Our Mexico Trip

It all started last Tuesday night as I was leaving the service at Las Uvas. A college friend of mine gave me a call wanting to know if I could help a friend of her's. Yolani and her two children had flown from the states to Mexico City, from there they were going to southern Mexico to live with her in-laws. But when she arrived at the airport she didn't have a visa or the proper papers. Since she is Honduran they deported her back to Tegucigalpa. She was to arrive as we were leaving the church service. My friend wanted to know if I could go to the airport and help her and the children since they didn't have anywhere to go. (Yolani is the lady in the middle of the picture and her little girl and little boy are on both sides). We eventually made contact with them and they came to stay with us while we tried to figure things out. Her husband and family were obviously very worried about them. Her husband is still in the states and won't be moving back to Mexico for another six months. So he called and wanted to know if we would be willing to help his family get to Mexico and was willing to pay our way. His family was going to meet us in Guatemala. 

A trip to Mexico was not in the schedule but we wanted to help out and the place where we were going was close to one of our H.I.M. pastors who has been having physical problems and I wanted to visit him. So in a matter of a few hours, I cleared my entire schedule. I called some of my guys to preach for me while I was gone. I put the Institute classes on hold. I made a quick trip to the lawyers office to get permission to travel with minors without their father being present. There was a million and one things to do but God worked it all out.

Early Thursday morning our car was packed and away we went for a 24 hour drive to the Mexico border. We arrived at the El Salvador/Guatemalan border at dusk. We quickly got our passports stamped and made our way across the bridge into Guatemala. But on the other side was a loooong line of trucks all waiting to be inspected and authorized for entrance. The line was probably close to 4 miles long!
There was a car in front of me trying to figure out a way past all the trucks (the car in the above picture on the right). The man stepped out of the car and I got out as well and we both were looking for ways to go down the berm. His wife stepped out of the car and we noticed that she had a covering on and was obviously a Christian. I drove around his car and start to aggressively look for a way out. I slowed made my want down the berm of the highway until I came to a truck parked on our side of the road and was way over and I couldn't get around him. The driver didn't want to move. I kindly explained that there was plenty of room for him to pull his truck off of the berm so we could get by. Finally after some persuasion he moved his truck enough for us to get by. The whole time the other man in the car was following me and when he saw that I got the truck driver to move, he got excited and said, "I'm going to follow you, you are getting things opened up for us". I said, "ok, just follow me". We made it across and was on our way into Guatemala and the other man passed us up and went on ahead of us.

About two hours later as we were nearing the town where we were going to spend the night, we were traveling through a very dark part of the highway. There were no lights. It was an abandoned straight stretch of road and it was about 9:30 at night. All of a sudden we saw a car with flashing lights pulled semi sideways on the opposite lane. Shadows of people were moving about on the road. It looked like some kind of accident. As we neared the car we noticed the lady with the covering walking in the middle of the road. She was crying and asking for help. A young lady that had been in the car with them was also on the road asking for help. She was covered in blood. We were horrified to recognize that it was the family we had met at the border. My heart began to race. I pulled over to the side of the road and quickly got out to see what was wrong. "Please help us ", the lady cried. "They just killed my husband and this young girl needs to go to the hospital". I saw the body of the man lying on the side of the road next to his car, lifeless. "What happened?" I asked. "Some men shot us and left and my husband is dead". The young girl came over to me with blood running down her arm, "Can you please help us?" she said, "I have been shot in the arm, please don't leave us". A taxi man had stopped to help as well and said that he was willing to take her to the hospital. I agreed to follow them to the emergency room and make sure everything was ok.
As we tried to take in everything we had just seen and put all the pieces together, I began to feel so guilty. If this was an ambush, if there were men waiting here on the road to randomly kill somebody then it was my fault that this man got killed. I was the one that got them through the traffic at the border. I was the one who got the truck to move out of the way. Had we just waited, this christian family wouldn't have come to this ambush and maybe it would have been somebody else killed that night. I began to cry, I felt responsible. Maybe it was a gang initiation and they just randomly chose a car and it's driver to murder. I felt horrible. Was I at fault?

As we were leaving the scene, the ambulance and police were arriving, so I knew the lady would be taken care of, she needed to stay with her husband's body. We arrived at the hospital and helped the young girl get to the emergency room. They immediately did x-rays to see if a bullet was lodged in her arm. Thankfully there was nothing, it was just a bad graze and she was going to be ok. She began to explain to me what had happened. They were on their way to a church service when a double cab black Hilux Toyota came up behind them. The man driving them said, "I think this truck is following us". Come to find out the man who was killed was a police officer. He expressed to the ladies that something seemed weird with the truck that was behind them.  The truck pulled up along side of them and tried to run them off the road, then they lowered their window and opened fire on the driver. It seemed to be a heavy caliber gun, they said the whole side of the car was just riddled with bullets. The truck sped away leaving them in the middle of the road. The driver was still alive for a few moments when the taxi driver arrived to help. He and the ladies tried to pull him from the car and rush him to the hospital but he was too heavy. He soon died. Several cars came by but nobody wanted to stop and help, that's when we showed up. 

After hearing all the details, I felt a relief. I felt bad that the man was killed, but I realized that it wasn't my fault. Somebody was out to get him. It wasn't an ambush, they were hit-men seeking revenge for something. I was made aware once again that life is fragile and we must live ready to die, ready to meet God at any moment, we never know which moment will be our last.

We stayed for awhile with the girl as the doctors cleaned up her wound. The taxi driver agreed to stay until a family member came to pick her up. We drove on into town to find a hotel, very shook up and so grateful that God had kept his angels all around us.

The next morning was beautiful. We were refreshed and ready to continue our journey. One of the surprising things we saw that morning were two or three smoking volcanoes. We had seen volcanoes before but never active ones.
Joseph was so excited and he couldn't wait to get back to school to tell all of his friends about the volcano.
Guatemala is unlike any other Central American country. It is a world all it's own. Many of the people still hold to their traditional Indian roots. Dialects are still spoken in many areas. Many of the ladies still dress in traditional garb, it is just very unique. The country is beautiful especially along the Western coast. Steep rugged mountains, crystal streams and waterfalls, some of the areas that we drove through looked like a paradise.
It was interesting to see how they grow crops on some of the most steepest hillsides I have ever seen.
Vendors selling their colorful fruits and vegetables along the highway as we wound our way through the mountain.
Las Mesillas, Guatemala where Yolani met up with her Mexican family. I am so glad we made it safely and we were able to help them out. But ooooh what a long trip!
We drove another two hours beyond Las Mesillas to arrive at Motozintla, Mexico to spend a few days with pastor Javier and his family. What a treat to get to know this family better and to meet his church people. This is his wife Aury and their son Jason.
Motozintla is a beautiful little town nestled in the mountains of southern Mexico. The weather was nice and cool!
Saturday we spent time getting to know Javier's family and they showed us around town. There were neat little toys, snacks and interesting foods to buy and try.
The boys and I enjoying the beautiful overlook at the edge of town.
Happy to be in Mexico. Now Joseph can say that he has been to all the Central American countries and Mexico.
Javier's children. They sure had a blast with Joseph and Daniel.
There has been some nasty politics in Motozintla. Elections were held a few months ago and a mayor was elected but the rival mayor hasn't taken his loss too well. He released prisoners and paid for them to burn down the mayors offices and tried to blame it on the new mayor. Not a good situation.
They took us out to eat real Mexican quesadillas. Mmmmmmm sooo good. Joseph loved them.
Hannah had fun entertaining the children by translating some of Joseph's English books.
 Two boys ready to turn in after a fun day.
Sunday morning we headed off to the church, we were excited to meet all the people. It's just a humble church but blessed with God's presence. We had some really good services.
Rejoicing together. They are some very precious people.

I thank God for his help in the services. The evening service especially was powerful. The altar was lined with seekers and there was a special sense of God's presence. It was a real blessing.
After the morning services we all ate elotes (corn on the cob). They boiled it in a big pot. It was really good.
Some people think I'm weird because I like peanut butter on my corn on the cob. Well you are probably going to think this was super weird, they like mayonnaise on their corn. I tried a little bit of it. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but I don't think it will replace my peanut butter any time soon.
 They served us "corn water". Go back and look at the big pot that they boiled the corn in, they served us a glass of water from that pot. It was really sweet. But I just couldn't down the whole thing. Thinking of all the hands that had reached in there to get their corn, all the bugs that came off of the corn and whatever else I just wasn't motivated to drink it. But I at least tried it.
Javier, his wife Aury, Jason on the left, then Yari, next is Kadie, and little Geovani.
Please pray for Javier he has been having physical problems. For about two years he has had pain in his legs and has difficulty walking. He just recently found it that he has osteofibroma. A disease that makes his bones brittle. He needs treatments but the treatments are very expensive. Pray that God will either provide the finances for the treatments or that he would heal him.
Monday morning bright and early we were up and ready for the looooong trip back to Tegucigalpa. On our return we decided to swing by Tapachula. Unfortunately our colleagues Michael and Crystal are in the states and we weren't able to see them. 
 Mason's and Sankeys have always raved about tacos al pastor. So we had to try some before leaving. We found a restaurant in Tapachula where they served them. I must agree, they were wonderful!!
A plate full of bliss!

Daniel was just sick and tired of riding so he decided to drive us home.
We crossed the border into Guatemala about 1:30 pm but ten minutes down the road there was a protest. People had closed off the highway in protest of high light bills or something about the electricity. They told us that the protest wouldn't end until about 6 pm. We were going to have to sit and wait it out. We went looking for an internet cafe so we can check some google maps and see if it would be worth our time going back into Mexico and going to a different border crossing. The lady at the internet shop called to the other border and they said it was open. We had gotten in our car and was heading back into Mexico when one of the ladies from the internet shop came running out to tell us the other border was closed as well. So there was nothing to do but wait.
Waiting our turn in the long line of traffic waiting to get through the blockade.
At around 4:30 pm a rainstorm moved in and the protestors started moving out. What a relief. We lost several hours waiting around but at least we got through a lot earlier than expected. God is so good!
Some of the sights along our way through El Salvador.
The statue of "The Savior of the World" in San Salvador, El Salvador.
The trip was long, very eventful, and interesting but I was so glad to get home. Thank the Lord we made it home in one piece. Whew what a trip!


Boys will be Boys!!

The other night Hannah decided to have a photo shoot with the boys. It was a total riot!! It is almost impossible to get a "normal" picture of these boys!! Oh well they had fun trying.
Dan Dan the Man is doing good. He is still doing physical therapy once a week for his muscle tone. He is crawling a lot better and is getting into everything. One of his favorite spots to terrorize in the house is my office and my books. For whatever reason he just loves to take the books off of the shelves. haha.
Superman Joe thinks he is all grown up now. He is in that stage where he wants to prove that he is a big boy. It is hilarious. He is in first grade and doing really well this year. He is learning to read in English and Spanish, adding and subtraction, and science. It is hard to believe how fast he is growing!


God is Helping!

Our schedule has been jammed packed! Lot's of preaching, Bible Institute Classes on Saturdays, raising two kids, and discipleship class makes for a busy week. But in the midst of the busyness God has been working in a powerful way. We have had services filled with God's presence, and new converts who have just made a total turn-around, it is so exciting. I'm so thankful for a wife that gets right in there and helps carry the load. She is working with the women of the church and is planning to train them to teach Sunday School classes. She is also working with the children and youth. Here is a picture of the ladies who came Friday night to the ladies meeting. They are doing a study on the Characteristics of a Christian Woman. The lady on the far right, Yolanda, has been coming to our church for about 4 years now. Just a few weeks ago she came to the altar and really settled some things with God. It has been amazing watching the change in her life!!
Food and fellowship after the class.