Here in Queretaro, Mexico, the days are long by the week is short. I will do my best to fill you all in, but not be long winded.😉

Sunday

Liesl and I helped lead worship with the worship team at Vertical Connection and Lumina Churches. Vertical Connection had two morning services at 10am and 12pm in the city of Queretaro.  After second service, our whole missions team had lunch at Tacos El Pata with Leo, Erma, Pastor Pablo, Michelle, and Gabriel, followed by gelato.  Then, Pablo took Liesl and I, along with Sienna and Michael, to the Lumina Churchplant in Juraquilla (a suburb of Queretaro). 
I have sang with this worship team three times now- it never gets old and always stirs up a fire in me. It’s hard to describe the level of joy that comes with singing familiar songs of praise (most of the time) with brothers and sisters in Christ in another language. 

Philippians 2:8-11 says: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Someday, ALL believers will gather together before the throne of God to join with the angels to do what we did on Sunday.  Being able to experience that in a small way now is simply amazing.

🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻🎶🙌🏻

Monday 

Monday Hannah and I spent most of the day with this view:

Hannah woke up about 3am and was violently ill for about an hour and a half.  She was able to get back to sleep, but we spent all day in the cabin while the rest of the team visited a local orphanage. I was also not feeling well. It was fun to hear our answered prayers when they returned late in the day. 
Later in the afternoon is started to rain really hard. I looked out our bathroom window and could not even see a silhouette of the nearby Peña. I thought, “Wow, I’m sure glad we’re not hiking the Peña today!” About an hour later, our bunk mates returned from a hike up the Peña, soaking wet and laughing.  Sure enough, it began raining once they reached the upward part of the Peña. And unfortunately, it only rained harder the more they tried to wait it out. So amidst raging waterfalls, the team hiked down the Peña and returned soaking wet. It was an adventure that provided a lot of laughter.  We were feeling well enough at the end of the day to join the team at dinner (not well enough to eat, though) and for our team debrief. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us!!

Tuesday

Tuesday was a work day at Word of Life. We spent the day doing odd jobs around the campus to help prepare for the upcoming month of camps.

We washed several hundred chairs, painted theme decorations (Mario Bros), prepared chalk paint (similar to a Color Run), and paper maché boxes.

The day ended with dessert at the home of a missionary.  Hannah, Destiny and I went to the home of Alex and Claudia. The have two daughters, Feréla and Zoe.

They have only lived in Mexico for a few months, but have been missionaries with Word of Life for many years in El Salvador.  Their testimonies were amazing, along with the story of how they met.   I appreciated Alex’s interaction with Hannah as he patiently listened to her testimony and tried to encourage her: all Christians have the same story regardless of what baggage you may or may not carry. All Christians were headed toward hell, separated from God, condemned in His judgement UNTIL they place their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, the only One able to pay the punishment for our sin and place His own righteousness upon us.  That is the only transformation, the only history that matters.💕🙌🏻

Flying to Queretaro, take 2. Praise God we had a great night’s sleep. We were on the bus to the airport by 8:30am. Despite waking up to flash flood warnings and a serious downpour, our flight took off on time- Praise. The. Lord.  When we landed in Queretaro, we went through the short customs line and quickly claimed our baggage.  Unfortunately, 5 pieces of our luggage- including mine, again- did not make it onto our flight and were left in Dallas. So our team piled into the Word of Life van to head to Betnal while Jay and Hector stayed at the airport to file an incident report for our luggage.  I won’t lie- having my suitcase lost two days in a row left me fighting discouragement. Fortunately, I had packed one extra outfit in my backpack this time, so I wasn’t completely stranded!

When we got to the camp, we ate a quick lunch, greeted some Word of Life friends, and settled into our cabins.   There are six girls in our cabin- two mother daughter duos, and two college students. Other cabins are occupied by four other families on our team. We have several bunk beds in our cabin and a bathroom attached with toilets and showers. It felt good to settle in and know what our “home” will be for the week. 

After getting settled, we piled into the van and headed to Queretaro to go to youth group at Vertical Connection Church. We met up with Pastor Pablo DiGilio, his wife, Michele and their son, Gabriel. We got to visit a bit with them before going to church.  Once there, we hugged Pastor Alex Tarasiuk and wife, Julia, and youth group began. We played a game of relay tic-tac-toe, had worship, and a time of small group teaching. The Mexican version of InterVarsity (known here as Compa) gave a presentation and led small groups as an example of what they do in local universities. We had a great discussion about Paul’s speech to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17. We were comparing it to how people of Paul’s day responded to the good news of Jesus and how similar it is still today.  We examined how Paul SAW the people in the synagogue, marketplace and learning centers. He OBSERVED them- what was important to them, what their challenges were, what their beliefs were. And because he was intentional about his observation of them, he was able to approach them with humility and a sincere desire to see unbelievers come to a saving knowledge of Christ.  He appealed to what they already knew and understood and showed them how Jesus Christ was the answer to the unfulfilled longing of their hearts.  His actions are an example that we can follow today. I was challenged to observe my kids more carefully, as well as those who God puts in my path on a daily basis.  How much more empathetic would I be toward other people’s need for Christ (including my family) if I stopped to observe them before acting/reacting.  Taking that pause and seeking to understand them first may make my approach and appeal to Christ more effective. Regardless, people will respond to the Gospel as they have for thousands of years: by mocking those who believe it, by showing a fleeting interest, or by submitting themselves to the love and Lordship of Jesus Christ.  And there is also comfort in knowing that no matter how I present the Gospel (from panache to insensitivity), God is in control and able to reach the lost despite my inept presentation. I am only responsible to be faithful to point people to the One who saves.

Day 1 of this Mexico missions trip did NOT go as planned. We boarded our 7am flight and waited in our plane for two hours as they rerouted our trip around a storm, only to find out that the radio transmitter was not working. This meant our transmitter would need to be fixed, replaced, or everyone on the flight would need to change flights. After two hours, option number two was the solution (transmitter replacement) and we were on our way.  Because of the delayed flight, we missed our connecting flight to Queretaro.  When we landed in Dallas, Jay and Mary (our leaders) worked with the airline to get us booked on a new flight for Saturday.  This meant we had to stay overnight in a hotel. Two ladies at the counter worked very hard to get us hotel vouchers and meal vouchers to cover our incurred expenses from the flight delay. 

In the process of sorting out all the logistics, Jay could not find his passport. He looked in his bag multiple times and Mary looked, too, but they could not locate it. Not having a passport means not going to Mexico, so this was a big deal.  As a team, we circled up and asked God to help us locate the passport. Before we even finished praying, Mary ran over to us and exclaimed, “We found it!” The team erupted into a cheer and we thanked God for His provision.

The next hurdle was our luggage. Because we were now having to stay overnight in Dallas, we needed access to our bags. Again, the ladies at the counter worked hard to track down our belongings and get them delivered to baggage claim rather than continuing the journey to Mexico without us. All the bags were located and delivered except for two: mine and Lisa’s. Lisa had two bags, so she had access to some clothes. But all of my clothing was in the lost bag, leaving me nothing to change into.   We decided to tackle the issue further after we settled at the hotel. 

Waiting in the Texas heat for our hotel shuttle to arrive.

After we settled into the hotel, Mary B. suggested we pray together about the missing luggage. So we circled up once again and asked God to intervene.  I ordered a Lyft (similar to Uber) and Lisa, Sienna, Hannah and I headed to TJ Maxx and Target to purchase some clothes. An hour later I checked out and while we waited for Lisa, I checked my phone. The message from Mary read: “Luggage Found. Please confirm you received this message.” I told Lisa just in time for her to abort purchasing unnecessary items. Again, God answered our prayers and we praised Him.

After our shopping excursion, we returned to the hotel for a pizza dinner (courtesy our meal vouchers) and we discussed our highs and lows of the day. Despite the challenges of the day, most of us really had little to say in the way of “lows”. The whole team maintained a great attitude throughout the day- there was a lot of laughter and fun despite the issues we experienced.

Please continue to pray for our attitudes- that we would choose joy, especially when things do not go as planned. We were told many times before the trip to be flexible- now we are being tested. So thank you in advance for praying!

This morning started off with a bang. Well, not literally, but close. Our missions team to Mexico boarded our plane only to find out 45 minutes later that our radio transmitter is broken and either needs to be repaired OR we will have to board another plane. Either way, we will most likely miss our connecting flight. We’ll see. 😬

On the upside of things, I have the great privilege of going to Mexico with 14 outstanding individuals- one of which is my daughter, Hannah. The last time she was on an airplane she was 10 months old. And this is her first international experience and missions trip. We are all kinds of excited over here! I have literally dreamed of taking our children on missions trips since before they were born.  My various experiences on short term missions trips have had such a profound impact on my life: learning about other cultures, stepping out of my comfort zone to share the Gospel, doing things I would never do at home, deepening relationships with people from our home church as we share a cross cultural experience, worshiping God in a different language, etc.  I want my kids to see that God is not an American God. He is active and present throughout the entire world. His Son, Jesus Christ, came to be a savior for ALL people of every nation, language and skin color.  I want them to see real need and understand how much we have both been entrusted with and have excess of .  I want them to get a glimpse of God’s purpose for their lives- which somehow seems to gain clarity when one is removed from the distractions of our American materialism. I want them to see that this life is not about them- it is about Jesus Christ and living to be useful to Him in whatever vocations or contexts He gives us.

So… if you think about us this week, will you please say a prayer for our team? We have many young people on our team. Pray that:

  • this trip would have a profound impact on their lives
  • we would have hearts to see the physical and spiritual needs of others and a quickness to serve
  • we would bond tightly as a team- laugh, cry and be authentic with one another
  • we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond to His promptings
  • we would have safe travels and logistics for our disrupted flights would be worked out
  • we would have great personal times in the Word and as a team
  • our families with be protected from harm, illness and attack in our absence

Thank you so much for your prayers- they are the greatest blessing to us as a team!! Stay tuned for more updates here through the week.