Summer heat comes early here in Merida. The hottest months of the year are April and May. In June the rainy season starts to come and cools things off a bit, just a bit. Looking at our electricity bill from last June and comparing it to now, we have learned quite a bit to adjust and cut back on using the air conditioning. We all look forward to night when we get to enjoy sleeping in a cool room. We even starting letting Dakota, our most hyper dog, sleep in the room with us.
One day Natalie and the boys were sitting in their living room and looked out their front window and saw a horse on their sidewalk. They all walked outside to check it out and saw that there were two guys selling dirt on the carriage cart that the horse was pulling. It was around 105 degrees and it looked like they might be parked here for a couple minutes since they were selling some dirt to our neighbor, so we went and got a large mixing bowl and filled it with water for the horse. The boys got to give it about 6 bowls of water – it was so thirsty in this hot weather. Then the guys asked if they could use our hose to rinse down the horse to cool it off. As they were doing that, Noah ran in the house to get two juice boxes and 2 tracts. He gave it to them and they seemed grateful. As we came inside, Noah said something like, “That’s what Christians do.”
This past month Caleb really surprised us. Although he enjoys going to school, when it comes to class participation, he can become very unsocial. He still doesn’t understand a lot in class, but his teachers have been great with him. But one day this past month he came home with a “Student-of-the-Week” award. We couldn’t have been prouder. His teachers have said that they’ve seen an improvement in his participation and attitude we just keep praying he continues to grow and learn. Noah was in a performance with his elementary classes in a theater in downtown Merida. He sang with all of the other students in Spanish about five songs. His current football season has also ended. He has grown so much in becoming such a great player as a little quarterback. Noah also celebrated his 7th birthday. He invited 4 of his friends (and their families) and we had a good ole’ American dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs with potato salad and baked beans. He had a lot of fun playing the party games, eating cake, and just having everyone over.
For Mother’s Day, we had bought tickets to go see a bullfight in Panaba, a city about 2 hours away. There is a Calvary Chapel there so we were able to stay the night before and attend the service in the morning. It’s always such a blessing to be able to visit these mission churches. At night that weekend, because of the bull fight scheduled there, the city had a fair set up in the center square. After Len and Caleb went to sleep in the hotel room, Natalie and Noah went exploring. There was a spinning ride that they decided to go on. It was fast, it was high, and it was long. Noah guessed it was about an hour long. After they rode it, Natalie timed the next time the ride went and it was 8 minutes long!!! You had to hold on the whole time or you could fall out so when Noah asked his mom if they could do it again, she simply said no, not for another 8 minutes. They got their money’s worth though. So, the bull fight. Natalie wasn’t aware that it was the kind of fight in which the bull dies with three different fights with 3 different bulls. It was one of those cultural things you experienced, but wouldn’t want to do again. It definitely wasn’t your average Mother’s Day. We got some great photo shots and video, had to move quickly back out of our seats one time because the bull jumped the fence, but in the end, it was sad to see the bull die for the sake of entertainment. Afterward, the bull is sold to the public for meat.
There are about 5 different girls who I am currently discipling that all have such different situations. As I am going through the book “Bruchko" for the 4th or 5th time now, I am reminded that there is no hurry for results. It is important for me to take my time, observe, learn, build friendships, gain trust and when God opens the door for me to share what He has put on my heart – I will be ready. I have been here a year now and only now am seeing some opportunities open up to minister with the friendships that I have made.
On May 24, Calvary Chapel Centro had their first church service. The English service started at 9am and the Spanish one at 11am. Natalie’s role currently is overseeing the worship and investing into the two girls that are leading. She will be playing in the band when she can be a part. For the first two weeks, she played the box drum. Len is working with the pastor’s oldest son in learning how to run the sound for the service. In the future, Len will have opportunities to teach some of the main services.
Just this past week of May we hosted a mission team from Melbourne, Florida. Their trip‘s main purpose was to do work projects. The five of them were skilled and very hard workers – it was a joy to have them. In Panaba, they were able to paint both of the two buildings on the church property and build a wood deck walkway so you can walk from children’s ministry to the sanctuary. For the last couple nights of their stay, we were privileged to host 2 of them in our home while they were in Merida. We had the church 5K race on Saturday. Noah decided he wanted to run and so Natalie ran with him. What we didn't expect was for him to run the whole thing! He only took one "break" and changed to walking for a minute and a half when we hit the 3K mark, but the rest of the time he was keeping up! We were so proud of him. His time was 30min 30 sec. And then afterward we had the team over for homemade waffles. They were such a blessing this week to us personally and to the ministry here.
Our visa situation is still not resolved. There are more hoops we have to jump through and more money to pay. We are hoping that as we leave tomorrow to go on our Idaho trip that we will not be penalized at the airport with fees. We are praying that a paper saying that our visas are being processed will be enough for them to let us go. Please keep this in your prayers. We are so excited about our trip: being able to attend the missions’ conference, fellowshipping with missionary friends, having time off and being refreshed.