Hello from Mérida, Yucatan! This is my (Tyler) first time posting. We made it through January! It is hard to believe how quickly the year is moving by, but 2018 is off to a good start for the Asbury family. We started the month finishing up Christmas celebrations. January 6th is Three Kings Day (el Dia de Reyes), which commemorates the arrival of the Wise Men. The children receive gifts and families get together to eat Rosca de Reyes, which is a sweet bread with candied fruit on top and a figurine of baby Jesus baked inside. The person who finds the figurine is expected to host a party on February 2nd to celebrate Dia de la Candelaria. On the 7th we celebrated Porter and my birthdays. Now that all of the fiestas are over its back to school and down to business.
Due to the holidays all of the government offices were closed until January 8th. This posed a bit of a problem, since we thought that we only had thirty days to get our visa process finished and that deadline was quickly approaching. That Monday morning we went to the immigration office early to get our visa finished. The good news is that we found out that we only had to have the visa process started by the 15th, the bad news is it would take the next three days to even initiate that process. The first day we arrived at immigration and hour before it opened and stood in a line that stretched down the block. When the hour came for them to open the line started move pretty rapidly, we thought “this won’t be bad”, until we got to the gate and got our number, number 86. When our number was finally called, they gave us a large stack of forms (in Spanish) and gave us directions to fill them out, register online and return tomorrow with everything. After doing this same thing for two more days we finally got to go down the long hallway through the glass door to a small white room with seven cubicles to wait yet again for our number 15 to be called. When we got to the cubical the lady there diligently typed in our information and marked paper work for what seemed like forever. Finally! She is done! Praise God we made it through this. Wait, what? We have to come back, in February? Ugh! Fortunately we are approved for our green cards we just don’t finalize them until February 21st.
Mérida is feeling more and more like home every day, despite the fact that we are small town folks. Our house is in a great location and we feel very at home here…even with the surprise critters we share it with every once in a while! We are close to the church, the Hunucmá mission, and the university where we practice basketball. Everything we need is within a stone’s throw; shopping, groceries, restaurants etc. We are learning our way around the city and how to navigate without every trip seeming as much like an adventure. I am even teaching Brady to drive a manual so that he can help us haul groups around when that time comes. We have been so busy with the mission, school, and growing relationships with the ESBA players that we really haven’t been able to take the boys to any of the interesting places in and around the city. We practice with ESBA three, sometimes four days a week and have games on Saturdays. We have been given the opportunity by Miguel, the ESBA coach, to have weekly bible studies with the team. They came to our house last Saturday for fired chicken and mashed potatoes—they wanted American food so Mandy made the best American food she could think of! Mandy knocked it out of the park with the chicken and potatoes. Some of our guests had never had this type of food; it was pretty strange when they went through the food line and had to ask what to do with the gravy! The team has been a true blessing and very instrumental in helping us with our Spanish. As far as our Spanish goes. It improves every day, we have lessons two days a week and we are beginning to learn, taking every opportunity we can to study flash cards and talk to each other in Spanish. Homeschooling the boys is going well. Mandy is smart and can teach, though we both could use a little more patience with our children.
The Mission in Hunucmá is one of our main focuses right now. We have been going there every Sunday to do Sunday school. We leave the house around eight and begin the journey around the city to pick up the church members that we work with at the mission. Mandy, the boys and I are unofficially in charge of recreation and play games with the children as they arrive. This also is doing great things for our Spanish as the children tend to speak much slower than the adults. We are able to understand them and ask lots of questions. We have been using curriculum provided by Samaritans purse and most of the children that come are ones that received gifts from that program in December. Every Sunday our group gets larger and larger.
Beto, his wife Joani (Mission Hunucmá leaders), and I have had the opportunity to have a small “Young Adults Class”. Recently a young couple has started coming and this opportunity has shown me the awesome power of God’s plan that we sometimes miss. Beto and I have had the opportunity to disciple the young man who is a brand new christian. This young man sat there on the first day and poured out his story of pain; a story of a father that never told him he loved him and how he had turned to doing things he knew were not ok. God allowed me to understand enough Spanish that day to know that this young man was seeking Jesus and a new life because he and his girlfriend are expecting a child out of wedlock. Of course he is struggling and very distressed because both of their families are angry but this young man wants something different for this child they are expecting, something more. He is seeking answers. Through these meetings, God is allowing me the opportunity to share my story. Although He has never caused me to sin, God is still using me in spite of my sin. He is using me to share the love of The Father with a this couple and help them to see that they don’t have to make further mistakes that I have made. So please pray for the Hunucmá mission and what God is doing there. We have started the planning for the building projects on the property. Plans for fences, dormitories, a kitchen and a sanctuary. Be praying that God begins to work on people’s hearts to either join us in prayer, help financially, or to help physically with construction teams to build or lead.
Finally I want to close by talking about a bible study that Mandy and I have been doing together. In this study it talks about seeing where God is at work and joining in. We have been praying for some weeks now that the Spirit will help us to see where God is at work and that we will not overlook the opportunities that God places before us. That we will not let fear or excuses be blinders of what God is doing. Throughout the bible God sought the people he used first, not the other way around. He sought them out to fulfill his plan. This is not only our prayer for our family but also for you. We can see God already starting to reveal himself through many different opportunities. We have even had the privilege of working with other mission groups who have come from various parts of the United States to work in small villages on building projects and other service projects. As most of you know this is something that I love to do, we serve an amazing God. Well that’s all for now, below I have included a list of prayer request. We ask that you help us to be prayer warriors and pray for the spirit to move here in Merida.
We are so grateful for all of you who are partnering with us. We ask that you continue to pray for us. Some of our specific prayer requests are:
· The growth and expansion, both physically and with children of the Mission in Hunucmá
· Our family as we continue to learn the Spanish language
· Our involvement with the ESBA team.
· Our house in Missouri is under contract. Please be in prayer that this closing will be smooth and quick!
· Iglesia Bautista Eben Ezer and Pastor Gilberto Us—the church that we attend and work with at Hunucmá
· We have our next appointment with immigration on February 21st—be in prayer that this is our last 😊
· Continue to pray for our financial support. We are still raising money for our monthly support.