Saturday, October 29, 2016

This Crazy Life! 

There is only so much preparing you can do before going to the field full time! 
The rest of it is totally flexibility and dependance on God. 
We had no idea what kind of ride these last 20 months were going to be. 
But here we are on the other side and getting excited about what we see God doing. 

So what is God doing?

We see God showing us the need for Discipling, the need for Deaf Leaders and DBS (Discovery Bible Studies) among the deaf here in Ensenada. We see God using Ensenada as a training hub to send out the deaf and hearing to reach others. 
It is really cool to see Him opening doors and confirming what we have 
seen Him showing us. It has been hard to fathom a different location and a new ministry 
than what we thought when we first set out, but we trust God. 
Part of the discipleship has come in a way we didn't expect! 
We are thrilled to have our first deaf girl living with us. 

Meet Miriam

Miriam graduated from RSM in 2015. She lost her hearing at age 5 and was at the Ranch for 10 years. She wants to continue her education by getting her Jr. High certificate and is already attending High School classes now so she can get her HS education as well. 
She loves God and wants to grow in her walk with the Lord. 
We can see that she has great potential to be a leader in her community. 
We are working with her on how to budget her money, handling responsibilities, 
being a good employee and student and how to develop a time with 
God everyday to help her in her spiritual growth. 
She is teaching us sign language and helping us to understand the culture much better. 

Adjusting to our new life with Miriam comes with its challenges as well as many blessings. She is funny and keeps us laughing. We are thrilled that God brought her into our family and is using her to teach us as well. We know in order to be effective in ministry to another culture that we first have to know and understand it. 
And what a perfect way to be able to do that. We are blessed! 

Schooling is the theme here at the Sexton Casa!! 

Ashtyn is loving her new school. 
Miriam is liking Prepa (HS) but finds it fast and hard most days. 
We (Mike & Sherri) attend Spanish School 2 times a week, LSM (Mexican Sign Language) 
classes 2 times a week as well as taking online College classes from Samford University. 
When we complete all the classes we will be certified in Global Missions. 
Whew!! We are tired by the weekends from studying and learning in 3 different languages. We aren't spring chickens anymore!! 

We absolutely love our new little house and our new neighborhood. 
We actually have some grass. We love all our outdoor space we now have. 
And Oakley is loving all his outdoor space as well. 

Prayer Needs:

1. More workers here with us to disciple
2. Our language and culture learning to excel (both Mexican & Deaf cultures)
3. Our monthly financial deficit 
4. Our discipleship to Miriam
5. Our time in Birmingham in December 
(for our hearts to be prepared for the return & leaving)

Thank you so much for patiently sticking with us during these last 20 months 
as we have muddled through this journey. 
And most of the time not really knowing what to say or do and not knowing what to post. 
So thank you for your patience as we have finally gotten to a peaceful place (so to speak)
 in this journey and are now able to communicate better and more often. 
You all are so extremely special to us and we are blessed to have you in our lives. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finding Joy in this Journey............after a year!!

"My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be...." Psalm 42:4 (NLT)

     Greetings from the field as we recently celebrated our 1 year mark of being on the field. And as I look back there are several things that stand out to me. The biggest is the amount of grieving we have done in a little over a years time. We really had NO idea just how much grieving we would do or all the things that we would grieve. Some things we knew would be hard and we were expecting - like missing our family and friends, our church family, our home, our jobs, our neighborhood, our first world comforts etc. Then there were the things that we didn't expect - like our favorite places to eat, holidays, some first world comforts that we took for granted, not having to think about day to day task, familiarity, watching EVERYTHING we were missing on social media, conversations in your mother tongue (other than your family living with you), christian radio stations, and being there with family and friends when they were encountering hard times and needed us to love, hug and pray with them. Some of these unknown things would hit us hard on some days. 

     Second would be the things that we would learn about ourselves and each other. When under so much stress it doesn't exactly bring out the best in us. In fact to be quite honest it probably has been one of the hardest times in our marriage and parenting. Trying to adjust to all the changes, trying to grieve everything we have left behind, trying to learn a new language, a new culture and navigate a new city and life has been extremely hard, lonely, and trying!! But God has been with us, although the enemy has been trying to make us think otherwise. I found the new life even harder to settle into than I expected. Each day I struggled to find joy in our new life. EVERYTHING was hard and a struggle even down to cooking (which I have always loved).

     It seemed that social media was making it worse so I just stopped getting on for a while and then was very selective as to what I would look at so I couldn't be reminded everyday of just how much we were missing, just how much everyone else's life seemed normal, familiar, filled with first world comforts and surrounded by family and friends! I was watching my child struggle with anxiety attacks, physical sickness, sadness, anger and loneliness while watching all her friends get their permits and licenses, participating in things they enjoyed, going to dances, hanging out together, being recognized with awards all while being surrounded by family and friends. I felt as if we were in the boxing ring with the enemy and he seemed to be winning. We were fighting big battles here - ALONE!!

     There were more days than I care to admit that I was ready to pack up and come back because honestly, it just seemed easier! I was exhausted, physically sick, emotionally spent and tired of seeing the enemy reek havoc on my family. I looked at our situation and realized that most of these things will never change here on the field so I needed to count the cost. I thought that I had done that, and to a certain extent I had. See things don't always happen as we think they will and God's ways and plans are higher and better than ours, even when we don't feel like they are. We came here thinking we knew where we would be, what we would be doing, the team we would be serving with etc. But God had other plans that we didn't know until after we had been here. And here we were staring at a God sized task in ministry, as new struggling missionaries on the field, which was putting us into another arena with the enemy for more battles, more sacrifices and more change and I was overwhelmed.

     Then one morning while reading God's word, crying out in desperation for relief, asking for a break from sacrifice after sacrifice and telling God that I didn't think I could give up anything else or continue to live like this.......He spoke to me through His Word about my specific challenges. He took me to Philippians 2:1-18. His word came to life, jumped off the page and slapped me in the face - thank you Lord!! Sometimes when you are on the front lines, it's hard to remember the basic and simple things. I had forgotten who my example was and who I was to be like - how could I have forgotten such a simple thing? When I read these verses and saw ALL the sacrifices that Jesus made, I realized in that moment that they were additions NOT subtractions. He didn't lose anything as much as he added something. He went from being the most honored in heaven where He received continuous praise to taking the place of a criminal on a cruel Roman cross - humiliated, rejected and ALONE!!!

     Suddenly the pain I was feeling had new meaning. It didn't go away, Jesus' certainly didn't, but now I saw it from a different perspective. I started to understand more clearly the sacrifices Jesus, the son of God, made for ME!! He gave up ALL of His comfort, honor and glory for sinners who would reject and crucify Him just so He could reveal God's saving love to a dying world. Earthly sacrifice isn't the end of the story or the end of the world. I now understand that it is a path that will teach me (all of us) more about being like Jesus, more about what it means to serve rather than lead.

     I can honor the Son's sacrifice for me by being willing to make tough sacrifices (remembering that they are additions not subtractions) to accomplish God's will for my life. Learning to accept that God allows suffering and sacrifice into my life for His glory and my good. It is a step toward becoming more like my Master, my example, my Lord Jesus Christ. So I now hold even more firmly to the Word of Life, finding joy and rejoicing over the additions to our lives because God is working in us and giving us the desire and power to do what pleases HIM!

     There are still hard days and days that I see many things as subtractions instead of additions and many days that the enemy will have me believe his lies. But remembering Christ's example and keeping Him as the center of my life, He will be the source of my joy. I am discovering that heart felt joy in Jesus. He is the power behind my ability to endure any circumstance. Although the God we meet in Jesus is the God who serves us, He also commands and gives - great power to accomplish His glorious will. Life is really about Jesus. Jesus is what really matters and He is the reason for JOY!!

Thank you to those who continually pray for us, encourage us and support us! You all have no idea just how grateful we are for each of you and how much you mean to us. I apologize for the long time between updates, we aren't pros at this and are learning a lot through our mistakes as newbies on the field. We appreciate so much your patience as we walk this path God has laid out for us here to serve the Deaf of Mexico.

Blessings to you all,