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2009 Bethel Graduation

2009 Bethel Graduation

Since we’ve been in Mexico, we’ve witnessed the passing of a generation. No, we haven’t been here in Mérida for 20+ years, although looking at the growth of our kids during this term has made me wonder at times. I’m talking about the recent Bible Institute graduation service celebrated this past Monday, where Generation 06-09, walked the platform to receive their diplomas from the District Superintendent. This marks a milestone as it means that the students that I had the chance to teach from the first year of their Bible school experience are now being launched into ministry. The freshmen from my Personal Cvangelism course of December 2006-February 2007, my first solo class taught in Spanish, are now moving into their vocations.

Watching them receive their charge as graduates I had mixed feelings. There is a sense of joy in knowing that I had a part in their formation as ministers, but there is also a sense of regret. So often I had wished that I could have had certain sessions over again, where my lessons could have been more polished. On more than one occasion I’ve wish that I could have another chance at conversations that I’ve had knowing now that my Spanish could have been more understandable. In spite of my wishing, though, what was taught was taught, and the encouragement, advice, and prayers have been spoken. And that’s OK, because I believe that, though at times stammering or searching for the words, we communicated. As we learned we grew, each one of us offering to the other what we could not acquire on our own.

It wasn’t by chance that God brought me together with this generation at this moment in our lives. I so as I said goodbye to each one I prayed that as we part our ways, the graduates to their respective positions, and my family and I to the US to intinerate, that God will help us to remember the ways in which our being together expressed the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10) that saw fit to join us together during their generation in the Bible school.

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Leading Worship

Even after a year and a half here in Mérida, God still finds ways of stretching us. In January, while chatting with pastors before a sectional meeting, our president asked if I played an instrument. I responded that every now and again I played the guitar, while I had considerable experience on the drums. He followed up that question with a request that I lead worship that meeting. Now, I had lead worship in the past, but always in English. (I think the number of choruses that I know on the guitar in Spanish could be counted on one hand.) Therefore, I did what any self-respecting perfectionist would–I put him off, until the next month.

I used that time to gather the some more choruses, practice, and pray. (It’s amazing how the weeks fly when you’re anticipating something like this.) Of course, I second guessed my decision. I almost breathed a sigh of relief when I thought that perhaps the meeting had been canceled for the month, but, regardless of my doubts, the event came. The end result this last Monday certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was a beginning. I was able to sing (staying on key for the majority of the service), play the guitar, and I actually felt that I had led others in worship.

When I began my Spanish classes, I looked forward to the day when I would be able to do this very thing, but for one reason or another, I had put it off. Not enough time, other responsibilities more pressing, the list could go on. Isn’t it great that God doesn’t forget those dreams? In fact, I’ve found He sometimes uses others to push us into realizing them.

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Jonathan BirthdayAbout two weeks ago, (yes, the events of our lives and ministry have taken a toll on my blogging) we celebrated the birthday of our youngest, Jonathan. It was filled with parties–one at school and another here at the house, as well as a mountain of presents, many of which have already made their way to the black hole that our boys call their closet. Of course, all of these things came as no surprise. After celebrating the 19 kids’ parties that we have, from Princess to Bob the Builder to Spider Man to Jungle themes, we’ve come to expect the anticipation, celebration, and sugar withdrawal cycle that each party brings. However, after all of the celebration was over, and Jonathan had time to reflect, he did something unexpected: he decided to testify. In fact it was such a surprise that we didn’t have our camera. The blurry picture was taken with my cell phone.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, testimony night has gone the way of Sunday morning prayer requests in most churches, they’re just not done, but here in Mexico, testimony night is alive and well, and two weeks ago last Sunday a certain recently turned 5 year-old decided to step forward and thank God for another year that God had allowed him to complete.* Not only did he testify, he also sang “Open the Eyes of My Heart” (“Abre mis Ojos, Oh Cristo”) in Spanish.

To me, this is the sign of two things happening:

  1. that our son is rapidly acculturating: Testifying is expected of church members when they celebrate their birthday. That Jonathan noticed this and wanted to do it tells me that he’s becoming more “Mexican.”
  2. that our son is recognizing God as part of his life: It was hard for me to choke back the tears as I listened to our “baby” asking Jesus to help him to truly see Him as he is. It’s my desire as a father to be a part of the the answer to that prayer.

*Spanish idea: We don’t “turn” years old as we celebrate birthdays, we complete years or “cumplemos años” hence the Spanish salutation “Feliz Cumpleaños”

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