Paradise

They rushed out of their mud and palm huts into the dirt streets, eyes shielded against the blazing afternoon sun. It circled around again, sending flamboyant flowers fluttering down from their delicate perch. For the first time, the residents of the Hacienda Paraíso saw a small airplane, glinting like a daytime star, flying overhead. They looked at one another, incredulous. 

Up in the plane, no doubt a couple of men were also looking down. “There they are!” one would have exclaimed, “here, I’ll start the speaker.” The pilot responded, “yes, you do that. I’ll circle around again and the next time we sight them, drop down some 15 packages.” 

Standing next to his grandma Elda, five year old Eduardo watched the plane, amazement in his little mind. But what happened next would be the foundation for the rest of his life. Out from the little plane began to sound the sweet notes of hymns, telling the people of the Lord Jesus and His great love for them. Care packages were dropped, filled with bits of love from absolute strangers. 

Paradise, how I love you

Years went by. I will share with you sometime the story of how the christians in Paraíso were eventually saved and how we came to know them, but that is for another day. 

Paraíso, Yucatán is a small village, originally part of a large hacienda, situated in the middle of nowhere. The chimney stacks are still there, as well as some of the original stone buildings. It´s about an hour outside the beautiful city of Mérida but time has had little say in their mode of life. Mayan is spoken more fluidly and readily than Spanish; most homes would continue the regular use of a mud and palm home with hammocks strung across the rafters for sleeping. Pork, sour orange, lima and freshly milled corn are still the word of the gastronomical day. Women sit in their doorways embroidering beautiful flowers along the edges of white blouses and dresses. Wide and airy, the wind blows through the fabric, refreshing women taut with a life of hard work. 

It’s very much their town. It’s a comfortable feeling to know who everybody is, what time they go to sleep at night, what their favorite food is. It’s nice to know who owns exactly what properties and to which church everyone belongs. 

So the minute a white van comes dieseling in, heads pop out of every window. Anyone who happens to be on the street stops and stares. 

Flying in and out, just to have a meeting with the believers is merely maintenance. It’s no way to win new people, an impossibility to expect an outsider to feel the confidence to attend. You will always be a stranger. 

For a several years, that’s what we have done. Maintenance work. We couldn’t do more. Emotionally, physically, spiritually pushed to our absolute limit, it was all we could do to just get through the day. 

But God is our Healer. He filled us again with the grace and spiritual energy necessary to truly work in His field. 

And it really is work. Systematic evangelization, visiting contacts, listening to stories of witch doctors and curses and dreams, faced with indifference, distrust, spiritual confusion. It´s walking in the hot sun, occasionally shifting your stack of literature so the bottom page doesn´t go totally soggy with sweat. It´s wishing you could cover your children´s ears as they hear of a father and son beating each other up and threatening the other´s death. It´s talking with your mouth and praying with your head. 

It´s leaving all the results with God. 

You can’t force a woman, steeped in idolatry to understand or even want Christ, just because you showed up at her door. You can’t reach in and clear out the cobwebs of ancient superstition to make way for the light of the gospel. You can’t grab the beer bottle from a man’s hand and shove a Bible at him instead.

Slowly, steadily. Through the Spirit’s power. It’s the only way. 

There is little in life that can give greater joy than plopping down in your car, sweat dripping down your back, inhaling a bottle of water, knowing that however many families just heard the gospel or received literature to read and that the Holy Spirit is striving with them. There are so many people, not only here in the south of Mexico, so many who need Christ. 

Please remember the little town of Paraíso in your prayers. There are people there who the Lord wants to save and use for His glory. Pray for the believers and their growth and for their children who still need Christ. Please pray the devil would hinder us no longer and that we would be able to work with freedom in our Lord. 

Obedience, Simply

Pulling up the old horse, Charlie, the D.O.M [Mr. Robert Wilson] turned to Amy. “Which blow breaks the stone?” he asked. Then, pointing with his whip he said, “Thee must never say, thee must never even let thyself think, ‘I won that soul for Christ.’ It is the first blow and the last, and every one in between.”

A chance to Die, Elisabeth Elliot
Beach at Emiliano Zapata, Campeche

Mr. Wilson’s words, spoken nearly 130 years ago ring with ageless truth. Can it be that one and one alone is solely responsible for the joy of winning a soul?

About 11 years ago, before we were even married, David and a group of men came to Zapata. The first family they visited were the Mendozas. We visited them off and on throughout the years, with varied success at igniting interest in the gospel.

A full 7 to 8 years later, the first member of the family accepted Christ.

Several months later, a couple came to visit and spent nearly every single day with this family, encouraging them, loving them, laughing with them, teaching them.

A few more trusted the Lord Jesus as their Savior.

Two years later, a brother came and in house meetings spoke through translation. Oh, and that blessed light came shining through again, to another soul, lost and found.

A couple months later, her husband, in the darkness that is a tropical night in the countryside, watering plants in that refreshing sunless moment, he too realized his sin was keeping him far from God and accepted the gift of salvation.

Four months later, another brother was visiting who encouraged them several times to obey the Lord in baptism.

Which blow breaks the stone? How could anyone know? How could any of the 15 or so people alluded to here be marked as the one?

We are simply, humbly, “workers together with him [God]” 2 Corinthians 6:1.

And so, to battle the waves and the currents, two men walked the couple out into the salty sea, through sprinkling rain to show to the world that they are dead to sin and alive in Christ. There was no fanfare, no visitors, certificates or great ceremony. Just a small group, gathered on the shore, witnesses with God to obedience. Simply obedience.

When Glory has Fled

We march into the battle of life, our banners flying, heads held up high. Inevitably, a company of loyal paraders bring up the rear, enthusiastically hurrahing their support.

We tramp through beautiful flat plains, butterflies flitting by and songbirds chirping their sweet approval. The road is well worn, trampled by so many feet who have gone before, the soft grass swishing paradoxically against our combat boots. Out come the peasant children, followed by the routine menagerie of chickens, dogs, goats and a few piglets, shouting and cheering their approval of the shiny flag and man in front. Men stop their wagons, women their wash and stare in admiration of this one who has it all together.

Then night falls. A penetrating chill pervades the air. The mountains are coming and fog rolls down in great blankets of white.

Some of our band raise their eyes to the snowy peaks and muttering out excuses about this or that turn back to the closest village for a place of rest.

Morning dawns, gray and unpromising. A few more whisper their good-byes and hunker out.

Lifting our banner of glory high for all to see, the march goes on, the wind whipping its colors into a dazzling show.

The trail gets rougher, full of rocky boulders, tricky river crossings, frightening precipices.

Turning to survey the view, we are shocked to see hundreds shucking their boots and turning back, heading down into fields of comfort and plenty.

Is there any point in carrying on? Is there any glory in going on alone? We look up at our once beautiful flag, now in fluttering shreds, the bitter mountain winds having done its due diligence.

All glory has fled. There is no banner, no lauding crowds, so few cheers of support.

And so the Lord thrusts our weary souls out to Arabia with Saul. He sends us to Sinai with Moses, to our tent doors with Job.

All of man’s fabricated pride and success, gone in a minute, foot sore and alone, the nagging question remains.

Is it worth it?

Is it worth the pain, the humility, the disregard of man to cross those forsaken paths alone?

I will declare it from the highest peak, from the lowest valley, from the clouds and from the sea beneath—it is worth every single step because when my glory is gone, HE ALONE reigns with glory and might and majesty and honor!

He alone is worthy.

Hello Again

Sweet release. That’s writing for me.

It’s a world of freedom, a world of mental liberation. Those faint blue lines have seen it all. From tears and a bleeding heart, to ranting and frustration, to penitence and poems of hope.

And that’s why I’m here.

Not for this to be the proverbial garbage can of an angry human.

Rather, I am here to pour out from my soul to yours the hope and joy that is found in a life hid in Christ.

Cathedral door in San Cristobal, Chiapas

We live in Southeast Mexico, in the obscure state of Campeche. I hope to be able to share some wonderful stories about the very special people here. Their beautiful voices deserve to be heard.

It is also my desire to share tidbits that have given me hope and peace. Life has not always been beautiful but there is always beauty to be found if we can only look up to the One who is the Creator of all things, who has kindly chosen to love each of us, who fills each and every day with His grace and splendor.

My prayer and simple hope is that this little project will be a blessing to you.