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Winter 2017

 
                                
 
Dear Denise, 
 

We greet you this new year with great hope knowing the anchor of our souls is the never changing Lord.  God bless you as you begin 2017.

The future of 2017 for the village women above is uncertain but they are looking ahead with completely new perspectives.   These 3 generations of women quivered in fright when drunken family members came, frequently, with brutal words and fists flying.  The hardened heart of the grandmother simply wanted nothing to do with us, or any help we could offer.  She lived in hopelessness and transferred those attitudes to her children.  Yet, practical kindness and watching the change in her daughter and grandson through their new life through faith in Christ, caused the older woman to actually ask for us to come to her cabin.  They have now welcomed us as we teach the Word. They are joyfully dealing changes from the inside out.  The future holds Christ’s promise and fulfillment.  They know they are undergirded with more than wishful thinking about what lies ahead. Now they have real, true answers from the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It is wonderful to see!

 
At a funeral viewing in Texhuacan, Ed was sitting next to Juan, a young father. Juan’s 8 year old son was playing with a truck on the ground. Juan told Ed, “I was 6 years old when you gave me a toy truck and told me about Jesus.
None of my family knew the Lord then, but you visited us. When I became a father, I knew I wanted something more for my son. Now my own sons love to come to church and we all believe.” Ed did not remember that gift from the past, nonetheless, God’s spirit was tilling the soil of a young boy´s heart to want to live in the love of Christ.  He did not forget the message.  As for he and his family, they will serve the Lord.
 
Here is Juan´s young son on the right.
 

 

This last Christmas he was a part of the play that people from all over the mountains came to see.  They walked and traveled in the drizzle and fog in uncovered beds of trucks to get there.  The believers gathered together making the small book “Melodías del Pesebre” (Melodies of the Manger) into a precious presentation of the Gospel.  The church was filled!  Afterward with teamwork from young and old,  a meal was provided – tortillas, beans, pork …delicious tacos and conversation everywhere!   It was a tremendous outreach and a joyous evening with a clear sense of celebration in community.
 
A special event of much joy has come to us in the present.   Denise was asked by a pastor in the city of Puebla to exhibit her photographs of the joys, sorrows, needs and lives of the indigenous that we have worked with. The theme is “Quién es mi prójimo?”  (Who is my neighbor?) It has been received with great warmth and respect.  A moving aspect has been to see people respond to the written narratives of each photo. Many in the city have never been exposed to their indigenous neighbors joys and needs. The added blessing was that three of Denise’s siblings surprised her and came to the inauguration. Following that, they had for four joyful, heart filled days together.
 
 
 
 
To see our own children this past Christmas was a great highlight! We met in Virginia where Alexa and Getu live with their twins. Erik, now in his 6th year in Iraq, was able to come for a few needed days with his kin.  Rebeca was
happily near as she continues to work with at-risk children in DC.  Marcos flew out from California where he works in Orange County.  
All but our Grace and her children were there. Grace is in Mexico, living at a center with an AA program. She is safe, learning and likes it there. We ask God, however, that not just an ascent to “a Higher Power” but true repentance, faith, healing and joy be found in Christ alone. We do not lose heart.

The Rock of ages, cleft for me is who holds our past, present and future in His hands.  There are uncertainties worldwide but nothing is too hard for the Lord. We thank you for standing with us as we hold out the Word of Life to many in Mexico and beyond.

 

 

Spring 2016

I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matt 24:36

 
This is the joy and privilege of being joined to others as we follow Christ. Within a mere kilometer’s distance, we visited one person after another who was in harsh circumstances this last week.  A word of hope and a helping hand go a long way toward making Christ real.
 
Don Manuel lives in a little cabin that we made for him in all of 3 hours.  He has no living relatives.  He can no longer see and his bones ache.  He lives alone but a neighbor has taken responsibility to fix him meals.  We visited him with a “despensa” – which is basically an assortment of useful foods and products.  Upon giving the items to Manuel we made sure he felt each one so as to identify and place them within reach.  He said humbly, “I will have enough food this week.  Thank you.”
 
 
We always give the “despensa” in the name of Jesus.  We open the Word and pray in every visit.  This is never denied and eagerly received.  They are desperate and know it. What a joy to go together with  believers from these villages.  They take the initiative to talk of God’s love and forgiveness.  Visibly they represent the love of Christ in their communities.
 
 Few women know how to drive in the mountains.  Yet, Paula, in her 20s, wanted to learn. Her brother had a rickety truck  to teach her.  The brakes failed. They went off the side of a cliff.  “I thought it was the end of my life,” she said.     Our dear friend, Leo, was working in his cornfield below and was scared witless seeing the truck flying over his head.   Miraculously, Paula is alive as is her brother.  She will have a long recovery.   She asked if we could read the Bible out loud.  Marina read to her and then Paula responded, “Every time I move my feet, I thank God.  Every time I take a breath, I thank God.”  Paula is so close to trusting in Christ as her Savior.  It took this accident to shake her world  and to let her know Jesus is only a heartfelt personal surrender away.
 
 Denise heard Doña Justa moaning.  This woman was lying on rocks, in the warm daylight saying, “I feel like ice cold water is being poured on my feet!  I ache everywhere, everywhere!”  Her son said sadly, “She’s old now, very old.”  He called his own young son to go get an injection for pain.  This is what this family does every week to make things bearable for her.  We do not know the medical answers but we do visit, we do get medical help when we can and we do  listen. Just listening to their hurts is a help they say.  We pray, we hug, we help and we come back again and again.
 
Mexico has always shown honor to the elderly, although it is waning now with even the me-first generation philosophy trickling into rural areas.  Yet, in Texhuacan, this young grandchild below helps Don Pablo,  his aging grandfather, go to a Bible study.   The grandfather put his hand on Denise’s shoulder after this photo was taken and said, “Denise, all my friends are dying now.  All of them.  Please do not forget to visit me.”  She’ll remember.
 
 These are a few of the visits  that took place in a mere week’s time.  They highlight one of the most important outreaches we can, and you can, ever have.
 
The the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?  And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”     Matthew 25:37-40
 
Picking up a family on a road with their little ones, sacks of corn and firewood.

 

 

Fall 2015

L

 
Dear Friends,
 
We saw from the mountain trail, a home that looked like it was ready to fall to the ground. A middle-aged women looked at us fearfully and sternly commanded her children to “get in the house”.  They were isolated and lived with no electricity, no running water, and no latrine.  When we were cautiously allowed to come into their cabin, we saw the rafters and stringers were rotted.  Many boards on the siding had already fallen off.  They had placed plastic sheets above their beds to keep out the rain from the gaping holes in the roof. They were incredulous when we offered to help them repair their home, possibly thinking this was some hoax or trap. When does a stranger come up and ask if they can rebuild your home?
 
 
A year went by and once again we visited, this time with Magdalena and Marina.  Their presence minimized the threat and made the family more open.  We talked outside with the women and learned from the conversation that Alfonso, 75 years old, was the man of the home.  He was father to these women  and grandfather to a score of children. He had broken his leg and was lying on a makeshift bed of planks in a kitchen cabin lit up by a fire on the dirt floor.
 
Alfonso
Alfonso had not seen an orthopedist, yet a witch doctor came daily to attend to him. The ritual involved liquor, feathers, animal blood, chants, dances, candles, flowers, incense, and eggs. Eggs are prepared days ahead of time. They are cracked open in a glass and left to rot in the sun. Another un-cracked egg is used to massage the place of sickness, in this case the broken leg. Using slight of hand the egg is cracked open and the glass with the rotten egg is presented. It often has a live worm or baby snake wriggling about in the yoke. This is the great moment of deception. “Look what you had in you!” the witchdoctor announces. Everyone knows this is a lie but they love the personal attention and desperately hope against hope that something will work.
 
Feathers, Animal tails and beads of seeds used by witch doctors 
This story shows how the Gospel must confront human custom and tradition, otherwise it never goes to the core of life nor is there a true conversion. That day I shared Scripture with Alfonso and prayed for him. I told him that the Christian is delivered from the fears of this world and God preserves his life.  There is a promise in Scripture for those who believe in Christ.
Psalm.41:2 The Lord will protect him and keep him alive, And he shall be called blessed upon the earth; And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies. The Lord will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health.Isa. 40:29-31 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”Hiking to the job site the first day of work with a mission team,  we came upon Galdino in his field gathering fire wood. He is a young man in the local church who, no doubt because of his Christian faith, was falsely accused of rape and was in prison for two years until I spoke to the judge and prosecutor. I invited him to work with us all week on Alfonso’s house. Galdino told us that Alfonso was his uncle and they had not talked in years because of a family feud. I told him, “Now you’re going to talk. God has given you His Word. He’s your family, the promise is to you and your house. Only God could have planned this. I didn’t know he was your uncle. It’s time for the wall of division to be broken. Your uncle is broken now and in great need. He’s going to listen to you.”
 
Galdino and Ed removing old roof
 

Galdino told us how his Uncle Alfonso and his many brothers had inherited 60 acres of land from their father. Alfonso was determined to have all of it for himself. By violence and threats he had his way, except for one sister and her husband who refused to move off the land. One late afternoon Alfonso’s son, grandson and a relative were drinking liquor at a village saloon in Texhuacan when they saw the sister come to town on an errand. They took a bottle and waited for her on the trail after dark. Drunk and full of the devil they attacked her, committing all manner of evil against her and finally, in order to kill her, slashed her neck with a machete. She was found on the trail slumped over, unconscious. Miraculously, the machete had not cut her jugular vein but cut into nerves and tendons leaving her paralyzed to this day.

The three men eventually went to jail but Galdino’s uncle was a witness to all of this. He came to see Alfonso. They got drunk and fell asleep. Alfonso doused the sleeping guest with gasoline and set him on fire. He ran out of the house in a blaze rolling in the mud to put it out. He was attended at a hospital where he was able to tell what happened before dying. The Gospel must cut through all this sordid stuff and reconcile family members.

Every day on the job we were able to sit with Alfonso and share with him the Gospel.

 
Marina and Magdalena reading the Word to Alfonso.
 

Alfonso himself is a witchdoctor. I challenged him, “You know there is no power in this to heal the sick.  In six weeks your bone will heal anyway and you will be up and around. Is it Christ who heals you or the witch doctor? Do you think God approves of the witch doctor? You do this because of tradition and custom. I tell you the witch doctor and all this ritual has not delivered your family from evil, and deception and poverty. Your youth and strength are gone. What is your hope now? With all of your land you are alone and have never found peace or joy. You know that there is a heaven and a hell. This is why Jesus came to give his life for you and me. He came to show his mercy and love to those who will believe, to show the power of forgiveness and reconciliation, to finally be at peace and be able to praise and give thanks and hope.”

I wish I could say that Alfonso saw the light of Christ through these words but he remains firm and far from wanting the Lord.  Eight months have passed and he is still unable to walk. The broken bone was never set properly with egg massages. We do not regret going to help him or his family.  Christ helped and even cured people who never came back to say thanks or to believe in Him.  Please pray, though, that there will be fruit to our labors even in the cases of hardened, blinded hearts.  God is able.  We are willing to go to them.  This is what missions is about.

Thanksgiving comes in just a few days.  We were surprised ourselves when the church in the mountains called us forward at the end of a service and some of the children made a sign that said, “Jesus is the Good News and you, Eduardo and Denise are His feet.”

 
 
Yes, we cried.  Then so many came forth, from young children to the elderly, to say how their lives have been affected radically by the Gospel.  It was a glorious day of thanksgiving and we thank you for believing in the power of God’s Word and God’s message given, unashamedly and with hope, in the mountains of Mexico.
¡GRACIAS!
Ed and Denise

 

 

 
 

 
 
 

 

Lety smiles, but does not talk.  She is profoundly deaf and lives in the village of Xibtla.

 

We have long wanted to begin some kind of enterprise which could provide an income for women in need.  When a Christian businessman tasted a delicious pie that our co-worker, Marina, made, he said right up front, “You make me these and I will put them in my restaurants.”   Oh my!   This was out of nowhere and a direct answer to our prayers!   Lety meekly came for an “interview”.   She dressed in a new, colorful Nahuatl blouse, with the beautiful black wool skirt and embroidered waistband that is the traditional dress of the region. With her brother to interpret, she said that she was a hard worker, willing to learn.   She brought her birth certificate and voter’s registration card to show us.  It was precious to see her careful formality plus the longing she had to be employed.

 

It has been a few months of working now and she is the best!  Lety is punctual, quick learning, neat as a pin and precise.  The other 3 women look to her affirmative nod and non-verbal corrections on how they are doing. In other words, she is an ace-supervisor as well!    Lety has a small daughter and was left by an irresponsible husband some time ago.   She listens to the Word as we sign in the only ways we know how. Now, it is she who is nodding her head in the affirmative to what the Lord says!

 

 

 

 

 
Lety with one of her raspberry pies.  The berries are grown locally in village gardens.

God sets the lonely in families    Psalm 68:6a 

 

He has his eye on the sparrow and on young Lety too.

There are many deaf young people in this region.  One of the most lively and happy of them is a girl named Silvia.   She has gone to the local primary school participating in all activities and loves it when we come to visit her.   Although her mother hears and can speak, she is very quiet and sullen. Her husband has worked away from the village for years, not returning even to visit.  It takes time and effort to break through the silent barrier the the mom erects. Yet, we continue to be kind and can tell that she appreciates our prayers and concern for her family.

 
Silvia dancing at a folkloric presentation at her school

 
Silvia and her Mom

Another mother broke down crying when she had a second child, Cristian, who could not hear or speak.   We encouraged her to look to God’s special enabling to care for them and that there was a future and a hope in Christ.  We taught this mother how to read and her self-confidence soared.  Yet, even in a small village – or perhaps because she is in a small village – the pressures and judgments from others really get to her.  She asked us to come only in the evenings and not frequently for fear of what neighbors would say.

 
Cristian communicates with hugs when he is happy with or comforting others.

It seems the the world has sped by and left these dear people behind with no hope. Yet the Gospel of the Kingdom seeks them out and gives significance to each one. The Gospel by its own nature creates ears to hear. Please pray we will have creative, practical and clear ways to communicate the Gospel to each.  Pray that the overwhelming love of Christ will thwart any judgment, or belittling, that an individual could receive for wanting to draw closer to God and to better her lot. There are jealousies and resentments that can also surface when one gets work and another does not. And of course there is a hostility and separation of those who follow after Christ.

Leviticus 19:14

 

‘You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.

Our daughter Grace spent 3 critically important months with us and is now in Madrid, Spain at the caring Christian program of Betel. Prayer has brought her this far.  We thank you with all our hearts!  Alexa and Getu are raising their twin girls in a loving Christ-centered home.  Alexa speaks to them in Spanish to which they are responding and thriving.  Our son Erik has seen the school for displaced Yazidi children in northern Iraq up and running against formidable odds.  How encouraging this is!   Rebeca’s work at Early Stages in the DC Public Schools has had far-reaching impact on struggling pre-school children. Marcos is gearing up for summer, applying for internships and continuing to mature solidly at Biola University.

We thank God, through Christ, for your interest in and prayers for us.  We are grateful for each of your lives and your impacting friendship with us.

Your co-laborers in Mexico,

Ed and Denise

 

 

 

 
 

 
 
Freezing and rainy weather meant that the young woman’s flight was arduous on an uneven, dark trail at one in the morning.   Drenched with sweat, she felt she could not go one step further.  Mari had left her cabin, telling her sister that she did not feel well, and was going to look for medicine.  Even her sister, who was her closest confidant, did not know that Mari was pregnant.   After a fall on the muddy trail and a mere half hour of labor all alone, her tiny little girl was born.
At the sound of the infant’s crying, dogs came out of nowhere, barking and going for the placenta. Mari panicked.  No one, absolutely no one could know about this baby.  She remembered that we had given milk to a needy baby and cared for that baby after the mother died.   With what little strength she had, Mari grabbed the infant in one arm and the placenta in the other.  She headed to the cabin of Marina, our co-worker.
A new pack of dogs started barking and a neighbor came out to check.  ¨How strange!” he said the next day. “The dogs were really going wild, but I didn’t see anything last night when I went outside.”   Marina and Magdalena, brought the young mother in.  Blood everywhere.  They cut the umbilical cord and bathed mother and child.  Mari said, “The father of my baby is married.  My own father is an alcoholic.  My mother is sick.  It would kill her to know I had another baby because this is the second time and I have seen how my Father treats my son – horribly, brutally.  My mother spoke of her life just today and asked, “When am I ever going to stop suffering?”
Marina insisted Mari sleep for a couple of hours before taking her to a clinic in the city.  However, the young mother equally insisted on returning home to get her two year old son. She slept deeply for two hours, left the baby and hiked home in the dark only to find that, to teach her a lesson, the door was locked.
Before dawn she was back on the trail.  How she managed to get her son and carry him a half hour up the mountain all after giving birth, is amazing. Marina and Magdalena met her at an agreed spot.  The mother asked,  “Do you know anyone I can give my baby to? I have to be back home this very day.” Again she stressed with fright, “No one can know.”
A Mexican Christian couple had tried to get pregnant for six years. Nine months earlier they had applied to the government for a baby girl  and had recently been turned away by another birth mother after having held the newborn child.  It was almost hope against hope for them to try again.
Yet, Mari was absolutely firm in her resolve.  She did not want her little girl treated cruelly as her son had been.   Marina told her, “You prayed to God for a family when you were pregnant and God already had that family ready.  God sees what we pray in secret, desires that only our own heart and God’s heart know. We now see His answers in the light of day.  May this baby be the means for you to draw near and to know Him.”
Boldly Marina put forth this idea. “Could the mothers hug each other?”  And this they both did.  Mari began to sob uncontrollably.  She took her little girl and held her and kissed her, then held her even closer for a long, long time–an eternity to the hopeful and waiting adoptive mother.   Mari looked up, completely overcome by all that had happened in the last few hours,  and then confidently extended her arms outward, with her infant daughter and said, “Here she is. I give her to you.”
Now it was the new mom, who sobbed and said to Mari, “All of our days we will thank you for this gift!” as she held her new daughter tightly.  Mari said later that a surge of hope went through her at that moment, knowing her little girl would have a loving home!  We pray that Mari and her family would come to faith and become part of the home church that we have opened up in their area.
What a timely Christmas story.  Unto them a daughter was given.
For unto us a daughter was given, almost 33 years ago. Our Grace came home in November and is with us now for Christmas.  We have had such restorative time on all fronts and it is obvious that God Himself wills her to live.  We ask your prayers for key decisions for her health and her future and thank you greatly for your many heartfelt prayers for her and us.  Our daughter Alexa and her husband, Getu, love being parents of identical twin girls who are heading towards their first birthday on New Year’s Eve.   Our son, Erik, has been offered the daunting task of being a project manager for establishing a school for displaced Yazidi children in a refugee camp of 90,000 in Iraq.  A Christian team will go alongside him, but we ask for your focused prayers for wisdom for him as he returns to Iraq to take on, by God’s grace, this responsibility.  Rebeca continues to be the giving and glowing young woman of God in her work with Early Stages Program in the Washington, DC Public school system.  Marcos is half way through his junior year and thriving at Biola University.
 

 
 
The best of the best is that unto us a Son is given.  Our whole being was born and created to recognize, receive and honor Jesus.  “All our days we will thank Him for this gift!  That Christmas morn, the Father said to the world, “Here He is.  I give Him to you!”  We are honored to proclaim His name in any way, by any means, to any person, any place, any time. This is our grand privilege.  This is our great honor and joy.   Thank you for caring for us and what God is doing here.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Merry Christmas to you all!   A Blessed New Year!
 
Eduardo, Denise and Grace in Mexico
 

Summer 2014

Dear Friends,

“I don’t want to hear no story,” said the emaciated drug addict, as Eduardo handed him a small bag of fruit, yoghurt and fresh bread.  We were in a garbage heap in the outskirts of Madrid, Spain, asking the Lord for inroads to share in a tangible, understandable way the message He has for every soul addicted to the things of this life.

One can not just waltz into this area, yet there are BMWs, Audis and even men in cyclist gear with their high tech bikes zooming in and out, day and night to buy for use or re-sale every kind of drug imaginable.  Manolo, who went into the Christian rehab Bethel, 3 decades ago, knows everyone – the gypsies who do the trading, the drug addicts who keep guard to notify if police are in the area, the women who are prostitutes and drug users who, in exchange for what they want, watch the gypsies’ children so that the dealers can be about their lucrative business.

It is all a tangled, sordid web.  Because of Manolo we are allowed in, no problem.

Eduardo starts walking with the tall, gaunt addict and I don’t see either of them for the next hour.  In a few minutes I hear, in the distance, that Ed has begun a conversation with a number of disheveled men.  He is animated.  They are dialoguing  The Story is being shared.


Our respected friend, Elliott Tepper, the co- founder of Bethel, a ministry to restore broken lives, asked us to go to Spain to speak at their annual camp for 1500 workers and recovering addicts from dozens of centers around Europe and India.

 

How can we describe the honor it was for both of us to give messages from God’s word and our lives in Mexico, to such a hungry and receptive group?  Many times we felt a lump in our throats as we saw men and women lifting their hands in praise to their Redeeming Lord during the worship time, nodding their heads in grateful assent to the Biblical truths that have broken their bondage, and the fantastic camaraderie we saw among men and women who have been clean for decades, many still with physical scars but restored in Christ to whole and purposeful lives.

From the camp we did a blitzkrieg to Spanish Betel centers in the Andalucian south.  This was so meaningful as we could visit one on one with men and women in recovery.  Betel has planted churches in every sense of the word, with people from the community, families touched by the restoration of their loved ones and in the neighborhood.  We would drive, teach, visit and get in a couple hours of sight seeing in a different center each day.  Intense and marvelous with much loving hospitality and new friendships.

It was especially meaningful to see a number of former students of Ed’s who were trained as single people through his teaching and work in the mountains of Mexico, now married with children, serving God as missionaries all over Europe.  Old home week!

Three days ago we crossed the Mediterranean at the Strait of Gibraltar to the city of Ceuta, a Spanish possession in major crisis. Over half the city is involved in drug trade and traffic of young people for sex.  In spite of a major Spanish garrison here, Africans by the thousands are pouring across the border. They throw away their identification papers so they can’t be deported and wait for months and years to be sent to one of the countries of the European community. This is literally a refugee camp but with lots of drug trade and sex, so can you imagine the world of crime and destructive patterns they become involved in prior to their introduction to the European community. This is a nightmare only the gospel of Jesus will change. If not, it is a ticking time bomb that will bring to its knees great nations.

 

The young Moroccan woman sat with intense interest as another story was told, this time by Denise –the Biblical parable of the lost coin.  To cross into Morocco also and to see the drastic change of culture and restrictions to sharing with openness, meant that by using parables we could share truths without preaching. These  produced a wonderful, animated dialog.

“I have lost something too,” she told me.   Her story is one of shaming her family through a pregnancy, rejection and loss.  She is in another city where no one knows her and her hopes, like so many, are to make it to work in Spain.

We hope to see our daughter Grace soon. Alexa and Getu’s identical twin girls were dedicated to the Lord and we rejoiced along with many Ethiopian relatives on this great day.  Erik has a month off of his work as a professor at the American University in Iraq.  His heart is heavy for what is happening not far from him. Rebeca continues doing outstanding in DC.  Mark is in his junior year at Biola U. after a tremendous summer doing a formal internship with us in the mountains in Mexico.

Thank you for your good friendship and your prayers for us.

We appreciate you more than we can express,

Denise and Eduardo

 
Spring 2014
 

Like a gust of wind, a half dozen boys raced through a grove of coffee trees close behind a rabbit. They were whooping, aiming sling shots, shouting to one another with one darting to the left and another into the gully excitedly waving a stick. I called out a greeting to them. They looked at me for a split second and were gone –except for Mariano. Sweating, breathing deeply, he was both afraid and courageous to be alone with me. His sparkling, imploring eyes spoke a thousand words. I tried to reassure him with a smile and spoke to him in Ch’ol, “Would you like to be helped? I know someone who can make you well.” He nodded affirmatively.

This was a breakthrough. It is common in cultures of poverty to be fatalistic. “This is the way things are, nothing will ever change. There is no reason to hope, don’t even ask. There is no way out. This is my destiny.” Western culture assumes that man can change and get anything he wants, he just has to want to hard enough. Jeremiah 13:23 asks, “Can the leopard change his spots?” Jesus likened this to the impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a needle. The disciples found this to be such a dilemma that they asked, “Who then can be saved?” This analogy addresses the bondage of the will and assumes that sinners cannot change their sinful natures. Only God can change the heart.

I was stunned to see the marked deformity of a grown teenage boy with a cleft palate and incredulous that the people of his own village would ignore his condition for so many years. Who can know the trauma of rejection and horror that he has suffered? Even the church in his village went on with its own affairs. Isn’t this the concern of the church? Isn’t this our business? God calls out to us in our busy, cluttered lives to stop and look to Christ and be free of our heavy baggage.  Our need  is to reach out beyond ourselves and bear witness to Christ who changes the inner and outer man.

 

In Luke 10, Jesus told the story of a man who was robbed, stripped, beaten and left half dead. “Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. In Matthew 19, Jesus told a rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful.” The point I want to make here is that Jesus calls us to get involved sacrificially in the lives of our neighbors. When we do so, rather than going away with sorrow we are brought into fellowship with Jesus and find abounding joy.

 

Dr. Rodrigo Morales De La Cerda

 

I visited Dr. Rodrigo Morales an eminent plastic surgeon at the excellent  British American Hospital in Mexico City. I showed him pictures of Mariano and he was immediately taken by the need and offered surgery and hospital services through a foundation.  As he showed me on his computer before and after pictures of babies and young children with similar cleft palate problems, his love for his work, pride in excellence and joy for his patients was very evident.  Even as the Scriptures speak of masons and carpenters filled with the Holy Spirit to build the temple of Solomon I could see in him a supernaturally gifted surgeon passionate about serving others. Dr. Morales and his sister Fernanda, an accomplished photographer have made 3 trips to Chiapas at considerable time and expense to visit Mariano’s family to assure them and explain the procedure. It is a 600 mile trip from Mexico City to his village. The last three hours could hardly be called a road, only a 4X4 in low range can make it through the washed out gullies, over rocks, literally squeezing by landslides, hoping not to slide off the mountain.

 

Mordido por la Luna
The villagers told Mariano’s mom “When you were pregnant, you looked at the moon when it wasn’t full.  That is why Mariano is the way he is.  He was bit by the moon.”

We have found Mariano to be no recluse. He engages in the classroom and at recess is right in there playing passionate soccer. When trucks come to town each day to stock local stores he is quick to help unload the heavy boxes in exchange for a few pesos.

This week  we praise the Lord for a successful five hour surgery!  Mariano is still in the hospital recovering. We pray for healing without infection. Pray for the inner transformation that only God can work so as to know the peace and joy of the Lord.

 

 

Our family: It has been 10 months with no word from our daughter Grace as to her whereabouts. Our youngest son Mark will be baptized this Sunday by Ed.  This is a great joy for us all!  Erik will be returning to Iraq this week for a month with hopes of employment there in the future.  Rebeca continues to thrive in Washington DC in work, ministry, and friendships. Another tremendous joy – we have 2 beautiful editions to our family with the birth on December 31st, 2013 of identical twin girls to our daughter Alexa and her husband Getu.   Ahhhh!

Thank you for standing and kneeling with us,

Eduardo and Denise

 

 

Winter 2014

“It was the scandal of the village,” Don Martin told me years ago. “I wanted to spend the rest of my life with an older woman, much older.”

“How can this young teen be so head over heals over her?” the village people wagged their tongues.

“But,” Don Martin continued, “We continued being friends and finally she came to live with me and that’s the way it has been.”

And what did the woman say?

“I was very pretty when I was young and I always had such a good time dressing up in my best for the parties!” Candelaria giggled. “However, I never wanted to learn Spanish – ever. And I told him, ‘My language is Nahuatl, and that’s that.’ ”

Both were strong-minded, strong-willed, and very strong physically. That is until an open ulcer began consuming Candelaria’s face. First, it took her eye leaving an empty socket. Don Martin was angry. She was “a hideous sight to look at,” he said. He didn’t want to be saddled with her medical expenses. He became physically abusive, sometimes using firewood to beat her, and she never said a word. He once said, “She is so tough, a bullet wouldn’t kill her.”

They came to our home to stay while she saw a doctor. Don Martin asked me, “Do you believe, Denise, that there really was a Jesus? Do you believe all the Bible says about him?”

“Yes I do. Every bit of it,” I told him. I explained, once again, the purpose of Christ’s coming to give Himself completely for every word, every deed, and every thought of ours that rebels against Him. I explained, as Eduardo had so many times before in Don Martin’s kitchen hut, that the death and resurrection of Jesus could give us forgiveness, reconciliation, and ultimate healing. “All who call upon the Lord will be saved.”

“No, no,” he said shaking his head firmly. “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe any of it. We have our customs. We burn incense and give flowers and have our ceremonies and THAT is what is most important, Denise.”

Meanwhile Doña Candelaria, despite caring doctors, could not get rid of her ever-growing ulcer. Don Martin despised her even more. He said she was useless. If he drank, it was worse. The friendship and love he once had for his wife was replaced with a consuming hatred.

One can talk, ponder, and postulate all one’s life – and never come to simple transforming, eternal truth. Ed was with Don Martin when he died. He sat up in his sick bed, called out names of friends who had long since died, and cried out to apparent spirits. He begged not to be taken, finally grimacing in pain so much that Ed heard his teeth literally breaking, and then Don Martin fell into a diabetic comma from which he never recovered.

Doña Candelaria continued to be ravaged by the open, oozing ulcer. Her right ear fell off. She lost her cheek so that the jaw and teeth were exposed. Her family stopped visiting her. “We’re scared of her,” they said, fearing her fungus would rub off on them. “She looks ugly,” her grandchildren winced and commented.

She, too, hardened her heart over the years.  Doña Candelaria told me, “I wasn’t there when Christ died. How do I know He really suffered? It is I who am suffering!” She could barely move, but still tried to go out to her field. When she was stronger she used to bring me lots of flowers. She often cut her own string beans for Ed as a gift of appreciation. Now, most of the day she was in a filthy room with a filthy bed. The stench was overbearing. She did not want anything moved or changed. She had all but given up hope.

We continued to visit, to pray with her, listening, helping, encouraging. We wanted this pain to stop but the eternal pain would continue forever if her heart stayed hardened. She felt only she was suffering, and that her life had only been a treadmill with no purpose and no love. Her universe was her pain.

For years, Marina and Magdalena, our co-workers, lovingly cleansed her wounds daily until she could no longer take the pain. We brought her soft food like fish and soups that she could eat. Ed would stick some pesos in her hand, and sometimes she carefully walked outside when she heard a small motorcycle come up the mountain with a little cooler of ice cream strapped to the luggage rack. Oh, she loved that!

One day it was evident that she could no longer hear. Not knowing how to communicate with her, Ed took her head in his hands and arms and held her face against his face. She began to cry quietly (something she had never done). She continued crying for a period and we prayed for her, thanking the Lord for breaking her heart of stone. After all our “words”, was it a gentle touch and acceptance that the Holy Spirit used to open her heart?

Just before Christmas I visited her. I could not understand every muffled word she said but I hugged her and listened. And then suddenly – she began to pray! She called on God, “Help me!  Help me!” for the first time.

Candelaria calls out to the Lord for the first time
Candelaria calls out to the Lord for the first time

Last week Marina, our coworker, wrote us the following.

“Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”  Psalm 65:4

“For this we are thankful that God relieved Doña Cande this last week of 22 years of suffering. God permitted us to be with her that day. To our surprise she tried to speak even though she had lost her lips. We all prayed in the morning that God would finally take her to Himself. Immediate family members who had abandoned her until now, gathered around her expecting the end. A daughter-in-law who would not attend her or give her food, asked for forgiveness. Candelaria died that same day at 5 in the afternoon. We thank God for finally freeing her from this bodily prison of death. We are confident in the hope that she came to trust Christ for salvation and eternal life. Yesterday her remains were taken to the cemetery with all the traditional ceremony and rituals. Yet in the midst of all, God is above all!”

We thank you for your love and appreciated prayers for this work, for us and for our family,    Ed and Denise
 
Last Frontiers         Winter 2012
Sunbeam through slats with Guillermo/Eduardo
Dear Friends,
 

Guillermo played the violin beautifully. Yet with 11 children and heavy farm work, he often turned to hard liquor. He had played the violin at traditional religious festivals which typically ended in drunkenness.   Guillermo found that it was one thing to be the life of the party, and another thing to not know his purpose for living once the party was over.  He  lived in despair and soon sold his violin.

 

 

When we met him, Guillermo was lying in the mud, passed out, having exchanged his violin for drink.   Not once, but many times, he was found in an unconscious state.

 

A friendship began, whether Guillermo was drunk or sober.  We regularly visited this man whom the villagers said was “good for nothing anymore”. Oh the fun times around Guillermo’s kitchen table and the kitchen fire!   There would be laughter and discussion abounding.   We’d open the Word with him, finding he was always hungry to learn truths about God and to receive answers to his many, many questions.  He was bright, and frequently asked us to come by.

 

His wife was so happy!  Denise and Tere, Guillermo's wife
As an advocate for the village school, she asked us for help to build a retaining wall so that the hill next to the school would not collapse on the children as they played. We assembled a team and in a tremendous physical undertaking with villagers, completed this great practical achievement that blessed the whole community.  She was all smiles, every day, and Guillermo was proud of her and encouraged by what we were doing for his wife, for the school and for him.

 

Guillermo would, in turn, instruct us on local medicinal plants and natural cures for everything from stomach aches to rashes.  Beyond that,  he was quite the story-teller sharing Nahuatl legends that his mother and grandmother had told him.  What a character!

 

 

Before and After retaining wall
Retaining wall before and after

 

We found another violin for him hoping that God might raise this man up to Pastor his own people.  What we never expected was that he would return to the traditional religious festivals in town– violin in hand,  ready and willing to teach what he had learned in the times around his table with the Bible.   Yet while Guillermo had come to a point of more knowledge of the Scriptures, he had not experienced a true heart conversion by the Spirit of God. It is one thing to know in your head about a great God (which Guillermo did) and quite another to be transformed by the Spirit  and living in relationship with an obedience to Christ.

 

The other day we found him, again, passed out and lying in the mud.

 

Are we discouraged by this?  Yes. Guillermo is but one of hundreds of people we have come to know, appreciate and love over the decades.  Do we stop relating with him because he hasn’t made that step to give it all to Jesus?  Never. The Christian life is more than simple perseverance; it is an unending love for individuals God has given us the privilege to know.   God, Himself, has again and again picked us up when we have given up and are lying on our own man-made mud of confusion.   He cares when others want to throw in the towel.  He cares when we ourselves want to throw in the towel!

 

We have seen time and again that it is God who draws “with chords of loving kindness”.  We want to be those chords to Guillermo – the chords that gently, honestly pull him and others with the love and forgiveness of the Savior.  That is why Jesus, years after being born in a manger, answered Pilate’s question: “You say you are a  King?” with these words: “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

We know the Lord’s voice is calling Guillermo’s name.   We know His voice has called our names to represent Him to many.   We know His voice is calling you even today.

 

Have a Merry Christmas friends.  Will you pray for Guillermo and his family?  We will be them in the village of Maquilquila in just a few days.  Ours is a great hope knowing that Jesus is drawing him to Himself through these chords of loving-kindness just as He has to so many this year.  We thank you for helping us do this and we look for that great harvest in 2013 with you by our side in prayer.

 

A Blessed New Year as well!

Edward, Denise and Family

 

ps Our daughter Grace is still in Mexico.  She is slowly getting strengthened but it has been a struggle to become healed and whole again.  Thank you for your continued needed prayers for her.  Alexa and Getu are delightful together with a strong marriage, actively working and serving in their community in Washington D.C.  Erik continues in England doing an intense Master’s program in Kurdish Studies at the University of Exeter, through this becoming more equipped to do his heart’s work to the Kurds.  Rebeca has graduated from college. By the mercy of the Lord, she has a great job serving children in the D.C. public school district.  Marcos is loving university life in L.A.  Yep – that means we are now officially empty-nesters.  Miss the kids but times have been grand as we are just the two of us once again.  It’s really good!

Tree with Rock Wall
Spring 2012

  For 22 years Don Fidencio has been, by his town’s standards, a wealthy man with two three-ton trucks, along with a crew of men, chain saws, and mules for the selling of clandestine timber. Clandestine may not be the right word- even the authorities know of his work and turn their heads after taking cash for the favor. He bribed state officials to falsify the land deed and the sale of 90 acres of land belonging to Don Enrique, an elderly man in the village. For years, Don Fidencio has ridiculed us for the sake of the Gospel, openly mocking us in the street and deriving much delight at getting others to laugh with him. No wonder David asks in the Psalms how it is that the wicked prosper.

 

I recently stopped at a store to buy bottled water and waved to Don Fidencio “sitting in the seat of the scornful” across the street. To my amazement, he crossed the street and shook my hand warmly. Fidencio began talking in the most friendly and respectful manner, much like a child would to an adult. It quickly became clear to me that he had suffered a stroke and did not have the coherence of even a two year old. My heart went out to him and at the same time cried out to the Lord, “Have you let him go beyond the point of return? Will you call him again and restore his mind to know and honor you even as, in the Bible, you restored Nebuchadnezzar’s mind after seven years living as a beast of the field?”

 

I thought of Don Enrique and his great material misfortune at the hand of the once strong yet now mentally challenged Don Fidencio. This loss left Don Enrique living destitute in what could hardly be characterized as a home — a shed with a dirt floor, no electricity, and broken health, nonetheless, with a sound mind and cheerful spirit as he has believed the Word that has been read to him.  I thought of Jesus who, being rich, made himself poor so that we being poor might be made rich.    Don Enrique

 

On a recent trip driving a four-hour stretch in the northern state of Tamaulipas, I passed hundreds of homes and businesses boarded up or gutted.  I drove half hour stretches without seeing a single vehicle compared to the former two-lane highway with cars and trucks whizzing by every five to ten seconds. Not a single gas station was open. Many owners had pulled out their pumps, fearing for their lives, and had fled to live in the U.S.  At one point, I got tired and pulled off the road into a nearby field to sleep a few minutes. I was instantly asleep but soon awakened with a start to banging on the window. A Federal Policeman with a machine gun shouted, “What are you doing?” I could see another Federal officer backing him up with a machine gun in the trees fifty feet away. I explained that up until that point I had been sleeping soundly and that “from the looks of things around here not only me, but the local businesses and homeowners have been disturbed in their sleep too and have fled.” Of course, I thanked him and moved on.

 

Night overtook me, and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. To my surprise, I saw a solitary stand on the side of the road with a single bulb and a grill. The owner showed me what looked like some pretty good beef rib eye for a great price. When he served me, I asked him to join me so we could talk. I inquired how it was that he was completely alone with no one to help him. He told me that his wife and children refused to live with him in their lone home on the highway and went into town to live. He told me that he had grown up as an orphan and had worked early to support his mother and siblings, and that he never went to school and didn’t know how to read. He didn’t know how to do anything else and had nowhere to go. “Do the crime cartels bother you?” “No, they know I’m poor and have nothing. The only ones that have bothered me are the Federal Police. They have arrested me and taken me to jail, convinced that I worked with criminals because the cartels had not bothered me. They beat me to get information, but I knew nothing.”    

 

I began to share with this man the hope of salvation in Christ and God who know all things and will one day call all to account. It turned out that he was a believer and had a genuine faith in Christ. We had a wonderful hour of fellowship and prayer. Again, the Lord showed me how He sovereignly plans these things both for our mutual encouragement and to remind us that the days are short.

 

I’m on the road a lot, traveling to many villages and towns. Whenever I get home, especially on Sunday, I think of the song my Dad often led us in, “Safely through another week, God has brought us on our way…”    There are some who say that fear is a good thing because it keeps us out of harms way. On the other hand, on the day of battle there are many who run for fear. The Aulie Family can say with the Psalmist, “The Lord has delivered me from all my fears…”

 

We thank the Lord that He has delivered us from the fear of death. We recognize clearly that “there is a time to die,” but we thank the Lord that the time is not yet neither for our eldest daughter, Grace, who had been critically ill, nor our first born son, Erik in Iraq.  Grace is home with us as her body heals and gets stronger every day.  We talk and laugh together. It is just plain good to have her here recovering slowly, surely, and beautifully.

 

We ask for continued specific prayer for safety and wisdom for Erik as he speaks with those in authority in Iraq and continues to  care for his students after the murder/suicide tragedy of his dear friend and co-worker at the Kurdish highschool where Erik has been teaching for 2 years.

 

We ask the Lord to help us live thoughtful, focused, and Christ honoring minutes and days with complete confidence in the truth that “He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion.” We give to the Lord our fears, the timing, and even the manner, in which our children and we will finish this race. There is a rock-solid comfort that, no matter what occurs, that there is a sanctifying affliction for our ultimate good and for His honor, despite the great pain that often faces each of us. God is love and light.  In Him there is no darkness at all.  We will never be forsaken. Our times are in His hands.

 

Thank you for being faithful friends,

Ed, Denise and Family

 
 
 
Fall  2011
Flower Carrier
Dear Friends,
As I walked down the road, our neighborhood children ran up to me shouting, “Tia, ven!” It always warms my heart when they call me “Tia” (Aunt) because that is how I feel towards all of them.  They asked me to close my eyes as two of them took ahold of my hands. The rest ran before and aft as I was carefully guided to a small room. They whispered animatedly to each other and then said with glee, “Open your eyes, Tia!” There before me was a huge altar constructed and decorated in elaborate traditional form for the remembrance of all the family members who have died over the years.  I thought of the deceased, a severely mentally handicapped 4 year old grandson who was physically carried by his mother and father all his brief life. I thought of the brother who was killed riding his bicycle and for the grandfather who simply passed away.Neighborhood ChilderHere in this small town, the altar is not just a visual honor to the memory of the deceased, but it represents the firm belief, shared by old and young alike,  that the spirits of the dead return to visit their homes at this time of year and that they merit a festive welcome.At noon on October 28th, it is believed that all those who have died because of accidents return.  Their spirits come into the home via a bright petal trail of orange flowers leading from the outside of the home to the altar.  Precisely at noon the next day October 29th, their spirits are believed to leave. Incense is lighted again. The spirits of  children who were born but soon died are said to return.   October 30th brings the children “in limbo”, (those who have never were born but died in the womb) are thought to arrive. White flowers decorate the home for these and all children.  When the 31st arrives, it brings children who have died after living a few months or years.  November 1st at noon, the belief is that all other adults who have died, especially the elderly, come and they depart on the 2nd. Bright orange and red flowers are placed everywhere to honor these departed adults.No doubt many of the rituals reflect fear as to the state of those who have died and ignorance of Scripture.  In the Luke 16:26 account, Abraham explained to the rich man in Hades, “between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you, may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.”Every item on the altar is symbolic and considered practical.  TheCandle With Food water, beer or hard liquor is for their journey so they won’t be thirsty. Fruit, bread and vegetables are for their nourishment in their travels.  A corn drink called “atole” plus tamales are placed on a table.  Tall tapered candles are there to light their way. Brilliant orange and red flowers are to make them happy. Loved ones kneel on a grass mat placed before the altar to offer prayers for these relatives.Ed and I have always felt, and taught our children, that neighbors are some of the dearest and most important people in our, or anyone’s,  lives. Indeed, when I grew up my Mom would always say, “Good neighbors are worth their weight in gold.”  We have seen this to be true wherever we have lived. It is none the less true now in this rural community of bricklayers.  We love these people and have been to many a wedding and funeral, and countless birthday and town celebrations. Each time it has been a joy to go even beyond the friendly joking and bantering, to get to the heart of the deeper issues they face. God always opens up the door and it has endeared us to many. As one neighbor said, “I don’t quite know how it happened, but you are like family to us!”Today was one of those days when we went to the homes of three neighbors who have lost loved ones this last year.  The tradition is that anyone who wants can visit the house of those who have lost a loved one to eat a specially prepared meal, usually chicken in a mole sauce. Hard working women of the family labor for days to prepare enough food, not knowing how many will come. In this case, the festivities were to remember the life of a grandmother whom we truly loved.  We went not to kneel at the altar but to honor her beautiful memory and to share in the grief of the family.  The eldest of the eight children saw Eduardo, burst into tears and clung to him. “I miss my mom so much!”  We talked to them about this amazing woman, Josefa – the beloved mom, grandmother and great-grandmother so missed by them all.  Numerous anecdotes of Josefa’s life were shared by Eduardo and received with laughter and tears.  Over the years Josefa came to my neighborhood Bible Study. She knew that it was only faith in Christ by which she could be saved, not by any of her many good works, lest she should boast in her own piety.  The week before she died, my daughter Rebeca, and I went to visit her.  Weak as she was from her debilitating cancer, Josefa asked the family to prop her up out of respect for the reading of God’s Word. We heard her sweet and sincere “amens” as we spoke of  life to come through faith in her Savior, His Way, His Truth and now her eternal Life. Neighbor girls with orange flowersFrom the beginning, small children see first hand the ravages of sickness and death. The customs with the bright flowers, candles, incense, food and many visitors come as a great relief to the confusion, weeping and loss of life. On the other hand, many of those who are older find little solace in the traditions. They look at life grimly as their fate. Far from being a celebration, many relatives drink themselves into a stupor on these days, deadening the pain of unresolved grief, bitterness or guilt. The Word of Scripture comforts believers,  “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” I Thessalonians 4:13-14. 

Our neighbors understand Ed and I love them even though we do not put up an altar to Ed’s parents or to our granddaughter whom they know have died.   Somehow it doesn’t matter to them because they still come to us time and again to ask “what the Bible says” about everything from infidelity to stealing to murder.  The times of tears and crying out to God in our home, by them and for them, are many. What a blessing to be a neighbor in Jesus.

 

Today is very quiet. It is the last day of this season of remembering the dead. The altars will come down. The food will be eaten. Those who drank too much will have headaches tomorrow. The children finish this night going around with small pumpkins asking for food at each door. Tonight the women who have worked so hard in the kitchen will sleep like logs.Eduardo visiting with neighbor

Tonight and beyond, we will be praying for our neighbors and looking for more opportunities to speak to them and love them in real ways as we “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.”  We ask you to pray for us to speak “a good word in due season of the hope within us.” The opportunities with our neighbors – and for you with your neighbors – are myriads. May God be blessed by “the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts.”

 

We love each of you,

The Aulie Family

 

   
Lupita by Door Opening
 
August 2011
Dear Friends,“What lengths God won’t go to, what lengths!” my sister Peggy tearfully exclaimed when we ministered to the woman sitting on a cold dirt floor with malformed and atrophied legs tucked under her body.   The “lengths” my sis referred to were the pursuing measures God takes to send His redeeming message to reach even the most solitary of women.  Far from any ability to leave her home and be out in her community, this woman, Lupita, sat alone in her mountain cabin – quietly, solitarily and silently living with her disabilities.   Yet, even in her remote and desperate circumstances, she would hear and see God’s love for her.Lupita has never learned Spanish. She only speaks Nahuatl.  Robustly rejected and mistreated as a child, she lived alone and made ends meet.  From all we have seen over the years, there has been no self-pity, no expecting that the government or any one else should take care of her.   She has been incredibly resourceful.We watched Lupita drag herself across the dirt floor to do her daily chores.  She has developed her own system of functioning. We marveled. With money from selling eggs from her chickens, she hired a man with a burro to bring her clay to fire earthenware. These pots she also sells. She spins fresh cut sheep’s wool to make yarn for the local weavers, drags herself in the dirt to plant squash among the rocks outside her home, and prepares a hot pot of coffee for the small Sunday worship service that meets on an alternating basis in her home, always wearing a bright smile.Lupita forming pot lidWe had visited Lupita for years, always opening the Word with her, replacing her leaking roof, building a chicken house so as to have an ongoing income from laying hens, but she was always very distracted. As we told her about Jesus’ love for her she reached for a small chick pecking from her own small bowl of food, held it up to her lips, and gave it many fond kisses. She said, “I love all my chickens. They keep me company. I can see them. I can hold them. I can’t see Jesus. How can I know Him or love Him?” We told her in many ways over the years that because of Jesus love we had come to visit, help and love her. It was obvious, though, that her highest regard was for her animals. The thought of anyone being more important than them was foreign to her thinking. We explained that just as her chicken would stop giving eggs and then later would die, so too her own aging body and life here on earth were not forever.One day, Alex, a young 15-year-old boy from Minnesota came on a mission’s team with his church. Much like Lupita’s legs, he had a short ten-inch stub for an arm that never developed fully. He was an overcomer and had learned to play the guitar using a small nodule at the end of his arm, which should have developed into a finger. Whenever we have visitors from other churches I lead the way and try to model for them the way we talk to the people, making sure to share the entire Gospel in an objective, graphic manner with illustrations that relate to their lives. Lupita was very distracted and none of what I had said connected with her. I asked Alex if he had a word. He leaned forward, smiled with bright eyes, and threw his arms wide-open telling Lupita, “God loves you this much!” He kept his arms wide open. We could see Lupita’s eyes follow his short arm out to the end. Lights came on in Lupita’s heart and mind. Alex drew his arms in to his body and threw them wide open again, saying, “And God’s love for you Lupita is forever!” That did it! That was the turning point. Darkness turned to light, unbelief to seeing, knowing and loving. Lupita could see in Alex’s arm that, like her, his limb had never grown out. This empathy caused her to focus on his message. This is the Gospel story. Jesus likewise empathized with us. He became flesh and took the form of man by which He could love us, so that we could know Him as our Redeemer on the cross in our place.I love to preach at the Sunday meeting at Lupita’s simple little house. She interrupts the  whole time with comments and questions that clearly show she gets it. She has embraced Jesus as her Savior and is no longer distracted.A month ago Lupita developed a horrible infection in her finger. With her diabetic condition and extremely high blood sugar level, antibiotics had no effect. The pain became unbearable. The anguish of leaving her home and animals was even more acute than the pain in her hand. It took 3 of us men to carry her compact, yet very heavy, body in a blanket to our truck on the road below. Gangrene had set in and 3 fingers were amputated at a hospital two hours away.Carrying LupitaWe visited Lupita yesterday afternoon. No longer capable of caring for herself or doing even the simplest of her monumental daily tasks, she lay on a floor mat in the cooking hut of a relative’s kitchen. She no longer asked about her animals or her home. For a week now she refused to take her medicine, refused food, and only sipped water on occasion. She was very alert, her face was relaxed showing no lines of labor and suffering, eyes wide, looking very intently. We again shared the hope in Christ which she had taken hold of and we prayed for her. She closed her eyes. Her family invited us to eat as is the custom when loved ones await death. Lupita’s breathing was peaceful but barely perceptible. After eating we said good bye and in the evening she quietly died.Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”   What joy is hers to be welcomed by Jesus to that place where “…there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” (Rev. 21:3-4). A pastor who was with us on Lupita’s last afternoon, told the church today, “Lupita was like Job on this earth. She had a revelation from God and now, in heaven, she is getting all the answers. Jesus spoke of Lazarus, the man who had been so poor and sick in this world. “Now Lazarus has his consolation.” Lupita has hers now,  too.We live and breathe and work with the rock solid living assurance that Jesus’ words are true, that He lived, died and rose again so that “where He is we may be also.”We Luptia Smiling in Doorwayappreciate you all.  Thank you for praying for us and for the people we are privileged to minister to – like dear, unforgettable Lupita.Love in the Lord fromEd, Denise and Familyps. We want to also share with you that Marcos has recovered amazingly well from his motorcycle accident. He missed two months of school but was able to go to work in the wheat harvest this summer in Kansas.  Yes, we are thankful.  He seems completely recovered and we have kept up with the man who hit him — who regularly calls to check on Mark.  This accident shook everyone up but none more than this man who never thought that in an instant his life would change because of nearly killing another human being. He has opened his heart to our family, especially to Ed.  We are very grateful for all your prayers and thankful that even months later, you are still asking how Mark is.
April 2011
Former Penitentiary of Puebla, MexicoFormer Penitentiary of Puebla, México
   

Over the years we have seen many a mangled bicycle lying on the ground with a sheet covering the rider.  We have seen crowds gather around a toppled donkey cart with a child or grandfather lying near having been hit by a vehicle.  Yet, what we had never conceived would have been that our son would be lying in an oncoming traffic lane after being hit by a car at full speed.  There was no white sheet.

*******

In Mexico, there is a unique legal requirement.  It is called “The Pardon.”

When there is an accident involving injury to a person,  the designated guilty party is taken to prison and held until he is absolved of his offense.  This law, in effect, condemns one as guilty until proven innocent.  The only way the guilty person is freed is if the offended party authorizes an official pardon.

By now it had been 3 hours since the accident.   Alfredo’s* face was drawn, anxious and fearful as I entered the station. I extended my hand to him saying,  “Thank you for not running from the scene of the accident.

“I would never do that,” he replied.

“No,” I said, “but many do.”

He quickly assured me that his insurance would cover everything.  I was greatly relieved.

The “sword” of a prison stay had been held silently over Alfredo’s head all those hours. That “sentence” of the law had been eating away at him.  The police chief and other officers led me into a small room presenting me  with the document of pardon.  Without hesitation, I signed the release.  I looked over to Alfredo and smiled;  I saw his shoulders relax and he sighed in relief.  Gone was his fear and overwhelming guilt.  Choked up, he repeated “Gracias, Gracias.”
Signing
“Señor Alfredo,” I said as I stood and faced him. “What I have done for you tonight is very little compared to the need we all have when we stand before God, the righteous judge.  There will be no way we can free ourselves – not by bail and not by influential friends.    Our debt to God is enormous.”  His eyes welled up with tears.

“Do you know where you will go if you die tonight?”   Alfredo was taken aback with fearful surprise,  “I don’t know.  I really don’t know!”  I told him that there was only One who could free him of his debt, only One who could put his signature on that document of pardon.
“It’s just that simple.  Just as I signed to give you liberty, in the same way God sent His only Son to offer you freedom.  Jesus signed “The Pardon” at a huge cost – not with money but with His own blood. When He died in our place, He bore the punishment we deserve.  If you would trust in Him, Alfredo, trust in Jesus as your Redeemer, Savior and Lord – not only freedom but eternal life will be yours.”

Alfredo was free to go.  There were no longer any charges against him.   Yet, he didn’t walk away. He followed me outside to see my wrecked motorcycle saying that he needed to tell me something.  “God is speaking to me,” he revealed. “Just as you have been so noble and kind in forgiving me, I have to forgive. I need to forgive my wife for wrong she has done to me. I have been very harsh toward her. Because of that we are now separated.”

*******

It was wrenching to see a diagram of the accident and know that the little stick figure lying in the on-coming traffic lane represented my son.  As I looked at the compromised helmet and the sturdy metal saddle bag crushed, I marveled at how Mark’s leg was protected from amputation and his life was spared.  I looked at the mangled motorcycle jacket with protective armor and thought of the “full armor” of  God which protects us spiritually and physically.  Marcos had not one broken bone despite having been struck by a speeding car that never saw him and never braked. The impact sent him flying into the windshield and bouncing twenty feet to the pavement.  The neurosurgeon, after seeing the MRIs marveled and told Mark, “These results show you are on the opposite side of the spectrum of almost everyone that comes into my office.”  The doctor fixed his eyes on Mark and declared, “Marcos, you are alive now because you have a purpose and a mission.  Fulfill it.”

God is merciful and good. Mark’s recovery will be slow but sure.  We ask for your prayers for him and his future and prayers for Alfredo.  God is not finished with his story yet either.  He is coming to our home this Sunday afternoon to visit.

Finally, would you ask God to give you the grace to give “The Pardon” to anyone in your life, whether they are waiting for it or not?  Don’t let a sword hang over that person’s head a minute longer.

“Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful” Luke 6:36

We love you all,
Ed, Denise and Family

*name change

February 2011

“Are you Emilia Cuaquetzale Ixmatlahua?”  The elderly woman nodded in affirmation, “I am”.  The certificate was then read out loud and the applause resounded.  When that chilly afternoon approached, 75 year old Emilia had no idea that a monumental and very personal moment also came with it.

We entered into the dark cabin dimly lit by a bare light bulb hanging from the rafters at the end of a thin, dusty, bare wire.  Inside we saw an elderly woman lying on a bed of planks, under numerous thin, tattered, and faded blankets. Cold mist from the late mountain afternoon seeped through the cracks in the boards of the cabin walls. This chill proved too much for Emilia’s sensitive and weary bones.  From head to toe she lay covered and unmoving.

Her daughter lowered the edges of the blankets so that the eyes that had been in the dark could adjust to the light. Her head slowly turned to view those who had arrived.  This chilly afternoon was about to become very warm and memorable for her – and just as memorable for us.

For the last year, this woman,  Emilia Cuaquetzale Ixmatlahua , had jumped major hurdles – not with her legs, but with her mind and heart.  After living 7 decades, a lifelong desire came true.   Over the last 52 weeks she had faithfully and painstakingly learned how to match sounds with their symbols on paper.  Alejandra and Magdalena, two of our faithful Nahuatl co-workers, labored 5 days a week, every week, to reach Emilia in her home to teach her in a private  and unrushed manner.  Many other women in these villages also began learning. The majority were elderly, but others, who for health reasons, or poverty, had simply never attended primary school. All of these women were advancing, improving and, yes, learning at long last, to read.

We had come to give a certificate of recognition for their year of studies.  It was given, formerly and individually, in each home to each woman.   Home was where the “classroom” was.  Indeed if Alejandra and Magdalena had not gone personally to each home, the chances of each woman going out into the community to have their dream come true never would have happened — at least not in this village area where adult education is unknown.

“Are you Victorina Citlahua Ixmatlahua?”  “Are you Macaria Tehuintle Tlaxcala?”  “Are you…?” Each woman received the certificate with a shy yet beaming smile.  Each woman said proudly and with a sweet confidence,  “I am.”

I thought of the Scriptures where God gives His name as “I AM.” He who is infinite in all his attributes, all sufficient in and of Himself created these woman after His own image to know his glory and love and salvation in Christ for all eternity. How we rejoice that these woman have not only learned to read but are coming to know their true identity in Christ.

This was a first in a lifetime experience for them, which served as a huge “‘at a girl” encouragement.  After the certificate was accepted, a rousing applause broke forth and, again, we saw those beaming smiles.

Emilia spoke in Nahuatl to her daughter and said, “Help me sit up.”  It took 3 people to raise her up on the hard, plank bed.  She sat as upright as she could while yet another tattered blanket was wrapped around her now exposed lower legs and bare feet.

She looked at us and announced, “I’d like to read for you.”

Slowly and haltingly she began to pronounce the letters and then small words.  It really was an experience to be in that small, dark room and see such a bright accomplishment!   She finished and a look of victory crossed over her face, as if she had run a race and crossed the finish line.  Of course, we responded with enthusiastic clapping!   You did it Emilia Cuaquetzale Ixmatlahua!

There are hardly words to express the surge of self confidence we witnessed in Emilia and each of the women.   Most evident was the pride and dignity that came from her hard work and progress. The teachers, Alejandra and Magdalena, needed this boost as well, and were proud to sit next to their elderly pupils and guide them along.

A friend recently wrote me:  “It seems everywhere you turn there is pain.”  We think  much of that pain is simply due to the lack of one thing – the lack of encouragement —no one to stand along side you, no “at a girl” and no “‘at a boy,” no clapping, no cheering, no one willing to help you to continue on.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  At the end of each visit we gathered and gave the greatest encouragement of all – personal prayer  – not only for each woman but for their teachers – Alejandra and Magdalena.  For these young women the truth of this encouragement from Scripture rings clear:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9                                                                                                             

They didn’t give up.  We aren’t giving up.  Despite setbacks and sadness, none of us will ever give up.  God is too marvelous to let us down and we praise His and your coming alongside us to honor Him in all things in these remote areas where He sees and encourages us every single day.

Your friends in Mexico,

Ed and Denise

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

December 2010

We started the day light of heart.  Denise and I had plenty of time for the 7-hour drive to Villahermosa, to lunch with a pastor and his wife, enjoy an afternoon siesta and prepare for Denise’s evening meeting.  Half way there, our drive turned into a nightmare as the sugar cane cutters went on strike and blocked the main roads. We picked our way through many small towns, countless speed bumps, while sharing the roads with thousands making pilgrimage to the shrine of a patron saint.  The hours passed. We did not make it for lunch, or Denise’s speaking  engagement, or our little afternoon siesta.

At the next day’s women’s conference,  Denise spoke for three sessions on the Biblical ways women can love their families and communities.  The talks were well received by a thousand women from all walks of life.  I spoke in another location to a group of men in the morning and a group of pastors in the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon saw Denise heading back home while I continued the trip further south to the town of Hidalgo, Chiapas, where my mother first lived as a single missionary in 1940. It is there that she began to learn the Ch’ol language and did a rough draft of the New Testament. Two months ago, severe flooding from the local river went through town at night sweeping away many kitchens and this year’s harvest of corn.

As I drove, a verse from the Scripture came to my mind, “Don’t forget your father’s friends.” (Proverbs 27:10)  These are the people that took my mother in when she first came. They gave her a home and protected her.  Long before there were stores they brought her gifts of eggs, beans, chayotes (prickly squash) and tortillas.

Now we are approaching Christmas and I am reminded that the word Bethlehem means “house of bread”. This town of Hidalgo literally became a Bethlehem for my mom.  Jesus generously came to give of himself and be living bread for all those who would believe. The Ch’ol people of Hidalgo were the first among their people to believe. They received the Gospel like the Bereans in the book of Acts, “with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” They became a church, over the years, where multitudes have come hungry and have not been disappointed. Rather than selfishly keeping the Gospel to themselves, barefoot lay evangelists took the “living bread” to literally hundreds of other villages at great personal sacrifice. One of my fondest memories growing up was the annual pastor’s conference in Hidalgo. Long before dawn the woman were making fresh tortillas. Families from all over the village came with their gifts of chicken. The deacons killed the chickens and plucked the feathers. To this day there is no inscription fee for the pastors in the weeklong conference. The host church always provides the food. There are no hotel bills as the pastors always bring their hammocks or sleep on a mat on the floor.

When a friend of mine heard of the flooding he loaned me his 4-ton truck. Through your gifts we bought corn in a near city and brought it to Hidalgo. What a joy to unload the truck with so many eager and thankful hands. The church will distribute the corn to those they know are in most need.

As I went to the truck to leave, many came running from their homes with gifts of eggs, beans, and chayotes. One woman brought me a gourd full of piping hot tortillas.   These had been made for her own family. It could have been 1940 all over again. 

The Scripture says,  “In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints- and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”

The Gospel has been true to the promise of the angel to the shepherds years ago in Palestine.  That night the Bread of Life came.  “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  We pray the fullness of Christ Jesus will be yours.

God bless each of you this Christmas and New Year,
Ed, Denise and Family

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

September 12, 2010

Dear Praying Family,

When Ed left Villahermosa, Tabasco he had already driven through miles and miles of inundated land.   The floods in southern and northern Mexico have been intense.  It makes for a lot of heads-up driving on dangerous and often caved in, pot-hole filled or landslid roads.

He was driving along the highway going to  Chiapas when a car suddenly passes him and radically and severely cut him off.  Ed avoided a collision but this erratic vehicle immediately proceeded to plow into a little 150cc motor-scooter that was traveling in the same lane as Ed, right in front of him.  It was horrific.

The scooter and its driver, without a helmet, were hurled and then smashed into the pavement.  Ed quickly pulled over and ran full speed to the young man.  This 18 year old’s  head was smashed, his body was writhing, blood was shooting out like a geyser from his leg, which had been completely severed.

Ed took off his belt and tried to stem the geyser with pressure by wrapping it around the area.  He
drew his face near the young man’s and spoke to him.  The young man was still conscious, could still talk but was loosing ground quickly.  Ed told me choked up, “Denise, he didn’t even realize his leg was gone.” Then Ed saw blood coming out of the youth’s ear.

He told this young man that there was not much time and that he was going to die.  The time that he had left was to prepare.  He told him about the Cross, about forgiveness of Christ, about life that was eternal and a waiting Savior if he would but call on his name.  The young man listened, then started to go into shock.  Ed kept holding him.

Ed found a cell phone the young man hard and began to call numbers to locate his parents.  I don’t know if they made it to his side.  Ed was there over an hour and it took that long for an ambulance to arrive.  As the sober attendants lifted him, there was no hope that this young man would make it.  They drove away and Ed, sadly, continued for Chulum Cardenas with the night coming.

Before leaving our home, the Ch’ols had told Ed not to go by a route he always takes but informed him of a new road that cut through an area in Ch’ol country that had never had roads before.  As Ed drove the scenery was spectacular and an awe came over him with the awareness that this was the first time these Ch’ols had had any access to roads in hundreds of years.   He had to search for the right section of road as there were different dirt road tributaries off of it.   Night was already on him and he knew he wouldn’t make it to his Chulum Cardenas destination.

So finally he stopped in a small village, stepped out of the car and began to walk around, praying for a place to stay the night and be away from the rain.   There was a man walking down the road who came up to him and said,  “I know you!  You came to this village years ago.”   And sure enough Ed realized he had – but by mule.  “Will you come to my house and eat?”   At that moment, Ed knew God had provided a place for him food and shelter as well.  That night he didn’t sleep in a tree :)….but hung his ever trusty and ever present hammock from the rafters and fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.

It was a prayer-filled day – as all our days should be, but frankly, some days are more prayer filled than others. I thank you for being with us in this pursuit of God and his daily will for our lives.  We want to be in the right place at the right time.   We want to pray His prayers and we pray for this young man’s grieving family.

Thank you.  God bless you,
Denise

______

May 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

A border trip was necessary partly to pick up a special delivery – 2600 books about a man we know in Montana who was in prison and was wonderfully freed both from prison and from heart and soul bondage. It is appropriately called 70 X 7 and Beyond as God has forgiven him time and time again and continues to do so.  The forklift set the books on top of my truck and let the load down until my axle was almost riding on the chassis. One more book and we would be riding on the axle! We wouldn’t want to push the limit; it’s always good to have a cushion.

Coming into Mexico there are always the customary government checkpoints by customs officials and numerous military roadblocks. When we drive south they check to see if we’re smuggling weapons for the drug wars between the cartels. When we drive north they check to see if we are carrying drugs. The check is never very serious or thorough. How could it be when about $30 billion worth of drugs is flowing to America each year? I always figure if they’re going to stop me and take my time I’m going to share with them the Gospel. My first question is somewhat abrupt so as to get their attention. I ask, “Do you know what God says in the Bible about your work?” Most of the soldiers are humble young men of indigenous origin who have signed up for the military for lack of work but have heard the Gospel in their villages and are genuinely interested. Others are hardened criminals themselves and have made a career out of being on the take. I tell them that Romans 13 says, “You are God’s servant for the good of the people.  If they do wrong, they should be afraid, because you do not bear your authority or weapons in vain. You are the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Now I have their undivided attention, as the line of cars and trucks behind us gets longer. They are obviously pleased to have such a role on behalf of God. I tell them that I’m grateful for their work because if it weren’t for them we would be living total anarchy and chaos. It’s clear that they like to be complemented and appreciated. I warn them, “Many in the federal police and military have sold their heart to the Devil for bribes and thousands are getting killed. But if you do wrong, be afraid because God will call you to account. He will call us all to account. And we won’t be able to hide anything from Him. Nothing will get by Him. The good news is that God loves every man so much that He gave His own Son to die in our place for our sin…” I share with them the Gospel and this time was glad to be able to give to each man a copy of the book 70 x7 and Beyond.

By 11 PM I was hungry and I found a great taco stand in the town where we have often stopped for fresh squeezed orange juice. The guys at the stand were all in a jolly good mood after winning a soccer game and a few beers so they were all ready to talk. They wanted to take me out in the gulf on their fishing boat the next day. I shared the gospel and 70 x 7 with them and it turns out that one of them had been in prison for 6 years in the USA. Another guys wife had just come home from the hospital after suffering second-degree burns from a pail of boiling water she took off the fire to bath with. Go figure, she’s suffering agony, his wife sends him to the pharmacy for medicine and he´s at the corner having a beer and taco with the guys. I prayed for all of them and for his wife and gave him an offering for medicine.

I dragged into Jaumave with bleary eyes just before 1 A.M. and found a hotel. The next morning I drove a couple hours and looked for a very poor family in Huizache that I picked up a year ago and took to a truck stop where he washes semi trucks and she begs for money with her children.  It was a freezing cold morning, with sleet outside. At ten in the morning they were still in bed. They live in a horrible hovel and I knew they wouldn’t have eggs or tortillas. I invited Gumaro and his wife Amparo with their two little boys to the next junction for breakfast. The little boys begged their papa, “Si, si, si.” The boys were thrilled to get in the truck and asked their Dad if they could ever get a four-wheeler. His response was that of incredulity, ¨When do you think that would ever be possible?”  I smiled and told them that God could change things around in ways they could never imagine.

First we had orange juice. We each had an order of eggs, chorizo and beans with hand made tortillas. In addition I ordered a steak for us all to share. I almost cried to see the way the little guys dove into the meat, pulled it apart and packed it away with a good dose of salsa. Again, I shared with them the Gospel but this time had a Dios Habla Hoy Bible (Good New To Man version) for them and also a 70 X 7. I told them that I could see that they were sympathetic, interested and polite in listening to me but that it was clear there was still no light, no living faith that transforms. They were still the same. I told them they could hope because now they had the living Word in their hand and as they read, faith comes by hearing God speak and grace would flow into their lives, a miracle would happen in their hearts. Would you remember Gumaro his family in prayer? There is no church in their town but this could be the beginning! We never look at a man by himself. He’s part of a family and community and God wants to make them part of His kingdom.

A few hours later, driving around the city of Queretaro, the line into the radiator for cooling the transmission broke. So I had radiator anti coolant in my transmission and transmission fluid in my radiator. I feared my trans would be ruined and weeks could turn into months waiting for parts with my truck at a strange shop in a distant town. I smiled to think of my Dad who always bowed in prayer when we were broken down on the road knowing there was no reason to be anxious, provision was already on the way. I prayed too. A highway patrol stopped and called a tow truck to tow me into the city. These police usually stop every truck going down the road and get $10 dollars just so as not to inspect the truck and find something wrong, like being overweight or worn tires. I pulled out a 70 x 7 and shared the Gospel, telling him about the joy and freedom of forgiveness that no money could ever buy. The driver of the wrecker told me about all the horrible accidents he sees, all so needless. I told him how horrible it was to meet God and not be ready and that was needless. I also shared with him the Gospel and 70 x 7.

I called a pastor I knew in the area and asked if he could recommend a shop to work on my truck. The shop had about 20 cars backed up. The mechanic told me he would stop everything in the morning and get the guys working immediately on mine. The next morning at ten, the mechanic had gone out somewhere, and his helpers were working on a row of other cars and told me they would get to mine in the afternoon sometime, “si Dios quiere” (if God wills). That usually means mañana.  I used the bathroom and found it full of pornographic calendars and booklets. I began to pray for an opportunity to talk with the mechanic. From the shop I walked a few blocks to a small restaurant and had a bowl of hot chicken soup and a hot cup of chamomile tea. I read for a couple hours and walked another block to a hotel for $20 dollars. Great bed, great shower, great rest, God is so gracious to give us Himself way beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. He shows us that all these precious souls along the way are a whole lot more important than my schedule or transmission.

I found a nearby Internet to do some deskwork and let Denise and family know why I wasn’t home yet. This is not lost time as I usually take a day to send notes out mid-week to a number of Indigenous pastors who have no commentaries. We discuss ways they may handle a passage and apply it.

The mechanic flushed the radiator and transmission, topped each with fluids and had me ready to go the next day. We drove around the city and out on the highway and amazingly the transmission worked perfectly. He saved me about $1800 dollars by not tearing the trans apart. I was glad to give him the $130 dollars he asked for. I asked the mechanic if I could take him and his wife out for supper. He agreed and I followed him home to get his wife. His wife is a true believer and they have 3 lovely children. She was thrilled! A sister and her family arrived at the moment with a cake and we all sang happy birthday. I told the kids some adventure stories of life in Chiapas and knowing God. After they went off to play and have their cake I was able to share the Gospel with both families. I gave the mechanic a 70 x 7 book for each of his workers and two boxes of 70 x 7 to his wife for the prison ministry that her church has.

I drove a couple hours that night, found a hotel for $12 where I could flop. The door had no handle, lock or latch but I was able to brace the door with a broken armchair in the room and a ladder on my truck. You want to make sure and carry a ladder when you travel.

It is always a great joy to share the Gospel and thank you for helping us in this task. May the Lord give you increase of joy and bring your whole family together for His glory.

God Bless You,

Ed

_____________________

Dear Friends,                                                                                 September 2010

Over the years my Dad followed a very strict regimen of Bible translation during the week but on Saturday he always trained a hand full of lay evangelists. They began at 8 a.m. and finished at 2 p.m. with a bowl of black beans and tortillas. Their assignment was to go re-teach in an unreached village what they had received in class. As they led people to Christ they saw the need for deeper teaching and grew themselves, always one step ahead of the pack. They became serious students of the Word and became teachers. As they taught the Word they became gifted pastors applying the Word to every day life and protecting their people from error.

Although Dad had a Masters of Divinity and a Doctorate in Missions, he often said seminaries ruined many fine men. We believe men need to be trained theologically in small doses within the context of every day life with family,  work and community, giving ample occasion for development of character through everyday application. They have to be proven in common everyday situations at home with wife and children, on the muddy trails, in the blazing sun, in distant villages in hunger and sickness, and unfortunate division with members of ones own family and neighbors who rise up in opposition. When they go to resident programs far removed from everyday life they become so removed from the needs of their people that very often their learning and teaching also becomes too far removed. Very often they learn to love the comfort of urban life and never return to their own people.

When I began on the mission field after seminary, my Dad asked me to take his Saturday class. I was dismayed to find that two of Dad’s key men (Timothys) didn’t know how to read. They would never have been accepted in any of the Bible schools or seminaries of America. I suggested that he needed to let them go and establish a model that emphasized that the servant of the Lord is “a man of the Book.” He smiled and told me I could have the 6 men that read and he would keep the two that didn’t. He explained that they had been blessed with two mighty visitations of the Holy Spirit over the years and that each time the Holy Spirit especially used older men who had been vicious, violent men, alcoholics, and abusive of their families. Their radically transformed lives, passion for Christ alone and vision for the conversion of their people was a powerful tool in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, literally bringing thousands to Christ.

On one occasion, I observed one of these older men ask his granddaughter to read him a text. After awhile he asked her to read it again, and again and again. She finally asked, “Isn’t that enough, grandpa? I’ve read it to you a lot of times.” He asked her to read it one more time and then exclaimed, “Now I have it!” It was now in his heart, it gripped his soul, the Word became dynamite that he had to tell others about  and he took that message to village after village. Proclamation is more about being a good listener and letting the Word take possession of our whole being. May we excel as those who listen to the Word and may the Spirit of the Lord take possession of our whole being. May we learn to listen like this old man who never learned to read but oh how he loved the Word of the Lord and how he loved his neighbor.

Each year we make frequent trips to various Ch’ol villages where we continue the same pattern of training a few good men. In July I went to Galilee to teach pastors for three days. As the Cho’l people have migrated into the jungle of Chiapas looking for more land they have established new villages and given them Biblical names; New Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Berea, Egypt and many more. Each month the pastors take turns going to another church which hosts them for three days, giving them lodging, black coffee and lots of chicken soup (favored above rib eye steak).  I have just left Chulum Cardenas where I first began work in the 70’s. We wondered if a church would ever get off the ground in that small village. Now they have grown to over 200 members and have established 11 other churches in the surrounding area. The churches came together for a grand harvest celebration. There were lots of sweet corn and three days of classes from morning to night.

On the home front, we are blessed.  Marcos is continuing his studies in a Mexican high school 10 minutes from our home where he dove in with both feet, participating in everything from book clubs, to volleyball team to a full regimen of courses.  Rebeca speaks at Biola University’s Chapel, on Mexico and her life here, even as we write this.  She did tremendously living in Nahuatl villages all summer – hiking, visiting, teaching, helping, and encouraging.  Erik has moved to Northern Iraq where he is teaching History and Rhetoric in a Kurdish high school where 95% of the students are Muslim.  Please pray for his living witness there.  Alexa and Getu are doing fabulously in their year-and-a half old marriage, and currently are living in Washington DC.  Our daughter Grace is in Oregon, raising our two fun and bright grandchildren.  Malachi, our grandson, was born even as the Twin Towers were being hit 9 years ago.  What a time to go into labor for our daughter! That day, remembered with great sadness by the world, is nonetheless, a day of great thankfulness by us that such a dear child of hope and reconciliation arrived into our lives.

This week Mexico celebrates 200 years of Independence – still a country free to hear and preach the Word.  And last but not least, this month of September, Denise and I celebrated 31 years of a great, growing marriage for which we thank a good and gracious Lord.

God bless each of you in your lives!  Thank you for your needed and appreciated prayers for the Aulie Family.

Gratefully,

Ed and Denise