Thursday, December 29, 2016

Showers of Blessings

Ellie, imitating the flamingos.
Have you ever had one of those days where you stand in awe of God?

Today Clay and I celebrate 15 years of marriage. That in itself is a blessing. We had decided to spend two nights in the city of Villahermosa, Tabasco. The first day, we swam in the pool at the hotel. Clay got to eat KFC, and in the evening we went to the cinema to see the new Star Wars movie.

The second day included a trip to the zoo where we saw animals from all over the world. One of our favorite parts of the zoo is the aviary. There are pink flamingos, toucans, roseate spoonbills, and so many other birds! One of the toucans was especially social and let us get really close for pictures. And of the flamingos had some peculiar traits which made us laugh!

Posing with the toucan!
                                                          In the evening, we had planned to eat at Maiña, a Brazilian steakhouse. We had been looking forward to this special treat for some time, and we had received a gift from a friend in the States, with a note encouraging us to do something special. (It's one of the more expensive restaurants because it's an all you can eat buffet where they bring the best meats right to your table!)

Before we headed up to salad bar to fill our plates, we joined hands and prayed, as is our custom. We thanked God for the day, and asked a blessing on our meal and on the restaurant employees. We enjoyed an amazing meal. And the service was great. What a great blessing for our 15th anniversary!

But the amazing part was still to come.

We asked our waiter for the bill, but he said it was paid in full. We were confused...maybe we didn't understand his tabasqueño Spanish accent? We asked him what he meant and he explained that the owner of the restaurant overheard us praying before our meal, and that our bill was paid.

The owner and our waiter are both believers. Our waiter hugged us and told us it was his pleasure to serve us. He thanked us.

All because we took a moment to bow and pray. We are humbled...and honored.

And we still have that gift to use for another the blessing lives on!

Guaraná soda! Yum!
Guaraná soda...

Ryan, being served more meat!
A plate full of seafood!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

His Words Shall Not Return Empty

"For as the rain and snow come down from heaven
 and do not return there but water the earth,
 making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11

     When we first moved to Pine Hill 4.5 years ago, we met a young man named Nathan. We spent time with him occasionally, including a couple trips to a cave for some spelunking. And Clay always shared a Bible story. Things seemed to be good. He was quiet, but friendly.

     Then one day, about 2 years ago, Clay was visiting him in his home. As he started to share a Bible story, Nathan got upset. He said, "When you talk to me about God and the Bible, it makes me nauseous!" He was rude and angry with Clay.

     Clay was a bit shocked, but he only responded, "May your words fall on you." He figuratively shook the dust from his feet, and left.

     About 6 weeks ago, Nathan showed up at our house around 9pm to visit Clay. We were a little shocked and even suspicious of his intentions, but polite. This happened about 3 more times, random visits from Nathan, until one evening he told Clay, "I feel that I offended you 2 years ago. I want to apologize."  Things evidently hadn't gone well for him since that conversation, and he attributed it to the words spoken by Clay, a man of God.  

     We were shocked by the apology because it's really not cultural for a person to apologize for their actions.  Nathan kept showing up at our door. He even came during the heavy rains when most people would stay bundled up near the fire. Clay wasn't home that afternoon, but Nathan came back again that evening. It was as if he had a burning desire to hear the Word.

     As Clay shared his testimony that evening, he explained that as a youth he had prayed, confessing that he was a sinner and asking God for forgiveness. Nathan responded, "Lets do it! I want to pray like that too!"  And so he did.

     Again that night we were shocked and amazed. It had taken four years for that seed to sprout, but God's Word did not return empty. That weekend, we were surrounded by physical darkness--heavy rain and power outages. Times like these it's easy to feel depressed or sad or overwhelmed by the darkness. But God's Son was shining in that darkness.

     Since then, Clay has met with Nathan to disciple him and he has joined us in our home for worship. Pray for Nathan to grow in knowledge and faith! His journey is just beginning, and we stand amazed!

Faces of the ZK 2016

Some of you may remember praying for this little guy and his
mommy. He's 19 months old!
 We have been back in our village for two months and God has been so good to us. Our first term living in the village was filled with trying to get to know people, showing them God's love, and sharing His Word. In terms of church planting, it was a lot of work preparing the soil before we could plant.

                                                                                                                                                                      Since we've been back, we see a difference in how the people see us. They're still curious, and they still stare at us...but the children aren't afraid of us like they used to be. When we greet someone, they return the greeting. 

   The best part though is when people seek us out...
                                          an old man in need of prayer....
                                                a young man who acknowledges that he needs Jesus Christ!
                                                            or a friend who just wants to visit over a cup of coffee...

I love these smiles!

Friday, October 14, 2016


                                                                                                                       The neighbor kids know that we have at least 3 guava trees. One is in our front garden area, and the guavas fall every day. So the kids stand outside of our closed gate and yell at the top of their lungs, "WE WANT GUAVA!" (In ZK)                                                                                                                                                                                   They don't knock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They just yell. 
       From our American worldview, we interpret this as rude. Of course you should knock and greet politely...and then ask if you could have some guava.

But these kids don't operate on an American worldview. 

 So Clay has talked to them. He kneels down next to them and offers him a guava...and tells them that they should at least give a greeting before "asking" for a guava.

So now we hear, "HELLO! WE ARE FINE! WE WANT GUAVA!"
Still yelled at the top of their lungs.

It took us awhile to understand why they were saying, "We are fine." But when we greet them, we say, "Hello. How are you?" So that must be part of greeting...telling someone that you are fine! Another fail on our part...trying to impose our American worldview...

Clay, visiting with the neighbors!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wherever You Go, Go With All Your Heart!

Coffee on my back step...
yep, that's the jungle.

How do I explain our first week back in the village? It was everything we had hoped it would be…and so much more!

We arrived in Mexico on Friday night and spent three days in the city. We had a few things to take care of…verifying insurance on our truck, looking for the right place to buy a canopy/cap for the truck, buying basic groceries, getting acclimated to the altitude, etc. The kids could hardly wait to get to our home! (And neither could we!)

Ellie loved seeing the plants
growing on the power lines.
It means we're home!

Tuesday we spent the day running errands, and finally arrived at the village around 6:30pm. (It’s a 4-hour drive from the city of San Cristobal…and we lose an hour because the rural villages don’t participate in Daylight Savings.) In the back of my mind, I was planning sandwiches for dinner…hoping it wouldn’t be too chaotic…or too rainy…or the house too messy or dirty.

Our first stop was at our friend Ceci’s house to pick up our house keys. She was nearly in tears due to the excitement of seeing us again. And then she said, “You’re probably going to be hungry.  I’ll send my son down with dinner in a few minutes.” At our house, it was as if we had never left! Everything was clean and orderly…no cobwebs, no dust. And I was greeted by a very happy dog!

We had about an hour to pull our things into the house…and then the lights went out! We frantically grabbed for candles while the kids cheered and began a game of Hide -n- Seek…in the dark! And then there was a knock on the door. Our first visitors! Ceci and her sons had come to visit. We had a quiet night that night…no electricity means no loud music or announcements over the PA! The lights didn’t come back until well after noon the next day. We were informed this has been the norm lately. So we began our shopping list with candles and matches!

Coffee and dinner rolls after Bible Study!
My friends had missed fresh-baked breads!

The rest of the week has been a bit of a blur…lots of snuggles with our Rex Dog, a gift of fresh-roasted coffee from our neighbors, meeting Felicity’s 3-week old baby boy, a Friday night worship service in our home, little neighbor girls shouting, “We want to play with the girl!” (They didn’t know Ellie’s name.) And so much more…

Felicity's 5th baby boy!

We are tired…but we are HAPPY!  Our hearts are full!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mesa Verde...Cliff Dwellers

As a kid, I remember studying the cliff dwelling Indians. Back then we called them the "Anasazi," but now we know that word means "ancient enemy." So now they're called the "Pueblo Indians."

Nonetheless, I always thought it would be awesome to see where they lived!

Truly, a dream come true!

Do you see the remains of the dwelling behind us?

We toured the Balcony House. It was awesome to crawl around the ruins and climb the ladders. The ladders were added for the sake of the tourists.
The view from the Balcony House.

The narrow passage

Ellie, filling in her Jr. Ranger booklet.

Levi enjoyed the sights!

Levi filled in his Jr. Ranger booklet too!

Ryan, concentrating on his answers!

Jekyll Island Dolphin Tour

Two more dolphins surfaced.
One of many dolphin sightings!

Ellie's dream was to see real dolphins!

I love to see her smile!

We enjoyed the pelicans too!

Deadhorse Point State Park

It was an early, chilly morning to catch the sunrise! But it was worth it!

All bundled up!

Canyonlands National Park, U

It was a beautiful day for a drive through the canyon!


   On May 29, we left Idaho on the next step of our grand adventure!  It took us through southern Idaho and into Utah. We spent a couple nights in Moab and explored the beautiful sights.  Among those sights was Canyonlands National Park, full of red rock formations!
Mesa Arch

Ellie, enjoying the view.

I had knee surgery two weeks prior to this hike!
But we took it easy...

I love this man and the adventures he takes me on!