There has been no shortage of tragedies in the Americas lately. Our hearts go out to those suffering the effects of hurricanes, fires, and mass shootings. In southern Mexico it was two major earthquakes on September 7th and 19th that brought major devastation and the loss of hundreds of lives and thousands of homes. Although weeks have passed, schools in our area are still out while officials do a thorough safety check of each building. With tens of thousands of schools in this densely populated region it might be a while. While most people have tried to move on and resume daily life with some sense of normalcy, there is still an underlying fear of aftershocks (over 7000 so far, some felt in Mexico City). The people of southern Mexico are brave and resilient but remain shaken, both physically and psychologically. We pray that in these times of uncertainty many will turn to One who can keep them in perfect peace.
Now for an update on some of our churches and church plants:
The second quake struck near the Mixtec area in PUEBLA where our Chiconautla missionary family is living and working, but thankfully they had no damage to their home. Manuel and staff went to visit them recently, and things are looking up after 5 years!
Agapito is basically leading a church service every Thursday evening, including preaching, with a group of recovering addicts through Alcoholics Anonymous. After laboring for years with very little evident fruit this is wonderful! The Osorios also lead Kids Clubs in 2 communities and meet with people one-on-one throughout the week. Pray for this group in San Pablo Anicano, Puebla, as they study God's word.
Our daughter church in TIZAYUCA continues to meet in their temporary structure and has just begun work on the foundations for their permanent building. Pastor Domingo and his wife Teresa have taken a few months off after Teresa had brain surgery to remove a second cancerous tumor. She came through the surgery well--praise God!--and is close to completing an alternative treatment program. She is doing exceptionally well considering all she has been through, and they ask for your continued prayers for a full recovery.
The church plant in LA MAGDALENA PANOAYA was discontinued this summer. After 1 1/2 years in this historically old and challenging area near the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, it became clear due to few results that the church planting team should invest their time and efforts elsewhere. We're thankful that Mike & Nancy Palumbo, who were leading the church plant, are now filling in for Domingo and Tere in Tizayuca. The Palumbos also need your prayers as their 1-year-old baby, Josiah, has been hospitalized off and on for weeks with intestinal bleeding. His diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is almost unheard of in babies. Pray for little Josiah and his doctors, and pray also for spiritual growth for the few believers in La Magdalena Panoaya.
The church in HEROES TECAMAC is now fully under Mexican leadership. John & Tracey Pieters are currently on Home Assignment after transitioning leadership over to Pastor Francisco Ventura. This body of believers has always met in a public building they have rented on Sundays, but this month they were told they will have to find a new meeting place as of November 1st. Finding a place where 100 or more people can meet is no small feat in these newer housing developments with thousands of small homes and few larger buildings. Please pray for Pastor Francisco and the church in Heroes Tecamac as they search for the best solution to this dilemma.
In CHICONAUTLA things are looking up after a rough 13-14 months beginning with the string of robberies last fall. This month we have a brand new worship team leading us in worship during our 3 Sunday services (after the Vivanco family filled in for several weeks). We have also been extra busy this week with community service (free hair cuts, crafts, workshops on parenting and health and dental issues) and special evening services with teaching on prayer.
Many non-church people from the community have attended the free events allowing for great conversations about faith. And last but certainly not least, we are expecting to meet with the builders of our new building in the next week or two, this time on the premises after multiple email and phone exchanges over the blueprints. The permits are in process, and the project is advancing v e r ys l o w l y but surely. One of these days we will actually be able to break ground!
So life must go on in post-quake southern Mexico. In the areas of devastation the rebuilding of lives and homes will take much longer. In our immediate area the shaking served as a reminder that life is fragile and that people need Jesus. And so we press on...