And just like that another summer has come and gone. Our kids are back in school and we are back in a schedule. As much as I (Mandy) enjoy the summer months of school breaks and mission teams, I´m always ready to get back into a set schedule with bed times and alarm clocks. And although the summer season really never ends here in Mérida, we look forward to the lower temperatures and upcoming holiday celebrations. Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Many people look at January as a time for setting new goals and starting new beginnings, but I have always found that when the kids go back to school, that is the best time to set new goals for myself and dig deeper into the truths of the word. It is also a time to reflect back on the year and offer praise for what God has done in our lives.
As I reflect, I think about the summer and the three mission teams that we had. We have been fortunate enough to work with quite a few teams since we´ve been in Mérida, but this summer marked the first groups that we officially hosted. We had some great experiences, learned some lessons (sometimes the hard way) and tried some new formats to make our trips the most effective they can be. We had great teams, with fantastic leadership and we had one goal. We saw people come to know Christ here in Mexico and we saw personal relationships with Christ deepened with some of our team members. God is so good! But sports ministry is sometimes difficult to keep the focus on the gospel. I am VERY competitive and I often find myself more into the sport or the game than the gospel itself. But this summer I turned my focus above. And Satan worked hard on us. He´s so good at that isn´t he? The more we try to focus on God, the more obstacles he throws in our way to put us off course. He frustrates us to the point of being disappointed in ourselves, our circumstances and the people around us.
As many of you know, we homeschool our children here and it really has turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had with my children. But every moment is not perfect. Just this week, I found myself frustrated and pretty much had decided that I was incapable of teaching my kids. I wasn´t smart enough, patient enough, creative enough. So I took some time to myself and pulled out the Word of God and found myself in the Book of Exodus. And then I did something dangerous. I began to write down all the things that I am not. All the things that I am not good at. All the things that I wish I was better at. And I wrote…for a while. And then I read in Exodus 3 all the excuses that Moses gave to God when He instructed him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. To return His chosen people to the life that they had been promised. Moses was right. He wasn´t good enough. He wasn´t strong enough, brave enough. He wasn´t a good public speaker. But God´s response took everything that Moses wasn´t and turned it around. In verse 14 it says:
God replied to Moses, ¨I AM WHO I AM¨. Say this to the people of Israel: ¨I AM has sent me to you¨. NLT
I was reminded that it doesn´t matter what I am not. It only matters who GOD IS. And those moments when Satan does everything he can to frustrate us and to derail our plans, we know that we can turn to God and declare ¨I AM¨. On the mission field there are always frustrations. In our case, there are language and cultural frustrations. We can´t always communicate as well as we would like to and sometimes it is so discouraging. We miss our friends and our family. Our oldest son Brady started his junior year of college in Missouri a couple of weeks ago and the truth is that we miss him like crazy. But we trust in ¨I AM¨ to meet us where we are not.
So we ask you to join us in prayer during our ¨not so I am¨ moments. Join us in prayer over this ministry and that we will see where God is working here in Mérida and join Him there. We also ask that you pray as we are exploring new partnerships and opportunities here. We ask that you pray for Brady as he is in college away from us and no doubt missing us like crazy too!! ; ) We ask that you pray for upcoming mission teams who are planning trips to Mérida over the next year. Finally we ask that you pray for us as we pray for each of you that wherever we are in our mission fields that we will seek the ¨I AM¨ who is able through His mighty power to work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.