Much has transpired in the last couple months, and we have much for which to be grateful. Around the end of January, we finally were fully financially supported and received the go-ahead to return to the field. Unfortunately, the visa process that we began in December took WEEKS longer than anticipated and we were stuck in a bit of a holding pattern for the entire month of February while we waited on documents to make it through the bureaucracy of organizations and governments. It ended up being a bit of a benefit to have an extra month to pack and get our affairs in order before leaving. Finally on the last week of February, in the middle of a snow-storm that was threatening to close down the consulate, we received our long-awaited Visas. We left literally 4 days later for Mexico. Melissa and the children flew down with the help of MeLinda Nelson, our partner in our church planting effort. After getting their flight cancelled due to winter weather in Dallas, they were able to fly out the following day and arrived in Guadalajara on March 1st. Meanwhile John was already on the road with his Dad driving down from South Carolina. His Dad accompanied him as far as Houston where he picked up Daniel Nelson, MeLinda’s husband and the other half of our church planting partnership, for the remainder of the journey. It took about two days at the border to import the van to Mexico and go through customs and immigration. John and Dan arrived at nearly midnight on March 3rd without major incident. Over the following month we worked very hard finding at checking out the rental house and signing the lease, then figuring out how to furnish it and make all the necessary repairs necessary for living in it (it had been unused for quite a while prior to our renting it.) Evangeline and Ellis began school at a local Christian school within a few days of our arrival.
During this time we also licensed and registered our vehicle and began working on obtaining our temporary resident cards (a separate process from the visa process). We also visited language schools and decided on one that we felt best meets our goals and needs and enrolled. Malachi had his interview with CRIT, the children’s hospital where he will be treated and receive therapy and was formally accepted into the program. Unfortunately, the doctors who will determine his treatment plan aren’t available to do his full workup until June, so we are working on getting him into a different treatment center in the interim. Hopefully he will begin there on Monday. By this time, Easter had arrived, and following Santo Semana (Holy Week), we began our language studies in earnest. John attends school every morning and then studies from home in the afternoons or evenings. Melissa goes to a private tutorial center 3 afternoons per week to study.
This is working very well out so far, because we are able to schedule it so we can care for our kids which we feel is very important during this time of transition.
Dan and Melinda Nelson our colleagues have been working with the pastor of the church they planted on a previous term (Factor Fe) to begin the process of the next church. The plant is just at the very beginning stages. It was announced to the church and the next phase is to have a church dinner and build our core group. While our main focus will be language learning, we will be involved in the process. Our main goals are to watch and learn this first year. We are new at church planting. Dan and Melinda are meeting with us to mentor us and we are very grateful.
1. Transition is going very well so far without any major issues with immigration, medical, safety or anything else. God has truly paved the way for our arrival. We are extremely grateful for our teammates who have been a tremendous help on every level.
2. We are getting settled into a new church family until we are able to begin the church plant. The church we are attending, Factor Fe, will be the mother church of the new plant, so it is great that we are learning their church culture and building relationships with the leadership. We have a great small group that we’ve joined and are building friendships there as well. That same small group likely contains several couples that will eventually be a part of the new church plant.
1. Although we’ve been working hard, things move slowly here and we have yet to get Malachi started in a therapy regimen. Hopefully this will start next week. Please pray that we find the right therapists and have wisdom to know where and how much therapy is of the greatest benefit. Also, Malachi has been running very low-grade fevers off and on since our arrival. We can’t figure out why and there seems to be no other symptoms (although, as of yet he would be unable to effectively communicate his discomfort if there was anything else.) Pray that God can give us insight on how to handle these.
2. Pray for our language learning. It’s often exhausting and frustrating to learn for hours and hours and still not be able to effectively communicate. That said, we’ve come a long way in the 2 months since our arrival and trust that God will lead us through the rest of this process.
3. Pray that as we continue to develop relationships with nationals, that God will give us opportunities to have eternal influence with people, despite the language barrier. In some ways it’s nice that many people want to practice their English on us, so we carry on conversations in two different languages concurrently and everyone gets some practice.
THANK YOU for your love, encouragement, prayers and financial support. We love you all so very much.