I’m prefacing this post by saying that I’m not one of those people who routinely says “The Lord said to me…” In fact, even when I feel that God is impressing something on me I like to start with the words, “I feel that the Lord is moving me in this direction..,” or “I feel that the Lord would have us…” It is something that Edgar Lee taught us in seminary as a way to offer up our words for the biblically mandated scrutiny of the church, or as the case may be, my wife. So when we experience “coincidences,” I like to offer it up for the opinions of others, in other words, I’m fishing for a few comments.
We had little choice in where we would end up in Mexico. We are first-termers and AGWM, our missions organization has taken to the practice of mentoring all new missionaries. This involves pairing the missionary with another veteran in order to assist them in the transition and the development of their ministry on the field. Because education was to be part of our portfolio, we were paired with Paul and Sandy Kazim.
Paul an educator with 10 years experience in Latin America, was stationed at the time in Villahermosa, Tabasco, but was looking to relocate when he started his new term. There were several options available. Butch Frey, our Area Director had mentioned Veracruz, while Paul and Sandy were looking as well at Mexico City and Mérida, where we are currently.
Paul had discounted Veracruz from the beginning. He didn’t feel that the city was where they needed to be. However, Mexico City was, for him, a viable option. The city was easily accessible by plane, and his travel plans for his upcoming term made this a desirable feature. Of course, there was the problem of what to do once you’re off of the plane. Two hour cars trips as a regularity didn’t excite either Paul or me. On top of this concern was Joseph’s tendency toward asthmatic symptoms which made Mexico City’s famous smog look indeed like a gray cloud on our horizon. Still, we were determined to see God’s direction in our location.
Then Kelly talked to me about a premonition that she had had. It wasn’t a dream or a vision per say, more like a feeling. She told me that she saw us working with indigenous people. Those whom we in the US popularly refer to as Indians. Mérida, one of the famous ancient centers of the Maya civilization, was filled with such people. I filed this in the back of the mind, but I also mentioned that we would have to reach an agreement with the Kazim’s when it came to the place that we would select.
Still, an opportunity came to talk about this premonition that Kelly had. Over the phone with the Kazim’s, Paul resonated with what Kelly was saying, and, adding this to items we were considering, the scale tipped decidedly in Mérida’s favor.
Now, three years later, we find ourselves here in the White City of Mérida, but the surprises didn’t end there. As I was researching information for a response to an email asking for the history of the city, I happened upon a bit of information.
Many cities select sisters cities in other countries, these are connections that are established in order to foster cultural and economic exchanges. For some time, we were aware that our home town of Erie, Pennsylvania had such a relation with Lublin, Poland, as we would hear several reports of student and governmental trips between the cities. However, I was extremely surprised to find that, listed alongside Lublin, was the White City of Mérida.
What are the chances? Sister Cities International the organizer of such relationships reports on their website that there are over 800 communities internationally participating in this program. Assuming that the selection was done completely at random, it would appear that the odds would be about 17 billion to one. Granted, such selection isn’t done at random. but think about the implications of such a number.
So, was it coincidence that our hometown of Erie would have such a relationship with the city in which we are currently ministering, or is it a confirmation of a divine plan? Whatever the response, it seems fitting that a relationship set up to foster cultural and economic benefits would be expanded to offer spiritual ones as well.