We grew grapes for the first time ever this summer!
We went to the nursery looking for a vine for the patio garden. We didn’t much care if the vine actually produced anything. We just wanted a vine that would grow on the patio and be green and help the space to feel a little softer and more nature-like. We settled on a grape vine, with it’s nice shaped leaves and a little variation of color as the season progresses. It was so fun to watch the vines grow up the post on our rooftop patio, and then begin producing grapes! At first, the tiny little grapes were like those little balls on the heads my grandmother’s sewing pins. So teeny! But soon they were swelling and turning to the nicest purply blue color. And then they were so big and so full that they weighed down the vine and we feared it would break from the weight of the fruit!
I know the time is coming when we will have to cut back our beautiful vine. I'm already dreading it.
I have always hated pruning time. Billy, being a horticulture major (Texas A&M – WHOOP!), has always been the one to tend the gardens. He has to be the pruner, for sure, because I just can’t bring myself to do it. The plant always looks really great to me – right now, in the moment - but Billy seems to have this sense about what needs to happen for the plant’s future best growth. He always tells me that while the plant looks good, it is actually using lots of energy trying to grow in places it shouldn’t. And while it is producing lots of flowers or fruit, they are inferior. And so, he gets out his pruners and he goes to work. I can’t even watch. It is almost physically painful for me to see all those branches and leaves, and sometimes fruit, go tumbling to the ground and end up swept in to a big trash pile. When it’s over, I always feel so sad for the poor plant. And Billy smiles and shakes his head every time and says, “Just watch. It is going to be so much better and healthier. Just give it time.”
And, after 32 years of cringing through this process, I know he is right. It always works out for the better. The plants are always beautiful after their season of pruning and new growth. But oh, how it still hurts me to watch the process!
For us, it has been a season of metaphorical pruning. We have come to a season when the outward appearance of our work looks quite full and fruitful, but it is difficult (or impossible) to sustain at this level. We are using a lot of energy and focusing in lots of places (which isn't really focus at all). Like the circus act when the man spins plates or juggles balls… the crowd is amazed at his ability to keep it all going, and then someone throws him one more. "Wow! Awesome! Throw him another one!"
But we all know how this ends.
And so, we are in a season of discernment with our team and our mentors and with God. There are loads of good things going on. Tons of things to still be done. Bucoos of possibilities. But we just can’t do it all. We are that plant that is growing and putting on flowers and fruit, but maybe we have too much going on and we need to strategically focus our energies to produce superior fruit.
I’ll be honest. This process is causing me more than a few tears and heartache. Saying no is not my strong suit. Cutting back is really hard for me. But I also believe in the process, and I believe that focusing my skills and efforts in strategic places will yield better, stronger people this season.
For me, I’m focusing in on Development this season. Our Europe region has grown from 16 CCWs to 41 CCWs (adult workers and their families) in just a few months and that is going to take some focus on my part as Regional Consultant for Europe. Also, we added two TMS families to our team in Spain, so we now have 3 families working in Antequera. This will require a good deal of team formation and development over the course of the next year. And it’s no secret that Neighboring Initiatives are very important to me. Loving my neighbors and those around me well and building community and relationships in Antequera is never going away. It's community development at it's relational core.
So, what’s getting pruned? It’s more a matter of me having to say no when I’m asked to do things outside of my focus. More accurately, it’s me having to TELL MYSELF NO when I see something that I could do. It’s me being okay with juggling just three plates, and not allowing more plates or balls to be thrown in to the mix. When my head says “Hey, it would be really cool if …”, It means having grace with myself and reminding myself that yes – that would be cool, and yes – you have the right skills for that, but no – not in this season… maybe later, or maybe that’s a vision to pitch to someone else. I need to have a season of pruning back and focusing my energies on these few things that are going to reap big dividends, things that have the potential to have deep and far-reaching effects, not just here, but around the globe. Whew, y’all! Saying no and focusing in. That’s HARD! Because I want to do it all. Like, ALL. OF. IT.
So, pray for my pruning process. And pray that I “abide in Him and Him in me, so that I may bear good fruit.”
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
It was 6:25pm. The sign on the gate said that visitors could enter the cathedral until 6:30. At 6:30, mass would begin for those who wished to worship. As we stood at the gate discussing whether or not we would enter this massive cathedral for a visit, a woman sprinted by us and threw open the gate. She hurried in to the building and we joked, “Wow! She must really want to see this cathedral!”
We followed her in through the enormous doors. The interior was amazing, as most cathedrals are. There were three other visitors milling about, obviously sightseers due to the tell-tale marks of a tourist… the big camera hanging around the neck, t-shirt, shorts and chunky hiking sandals, and a ball cap to top it all off like a cherry on a sundae. Very obviously not locals. And in the pews sat one woman, praying. The woman who had dashed past us at the gate.
I looked at the time. Six thirty. Time for mass. I happened to be standing to the side and two men were talking beside me. The priest and a lay-person from the church. The man said, “What do you want me to do? Should I ask them to leave? It’s 6:30.” And the priest said, “No. Let them stay. There’s only one for mass (pointing to the woman in the pew). No reason to even have it.”
No reason. All I could see was this woman sprinting past us and throwing open the gate so she could be at mass on time. And now the priest says, “no reason”.
Spain has thousands and thousands of amazing churches and cathedrals. Yet this is the case in so many of them. Very few, if any, come to worship anymore. Catholicism has been steadily falling over the past decade. And protestant churches are not growing, only holding steady at the same numbers they have had for the past 10+ years.
The scene I witnessed in the cathedral brought another story back to me. Years ago, when we first started working cross-culturally, we worked in Mexico. We built a relationship with a lovely family. The father, Aaron Berman, was one of the most humble men I have ever known. Quiet, peaceful, full of courage and overflowing with God.
He loved to tell us the story of how he one time visited Tyler, Texas. He was invited to speak at a church’s mission conference. He was invited to speak about his vision and work in Mexico in a breakout workshop session.
When the time came for the workshops, Aaron went to his assigned room to speak. Before him was a room full of chairs, set up theatre-style, and one woman. He thought that maybe he should wait for a few minutes until others came. But no one did. So he closed his eyes and he said, “God, I came all the way to Tyler, Texas to share about you and our vision for Mexico. I spent money I don’t have to come here. What am I doing? What do you want me to do with this one woman?” But God’s only answer was, “Speak.”
So he did. Aaron shared his heart and his vision with that one woman. He said he felt so small in that big room full of empty chairs, but he shared anyway.
In the end, that one woman (who happened to be from College Station) ended up being responsible for starting a movement of people who would eventually come to Mexico and work alongside Aaron and his family, helping to plant several churches and build a church camp for Mexican pastors and churches along the border to use as a retreat and leadership development center. Aaron spoke to one woman, and God used her to start a movement. He always used to end the story by holding up his finger and smiling and winking his eye and saying, “You only need one.”
He loved to share that story with us. And that story has encouraged us on so many occasions. So many times when we feel like, “God, what are we doing? Why are we here and only a handful of people seem to care? What are we supposed to be doing? Only four people are coming to the class. Only a few show up for bible study…” Etc. It’s usually Billy who remembers Aaron in those moments and he just looks at me and holds up his finger and says, “You only need one.”
Our everyday lives in Spain are truly based on a one-on-one relationship principle. Yes, we have a few small groups that we work with and we serve a church here. But mostly, our work is one-on-one. Coffee and coaching with a pastor. Time spent with a young adult. Tutoring a student. Helping a resettled refugee to find his way in a new and confusing place. For us, the Kingdom is built one block at a time. It’s slow, but it’s beautiful and deep and meaningful.
Aaron died 10 years ago, but he still influences our life today. It’s easy to get discouraged when it feels like no one seems to care, when no one shows up, or when it feels like no one is listening. It’s easy to be down when church attendance drops to only a handful of faithful folks in July and August because it’s summer and it’s hot and there’s no air conditioning at church and the beach seems like a better option. It’s easy to feel like we’re spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. But then Aaron seems to find his way back in to our memories, smiling and winking and saying, “You only need one.”
We thank you for your faithfulness to us in prayers and support of the work we do! Please continue to pray for and with us in the following ways:
Please pray for our newest teammates (Kat & Ryan) as they settle in and find their feet in Spain. And pray for our team as we learn to work together and find new rhythms and strive to build strong bonds.
Prayers for *Ahmed* - a refugee friend who is here with us after gaining religious asylum from his country of origin. *Ahmed* has been placed in Antequera for 6 months-1 year while he awaits residency and fulfills the requirements of his asylum obligations. Pray that he feels loved and cared for in this new life.
Pray for us to be great neighbors and to live out the Great Commandment each and every day. "We are called to love people - period... We are called to love our neighbors unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. The Great Commandment says 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' the commandment ends there, with no other expectations given. Thus good neighboring is an end in itself." (The Art of Neighboring by Pathak and Runyon)
Please pray with us as the school year starts up in September. This is a time full of excitement and expectation, but also stress for our youth and young adult groups.
Prayers for the local church that we help serve, and for Kingdom transformation in our community. Help us pray for Centro Cristiano and for our town of Antequera.
PRAISES! The La Posada apartment is now enjoying a bathroom thanks to our amazing partners (YOU!). Before, guests had to go up one flight of stairs to a shared bathroom in the main house. Thank you to all who have given funds and shared prayers for this specific need and the La Posada ministry!!! We also hosted a CCW for the entire month of July as she took a much needed break after 7 years of faithful service in the Middle East. She went back to work rested and refreshed. Thanks to our superheroes (YOU!) for helping provide that time of rest and renewal for her!!! We had enough funds available that we were able to completely cover her lodging and care services, and she was able to help cover her food costs for the month.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African proverb
For the past couple of years, we have been in team collaboration with another cross-cultural worker family living in our town of Antequera. Axel and Delilah have been amazing teammates for us. They moved from Puerto Rico to Spain in the summer of 2013 (the same time we did) and we lived just a block away from each other, so it didn’t take long for us to meet and begin sharing and working together. Over the years, we have shared not only work and strategy, but we have also shared family and friends, good times and bad, laughter and tears. Honestly, without Axel and Delilah, I don’t know how we could have made it. They have been integral to our lives here. So we were so excited when they transitioned mission agencies to work fully with TMS Global!
In July, we added another family to our little team. Ryan and Kat Marcum moved their family from Texas to Antequera and are now transitioning to life in Spain. This year will be spent learning culture and language and being in mentoring relationship with the rest of the team. Little by little they will transition in to the vision and roles and goals of our team.
On any given day, you can hear our team encouraging one another by restating the vision. “The vision is not ______ (fill in the blank with whichever frustrating thing we are encountering at the moment). The vision is Kingdom in Antequera. Love your neighbor and open up the Kingdom for Antequera.” On so many occasions, when we have been discouraged and frustrated and needed to vent to our teammates, someone on the team reminds us of the vision. It has a way of always changing the mood, always grounding us and bringing us back from the edge of the proverbial cliff. We all have different and various roles and goals within that vision, and we all work in various ways. But we are all committed to that vision. The Kingdom of God in Antequera.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." --Helen Keller
Please keep our team in your prayers as we work together to love and serve our neighbors, the church, and the community in Antequera, Spain.
The following is a thank you note from a cross-cultural worker (CCW) to YOU, our partners who invest in the mission and in the care of others. *Joy* (name protected due to the location she serves) spent a month of rest in La Posada with us after 7 years of service and she wanted to share these words with you:
Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure to eat. Mark 6:31
You know life is too busy if you can’t even take a moment to enjoy your food. Maybe that’s why Spain is a great place to practice the spiritual rhythm of rest. Spaniards live and eat well with rest, relationships and community at the heart of their day to day routines.
As believers we know that God created Sabbath as a space in time to celebrate our place in His creation and our freedom in Him. But we often have to fight to create space in the framework of our busy lives to make the time to hear from God so we can reorder and reprioritize.
That’s why La Posada is the perfect place to withdraw for awhile. Real rest took place in great community! With the Drums, there was safety to process, space to consider future possibilities and to share new ideas. And there was laughter-lots of laughter.
There was space for internal processing. And outside La Posada, there were lots of great places to explore. Spain is a beautiful country and for those of us who live in hard places, it’s a wonderful place to feel physically safe while soaking in all the historic sites, engaging with great community and eating really good food!
Thank you! My heart is full and incredibly grateful. ~*Joy*
I wish I could show you a photo of *Joy* enjoying her time here at La Posada, but we need to protect her identity due to her work situation. So we'll show you her favorite spot instead! She spent countless hours on this patio, drinking coffee and reading and reflecting and journaling, with several deep coaching conversations thrown in over the course of the month she was here.
The word “encourage” comes from the French, and it actually means “to insert courage” or “to give to the heart”. We do a lot of encouraging in our work. For example, just in this week, we have been helping students during exam times and giving lots of encouragement… courage to keep studying, to stay focused until the last exam, and to believe in themselves. We have spent time with other mission workers, encouraging them in their training and preparation and partnership development efforts. We have had various phone calls and texts and emails to workers, encouraging them in their current situations. And we frequently have coffee meetings that are times of encouragement for weary pastors, friends, and neighbors in town. We actually love these times of “giving to the heart” of others and “inserting courage” in to those who are currently fearful or tired and feeling overwhelmed.
But who encourages the encouragers? We are asked that periodically by our mentors or other counselors and caregivers. “Who gives you encouragement? Who pours in to your heart when you are tired and overwhelmed or fearful?”
In polls and surveys and research regarding ways they feel encouraged, cross-cultural workers consistently respond with the same handful of answers.
· When people read our newsletters and updates and they reply to us about them
· When people let us know that they prayed for us
· When we receive real mail and real phone calls
· When we are remembered on birthdays and holidays
· When people come to visit us for the purpose of encouraging us and blessing us and our team
We have a handful of really great encouragers who encourage us! We have a couple of ladies who faithfully send us emails of encouragement. They are also the folks who never forget our birthdays and always send a letter and a card. We have one special partner who sends a package to us every month! The days when these small acts of encouragement come are special days that pick up our spirits and remind us that we are not forgotten.
In May, we had a super special visit. Two long-time friends in mission came to visit us FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENCOURAGING US! What?! That’s right… they came only to encourage us. They weren’t here to do sightseeing or anything special. In fact, they asked us to please NOT worry about entertaining them or taking them to all the sights. They just wanted to sit with us, to hang out on the patio, to eat long meals and have long coffee chats and (most importantly) to listen. They wanted to listen. To us! They didn’t really want to see us do anything special. They didn’t want to go see all of our ministry work. They just wanted to be with us and to listen. And they specifically asked us to not change our schedule for them or do anything out of the ordinary. They just wanted to come alongside and be available to us for encouragement and support and listening. What a blessing!!!!
This week, our teammates Axel and Delilah, had a similar situation. (I think God knew that as a team, we have been really needing some encouragement! It’s been a tough couple of months.) One of their long-time friends in mission came to visit them FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENCOURAGEMENT! Unbelievable! And he has lived in Peru for many years, so he wanted to meet us and encourage us, too! WHAT?! We had a wonderful time sharing stories about Peru and the places / foods / experiences we have in common. He was a huge blessing to us, giving us words of encouragement and lifting us up, letting us know that we are seen and understood and not forgotten, that we are in the prayers of the people and that even though the work is difficult, our hearts and our spirit of peace in the community will prevail. Wow!
We are so grateful for the Encouragers—those who have a spirit for blessing others with their acts of prayer, letter writing, mailing small gifts, phone calls, emails, and above all, TIME to talk and listen and remind us that someone cares. You may never know how much your acts of kindness have meant to cross-cultural workers who need a little pick-me-up on those overwhelming days!
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ~1 Thessalonians 5:11
Heroes in the garden - Seven faithful ladies stepped in and put on their Wonder Woman attire (flowered dresses and garden party hats) and raised over $4000 for the La Posada ministry (http://www.drumsforchrist.org/la-posada.html)! Who knew that tea cakes and cucumber sandwiches and scones and cookies would bring us a miracle, but that’s what happened! Dozens of women showed up in their party dresses and came together to bless the La Posada care apartment and all of the front-line ministry workers who will be receiving care and counseling, rest and restoration here in Spain. Special thanks to all who went above and beyond with donations and gifts.
Thanks, Hometown Heroes!!!! So glad to have you serve in ministry and mission with us! Way to go, Team!
There has been a theme running through our lives for the past year or so. We are noticing it everywhere. We see it in several of our neighbors. We hear it in lots of our conversations with other cross-cultural workers (CCWs). We see it in immigrants and natural-born locals. It isn’t picky… it is prevalent in all socio-economic groups, all ages, and all races. So much so that Billy started doing research on it for his dissertation.
It’s a growing sense of loneliness and the need for connection and community.
It’s the reason that my neighbor stands on her front stoop every day and talks to whoever walks by. She lives alone. She’s in her late 80s. Standing outside every day to talk to the folks walking to the bakery is what is keeping her sane and alive. Because if she stays inside her cozy little living room sitting in her chair and watching TV, she will quickly lapse in to a deep loneliness that eats away at life. So instead, she holds court on her front step every day, waving and greeting the neighbors and having 5 and 10 minute chats with everyone who passes. She’s a doll!
Paco walks his little Yorkie dog by our house every day. I’m convinced that the little dog is finished with his business long before Paco is finished with the walk. Actually, the walk isn’t very “walk-ish”… it’s more about standing in the park and waiting for someone to come along so Paco can talk. And that someone is me on many days. I take our dogs out and while the dogs all run around and check out every smell and every pinecone and every tree in the park, Paco tells me anything and everything. His wife died a couple of years ago. He’s alone now, just him and his little dog. He tries to wow me with his ability to say greetings or phrases in several European languages. He gives me the town history, or gossips about folks that walk by, because “I’m a foreigner and I need to know these things”. Really nice man.
Billy and I attended a conference on Trauma and Resilience for care workers in early April. The research is quite compelling. The number one factor in resilience is Community – feeling connected to others, having people who you can share with and talk to, people who are there for us, who are available, who laugh with us and who cry with us. People who have connectedness and community are people who have the highest ‘survival rate’ when the tough stuff happens. Hmmm…
Then I went to a workshop on Team Development, specifically teams of cross-cultural workers. Guess what the number one factor was for team cohesion and success. A sense of belonging and community. Hmmm…
The thing that makes me sad is that the research also shows that the biggest factor that is missing for CCWs (and immigrants and refugees and anyone who is living in another culture or in transition) is a sense of belonging, community and security.
Think about it. When you move, you immediately lose those things. There is a sense of feeling a little lost, you don’t know where you fit, your normal routine is no longer there, your friend group (and family) is
now far away. Your sense of identity might take a pretty big hit due to these losses.
Speaking from experience, I would have to agree. With every move we have made, we have had a sense of loss, a sense of no longer belonging, a sense of feeling insecure in where we are or who we are. Our friends from home are now thousands of miles away. Our families are also far away. Who do you call when you need a hand? Who do you call when you want to celebrate something or when you have had a bad day and you need to vent? Who just shows up at your house for an impromptu cookout on Friday night? That used to happen EVERY Friday night in Texas. But when you move to another country?
The key is community. We are so lucky! We have never been completely without community. Sure, we moved far away. But we have always had our foot in several types of communities, no matter where we are. And, that automatically makes us more likely to be resilient, to be able to bounce back and survive the tough stuff, and to thrive wherever we are.
“Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.” ― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way
I’m going to make a little observation on that quote. Not everybody has a home team – because everybody doesn’t work to cultivate that connection - but I think everybody NEEDS one. We have these people! Yes, most of them are 5000 miles away, but they are there! They are always there. We also have a community of friends and peers who are CCWs. People who we can always call or text and say, “Hey, I need to talk. Do you have some time?” Yes, most of them live in other countries all around the globe, but they are community for us. They are a place where we know that we belong and we feel loved. They are the people who ‘get it’.
I was talking to one of those friends just yesterday and I realized that she knows all of my bits and pieces. She knows all of my personality, my quirks and my ‘stuff’. She knows what I’m thinking and how I’m going to react under stress and what pushes my buttons, and she knows that it’s okay and I’ll bounce back after I process and chill. She knows that she’s Miss Bubbly and I’m Mrs. Reserved – but I wish I was more like her, and she has the unique power to make me laugh till my sides hurt. She lives 4000 miles away from me! And we talk every week. Folks, that’s belonging and community. Thank you, Internet! Messenger and Skype and other programs make connection work for us!
What about local community and belonging? Yes, we have that, too. It’s a little tougher. Language and culture sometimes make deep connections harder to come by. It takes a longer time to cultivate. But we have it. We have local friends who do life with us. We have folks who we trust with our stories and our laughter and our tears, and who trust us with theirs. People who are helping us raise our daughter or navigate cultural norms. And there are a few who are on the fringes, who are just now – after 5 years – starting to open up their lives and connect. Trust takes time.
Does it always have to be deep emotional connection to be community? No, not always. McMillan & Chavis define sense of community as "a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together." For my friend, Delilah, the ladies in her gym class are a community. They matter to each other. They notice when someone doesn’t show up and they call or text to check on that person. They cheer each other on in their goals. Do they all have a deep emotional connection? No. But they are connected. They matter to each other.
For Ana (my neighbor across the street), community looks like all the individuals who pass by and chat with her each day. They aren’t part of a formal group. They don’t meet at a designated time. But they all stop and chat with Ana. They matter to Ana. And they notice if she isn’t on her front step. I have seen people knock and call out her name and check if she’s okay, simply because she wasn’t out there when they passed.
The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food. ~Dean Ornish
I’m going to challenge you. Right now – Who are your people? Who is your community? Who comes to mind when you read this? Right now – call them! Text them. Go see them. Reach out. Because this is deeply important! People need connection and community, and people need to be seen and heard and loved. So do it. Right now. Check in and let them know that you’re thinking of them and how important they are to you.
Every time that someone partners with us in ministry, they become a hero. That’s right! Through their gifts and prayers, they step in and give a helping hand to us and to the work we do in Spain. Let’s give a special shout out to a couple of our heroes this month:
Jennifer and Alan Shoalmire used their feet and their hearts to be superheroes this month! They challenged their friends and neighbors to raise support for this ministry by donating when they ran in the recent Run Houston! 5K race in Minute Maid park. By setting TMS Global and our ministry up as their Reason2Race http://info.reason2race.com/about-us/how-it-works/ they raised $388! That’s enough funds to sponsor 9 full days of care, coaching, counseling and debrief for a cross-cultural worker or humanitarian aid worker— that includes lodging, full board meals, and care services! That’s amazing!!! Thank you for helping give care to those who are in desperate need of a break, a little TLC, and restoration!!!
To learn more about Reason2Race and how you can raise funds while you have fun in your local 5K or triathlon or marathon (any race, any time!), go to http://info.reason2race.com/about-us/how-it-works/
Interested in becoming a hero? Want to have your photo or your business highlighted for being a hero and helping the ministry and care work we do? Check out Looking for a Few Superheroes for some ideas, or go straight to the giving link at TMS Global and sign up to be a hero in service to others.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!