"I know that you are praying people"
We love good Indian food. Sadly, there aren’t any Indian restaurants in our town. They are easily found in the large cities, but not in the small Spanish villages. However, there is an exception. About 30 minutes away from us, there is another small village that has an amazing Indian restaurant. Over the years, we have gone many times and have built a sweet relationship with *Baashir. Baashir is from Pakistan. He immigrated to England several years ago and worked in London until he decided to come to Spain and start his own restaurant. He and a few friends opened the Mughal Indian restaurant in a tiny village with the whooping population of 5500.
We have always been intrigued (and a little astounded) by Baashir and his restaurant. How on earth are they staying open? How could they possibly have enough business, especially in a tiny pueblo in rural Spain? Spanish culture is not known for accepting new things or new people, and Spaniards are particularly traditional when it comes to food. In the large metropolitan areas, variety is more readily available due to globalization and a more diverse population. But Spanish pueblos and villages are notorious for ostracizing outsiders and shutting out new businesses or ideas. Not only that, but this little band of entrepreneurs are immigrants (a very tough situation in rural Spain), they don’t look like the locals, they don’t speak Spanish well, AND they don’t serve traditional local foods?! So many things stacked against them.
As immigrants ourselves and as people who train others in living cross-culturally, we know the hardships and difficulties these guys are facing. We have often thought of Baashir and his friends and lifted silent prayers that God would give them favor. “Please, God, let them find friends and community. Let the local population treat them with kindness. And please let them feel loved as they seek to live and work in this tiny town. May the work of their hands prosper.”
Over the years, Baashir has opened up to us as we eat at the restaurant. He has shared struggles with us about loneliness, especially as it relates to his wife. His wife was left behind in Pakistan, and he has been desperately trying to bring her to Spain. Every time we go to the restaurant, we ask how he is doing and how things are progressing with the paperwork to bring his wife over. He always smiles, folds his hands in the way of his culture, and thanks us for remembering his family and for asking about them. Finally, in the Spring of this year, he responded with great joy. “My wife is coming! She will be here soon! I am so excited to finally have her at my side.”
In June, we went to eat at Mughal’s. We were heading into a very busy season with a hectic schedule, and we knew that this would be our last chance to drive over to Baashir’s place and relax and eat great Indian food for a couple of months. While sitting at our table and chatting with Baashir, we asked how his wife was doing. With a look of desperation and concern, he said “She is finally here, and I am finally complete and happy to be with her. But she is having a very hard time. She knows no one. She cannot speak Spanish or English, only Urdu. Because of our culture and religion, she cannot be around other men, but there are no women here who can speak her language or who understand our culture. In our country, all the women do things together and have each other. But here, she has no one and I am at the restaurant all day and night. She is very lonely.”
Baashir was obviously hurting for his wife, *Asali. We talked a bit about how hard it is to learn to live in another culture, and how hard it is when you do not have community or understand anything around you. In that moment, we were treading on common ground. Each of us has experienced the struggles and challenges of being the outsiders and trying to find footing in a new place. This conversation felt like a divine appointment and holy ground. Just then, Baashir said something that made it apparent that God was orchestrating this moment. Before Baashir left our table to go tend to other customers and the kitchen, he said, “Friends, I know you are praying people. Would you please pray for my wife and her happiness?”
We were so honored at this request, but also astonished. How did Baashir know that we are praying people? We are just customers in his restaurant who make it a point to talk to him and listen well. But we have never prayed with him or talked about specific spiritual things. How does he know? Of course, we agreed to pray for Asali.
A bit later in the evening, he swooped by the table in his rush to tend to customers in the busy restaurant and said to me, “My wife is in the car just outside. She rides with me to make deliveries so we can be together. Would you be willing to come meet her?” Billy was forbidden by their culture to see her, but I got up from the table and followed as Baashir led me to his car. His wife got out of the passenger side. She was dressed in her traditional shalwar kameez clothing and was fully covered, including head scarf and face covering. All I could see were her eyes. She was obviously terrified and confused. Why was her husband bringing this strange woman to the car to meet her? She could not understand my words, nor could I understand her. But the look on Baashir’s face as he presented his bride to me was priceless. He loves this woman! He was so proud to present her to me.
After a few awkward words, Asali and I said our goodbyes and then Baashir hit me with a parting request. “Would you please pray for us to have a child? We are ready and want to have the blessing of a baby to start our family. Please pray that God would bless us.” Again, I was honored by this request, and surprised that Baashir could see and know that we are praying people.
After a couple of busy months, we visited the restaurant again, so excited to finally be back and to have some amazing food and see Baashir. We had thought of him and Asali often and had worried for her transition to Spain. We prayed that she had not suffered too terribly as an immigrant and a woman with no language skills and no community, but we feared that she had not faired well. Imagine our surprise when Baashir came bounding to our table and brought Asali out with him! She was visibly transformed – no head to toe covering, no fearful look in her eyes, and SMILING! Baashir said, “Look at my beautiful wife, how well she is! I have had to learn to relax my cultural ideas about women so that she can thrive. I have to be okay with her coming out in public, with other men being able to see her face and talk to her, with her being at the restaurant and working with us. It has been a very big change for me, but look at the change in her! And, Friends, we have big news. We are going to have a baby!”
Please pray with us for Baashir. Pray for his wife, Asali, and this new addition to their family. Pray for their continued transition to a different culture and all that it entails. Pray that the work of their hands will prosper and that the transformation God is doing in their hearts will continue to grow. And please join us in thanking God for this sweet relationship, and that His countenance and light is somehow visible to others through us – even as we eat in a restaurant and listen as people share their life stories with us. Thank God for Baashir’s ability to see that we are “praying people” and for his vulnerability in asking us to pray for him and his concerns.
September has been a month of events!
We began the month by hosting another training intensive for cross-cultural workers - this time in Spain! Over the last couple of years, we have had several CCWs who could not attend our training in the USA due to Covid and vaccine travel restrictions (they are not USA citizens), or who have not been able to attend due to visas or scheduling issues with their ministry contexts. So, we decided to host a special training in Europe specifically for those people! This allowed these workers to finally receive the training they needed, as well as allowing them time together to build relationship and community and bond with each other - something that we know is vital to their long-term resiliency in the field. These workers serve in Egypt, Spain, Germany, Thailand, Costa Rica, and the USA.
Lead Develop Care Leadership training - We hosted a leadership training event for TMS Global in our town in Spain for twenty-four cross-cultural workers who serve in leadership positions around the world. This training focused on a shepherd model of leadership using three specific areas of competency for leaders: Lead, Develop, and Care. It was a rich time of training and learning alongside other leaders, as well as spending time talking about our specific contexts and needs and growing together in community.
Refugee aid: School Supplies Project - We continue to support refugees from Ukraine and other countries in crisis, as well as continuing to help support and resource refugee aid workers. In September, we were honored to finance efforts to make sure that refugee school children had all the necessary supplies for the beginning of the school year. Billy and I are both former elementary school teachers and we know the value of having children start out the year with everything they need. And, of course, we place a high value on education and on helping teachers and children succeed. So this project was a win, win, WIN all the way around for us! Together with our cross-cultural worker partners who work directly with these refugees, we were able to distribute 1000 backpacks with school supplies to refugee children from Ukraine and from Afghanistan! We know that education is a key component to the future of these children, and we want to make sure that they have what is necessary to find success in their new surroundings.
Refugee aid: Housing Project in Romania - You may remember that Billy traveled to Romania earlier in the Spring to partner with our friends there who are housing Ukrainian refugees. They also cross the border several times each month to take vanloads of food and supplies to pastors who are in war-torn areas and who have chosen to stay and serve their congregations and communities. We continue to work with these refugee aid workers and continue to help via care and resources. This month, they have taken on another building for housing refugee families. The immediate needs are to make a few repairs, furnish the rooms, and raise funds for the ongoing rent and utilities. Thanks to your generosity to the special fund for refugees, we were able to commit to paying the rent on this refugee house for 15-20 people through the end of the year! Thank you for helping these families have a safe haven and food on the table.
Thank you for being a part of this important work and for being a part of our ministry team! ~ Laurie & Billy
Happy Anniversary to us!!!!! Celebrate with us!!! Along with celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary, we are celebrating our 15th year of cross-cultural service overseas with TMS Global (Costa Rica, Peru, and Spain)! For the past 9 years, we have lived in Spain and served in several ministries and capacities in Europe and around the world. The scope of our work is multifaceted: training, refugee relief and development, care and counseling for cross-cultural leaders and aid workers, and community outreach. Check out the updates below for more about what we've been doing in the past few months:
Refugee Aid for Ukraine
We are partnering with other refugee aid workers to get the maximum amount of help to the people who are truly in need. Many of the larger aid organizations are funding relief to large city hubs, leaving those in smaller cities or isolated areas without food or shelter or help. We are helping our contacts and partners in smaller, more agile organizations to swiftly reach those in need and support relief work in areas that are running dry. This includes feeding tents in Ukraine, Romania, and Poland (3 meals per day for Ukrainian refugees), food and supply drops to pastors and churches in Odessa, Ukraine, and emergency shelter programs in Romania, Slovenia, and Czechia. We are now gearing up to help refugee children have the school supplies they need to start a new school year. Special thanks to Christ Church (College Station, TX) and Covenant UMC (Dothan, Alabama) for their generous special gifts in helping us work alongside these organizations and the cross-cultural workers who are sharing Christ’s love with displaced people.
Training for new workers and church leaders
In July, Laurie led the yearly training event for new cross-cultural workers and church mission leaders. We had 60+ people attend the 3-week event in North Carolina. New workers will now be ready for launch to assignments in Kazakhstan, Albania, Spain, various USA locations, Solomon Islands, Jordan, and Paraguay. Church leaders and pastors also attended and are better prepared to send and care for cross-cultural workers, as well as implementing healthy mission work locally and internationally. In September, Laurie and her team will lead another training in Spain which will prepare workers who will be attending from or launching to United Kingdom, Spain, Egypt, USA, Germany, and Costa Rica.
Care and Counselling for global ministry workers
Care for cross-cultural workers, pastors, and global leaders: Billy has been overwhelmed with the amount of care and counselling needs among those who work in ministry and aid roles. Response to his work for ministry worker debrief sessions, burnout recovery coaching, and care for aid workers has more than doubled this year. He has been teaching care and training workshops, leading debrief retreats, doing critical incident debrief and coaching, and guiding men’s spiritual renewal hikes for ministry workers. All of this is critical for the resiliency and longevity of cross-cultural workers.
Wide-reaching effect of this work
While it has been a very busy summer of teaching and training and care outreaches, it has been wonderful to be in a season where we feel that our gifts and talents are being used and where the ripple effect is truly reaching far and wide. From our work with refugees and aid workers to our training for cross-cultural workers to the time we spend listening to and counselling pastors, workers, and community leaders - those efforts effect the work and the people in Ukraine, Romania, Poland, Czechia, Slovenia, Egypt, Germany, Jordan, Spain, Portugal, Bali, Thailand, Turkey, Kosovo, Albania, UK, Kazakhstan, Solomon Islands, Oman, Paraguay… and even back in the USA as we help train churches and pastors and cross-cultural workers to reach out in their own country and communities.
Thank you for being a part of this important work and for being a part of our ministry team!
Laurie & Billy
from Billy Drum, Romania/Ukraine
We’ve come to visit a house where our partners are housing Ukrainian refugees. In this modest 3 bedroom, 1 bath house, there is a strange juxtaposition of both joy and shock. Even under the difficult circumstances, a culture of hospitality still reigns and we are invited to come in and have a cup of tea. While adults are in various states of emotions, there are several children playing happily around us. A couple of the children have used the small kitchen table to make a blanket fort and I’m struck by the fact that some things are the same in every culture.
There are three families sharing this home that is being provided by All4Aid. It is one of several housing aid projects that the organization is providing here in Romania. Three families are sharing one kitchen and one bathroom. Three entire families in a three-bedroom house with only 4 chairs at the kitchen table, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone. I am not sure how many people make up these three families. There are people everywhere, various generations, and some have stayed back in the bedrooms and not come out. Sometimes grief requires solitude.
One of the adults says, “It is good to have a place, to have somewhere safe to stay. It is good. But it is also hard sometimes. There are a lot of us in one house (laughing). But we are safe and we have food and clothing. So it is good.”
All4Aid and their volunteers are providing for the needs of the people in this house and others like it. Through donations, they provide the housing, food, clothing, and other basic necessities.
“We have food. We have shelter. We’re good”, says one of the elder men, a grandfather to some of the little girls.
“Bombs were falling everywhere. Bombs destroyed our city. We had no choice. We had to leave.”
“We want to return, to go home. We will wait here until that is possible”, says another.
One of the younger men has a disability – a back problem – and could not stay behind to fight. “I just want to work. I want to be useful again. I need to find a way to do something.”
One of the women in the house is an accountant. She is able to continue working remotely. The business that she supports in Kyiv is trying to keep doing business. She works on a laptop that she shares with another one of her housemates.
The communication in the room is a mix of Russian and English. A cross-cultural worker who has been serving in Ukraine for many years is here with us and is helping us by translating and giving us cultural guidance. This work would not be impossible without her training, experience, and assistance. One of the older teen girls has absolutely beautiful, perfect English. Between all of us, we are able to communicate well.
The eldest gentleman says to me, “I am too old to learn English, so you need to learn Russian so we can talk more!” A moment of laughter as we visit and drink tea.
I am here on a two-fold mission. I’ve come to give help to our partners at All4Aid in whatever capacity I can. Yesterday, that looked like laying flooring and hanging cabinets and doing other renovations in a building that will soon house more refugee families. It also looked like visiting with a local pastor about his work and what his current needs are. I looks like driving a frightened young woman to the airport to board a flight to safety in another European country as she escapes the war. She takes with her only a suitcase and her violin (she was in the orchestra). Later this week, it will look like driving a vanload of vital supplies into Ukraine to hand them off to Ukrainian pastors who have stayed behind to serve their people. We will be filling the lists they have sent to us, things that they cannot get because their supplies are now depleted. Oil, flour, pain medications, and other items. We will fill the van and cross the border alongside Red Cross trucks and other humanitarian aid and deliver to our contacts on the Ukraine side.
My other focus during this trip is to give care to refugees and refugee workers. Listen to their stories. Help them process trauma and grief. Sit with them, let them talk, hear the cry of their hearts. As I sit with these families, I’m realizing the importance of care in the waiting, care during this time of limbo. No one knows how long this war will last. No one knows how long they will be away from their country. No one knows what next week or next month or even next year will hold. And that alone causes a special kind of stress and tension and unrest. The stress and fear of the unknown is a heavy weight. For refugee workers, the weight of carrying the stories of others can break you. It is vital that they, too, are receiving care, a listening ear, encouragement, and rest.
The losses have been great already. Loss of home and country, loss of jobs and schools and friends. Loss of everything ‘normal’. Those are the obvious and the big losses. But some losses are less obvious. One of the teen girls lost her birthday – it occurred as the family ran from bombs and was in the frantic middle of an escape. Forever, she will remember her birthday as the day the bombs fell on her town and they ran for their lives. This is how trauma embeds itself in the brain. It latches on to memories and holds on tight.
It is difficult to stay present, to stay in the moment and not think of my own family and my own circumstances. While I live far from my homeland, it was a choice I made, and I always know that I can return. That is not so for these families. They live in the unknown. When will they be able to go home? What will they find when they do return? Life will never be the same again. I have to consciously bring myself back to a ministry of presence and stay out of my head while I’m with them. I can process and debrief later with others who can help me work through all that I’m seeing and hearing and holding in my heart.
While the adults are talking and the children are playing and we are enjoying tea, a cell phone rings. It is a video call from the husband and father of one families staying in the house. He is still in Ukraine, fighting the war. The wife talks to him for a bit, then the little girls go and talk to their father. And the mood of the house completely changes. The joy and laughter and playfulness is suddenly replaced as the girls become withdrawn and somber. “They don’t know how to handle their own emotions,” someone says. “They don’t know what to do with how they feel.” And in a matter of moments, minds shift back to the war, to home, to loved ones left behind.
If you would like to give to help us help Ukrainian refugees, please go to our special project account at
Nueva Vida Mosaico on the TMS Global giving page.
Wanted to give you a really quick rundown on what's going on and how we are working to help:
When One Door Closes...
Everything changes. It's the one thing that we can count on. Change. We train new cross-cultural workers to hold their projects and plans lightly, because moving with the ebb and flow of the needs of the culture and context is part of the work. If we are to be relevant in our communities, we have to be attentive to the Holy Spirit and be prepared to adapt.
La Mesa Turquesa is changing. Over the past two years, almost everything about the situation and our world has changed. The refugee situation is different in our town. Covid has forced many adaptations and pivots. We have lost teammates and volunteers and have been running with a dramatically reduced workforce. Our vision has stayed the same, but the needs of our community have shifted. And now, we have made the hard decision to close our doors and start a different project. Today is the day that we shut the doors and say goodbye to this chapter of our lives and work.
If you have been with us throughout our entire cross-cultural worker journey, this is nothing new. Our projects and plans have had to shift and change several times over the years. But the vision has always been the same - it just takes on a different form according to the needs of our community and context.
La Mesa Turquesa has been a truly wonderful project! That's why this decision was so difficult and carries with it a sense of grief and loss. As we have gotten the word out about the closure, we have had some really sweet conversations and comments from people in the community.
"We thank you for so much dedication, love, humility, and for your example.....We have felt wrapped in love and included, understood and important. May God repay you. Much prosperity and luck in your new paths and projects, because where there is that eagerness and will, there is no barrier that can oppose you. THANK YOU SO MUCH." (one of our neighbors and constant user of La Mesa)
Words like these are confirmation for us and reaffirm that our values and our love was lived out in this project. If La Mesa Turquesa existed for no other reason than to make people feel "wrapped in love and included, understood, and important," then it was enough.
Now, we move forward. When one door closes, another opens. Our team already has several new opportunities and new doors and we are truly excited. So, while this day is bittersweet for us and it carries a certain amount of sadness and grief, it is also exciting. Our team is now available to work in the community even more. Our schedules are opened up and we can be out with people even more than before. We are already partnering with other community projects and we can now come alongside those people and projects in deeper and more meaningful ways.
One of our most exciting new projects will begin next week. Stay tuned to hear and see more from our amazing storytelling project ¿Quién es mi vecino?
This project is all about stories - the stories of our neighbors and their unique paths. They are stories of diversity and inclusion, stories of struggle and redemption, stories that make our neighbors come alive. We'll be posting all of our stories and photos in our team's Facebook and Instagram sites, so you need to go follow us to stay on top of this new project!!! Go to Nueva Vida Mosaico on Facebook and Instagram. We will start posting on Monday, Jan. 31, and you aren't going to want to miss a single word!!!! These stories are GOLD!
And, if you read this far, then I think you deserve a little treat... for a sneak peek at some upcoming content, go check out the blog at NUEVA VIDA MOSAICO - Proyecto ¿Quién es mi vecino? The English version of each story follows the Spanish, so find the language you want to read and ENJOY!
Holidays far from Home
We celebrated Thanksgiving last week. It’s our 15th Thanksgiving as cross-cultural workers. While Thanksgiving is a decidedly American holiday, we continue to celebrate it wherever we are. It is part of our customs and traditions, something that carries memories for us and transmits part of our culture to our daughter and to those around us.
This year, we held a Thanksgiving meal at La Mesa Turquesa. We fixed our traditional foods: Billy made a turkey, I made cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole, our teammates made green bean casserole and pie. Then we invited neighbors and friends and all the people who come to La Mesa to bring a dish that is typical in their family and share at the Thanksgiving table.
After we all ate and laughed and talked around the big turquoise table in our center, I shared that it is customary at Thanksgiving to spend some time giving thanks around the table for the past year - what are you grateful for in your life this year?
We each took our turn, sharing the blessings from the past year and what we are thankful for. Health, family, food on the table, jobs, and more were discussed. One of our volunteers who just started helping teach Spanish lessons at La Mesa in the past few months said that she was so thankful that she had this “job” at La Mesa. She said it makes her feel valued and like she has something to contribute. (I almost started crying at this point.) She said that she loves coming and helping the students—the immigrants and refugees and asylum seekers who come to learn language and culture and find community in our center. Her husband said he has become her assistant at home, helping her prepare language lessons and materials and taking care of things at the house while she works on her plans for the classes. She prided herself in having lessons planned out three weeks in advance. She was beaming! I love this because I have known this woman for 8 years now and I have never seen her have so much enthusiasm and excitement about something. It is obvious that she has found purpose in her volunteer work at La Mesa.
As we continued around the table with more thanks for families and health and provision, we came to one of our refugee students. *Asha talked about being thankful for the opportunity to study and go to school. She talked about having a place to live. And then she talked about being thankful for the team at La Mesa and all that they have done for her. Especially for her birthday.
A month ago, *Asha and her twin sister came to language class like they do every day. During the regular greetings and warm-up, it came out that it was their 17th birthday. The class got very excited and began singing and congratulating them, but the girls immediately became very sad and broke down crying. They live in a house for unaccompanied minors who are in the refugee system. Life with other 13-17 year old refugee children in one house with a Spanish guardian is difficult, at best. That morning, the twins had blown up some balloons for themselves to celebrate their birthday. But, some of the other teens made fun of them and popped the balloons and said hurtful things. So here they were, far from home, no family but each other, no one to celebrate with, and crying their eyes out on their birthday.
Our teammate, Kat, sprung in to action and ran to the bakery. She quickly bought cupcakes and ran back to the center to throw an impromptu birthday party. Everyone in class hugged the girls and said encouraging words and blessed their day. That night, one of the students went home and made handmade earrings for both of them and brought the gifts to the girls the following day. This is what our little community center is doing! We are becoming family to people who have none. We are building caring community for people who have lost everything. We are living out what it means to “love your neighbor”. We’re trying to be a light in the darkness.
Holidays are never easy when you are far from home. Far from loved ones, far from traditional foods and customs and family happenings. Over the years, it hasn’t gotten easier for us to be far away during the holidays. And for our newest neighbors who find themselves far from home this year for various reasons… war, famine, poverty, political asylum, etc… it is even more difficult to find anything to be thankful for or to celebrate.
As neighbors and friends, that’s where we can step in and bridge the gap. That’s where we can come alongside and lift up our new friends. The holidays are hard. Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays and the new year… those all carry customs and traditions and family connections that make it a really rough season for those who are far from home. It can be a dark time.
As you reflect on your own family traditions and celebrations and your own gratitude about his year, please remember those who are far from anything familiar and lift up prayers for them. Then go a step further and reach out to them - invite them over or take them a meal, share a cup of coffee or bake an extra pie or pumpkin bread or another dozen cookies to take to them. How can you be a light in the darkness? How can you “love your neighbor” - your immigrant neighbor, your refugee neighbor, the lonely neighbor, the neighbor who has lost everything this year?
We are thankful for you and for your support of the work we do for refugees and immigrants and asylum seekers. Because of you, Maricarmen has found renewed purpose and calling and feels valued as a volunteer teacher. Because of you, *Asha and *Bhama were not alone for their 17th birthday. Because of you, Billy is able to serve on the leadership team for the Refugee Highway Partnership - a Christian organization that empowers cross-cultural workers and ministries to give help and hope to refugees in Europe. Because of you, global ministry leaders and humanitarian workers are being specially trained and cared for so they can care for others and extend the love of Christ to their new neighbors.
Thank you for loving your neighbors well… at home AND all around the globe!
Pray with Us
All those celebrations (see previous blog post) make it sound like life is all hunky dory, huh? Well, I don't want you to think that everything is coming up roses. Yes, we are extremely grateful for many things in our life and work right now and we want to give praise for those. But we also have situations and circumstances that are hard and that we are struggling through. Please join us in praying through these:
What do a wedding, a dissertation, an anniversary, and a job have in common?
They are all celebrations we have enjoyed in the past few weeks!!! Those and more!
At the beginning of September, we were honored to participate in the Spain wedding of Nathaniel Foster (son of Judy and Tim Foster, College Station, TX) as he married his lovely bride, Ana. Nate and Ana are both serving in the United States Navy and are stationed in Rota, Spain. They contacted Billy to see if he could officiate their wedding in Spain. With a marriage certificate flown in from the Brazos Valley and a wedding celebration comprised almost entirely of naval officers and shipmates, we celebrated a beautiful wedding at sundown in the Spanish countryside outside of Ronda. We were so blessed to be a part of their big day, and to see Tim and Judy, Dottie and Nathaniel, and several other Brazos Valley folks who traveled to Spain for the occasion!
September 20 was a big day in the Drum household - it was the day that Billy finally hit "SEND" on the final copy of his dissertation!!! Trust me, the entire family and our Spain team breathed a huge sigh of relief as the final words were written and final touches were placed on that baby! It has been several years in the making, but it's now complete! His research was titled "Burnout Among Cross-Cultural Workers: An Analysis of Systemic Issues that Lead to Burnout Within Medium-Sized American Mission Organizations". Everybody, all together now, breathe and smile... *sigh* :)
In June, we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. Our intention was to take a special vacation cruise in September to celebrate (we did the same thing for our 25th). However, thanks to Covid and travel issues and crazy port restrictions for cruise ships, our anniversary trip was cancelled. Boo!!! But we did go ahead and take a few days after Billy's dissertation was turned in and go up to Belgium to meet up with friends Ron and Amanda Phillips (formerly College Station, now living in Austin) for a short break and retreat. Not just anyone will fly across the ocean to celebrate with you! Ron and Amanda are troopers and we loved getting to spend a few days together wandering around with absolutely zero schedule. It was marvelous!
While we were in Belgium, Billy received an email with an awesome opportunity. He was asked to be on the Refugee Highway Partnership leadership team and to help develop a care program for cross-cultural workers who serve in refugee camps and outreaches throughout Europe. The timing was awesome (just after his dissertation was complete) and this fits perfectly with his strengths and gifts and his vision for building up care and training for CCWs. He now has his hands full! Developing a comprehensive care program for hundreds of CCWs working with refugees, plus working to build up La Posada Training and Care in Spain, plus leading the team in Antequera... he has plenty on his plate!
Our other big celebration revolves around Sarah. She completed her certification for Equine Sports Tech (trainer/coach specializing in equine Olympic Disciplines). In September, the center hired her to work as a trainer and coach in their riding school. She is working hard 6 days a week, training people from 4 years old through 50+. And because of her level of certification, she is also now working with a local physical therapist and together they are offering Equine Assisted Therapy for people with a variety of special needs (physical and emotional). Somewhere, in her non-work hours, she continues training her newest competition horse and they made their debut in the show jumping ring at the end of September. Watch out, World... this kid is on FIRE! PS - Sarah turns 18 this month!!!!!
Summer 2021 video update
Just a little taste of what we've been up to this summer and how we're working to reach far and wide...
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
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! 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 via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!