Monday, April 3, 2017

2017 already?

We were able to take our first furlough back to Alabama during part of December 2016 and part of January 2017. It was a much needed time with family for Christmas and visiting with our friends and supporting churches. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit but did feel as if we were burning the candle at both ends and were totally exhausted as it ended. Thank you to everyone who hosted us, fed us, gave us gifts, donations, loaned us vehicles, did special things for us, loved and hugged on us! You all filled our tanks with encouragement and love and it will carry us for the months to come.

As we pray and fast about what God has in store for future ministry we realize that it won't be easy and we understand that there will be spiritual warfare! But we also know that God desires to reach the deaf with the gospel and He desires for them to come to know Him personally. Deaf culture is very different than hearing culture and therefore it requires going about ministry in a different way. But we are sure that God is directing us to focus on Discipleship and raising up deaf leaders and making deaf disciples! We know that hearing people can not penetrate the inner circles of the deaf community - it HAS to be a deaf person. Our focus on discipleship will include life skill coaching, learning to be part of a family, jobs with discipleship included, tutoring and help with interpretation.

Our ministry here, Red Letter Lives, comes from Matthew 28:18-20 (remember that when Jesus speaks the letters are in red). God has reminded us that ALL authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him and that He has asked us, as believers, to do 4 things - Go, Make Disciples, Baptize, Teach - and know that He is with us always. He is the bookends to the Great Commission!!! With Him supporting us on either side with His authority and His presence, we CAN do what He has commanded us to do. We continue to have firm confirmations of Red Letter Lives and are excited to see how God will continue to open doors and ministry opportunities so that He can be glorified among the deaf here in Mexico!

Mike and I have been enjoying our classes at Samford University online to be certified in Global Missions. We have learned so much that is helping us tremendously on the field. We are so grateful for how God is equipping us to serve Him better and serve the deaf better. We recently attended a webinar and it was titled, "Deaf - the Final Frontier to The Great Commission" and we truly believe that it is. Because the deaf have not been reached in all PG's (People Groups) - they can not  be considered a reached people group. So all the PG's that are labeled REACHED are probably not unless the deaf within them are reached as well. That is a HUGE task, but remember He is our anchors on either side to accomplish the task.

Ashtyn has been doing so much better in her new school, and for that we are beyond grateful. It was extremely hard for us to watch our daughter struggle so hard emotionally, spiritually and physically for the first 14-16 months we were here. She has made really good friends at her new International School. She is excelling in classes and is participating in their English Debate and Speech Team. They will be traveling to Querétaro, Mexico in May for a competition. She is excited about going.

Miriam started a new job last week and I was able to go with her on her first day to help translate and explain what they wanted her to do. She works from 6 A.M. to 1 P.M. then takes the buses to school which starts at 2 P.M. and ends at 6 P.M. so she was exhausted last week trying to adjust to this new routine. She has been sick as well for several weeks too. She seems to be doing well in school and is enjoying her new job. We have good days and hard days as we disciple her and try helping her grow in her faith with God so that He can use her. It is sometimes hard to find that fine line between helping her spread her wings as a 20 year old knowing that her maturity level is NO where near that yet. I know that there are many days that I expect her to behave and know things that a hearing 20 year old would, but she doesn't. And it can become frustrating, BUT GOD is teaching me along the way and showing us how we can do things differently in the future.

There is so much I want to say but there is so much studying and homework to do. We are in Spanish School 2 days a week, Mexican Sign Language classes 2 nights a week and Samford University online classes - so ya, we are tired and super busy. I will try and do better about catching everyone up more often with less information. Thanks for keeping up with us and praying for us!

Prayer Request:
1. Visa paper work for Sherri & Ashtyn - quickly, with no problems
2. Miriam to adjust to her new schedule, her faith to grow and her health
3. Our language learning - Spanish and LSM
4. Our team as we start looking to the future and planning strategies for future ministry
5. Team unity
6. Ashtyn as she prepares to travel to another city in Mexico