Friday, April 16, 2010

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do" - Pt. 4

This final post is going to be just a random assortment of memories, and lots of pictures! :-) So, just sit back, pour yourself a cup of coffee, (or tea!) and enjoy one last peek from Mexico 2009-2010... :-)

"THE" Race:

Every year, around new year's, Guagueyvo, (and I'm guessing most other villages) hold an endurance race for which the Tarahumara's are famous. Do any internet search on "Raramuri runners" and you will find a pile of interesting cultural information. 

Notice the ball directly in front of the first runner. 

The idea of the race is to kick a wooden ball, along with your team members, 30 or so laps around the mountain. These runners started around noon, and I wish I would have an accurate picture to show you of them still running into the wee hours of the next morning. Pitch pine torches were carried among the large groups of people still running, while fires everywhere dotted the mountain, marking the places where observers were gathered to watch, encourage, and re-light torches. 

Some women also ran along with the teams to encourage them along. 

One thing that struck me was how much effort they put into this. We didn't stay up to watch the finish, but estimates were that they ran 14 hours non-stop. For days afterwards, you would see little boys running along the mountain trails kicking little balls in front of them, dreaming of someday.... 

A "refilling" station. :-)

In watching their whole-hearted effort, it was a challenge to me to faithfully run the race that is set before me. Should I give any less effort in striving for the victory and goals Christ has set before me?


Victor was a half crazy boy who lived just over the hill from where I was. His mother had died in child-birth, and due to complications during the deliver, he is severely retarded. At 10 years old, most of his communication is guttural grunts, and though his grandparents care for him somewhat, for the most part, he is left to fend for himself. This results in behavior that is often much more animal-like than human.... 

Despite these obstacles, the Byler family has taken him under their wing, and he was frequently at their home for 1-2 meals a day. It was a blessing for me to see them firmly, yet kindly deal with his struggles, smell, and lack of manners. Due to them, he has come a long way, and it blessed me to see him pound his heart every time the name of "Jesus" was mentioned. 

Getting a haircut from Elisha. 


One thing I kept quite busy with was the family's baking. As soon as they found out that I had worked at a bakery for awhile, and love it, they graciously allowed me to bake the week's bread, granola, and whatever sweet things I could figure out with the kitchen's limited supplies. :-)

Meal prep was also something I helped with some. Though most of the time we ate very simply, once in awhile, particularly when we had visitors who brought in fresh ingredients, we would make something exotic like the completely homemade tacos below. :-)


One day I was feeling particularly energetic, and the children and I took an outing to a nearby creek. 


Though I was not there during the rainy season, the couple rains that did occur gave me a taste of the horrendously sticky mud the clay-based soil turns into after moisture hits it. The results were rather interesting.... 


One particularly big highlight for me involved my transportation out of Guagueyvo. I never dreamed I would get to ride in the mission's bush plane, but the Lord worked out details in an amazing way. I loved it! It sure beat the 3-4 hour bone jolting ride in a vehicle! :-)


Samachique was the little plane's destination, and it was there I met up with dear friends from NC to finish out my time in MX. The fellowship was incredibly sweet for me after being so isolated for two months, and I thoroughly enjoyed the memories made and shared there together. The main goal there was to build a house for a family and host a missions conference for the missionaries working in that area of Mexico. Mixed in though, were some fun times too... :-)

A great big dorm was traded for my little one. Lots of close company
was shared here as there was 19 girls living here at one point!

A nice big kitchen, and some awfully talented cooks to boot! :-)

An evening of "The Island People."

Would you believe a week before this there was just a cement foundation?

Every made homemade pizza for 35+ people? :-) It was an adventure for sure,
but one that ended quite tastefully. :-)
As much as I enjoy Mexican food, this American pizza
tasted awesome!!

And so ended my time in Chihuahua. 5 days of travel up to NC was ahead, a friend's wedding, more memories made with other dear friend's, and a bittersweet flight home the 15th of February. I left with many lessons, memories, new friends, and absolutely no regrets.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Do you desire God?

My all time favorite preacher cuts the heart with this searching sermonette. Take this six minutes and allow God to stir your heart to want, love, and seek after Him more.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Leaving Home

As the sun slowly sank behind the western horizon, a dim figure sat with head bowed into hands, agonizing over the most recent turn of events in his life. He had retreated to his favorite spot on the hillside behind the house. Noise, distractions, and work were left behind, and he followed the dimly lit wooded path to his favorite meadow. He was here to meet His God. To seek His face. To hear His voice. 

A half-muffled groan escaped his lips as his prayer ascended to heaven. "Oh God. Not this... Not now. Please, Lord. Is there no one else?" The quiet anthem of crickets was the only sound to be heard as he vainly waited for peace to fill his heart. Nothing. Silence. The knot in his stomach tightened, and hot tears blurred his vision as the last orange glows of the sun slipped behind the rolling hills. His mind wandered back over the previous year. 

It had been rich and sweet beyond his wildest dreams. When his father had returned from a lengthy business trip in the early Spring, there was a marked difference in his countenance. It did not take him long to share with his family the wonderful transformation that Jesus Christ has wrought in his life. Neither did it take long for his wife and 6 precious children to embrace the amazing love that had wrought such an amazing change in the leader of their household. Though a happy home before, it now rang with the love and joy that spilled forth from lives that were experiencing cleansed hearts and daily filling by Christ.

His mind blissfully ran over their times together... Double-back horse rides with his younger brother Willie. Deep conversations with his oldest brother into the wee morning hours. Business outings with his father. Homemade taffy tested from the warm, homey kitchen of his dear mother. Water fights with his twin sister in the creek behind the house. That sister that was dearer to him than life itself... 

It had been hard to give her up to Peter this past fall, but he rejoiced in the new glow on her face, and the happiness he observed in their newly set up home. He particularly rejoiced in the expectation of a niece or nephew later that summer. Though he missed having her sunny presence in their home, his heart was filled with gratefulness that her and Peter lived just a few short minutes walk away. He was often found there sampling her cookies, teasing her incessantly, and just enjoying her company. How he thanked God for her...

It didn't take his mind long to turn to the new sunny presence that now filled his life almost to overflowing. She had become the world to him. Though he was not allowed to seek her hand until his 23rd birthday this fall, the knowledge that she too cared for him gave wings to his feet and a continual song in his heart. How he rejoiced in this gift from God, and the blessings bestowed upon him far greater than he had asked or could ever hope to deserve. Blessings that his heart could hardly contain...

With a wrench in his stomach, he was jerked back to the here and now. To his decision. To the request that had come that early morning. Would he come and fill a gap left in the mission their church supported in Papua New Guinea? An unexpected death had left a pressing need. Could he give two years of his life in service to the Indians and to the Lord is this way? Could he leave in two weeks?

These question filled his heart to the breaking point. He had asked the Lord to use him and send him where He would. As he had spent time seeking the Lord, God had filled his heart with a longing to be used in the salvation of souls. But now? There? So soon? He was only a year old in the faith. What did he have to give? What did he know? What about his life here? His family? His sweetheart? Had not God given him these things to be cherished and enjoyed? Just when life seemed at it's best, he was being asked to sacrifice what was dearest to him? To go so far away and have so little communication with home? To a hot climate, an unfamiliar language, and a primitive people? "God, is this really Your will?"

The night's shadows were now deep as he continued wrestling with these questions. A phrase from a song sung the evening before at church played through his mind, and he struggled to remember the words. As they slowly came back to his memory, the full impact of their message struck him.

I will sing the wondrous story
of the Christ Who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.

Left His home? Just like I'm being asked to do. But, in GLORY? In exchange for what? Glory and acclaim here on earth. No... No!!

All of a sudden it hit him. For a cross. 

The immensity of this revelation hit him like a ton of bricks and drove him to his face before his Lord. "The love. The compassion. For me?? This is what God did for me??" The triumphant and praise filled verses of this great hymn bore down on him with a power and joy unmatched by anything he had yet experienced in his twelve month walk with the Lord.

I was LOST but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray.
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.

I was bruised, but Jesus healed me!
Faint was I from many a fall.
Sight was gone and fears possessed me,
But He freed me from them all.

Full understanding now hit him as he realized why he had been found, drawn, and healed, and saved by Jesus Christ. Following in Christ's footsteps took on a new meaning to Him as he understood what was Christ's purpose in coming to this earth. In a small measure, he thought he could now catch just a glimpse as to what Christ gave up to save the souls of men. How could he say no to his Lord after such a revelation? How could he pass up the opportunity to share in a small way of the sufferings of Christ?

The moon was high in the sky as the clear, radiant face below was lifted to heaven with praise and gratefulness. Peace now reigned in his heart, and as he said "yes," the assurance was great that his sacrifice was acceptable and pleasing to his Lord. With a heart too overflowing to be quiet, his strong voice rang out over the hillside in a heartfelt pledge,

"YES, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me.
Sing it with the saints in glory
Gathered by the crystal sea."

Every word was meant, and he now knew he would be singing and preaching this story for the rest of his earthly days and on into eternity. As his firm footsteps traveled the well-worn path back home, through the window ahead he heard the grandfather clock ring out twelve clear sounds. With a start he realized what day it was. "How appropriate," he mused, for Easter morning had just dawned in his heart as well.