Speak Truth in Your Heart Conference: Morelia, Mexico

IMG_2749 Praise the Lord for the way He is working in girls’ lives in Mexico. They responded with such enthusiasm to the messages presented. Ted and Priscilla Clark, with their family and team, did so much work to make the conference special. Notice the beautiful booklets they translated and produced for the conference.

IMG_2826 One college-aged girl with misty eyes told me we can never know how much the conference impacted her thinking. Praise the Lord. She had been dealing with a lot of the world’s lies, and it was so encouraging to see her soaking up the truths taught at the conference.

IMG_2966 We sensed much thirst for girls’ discipleship ministry. Many came from long distances — some drove up to sixteen hours. We were thrilled to learn of many Bright Lights groups going that we didn’t even know about! Please join us in praying for the Lord to raise up many more Bright Lights groups in Mexico.

IMG_3007 Many grandmas came too

IMG_2803 The camp’s beautiful surroundings in the mountains give it a “peaceful haven” feel.

IMG_2821 One unique part of this conference/camp was how much the dads and brothers did. They cooked all of the food for the 200-300 ladies the entire week. And that included a gourmet tea party, in which they served us all. They thought of everything.

IMG_2954 …even pink marshmallows! haha

IMG_2818 Here they are babysitting lots of children while the ladies are in the session.

IMG_2791 This was also the first time we have had dads run jump rope games for the girls during the break. 🙂

IMG_2971 A Bright Lights group from Guadalajara

IMG_2850 The girl who was sitting across from me (first girl on left) explained about a challenge that a young man in her church was spearheading: to share the gospel with one unbeliever every day in the month of February. Many young people took up his challenge in several different churches. She shared about the surprising opportunity the Lord had given her, in answer to her prayers, with one of her coworkers on February 1st. Now all of these young people are halfway through the challenge. Please pray for open doors for them as they are courageously and deliberately asking the Lord for gospel conversations every day this month!

IMG_2903 Picture taking time after the tea party

IMG_2943 The last evening they asked if we could do a fireside discussion on serving the Lord in our years of singleness. As we passed the mic around, many shared encouraging thoughts about keeping a godly perspective of life, ministry, singleness, and marriage.

IMG_2969 Anna Kirk and Emily Selander (who came with us) enjoying a late night discussion with Alma Roa (2nd from left) and her sisters. Alma was one of the main translators of the Bright Lights materials and Before You Meet Prince Charming in Spanish.

IMG_2983 Goodbyes

Our next “Speak Truth in Your Heart” conference is much closer to home: It will be held in Council Bluffs, Iowa. See details here. This will probably be the only Bright Lights conference in Iowa in 2017. (Plans are also being finalized to do one in Michigan in July). Hope to see many of you there!

Mexico “Speak Truth in Your Heart” Conference

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Please pray for the moms and daughters at Camp Berea (near Morelia, Mexico, up in the mountains) who are listening to Sarah teach right now! Today is the second day of our “Speak Truth In Your Heart” Conference. So many girls and moms here are very thirsty to grow in the Lord! It’s such a privilege and blessing to be here. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would impact their hearts greatly with His Word, and that the impact would be eternal.

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Mexico Call

I’ll admit, I didn’t think or pray often for Mexico … until I went there last month.

Of course, I knew there were needs there (as everywhere), but I didn’t have a special interest in the country, and I honestly didn’t know that much about it!

I was very surprised by what I learned while I was there. We had many conversations with young people who grew up as missionary kids, and they explained both the vast needs and open doors in Mexico.

Burdened by what we were learning, Nickie and I decided to put together this short video. We went to them and said, “You know what you told us about such and such? Could you say that once more for our camera?”

May the Lord cause us to lose interest in all that doesn’t matter, and enable us to put our thoughts, energy and prayers into the primary work He has entrusted to every believer—proclaiming the gospel to this dying world. The time is short!

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'”(Mark 16:15)

Mexico Report #3: An Unforgetable Thanksgiving

About eighty people from ten or fifteen families stayed three extra days at the camp to celebrate an early Thanksgiving together. It was a great time of fellowship.

In e-mail correspondence before coming to Mexico, we were told that they would be cooking the meat for Thanksgiving dinner in “a pit.”

Figuring it was some Mexican tradition, I imagined a 3 or 4 ft. hole in the ground and wondered how sanitary it would be. [smile] But, as you can see, my imagination was very wrong.

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20131119_174846_24422-1 Most the pit had been dug with a backhoe. Nickie helped with that part. 🙂

20131120_143037_24960-1 Once the pit was prepared, bricks were used to create an oven at the bottom of the pit.

20131120_194010_24993-1 Gasoline was dumped into the “oven” at the bottom of the pit, and then everyone backed up 100 yards.

Fireworks were launched and bottle rocket on a zip line was sent into the pit to light a fire.

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After a big explosion and more fireworks, we all walked back to the pit to see the big fire.

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Since it would be difficult to put the pans of meat in there right now, we had to wait for the flames to die down and coals to get hot.

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Great time for more fellowship.

20131120_234328_25020-1 Much care was put into preparing and seasoning all the different pots of meat.

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Okay, it’s been several hours and now it’s 1 am. The coals should be hot and the pots ready to be taken out.

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Of course it’s not easy to get the huge pots of meat down there.

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After the pots were placed, the entire pit was filled with dirt again. It took a while.

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And after the whole process, we came back inside, muddy and tired, and took a group picture. (Disclaimer: it wasn’t my idea to take a group picture at this point.)

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About 12 hours later, right before our Thanksgiving meal, the excitement begins again … time to start digging.

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As they removed more and more dirt, we began to enjoy the delicious smell….

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The first pot is removed and it looks like it was cooked just right.

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Pots are carried back to the camp dining area for our big meal.

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Yep, that’s a whole pig in there! The other pans contained a duck, several turkeys, beef, and lamb.

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20131121_145036_24841-1 The meat was so tender and had sooooo much flavor, maybe the best meat I’ve ever had.

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Feast time

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Yuri, Alma, and Elsa

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Some of the smallest Mexico missionaries

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Sarah mentioned how so many people take so many short cuts to avoid as much work as possible on Thanksgiving day. Not our friends in Mexico!!!

Mexico Report #2: Family Camp!

Wow, where do I begin? There are so many things to share about Mexico, but I thought I’d first share about the family camp that ran Friday night through Monday morning.

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Rain had been predicted. Many of the families were staying in tents, so we were all praying for clear weather.

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Thankfully, the weather was beautiful, and it only rained a little bit the first morning—just enough for us to see this beautiful rainbow! The Lord reminded us that He was in control.

In addition, the small amount of rain we did get actually caused one person to be able to come to the camp since he couldn’t do other responsibilities because of the rain!

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The best part of Mexico was, of course, the people! We had such a good time with them.

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This is how the dining area looked for much of the camp … bustling with lots of people enjoying fellowship.

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My mom and a new friend.

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The first night, after the main session and dinner (dinner is always from 8pm-9pm there) everyone was involved in a 2-hour prayer time from 10pm-12am. This picture is of the girls’ prayer groups. The moms, dads, and sons were in other rooms.

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It seemed like I kept thinking each meal was my favorite until I had the next. [smile]

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Priscilla Clark (whose family runs the camp) and my mom, talking to the ladies.

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Throughout the camp, the sessions were divided in different ways. Sometimes fathers, mothers, sons and daughters were all taught separately, and sometimes everyone was together.

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Monica, who did simultaneous translation for Sarah, praying with her in preparation for one of the sessions.

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Alma, translating for Nickie during one of the girls sessions. Alma has been leading a Bright Lights group for two years and has translated some of the Bright Lights material. She also helped with translating Before You Meet Prince Charming . We are so grateful for her!

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After my dad taught on purity and relationships, these three young men shared testimonies of how the Lord has recently led them in the area of courtship. Two are engaged and the other was recently married, and they all had neat stories and encouraging thoughts.

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During most of the breaks, the guys would take down all 400 chairs so they could play volley ball, and then they’d set them up again for the next session. They are very fast! [smile]

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It was fun how various families set up tables to serve snacks during breaks. Here they are making fruit cups. The one I tried was a combination of pineapple, mango, chili powder, and cheese (the kind of Mexican cheese that is white, salty and crumbly). It was really good!

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Mexican sledding!

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We are extremely grateful to the Clarks and their team for translating our materials into Spanish. (Click here to see the Spanish section of our online store.)

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Nester did the graphic designing for the Spanish translation of our materials. We asked him to share a testimony about witnessing during our witnessing session. The Lord has really been working in his life in that area, and I think his testimony added a lot to the session.

Thank you to everyone who was praying for us. We saw the Lord bless in so many ways.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Mexico Report #1: Plane Conversation and Alicia

We had such a wonderful time in Mexico and I have so many reports and pictures to post that I decided it would be best to share reports in segments. [smile]

I’ll start at the beginning.

On our flight into Morelia, I heard my mom ask the Mexican man sitting next to her, “Could I practice some Spanish words on you?”

Good idea, Mom! I thought.

I turned to the lady next to me. “Could I practice a few Spanish words with you?” I asked her.

She readily agreed. Her English wasn’t great, but it was enough to get by. Then I remembered that I had a “Are You A Good Person” comic tract in both Spanish and English. I showed them to her, and she thought it would be a good tool to teach me Spanish. She took me through entire tract (it took about an hour!), comparing the Spanish to English and teaching me the key words.

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It was interesting to me to see her response to the tract. At first she enjoyed it, but then when we got to the part about God’s wrath toward sin she told me that she disagreed. I tried to explain about God’s justice and love and gave her a God of Wonders DVD which I pray she will watch!

I realized later that this was a pretty accurate introduction for me to the mindset of most people in Mexico … they have a Catholic heritage and believe in God, but they don’t truly understand the gospel, God’s justice, or their need for salvation. I pray the Lord works in her heart, and I was so grateful for the way God provided to communicate with her despite her very small English vocabulary!

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We had a wide variety of experiences in Mexico over the ten days we were there (which I will continue to post about), but one of the highlights of the whole time was a little trip to visit some of the local villages (called “Ranchos”) where the Clark family (the missionaries hosting us) has been leading Bible studies.

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In the picture above we are standing outside of Alicia’s little home. About six or seven years ago Alicia began praying for someone to come and share the truth with her. JW’s would come to her little village almost every weekend, but sadly, Christians never came… until one day, praise the Lord, our friends the Clarks visited her village and shared the gospel with her. Alicia was saved and has been growing in the Lord through the Bible studies the Clark’s teach every other weekend in her village.

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This is the little oven Alicia uses to make corn tortillias for her family every day.

Alicia told me, “I feel like I’m failing in so many areas, constantly convicted of ways I’m failing, but God shows His love in every area — and every one of these things leads me to look to the Lord more and rest in Him.”

To see Alicia’s joy in the Lord despite her very difficult life was very encouraging to us! Sarah had tears in her eyes as Alicia shared her testimony with us.

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While talking with Alicia (through Mrs. Clark’s translation) I asked her what she would like people in the States to know. This is what she shared: “We’re not to become discouraged in this life because we have a great hope … I’ve learned that the most important things in this life are not the material things we have, but what is waiting for us in Jesus. We are for Him. In this life everything is very quick and in vain, but He has shown me that what He has promised me is way more precious than anything I could ever want in this life. And I’m so happy because, even though I don’t deserve anything, He has given me everything.”

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Lucia, one of Alicia’s six sweet children, said that her favorite thing to do is read the Bible with her mom.

I know I’ll never forget meeting Alicia and the beautiful example she was of the Lord’s grace and power to transform lives.

“And the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:14