In this season of gratitude, we want you to know what an honor it is for us to serve as your representatives in ministry to Mexico. Thank you for your support in the fulfillment of the vision of the Yucatan Peninsula full of churches, diverse in class, status, education, and language but united in their love for the Lord and each other.
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We know that it’s not always possible for every missionary to return to the same place for three consecutive terms. There are many factors that cause them to change fields or even entire regions. Neveretheless, we can’t overstate the blessing that it is for us to be able to return to the Yucatan and reconnect with the work we’d begun and the people with whom we’d collaborated.
In August, we were blessed to see the reestablished church in Tigre Grande, planted by Rangel and Claudia Vázquez, recieve their new pastor, Yani May, a former student of mine and graduate of the Bible Institute. Kelly and I had the privilege of praying for her during her commissioning service.
In September, I (David) was able to return to the work in the Bible Institute, having been invited to help in the formation of the next generation of Assemblies of God ministers. It’s been a joy to take up the class of Evangelism again, sharing my desire to reach the lost with both new and continuing students, and walking with them to facilitate their projects that have been designed to fulfill that goal.
Here in October, the reunions continued as we had the opportunity to preach for and then share a meal with Guadalupe Campos and her husband José, pastors of the church plant in Sierra Papacal. It was wonderful to encourage their congregation, retrace the events of the past year, as well as gain a deeper appreciation for their passion for the ministry as they continue their work in spite of some tremendous obstacles.
Thank you then for your prayers and support. They’ve helped us to return to Mexico. They’ve made possible these reunions and have given opportunity for new connections, connections that will enable us to fulfill the vision of the Yucatan Peninsula full of churches diverse in class, status, education, and language, but united in their love for the Lord and each other.
Early Tuesday morning we loaded eight action packers (a missionary’s equivalent of a suitcase), a guitar, a violin, a dog and a family of five onto a plane bound for Chicago. Three connection flights later, we landed in Merida, Yucatan, the city we will be calling home for the next four years. Thanks to you we can finally say “We made it!”.
Gabriel Gongora, a local pastor, and his wife, Leticia, met us at the gate with Yucatecan hospitality. Julio Montejo, another friend, was there with his truck to load up our bags.
After a few delays (of those 8 action packers only 7 made it) we arrived at a house Silverio Blanco, the district missions director, has loaned us until we can find one of our own. We were met by his son, Eliú, and his wife, Doris, and son, Moisés. The rest of the day and Wednesday we spent getting new phone numbers and looking for houses. The search was on!
Thursday, we were able to enroll Joseph and Jonathan into Centro Educativo Calvary (Calvary Christian School) and see some old school friends. We also looked at three or four different houses. Thankfully, the last action packer arrived as well.
Friday we visited ‘el Centro’ for the first time since we got back, where we were reacquainted with the hustle and bustle of Merida’s downtown. We ate delicious typical foods like, Pollo Pibil ( chicken cooked in banana leaves), Panuchos (fried tortillas filled with refried beans and toped with turkey and vegetables), and Sopa de Lima (lime soup with chicken).
Later on we looked at more houses and might continue to do so for the next week. We aren’t despairing yet though. Searching for a house that meets all our needs is time consuming and requires lots of thinking and input from family members. We are confident that God will show us the right one. Thank you again for all your prayers and support. It means a lot to us.
The fireworks on the Fourth were in celebration of our nation’s independence, but the smiles on our faces and the general frivolity that you can see in the photos above are in response to a different stimulus—we’ve received final clearance to return to Mexico!
That’s right, on July 7th, we received word of reaching our monthly commitment goal, and on July 8th, one year and one day from our arrival in the States, we received our email from Assemblies of God World Missions stating: “We are very pleased to notify you of your final clearance… You are to be commended for your faithful diligence and persistence. Praise God for His provision!”
Indeed, we praise God for His provision, and we thank all of you who have helped to make this moment possible. Each of you is appreciated, because we know that without you, none of what we do would be possible.
We now set our sights on Mexico and our upcoming four-year term. We’re excited to collaborate with the Lord and the Mexican Assemblies of God to realize the vision of the Yucatán peninsula full of churches, diverse in class, status, education, and language, but united in their love for the Lord and one another. We’re committed to a mission of inspiring pastors and christian workers to see the need all around them, equipping them with the spiritual and practical tools that they need to reach their communities, and partnering with these individuals throughout the process, implementing with intentionality the plan that the Lord gives us for each community that we reach, town by town, municipality by municipality and state by state, until the vision becomes a reality.
We’re especially excited about the partnerships that we’ve cultivated with Teen Challenge, Sustain Hope, Network 211, and now AGCHE, ministries that are helping us implement holistic methods to preach and model the whole Gospel, methods we’re sure to utilize.
For now, though, the transition begins in earnest. We’re already out of the house that we had called our home for the past year as we prepare our bags for the flight to Mérida on August 4th. Another task on the list is selling our vehicles.
As we close, we’d like to ask for your continued prayers and support, both in this transitional time and in the term that awaits us. Your perseverance in this area is crucial to keeping us on the field and effective for the next four years and beyond!
“We’re committed to return to Mexico, body, soul, and spirit!” Those are the words we share as we promote our ministry in preparation for our third term as missionaries. On November 2nd, it was time to put our money where our mouth was. That was when I (Dave) would run the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon as a fundraiser to accelerate our physical return.
The distance of the marathon is 26.2 miles. It’s enough to push the limits of physical endurance and bring determination to the breaking point, a fitting analogy for the uphill struggle that can be the task of raising the support required to return to the field. Still, at 4 AM, analogies were all but forgotten. The harsh reality of the immediate goal of running the distance had made it impossible for me to remain in bed. It was time to get going.
The morning routine was familiar. I had done it all before, but I was as nervous as if it had been my first race. There were physical concerns: could my body handle the distance? Then there was the fear of letting down our supporters: would I be able to make good on my promise of finishing the marathon?
The sight of my team, the Godzwa Family (accompanied by my mother-in law, Kim), brought relief. I wasn’t running alone. Their encouragement all through the race helped me see that they weren’t holding my commitment against me. They, along with our supporters, were pulling for me to finish.
The race then became 26.2 miles of affirmation, my body remembering its training, and my mind soaking in the support it received at every critical point until I finally reached my goal, in record time.
In the wake of our marathon effort and in this month of Thanksgiving, we take this time to recognize your role in helping us run the race, realize the vision, and make the difference in Mexico.
‘Til He comes,
PS. While we’re tabulating the results of our fundraising tied to the marathon effort, there is still a window of opportunity to be counted among the members of our support team! Follow the link for details on how you can be a part.
PPS. Photos from the race are available here!
It’s been quite a ride for us since our last update. We’ve moved five times and only just this week have begun to settle into what will be our home for our year of itineration. Our first move came as we vacated our field housing in preparation for departure. Our second was our flight to Springfield where Kelly was greeted with her driver’s exam. (Her license had expired while we were away, so she needed to pass both the written and the road tests.) Then we were off to Erie, PA for a month of reconnecting with family and supporting churches. The fifth move was our trip back to Missouri just in time for the A/G Centennial celebration. Finally, we vacated our temporary housing and came to rest on the west side of Springfield, in the Willard school district.
As we prayed with the kids on the night before their first day in American public schools, I reflected on all of the movements and couldn’t help but be thankful both to God and to those He used to make our relocations possible. There were so many crucial moments, so many opportunities for things to go wrong, but with His help, and the help of those so moved to respond to our need, we passed from moment to moment without fail.
Of course, you could ask the question, “What would cause a middle-aged man to uproot his family and move away from his field of calling?” To which I would respond, “To go back.”
We’ve come to the US and traveled the miles so that we might connect with you and share with you the burden that we carry for Mexico, but also the joy that we experience as we walk in obedience to Christ and His calling. We do so to raise support: prayer and financial, so that we might minister more effectively. We do so also to call others into obedience to Christ as He stirs the hearts and lives of those who would follow, some to Latin America, others to other regions in the world, for we know that the task is great, but the workers few.
But such a return trip is not without risks. We risk the possibility of the doors of opportunity being closed to our stateside ministry. We risk the inability to raise our necessary support in order to return. We understand these risks and face them, with honesty but also with determination, knowing that the same God who enabled us to return, will be faithful in sending us back as He works his miracles on our behalf, many of those through the hands of those He has assembled in partnership around us.
Thanks, then, to those who have received us and to those who will soon extend this favor. Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to connect with you and to enter, if for just a moment, into relationship, to be an instrument through which God might move you to fulfill the unfinished task.
‘Til all know,
Dave and Kelly
You’d have to question the appropriateness of the phrase as well after having spent the week that I did with these college students! As I had mentioned in my previous post, we hosted a 10 person team of Chi Alpha students and staff from American University as they spent their Spring Break here in the Yucatán. However, contrary to preconceived notions about the time period, these youth did anything but rest!
Following their arrival on Saturday the 8th, we hit the ground running with services in the morning and evening to kick off the week’s events. Our morning service was hosted by La Casa de Oración, the year-old mission in the town of Sierra Papacal of one of my former students, Guadalupe Campos. It was a time of welcome and preparation for the work among the kids that would take place during the week. The evening service was held at Eben-ezer, a church in Mérida, pastored by Gabriel Gongora, the current director of Instituto Biblico Bethel. There, I had the privilege of translating for my brother, Mike, as the team was highlighted for the construction work that they would undertake in the Bible Institute.
On Monday, the construction began. Partnering with the Bible Institute students, we worked each morning until Wednesday to lift 1500 concrete slabs into place as part of the structure that will serve as the second story roof, effectively topping our three and a half year expansion project of the institute’s dining, classroom, and library facilities.
Each afternoon we worked together to bring Vacation Bible School activities to the children of Sierra Papacal. Following our prep time on Monday, we worked Tuesday and Wednesday in the church facilities, teaching, making crafts, singing, and playing exclusively with the kids. However, on Thursday afternoon, we were able to serve the entire community with free haircuts, hygiene checks, and lunch to boot. Our closing rally in the evening was a blessing as several of the kids to whom we ministered responded to the call to pray to receive Christ.
We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results as Mexicans and Americans worked shoulder to shoulder to see God’s purposes advanced in the Yucatán. It was truly a team effort!
And, speaking of team efforts, I’d like to thank all those who had responded to our call for prayer prior to the trip. We were witnesses of God’s faithfulness in every aspects as:
- There were no injuries whatsoever in our construction project or mishaps on the road as we traveled from place to place. In fact, I don’t even remember being asked for a band aid during the entire trip!
- All stayed perfectly healthy; even Montezuma’s revenge was kept at bay.
- The integration among the groups was stellar. In each aspect of the trip, both Mexicans and Americans joined together to get the job done.
- The response in Sierra Papacal was enthusiastic. New kids were reached with the message of the gospel, kids who are now being channeled into newly formed discipleship groups.
Of course, none of this would have been possible if this team of university students hadn’t forgone their break in order to invest in the Yucatán. So thanks, Mike, and the entire AU Chi Alpha team. Rest assured your work is appreciated!
Did you enjoy the post? Be sure to take a look at the pictures as well!
Tags: Sierra Papacal
It’s been four months since the delivery of the first Proclaimer, an audio Bible programmed with the New Testament in the Mayan language. Since that time, we’ve distributed seven devices throughout the Yucatan, with encouraging results. Here are some of the comments we’ve been receiving:
From Chemax: “It’s so uplifting to be able to understand the Word of God in our own language.”
From Santa Maria: “Our group members enjoy listening to the audio Bible because they are able to understand it without any explanation.”
Not only are they understanding the Bible, they are being touched by its message. Again, from our participants:
“One of our members was moved when he heard about the need to pardon his neighbor.”
Moments like these lead those who experience them to live out the implications of the message, a message that is able to reach them now that the barriers to its understanding have been removed.
Thanks for helping remove obstacles to the gospel and build bridges to its understanding and application here in the Yucatan.