April was an interesting and busy month for us!
The mission has a beach house for the purpose of allowing staff to get away. Brandon and I were blessed with three days and two nights of resting and fasting seeking God for his will for our future with Lyla. God has called us back to redding for a year of rest, but what will follow after that year we were still unsure. Prior to this retreat, we felt there were many different options for where to go and what to do after our time in Redding. It was a beautiful time of worship, reading the word and praying and listening. We really felt the Lord giving us his blessing to choose our future location of service, assuring us that he would open and close doors, but that there would be more than one door opened for us to choose from. We are excited to see where He leads!
Some may already know, but there were some unsureties regarding the pregnancy and the medical attention we were receiving was not sufficient to put our minds at rest. After much council, prayer, and wisdom we felt God calling us home a week and a half early. We are writing this update as we wait in line to cross the border back into the states, trailer packed full, for our long journey home. We are excited to get the medical attention we long for.
That being said, we had a beautiful time saying goodbye to our students with a school-wide party where they played all sorts of baby games such as put the diaper on the baby blind folded, smell the "poopy" (chocolate) diaper, feed your partner baby food, and who can drink from a baby bottle the fastest. It was a sweet send off.
I was also blessed by one of my best friends Cristin Stephens with my first baby shower. It was so beautiful I cried as I took in what I had come to believe I might never have, a baby shower!!!! All of house three was able to come and my Mexican "mom" Susanna (house mom of house three) I was so blessed and thankful. It was very special.
We also got to have our fantastic four kiddos spend the night Friday and spend all day Saturday (our last day) all together. We had a beautiful time reading bible stories (such as Jonas), and explaining that the reason we are leaving is out of obedience to God, and His calling and will we were able to share that we were proud of them and would be checking up on them often. We finally finished decorating our "castle" (see pictures). We also enjoyed eating the birthday cake Lisa decorated for her birthday. We got to paint wall hangings in the park and put our finger prints on the back of each so we will always remember each other and pray for one another when we see the wall hanging. We shared memories and shared lots of laughter. When it came time to leave there were many tears shed but with the hope of seeing each other again soon.
Lastly we were so happy that our daughter Angie, her son Nito and fiancé Erick were able to meet us in Ensenada to spend a few hours together, playing games, eating and drinking coffee (decaf for me no worries Lyla is safe :)). Angie is just a few days away from graduating high school and we couldn't be more proud!!!
Please keep us in your prayers:
* A smooth transition back to the states, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
* Safety in our travels.
* That the broken hearts of the kiddos would be repaired and renewed.
* A smooth transition for the changes at the school (new PE teacher and new English teacher will take over Monday)
Greetings from Mexico! As Brandon and I get closer and closer to May, we feel like we are appreciating every day more and more. We are taking every opportunity possible to invest in the lives of the kiddos here and live every moment to the fullest.
This month we have been very busy! God has done amazing work here at the mission. We have been able to minister to different teen girls who have opened up about their abusive past. From these amazing daughters of God, I have seen His protection and guidance and building of character through their testimony of their lives. They have stood up for themselves, taken care of siblings all alone at the age of 8-10 years, they have worked for their families at that age to provide income to help put food on the table. They are warriors in training for the kingdom of heaven. We are asking you to join us in prayer for every child here at the mission to be able to overcome perhaps the biggest hurdle in their spiritual walk, forgiveness. We are praying for not only this rising army to be able to find a way to forgive those who have wronged them, but also that those who have wronged them would be reconciled to God and become healthy enough to restore relationship with their children.
This month we were able to introduce what dying eggs was like along with a hunt for them afterwards with the fantastic family of four. It was great to watch them help each other and work together as a team. It was especially great to see the oldest sister become a kid once again!
On Easter Sunday we got to invite an entire house over to watch the passion of the Christ. There were many tears as their hearts were moved by the sacrifice our creator made for us. We are very grateful for that time of ministry.
We have a date set for when we will return to the states. We will head out the 2nd of May. It will be bitter sweet but we are excited for our next big adventure on the horizon! Keep your eyes out for the next April update which will include a retreat to the beach house where God speaks powerful things, the last visitation Sunday with the kids, and what our future looks like.
Thank you for your continued support. Please see the prayer list below to join us in prayer:
PS we are not allowed to post pictures of the kids for safety purposes so no pictures this month. Thank you for understanding.
Brandon speaks in sala:
This month Brandon was able to speak in Sala (which are daily morning devotionals for the entire staff) about how connected the mind body and soul are. He gave his testimony and received many affirmations of his gift of teaching. It was a blessing to all who got to hear.
A late Christmas Gift for the Fantastic Four:
A donor donated money for a Christmas gift excursion for the four and we finally were able to give them a gift in the form of memories. We took them on their first boat ride ever where they got to see seals and then went to a place like chucky cheeses, and finished it off with Dairy Queen. They were so happy to spend the day with their siblings making life long memories.
Heart-to-heart talks with the youth about purity:
Brandon and I were able to talk to different young teen girls about purity and how important it is. The girls watched intently as Brandon demonstrated a broken heart using napkins. We know God is planting seeds. Now we simply pray for growth.
A child opens her heart and past in our living room:
One child came over and opened her heart to us about her past, sharing many hurts, pains, anger and resentment. She told us it was the first time she had ever shared these experiences. We were able to just listen and encourage her to continue talking about these things so that she can confront each situation as a step toward health. We were able to pray with her for forgiveness (Giving and receiving) and healing. This was one of the sweetest yet toughest moments yet.
A new step in Osteopathy for Brandon:
Brandon has been able to team up with the psychologist here and work using Osteopathy to identify different emotions/traumatic events that need to be addressed to bring healing. It has been great and he will be moving into a new office here pretty soon to continue this amazing work of God.
* continued safe pregnancy
* hearts of the kids
* Continued covering of our household as Brandon treats different people, there is always a spiritual aspect and know we need to be covered in prayer daily for this protection.
Greetings family and friends! We finally have an opportunity to write again with an update about the mission. First we want to give a huge thanks for those who donated last month, our funds have dropped drastically but God always provides. Thank you for those that gave, your money is invested directly into the lives of the children and adults here at the mission. Here is a very quick summary of our month:
We blessed the adolescent girls from house three with a beach day and a nice dinner out.
Brandon began working with kids from the orphanage to bring physical, emotional, and spiritual health to Gods children through Osteopathy. He also continues to work with the adult servants here.
The apartments we are staying in were formally dedicated to the Lord and the morning after the dedication God surrounded them with a rainbow of promise.
We got to spend a Saturday in Ensenada with the family of four where we showed them the fish market, went "shopping" at the little booths without buying haha, and how to grocery shop in Costco.
Brandon let the girls in house three do his hair before cutting it...no comment haha.
Lisa did a fun pH experiment with her students still keeping science alive in the classroom.
The school took a field trip into town for a scavenger hunt of places learning more about the town and where things are.
Brandon and I were counselors at kids camp for ages 6-11 where we got to have deep conversations about forgiveness, and the power of words.
The highlight for me (Lisa) was that my mom got to come visit!!! It was such a treat! She met our daughter-at-heart Angie and her son and fiancé. Brandon was able to do a powerful devotion with The young couple that was very fruitful.
Next she was able to be there for the reveal that we would be having a GIRL!!! Many staff and kids from the houses came for the reveal it was a such a treat to share this with so many.
Lisa also got to speak in the morning devotionals about how our bodies are God's temple. Of course I talked about the scientific miracles that we are and included Lamanin which is the protein that connects every thing, bridges everything and holds everything together in our bodies (check out the picture!).
My mom and I spent hours sticking colored stickers on the library books for the school here and she got to become an aunt to one of the four (Miguel).
We finally picked a name for our precious daughter "Lyla Joy". Lyla is from the root Lily having the significance of God's provision. Jesus talks of the Lilies of the field and how they don't worry and God provides all they need. Well God provided us with this precious gift and we are so thankful. Joy is in honor of my mom Joyce and the result of 6 years of hope!
Thank you for all who are praying for us! Please never stop! Here are our prayer requests:
* Protection for health of all the people here...the flu is on its last leg.
* Continued favor in the osteopathic ministry.
* That our hearts and the kids hearts will start to be prepared for our transition back the the states in the second week of May.
* Continued health of Lyla and momma 🙂
Thank you again for your continued support! We appreciate all you do!
Brandon, Lisa and Lyla
Hello again family and friends! We are so happy to write this update, as Lisa is in her 2nd trimester feeling better than ever! And Brandon is feeling his normal self again after 2.5 years! Many things have happened here in Mexico thanks to your prayer support and monetary support. Here are just a few things since our last update:
We were able to take out a couple of girls one on one...well one on two with Brandon and I able to disciple and just be listening ears. One of those times we were able
To be a final link in a long chain of believers to bring an 11 year old girl to accept Jesus into her life!
The kids from house three came over for help making a gingerbread house. That was a very fun team building time with them.
We were able to use our vehicle to help take the entire orphanage up to ensenada for a day at the trampoline place and a movie for Christmas. It was super fun and a great memory making time.
We helped with a dramatization/musical of the Christmas story with Lisa as a singer and Brandon on lighting crew. During this play "Noche En Belen" many people were bussed to the mission to spend a night in the streets of Bethlehem ending with a message of hope and salvation. In two nights we ministered to thousands of people from all surrounding communities! It was an absolute blessing.
Brandon and I got to give flowers as would a mother or father to a couple of girls after their Christmas ballet performance and were tickled pink to see all they had accomplished in ballet.
I Lisa was blessed to take part in directing my students in a whole school cantata for Christmas as well as choreographing a song.
We were blessed as a Christmas gift to fly home and visit family for the holiday. It was much needed rejuvenation and connection.
When we returned to Mexico we had a second Christmas with small gifts for house three girls and also the four kids from the orphanage. The four stayed the night on New Year's Eve and awoke to a pancake breakfast and little simple Christmas gifts. It was an absolute blast.
Lastly we celebrated Dulce's (the oldest of the four) 14th birthday with brownies, homemade ice cream and a piñata oh and lots of love.
We thank the Lord for his provision and timing in every moment. I know some may be wondering about what our next step is with the baby on the way and how that will affect our role in Mexico...we have spent hours in prayer and feel the Lord leading us home for at least the first year of our baby's life. We are planning on returning to the US in May (due date June 14th) and staying there for at least a year. Our time here at the mission is NEVER done as we will always return even if it is one week a year, this will always be our second home. Brandon and I truly thought we would be here in Mexico forever and even when we got pregnant we were thinking we would have a Mexican baby 🙂 give birth here and stay here but God of course has the perfect plan and so while our hearts are torn and sad in one way, we will look forward to what he has for us this next year and enjoy the support of family and friends.
* Please pray for financial provision as our financial donors have dropped some. (It's amazing however how God provides in unexpected ways and we have never ever been left wanting)
* A healthy pregnancy
* For Miguel (11yrs) for confidence in himself and who he is. Pray against the spirit of self condemnation.
* For a strong longing to give all we have and not live in the future but continue living in the present.
We cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers and support!!!
Morning sickness, food cravings and fatigue. What is going on!? You guessed it! After 6 years of waiting, God in His timing has blessed us with becoming a family of 3! Timing couldn't have been more perfect. Just when God put the finishing touches on Brandon's healing from Lyme his energy began to abound while Lisa's began to be directed toward the growth of Gods child He has entrusted to us. In Gods perfect timing Lisa now spends much of her time as Brandon once did; laying down lacking energy and filled with countless other symptoms. Once the healing took place, a fathers heart bursting with love broke out of Brandon like a prisoner set free. Little did we know that this fatherly heart would be used more than just ministering to the kids here. Lisa is now in her second trimester and we continue to follow up with our midwife appointment in anticipation to meet this blessed child face to face in just a few more months. Our tentative plan Lord willing is to give birth in Redding. Our visa situation has been temporarily resolved with a 6 month visitors visa. Thank you for praying.
Though our opportunity to disciple has slowed per the new pregnancy, it still continues through our teaching in the school and taking kids out to spend quality time. Lisa has really blossomed in her teaching English skills thanks to all you who gave advice! Her English class has been able to identify who they are in God's image, and how he has made them unique and special. Brandon is still teaching PE with joy and a ton of silly energy and laughter and just finished a unit on team work.
While we were able to visit family and get refreshed at our home church over thanksgiving, we made it back in time to take "the family of four" out for visitation Sunday. This is the 4th time we have been able to do that, and the outcome is encouraging. The 11 year old boy from that family has done so much better in school and has absolutely taken on much more confidence in himself and respect for authority. Praise God! The house mom of the oldest girl, took us aside and encouraged us, saying that she has really come out of her shell, shows much more initiative and confidence in socializing, and overall seems more joyful. She jokingly has begun to call us "Mama Lisa" and "Papa Brandon". It's very endearing.
Thank you for your continued prayer and support.
"This year will be a year of healing." -God's words to Brandon before coming
Before we got to Mexico, not only did God speak directly to Brandon, but also through other believers. He spoke a prophecy over Brandon that this year would be a year of healing.
As many of you know Brandon's battle with Lyme disease seems to linger… But just this month Brandon was awoken from a dream that urged him to pray for spiritual healing in a very specific way.
After 2 hours of intense prayer, Brandon's countenance changed and we were sure that healing had taken place. A healing that has been long-awaited. No all symptoms are not completely gone, there is a freedom and liberty, energy and joy that once was lost but now is found! This has been evidenced through his returned and renewed passion for teaching PE, and the hours of time spent playing with kids, without exhaustion, or pain.
A FUN BIRTHDAY WITH THE FANTASTIC FOUR:
Thanks to God we had an opportunity to celebrate the young man's birthday from the family of four that we have been connecting with here at the Mission. To celebrate we took a trip to Ensenada to a trampoline place where we had an amazing time jumping bouncing and playing with all four kids. The family made it beautiful memories together and connected in amazing ways. We also took them to a natural wonder called La Bufadora. As each wave crashes against the rock it sends water shooting hundreds of feet high in a spectacular show of Gods mighty wonder and creativity. It was very exciting to see the excitement of awe on each of their faces.
ASKING FOR ANGIE'S HAND IN MARRIAGE:
We received another visit from our daughter, grandson, and future son-in-law. During this visit our future son-in-law asked for Brandon's blessing to take Angie's hand in marriage. Although not blood related, both God and Angie have allowed us to have such a position of honor in her life as parents and we are so blessed to continue in this manner. So after a couple hours of questions and conversation, Brandon gave our blessing. We are looking forward to wedding bells.
Love is Life! What a crazy month we have had. This month the Lord brought us together through trial after trial. Through it all, God showed himself faithful. When we felt down and out, used and abused, exhausted by the attacks, God always offered an opportunity to love others. The few times we took these opportunities in the midst of the storm, we would be renewed with life, energy, joy and connection with each other and God.
This month we received news that the cancer has spread in my moms bones leading to painful fractures in the spine and ribs. As the thoughts of regret for coming here and not being able to be there for her, ran through my head, along with worry for what may happen, how much pain she is in, and many many more worries....God planted the idea in my head to surprise the house three girls that very night by picking them up after church and taking them to town for ice cream. So we all went for ice cream and came back and worshiped together in our living room and just talked and laughed. At the end of the night, worry had fled and joy and peace soaked every joint, muscle, bone, cell and blood vessel in my body. Love is Life.
Brandon had a week where he had a flair up with Lyme Disease and could not get out of bed to teach. The administrator here immediately offered to step in and teach for Brandon. This simple action of understanding and servanthood, gave us such peace and joy. During this week when I Lisa was responsible to not only teach all day but also take care of all household chores including laundry (with no dryer only clothes lines), God invited me to make up and teach a dance to some girls from the mission. Of course at first I was resistant, telling God I had no time for that, when I finally did teach them, I felt more peace and could finish all tasks with joy and diligence. Love is Life.
Towards the end of the week of Brandon's flair up, we got a surprise visit from our daughter and grandson and her fiancé. We had a great time recalling memories of the last time we were living here with Angie. And by the end of their stay, Brandon had regained his energy and was feeling better to the point where he could teach again! Love is Life!
Brandon and I had fun going on a field trip to the tide pools with our students, where they showed so much excitement for all their discoveries. We were more energized when we got back than when we left! Love is Life.
Finally to finish our month, we cooked a special breakfast for house three where we taught the girls how to cook. We felt like a family working together.
We also were able to take out our family of four for visitation Sunday and played uno, shared a meal, colored, talked about life, encouraged and worked together as a team to solve puzzles. In the end they were sad that they had to return only because they wanted to spend more time together. After a long long month, we have been filled with their joy, and know what it means to live. Love is Life!
Peace, joy, and energy found in the heart of serving, is this week's theme. Many of you may know that The last time that Brandon and I were serving here at the mission, we became burned out very easily. This week has proven that that is no longer an issue. God has showed us his heart in us being here, and that is an endless outpouring of his love on those around us and from those around us.
This week, not only did we rearrange Brandon's office to make it more inviting, get my classroom ready for tomorrow, and attend the grand opening of conexiones a new coffee shop on the mission with the goal of strengthening relationships, we also filled our evenings with kids, and a basketball team.
Brandon was honored when the basketball team leader presented him with 2nd and 3rd place trophies the team had won "while wearing the jerseys" he brought down. They wanted to say thank you and that was such an honor.
We also had some girls over to teach them how to play spades, and we laughed so hard we were crying! It was such a fun bonding time and we absolutely loved it! Never once did we feel overwhelmed.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of this week was visitation Sunday. Visitation Sunday is the one day out of the month that the social services of Mexico allows the family of the children to come visit them for five hours. Very few of the children here at the orphanage actually get a visit from family. That in and of itself turns visitation Sunday into a pretty dreary day that most children do not look forward to. But on the contrary, the staff is also allowed to visit whichever children they desire. Therefore Brandon and I chose a family of four to take out. We were encouraged to take an entire family of siblings, so that it would feel more like a family, and so that they could continue to build the relationships as brothers and sisters. We were so tickled to be able to spend time with Dulce (13), Miguel(10), Leslie (9) and Perla (3). We took them to pizza, then to adventures at the beach where we looked for fun and interesting discoveries, and finally to ice cream in the park. It was beautiful to see them together as a family, playing and laughing making memories. It was hard for them to say goodbye but we are looking forward to the next outing with them!
Thank you for your continued support! We need it!
With God, it is all about relationships, relationships are the chords that connect one heart to another, and create a web of unconditional love. Walking side by side allows hearts to open and lives to be changed. Laughing and playing bring unity and a stronger web.
This past week was super fun and full of relationships! Brandon and I were asked to chaperone a "family camp" for the orphanage where all the kids and their house parents went. There were crazy games besides the swimming pools,like who-can-drag-the-oily-watermelon-to-their-corner-of-the-soapy-watery-tarp?, some kids only cared to eat the watermelon... and eating a donut without hands from a string....and an amazing race type scavenger hunt....there was also devotional time, amazing one on one times with the kids sharing their heart, and a fire where we roasted marshmallows ... well here they burn them but it's one in the same 😉 they also have strawberry, chocolate and vanilla marshmallows only...when all is said and done it was beautiful to see families working together (brothers and sisters were put on the same team with each other) and relationships being strengthened.
After that camp, our administrator gifted all the staff and their families to a day at the pools
We also had an opportunity to house sit for house three and boy did we party! We had fun playing dance dance, and I Lisa got to play cards with one of the girls that was too afraid to try dance dance, but loved the one on one time.
Challenge this week:
It was a bit challenging this week seeing many families together and not having my family with me. While I wasn't there to see my niece and nephew go to their first day of school, or to sip coffee and do a devo at Starbucks with my mom, or sit and talk politics with my dad, or be there to help my sister take care of my new nephew, God reminded me that instead of focusing on what I'm missing out on, to shift my focus and attention to where God has me and what calling he has for me here: To be disciples that make disciples.
We are called to love and he has given me so much love, I am now focusing on sharing the love He has gifted me with those who need it most, widows and orphans.