shared with him a little more.

Tuesday (5/22) morning, I was up and about long before Chris...it seems that two cups of Mexican coffee don't make for a goodnight's sleep...he was awake until 4 am! It was a God thing as well...a lady named Ana came to visit Hna Angela that morning while Chris was still asleep. She has had a rough time...her husband has another women...and has for about 8 years. Now she has accepted Christ, but she doesn't know what to do. She talked and shared with me for over an hour. (Hna Angela had to go somewhere, she felt like Ana and I should talk alone.) I really couldn't give her any advice other than to seek the Lord. He promises that He will be found by those who seek Him...He will reveal what we should do; we just have to wait on Him!! She seemed encouraged by our conversation. I encouraged her to stay in church even when she didn't feel like going. We need spiritual food to survive and to grow!! We prayed together and she left...about the same time that Chris was waking up...talk about God's timing!

Chris and I were walking to the store to get some cheese for lunch when several of the neighborhood kids called out to us. We were as curious as they were so we stopped to chat. We talked about our walk and soccer. When the boys learned that Chris played soccer, they invited him to join them that afternoon. (Since Arturo never came to take us to his house for lunch, we knew that soccer was an open door.)

Chris warmed up with the boys, but the men invited them to play with them. They played for about an hour...Chris almost scored a goal!! I was impressed with how well he played with two huge blisters on the bottom of his feet and almost a year without playing!!

Fernando (in the blue Cruz Azul jersey) walked us back home and told us that he was going to ask his teacher if we could visit his class to tell about what we were doing. (He would check on Wednesday, and we would go on Thursday if the door was open...otherwise we planned to leave on Thursday morning after early morning prayer.) We met Fernando's mom on our way to call my mom Tuesday night. She came up to us and introduced herself. She told us that her son hated to go to Mass, but that he came home talking about God today. She was excited, and asked us to keep encouraging her son when we saw him.

Wednesday (5/23) we worked on making a few things that God had showed us to connect, and we e-mailed a few people. We are still trying to catch up on our e-mails...sorry for those of you we haven't been in touch with...we are praying for you!! While we were at the Cyber, Fernando came by Hna Angela's house to tell us that his teacher said thanks, but no thanks. (It appears that the door is closed...it will soon be time to move on.)

Wednesday afternoon...Pastor Humberto arrived from his home in Tres Valles just in time for the service! He had a Word for the Lord! He talked about the seeds that we plant...God has called us to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, forgiveness! We reap what we sow! It really impacted me!! Praise God for the times we get to sit and listen to God's Word!!

Wednesday night, one of the ladies from church invited us to come eat at her restaurant...so Pastor Humberto, Hna Angela, Chris, and I all went. We had a good time of fellowship there. When we got back to the house, the conversation continued...Hno Rafael had gotten home from work, so we talked and prayed together!!

Thursday (5/24) morning, we went to early morning prayer...an hour of pouring out your heart with other brother's and sisters! It was awesome! We had our spiritual food, and Hna Angela gave us a good breakfast, and we started on our way. Our plans are to make it to Tierra Blanca today, but we are starting a lot later than we planned...it's 22 miles...more than we would like to walk in one day. It will be interesting to see what happens! God bless you and keep you! We'll be in touch soon!

1) Hna Angela with one of the delicious meals she fixed...enmoleadas (tacos covered with mole). 2) Moises with CE's walking stick...get it Moises's rod from Exodus!

More flowers...