Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blogging with Friends

In spite of my friend (and cousin) Josiah's best efforts, the site continues to experience issues. He thinks that 7 years of posts and vague meanderings might have something to do with that. Lots of gigabytes.

So in the meantime, while you may have trouble reading my site, let me direct you to others!

All of our co-workers, and even a future co-worker, are communicative. Communicative, mind you, can be used as a euphemism for gossips (chismosos), but I'm not using it in that way! They are effective communicators, how about that!

You can check out their blogs here.

Finding Direction is a blog about our Canadian co-workers Jim and Shari Cottrill and their ministry and family. Right now, if you check it out, you'll encounter news about Canada, as they are traveling in Ontario currently. Their daughter, Hannah, just turned 13. Those of us with teenagers obtain a perverse sense of glee when another family joins the ranks! Jim seems like a calm enough chap, until you get him playing a rockin’ praise song. Then something happens…

 In Avoidance of the Perfunctory is co-worker Tina Barham’s blog. Tina likes to use big words, at least in English. Ok, not really. Tina is our youth leader/community center leader/contact maker. My only complaint with Tina is that she doesn’t make her coffee strong enough, but perhaps she can still learn. Maggie, her pointer, is her faithful companion. Tina is looking to go full-time with Camino Global, and needs some additional funds. If you want to help her out, don’t think about it, just do it! We’ve been privileged to get to know Tina’s home church, Fremont Alliance, of Fremont Nebraska. They have sent a team (or two) to assist the ministry here both this year and last.

Jessie’s Journal is Jessica Nixon’s creative Wordpress site. Jessica is serving with us here in Ixtapaluca for the next year, and has an unfair advantage over the rest of us with all this blogging and website activity, because she actually knows what she is doing! Her graphic design and artistic skills are evident in her website and in her house, which she is transforming into something a bit more livable. Jessica is all about social media, and will no doubt re-tweet and re-face this post.

Malu and Julian’s mission adventures is Julian and Malu Grymaloski’s blog.  Julian is Canadian and his wife Malu is from Monterrey, Mexico. Please note that this blog is not to be confused with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. We are still a bit uncomfortable welcoming them on our team because they have “malo” right in the middle of their name! Not true! We are excited to incorporate them into the ministry here in Mexico, first with the Howers in an area north of Mexico City, then here in Ixtapaluca. The Grymaloskis plan to be here in Mexico for a total of 6 months, beginning in June.

Chocoflan Thoughts is a blog by Kaycee Kaba (I think that's her real name and not a pseudonym), although Kaycee is of Chinese descent (I think), so who knows! Truth is we’ve never met Kaycee, but Dave Miller and Joe Ramirez vouch for her (which may be dubious endorsement). At any rate, we’re excited about her coming and joining the team here. Kaycee has 10 years of experience with short-term team leadership in Mexico. You can check out her church website by clicking the link: Lighthouse Community Church. She is also in the process of raising support, and hopes to be here in Mexico the beginning of 2015.

Below, Nathaneal with some Canadian geese. No, they are Canada geese. Actually I think they are Canada. Thus, Canadian ducks. Unless they migrate...hmm...they could be bi-cultural. Are they bilingual? Oh never mind. 


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Check out

Hi there! I've begun to transition over to a new website entitled Check out the latest post, Food and Ministry, by clicking HERE.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Earth Movers R Us

A bunch of church people showed up at 10 a.m. this morning to move several cubic meters of sand and dirt that has been piled up in front of our property for the last several months.

Really sweet to see the united effort of so many people grabbing shovels, pickaxes and buckets in order to make the front of our property a bit more beautiful.

Please continue to pray for ongoing construction and improvements in days ahead, including the installation of a water line and additional permits required.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Wheelchair Donation Request

I just sent a petition for 50 more wheelchairs to Operation Blessing today. Apparently they do not have any in stock right now, but a shipment comes in again in June. We would like to continue to distribute these free wheelchairs in a series of outreaches here locally.

Because this ongoing ministry is part of our community center efforts, you can give to a special community center account via Camino Global. Each chair costs us 250 pesos for importation costs, which comes out to about $19 per chair at today's exchange rate. Figure $20 a chair. If you'd like to give directly to this ministry, click HERE and donate on line.

I had the privilege of preaching for a small church in Iztapalapa last night, Ríos de Agua Viva. There I met Timoteo, who is 87 years old with a dynamic testimony of how he tried everything...witchcraft, images, and gimmicks, until he finally understood that only Christ could heal him of his alcoholism and intense headaches. He also happens to be a professional guitar player. Check out the video below.

As always, there are other expenses, particularly related to Marcelo Melison's time here. Marcelo is a ventriloquist and a magician, and will be coming to do a week of ministry with us in July. Of course, we don't really have any budget for this, but we do have a credit card.

Thanks to so many of you who support and pray for the ministry here.

Quote of the Day: By the time Jesus conversations are happening, you are a person’s friend or respected peer, and you don’t ever have to go too fast or try to manipulate the conversation. If you let people come to you, and you speak with such gentleness and patience, you will have a comfortable running conversation that they will always lead.
Halter, Hugh Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth (p. 177).

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Logo!

Take a look at our brand new logo, which Samuel just created for us. We are just about ready to make the transition from this blog to the more formal WordPress site,, just making sure that some of the bugs are worked out of it before we make the change.

Do you like the logo? As always, Samuel did a great job in capturing the priority of the gospel in the context of central Mexico, with our daily view of the volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, featured prominently in the graphic.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Summertime Preview...and a new 1st

Summers are without a doubt one of our busiest times of ministry in Mexico, largely due to the reception of many visitors. Mayra and I have been involved with an internship program here since 2002, and have had the wonderful privilege of inviting many college students into our home and heart.

We never really know exactly who is going to show up, because some of our more spontaneous friends don't like to be confined by the limitations of silly things like dates. Brigam would be one of these people. He introduced us to Dave Miller and the Adventures in Life Ministry tribe. Brigam has threatened to visit us this summer, but, well, you just never know. Andrew is another guy who has mentioned a return this summer. Andrew was an intern last summer, and a great guitarist!

The people that are pretty much confirmed...well, here's a list.
1. Emily, who I met at Rio Grande Bible Institute in January, will be arriving sometime this summer, and spending about 8 months here, living, learning and worshiping with us. Emily is from Canada, and comes down via Camino Global Canada.
2. Marcy, an ESL intern from last summer, will be spending a good part of the month of July with us! It will be great to have her back.
3. Three interns (all guys) with Camino Global will be here for 6 weeks, participating in a number of different relational outreaches.
4. Brothers Peter, John and Andrew (what a Biblical family!) will be hanging out with us for about a month. Daniel will be living with the Ogilvie family while attending Mt. Calvary Christian School this next year. It will be great to have them on our home turf for a while! Be careful what's in your tacos, boys.
5. Rachel, a Spanish education major, will be hanging out with us for a while too, probably involved in teaching English at a nearby public jr. hi school. 
6. Seems like I may be forgetting someone...hahaha.
7.Yes, I did...Fremont Alliance group from the end of July, early August! We so appreciate the contribution from Fremont...this will be their second team this year!

We are also happy to invite Marcelo Melison to be a part of our summer outreach activities. Those of you familiar with the ministry here know that we've done everything from break dancing (thanks Colin), to mixed martial arts (thanks Dylan) to knitting (thanks Hannah) to mural painting (thanks Alyssa) in reaching out to our community. Well, one thing we've never done is ventriloquism and magic! But thanks to a contact through my sister-in-law, Mónica, we have invited Marcelo to participate in several (as of yet unplanned!) outreaches from July 10-20.  Marcelo is originally from Argentina, but currently lives in Canada. It was a joy to get to know him recently over the phone, and we're excited to see how God will use him here.

We still have people confirming (right, Greg and Denise!, Wolc people!) so this is a partial list at best. Please be in prayer for this season of ministry!

Monday, April 21, 2014

If I Were the President of a MIssions Agency (part 2)

I remember graduating from Bible school and talking to the pastor of my home church about the possibility of being sent out by my local church, without the support of a missions agency. He looked at me in an indirect, condescending way and said, "well, I don't know if the church would support that decision, but I personally would not support that decision." In other words, forget that idea, because I know what most people in this church had for breakfast this morning.

He was right. I was young, green, idealistic and stupid. I needed some sort of support group on the field to help me grow up, help me navigate culture and language, and generally provide community, albeit imperfect and intermittent. I remember going home after our conversation thinking that if I were to be involved in the future in planting churches, it was incumbent upon me to submit to my own local church leadership.

I recognize the need for people without cross-cultural experience to have a context in which to learn, grow, grow-up and hopefully begin to adapt to and enjoy another culture. Increasingly, short-term experiences aid in providing some of this initial adaptation, but there is nothing like actually living in a place. Paying monthly bills. Searching for a doctor when one is ill. Living the strangeness. Experiencing confusion and even rejection.  Mission agencies assist in providing this context.

If I were a mission agency president, how would I make sure people had at least the bare minimum of support and assistance on the field? That's a good question. Way too many variables exist in the whole missionary process to give a specific answers to that question. Even broad generalities often break down in the wonderful and challenging dynamic of cross-cultural life.

But to start with, I would constantly encourage people to immerse themselves fully in their host culture. In my own personal experience, as a single I lived with a Mexican family of 6, a Costa Rican family of 3, then I rented a room from a Mexican widow and married my (beautiful) Mexican bride. In all of that time, I never lived alone (although I could have). I remember Joe and Betty Querfield missed me when I arrived for the first time at the San José airport because they said it looked like I knew where I was going. So...I guess the typical look is one of lostness and panic? I had three intense immersion experiences as a single, and courted my wife in Spanish.  We were married in Mexico, in Spanish.

The all-too-common approach for missionaries is to live in an English-speaking missionary community, or even a self-contained, walled-in compound which are apparently still fairly common in Africa. Remember, what you gain in security, you sacrifice in accessibility. Every cross-cultural worker needs to prayerfully consider this trade-off. The tendency is to err on the side of security, although I know of several friends who have sacrificed security, something that I find refreshing. Another trade-off...what you gain in comfort, you lose in learning and, ultimately, effectiveness. It is not easy to not understand, to be placed in areas of incredible challenge, or deep humiliation. But that just comes with the territory. We must die to ourselves. It just so happens that cross-cultural workers have more opportunity to do just that, on a daily basis. Oh, to speak at least as well as Balaam's donkey, knowing that very possibly people are viewing you as they would that particular animal!

I hope I would model this ridiculousness of ministry to others. That I wouldn't be afraid, as president of my imaginary mission, to sit and laugh and cry at this painful, glorious process of the gospel of God fleshing itself out in the complex languages and cultures of the world, and in the headstrong and prideful culture of my own heart. Being bi-cultural and bi-lingual is tough. We all need to sit beside the Master, have him offer us bread, and see the scars in his wrists.

"Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth." Good thing this doesn't matter, because God still can and will change the course of human history through us. The foolishness of preaching combined with the ridiculousness of cross-cultural living creates fertile soil for the proclamation of the very potent and powerful good news of Jesus. We truly hold this treasure in earthen vessels.