Sometimes, life’s endless need for cleaning and maintenance seems one of the clearest possible indications that we live in a fallen world. You can hardly get the dishes clean before you’ve dirtied a couple more… and any time a wall is repainted, it is likely to be scuffed or chipped within a few days! Moreover, however faithfully we sweep and dust, some nooks and crannies are always overlooked. Dust gathers under the fridge, as well as atop the kitchen’s upper cabinets… and in similar fashion, extra ‘stuff’ accumulates in our homes which we no longer really need! So, every once in a while, we have to go the extra mile and perform a thorough spring cleaning.
The past couple of years have provided our family an opportunity for a different kind of spring cleaning. Previously, we had spent far too long ignoring continually high stress levels, telling ourselves that the urgency of our task always meant that the most faithful response – the response ‘good’ missionaries would have! – was to press forward. Also, despite our desire to serve the Lord faithfully, at times we actually thought more about others’ perceptions rather than what He truly desired of us. On the surface, it seemed as if we were working on all the necessary things… but the collective load only grew heavier, and our attempts to basically ignore the resulting stress were ineffective. In terms of the Christian life, it was as if we faithfully brushed our teeth and scrubbed the shower walls… but never cleaned the dryer’s lint filter or swept out the gutters! Eventually, that oversight gets dangerous – and so it was for us as well.
Leaving Las Moras just before the summer ’21 rainy season was difficult, yet it made space for that overdue season of spring cleaning: uncovering what we had too long overlooked, then working to do something about it. Help in this process came from a variety of sources: extended family, close friends, Christian counselors, several partner churches, other missionaries coming out of parallel experiences, and our field leaders. We rested and healed, prayed with many, sought and received wise counsel, and worked hard to grow where the Lord made that need apparent. As summer approached, it was clear that – even though more work remained ahead – we had come a long way. Together with our field leaders and home church, we decided the next step forward would be returning to Mexico in a support capacity.
Back in Chihuahua, I transitioned into the role of coordinating our field’s IT (Information Technology) department: helping both support and church planting coworkers with tech problems, studying ministry software so I could help others learn to use it, and developing new systems to help make everyone’s jobs easier. Later, when the mission’s MK school found itself unexpectedly shorthanded, I took on teaching a high school math class – something I have quite enjoyed while settling into it! Meanwhile, we’ve also continued work on our ‘spring cleaning’ process. Biblical counseling has been one very fruitful tool to that end: helping us both to process things stemming from our time in the mountains, and to continue work in areas where God has kindly shown us we need to grow more Christlike. Another encouraging step was meeting with our former co-workers of the Nahuatl church planting team this January. Several things had been left pending between us upon our abrupt departure from Las Moras, and the time we spent Stateside provided no real chance to iron them out. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to come back to those things together, and for how the Lord was so clearly at work in those conversations.
For some time, Amy and I have hoped for opportunities to visit Las Moras again. Our hearts remain drawn toward the Nahuatl people; going back would provide a chance to encourage the believers, and see friends and neighbors with whom we had begun to grow close. Personally, we hoped to recover family belongings left there – and also to give our kids a chance to revisit the place where we all had planned to finish out their childhood years. We had begun to think about a return just before the summer rainy season, when – several weeks ago – field leadership asked us to consider an earlier trip back out to the village. Aggressive mold, among other problems, had taken over our unoccupied house after our departure… and we hoped that packing up as much of our house as possible would facilitate things for a future mold cleanup team. Amy and the kids cannot accompany me this time for various reasons, but a second truck and four other guys will go out with me later this month to see what we can accomplish.
Another thing this past season has brought to light is how several food intolerances affect most of our family members, producing significant pain and rashes. Some are fairly common… wheat, eggs, soy, and dairy among them. Others are rarer – including nightshades and spicy peppers, citrus, and corn. This is only a small part of what prevents us from returning to tribal ministry, at the very least for the present… but dealing with it adds much work to daily life in food preparation alone, and takes remote living off the table for a few years at minimum. So, after my return from the mountains, one key goal Amy and I have is to evaluate support roles in which we might serve during the coming school year. I do expect to continue working in IT – both growing in my support capabilities and pushing helpful projects forward – and have been offered another math class at the kids’ school. Many other ministries also need significant help as the field of Mexico grows rapidly, and we want to bring those needs before the Lord to see how He leads. Our desire to directly promote church planting efforts among the Nahuatl and other least-reached people groups remains strong, and we look forward to seeing how God will work through us to that end going forward.
- Our meetings in January with the Nahuatl church planting team were productive and encouraging. A lot of work went into them, and we are thankful for God’s hand clearly at work in those discussions.
- Some time ago, Jordan was summoned for jury duty in Washington State – and requests for delay (on the basis of being in Mexico indefinitely) were unexpectedly denied several times. Some rather large potential complications were finally avoided with the help of our awesome Member Service office in Florida.
- Our family’s return to Mexico was an expensive step. Moving costs, legal paperwork, and establishing ourselves in a new home added up quickly – and our monthly support could not cover all of it at once. However, God graciously met this need through a pair of generous one-time gifts, leaving us grateful once more for His continued provision!
How to Pray:
- There are so many open support ministry roles here in Chihuahua, which are important aspects of furthering remote church planting. Please pray that God guide clearly as we consider which He might have us fill. Lord willing, we hope to share how He leads with many of you in person this summer! We appreciate your prayer as we look into options for traveling to Washington State while the kids are out of school.
- For safety and productivity in Jordan’s upcoming trip with a team back to Las Moras. Pray for easy travel without mechanical issues, health for the crew working in a very moldy environment, for Amy and the kids during Jordan’s week-and-a-half absence, and for the emotional impact of a first return to our former ministry location.
- That God continue to grant improvement in various physical health issues our family faces. Please particularly pray for Amy’s sleep needs (we see tentatively encouraging things happening), and for stomach pain / rashes / etc. largely associated with food intolerances. Please pray for growing clarity in how we should approach these challenges.