Read an update on my (Andy's) health, click on the newsletter link below.
This past week has been a bit difficult for me. Back in April, we sent out a prayer letter with a request for healing for a dear brother and pastor in Autlan who had inoperable lung cancer. Over the past few months, Luis was waiting to die. He had pain in the right side of his chest where the cancer, but was controlling the pain with morphine. I spent at least couple of months I visited him weekly, just sitting with him and talking for over hour each time. The last time I visited him in his home, he said he had tremendous pain through out the night and finally went to sleep at 6 AM. Towards the end of our time together it was clear, he was exhausted, falling asleep in the middle of sentences. I prayed again for healing but for God's will to be done. I came home and told Jessie, it wouldn't be long. Sadly, I was right. Last week, they admitted Luis into a local hospital to make sure he was comfortable. With this type of cancer, he had little use of one of his lungs and partial use of the other. It was hard for him to breath. On Thursday last week, I went to visit him there at the hospital. He was awake but weak. I was able to pray with him and his family. I said I would be back the next day to offer any help I could. Friday morning, when I arrived, they had sedated him due to boughs of coughing fits. I sat and talked with his wife, just hoping to pass some of the time during these final moments. His breathing was labored while he was sleeping. I prayed again with his wife and one of his sons. I left late morning. By 3 PM he was gone. As a family we were celebrating Thanksgiving, but had to change our plans to attend the funeral. Friday evening the funeral started at 9 PM. Some of the extended family are Christians but about half are Catholics. But being that Luis's wife Soyla was able to decided before hand what she wanted for the service, there were three different services for the funeral. The first started at 9 PM on Friday evening. The second at 11 AM on Saturday. Then one final one at 4 PM, then everyone travel to the cemetery for his burial. At each service the gospel was preached. I was asked to pray at the end of the first service. I shared Philippians 1:21 " For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Luis had gained eternity with Jesus. Before sharing this, I counted 12 pastors from Autlan and surrounding areas. He was a brother in Christ. I will miss him dearly. But as believers, we do not mourn the same as unbelievers. Our hope is in Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is our treasure. We continue to pray for Luis's family members, those who are saved and those who are not that they would come to salvation. Please pray with us.
One the very necessary things in life is your wallet. You don't fully grasp as how important it is until you don't have it. Not only bank cards but a Minnesota licence is hard to get replaced when you live over 2000 miles away. I drove on my scooter from a local restaurant where I had lunch with a gentleman of the church. I checked my wallet to see if I had change just before taking off back home. Upon arriving home, I reached to my back pocket to where it is suppose to go and it was not there. For men, it is a normal thing to have. Everyday you start your day after getting dressed by making sure you have your keys, watch and wallet on you, so you can get to work. To find one of these items not there, your stomach sinks. Then your mind races to think about when you last remember having it. I drove all the way back to the restaurant with no luck. It was gone! Now to call the bank to get cancel the cards that were there and have new ones sent all the way to Mexico. This is not an easy task when you are dealing with a phone service that is not the most reliable as we have come to find out on long distance phone calls. So after 4 hours of being on the phone, I am now done with making all the necessary phone calls. Hopefully, the cards won't be "lost" in the mail. I even have a snowbird packet coming to replace my Minnesota driver's licence. It is not like I need it being in Mexico but having it as a from of ID, often comes in handy. If I present it here, often times they accept it. Actually when I asked someone about us ever getting into an accident, our US licences would be more valid, (not sure what that actually means?) Knowing the system of getting your licence here is much less work. You have to answer 10 questions. That's it. Then they check your paperwork and then they give you a driver's licence.
Needless to say, it is frustrating to have to replace all the important things you carry with you on a daily basis. I have learned my lesson on riding my scooter that is for sure. Making sure everything is secure and with no possibility of falling out, I will be more vigilant it checking. Now to prepare for youth group in an hour. Hope your day is going well.
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Have a great day.
From one of our past newsletters, we announced that a dear friend, another pastor in town named Luis Oscar Madrigal, has an inoperable cancer in one of his lungs. He is slowly dying. He is losing weight and looks much thinner. I have made a point of visiting him at least once a week. Just sitting with him and talking about different things. Yesterday when I visited, he shared about his oldest son Luis. I have heard bits and pieces over the years. In a nut shell, when his son got to the age he could rebel, he became rebellious in every way. In many different ways but one for example, when Luis (the son) starting looking for a girlfriend, he started dating a Jehovah Witness, then a drug addict and so on, you get the idea. Luis (the father) still has hope that his son will submit his life Jesus. He knows the truth yet to leave behind the sin that so easily entangles us is a hard but worth while battle. I am encouraged by our time together. He told me the same after I prayed for him and his family. I continue to pray for his healing and for strength for his wife Soyla and daughter Lucia.
Just a taste of what life is like: I had a neighbor yesterday ask me if we were able to sleep over the weekend with an event that had a live band playing so the whole neighborhood could listen to their music. It was actually comical because I do remember hearing the music but it nothing like what we used to endure being right behind the main bull ring in town. I didn't think anything unusual about hearing the music. I did mentioned it to Jessie that there was a concert going on and it was not the traditional banda music that is played in these parts. (Banda is Mexico's version of country music often sounding like polka music). When we sleep at night we sleep with the fan in the wind trying to blow cooler air into our bedroom. When the temperature drops 5 to 10 degrees cooler at night, it makes all the difference. So my neighbor laughed at me as I asked "What event? We slept fine."
Some other neighbors of ours have between 30-50 roosters. They raise them for cock fighting. They still allow it here in Mexico. They raise them until carnival comes in the spring in March or April. While I write this now there are 20 different roosters crowing. After a while you get used to these noises. When we first moved here last year at this time, they were so loud. Now they are just part of the normal noise.
There are also times of the day when the guys who own the roosters come in and make sure they have food and water. They usually have their car playing loud banda music, so there are times of the day. This does bother me but I put headphone on to keep me focused on preparing for a bible study or sermon. It is weird how things become so normal you don't notice them any more. I guess it is why people who live by train tracks can live so close to them is that your brain gets used to the sounds.
Today, as I start my day in my office, I found someone from where I graduated from Bethany Global University (used to be called Bethany College of Missions) shared a video on facebook. I understand that some of you may not be on facebook. But after listening to the message that Francis Chan shared, I am encouraged. One of his main points that we need to be lovers of Jesus and lovers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I have found this to speak right into a difficult situation we are facing right now with someone saying they are leaving the church. We are scheduled to meet towards the end of this week. Basically when it comes down to the root of it, how do you love your fellow brother and sister in Christ when they have offended you? This is the question. How do you go about getting past a difficulty you have with being around that person who has offended you? If you are not able to find reconciliation then what do you do? Do you just leave? Do you follow what Jesus said in
Matthew 18: 15-17.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
So the question remains, do you break fellowship with the body of believers before you follow the steps of these few scriptures? I would contend that you need to follow what Jesus said and see what happens. What do you feel like doing? No, it's easier to leave and not deal with brother's sin and in fact deal with your sin. Pray for us as we continue to walk through this situation this week.
Here is the link for the video below.
Last year around late October, a lady walked through the doors of La Roca church. For a visitor to come to church, they are usually invited by someone. Emma Gomez was invited by a guy who had only been to the church 3 or 4 times. She had been attending another church for a few weeks but felt she needed to keep looking. When she came, we spoke to her to find out more about her. She had come to Autlan to hide from an abusive husband who she was going through the process of getting a divorce. After hearing some of the stories she shared, it was clear that this man who was her husband is in fact very dangerous and she needed to cut ties with this man. So for a time she was living with her mother. She had no money, no job, basically had come to Autlan with the clothes on her back. Over the course of the year it became more difficult for her to stay with her mother who is extremely catholic, to the point that her mom would begin to scream in rage about Emma's christian faith. So we invited her to come live with us.
If I could describe her to you, she is a warm, caring woman who is a mother to everyone in the church. She has been a christian for many years. We knew after talking with her she was going to be an asset for us in the ministry of the church. She did indeed become an asset to our ministry. She was teaching Sunday school every other week, cleaning and preparing for church or bible studies on a weekly basis and helped with the two groups that came over the summer from the U.S.. A cousin in Seattle invited her to come for a visit so with this invitation she applied for a visa. She asked us about the application process which we have no idea about the process. The only thing we could tell her was to be honest and not lie. We told her that God only blesses obedience. We prayed with her about it. If the Lord was going to move her in this direction, He would do it with the truth. They gave her a six month visa!
On Sunday we prayed for her as the body of Christ sending her out from us. We do this more often then we like to as you have seen with Josue going to bible school. This morning she left to be with her two sons who are 19 and 21 and both in college, before she flies out on Sunday. We will miss her. We know that God is directing her. We know that we may have only had a year with her, but because of Jesus we have more than just friendship, we have fellowship as brothers and sisters in Jesus. Jesus knows His sheep, and knows what they need when they need it.
John 10: 27-30
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."