At the end of last month we were privileged to attend our very first field Conference here in Mexico. We were very thankful that our first year as a part of this field was also the year of conference (since it is only biennial). This conference time was a perfect chance for us to get to know more of our new mission ‘family’ and become more familiar with everyone’s ministry roles in different areas. Also, the conference was being held 100 miles away at a hotel so it was also a nice four days of being away from our city, relaxing with friends and enjoying a wonderful pool. We had been looking forward to it! 🙂
Upon our arrival to the hotel the first thing the kids wanted to do was jump on the beds in our room, so yes, we let them. We needed to live it up! 😀 Our Conference group took up almost the entire hotel and it was extremely special and fun to be staying so close together with the other missionaries and to have the opportunity to visit in our down time and relax with one another.
Each day we were there we had a good combination of sitting together as a group to hear updates from the different tribal works as well as to be challenged from the word by different speakers. It was great to hear from other missionaries and be encouraged by their humility, their focus on the Lord and to hear their honesty about the struggles they are facing. We spent time in prayer lifting up the different needs and specific struggles of the missionaries among the different language groups here in Mexico. It was very emotional to hear the personal accounts of the battle that is raging for souls! These challenges and difficulties are very real and all missionaries need so much prayer to have the strength to keep going!
We also rejoiced as we heard testimonies of people who have joined the family of God, new believers who are hungry to learn more of God’s word and stories of how practical love shown from missionaries is drawing people to them who have a deep desire to know the truth of God’s Word! I will never cease to be in awe at the ways in which God works, and most of all that He doesn’t give up! He stick’s with His plan to use his precious and weak people to do His work! How awesome it is when we can see HIS POWER so clearly evident in our weakness!
One great blessing to us at conference was the church group that came from the states to serve us during this time! This team of people watched our kids twice daily so that we parents could sit in the meeting and be able to focus on the speakers and content of the conference. It was so wonderful to have that help! I really cannot even express it! Even though she cried when being dropped off, Iris loved being able to play with the other little kids everyday and have such great care.
Each day Jude got to be in a kids club type program led by part of the team and he even got a snazzy t-shirt along with the other kids! He had fun learning verses, hearing Bible story’s, seeing puppet shows and playing games.
One challenge we had at this conference was a very new experience for us- a language barrier with some other missionaries! When we were missionaries in PNG every other missionary spoke english so we could freely talk to anyone at Conference. Here in Mexico, some of the missionaries are Mexican and only speak Spanish! Naturally it was a tad frustrating not to be able to have deep conversations with every monolingual Spanish speaker but I look forward to next conference time when I will be fluent in Spanish (Lord willing!) and be able to chat with all of them! Thankfully when we were in the meetings we could wear headsets and benefit from the fantastic translators! Because we have been studying Spanish for several months now I chose to wear my headsets one ear on, one ear off so I could benefit from trying to comprehend the Spanish myself as well.
Apparently at every Conference in this fields history, at least one person has always needed a trip to the emergency room! Well, this year that trip was made by our bitty girl Iris! It was quite the adventure in hind sight and it gave us our first cultural experience in a hospital here in Mexico! Thanks Iris. 🙂 Iris was sitting on a chair by the hotel swimming pool that had an odd round shape. When she was getting down she misjudged how little space was left till the edge and fell down landing on her arm. She screamed like crazy but she was not bleeding so I thought it was nothing. I comforted her as usual and had her rest on our bed. Forty-five minutes later she was still crying really hard and would not move her arm at all. That was strange and concerning to us so we consulted a few of the other missionaries and they recommended that we go to the ER and have her x-rayed to check for a break. We agreed with this (especially since ER trips here are pennies compared the USA!) and in no time at all, two loving friends and co-missionaries were riding to the hospital with us.
Our experience in the ER was like a dream and in less than an hour Iris was x-rayed and diagnosed with having no break or fracture! Praise the Lord! We were very relieved to know for sure! The hospital didn’t take any personal information and even gave us our X-ray on the way out! Wow! So amazing and wonderful. After paying cash for the tiny bill we were on our way back to the hotel feeling relief that all Iris needed was time to be back to normal. She continued to be in pain for about five days and wouldn’t do much with her arm but a make shift sling got us by and she was totally fine! We are so thankful that her need for medical care was short lived and had a perfect outcome!
All in all, I would say the most wonderful thing about Conference was the feeling of being one big, unified family spending time together. When we are all living in our different places of ministry we are extremely disconnected and even for those of us in Chihuahua, we do not often have the chance to get together for good fellowship with everyone’s busy schedules. I loved having other missionaries only a few doors away from us and to be in such constant contact with so many incredible people.
We are really thankful to the Lord for this Conference. It refreshed us, built us up and gave us a better perspective and understanding of this field as a whole. I am confident God will use some of what we learned and heard to help direct us to our future ministry here and for now He certainly used it to spur us on and encourage our hearts!