Personal farewell message to Pastor Terry Culberson

Today July 25th the man I call pastor is retiring.

Due to our current responsibilities as missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico my family and I couldn’t be there for the farewell service at Covenant Christian Center in Fruitland, MO. We did, however, prepare this small video to be shared at the meeting.

If the above video doesn’t work, follow this link:

Personal farewell message to Pastor Terry Culberson

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Women’s bible study

Our weekly women’s bible study with Tammy had grown to over 50 women. A few months ago, Tammy felt from the Lord to divide into six groups. Now every Thursday morning at 10am, we have small groups meeting all throughout Arriaga. I’m so blessed to be leading one of these groups. It is an awesome time for the ladies to come together to share God’s word and life with each other.

Celebrating my birthday with my small group

Thankful for new friends

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Children’s day

Celebrating Children's dayThis past week we celebrated “Dia del Niño” a.k.a. Children’s day here in Mexico, a day set apart to honor and bless our children, to shower them with gifts and allow them to eat more candy than usual. Sunday at church we celebrated the day by singing, playing games, serving cake and praying over the 60-70 kids who regularly attend our Sunday school classes. I’m convinced that in the midst of this group of children there are evangelists, worship leaders, preachers, teachers and missionaries. I find it a great honor to serve these little ones, equiping them to seek and hear God for themselves and enabling them to walk in the calling the Lord has for them.

Psa 127:3  Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Psa 138:8  The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your love, O LORD, endures forever—
    do not abandon the works of your hands.

Children singinglittle ones

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No Free Ride


Illegals riding on top of the train heading north

Illegals riding on top of the train heading north

"Undocumented" immigrants catching a ride to the US border

Here, on Mexico’s southern border, the debate over illegal immigration is impossible to ignore as droves of the undocumented travel daily before our door. The trains in front of the orphanage, often overflowing but never without at least a few faces of Central and South Americans who believe the metal frame they are clinging to will whisk them away to the promised land.

Faces mingled with hope and fear, pain and desperation… usually belonging to young men, although it is not uncommon to see older men, women, pregnant women or even children sleeping on the tracks waiting for the next departure. They run the risk of being shot at or chopped down by machetes. Often they are robbed and forced to travel without funds. You can always find them sleeping on the streets.

Regardless of where one stands on the immigration issue, the question arises, “What pushes a person to risk their life in this manner? What kind of hell are they escaping that justifies the sacrifice they are making?” The train ride is free but we know that for these people there is no such a thing as a free ride. Hope comes at a high cost. Nothing has made me love America more than being forced to live far from her shores, yet in these days when the economy is down and unemployment is rising the question is easy to ask,

“What would I do if the tables were turned and I were in their shoes? What desperate measures would I be willing to take to put food on the table for my family? What if I belonged to the poor neighboring country?”

I am not suggesting that we condone breaking the law. Illegal entry into the US needs to be stopped, it is dangerous for all who are involved… especially for those who are entering illegally. But along with securing our borders immigration legislation must be revised to allow a greater number of honest hardworking individuals to enter the country legally and filter out those who possibly pose a threat to our nation… and if not, then perhaps we should change the words of hope inscribed on the Statue of Liberty …

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these — the homeless, tempest-tossed — to me;
I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door

–the words of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty

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Carmita’s “new princess smile”

The "Princess smile"

Before
Three years ago Carmita, along with her sister Romelia, came to live with Bill and Tammy here at the orphanage. She had gotten beaten all night long by her drunken father. Through much prayer and love many of her  scars have disappeared however everytime she smiled we were reminded of the physical abuse she experienced because her father had left  her with two broken front teeth.  A dentist heard about Carmita’s story and decided to do the work for free, only charging us $400 pesos (apprx. 40 dollars) for materials. Tonight Ron and I had the privilige to be there when Carmita’s front teeth got fixed. The moment is one that I wish I could have shared with many of you. As I started taking pictures tears started rolling down my face and I noticed that the dentist was also crying. Carmita now says that she got her “Princess smile”.

Carmita with Dr. Monica

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Hope

On January 12th, 2006 my son Caleb was born in Plano, TX. Three months later in Arriaga, Chiapas a little boy by the name of Christian would be born to a prostitute with AIDS. The other day as I watched them chase each other I thought about the contrasting worlds they were born into. At 11 months of age Christian was brought to the orphanage severily malnourished weighing only 10 lbs. Today, he is a healthy, energetic and beautiful 3 year old. The bible tells us that before we were formed in our mother’s womb God knew us. He knew my Caleb, and He also knew Christian. God knew the choices the poor little boy’s mom would make and He rescued him. We know that God has great plans for Christian’s life and we are excited about his future.

“for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” -Jer. 29:11

Christian, Caleb and Josiah

Christian, Caleb and Josiah enjoying a snack

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Faith

We have a brother in our church that everytime you ask him how he is doing, he answers “Thank God, I’m doing well”. What a faith statement because this brother is battling cancer and it is obvious that the chemo has taken a toll on his body. Wednesday night we found him walking home from church and gave him a ride. The only thing he will ever ask for is prayer. That night we had to convince him to let us buy him a couple boxes of grape juice. We dropped him off at his one room house that he rents, with one lightbulb and his hammock that he sleeps in, the place is not welcoming to a healthy person much less to a sick one. Tears filled my eyes not so much because of his lack but because of his faith. He has every reason to complain, be sad and even mad but instead he has chosen to place his Faith in Christ… and his circumstances do not move him from that. Even though he has to walk a mile to our church, he does not miss a single service. What an amazing brother and what and amazing Faith.

“Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”
-Hebrews 11:1

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our Faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”
-Heb. 12:2

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Love

As I was walking out of the church on Valentine’s day my husband informed me a family had come to visit from another town and he wanted to have them over for lunch. I immediately said, “no way!” A flood of thoughts came in “I have other plans, I don’t even remember what condition I left my house in, what am I going to cook for these people?” My husband wanted an answer but all I could do was roll my eyes and quickly got in the car. I could see the mom from the rear view mirror with her baby in the hot sun but that still did not move me, I held on to my selfish desire to go on with my Valentine’s day plans. My husband got in the car and said they live far away and  I really feel like we need to feed them lunch. I will buy a couple of roasted chickens to make things easier. The drive home from church is only 5 minutes but it was long enough for the Holy Spirit to convict my heart and for me to get a quick revelation of what love really is. It is not always convenient and often loving others cost us something.  
 

“Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”   – 1 John 3:18

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Religion vs. Relationship

Something that we talk about a lot in our home and at the orphanage is our desire to see the children have a relationship with Jesus and not just gain a religion with a set of rules that they can never meet.
Sadly, I’ve met plenty of people who grew up in Christian homes and have a lot of head knowledge about God but in their hearts they do not serve him. Especially sad are those who have grown up in the ministry and left home with nothing more than religion. I do not want this to be the story of my children or the children that we work with. So, my question is how do I keep this from happening? I would love to hear from you Christian mommies and daddies who have walked this road or are walking it. I have found the following verses to be a key in answering my own question but if you would like to share other ones that would be great!

1Corinthians 15:56 NIV
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

Romans 4:13-15
“It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression”

James 1:27
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Pastor Terry Culberson with Josiah

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Home for the Holidays

     After being on the missions field for 13 months we decided to come home to visit. It took us 3 days to get out of Mexico. We are so proud of our boys for being awesome travel troopers. It was a nice time to bond with them by singing, reading books, watching movies and eating junk food together in the car. We arrived just in time to be with my parents in Houston for Thanksgiving. Our hearts are filled with so many things to be thankful for this year. Personally, it has been so nice to see my family and friends. We look forward to traveling further North to be with other friends and family. With all the cold weather, it feels like we have left the oven in Arriaga and got thrown into the freezer.

     Our hearts desire is to report what is going on in Arriaga and after hearing our stories, for everyone to be able to say “God is good!”  with us. We are currently in Stillwater, Oklahoma and will be sharing in New Covenant Fellowship church tomorrow.  The church has an awesome apartment that they have kindly let us use and it has been a nice place to rest. Next Sunday we will be sharing in two churches near Tulsa and then we head to Missouri where we will be ministering in Uncle Terry’s church, Covenant Christian Center.

Caleb yesterday stated that he was ready to go back to Mexico and when we asked him why, he responded that he missed his dog and his friends from El Faro (the orphanage).  Although, I’m not ready to go back to Mexico yet, I do miss our family in Arriaga immensely. We will miss seeing 20 children open gifts and all the excitement that goes with it this Christmas.  We hope that snow awaits us in Virginia where we will be spending Christmas with my inlaws.

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