Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Gift

Like many little American girls, my Ellie had acquired a large collection of Barbie dolls, clothes, furniture and other accessories. To be honest, it’s the kind of stuff I dreamed of having when I was little. As the parents, I don’t think we purchased one piece of her collection…before leaving the US we had been against the idea of Barbie. (Poor self-image, etc.)

Just before leaving the US, a dear friend gave Ellie her first Barbie doll…and that was just the beginning! In Mexico, another dear friend gave Ellie…well, just about everything a girl could want for her Barbie. There were at least 8 Barbie dolls…with a variety of hair and eye colors. There were 3 Ken dolls, in case the brothers wanted to play too. There were more clothes than a girl could ever wear!

For the last 18 months or so this collection has been a blessing to us in ways we couldn’t have imagined. It provided a starting point for Ellie to invite other little girls from our village to play. She has often given away a doll and a change of clothes to someone who visited our home. I’ve been amazed to watch generosity sprout from my little girl as she gives away her favorite doll.

As Ellie is about to turn 7, she has decided that she’s outgrown her Barbies. (Well, all but the three who now reside under bed in her treasure box.) So, we boxed everything up and took them to a family with 5 daughters and 2 nieces.

I was feeling happy about the “generosity” we were displaying…as well as the fact that we were getting rid of a LOT of toys. (After all, Christmas is almost here and we’ll be giving our kids new toys, right?) As we sat and visited with the families who were receiving the dolls, the kids started pulling out toys and joyfully playing.

But then, two little ones were fighting over Ken! One had a hold of his leg and the other the head! They were yanking and crying. The parents were smiling and nodding. Inside, I was cringing! Aren’t they going to say anything to these kids to stop fighting before they break the toys?!?

And then Ken’s head rolled across the floor.

No matter. Army Man was pulled out next. And the scene was replayed. And again, the parents said nothing. Just smiled.

Inside, I wanted to scream. We just gave these kids toys and they are all about to be pulled apart. Destroyed. Wasted.

I said a silent prayer, giving it all over to God. It was a gift after all and I can’t take it back. And I can’t tell them how to play. I can’t discipline these children.

A few days later, the memory of Ken’s head rolling across the floor came fluttering back to my mind. Only this time, God reminded me of His Gift. His Son. Given for mankind. He was beaten, scourged, spit upon and finally crucified. God didn’t take His Gift back just because the people didn’t receive it appropriately.

As I pondered this illustration, God also reminded me that His Word will not return void. Recently I’ve been discouraged over the work here. We have shared His Story with so many and they enjoy it for a time, but we have yet to see it take root in their hearts. God showed me that I must not grow negligent, but I have to keep sharing the Gift, even if it doesn’t appear that the Gift is being received appropriately.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

And do not return there without watering the earth

And making it bear and sprout,

And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire,

And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:8-11

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sunday Travel

 What does Sunday morning look like? When we lived in Idaho, Sunday morning meant getting up and getting myself and four little ones “ready” for church…nice clothes, Ellie’s hair done nice, nice shoes…details. But living in Pine Hill, getting “ready” has changed a little. Often the kids (and I) wear mud boots. And we don’t wear “nice” clothes.
Our drive to church is only 8 miles…but it takes at least an hour to get there! Sometimes, as we drive along, I think about how I would love to show off where we live. It’s really hard to explain, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
So this week, I took some pictures to give an idea of what we see and experience.
We are blessed with beautiful clouds when it's not raining!
It had rained earlier in the week.
We passed lots of mud puddles.

Once we get to Saint Paul, then we have a short walk to the church building.

This waterhole ... what can I say?
We have to pass on the edge of it!

We don't always make it through the mud without falling.
In fact, we often arrive at church with mud.

Teresa, Pedro, and Clay

At the end of the day...scrubbing the mud!

How Being a Missionary Has Changed My Life…Part Two

Earlier this year I was contemplating how my life has changed since we moved to Mexico, and sometimes the changes make me laugh…and sometimes they make me want to cry.
  1. Not only am I a hoarder, but I’m a Recycler. Now, I don’t mean that I save my tin cans and plastic to put in the special recycling bin for the garbage man to pick up. I mean that I reuse zip lock bags, empty toilet paper rolls, the elastic out of a pair of worn out shorts, etc. I turned my favorite pair of pants into a skirt. Prior to living in a rural village in Mexico, I would have thrown out the holey pants and headed to the clearance rack at Ross or Eddie Bauer.
  2. I wear plastic shoes. I owned a pair of Crocs once in the States. I justified it because I was pregnant and my feet were swollen. Now I have “dressy Crocs,” which my husband says is an oxymoron. (But, Crocs have expanded their business since I was last pregnant.) Now I have cute high heel Crocs and another pair of “Mary Jane” Crocs. To complete my village footwear, I have rain boots and multiple pairs of flip flops…all can easily be hosed off and left to dry after a good rainstorm.
  3. Pediatric Check-ups? In the U.S., our children were taken for “well-child” visits as often as prescribed by our pediatrician. Now our pediatrician is 4 hours away…and is only seen when absolutely necessary. We know what scabies look like. We know how to detect and treat ear infections. We know the common symptoms for salmonella, giardia, and amoebic infections. And we know the power of prayer.
  4. Talking to Mom. In the U.S. I talked to my mom at least once a week, if not more often. Now we’re happy to talk twice a month! We hope that we can have cell coverage in our village someday…or satellite internet.


I really hate to say that I’m “homesick” because that’s not exactly true. My home is in Chiapas, Mexico, surrounded by the noise and energy of my four kids and husband. Home is where the heart is, and I love Chiapas and the ZK people.

October marks when this “homesick” feeling starts to sink into my heart. I miss the colors, smells, and tastes of autumn in the United States…the leaves changing colors, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, drinking apple cider.

By November, Clay knows not to be too concerned if he catches me wiping tears from eyes. (Don’t get me wrong. He gives me an understanding hug, and waits to see if I want to talk.)  I get emotional, thinking about family and the holidays. My Dad’s birthday was in November, and I always get a little sad. And Thanksgiving was the last time I saw my Dad laughing and living.

Then there’s December…one of the happiest months of the year as we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth. But it’s a bittersweet time because it marks when Dad passed from this world into heaven. Eleven years have passed, and I keep wondering when it will get easier.

On top of those hidden heartaches, are the thoughts of all the family get-togethers that we’ve missed over the last three years…the birthdays, the Sunday dinners, the funerals, and the everyday stuff. I miss my family.  I’m sad that I haven’t been able to “be there” when loved ones have been going through their own heartaches. I’m sad that my kids are growing up without memories of playing with their cousins or sleep-overs at Grammy’s house.

I know it’s all worth it. I know that our sacrifice on earth is small in comparison to the sacrifices others have made. I know that the ZK people need to know Jesus. And His sacrifice was the greatest, to ransom many.

Pray for our family during the holidays. Yes, we’re making our own new holiday traditions, and it’ll be special for our children too. Pray that we can focus on the joy of the season.