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The month started off with the wedding of Isai and Karen in the village of Voz Campesina.  Karen has been with us since she was about 6 years old, and Isai came to the ministry some four years ago.  Theirs was the first wedding in the church of a couple who was not living together first, which was a great testimony to the many in attendance.  Willy accompanied us and was a real source of blessing and support during the ceremony and reception.  He also played the accordion in a group formed with some guys from Victoria and Javier from Voz (but now lives and works in Victoria).


The next day Willy preached in Victoria, and there was a great move of the Spirit.  Meanwhile, Carlos, Vivi, Fernando, and Manuel ministered in Mante.  Fernando and Manuel had been there since the day before to teach the newly formed leadership class.


On their way back to Victoria, Carlos and Vivi witnessed 2 cars being stopped by cartel and the owners being robbed of everything, including one of the vehicles, leaving the people on the side of the road.  God made Carlos and Vivi’s car invisible to the robbers, and they were able to minister to the traumatized people and give them a ride (somehow they fit a total of 11 people in their car!) to the nearest town where they waited for their relatives to go pick them up.  By that time, the people were calmed down and very appreciative of the prayers and support that Carlos and Vivi gave them.


The following week we were stopped by some members of the cartel.  But when Jose told them he was “the pastor,” they sent us on our way, but not before urging us to put a bumper sticker indicating somehow who we are so that they not stop us in the future.  As we began to drive away, we remembered that we hadn’t given them a New Testament, so we signaled them to drive up to us on the passenger side next to the road.  Jeanette handed the driver two stuffed with tracts, and he reached his hand out to receive more, so she handed him the only other one on hand for the other man obscured behind the heavily tinted glass and urged them to read the material because God wants to change their lives.  (We chuckled at the fact that this time it was us beckoning them to come to us, and they did.)


The next weekend, Carlos and Vivi drove us to Mante for the Christmas celebration of the church there.  On the way, they testified that they led the nephew of Lily, a member of our leadership in Victoria, to the Lord.  He had been studying to be a priest, but had dropped out.  He attended their most recent GDA (outreach group) and enjoyed it very much.  Mostly, he was impressed with the pending benevolence plans to take clothes, food, and toys to the poorest neighborhood in the area, something he feels called to do (more details ahead).  They also testified of getting the opportunity to speak with Don Roberto’s son (also named Roberto) who has rejected his dad’s new found faith, though he acknowledges that his dad is doing much better now that he has entered “the religion.”  They said that Don Roberto gets his son to type up on the computer scriptures and print them for him so that his son would be exposed to the Word in a non-threatening way.  Pray that the Word would have an effect on him and his wife and kids who desperately need Jesus.


Upon our arrival to Mante, we asked to be taken to the new church construction and found it to be nearly complete.  Funding is still needed for many small details and for a private loan between family members.  During the Christmas service, a lady arrived quite stressed.  She said she faced opposition before coming and told them that nobody could keep her from attending.  By the Spirit she was ministered to specifically for her needs.  Also, a teen girl named Perla who was visiting for the first time accepted Christ.  During the dinner when her parents stopped by to pick her up, they decided to stay and seemed to enjoy the fellowship.


Our conversation went long into the evening which is most important since we don’t get to see them often.  Araceli testified of a word given her a while back along with several scriptures to declare regarding an end within a year to the fighting in her marriage.  She said in less than a year, things have dramatically changed, and the Lord reminded her specifically of the word given her and the details. 


The next morning we drove 2 hours to Victoria for service.  On our way, a soldier asked if we were with another guy from McAllen who said he ministers close by.  We said we didn’t know him but were glad to hear that others are coming by faith to serve the Lord despite the circumstances.  This is the second time we have heard reference to others traveling in Mexico for the Gospel.


As we entered Mexico for our last trip of the year, a couple of unscrupulous transit cops stopped us outside the city limits to “solicit funds.”  God gave Jose the right words to tell the one who approached the car, and we ended up testifying to him and giving him only a New Testament with tracts.  He requested one for his partner too, which we gladly obliged him.


At the leadership class in Victoria, we shared a little about the true meaning and benefits of the birth of Christ before treating the approximate 35 leaders to a pizza party to thank them for all they do for the Kingdom of God.  There were also 4 gifts to give out in drawings, all of which were given to exactly the right person, according to age and gender.  It’s interesting how God is even Lord of “chance.”


Afterward, we spent time with Salomon and Laura.  They testified of the miraculous restoration of the marriage of Branded and Lizeth.  She had filed for divorce which moved him to begin to seek change for himself.  A friend referred him to Salomon and Laura for counsel who led him to the Lord and devoted an evening every week to disciple him.  He started attending church with his daughter, and eventually Lizeth saw the change in him and cancelled her plans for divorce.  She has begun attending church with him.


The following day, we celebrated Christmas with the brothers and sisters in Voz.  It was probably the best party ever there.  They all pitched in with food, drinks, piñatas, etc.  There were decorations, and many of the people held conversations with us eye-to-eye for the first time.  The atmosphere was very light and pleasant.  In addition, Hugo, age 7, quoted to us 3 memory verses.  His parents told us he reads the Bible on his own.  Another boy named Chuy, also age 7, has attended service mostly on his own since age 2, but his single mom was present at the party.  We told her how proud we are of her son and urged her to continue accompanying him.  Through the years, we can only remember one time that he showed up unkempt, but he noticed and told Jose he would be right back.  He ran home, got cleaned up and changed before returning to service.  He is quite special.  He says he attends because he wants to learn more about God.  We look forward to seeing what God does with him as he grows up.


While we were there, Carlos, Vivi and several from the church had the “bridaga,” the distribution of goods and toys and the Gospel in a very poor neighborhood.  They were able to bless 500 people materially and spiritually.  The Lord provided precisely the amount of items needed for the amount of people who showed up.  Carlos shared the Word and led them all in a prayer to receive Christ.  As they left, they remembered a promise to stop by with something to give to an elderly couple who couldn’t get to the place of distribution.  The only thing left was a t.v. that had been donated, so they gave it to them.  They had had a tiny black-and-white that had recently broken, so they were thrilled.  The couple was led to the Lord, and the man offered his home any time they wanted to return for a Bible study.  Another opportunity!  That’s why the Lord says to pray for more laborers.  Carlos and Vivi just don’t have time, unless the Lord makes a way.


The next day was the Christmas celebration in Victoria.  The service consisted of great praise and worship, communion, and skits by the kids and the adults before sitting down for brunch.  As we fellowshipped, we chatted with a young woman named Fabiola.  She told of when on her way to shop in McAllen with her boyfriend, at the soldiers check point a soldier noticed her CD and asked if she was a Christian.  When she said yes, he then went on to describe a couple that travels that way often who had given him a New Testament and other materials.  She beamed as she told him that they are her pastors.  He said he really liked the materials and asked if she had more.  The only thing she had were some scratched up CD’s, much to her regret.   But the encounter with the soldier was quite thrilling to her, and she said she felt so blessed to say that they (we) were her pastors and invited him to the church where he could get all the materials he wanted.


From Victoria we headed to Rio Bravo for yet another Christmas celebration.  There, we learned that Chela and Oscar’s GDA of neighborhood children now reaches some 30 children, 2 of whom walk there accompanied by their grandmother who lives quite a distance away.  As a result of that GDA, 2 more have accepted Christ, and 2 more GDA’s have been added, one with the mother who accepted Christ at the hospital recently, and one with the recent converts.  So now, Chela and family hold GDA’s Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Chela also thanked the children of Victoria for sending an offering of 827 pesos to the children’s GDA.  This was very helpful for the Christmas dinner/program planned with the support of the church’s youth and leaders for the children AND their parents for the Saturday before Christmas.  About 50 children and some of the parents attended, and God provided plenty.  We know this will produce much fruit.  In fact, some of the children and families have already begun attending church services despite the distance.


In the children’s GDA, Chela is teaching them to pray.  They all have prayer requests and take turns praying.  She says they have already witnessed healings and the hand of God in situations, so the children are very eager to pray.


The party with the brothers and sisters of Rio Bravo was very enjoyable.  In addition to a short word by Jose, there were skits, excellent food, fellowship, and a HUGE piñata, which Jeanette was privileged to have been given the opportunity to take a crack at.  Afterward, there was a moving time of prayer and words from the Lord for the youth, most of which have been with the church from a very early age.  The church is in good hands now, and will be for future generations, should the Lord tarry. 


We are so grateful for all the Lord has done in the lives of our precious brothers and sisters in Christ on BOTH sides of the border and look forward to seeing the mighty hand of God perform great and mighty works in 2013 and reporting them to you.


May the Lord richly bless and prosper you throughout the New Year.


Yours in Christ,

Jose, Jeanette, and the Missions Team

Eph. 3:14-21

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