Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Trip Through Mexico - Part 2

Day 5 (Wednesday, February 19)

I share with you an email I just received from Steve - 

Hey Babe,

Finally I have the opportunity to get on here and contact you. We have been running (and eating) HA! non-stop. I'm so sorry I didn't get to call you yesterday. I was going by the clock on the wall at Pastor Bernardo's and then I realized that it was about an hour and a half off. I was so disappointed!

We had a good trip down here to San Gabriel from Oaxaca City. The roads were a mess as usual but they are actually working on them now. However, that just made things worse because of detours, traffic and the long waits in places where there was only one lane moving at a time. About an hour after we arrived we ate beans, soup and tortillas at Elias' sister's house then left for a service at Santa Maria. We had a great service and the people were thrilled to meet Brennan and Ivon. They both gave their testimony and then I preached. Afterward we passed out candy and then we had a full meal...Beans, tortillas, quesadillas with cactus and cheese, tostadas, coffee and sweet bread. Then we left and headed back to Mangales for another service. The people at Santa Maria sent a big bag of black beans, coffee and tostadas with me.

When we got to Mangales, they were already singing. They had set up a tent and there were about 75 people in attendance. We continued singing for about 45 minutes and then Brennan and Ivon had their part and I preached again. After service we had atole and sweet bread and I passed out tons of candy and took tons of pictures. As we were leaving, a family who lived near the church asked us to come to their house for a few minutes. There they had fixed tamales de calabasa (pumpkin tamales) for us to eat. They also sent a whole bag of tamales home with us. We finally got home at about 11:00. We were all dead tired so we took cold showers and crashed. We ate three complete meals in a total of about four and a half hours.

We started off this morning with bean and cheese tostadas with avocado and coffee. We also had fried cactus and sweet bread. If I get this update done in time we might go to Puerto Escondido. Then at 3 we have a service at "201." From there we come back to the central church for a service and formal introduction of Brennan and Ivon, then it's on to Las Palmas for a night service. We will have full meals at at least two of these places and probably just sweetbread and coffee at the other. Tomorrow we will go to Bugambilias for most of the day and then get ready to head back to Oaxaca City early on Friday.

The schedule has been crazy busy but we are having a good time and the people here are thrilled to have us and to meet Brennan and Ivon. They love the fact that she is "one of us" and actually "from Oaxaca!" We're tired and there is a lot more to go. But, we are excited and looking forward to it all. God has really been helping us and I know it's because so many of our people are praying for us. I can feel their prayers and the special help of the Lord.

Of course, I miss you like crazy but truthfully, I'm too busy to dwell on it. Brennan and Ivon are out exploring the town while I'm at an internet cafe writing this update. They are really enjoying themselves.

If we are going to Puerto, Then I must hasten to a close for time is not our friend. :)  I love you and miss you and am certainly depending on your prayers. (Same to you too Maria and Kent. I love you too!!) I'll write again when I have time and if not I'll call you when I'm back to cell service on Friday.

Love you!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Trip Through Mexico - Part 1

Day 1 (Saturday, February 15) - We would appreciate your prayers as Steve, Brennan and Ivon travel to Oaxaca over the next week or so. Even though the car was jam-packed and loaded with Sunday School supplies, child evangelism materials, Christmas gifts, used clothing, Bibles and tracts, they made it through the Mexican customs and immigration process with no problems. They plan to attend services tomorrow in the central Mexico villages of Cuchicuato and Pedregales, Guanajuato. On Monday, they will travel to the Bible Methodist Church in Oaxaca City and on Tuesday, go on to San Gabriel in southwest Mexico. Pray for God's guidance and direction as this is the area the Muirs hope to move to in a few months. On Friday, they will begin their journey north and plan to visit our churches in Nuevo Leon and Coahuila.

Day 3 (Monday, February 17) - Steve, Brennan and Ivon arrived in Guanajuato (central Mexico) Saturday evening. They participated in church services in Cuchicuato Sunday a.m. and Pedregales Sunday p.m. We are so thankful for God's help to Steve as he preached in both services with several individuals coming forward for prayer. The church people and pastors are so enjoying meeting and interacting with the Muirs. Today they will travel several hours south to Oaxaca City. Thank you for praying.

Day 4 (Tuesday, February 18) - The travelers made it to Oaxaca City last night. Today they are to drive 120 miles to San Gabriel. The roads are very curvy, narrow and rough so it will probably take them about 6 hours to make that trip. They are scheduled for services in 2 different places this evening, so it will be a BUSY day. For the next 3 days they won't have cell service, but they may be able to send a message from an internet cafe.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

District Rally - Part 2

We had a long and busy, but wonderful day in Nuevo Leon. We woke up in Saltillo before 6, and arrived in Galeana high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 9:30. The service finally got underway around 11:30 and went to 1:30. We had a great meal of chicken, rice and tortillas at 2 and the afternoon service started at 3. It went until 5 and then we all said our goodbyes and got on the road so we could get home before dark. 5 churches cooperated for this District Rally and the benches were filled and many sat on the floor of the chapel and outside. Our people had such a great time of worship and fellowship together. We thank God for His help and we thank you for your prayers!

We had a delicious meal of grilled chicken, rice and tortillas.

Very typical details: Flowering bush, water tank, extra tire, adobe house, newly run electric line, colorful wooden door, sombrero, moustache, plaid shirt, decorative belt, knit pants.


Very typical details: Water bottles, laundry on the line, wash tubs, buckets, adobe houses, shaded outdoor gathering area, extra fire wood, propane tank, old plastic sign used as a roof tarp.

Cute kids!!

Cactus with fruit they call "tuna."

 Group from Galeana sings.

 Group from La Boca sings.

 Group from San Rafael sings.

Group from Saltillo sings.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

District Rally - Part 1

We had a long and busy, but wonderful Sunday in Nuevo Leon. We were up before 6 and arrived in Galeana high up in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 9:30. The service finally got underway around 11:30 and went to 1:30. We had a great meal of chicken, rice and tortillas at 2 and the afternoon service started at 3. It went until 5 and then we all said our goodbyes and got on the road so we could get home before dark. 5 churches were represented for this District Rally and the benches were filled and many sat on the floor of the chapel and outside. Our people had such a great time of worship and fellowship together. We thank God for His help and we thank you for your prayers!

 Sierra Madre Mountains near Galeana, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.

A ride on a burro is always fun!

He's not sure what to think of the photographer. 

 We had a full house for Sunday services with several people standing in the doorway and sitting outside.

Sunday School outside.

Eli Balderas teaching Sunday School.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trip to Oaxaca - Part 2

Here are some email updates from the trip Steve is on right now:

Sunday, June 9 - Just got back from Mangales. We had a great service. Alejandro preached and did really well. It was my first time to hear him preach. After church we had coffee and pan dulce and hot tostadas. The tostadas were the great big corn tortillas cooked until they were crispy. I told everyone that you would be so jealous when you heard about it. You would have loved them. I took tons more pics but had a lot of fun. Everyone wants you to come with me next time. Santiago and I will leave at 10 tomorrow for Bugambilias. Alejandro is going to stay here and visit the other missions. Then we will return Wednesday evening to pick him up and head to Oaxaca for service Thursday evening. I'll bring my computer to breakfast and try to email you before I leave tomorrow. It's been a huge day but it's been fun and a good day spiritually too. We're all worn out so I'm sure we'll sleep well tonight. I hope you had a good day and that you sleep well tonight. I love you and can't wait to get back home to be with you. I love you, Maria and Kent, too. I hope everything is going well and am looking forward to seeing you soon. Good night and I love you all loads.

Monday, June 10 - Hey, I just have a minute before I leave for Bugambilias. We just got back from praying for this lady that is literally starving to death. She has some kind of medical problem and can't eat anything hardly. She probably doesn't weigh more than 80 pounds and is just lying on a bed dying. She was covered in flies and gnats and so pathetic. We explained the plan of Salvation to her and prayed for her and she just cried and cried and said that God had saved her. This was not a planned visit so it used most of our time this morning so now I have to cut and run. I love you so much and am sorry I can't contact you for the next couple days. I should be back here on Wed. night but I have no idea what time so it might be too late to email. We'll see. I hope all goes well with you. Love you lots and will write again when I can.

Wednesday, June 12 - Hey, I'm back in the land of the living. Coming down the mountain after dark in the rain and mud was one wild ride. All I can say is, "thank God for 4-wheel drive!" There were bogs of mud 3-4 inches deep and 20-30 yards long and I would slip and slide through them in low range. Definitely one of the most memorable rides. I'll tell you all about it some time. We had a great time and it is so beautiful up there, but the rainy season has begun and every afternoon it would pour the rain for 4-5 hours. Almost every day it would thunder and it was so loud that it was deafening. It rained so hard that there were rivers of water running everywhere including under the doors and walls. Everything felt damp and very humid then at night it would get pretty cold.
Santiago and I alternated. He would teach one class in the marriage seminar and I would preach in the service that followed and then we would switch with me teaching and him preaching. Every thing went great and we had 16 different couples attend the seminar sessions. That all took place in the evening starting at 4:00 and going to whenever. During the day, we visited with many different people in their homes and counseled and prayed with them. I really had fun with a man named Ignacio and his brother who do woodworking. We talked about it often and they asked tons of questions about how to do this or that. It was great.
The Lord really helped both Santiago and me to teach and preach. We had altar services after almost every service. The people are so open and willing to seek the Lord. The night services were really well attended. Normally we had about 55 people. Last night was the largest and we had 62. I'm really tired but very happy too. After service we had a meal each night and I would show people pictures of my family, the Philippines, Alaska (those were the three most requested) and many more too. They also really liked it because I kept uploading my current pictures of them and they would all gather around looking and laughing at everyone else's pictures. Great times!! I really thank the Lord for His help and really feel like good things are happening in Bugambilias.
We leave in the morning to return to Oaxaca City for a service tomorrow night. Then very early Friday we head for Saltillo. At this point I don't know if we will try to make it all the way to border or not. A lot will depend on what time it is when we get to Saltillo. If it's too late we will probably stay there and come on home Sat. morning. I'll let you know for sure later on. I'll try to touch base tomorrow morning before I leave here and then I'll be able to call you tomorrow night. I love you so much and can't wait till I get home. I love you Maria and Kent too! I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Trip to Oaxaca - Part 1

Here are some updates from the trip Steve is on right now:

Thursday, June 6 - Today Steve started on a 9-day trip in Mexico. He should be in Saltillo tonight. Then he and a couple pastors will travel on south tomorrow. He is delivering some VBS supplies and Bibles and will be participating in a Marriage Conference. We'd appreciate your prayers, and I'll try to keep you updated on their whereabouts and activities. I'm at home in Texas and have a lot to do to keep me busy and out of trouble! :)

Friday, June 7 - Steve spent last night in Saltillo at the home of Pastor Pablo. Today he and Pastor Santiago and Pastor Alejandro are headed to Oaxaca City. This part of the trip is about 800 miles. Tomorrow they plan to go about 6 more hours to San Gabriel.

Saturday, June 8 - Steve and the pastors are on their way to San Gabriel. It is a 120-mile, 6-hour trip over rough, rutted, rugged roads. He was able to call me this a.m. before they left from Oaxaca City, but will not have phone service again until Thursday night. I sure will be glad to hear his voice again! They have services in San Gabriel tonight and tomorrow and at a mission church tomorrow evening. Then Monday they plan to make the 15-mile, 2-hour trip to Bugambilias for a 3-day Marriage Conference.

Steve was able to get to an internet café and send me these updates:

I made it here to San Gabriel. We had a good trip but it was bad roads because they have had so much rain. There were many mudslides that are now cleaned up but leave the road a mess. I thought I would email you now because I don't know when I'll have another opportunity to do so. The service tomorrow is actually their big anniversary service so they have repainted everything, put up a tent along the side of the church for the overflow crowds and have brought in a couple hundred chairs as well. It'll be a "big doins," I'm sure.
It looks like we will be staying at Carlos' house. That's good. I drove the whole way again while the guys slept but that was all right I enjoyed it. I'm a little tired and stiff from the beating the road provided but everything is good. As you might guess, my first meal was molé. We also had black beans and Oaxaca cheese and tortillas. Everyone is glad we're here and send their greetings. Pastor Bernardo drove down today too to be here for the special service tomorrow, then he'll go back home on Monday. They are waiting on me so they can unload their things and start getting ready for the service so I'd better go.

Sunday, June 9 - I'm here outside of the church in San Gabriel. Elias has internet and so I’m using my computer to write this. This is much more convenient! We had some kind of grand celebration this morning for the anniversary service. They had a local community band come and play as well as the group from Oaxaca City that played in the service last night. My guess is that they had between 500-600 people present. I know that early on Elias said that he had counted 482. They continued to come through the dinner time. Right now the band is 20 feet from me just blasting away. They have 2 drums, 2 trumpets, 3 sax and a trombone. They actually are very good.
They don't change the time here so it is an hour behind us. It's funny but as a community they decided it was crazy to change so they voted not to. For all official functions they use Mexico national time but for everything local they use their own time. Pretty smart people if you ask me.
It has rained here for three days so everything is messy. It rained and stormed all night but by 7 this morning it cleared up and the day is perfect so far thank goodness! They had so much going on in the service that it didn't get out until one o'clock. It actually was a great service and Santiago did a fantastic job of preaching. We had a good service last night with probably 30-35 people at the altar. It was a great time but a very long service too. Especially since it didn't end until about 10:30 our time.
For lunch we had molé, rice, delicious beef (very tender and good), tortillas and horchata. All in all it was very good. We have another service in Mangales in about an hour and a half. I passed out all my candy this morning and actually ran out. I've had tons of fun taking pictures of people... especially kids and families. They love to see the picture afterwards and laugh and make fun of each other. So many have said to tell you hi. (Several girls said to tell you "Hi" too, Kent. They had me get out my computer and show them pictures of you and Maria too. I was proud to do so!)
I love you and miss you. They have come to get me to go somewhere to have a mini service at the house of an old lady in the church who is sick so I've gotta go. Now that they have internet here, I'll write more tonight. Love you lots.

Inside of the San Gabriel church on the occasion of their anniversary service. From left: Pastor Desi's widow Eufemia (in the white blouse and black lace head covering), Oaxaca Pastor Bernardo (in white shirt), San Rafael Pastor Alejando (in plaid shirt), Rio Bravo Pastor and Conference President Santiago and San Gabriel Pastor Elias.

Some of the overflow crowd outside the church.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

February Trip - Part 24

For the last part of their trip in Oaxaca, Bible Methodist Mission Director Tim Keep, Saltillo Pastor Dolores Hernandez and Missionaries Steve Stetler and Brennan Muir headed to Bugambilias.

Their first stop was at a gas station. There were no pumps so the attendant siphoned gas from jugs into our gas tank.

These are very humble homes but if you look closely you may be able to see that they have cable satellite TV (light blue dish on lower house).

Delicious rice and quesadilla.

Backing out of the steep driveway.

Tostadas cooking on the wood fire. A large tortilla press is on the left and a molcajete full of salsa in front.

Bean and cheese tostadas topped with salsa and avocados.

Part of the road to Bugambilias is rutted red dirt.

Another part of the road goes through a mountain stream.

Part of the village of Bugambilias.

Pastor Alejandro and his wife Chely. He was a street kid, addicted to drugs and alcohol and she was dedicated to Satan by her grandmother, but God found them and changed their lives!

*Special thanks to Brennan Muir for some of these pictures.