This creepster was one of those who greeted us when we came to our new home, here is Los Fresnos. I am not kidding! Matt, a fellow student here at To every Tribe, caught it just that day and took it out to show us. They are not as bad as I imagined (taratulas). In fact, a couple nights later, I actually let it walk accross my hand - with Matt's supervision. I did not look though. I guess it seemed safer if I didn't make eye contact.
Well, let me tell you a little about Los Fresnos and how God is blessing us right now. We dearly love each of our fellow students and neighbors. Just our circumstance and location bonds us, of course, but it is so encouraging to hear how God has brought each one and to hear them express their desire to serve and love and know God - in whatever and wherever. Everyone is adjusting to a little different life and new friends and missing old ones. The pastor and his wife on staff here are wonderful and they all are very encouraging and helping us to live with a more community mind. It is a little strange to live with and go to church with and associate with all the same people. Not at all bad, just different. Our new church is named Divine Providence and we are right at home with them - however we miss you all badly. We can go to church wherever we would like but in asking our resident pastor where they went, he recommended this church and it is very awesome in doctrine - apparently more unusual than I had realized. So far, it looks like all the other students are thinking the same thing. We also have community worship time here, on campus twice a week for a short time and that is nice also.
Los Fresnos is a small town about 20 minutes north of Brownsville, which is practically on the border. Sunday, Ruben was sick - he is still out of it with a fever - and I drove one exit too far to go to our new church and almost ended up attending service in Mexico. Church, Walmart and most of the city stuff is in Brownsville. Los Fresnos is also about 20 minutes from South Padre Island where the beach is. We have a park and library within walking distance of the apartment. The weather is very tropical and does get a little chilly but not as we would think of winter. It is 69 today but was 55 yesterday and 80 before that. So it varies. There is a pretty consistent breeze here and the locals say that helps in the summer - we will see. They are readying a building for laundry out back of the building but so far we go to the "washeteria". I think I will continue to wash there as it is a good way to meet people and practice Spanish. The spanish here is not great as many locals tend to mix the spanish & english language for non - words. But it is where we are so we will practice anyway and pray for discernment and help.
Ruben is adjusting to student life. He is enjoying the learning but is really out of his element with sitting all day - as many of the guys are. It is a new kind of tired for him. And there is just so much to take in. I have listened to some of it as they record the classes each day - so it will all be on audio. So far they have began in some of theological course, telling the bible chronoliogically and cultural studies. Most weeks we will have speakers come in to teach for the week. Each of the students gets to have the speaker for dinner one night they are here. We had David Sills come last week but he left early so we did not get to have him to our place for dinner. He wrote a book The Missionary Call and speaks and teaches on cultural issues. David Sitton has been teaching on the theology of suffering and maytrydom. I have listened to a couple of those - it is very sobering. It is quite and interesting contrast to think of having all our immediate friends and neighbors right now loving Jesus, loving us. To be surrounded by so many people on a continuing basis that are like minded in theology and desire to serve God and then to think of Christians in Vietnam who, as we speak, have their children taken from them and literally used for tiger bait. Apparently, as a way to torture Christians they put their children in traps for tigers - and they catch tigers. David said that many times persecution starts and it is the American missionarys that pull out and leave the people. Ruben and I know that God's grace will supply all things - we ask that He will supply such a love for Him that we will stand where He will have us stay. The second day of school, Sitton gave the students a burial form to fill out should someone die in a remote area and not be able to be transported out. He purposely want us to think of these things to understand the cost is real - for some people very real; but that God's grace surpasses that reality. Very good stuff to think on.
On a lighter note, the kids are adjusting wonderfully. They have a whole neighborhood's worth of friends right out back and they are really enjoying all their new neighbors and the warm weather to play outside in.
Next Friday we make our first trip into Mexico. It is just a first time trip to give us an idea of the place and people since many of us have not been over there yet. We will go to the Mezquital region which is not far south for a two day trip. Chris Johnson, one of the students from last year has arranged with some of the villagers for us to camp in their yards. We will post some pictures when we get back.
Tuesday we start our dental training. Ruben and I will both attend that and a couple of the ladies here are going to help us with the kids.
About the other students: We have two families as well as ours and one single gal and one single guy that are training. We also have two families and one single that are here that trained last year and came out to help with the school year. The two families from last year are waiting to go to Papua and waiting for another team member to join them and the single man from last year has his heart set on La Barra in Mexico and is also waiting for additional team members.
Please pray for us all - God's leading and direction, continued and additional support needed. Pray for us that we will both learn well, that we will be watchful and alert and use every opportunity to seek God's grace for various adjustments as we go. As we learn about cultural differences Ruben and I both want to have the mindset that wherever we go - that is our home. We are Americans and that is fine but we don't want to have a temporary mindset when it comes to helping others to receive us in order to receive God's word. All is temporary - except for Jesus. He is our place, our comfort, our esteem and more than anything we want Him to be our everything - in all places and circumstances.
We thank God for your love and your support and your friendship. We pray always for you and our hearts are with you. It is humbling to hear the speakers and teachers make reference to the Christianity here in America with respect to other cultures. It is not flattering and it is right for us to examine ourselves - for the sake of Jesus name. Mr. Sitton said in a lecture that he had the opportunity to meet with some believers who had been persecuted in Iran. The man asked him why only the third world brothers were being killed for Jesus. From what David said, he asked it honestly - without resentment intended. It is not entirely true - and the kingdom of God is not about comparison. But personally, I think it ought to make us jealous - in a God intended way.