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This is part two of our progress report the comeback that started in January of this year.

Think you can't participate in a comeback? Jonathan lifts me showing that a little can go a long way.

When we last talked, I was detailing the return that I had made from sitting on the shelf after my marathon to racing with a personal record in the Kitchen Run 5K. But that was just half of the story.

Back in January of 2010, we were facing a mountain as we attempted to return to Mexico. Because of our change of status, from Special Assignment to General Appointed Missionaries, the increase in time from a three year term to a four year term, and the attrition that comes from being out of the United States for 4 years, we needed to raise an additional 2,000 dollars of monthly support.

Although the current economic climate didn’t make the prospect of reaching our goal by August 31st any easier, we were optimistic. We knew that God had called us to a work as yet unfinished. He had given us a vision and a passion to see it fulfilled. With this in mind, we set ourselves to the work.

January was a slow month, but February saw our calendar full with services, sectional councils, and Light for the Lost Dinners close behind. Momentum was building, but the bulk of our work was still in front of us. By mid-March, as I analyzed our progress, I found that we needed to average about $72 in additional monthly support each week if we were to reach our commitment goal at the designated time. So I set myself to work, recontacting churches and individuals and sharing our need.

The first two weeks saw us meet our goal as certain churches agreed to do more and others became new partners. Then we surpassed our goal by double the amount, then triple as partners, both new and old resonated with our message and responded to our need. We had worked hard, but we had the feeling that we were witnessing a miracle.

As I post this update, we now stand at 94%, needing just $469 in monthly support to reach the field by the end of August. We’ve seen new support coming in at an average of $97 per week, and our weekly goal has been more than cut in half as we have dropped from needing $72 each week to $34 in order to make our departure deadline. We’re ecstatic to say the least!

Our comeback is in full steam, but we take nothing for granted as we set our sights on our return date. We don’t want to limp to the end; we want to storm past the finish line, ready to throw ourselves into the work. So, we continue to travel the country. We continue to schedule services and announce our need to all who will listen. We work as if it depended on us, but we pray, knowing that it all depends upon God.

So, as you read this post, we’d ask you, Are you interested in participating in our comeback? Perhaps you’ve met us at a church and have kept track of us through our website, but you’ve never had the opportunity to partner with us. Perhaps you’ve been reacquainted with us through the wonders of Facebook or Twitter and are just now getting excited about what God is doing in Mexico. Perhaps you’ve partnered with us for some time, but feel led to do more. We’d love to talk to you about how you can help.

Just respond to using the email link at the bottom of this post, or contact us through our contact page on our website. We’ll step you through the ways that you can be a part of sending us and keeping us on the field in Mexico–a part of making our comeback a reality!

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Back in January, I wrote about making a comeback –about how difficult it can be, but how I was determined to make it happen physically, coming back from a marathon injury, and in our ministry, raising funds for our return to Mexico. Well, I thought you’d like to get an update on our progress.

First I’ll let you in on my physical condition. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been struggling with an IT Band injury. It is an inflammation of the band that connects the hip to the knee. After my marathon in November, I had been unable to run for 6 months as any attempt reduced me to hobbling in 3 minutes or less. I had gone through an inconclusive MRI and 12 weeks of physical therapy which never seemed to give me the relief that I was looking for. However, slowly but surely, I returned to the road, first with my boys going for 5 minute stints, then one mile intervals. Finally, I was able to run for three miles straight with my brother during our family reunion. That got the wheels turning for a comeback in the month of May.

As I took a look at the race schedule for the Springfield area, I noticed that the Kitchen Run was set for May 8th, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I floated the idea to Kelly. She was game for the entire family to participate. So, on the Friday before the race, we registered as a family for the 5K.

On the morning of the race, I wanted to be as conservative as possible. I had set my virtual training partner to pace me for a 7:30 min per mile pace. That would put me in for a 24 minute 5K, certainly not my fastest time, but respectable for not having raced for a half a year. I lined up in the middle of the pack, and got ready for the gun.

When we set out, I felt myself moving out pretty fast. Looking down out my watch I noticed that I was running a 6:11 pace, quite a bit faster than my conservative estimate. Still, I felt pretty good, and knowing that this was a 5K and not a marathon, I decided to see what might happen. I tucked in behind another runner who was running a similar pace, and waited to see if I’d be able to hold on.

At the one mile mark, my time was 6:30 and change. I felt good. The pace was challenging but not impossible, and I had a good duel going on with the runner I had been following. We traded the lead for the next mile before I began to hear him labor for breaths. At that point, I had thrown my conservative expectations out the window. I was racing!

I put on a bit of a burst and set my sights for the finish line, now less than a mile away. I labored a bit on the uphill, but when I turned the last corner and saw the clock, I began my finishing kick. I had beaten my impromptu opponent, and now I was going to beat 21 minutes! I put my head down and gutted out the last 100 meters, crossing the finish line just as the clock hit 21. My official time was 20:48, good for a 6:45 min per mile pace and a personal best! I had just come off of an injury to run the race of my life. Talk about a comeback!

I also had the pleasure to pace Joseph in for a 38 minute race, while Jonathan and Kelly crossed the line at 40 minutes flat. Rebekah finished with friends just three minutes later. Jonathan and I both placed in our age groups as well. Needless to say, it was a pleasant finish to a difficult road to recovery.

Now for our progress on our return to Mexico… Actually, this post is already too long. I’ll save that update for the next.

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Making a Comeback

Everyone loves to hear of a great comeback story, be it an individual overcoming adversity to make it back on top, a favorite music group returning to the stage, or a sports team returning to its former glory. We love it because we appreciate how hard it is to repeat success. Athletes age, teams change players, and taste preferences in music seem to change with the fashions. So when the comeback happens, we realize that we a receiving a gift, something truly special.

Allow me to let you in on a comeback in progress…

This last year, I ran a marathon. I finished in the best time in which I’d ever run a marathon: 3 hours 37 minutes and 52 seconds. It was a great moment. However, that run has left me on the sidelines, stuck with a leg injury that has persisted for 3 months and counting. On top of that, during my examination, my doctor found that I also have arthritis in my ailing right leg, perhaps complicating my recovery. Some would say it’s time to hang up the running shoes. I say it’s time for a comeback.

Six months ago, we were on the field in Mexico wrapping up our first term as missionaries in the state of Yucatan. We were elated to have played a small part in the successes in the lives of students and pastors with whom we had ministered. We had built relationships and were looking toward opportunities to leverage these successes in future ministry. However, eight months away from our scheduled return date, we have a mountain of monthly support to raise, currently at the height of some $2,000. Some would despair at such a goal to reach. I say, “It’s comeback time.”

So rally cap in place, I’m starting the process to return, understanding that the recipe for success probably will change. As I built up for the marathon last year. I added on mileage slowly but surely until I reached a 50 mile per week peak during my high intensity marathon training. This time, I’ve got more than a mileage buildup to concern myself with. I’ve got an injury to figure out and a recovery to plan. So, I’m currently going through physical therapy twice a week with the goal to return to running. I’m also looking to alternative methods to promote healing from self-massage to chiropractic care. I’m also dedicating myself to nutrition, making sure that my tank is full of the fuel I need to power this comeback. Do I have a timetable? Sure, I’d like to see myself in a 10k race some time this spring.

Our return to Mexico can be thought of similarly. We’ve come back to the States to raise our budget in an economic recession, meaning many potential donors are feeling the budgetary pinch. We’re also returning to a Southern Missouri District that has 7 other missionary families currently raising support at the same time we are. However, we live in a time where connections are more diverse and easily sustainable and potential audiences are more abundant. We plan to leverage these connections, networking as we are able to reach these future partners, and maintaining that partnership with them through tools we never dreamed of only four years ago.

Of course, in all of this, one thing has not changed. We serve the same God who is able to to exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask, think or imagine. So while we work on this comeback as though it all depended on us, we pray knowing that it all depends upon Him. He is the one who provides the breakthroughs, stirs hearts, and cements friendships through whatever medium those contacts occur.

So I’m making a comeback, physically and ministerially, and I’m committed to putting in the work, while depending on God for the results. Wanna come along? There’s still room on the bandwagon!

How about you? Are you poised for a comeback? How do you see it happening? Have any tips that we all could benefit from?

Photo: Rally Cap by Rich Anderson

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