We started off the month of February in Florida, as we were invited to be a part of the Arise & Go mission week at Calvary Fort Lauderdale. During the day sessions were scheduled for all of the missionaries who flew back to attend. Some of these times were open to all of us sharing about our end of the world and what we've been doing the past year. Other times we had speakers come in and teach. Then during the evenings, we had various locations to speak and share from Coffee Talks to having a table after service for people to come and meet and get more info. We caught up with old friends and met new ones. As we were at the church all day, our boys had a chance to be spoiled by some good friends who took them a train ride to West Palm and did some fun things one day. I think in total they got to eat at Chick-fil-a 4 times during the 10 days we were there. One of our favorite foods that we miss. Noah & Caleb also got to spend a whole day with their grandma and Aunt who drove down from northern Florida just to see them. Overall, it was a great time to hear God stories from all around the world from fellow missionaries and to connect with new people to share our story and about the ministry that is happening here in Motul, Mexico.
We returned back to Motul and it was good to be back. The church volunteered in helping other missionary, Alex, with all of the café shifts during our absence and they had enough baked goods stocked to last the time we were away. But since Christmas break, the café has been really slow. We haven't had many come and this is the longest period of time this has ever happened. Sometimes we will have maybe 2 weeks in a row that are slow, but it has been over two months. The café is such a tool to meet new people and build relationships to then share the love of Jesus with. Also, it helps financially to pay some of the church bills. Please pray that customers return and new families come so we can continue to reach out to the community and also meet the financial needs of the church.
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The children's ministry volunteer teacher team is really growing. Natalie only teaches once a month now as we have the other 3 volunteer moms teach during the other weeks. This past Sunday though, Natalie needed to fill in because the mom who was scheduled to teach needed to stay home with her daughter who had the chickenpox. So, Natalie continued to teach the story of Noah and the ark. She was sharing how Noah was different than the rest of the people during that time and chose to please God. She asked the kids how many of them would call themselves Christians. Most of them raised their hands. Then she asked each one how they know they are a Christian all of them responded with the answer, "Because I come to church here." Salvation for children is not taught here, almost like it is unheard of. Natalie explained in the simplest of terms what it meant to be a Christian and how they need to choose themselves to follow Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him. Four kids decided that Sunday to become a Christian ON THEIR OWN.
These were kids of families that have been coming to the church for a while and it seems that they are here to stay. What a day it was to celebrate. Natalie walked out into the main service to catch Len closing the main service with the time of announcements. With tears in her eyes, she was then able to announce by name to the congregation, to their parents, that these four kids decided to follow Jesus today. We all were rejoicing. What a glorious day.
We also announced that day that starting in March, for 10-year olds and up, they will have the opportunity to join their parents in the main service for the time of worship and then leave to go back to Sunday school to join the rest after. They can also choose to serve in the nursery/toddler class on Sundays to help out once a month. Noah was so happy to hear of the chance to help with the babies as he is pretty good with them; but he was bummed because he still has to wait 2½ more months until his birthday for when he will turn 10.
As some of the families in the church are doing great and we have seen them grow so much, there are still others that are struggling and many have had such difficult times that we are walking through with them. Please pray for our church body, because for many, it's not easy to call oneself a Christian as they get ridiculed from co-workers and family members. On the top 50 persecuted countries of the world, Mexico is number 39.