When May arrived, two major events remained on our dry season schedule: a visit from Pete and Liesl Hypki (our itinerant coworkers, now on the field leadership team), followed by a couple weeks on the coast for pre-rainy season repairs and resupply. We greatly anticipated the break from mountain life the latter trip provides, as encouragement and challenges alike had filled the months since our first language evaluations. I (Jordan) in particular had seen strong progress in language and culture studies since that trip, and evident spiritual growth among the Nahuatl believers left us rejoicing in God’s handiwork! However, our concern regarding Amy’s health had returned, along with her post-partum depression symptoms – including lower energy, less enthusiasm, and a need for more sleep. We therefore looked forward not only to a little rest outside the village, but also an opportunity for Amy to restart counseling and medication.
However, our original plan for helping Amy was quickly set aside when the Hypkis arrived with a message from field leadership. Out of concern for Amy’s ongoing health issues – as well as the effects of the related stresses on our family over multiple years – they directed us to leave Las Moras temporarily, returning to the United States on a medical leave of absence. Amy’s course of treatment in 2018 and 2019 had helped in several ways, but our move to the mountains limited access to both medication and follow-up assistance. Now, after a pair of down cycles in Amy’s condition, the time had come to prioritize her return to health rather than continue trying to help her heal in place.
Our final weeks in Las Moras were a whirlwind of work and emotion alike. Teaching and discipling continued. We set aside time with Nahuatl friends for farewells, and with our kids for their favorite mountain activities. Preparations for rainy season’s wind, showers, and damp required a fair amount of effort – and we suddenly needed to think through and pack everything our family needed for a multiple month absence. At the same time, I began research into key aspects of our upcoming time Stateside which could not wait: doctors and counselors, travel logistics, and housing options. One burden was certainly taken off our shoulders when presented with this new plan, and language study set aside for the present. Yet these new responsibilities ably filled the vacated parts of our schedule, and we looked forward to wrapping up in Las Moras so we could begin a season of healing.
Three days before our intended departure, we suddenly got word that a tropical storm would arrive the next day! Shifting into overdrive, we cancelled what plans we could, and wrapped up our remaining days’ checklists in one hectic afternoon. Then – early the next morning – our whole family piled into the truck, and headed down a mountain road already somewhat sloppy from a week of light rain. We won the race, reaching pavement safely before the storm arrived, and began our journey northward: driving 45 moving hours in less than two weeks, and at long last arriving with family in the Pacific Northwest.
Now that we are back in the United States, we have begun focus on Amy’s medical needs. Looking at how long her symptoms have persisted – and how often they have returned after initial improvement – we want to make sure we figure out what is actually happening, so it can be accurately assessed and addressed. To that end, we are working on a battery of tests to identify any underlying physical causes – and our entire family will receive some awesome Christian counseling in California for a month or two. While working on Amy’s needs, we will also see how the rest of our family is holding up – as well as clearing up old projects set aside for far too long, and enjoying the freedom to take our daily stress levels down several notches.
One goal set before us for this season is to set aside our ‘missionary hats’ in the short term – to the degree that is possible – in order to prioritize a necessary time of healing. We do not have a firm date for our return to Mexico, in order that Amy’s healing take priority over other timelines – and estimate we will be here several months. I have wondered if planning that way earlier could have prevented the need to leave Mexico now… yet, we continue trusting both in God’s prior leading as we looked to Him, and His use of this too to the praise of His glory. Our updates will likely come less frequently for a time, yet we hope to keep sending news from Las Moras every now and then, as well as sharing the milestones reached in this season. Remaining members of the Nahuatl church planting team, we hope to see God bring us back to a place from which we can serve well in cross-cultural ministry. He has already provided much for our team’s needs in our absence, freeing us to entrust anew the people, our team, and the work to Him. Meanwhile, we beseech you to continue with us in regular prayer for our coworkers, the Nahuatl believers, and all who live in Las Moras in this time – may we some day praise God together for clear evidence of His hand at work during this time!
- God has provided a time of rest and healing for our family – one we did not realize how much we needed. Also, one of the hardest things for us about ministry in a foreign country has been distance from our families. Seeing one another more often will be particularly sweet.
- Though many challenges tied to our absence remain for the Nahuatl church and our coworkers, God has provided much so that ministry in Las Moras can continue. We know that He does not need us; it is His gift to us that He use us in His purposes! Nonetheless, seeing parts of His faithfulness to the church and our team at this time encourages us greatly.
- Over the past couple of years, our family has not been able to mail out letters of appreciation to our partners as often we prefer. Your sacrificial generosity in giving, constancy in prayer, and specific words of encouragement have not gone unnoticed – in fact, they have been an affirmation from the Lord during some of the most challenging things we have faced in ministry. We continue to praise God for His provision of faithful partners, and thank each of you for continuing to serve the Lord together with us in these ways.
How to Pray:
- For the needs of the Nahuatl church. That God strengthen and embolden the believers, and draw their friends and neighbors through them to Himself. For those not yet believing who are hearing from God’s Word: August, Aggie, Sally, and several of the youth – among many others! For Eve, whose family forbids her to meet with the believers. For Bernie, who has stopped coming to most church events. Pray as well in particular for our coworkers, Rachel and Katie – that God uphold them within His mercy and grace, provide everything they need, and strengthen them daily for the work He has set before them.
- For a fruitful season for our family in the United States. Pray that God bring to light what Amy in particular needs, and that the root causes of her symptoms be fully healed. Pray for a time of peace and restoration for our whole family, for release from stress, and growth in Christ. Pray that God clearly lead us through this time, and that we may come in line with His purposes in all things rather than pushing in directions which seem best to us. Pray that He prepare us for return to effective ministry in His service.
- That God continue providing for previously unanticipated needs at this time. Travel, diagnostic tests, counseling, and medication will add up quickly – and there is something ironic in researching rental housing on the heels of completing 90-95% of our remote house construction efforts! Most of those coming costs remain unknown, but four weeks of family counseling in California costs over $14,000 up front, and extending up to four more weeks could max out at another $12,000. Upon our return to Washington, we expect monthly rent and utilities to exceed $1,600. As well, we estimate our house construction account will be $6,000-8,000 in the red once current paperwork is resolved.
- Thank you for always allowing us to make these needs known without implying any pressure for donations – in sharing, we desire that our partners know how to intercede for our family. If any freely desire to help out financially, our Give page describes various methods for doing so.
Considering our neighbors’ privacy in a digital world limits what we share publicly. Please email me if you would like to join our partners’ private Facebook prayer group for the Nahuatl church and church planting ministry. Also, if you rely upon social media to see our updates, please consider signing up to receive an email notification when we publish new posts.