Category Archives: Ministry Updates

Cool stuff about Wednesday’s meeting

So here’s the gist of what happened this past Wednesday:

Rhonda has a friend “Nancy” who meets with her occasionally and has expressed interest in gathering people to study the Bible. A week and a half ago, Nancy brought “Saul”, who Tucker used to meet with a lot. Saul had heard Nancy was changed when Rhonda prayed for her to receive the Holy Spirit, and Saul wanted the same thing. Rhonda prayed for him as well, and they agreed they wanted to meet the following week (this past Wednesday) and bring others to study the Bible.

Wednesday five people came, plus Rhonda and I. Rhonda noted that Saul was a completely different person from the guy she had prayed for a week before. He brought his sister, “Lily”, who is having a tough time. Saul is worried for Lily and wants her to encounter God. Nancy’s husband “Henry” came (they’re believers), as did “Beth”, a 19-year-old girl Nancy knows. Nancy was the common link in the group–she knew everyone there. Saul and Lily didn’t know Beth, who didn’t know any of us besides Nancy.

The meeting included reading passages Rhonda suggested from the Bible, lots of sharing and mutual encouragement, spontaneous sharing of passages by others, and prayer. Here were some of the really neat dynamics in the meeting:

  • Lily started the meeting in lots of brokenness, crying as she shared her struggles. She was greatly ministered to through prayer and encouragement by several people at the meeting. She was humble, transparent, and hungry for God in sharing her struggles.
  • Beth seemed like a wall for the first half of the meeting. She finally started sharing a bit, and then the dam broke. The tears poured as she confessed some huge struggles and messes in her life and how she’s not sure God can even be real. The group reached out to her wonderfully. They were loving, accepting, and very encouraging. Henry had told Lily that her sorrow was going to turn to happiness. We witnessed this happen as Lily took Beth’s hand, shared intimate details of her own life where she had been through similar struggles, encouraged Beth, and offered her friendship and help. It was so neat to see. Others in the group prayed for Beth, prophesied over her, and shared Scripture with her. By the end of the meeting, you could see hope in Beth’s eyes. Lily said that even though she had never met Beth before, she now felt like they had know each other all their lives.
  • The group (with no prompting from us) expressed their desire to keep meeting together. Wednesday’s meeting was at Rhonda’s clinic, but they said they thought it would be nice to meet in someone’s house. Nancy offered her house for Sunday’s meeting.
  • The group wants to meet as much as they can. They’re currently planning to meet Sundays at Nancy and Henry’s house and Wednesdays at Rhonda’s clinic.
  • They talked about how many people in our town need to know God and agreed they should make a point to always be inviting more people to the meetings. Someone said matter-of-factly, “This group is going to grow a lot.”

Rhonda did a little bit of facilitating, but everything in the meeting was driven by the group. They’re a hungry bunch. This is very exciting for us, because is it not our desire to be running things ourselves. We want to help facilitate a disciple-making movement by empowering local leaders.

This afternoon we’ll meet at Nancy’s house. I’m excited to see where things go from here! Please join us in praying that Henry, Nancy, Saul, Lily, and Beth come to know God in a greater way and reach many others for Christ.

Prayers for bringing the truck home

Thanks to all who have prayed throughout our process of raising funds and finding a truck to buy to pull our well drilling rig. We were able to buy a good truck in Texas and have spent the last few days fixing it up in preparation for driving it back to Mexico. Tomorrow morning we plan to to arrive at the border, legalize the car, and then be on our way home. We would sincerely appreciate you keeping the following things in prayer this weekend:

  • Pray for favor with the customs officials we’ll be working with to legalize the car. Pray they charge reasonable tax rates and the legalization process goes quickly and smoothly.
  • Pray for divine protection as we drive home, especially in passing through the border states that have had lots of drug violence. The cartels like strong trucks (like ours) and have been known to hijack them. Pray we would pass through without any attention from them and that the truck would run well all the way back home to southern Mexico.

Thanks so much for your prayers! We appreciate your partnership in the things God is doing among the indigenous of Mexico.

Two year tale of the well drilling project

For those wondering how the well drilling project is progressing and what the time table for it is, here's how it has gone until now and how we hope to see it go from here. This has been a very slow process, and I've definitely gotten impatient at points, but we're on the right track.

  • In 2007 and 2008, Global Frontier Missions raised the funds for buying a well drilling rig. While we were raising funds, the rig we were originally looking at almost doubled in price. So in 2008 Dave decided to build the rig himself and save us about $15,000 USD. He had to wait to start construction until finishing Mission Training School and spending a few months concentrating on language learning.
  • Late in 2008 and early in 2009 Dave bought most of the parts and materials for the well drilling rig and began construction on it.
  • After being at home for three months in the spring of 2009 for his daughter's wedding, Dave spent countless hours in the summer and fall building the well drilling rig. Throughout that process and in the time since we have had people visiting us wanting to know if we can drill them a well.
  • In December of 2009 Dave was able to fire up the rig for the first time and test it out. It worked well, but Dave realized we needed to order some more parts and make a few changes.
  • In January and February of this year, Dave made the necessary adjustments to the machine.
  • In February we started drilling our first well, this one at the GFM base. We used all our pipe going 43 meters deep, then decided we needed to go deeper. Dave also realized we needed to order a safety valve that would keep the drilling assistant (which has been me up to this point) from losing a finger. I thought that was a great idea.
  • The part got here in March, and we immediately found out we would need another part to make that one work properly.
  • The second part took a few more weeks to arrive, getting here in April.
  • In late April, we were able to start working on the base well again. The machine is now working very well, but we found out we needed a different type of bit to complete the job. (Anyone see why it's been hard for us not to get impatient during this process? The learning curve has been steep, but very valuable.)
  • Dave has to go to the U.S. for a couple of weeks right now, so he will bring down the new bit we need when he returns. We hope to finish the well at the base the last week of May. Then we hope to do a free well we owe someone and two wells that we get payed for during the month of June. It can take us a week or more to drill a well at this point, so if we're able to pull that off in June we'll feel really good about it.
  • My family and Dave and Rhonda plan to be in the United states for a lot of July and August. So when we get rolling again in late August into September, we hope to start drilling regularly and work on bringing one or two employees on board.

And now you know where we've been and where we're headed with well drilling!

Update on last weekend’s outreach trip

Thanks to those who prayed for the medical outreach last weekend in “Rivertown”, a village across the border in our neighboring state.  Here are some thoughts and quick hits from the trip:

  • Rhonda and Sarah joined (if I’m remembering correctly) three doctors, two dentists, and two other nurses giving consultation.  The group saw a combined 670 patients Saturday and Sunday.
  • The village, as promised, was part of a group of communities that is very isolated.  It only ended up being a 10-hour drive to get there (not the 14 we were expecting), but that for a village only 50 miles from our town as the crow flies.  (I love the things I can find out with Google Earth.)
  • People came from probably 10 surrounding villages.  Trucks brought many of them, while others walked several hours to come.  Sarah’s doctor had one lady who wanted medicine for her daughter who was sick and had a fever.  The lady then mentioned she had three more sick kids at home.  When the doctor asked why the lady didn’t bring her other kids, she responded that it was a three-hour walk from their village, the kids weren’t strong enough to walk, and she couldn’t carry them all that way.
  • The people of the area are noticeably poorer than those in our district (and the villages in our district aren’t exactly rolling in dough).  Many people don’t wear shoes, and some kids were running around naked or only halfway clothed.
  • The people are also much more monolingual than those in our area.  Kids about age 10 and up and men in their 20s-40s were generally the only good bets for speaking decent Spanish.  We had six Christians from another village in the same language group with us to translate.  Those translators were absolutely vital, as many times it was impossible to figure out what someone was trying to communicate without them.
  • On the way to Rivertown, we really enjoyed meeting a missionary couple in a market town two hours from where we live.  He’s Mexican, she’s American, and they’ve been working in their town for 10 years.  They’ve planted a church and have several neat outreaches going.
  • I loved working with the local drug rehab ministry that organized the outreach.  It was great getting to know them and their ministry better.  They really have their ducks in a row!  Learning more about their ministry (they’ve been very successful in this country in ways few others have been) gave us some good ideas we’re praying about for our work.
  • It’s possible the villages we were in are nearly devoid of gospel witness just because they’re so isolated.  All of us felt like they’re in great spiritual bondage, though.  Pray God opens and frees Rivertown and the villages surrounding it.
  • A real need exists for more and better audio resources in the languages of our region.  I’m amazed how much literature well-meaning Christians are handing out to illiterate people.  We’ve got to find a better way, realizing that our Western way of evangelizing others just doesn’t work in much of the world.  (One can raise the question of how well it works even in our own part of the world.)
  • Getting to know some of the Christian brothers and sisters of that area was a great blessing.  They’re a neat group, and they’ve had to endure some tough persecution.  We also had the privilege of meeting an American couple who have been doing Bible translation over there since 1983.  Their humility and genuine love for the people was evident, as has been the case with all the Bible translators I’ve met around here.  Pray Ephesians 1:17-19 over the local believers as well as the missionaries working with them.
  • I’m really glad we went on the trip, even though it hit at a busy time for us.  We learned a lot, saw a new area that’s very needy spiritually, shared the gospel, prayed, laid hands on the sick, and served.  I have an even greater burden for our area now that I’ve seen more of it firsthand.

Here are a few photos:

Rivertown, where we did the outreach

Rivertown
The second day they put me to work cutting hair. I gave 20 haircuts!

Chris cutting hair
Rhonda and Sarah give an IV to a man very sick with pneumonia

Rhonda and Sarah attending man
People pile in for a 1- or 2-hour ride back to their village

Villagers loading into truck
Me on the left with Dave, Rhonda, Sarah, and Nick

Our team

Current ministry plans

Right now is a bit of a regrouping time for me and the rest of our church planting team.  Last year, up through early summer, we went through a lot of turnover as many of our apprentices finished their time with our team.  The rest of the summer was largely a time of internal focus in preparation for GFM moving to the U.S.

Erin’s and my role with the team is now shifting into an actual focus on the church planting work, rather than on discipling other young church planting apprentices.  I mapped out some plans/goals for myself for the months of September through November.  I chose that time period because we’re planning on being the the U.S. for the month of December.  Here’s what I’m working on doing between now and then:

  • My top priority for September was doing anything needed to help get Grant and Jenn on their way to Atlanta.  This consumed most of the month for me.  Now I’m focusing on the following goals.
  • Network with every significant worker/leader in the region, getting to know them and what they’re doing.  I’ve made several great contacts already in recent months, including getting in touch by email with some missionaries who served here around the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  I still have a list of 8 or 10 people to meet with in the next few weeks.  I don’t want to proceed much further in ministry without a good idea of what’s happening in the region.
  • Develop a comprehensive list of written Bibles, recordings, and other ministry resources available in our region.  What languages, what translations of Spanish, where to get them, and how much they cost.  I’ve found most of the information I need already in recent weeks.  When I meet people from different villages, I want to know off the top of my head what resources are available in their languages.
  • Develop significant relationships in the hill community and the airstrip community through at least bi-weekly visits to each community.  These are very strategic places because they are made up of people from a bunch of different villages.  The primary goal of these relationships is to look for people who are receptive to the gospel who I can disciple.  A secondary goal, which keeps Immigration happy, is to identify together with the people ways I can serve them through community development, create action plans, and implement them.
  • Develop a Vision and Strategy Paper and Memo of Understanding for our team.  The VSP will describe who we’re working to reach, what the goals of our work are, and how we intend to work and what big steps we must take to accomplish our goals.  The MOU is an internal document for our team that establishes mutually agreed-upon guidelines for our work and how we’ll be accountable to one another.  These two documents will be born out of discussions with our newly solidified team in the coming weeks.  We got the idea for the VSP and the MOU from Daniel Sinclair’s book A Vision of the Possible, which is more or less a textbook for pioneer cross-cultural church planting in teams.
  • Help our team solidify their roles and implement ministry plans within our Mexican nonprofit.  What we do through our Mexican nonprofit is what gets us approved with Immigration to be in the country.  I’m currently helping David work through the implementation of a well drilling rig he has spent months building.  I’m also working with Rhonda, Nick, and Sarah to get a more established ongoing medical outreach rolling in area villages.  I hope to blog more about these activities soon.
  • Coach new church planters in the region on language learning and acculturation.  Erin and I are currently working with our new team member, Sarah.  I have also been communicating with a new church planting team that’s arriving tomorrow in a town two hours from us.  I’m helping get them settled in, and I’ll be visiting them every couple of weeks to help them get rolling in Mexico.  We’ve benefited tremendously from those who have helped us along the way.  Though we’re far from experts after only five years, I enjoy the opportunity to help others by passing on things we have learned and tips based on our experiences.
  • Implement my tribe building plan.  I have a passion to use modern technology to help connect those back home to the work on the field better than has ever been possible.  My tribe building plan currently consists of my online presence and communication.  I have a number of improvements planned, as well as a couple of entirely new things that I intend to roll out in the coming weeks.
  • Do one hour a week of voice recorder drills to work on my accent, inflection, and fluency in Spanish.  I get along very well in Spanish, but I need to continue to push myself to improve.  The only time I should ever relax about my Spanish ability would be if I reached the level of a native speaker.  I think these drills are one of the best things someone learning a foreign language can do.  I’m pulling them from Language Acquisition Made Practical by Thomas and Elizabeth Brewster.
  • Read a local newspaper at least once a week, learning words, expressions, and constructions I’m not familiar with.  I think reading local newspapers is also a great exercise.  They’re written at a level a junior high or high school student can understand, they use everyday language common to the area, and they cover a wide range of topics, including many that don’t often get touched in conversation.  Newspapers are a goldmine for new, useful vocabulary.

Our transition from discipling church planting apprentices to focusing ourselves on church planting is in full swing.  As you can see, I’m currently focused on a lot of setup work to get us in a position for good church planting work.  My current ministry plans are a little light on connecting with villagers.  Coming back in January, though, we’ll be well-connected with other leaders in the region, knowing exactly what’s going on and where the areas of greatest need are.  Our team will have a plan of action in place.  We’ll be armed with the best available resources for our work.  I’ll have a system in place for connecting with friends back home and taking you along on the journey.  I’ll be in a rhythm of ongoing Spanish practice.  So from January on, I expect my time to be weighted quite a bit more heavily towards direct connections and discipleship with villagers.

We love sharing the ministry with you, so your comments or questions are welcome!

More testimonies from the medical outreach

The medical outreach we were doing this week is now done.  In the final two days we continued to see God touching people and healing them.  I don’t know how many people were healed, but it was a good number.

I saw God heal the vision of four people in the final two days.  The optometrist was in such high demand that people were arriving as early as 4am (the clinic started at 9 each day) to see him, and we had to turn a number of people away.  Thursday, when a number of people had just been turned away, I invited anyone who wanted prayer to come over.  A few people did, and I and some others began praying for them.  I prayed for three people in a row whose vision cleared up.  I know this because we gave them before and after tests.  Before prayer, we would hand them a passage to read from a Bible and they couldn’t see well enough to do it.  Immediately after prayer they were reading even the very fine print of the footnotes of the Bible.  Praise God!!

I was part of praying for three other people in the last two days who had various problems in their shoulders, backs, or legs.  God took away all their pain when we prayed.  One woman had an inflamed lump in her shoulder that Rhonda could feel and that caused her to wince every time it was pressed.  Immediately after praying for her the lump had disappeared and she had no more pain in the shoulder.  God is awesome!

Friday I invited my sister Micah, who is staying with us for the summer, to come along and help pray for people.  She did, and got to help pray for a number of people.  She was very excited (as were the rest of us) when she and Jackie prayed for an older man who couldn’t walk well because his foot was in a lot of pain.  They prayed for his healing in the name of Jesus, and all of his pain went away.  I got to talk with him afterwards, and he was very happy!  He had hardly been able to leave his house recently because of the pain, but now he said he can walk around fine.  He is a believer, but he does not have a church and is very anxious for fellowship.  I agreed to come see him, and I plan to help get him plugged into fellowship.

Once again, I have shared just some of the many things that God did this week.  The best part at the end of the outreach is that we have contact information for a number of people to follow up on.  These are people who said they want to follow Jesus or who are interested in learning more about having a relationship with Christ.  They were touched by God’s healing power, and now they want to know him better.  Please pray that in the coming weeks fruit would come out of the ministry that took place with these people this week.

Thanks for all of you who were praying this week for God to be moving down here.  He certainly did, and we praise Him for His greatness and for His compassion.  Join us in giving Him all the glory!

Testimonies through two days of medical outreach

We’re halfway through a 4-day medical outreach here, and I want to share a bit of what’s been going on while it’s fresh on my mind.

Yesterday, we ended up sending our last three patients of the day on their way with no medications because we prayed for their healing in Jesus name and God touched them!  Jordan, one of our GFMers, prayed for the first guy before he got back to the consultation area where I was translating.  By the time this man came back to us, he described all the pain he had been suffering, especially in his shoulders, but then said it went away when Jordan prayed for him.  He hadn’t been able to lift his elbow higher than his shoulder because of the pain, but now he was making full circles with his arm.  We gave him a couple of exercises to do at home and sent him on his way.

When the next man came back for his consultation, we shared with him what had happened with the patient before him.  We gave him two options: He could have a normal consultation, or we could pray first and ask God to heal him.  He opted for prayer.  We prayed for him and he walked out healed of a shoulder problem very similar to the guy before him.

Jordan and I looked at each other and said, “All right, who’s next!”  We called back the last patient of the day.  We gave him the same option, and he also asked for prayer.  After we prayed for him, he said he still had a little pain but definitely felt better, and felt good enough that he was happy to go and didn’t want a consultation.  Praise God!

We started today on the lookout for more opportunities to pray for people.  Jordan and a couple of our GFM ladies spent most of the day in a corner praying for people, and God didn’t disappoint.  I am wary of embellishment or exagerration, so I will very conservatively say that half a dozen or more people were healed today or experienced a noticeable decrease in their pain through prayer.  (I once unintentionally gave some inaccurate details regarding a healing, and it came back to bite me later.)  I was an eyewitness to what happened with four of these people today.

One cool experience for me was getting to pray for a neighbor of ours.  He came in wanting a consultation with the eye doctor.  I had to tell him that unfortunately they were not able to accept any more patients today, but I asked if he would like prayer.  He said he would and described to me several physical ailments.  I first prayed for his shoulder and back.  After praying, he said all the pain was gone from both (and I asked several times if he was sure that all the pain was gone).  Next, I prayed for his knee.  He uses a cane and has a severe limp because of all the pain in his knee.  After praying he said it still hurt a little, but felt a lot better.  Someone said they saw him leaving the consultation carrying his cane, rather than using it.  Finally, he asked me to pray for his eyes.  I did, and when he opened them he said, “I can see clearly!”  We handed him a book to read, and he read it with no trouble.  I asked him if he could do that previously, and he said that he couldn’t–he always had to wear glasses.  Once again, praise God!

I followed up with this neighbor on my way home this evening.  His knee still hurts some, but feels a lot better than it has felt previously.  He wants me to pray for it again tomorrow.  He says his eyes are completely fine–he sees clearly.  His shoulder doesn’t hurt at all, and he said his back started hurting just a little.  (I don’t know what exactly is going on with the back, but I know that if I walked the way he normally does to compensate for his knee, my back would hurt, too.)

We give all the glory to God for what He is doing!  We emphasized over and over to people today that Jesus Christ is the one who healed them.  This led to a number of good conversations, and three people (I believe) professed faith in Jesus.  We have their contact information so we can follow up on them.

One of the neatest things for me was witnessing what happened late this afternoon with a local gal who is a new believer that Liz and Tasha baptized several months ago.  She was invited to come, and Jordan and the ladies tossed her right into the mix and had her start praying for people.  She shared Christ with several people with no hesitation.  I witnessed her laying hands on two different women and praying for healing and their pain completely disappeared.  One lady said after this gal prayed for her that a bone in her hip that had been out went back in.  Praise God for working not only through us, but more importantly through a new believer from our town!  Imagine the possibilities!

These are just some of the really neat things that happened yesterday and today.  Thanks so much to all of you who pray for God’s work down here.  He is moving!  Join us in rejoicing and praising Him for His goodness and in asking him to continue moving through the remaining two days of medical outreach.  We’re excited to see what else He does!

Finally, a visit to my friend’s village

For a while, my friend Don P. has been saying I’ll have to come visit his village, and yesterday we were finally able to make it happen.  I was out there for about six hours and got to help him with a house he’s building, read quite a bit from the Bible, and eat lunch.

Don P. belongs to one of the two main groupings of indigenous people in our area.  I don’t want to use the actual names of the groups because I don’t want people around here Googling this, so here’s what I’ll do: I’m going to start calling the two groups the Mixed people and the Tree people.  If you’ve been around here, I think you’ll know who I’m talking about.  If not, and you want to know, send me an email and I’ll tell you who they are.  So Don P. belongs to one of the tribes of the Tree people.

When I got there he showed me a spring on his property, and we talked about ways to collect the water and pump it up to his house.  He then wanted to read the Bible, so we read the story of the Prodigal Son followed by the creation story.  Though Don P. didn’t know it, I was following the listing of stories for evangelism found in the Shepherd’s Storybook.  The Shepherd’s Storybook is a resource developed by our church planting coach and his wife, Robert and Anne Thiessen, and is available for free download at paul-timothy.net.

We enjoyed a tasty lunch of egg and bean tacos made with fresh corn tortillas cooked over a fire, then we headed outside and worked on a house Don P. is building for his nephew.  After two or three hours of working and talking, we came back around to reading some passages in the Bible that addressed questions Don P. was asking.  He wanted to know why, if God created all the animals, they kill and eat one another.  He thought it was pretty cool to see how Isaiah says they will one day live in harmony once more.  Then we looked at passages relating to death and eternal life, because Don P. was saying he’s heard Christians say you’ll have eternal life, but that can’t be because they all die.  Finally, he got pretty fired up hearing testimonies I shared of how we’ve seen God miraculously heal people, and he thought sometime soon we should look for a sick person who has faith in God to heal and pray for that person.

It was a good time together, with a lot of seeds of the Word planted.  Please pray that God will cause the seed to take root in his heart and grow and bear fruit.

I intend to write a separate post describing a couple of interesting spiritual things I learned about Don P.’s village.  Update: Read what I learned about spiritual realities here.

Another trip to the airstrip

This past Saturday evening I headed back out to the airstrip for another visit.  I saw the teacher who was one of the two guys I talked to last time, and he invited me to sit down for a while and talk.  We had a good conversation about a variety of topics—generating electricity, culture, teaching, the Bible, his community, etc.  He strikes me as a pretty neat guy who (so far) doesn’t seem too standoffish around me.  He’s from a people group in our area that has been known for being very resistant to outsiders and tough to penetrate with the gospel.

While up there, I met one other new family from a different people group and a lady who is their neighbor from across the strip.  I had a nice chat with them as well, delving into spiritual topics some.  They have a very outgoing five-year-old girl (their youngest) who wants me to bring Lauryn and Molly to play the next time I come for a visit.

As for generating electricity, that still seems to have possibilities.  The teacher is quite interested in the project and doesn’t seem put off by the idea of a simple solar system for one home costing several hundred dollars.  I got a better sense of how much electricity families up there use, which will help us be more focused in research.  It sounds like most families have a couple of light bulbs, and radios and TVs are common.  About four families have a kind of portable, wash-only (no spin cycle) washing machine that many in this area use.  The teacher said we don’t have too much else to worry about, so the needs aren’t too intense.

Rob, our church planting coach, was pointing out to me that I should take the teacher along to an internet cafe when I go to do some more study.  We want to include the people of the community in each step of the process as much as possible, so they’ll take ownership of the project.  To the extent that I do research by myself and bring my findings back to them, they’ll conclude that they’re not capable of figuring these things out.  The whole idea of community development is to help the people of a community organize themselves to solve their own problems, eventually without outside help.

I think things are going well out there.  I’m looking forward to my next trip out.  I had hoped that would be tomorrow, but now I finally have an invite from my friend Don P to his village, so I don’t know when I’ll make it to the airstrip.  Maybe Sunday.  The teacher mentioned he knows a village about ten hours away where a guy set up a nice solar system and sells electricity to his neighbors.  When I expressed interest, the teacher offered to take a weekend sometime and take me out there to check it out.  Hopefully we’ll be able to make that happen sometime this summer.

Thanks again to everyone who commented on my last airstrip post or sent me emails sharing your ideas and resources.  Your input has been extremely helpful, and I invite your continuing ideas and feedback.  I appreciate your being part of the team!

Saturday afternoon trip to the airstrip

Who can help me with information on inexpensive ways to generate electricity for a household?  If you know something about this or can point me to a good resource, please comment!  Read on to hear why…

In praying about next steps recently, I sensed God leading me to put more effort into connecting with people on the outskirts of our town who have ties to villages.  I felt I wasn’t supposed to take on any new projects (water filters, solar dehydrators, and the like) until I had better relationships with people in need and could more directly respond to needs they wanted met.

On that premise, late this afternoon I headed out to a community about a half hour walk from our house, built on an old airstrip.  The community came to be about three years ago when a number of village families were invited to take small parcels of land and build houses on them.  They did so, constructing one-room houses out of wood and sheets of corrugated tin.  These humble dwellings line either side of what was once a working airstrip in our town, now a gravel runway with weeds poking through it.

The airstrip community enjoys a beautiful view

The airstrip community is an intriguing place, strategically.  Its families come from a number of indigenous villages and speak native dialects.  We (and many missionaries) have found displaced people in difficult circumstances to often be more open to the gospel.  The community is poor, meaning community development has an opportunity to make a more significant impact there than in other places.

I went out with no plan other than to try and connect with people.  I figured I’d let them know that God brought me to the region to come to know Jesus better alongside others and to spread the love of Jesus in any way I can.  Then I’d just see what happened.  Arriving at the airstrip, I saw a couple of guys loading wood into the back of a truck at one of the first houses, so I figured I’d see if I could lend them a hand.  As I got closer and called out a greeting, I recognized both of them as men I’d met last summer when GFM was doing some English classes up there.  (Carl and Lisa, students in the 2008-09 Mission Training School, were the first ones to begin building relationships in the airstrip community, which opened the door for our further involvement.)  The two men recognized me, as well.

We started talking, and in the first five minutes one of the guys asked if I know how to generate electricity for a home.  The families at the airstrip had been stealing electricity from some nearby lines, but they got cut off and fined and are now without electricity.  He explained several ideas he’d heard of involving windmills, solar panels, and car batteries.  I don’t know how to generate electricity for a home, but I told him I would look into it if they would help me make something once I found a design.  He readily agreed, saying to let him know what I found and then he would get people in the community together to chip in money for the project and help work on it.

After a half-hour conversation, he offered me a ride back to town.  I accepted, and on the way back we got into spiritual matters.  I mostly just asked questions and let him talk this time around.  He belongs to a sect based out of Guadalajara called Luz del Mundo.

So now I need some good ideas for inexpensive home power generation!  Does anyone know of anything?  We always say that our supporters back home are just as much a part of the team as we are, we’re just field staff, so here’s a bit of a unique way to participate in the work down here!  I’m looking forward to hearing from some of you.

P.S. I don’t have a photo of the airstrip community, but are there any GFMers reading this who have one they could pass along to me?  If so, I’ll add it to this post.  Update: Thanks to Nick and Sarah for providing the above photo.

Update 05 June ’09: Read about my following trip to the airstrip here.