Monday, December 28, 2009
Good afternoon and God Bless You!
Adam, Chewy, Alex and I are hard at it this week serving on the mission field of Mexicali, Mexico. We're serving on a YUGO evangelistic outreach based at our bible institute in Tamaulipas. We have made this annual trek to Mexicali for a few years now. We are joined every year by an amazing team from Cornerstone UMC in Caledonia, Michigan. We also have several other volunteer and YUGO missionary staff serving here with us. The weather here is considerably better than what we left at home. It's been around 60 degrees F during the day and dropping down to around 40 at night. That's just about as cold as we can handle without using a heater.
Everyone is so encouraging and very excited about being here. We've been faced with and dealing with all the usual obstacles we've grown accustomed to over the years. We all have a sense of the spiritual battles taking place around us. The Mexican people are hungry for something and very receptive to the gospel message. Though satan may not want us here, God has not changed. He was hard at work here before our arrival. He is with us and His spirit resides within us.
We're so thankful for and counting on your prayers getting us through...keep 'em coming our way please. We're not even bothering to ask God to give us perfect health and no obstacles this week. That's kinda silly. Please just pray for us that we will be in full surrender this week, trusting God and His plan. Also, please be in prayer for the Mexican people who our team will be ministering to this week. Some will hear and receive the Gospel for the first time. Others will be encouraged in their personal walk and ministry in their lives.
Adam and the boys are doing a great job with worship. They lead us this morning in a song I've never heard and never heard them even practice and they rocked it! God is good. Adam is concerned about his voice and allergies as it is VERY dry here and he is already getting a rasp to his voice. This morning, just before chapel he could hardly breathe. Just as he started to lead us, he immediately cleared up and stayed that way for the entire service. God is good!
I wrestled a bit with God about delivering the message He put in my heart for this morning's chapel service. I didn't want to offend or to be too direct but, God had His way. The challenge was about God's call for surrender in our lives. I reminded the team and staff that God is not "impressed with us" for taking time to serve in Mexico. He wants our surrender in all things, here and at home. He loves us and wants us but doesn't "need" us. Afterwards, several from the team and their leaders came to personally thank me for the message and how it would impact their team and their ministry today at their site.
What a blessing and a great honor! As I type this message, I realize the irony in the blessing for me from surrendering to deliver His message and challenge about the blessings of surrender...
God is still good, faithful, and has THE plan.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
It has been a while since I've sent out an email update. I hope you can forgive me for the communication hiatus! If you're not on the snail-mail mailing list for our monthly prayer letter and would like to be, just shoot me back an email and we'll get you on the list.
God is still hard at work in our lives and in His ministry through us. We're as busy as ever but, "busy" is a way of life when you have 8 kids...and 1 more on the way. Of course, we're all very excited about the new little bundle of joy coming our way. We're expecting her in mid-February. However, Susan is convinced she might try to show up before the end of January! We'll see about that! :) Here are some updates on each of the kiddos:
- Samantha & Nathan, the happy (newly) married couple have settled into the routine of married life quite nicely. "Toby", their miniature Chihuahua (and our grand-puppy) is a never-ending source of entertainment. Every time we visit, they have taught him a new trick including "speaking", rolling over, sitting, shaking hands, playing dead...all the usual dog-tricks! LOL! They are wrapping up finals this week and looking forward to the holiday break from school at CMU in Fayette, MO.
- Adam, also at CMU, is looking forward to his holiday break as well. He has maintained a very full schedule this semester between school, work, and his internship at Faith Family Church. He spends most of what little free time he has with his girlfriend of several months, Tiffany. We all very much enjoyed hearing him play along with the CMU Jazz Band and the CMU Concert Band at each of their respective December concerts. Adam and I, along with Chewy and Alex will be flying to San Diego on Christmas Day to minister in Mexicali, Mexico with YUGO for a week. Adam will be leading worship for the daily chapel services and evening "prayer and share" meetings. He will also be leading the daily prayer and prep meetings for the sports and evening ministry teams.
- Chewy is half-way through his senior year in high school. He has yet to make any final decisions for college other than, of course, he is going. He's just not sure where or what his major might be. He has a lot of interests and has had some trouble narrowing down the list. :) He is looking forward to his senior trip to Florida over Spring Break. In addition to being a member of the worship team, Chewy will be taking on a new challenge on our trip to Mexicali. He will be our resident "paparazzi" for the week and will produce a video for the ministry team to take home commemorating their week in Mexico. He is excited and up for the challenge.
- Alex is a freshman in high school this year and is playing on the junior varsity basketball team. Basketball in Harrisburg requires a considerable commitment of time and energy...and shuttling back and forth between practices, games, etc. We're all enjoying going to the games and will also appreciate the break when it's over. :) Alex will be serving on the worship team on our Mexico trip and helping in the kitchen and wherever else he is needed.
- JP, as a 7th grader has finally "escaped" elementary, as he puts it! :) JP also played basketball this year. His team just wrapped up their season. They only had 7 on the team. They didn't win many games but he played nearly all of every game. We decided the benefits of all that play time out-weighed the losses, preparing him for his high school career. :) JP is bummed that he didn't get to go to Mexico this time. During the Christmas holidays is the most expensive time of the year to fly. He will be the man of the house while the rest of us are gone.
- Allison - 1st grade, Natalie - Kindergarten and Charlotte - 2 years old, keep us all young and awake! LOL! With another baby girl on the way, we are starting a second family. A house with a bunch of little girls running around is different in many ways than the house full of little boys we once had! It's always fun to host someone for a meal at the Canote house for the first time. It's interesting to see the look on their face as the circus begins!
Susan and the baby-on-the-way, are doing very well. Since we are classified as "old" by the healthcare professionals, she is on the weekly ultrasound and doctor visit schedule. The technology is improving to the point that you can practically see the look on her face in the scans! It's great fun to get to "take a peak" every week! And, we keep getting glowing reports. Praise the Lord!
We are a blessed and happy family for many reasons. God is good and God is faithful...all the time! He created us and knows us well and loves us in spite of who we are! We need Him so much and we're thankful that He will never leave us or forsake us!
It's our wish this Christmas season and the year-round that you know the Greatest Story ever told and have the Peace and Grace of Jesus Christ in your life. Regardless of what the world tries to turn "Christmas" into, Jesus IS the reason for the season and the hero of the story! If you're reading this, then YOU are on our prayer list! Please remember us in yours.
Merry Christmas again and God Bless You!