Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lessons Through Curveballs

Recently our family has had to make a detour from our ministry in Mexico back to the US. We needed to get something checked out by the doctors in America. The timing wasn't great because we were just getting settled in and used to everyday conversations in Spanish, but hey, when there is a problem in the family you do what you have to do.

This little adventure has provided a tremendous opportunity for our family to trust in God and recognize just how much we really need him.  Without going into all the details here, let me assure you that the way things have worked out are not at all what we expected. I'm sure the same thing is true for most of you as well. How many times do you think you are going east when God sends you to the west?

For me this has been a good opportunity to be reminded that He is the potter and I am merely the clay. In Romans 9:21 the apostle Paul uses this metaphor to tell us that God is the one who will determine how, when and where we are used. One person may be given a special assignment while another a seemingly ordinary responsibility. Whichever it is, it is His decision.

Our family is pleased and honored to be able to serve God wherever in the world He has us. Dealing with the curveballs helps me remember that it is the Lord who is in control and not me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Navidad en Mexico

Carrie got her unspoken prayer request: to be settled in our new home baking Christmas cookies to share!  We were even able to host an open house on Christmas Day at our place.  We just couldn’t serve coffee since the Keurig broke in shipment (No!).

We couldn't have made it to Puebla at a better time with the schools closed and everyone focused on their own family time.  God put us in a position where we had no choice but to settle in and try to get out as a family of four to start learning the culture.  We’ve been worshiping with Comunidad BĂ­blia, a church Aaron has visited several times in the past. He was blessed to be asked to preach the Sunday after Christmas on Isaiah 9; ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…”
Mi Casa es Tu Casa
A thousand thanks (Mil Gracias) to Kevin and Andrea Bult for helping us rent our place, learn how to get around, and set things up when we first got to Mexico.  We've also learned to lean into God as we try to use basic Spanish to complete the 101 house projects.

Our new home sat empty for many years and the upstairs is kind of like an unfinished concrete box.   But for the cost of some elbow grease, we have a home in our price range with lots of space for hosting when you come visit (hint, hint).  If you’ve ever seen an episode of International House Hunters, you know that it's necessary to purchase a lot of things that are standard in the U.S.  There were no closets, shelves, appliances or even kitchen cabinets. This house is perfect for our needs and will serve the ministry well once we finish language school. If you squint you can see Jon and Aaron on the roof trying to find the water shutoff valve when the sink broke :)

Meeting Our Teams
The holidays gave us two perfect opportunities to meet our Mexico extended ‘families.’  On the 31st we drove close to the Volkswagen plant to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a houseful of  Camino Global missionaries.  Our kids have quickly taken to their new Camino primos (cousins).

On the Southern Baptist side, we were invited to meet our International Mission Board (IMB) teammates to celebrate Three Kings Day.  Anthony Conners read Matthew 2 where an angel tells Joseph to flee Egypt with baby Jesus.  Per tradition, the 15 of us took turns slicing through a circle of bread searching for a plastic baby Jesus.  If you find the baby you "get" to the make the tamales and serve them at your house 28 days later.

Prayer Requests
  1. School for the kids -  We talked to lots of people and prayed a whole bunch about this. In the end we decided to send them to a small Christian school called El Shaddai. The school has about 20 Mexican kids who are practicing their English with Jon and Jackie and teaching them Spanish at the same time. So far so good! The kids have come home each day saying how much they love it.
     
  2. Language school for mom and dad - We have driven down to our language school (Spanish Institute of Puebla), met the director, and taken the placement exam. We will be starting in about a week and a half. We can't wait to be better communicators with our new neighbors.
     
  3. Our new house - There are lots of projects to be done. Pray that we would have patience, be able to communicate with the workers and be a good example of the Gospel. Please pray that we can get a security system installed soon.
     
  4. Our waiter  - Jackie and Aaron went out for a daddy-daughter date and met a man who lived in the US for several years. He was very excited to hear about our ministry here and said that we would like to start studying the Bible with Aaron. Please pray that he follows up and that the Gospel can be clearly communicated.
Special Gift Needed! – we are praying that some people will step up to help us add more security to the house including electric fencing and an alarm system.  A couple weeks ago a plumber had has truck broken into while parked in front of our home for just 15 minutes, so a little more security system would be nice!  If you could help with some of these unexpected household expenses we would greatly appreciate it. You can click here...

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our first few nights in Mexico

Wow! What a ride this has been! After packing most of our belongings 14 months ago our family has finally arrived in Puebla, Mexico!

Huge thanks are in order. First, and most importantly, we thank God. We are here to serve Him. We are here because He called us. We are here because Christ died for us. God has blessed us with wonderful friends and family who have come together to support the Lord's work through us in Mexico. Thank you to everyone who has given, prayed, and encouraged along the way. God blessed us with incredible friends in the Bult family. Kevin, Andrea, and their kids (Emma, Ethan, and Lillly) have worked incredibly hard to help us find and setup a new home from before we even arrived. Thank you Lord! Thank you friends!

It's a week before Christmas and we would love to find some of our decorations among the piles of boxes. The bed people are supposed to deliver our mattress today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thanks Franconia Baptist Preschool

We are so blessed by all the people who have come together to support the Lord's work in Mexico and our family. One special relationship is with the Franconia Baptist Preschool. We have the honor of being the preschools missionaries. In order to help the kids learn about missions we are putting together videos from time to time to send back to them.

Here's our first video for the Franconia Baptist preschool kids.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Have you gone "all in" for God?

It's been just over four weeks since Carrie and I decided that we were going "all in" for God regarding missions in Mexico.  One of the hardest decisions we had to make was for Carrie to leave her beloved special education teaching position.  She has taught children with special needs for the better part of the last eighteen years and in many ways it is part of her calling in life.

Still, we wanted to make sure that we were not sending mixed signals by continuing to have her work until we got to 100% of our financial support. I remember in one conversation we talked about the idea "isn't it evidence enough of our faith that we're going to quit our jobs and move to Mexico?" In the end we concluded that, yes this would glorify God but we weren't looking for the minimal amount of glory for God. We wanted to see God get the maximum glory possible.

24 hours after we decided to trust that God would some how provide for all our needs He opened the flood gates.  I got a call from a dear friend the next night telling us that his church would be adding us to their supported missionaries. Then one after another friends, family, and ministry partners signed up to help. In 30 days our support went from 35% of our monthly need to 80%. The message was loud and clear. Trust me! God said.

Since then Carrie and I have had some great conversations with our kids about the rich young ruler who was called to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Christ. They weren't so sure that they could, but they have. In their own way our kids have let us know that they to are all in for Jesus Christ.

Why am I sharing all of this with you. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus called His disciples to be salt and light "before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  We're not anything special. We've struggled to make these difficult decisions. We only hope and pray that our humble attempt to be "all in" will bring glory to God and encourage you to do the same however the Lord calls you to do so.

- Aaron

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thank you Redeeming Grace!

Carrie and I want to say thank you very much to our latest supporting church, Redeeming Grace of Goodyear Arizona.  You are an incredible encouragement to us!

Our relationship with this church began in one of those "only God" kind of ways.  Five years ago the leaders at Franconia Baptist could see that I was struggling after a particularly difficult season at the church. Without asking they bought me a plane ticket and paid my registration (out of their own pockets) to go to the Shepherds Conferences at Grace Community Church in LA. Standing in line for a Haagen Daz bar (don't judge) I started a conversation with the brother in front of me, pastor John Filkey.

John was familiar with the work of 9 Marks at Capital Hill Baptist Church so we dreamed up the idea of having his church's elders and their families stay with us while they went to a 9 Marks weekender (worth attending BTW). Sometime later I got a call from John to tell me that they were interested in really doing it. The year after that I came to Phoenix for the SBC convention. John and Lorna graciously loaned me their PT Crusier. Over the years we've talked often for encouragement and advice.

So when I called John and told him that we were moving to Mexico it didn't surprise me at all when John said "come on out to Arizona, stay with Lorna and me, and get to know the family at Redeeming Grace." What a wonderful congregation! John and Justin took me out into the desert for an education in firearms (not something as common in Virginia). I met some of the most committed believers, faithful to God's word, and the advance of the Gospel.  Carrie and I are so excited to partner with Redeeming Grace and to be an extension of their ministry in Puebla, Mexico.  If you happen to be in the Phoenix area I highly recommend you check them out.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Repairing your spiritual foundations

Several Sundays ago I preached a sermon from Philippians 2:12-18 called "Basic Instructions for the Christian Life." One of the illustrations that I shared in the sermon was the idea of trying to build a foundation under and existing building. It can be done. You can carefully jack up the building and then crawl underneath it and dig out the space needed for the foundation that should have been built in the first place.  The problem is that its gonna take significantly more time and effort to do it this way.  That's why its important for us to make sure we understand the foundational principles of the Christian life from the very beginning.

Imagine my surprise when I drove down to the district a couple of days later and spotted a building jacked up just like I imagined in my sermon illustration.  There was no one around but I really wanted to ask someone how long it took and how much it cost.

The good news is that even if your Christian life is built on a rather shaky foundation it is absolutely possible to pick it up and set it down on the bedrock principles found in the Word of God.  To do this you need to find a healthy church that preaches and teaches Scripture not based on what pleases people but on what God revealed.