Thanks

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Last Friday, I was able to lead my Evangelism Class to Oxcum to host an outreach to the residents of that village. For those of you who hadn’t read my previous post, I had asked for prayer on the following points:


  1. That the authorities would grant us the public space for the event.
  2. For all of the details that go into the organization of such an event, from the supplies, personal, and equipment, to the message that would be delivered in word and in deed.
  3. For favorable weather so that all might be able to hear the message that we would be sharing and,
  4. For an enthusiastic coordination between the local mission members and the students of “Instituto Bíblico Bethel” as they work for the common goal of sharing God’s love with the people of Oxcum.

I’d like to give you an update on those requests, and believe me, it’s good news!

  1. The response of the authorities

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    From the city officials to the local pastor, the response was rapid and enthusiastic. We were given full access to the town park and the basketball court for the duration of the event along with chairs and a stage, delivered on time! The lighting and electrical hookups that were included were reliable and also free of charge. There was even a police force present to ensure that the event went off without incident.

  2. The details

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    There was an endless list of supplies, personnel, and equipment necessary to make the this event happen. From face paint for the kids to non-perishable food items to be handed out to families in need. All came in, and in abundance! We had hoped to provide help to 25 families. In the end, there was enough for 45!


  3. Favorable weather

    When I sent our original list of requests last week, I checked the forecast. At that time, there was a 70% chance of rain predicted for our event. With everything that we had planned, we needed the weather to cooperate. Well I’m happy to report, it did! Blue skies and sun greeted us as we entered Oxcum, and the full moon lighted our evening service. It would have been hard to ask for better weather.

  4. Enthusiastic coordination between students and mission members

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    Without cooperation, events can happen, but they’re a whole lot more difficult! Thankfully, last Friday, we had cooperation to spare. In our time of debriefing this Tuesday afternoon, the comment that I heard the most was that the event was so well organized and all of the participants were so willing to help. From the kids of the mission who passed out invitations to the students of the Bible Institute who shampooed dozens of heads to ensure that they were free of “visitors,” everyone served with a smile.

  5. But wait, there’s more!

    We can certainly be thankful for the ability to hold events like these, but we understand that the real results come afterwards as those touched by our outreach have new opportunities to connect with the church and grow in Christ. The difficulty lies in gathering the data necessary to ensure proper follow-up.

    I’m happy to report that we were able to provide the church with the data that they need to make these connections possible in the form of 41 contact cards. These came, not only from the 11 who came forward at the end of the night for salvation, but also from the dozens who sat and spoke with the counselors who were available throughout the event.

We were blessed this past Friday and so was the town of Oxcum! Nevertheless, we know that none of this could have taken place without your involvement. Thank you!

Want to see more? Take a look at the pictures in our growing album of the event.

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I just wanted to post a quick update, especially for those who have been faithfully supporting our initiatives during this second half of our term in Mexico. Thanks to you, we now have an official, Teen Challenge certified, rehabilitation center director resident in the Yucatán.

This April, because of your generosity, we were able help send Andrés Vera, pastor and director of “Nuevo Amanecer” rehabilitation center in Tekax, Yucatán to Mexico City to be a part of a month-long intensive training seminar covering the Teen Challenge program. While there, he not only studied the program, he had hands-on experience as he lived and worked among those being served by the Mexico City Teen Challenge Center. He’s come back both ready to implement the program and train others who are desire to help those locked in the vicious cycle of substance abuse.

What’s even more exciting, Andrés’ training included certification in the Living Free small groups program designed to help families of substance abusers. These materials give pastors the tools to effectively reach out to families stricken by substance abuse, providing analysis and options for resident care as well as the ability to intervene even before resident care becomes a necessity. We’re hoping to provide these materials district-wide so that more churches are able to work to remove the obstacle that substance abuse so often presents to the gospel.

Thank you for being a part!

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Angel y Berenice, following after the call

“Hermano, ¿podemos hablar un ratito?” were Bernice’s words. Something was clearly bothering her. Berenice was one of my students in my Missions class. She was troubled because the theme had confirmed an idea that God was revealing to her and her husband, Angel.

“Are we crazy?” she asked. She wanted to know if it was right for them to feel led to go to another place. She wanted to know if it was OK to leave her home, her extended family, and her church. She asked if I could give them advice. I prayed with her and encouraged her to be attentive to the voice of God. He did not fail to speak.

Just a week ago, Kelly and I met with Berenice and Angel. At the meeting, they shared their story. They related to us how they had been called to minister in Guerrero, in a village whose name they had never heard. They told us how they had taken steps to dismiss their impression only to have it confirmed time and again, but never more intensely than after our previous conversation.

We shared our own experience with them, prayed with them and encouraged them, but it was obvious that no convincing was needed. God is doing his work. They’re now preparing to take the next step in fulfilling the vision.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I have a reason to be grateful. I’m grateful that He calls men and women to follow Him although their culture would have them stay at home. I’m thankful He still confirms His word, even in the most unlikely circumstances, and I’m glad that He’s allowed us to be a witness of it here in Yucatán.

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This Christmas season, we were able to return to the US to spend time with the family. Our days were full of visiting, catching up, eating (lots of eating), and just being together.

As we prepared to leave, Kelly’s mom asked what it was that we wanted to have for dinner. It was decided to prepare chicken and biscuits, a definite taste of home in then Yaple household. Still, while the meal was excellent, the preparation time is what really got me thinking. There was Kim, working into kitchen. Rebekah was there as well working alongside her, patting out biscuits onto a cookie sheet before baking. They were talking and laughing, pictures were being taken, memories shared. It was then that I was reminded that missionaries aren’t the only ones who make sacrifices.

How many moments in the kitchen has my mother-in-law missed because her granddaughter lived in a foreign country? How many meals has my Mom prepared for herself because her loved ones were far from home? We have are the ones who leave, but they are the ones who are left behind.

Nevertheless, we feel from our family nothing but support for what God is doing through us. I joked with a few Mexican friends as we were preparing for our trip that we were returning for the holidays because our parents had accused us of kidnapping their grandchildren, but nothing could be further from the truth. What happened to Jesus in Mark 3 (also in Matthew 12 and Luke 8 ) when Jesus’ mother and brothers had come to “collect” Jesus and take him home from his ministry has never been our concern. On the contrary, our parents have released us to the Lord, and pray constantly for the work that we are called to achieve. And even though my mom has wondered aloud on one occasion, “Why did He have to call you so far away?” Her sentiment was one of resignation preceded by, “When you were called by God to be a missionary, I gave you into His hands.”

And so, having returned to Mérida, reestablishing ourselves into our work and school schedules, I wanted to take time out to recognize the others who unselfishly gave so that we could be released to do what God has called us to do. Thanks Grandma G., Grandma Kim, Papa Dave, and all of the aunts and uncles (too numerous to type in a brief posting) for giving so that we could go. May God recognize and honor all that you have done, and bless you beyond measure because of it.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

In this season of giving thanks, we would like to express our gratitude for your your prayers and support that enable us to minister here in the Yucatán.

Happy Thanksgiving, from our family to yours!

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In 2008, then Bible School Director Silverio Blanco and I met to talk about ways in which we could work together to update the facilities of Instituto Bíblico, Bethel. Since that time, we’ve invited others to join with us to make the vision that we put down on paper a reality. Finally, that vision is coming to fruition.

This Spring, construction began on a new building for Bethel. This will hold a cafeteria, a library, and a multipurpose room that can be used as an additional, much needed, classroom. This month, Sparrow Fellowship from Waterford, PA, was our first team to lend a hand in construction. They worked for a week, not only laying a foundation and building walls, but more importantly investing in the mission of raising up new leaders for the work here in the Yucatan.

Take a look at the pictures below for some of the week’s action:


“From June 11-18, 2011, Sparrow Fellowship came to Merida to help in the construction at Bethel Bible Institute.”

From Sparrow Fellowship Team. Posted by David Godzwa on 6/24/2011 (9 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2

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Recognize this picture? If you’ve seen our missions display you might.

It’s a snapshot of our struggle to teach and train in spite of the lack of resources on the mission field. In that particular instance, I was trying to set up an old projector without a VGA cable on a kiddie table. The result, after an hour of work, was frustration. We went without the Power Point that session. It’s a common tale when we have to rely on what the local church may have on hand to facilitate our presentations. In many locations, even a white board is a luxury!

However, thanks to Vector Ministries and their Speed the Light challenge, the frustration that you see in the above picture is a thing of the past. This past Sunday, at Praise Assembly in Springfield, they presented us with a brand new Sanyo projector, complete with cables! Now instead of worrying about our equipment us as we head out to train, we’ll be able to focus on discipling those we’ve been called to serve.

Thanks Vector Ministries!

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If you needed a reason to pray for your itinerating missionaries, this weekend surely made our need all the more apparent as torrential rain and floodwaters nearly stranded us in the state of Tennessee on Saturday.

We were travelling from Dalton, GA to Caruthersville, MO, returning from services in Georgia and a family reunion in South Carolina. We were on our way back to Missouri on Saturday morning via I-24 and I-40 with hopes to spend a leisurely afternoon with the Titus family, pastors of Caruthersville First, before holding services the next day in the Kennett section of the Southern Missouri District.

Things progressed as expected until just after lunchtime as we reached the Murfreesboro area. As we continued west, the skies opened up soaking the roads and slowing our momentum to 40 miles per hour at times on 70 mile per hour freeways. This kept up for at least an hour, finally breaking as we passed through Nashville. However, just as we thought that the worst was over, our progress ground to a halt in front of a river that had overflowed it’s banks and now crossed the entire highway.

The next two hours were spent in a number of switchbacks as we looked for a suitable detour. We traveled across US-70 through the flooded Dickson and then onto Waverly, where the river had virtually cut off that town from the highway. We crossed the water to travel down route 13 only to be turned back again 4 miles from rejoining I-40. We drove back to US-70 then and on to route 641 where we were finally able to regain I-40 and continue our forward progress toward the boot heel of Missouri.

As we looked to the right and the left of the roadways, everything seemed to be underwater–houses, businesses, churches and farms. The water was everywhere and seemingly in everything. By the time that we made it through Dyersburg and across the Mississippi it was well after 8:00 PM, and we were overjoyed to have reached Missouri and our journey’s end.

As we traveled, there were moments when I doubted that we would be able to make it through. I second guessed our decisions to continue, thinking perhaps that it might have been safer to stop and attempt forward progress at a later time. However, after spending a stormy night in the hotel in Missouri, I was confident that the urgency that I had felt to press on was well founded. The situation only got worse the following day in Tennessee.

So I am thankful that God had His hand upon us, guiding us through. And I am grateful for the prayers of those who stand behind us, as much during our itineration as during our time on the field. We appreciate this much needed support!

Still, as I am glad to be home to tell my tale, my heart goes out to the many who weren’t able to escape the flooding–those who lost possessions, homes, even loved ones to the raging waters. One quote from a news story read, “I know God doesn’t give us more than we can take, but I’m at my breaking point.” As you pray for us, please lift up these who are now suffering in the devastation through which we were guided this past Saturday.

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FriedChickenWhile travel certainly has it’s downside, one of the benefits that we receive is the chance to reconnect with friends and family all across the U.S. One such chance came this last weekend when we spoke at Saint Robert First Assembly, where our friends, Joel and Amy Maxwell, attend.

Joel and Amy are friends from our college days, when, almost 15 years ago our paths crossed in the married housing at Evangel University, then Evangel College. We shared dinners, exchanged information on where to find the best grocery deals, and basically grew up together.

Later, Amy and I worked together at Evangel while I attended AGTS. She was on the cutting edge of “exciting web technology,” even then dabbling in blogging as she maintained the University’s web presence. It was during those days that we watched our kids come on the scene. Play dates in the park or at each other’s house was a frequent occurrence.

Not all of it was good times, Joel and Amy’s lives were dramatically affected by situation in which he nearly lost his ability to walk, having been run over on the job as a security guard at Evangel. We were glad to be of support, if even in a small way as they saw their business collapse in late 2005. Their story of perseverance through adversity, however, has been an inspiration to us. To see them now, Joel having recently completed a marathon on his reconstructed leg, and rising out of the teeth of financial disaster, makes us marvel at their determination and resilience. If that isn’t enough, Joel is now serving as an officer on active duty in the Army, while Amy is a Chaplain Candidate studying at AGTS. These are solid people.

This weekend was a real treat, then, when we were greeted by the smells of Joel’s famous recipe chicken-fried chicken, with mashed potatoes and gravy to boot! I was even allowed to take part in this masterpiece of a meal in the making, as the photo above proves. Later, the kids played downstairs while we caught up around the table accompanied as well by Judi Murphy, a Facebook friend we’ve finally had the chance to meet.

The next day we held services at their church, where Amy introduced us as family, and Pastor Gabe Falen graciously allowed us the opportunity to address both the Sunday school and share during the morning worship service. The largely military congregation responded, committing their prayer support and finances.

The reunion of course couldn’t last forever, we had services in the evening to attend, but we were appreciative of the fact that, sometimes, our travels as missionaries allow us to reconnect once more with friends like the Maxwells.

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