Where were you on February 28, 2006? Not exactly a national day to remember, I know. But for us it was the day we moved to another country. To another culture. To another life.
Our oldest was four, I was 35 weeks prego with our second, and we spent our first night in Baja, Mexico. Actually, in El Porvenir. But more specifically, in a 5th Wheel trailer.
Have you ever tried to sum up ten years of your life in a few hundred words? My life in suburbia could be condensed rather easily: got married, got a job, got a puppy, bought a house, chaperoned a bunch of proms, pulled weeds, threw Super Bowl parties, had a baby, scrapbooked his face, had garage sales, sold the house, bought a new house, went out to dinner and went to church.
But a decade of being unconventional missionaries has felt like a different world.
- I’m from the redwood forest—never in my wildest sueños did I ever imagine I would live in the dirt of the country you watch on the news.
- For the first 32 years of my life the washing machines lived indoors. Now we had an outside machine.
- I had been in a doublewide before—never thought I would live in two of them on stilts though.
- The closest I had ever been to parades was through the TV every January first, and at D-land. Now our boys dressed up and walked in them three times a year.
- Doug and I did not major in counseling. All of a sudden students and staff were confiding in us about abuse, fears, sex, faith and addictions.
- Pet-less growing up, I couldn’t imagine owning three dogs, babysitting a cow, and rescuing just-hatched fallen birds.
- My family never started ministries or businesses—Doug and I jumped into two.
- Described as a wedding without the groom, I had never been to a quinceañera. A keen-seen-what?
Yep–these past ten years looked a tad different than I was used to. They were dirtier, more spontaneous, louder, lonelier, more fulfilling, more demanding, poorer in wealth, richer in grace, and all-round memorable.
Some days would drag, and weeks would fly, we longed for the next month, and choked up at year’s end.
We’ve been blessed, judged, supported, unsupported, lied to, preached at, remembered, forgotten, loved, disliked, affirmed, questioned, talked about, confided in, surprised and challenged.
Things have been borrowed, stolen, exchanged, rented, sold, squandered, bought, lent, lost and donated.
We’ve quietly cried, laughed from the gut, encouraged those down, rejoiced with those high, followed the plan, ditched the plan, gently pushed, firmly loved, padded in rest, failed to rest, wondered how long and begged for more time.
And at the end of the day, God’s grace flowed in abundance—pushing us forward…renewing our strength… giving us purpose.
But don’t take my word for it; pictures say it better than I ever could.
Scouting trips in Baja are fun when there’s dirt.
Commissioned by our church in Temecula.
Riverbed blues. How do we get to Porvenir?
Our future pastor, Marcos, loans us a huge piece of property.
Micah gets himself a new brother while livin’ in a trailer, sleepin’ on a couch.
And we get ourselves our first group–Ventana Class of 2007.
God provides some doublewides. (With polyester curtains and a redwood deck.)
He provides a first friend for Micah, too. Superhero style.
Brock gets dedicated by Marcos.
Micah goes to school with enough Spanish to count to ten.
It’s a bit rustic, but we find ourselves a house! Cinderblock for the win.
Our annual mud bowl commences. Locals deem us loco.
Brock goes to school speaking Spanish through Abi.
We meet a legit martyr–tortured, rejected & kicked out of his tribe. All because he loves Jesus.
We host some hecka-big groups every spring. We challenge them, they challenge us. Win win.
Off to language school near Mexico City. Climb a pyramid while we’re at it.
The walk to our fry-your-brain-all-day-long Spanish classes.
Brock graduates Kinder with a little help from Abi.
Groups come help build a casita for a family of five.
It gets ridiculously hot.
And we learn how to stay cool.
And how to get two people on one bike.
We encourage staff to work hard and play hard.
They take us literally and our staff meetings take a tad longer than normal.
We ask our students to make friends in town. They do, and throw an 11-11-11 party to prove it.
A few more classes later… they all leave. And the doublewides do too.
So we gather four houses worth of furniture…
…and put most of it up for sale.
Without students to play with, Brock finds a good buddy.
And Micah takes a risk hosting his first sleepover.
We learn how to spell quinceañera, and then throw one for a friend.
We prep for a year, throw a sign on the wall, and a new kind of ministry is born. B.A.M.
Modern-day tent-making provides jobs, earns trust, builds relationships. Cosecha 128 is open.
A Cosecha staff member is married! Ventana staff and students return to celebrate, Mexi-style.
Small groups from our Temecula church continue to show up and help. We work a lot but play more.
And then we sit back and reflect.
In 2006 God told us to come so we came. In the midst of our weaknesses (like lacking language) and insecurities (Is this going to work?), He still used us. How stoked we’ve been to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and watch God have at it.
And ten years later, we still have weaknesses and insecurities, but we still desire to stay.
To those of you who have been with us from the very beginning and continue to believe in what God is doing down here… thank you. We could not stay if it were not for your prayers and support.
And on the 28th? Lord willing the four of us will celebrate a decade in Baja, go to bed, and wake up to another “normal” day of wonderfully tiring, fulfilling, messy ministry.
Here’s to the next ten!