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)

Reading Stories of Missionary Perspectives at Christmas

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Because of bad weather, the Christmas program at our church became a Christmas “get together” in a home, but it was a special evening. Each family had prepared a special song to share, and in between songs, one of the mothers in our church, Crissy Jarmon, and her children read some missionary Christmas stories they had found.

The missionary stories were very touching – communicating the struggles and perspectives of missionaries around Christmastime. These stories can really help us keep our focus right this time of year! If some of you are interested in reading a couple of these stories with your families this Christmas, you can follow these links:

“Christmas is about Leaving Home … Not Going Home”
“I Gave Myself”

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On a more lighthearted note, Sarah and I wrote a song for the evening– it’s mostly inside jokes, but we thought those of you who have been to our church may enjoy it. [smile]
(P.S. To see the words, click on “vimeo” to watch it off our church’s vimeo channel – the words will be below.)

Christmas Party With Neighbors

20131216_224131_25275 Last Monday evening we had our neighbors over for snacks and harp music. We haven’t done a neighborhood Christmas party for years, but we’ve been realizing that getting to know our neighbors better takes … well… effort. [smile]

Monday was one of those days where many things seemed to go wrong. I spilled grain all over the basement floor and cleaned it up just in time to find that my mom had splattered her green drink all over the kitchen. She had left her metal spoon in her blender and turned it on which caused it to break (while it was blending) and spray everywhere. I will just say it wasn’t the ideal start to the day.

20131216_200229_25255 But, praise the Lord, everything got taken care of before people began to arrive… and we were so encouraged by the number of neighbors who came and by their response!

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20131216_203703_25266 The evening enabled us to have many good conversations.

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20131216_203651_25264 The neighbors seemed to really enjoy getting to know each other better. We also sang Christmas carols and my dad shared a “Christmas verse” with everyone from Genesis 3.

If you would like to do something in your neighborhood, here are some suggestions:

-Make a little invite and personally deliver each one.

-Don’t worry about not having enough space. Being a little crowded just makes it cozy!

-Consider showing a short video, doing a puppet show, skit, or special music.

-Set up a table with some Christmas booklets or resources that people can take if they want to.

-Don’t be stressed about having a bunch of people over who don’t all know each other. Just be friendly and tell them, “We all live so close, we thought it would be nice to get to know each other better!” You may be surprised at how much they appreciate the evening.

Christmas Story from the Bible Print-Out

One of the best gospel tracts is to simply share SCRIPTURE. Here’s the Christmas story for you to print and give people this year. Even with cashiers or mailmen or anyone … you can simply say, “Have you read the Christmas story from the Bible yet this year?” Or, “Here’s the Christmas story from the Bible for you to read with your family this year.”

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Click here to view PDF.
Click here for KJV PDF.

AND…. we also have a bonus Spanish version, thanks to our friend Nester who put it into Spanish for our friends in Mexico to use. If there are Hispanic people in your area, think how touched they would be if you gave them something like this in Spanish. [smile]

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Click here for the Spanish version.

Overcoming Evil With Good

One year ago today marks the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Our family appreciated this moving video about one of the families who lost a daughter.

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

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)

Christmas Caroling!

Before I continue with Mexico reports I have one more thing to post! [smile]

Last night we went Christmas caroling with our Bright Lights group. It seems like every year the same thing happens to me: I don’t really feel like going beforehand and then afterward I am SO GLAD we did! I wish we could carol to every house in our town.

So … I thought I could at least post about it, in hopes that it might encourage some of you to go caroling this year (if you weren’t already planning on it)!

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It was so special to see some people really touched. One lady couldn’t even talk to us because she was crying so much. Other couples seemed like they didn’t want us to leave.

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I was so proud of our girls for their enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and energetic singing!

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We gave each house with a plate of cookies, tract(s), and the Christmas story printed out from the Bible.

Many of the Christmas carols are like a “singing tract” because of the great messages they contain. “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” is one of the best so we tried to sing that one at many houses.

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Warming up back at the church with peppermint hot chocolate

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After Sarah’s lesson on “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” we concluded with a Christmas tea, activities, and showed them this short video by our friend, Sam Wilson.

Christmas Evangelism Suggestions!

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If you’re looking for a tract to use this Christmas, here is one that I recommend. It’s produced by Answers in Genesis. It’s filled with interesting information about the historical details of Christ’s birth – details that even most Christians get incorrect. It explains how the word “inn” does not actually mean “small hotel,” but rather “guest room,” which changes a lot about the story! I haven’t found a place where you can read the booklet online, but you can read some of the same information in this article.

The booklet is basically a brief history lesson combined with a clear presentation of the gospel and a lot of Scripture. Click here for more information. (Note: if you order 50, the price comes down to $.49 a piece and if you order 100, the price comes down to $.29.)

Also, for another option, here is a fun “Christmas Quiz” tract that you can print out and give away. These are fun to give because people smile and often start reading them right away.

Christmas opens a whole array of wonderful opportunities for witnessing, and I think it really helps to be thinking and planning ahead. Otherwise it’s easy for the “good things” to squeeze out the “best things” that we could be doing at this time of year.

We often talk and pray as a family about how to use our time in December. I thought I’d share a few ideas, hoping it will spark thoughts of things your family could do. (And I’m sure many of you already do these things!)

It’s exciting to know that so many of you Bright Lights girls are in different states (and countries) and when we all work together we are a global team sharing the gospel at Christmas!

Here are some ideas:

-Every time you check out at a store, give them one of these nativity booklets or another Christmas tract. Tell them, “Here’s some fascinating facts that most people don’t know about the true Christmas story.”

-Invite international students over to your home for a Christmas party. Have snacks and share about the Biblical account of Christmas. Explain how most of America misses the whole point.

-Every time you pass a Salvation Army bell ringer, put something in their bucket and then give them a tract. (We have a friend who told us how she buys a snack at the cashier line to give them along with the tract. It’s also a good idea to stop and talk with them for a minute. They likely get bored. And although they may claim to be a Christian, they may not truly understand the gospel.)

-Invite neighbors over for a Christmas party.

-Pick a family at your church who could use some encouragement. Invite them over for Christmas snacks, singing, and read a Christmas passage in the Bible together.

-Go out witnessing at malls and take a short Christmas questionnaire. (I suggest using a few simple questions such as “Why did Jesus come to be born as a baby?” “What would be the best gift you could ever receive?” etc. )

-Go Christmas caroling. Remember that you don’t need perfect singing voices. It’s more the thought that counts. Just sing a couple carols and leave them with a small plate of cookies (and the “Uncovering the Real Nativity” booklet. [smile])

-Go to a nursing home to sing for the residents and talk with them. If you have never done this before, you may be surprised at how much it means to people.

“…you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

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In other news, we are grateful for the help of Hannah and Tia (who come help at the Bright Lights office) for their help in decorating our Noah’s Archive storefront for Christmas today!

More Mexico reports coming soon.