Jason and I stood in the cathedral built in the 1500s and beheld the medieval art on the walls with gold-leaf halos, the saints on the one side, and the many statues of Mary on the other. We made our way to the front and a man introduced himself and began to recount the history of the cathedral of San Pablo. He showed us the murals in the front of the church of Saint Paul, the apostle. How he was blinded and converted on the road to Damascus, how he recovered his sight, how he wrote letters to the churches, and how he was beheaded because of his testimony to Jesus. Yes, we were familiar with Paul. He then began to explain the customs of the people of Mitla, Mexico, the small, but ancient town in the state of Oaxaca. He described how before the Spaniards came with the good news of Jesus the people living there, the Zapoteco, had a way of life known as the Guelaguetza. In this philosophy there are two roads. One that leads to heaven and one that leads to hell. Those who do good go to heaven, while those who sin the big sins go to hell. The name of the town, “Mitla”, in the Zapotec language means place of the dead or gateway to hell. The philosophy of the Guelaguetza is one in which the people keep track of favors done for others. It is an exacting culture, where one must work for their salvation.
It is into this culture that we came for twelve days.
This year we invested in a family missions trip to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit our dear missionary friends, the Blyckers, to expose our children to life in another culture, and to serve others with the gifts the Lord has given us.
One of our first experiences was to travel to a small mountain village named San Miguel. This village has a tiny church of 25 people, mostly Zapoteco. I had the privilege of hearing the story of its humble beginnings thirty years ago.
Usually the women come to Christ first and pray for their husbands for years until they surrender their lives to Jesus. Many men struggle with alcoholism as Mezcal, a liquor made from the abundant agave plant, is available everywhere. A sad result of alcoholism many times is domestic violence. However, the power of Jesus freed several of the men in the church from their old way of life. Their testimonies of transformation had a profound effect on my children. Please pray that more of the men in this town hear the gospel and respond to Jesus!
Shortly after our time in the village several of our children became sick and so that changed some of our plans for the week. One of the ministries Angela is involved with in Mitla is a girls’ club that reaches the young girls of the town with truth from the Word of God, crafts, food, and the opportunity to play in their yard (the only grassy spot in the area, due to the desert climate!) She and her daughter, Kiersta poured into these girls all year and taught them Psalm 23 and all about the Good Shepherd. She asked if I would share the gospel with the families at their last girls’ club, which I was honored to do. However, we had to push the get-together back because of sickness. At the time it felt like an attack from the enemy, and perhaps it was, and even on the day we had the party, it rained so much we had to use the local church facilities instead of the Blycker’s home. But God’s ways are always so much better than our own. What the enemy means for evil, the Lord uses for good. It was necessary that I had a few more days pondering the culture and way of life in Mitla because come Friday evening, the Holy Spirit empowered me with the wisdom to share the gospel simply and interactively and in a way that they could comprehend. I could absolutely feel the prayers that night. So thank you for praying! Several of the women prayed to receive Jesus! And because of the rain, the party was held in the church, and our prayer is that these families would feel comfortable attending services there. For many of these children and parents it was the first group meeting they have experienced since COVID shut everything down last year.
How can I adequately describe our twelve days there? It was a dream come true for me to take my entire family on a missions trip. To Mexico, which is one of the places I grew up and which has a deep, deep place in my heart. We were all stretched in our patience and love and self-control and upon our return found our little town of Madisonville so sparkling clean and nice, it blew us away. And HOT!! We were also overjoyed to be able to flush our toilet paper! We saw the Lord’s sovereign hand in the timing of our trip. We were supposed to have gone a year ago, but due to COVID our airline went bankrupt. Speaking of which, all of our COVID tests came back negative, which enabled us to get back into the States. So thank you for praying for that!
Here are a few other pictures of our journey to Oaxaca:
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 3:3-7