WOOOhooo! We’re rich! (Follow up on our financial need)

Well, maybe not quite!  But seriously…

We just wanted everyone to know that your response to our last post was very good. Several of you responded by coming on board and supporting us monthly, and we know that many others of you were praying.Our familyWe are excited about our new team of supporters – both about those of you who have just come on and about the faithful people who have supported us through the fifteen years we have been on the mission field.

We managed to meet our monthly goal and just a little more, which as you might imagine was great for us, since we were a bit under-funded for everything that we were trying to do!

To be sure, we are glad to have a little more breathing room in terms of our personal finances.  And as we’ve said before we are going to try to save proportionately to the income we receive, since we do not want to be irresponsible about the future for both their sake and yours.

Beyond those needs the funding we have received will go to the ministry to our ever-hungry youth group.  This group includes junior high through college-aged youth, many of whom are hungrier than usual as they try to break their addictions and stay off drugs for any length of time.

Below are specifics on some of the things that we are doing with the youth, but even more importantly we would just like to say thank you because you have enabled us to keep serving the people of the Laguna.

Truly, we are blessed at how God has provided for us, and have renewed inspiration to share Him…

…Thank you.

Prayer requests:

  • Please praise God for the way He is sustaining us, and pray that we would continue to trust Him to provide for all of our needs. We know that the youth group has the potential to grow a lot right now.  And though we keep trying to tell our own children to stop growing, they don’t listen much either…!
    Youth playing in pool
  • These youth love to play…! Pictured here are some of our youth during a pool-party event which we did for them last summer.   We have actually just purchased an above-ground swimming pool for them, which we will set up on a property outside the neighborhood, deliberately out of reach of all of the immediate temptations which surround them. Please pray that God would guide the use of the swimming pool and that this new part of our ministry would be everything that God wants it to be.
  • Also as many of you might know we have a school bus stuck at the border which was donated to the ministry, but which we may have to pay stiff border taxes on to actually bring across.  We are currently waiting to see if we can process the importation of the bus through some non-profit agency in Mexico, which would allow us to avoid these taxes, but would like to ask you to pray for this situation, as we are not having much luck!
  • Also please pray for the supporter who had to stop supporting us, because he’s a dear friend. God is taking care of us, but our friend is going through a very tough time.  Please pray that God would sustain him and bless him!
  • Most importantly, please pray for our one-on-one interactions with youth, and that we would be an absolute reflection of God’s love to them, and that God would continue to confirm that it is His will for us to be in Mexico and reaching out to them.

Significant loss of financial support (Yes, we’re asking for money…! ;)

We don’t often write about our finances, but we have a special need and wanted to share it with you.  We just found out that one of our main supporters  is suddenly unable to continue.  This was totally unexpected and due to circumstances beyond his control, but he had been supporting us very generously – at $500 a month.

Since our total regular support was only a little more than $3000 a month, we really can’t continue without those funds.

On occasions when we address the issue of finances, I always try to present a report of our budget and our spending.  We do keep track of things very closely, so if anybody would like to see a detailed report, I would be glad to make it available, but for time’s sake here I will just try to give you a brief summary of how our finances work.

Family photoWith our regular support we are able to cover all of our personal needs and significant ministry expenses.  This includes family expenses such as homeschooling, traveling funds and healthcare, as well as ministry needs such as grocery and medical funds for the needy.  Also reflected here are all of the expenses of outreach activities and feeding programs for children and youth. And of course we are working hard to save, since we are determined not to be too much of a burden on our children in the future.

Anyway, we would like to ask for at least 6 new families to support us at $80 a month, or maybe ten families to support us at $50 a month.  Any extra funding would be awesome and a welcome donation to our youth ministry.  To be honest it is getting tougher by the day to feed this flock of hungry teenagers!

So in short, we are confident that He who began this good work will carry it on to completion.  We simply want to share our need and ask you to consider being a part of what we do.  God is making a real difference in the neighborhood where we’re working, and we believe He has only just begun.

For those of you who are already so generously supporting us, please disregard this.

If anybody has any questions, please feel free to contact me, or reply to this email.

Love and blessings to all of you!
Larry

P.S. Donations can be made through Paypal, or sent to:

Laguna On Fire Ministries
3101 Harmony Ln
Mission, TX 78574

P.P.S. Please pray for our supporter. He really needs God’s grace to sustain him through this time.

One of the ladies from church praying for a gang member.
What God is doing – Gang youth are coming to God, and our little church is learning to love them.

A Holiday story – Merry LATE Christmas from us (and Happy Valentines :) !

Christmas…?!
At Valentine’s…?!

Karina with the Christmas tree
Karina

Are we still talking about Christmas…?!

Well, yes! …As a matter of fact we are only just now receiving the cards that some of you sent from the States, so we thought we’d send you something in return…!

We were determined to stay in Mexico even through the holidays after our last long trip to Texas.  And of course there are a lot of things that have been happening  here… all of which we will have to write about in a newsletter to come.

…But for now here is a very belated Christmas story which we think is worth telling, but which we have only just now had time to share.

…We hope that the joy of Christmas continues to flow in you even at Valentines… 

Enjoy.

…How was your Christmas? …A few Belated Thoughts

“You do realize we are not going to make this?”

“Uh… Yep,” I replied.

… It was Christmas Eve. Our friend who’d been expecting us for her get-together had called about a million times already… but for some reason our ten-month-old Jonathan had not gone to sleep and was unusually cranky, preventing us from doing anything to actually get ourselves dressed and out the door.

Jonathan in front of Christmas tree
Jonathan decorating the Christmas tree days earlier!

By the time we looked at the clock it was already quite late. Getting on past midnight, in fact.  And though the Mexican parties did often tend to go until four in the morning on the night of the twenty-fourth, we knew it didn’t make much sense to take a 10-month-old at this point.

…Though unfortunately neither one of the kids was tired.

As things had turned out, we had found ourselves sort of aimlessly climbing into the van anyway.  We knew all the while that we weren’t going anywhere, but we were not sure quite what else to do. By this time of night the van was warmer than the house.

Now fine but still not close to sleep, Jonathan was pulled up on the steering wheel making all sorts of happy noises as he watched the neighbors set small fireworks off in the middle of the block. Even more daunting was the fact that our three-year old Karina was becoming increasingly hyperactive in the back seat, far too excited to be able to go to bed any time soon.

Suddenly, I had an idea.

“Larry…” I ventured quietly. “Why don’t you bring the nativity scene?”

“You mean… Out here…?” He was obviously a bit thrown off.

“Yeah, well… We’re all here now.” I chuckled. “You know… it’s family time!”

A little resigned, Larry ventured back into the house and emerged with the box of wooden nativity figures that had not gotten quite set up under the Christmas tree. Taking Jonathan in the crook of one arm and Karina in the other, he proceeded to tell a simple yet incredibly poignant version of the birth story of Jesus, somehow manipulating the small wooden figures around the steering wheel with barely a hand to hold them while the two children looked on in his lap, fascinated by the scene.

I myself had fallen asleep during some part of the story, and the next thing I knew was that Larry was gingerly waking me to watch Karina for a moment while he put the baby down inside. I watched her as she continued to play and play with the nativity scene, while still hanging by one arm on the ever-present steering wheel.

Christmas star“Mommy!’ she said suddenly, and in a voice much too loud for that time of night. “Let’s play for real…! We can pretend that this is the baby Jesus.” She held up a package of wet wipes. “I can be Mary… and you can be Joseph!”

“O.K…” I was agreeable enough, knowing it would at least allow Larry to get Jonathan settled inside and take a 15-minute nap himself before we started the two-person job of getting an over-tired Karina into bed the night before Christmas.

“Oh man…!” she began, and quickly cradled the package of wet wipes in the crook of her arm to her three-year-old body. “He wants to nurse again…!

Laughing and wondering if I really sounded like that every time I had to nurse Jonathan, I replied, “Yeah. …It’s what babies do!”

Suddenly I was struck by the thought of a truly newborn Jesus, in contrast to the perfect little smiling figures I had seen in so many nativity scenes. Certainly, so many images of the Christ child were a far cry from a baby only hours old who can just barely grope for sustenance from his mother’s breast.

But before I could really direct my thoughts, I heard a sudden gasp at my side, “Ew! …He’s poopy…!”

A little taken aback, and wondering if this were blasphemy, I quickly responded, “Well, gosh, Mary, you’d better change him before he gets a rash from all those icky, nasty swaddling clothes!! …Don’t worry, I’ll hold back the cows while you clean him up.”

…And by this time I could not hold back my thoughts… And still can’t, about how this all must have really happened… Because it was real, and true…

And so was Jesus.

Karina gazing at the Christmas tree …Thoughts about how a fifteen-year-old Mary, under the threat of being stoned to death for adultery, said yes to being impregnated by the Holy Spirit.  How many times did she have to stop to go to the bathroom on the side of the dusty trail as she rode on the back of a donkey over the 65 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem? How often did she have to stop to eat?

…And how did Joseph, a presumably innocent guy in the reserved Jewish culture at the time who most certainly knew nothing about the birthing process, suddenly become a midwife in the middle of the scene, to a girl that he didn’t even really know well? …Or did somebody go get the stable guy’s wife in to help?

… And who cleaned up afterwards, in a stable full of hay and afterbirth?

“But Mary,” I said, suddenly reverting back to our play world. I found my tone matter-of-fact with Karina. “I have to ask you something.”

Still in her world, she looked up. “Yes, Joseph,” she responded.

“…Doesn’t it make you sad that Jesus will have to die on the cross?”

And of course I knew that Joseph and Mary couldn’t have known everything at the time… But now Karina was the one who had stopped. “Yes.” Her response was completely serious. “Yes, yes it does make me sad…”

Then she paused. “But there is nothing we can do to stop him, Joseph…” she said. There was conviction in her voice. “Because he wants it that way… He wanted to die for our sins.”

Immediately tears hit the backs of my eyes.

Wow.    … What a Christmas story.

…And truly… What kind of a God would expose Himself to the helplessness of being a newborn  — to diaper rashes, and a cross… just to be close to me?

Certainly, a totally strange, crazy God.  A God with a plan.  Desperate to be close to me — And to somehow strangely forgive my sins.

But Karina was right… It was what He wanted.

…And praise the Lord.

Nothing could stop him.

cross with crown of thorns