In missions, as in life in general, you learn to always expect the unexpected.
Due to stormy weather, the mission group from New Haven Korean Church (NHKC) was forced to spend the night at the airport in NYC before heading to Yucatan. Youth leader Karen scrambled to get part of her team to her parents' place in New York so at least some of them could get rest.
Though the Connecticut team members ended up missing the first medical clinic they came to do, it didn’t stop their enthusiasm to rise up early and begin work in the pueblos of Motul and Maxcanu. Kawika and Inez were blessed to be a part of this team as translators. Inez has served with other medical teams from (NHKC) through Gene Kim, a fellow missionary in Mérida.
The group provided eye exams and glasses, medical care, acupuncture services and vacation Bible school (VBS) activities for children. When the patients were done with the services, they were met with a group of pastors who shared the gospel and prayed with them. Kawika translated for the VBS team while Inez worked with the vision team. About 150 people were tested each day for reading and prescription glasses. Many of the people never had their eyes examined. To illustrate, here's a cute story about some of the older people who took the eye chart exam: When asked to cover one of their eyes and read out the chart figures with their other, they ended up closing their other eye too, saying, "I can't see anything!" They had a good laugh at themselves afterwards.
Kawika thoroughly enjoyed the week working with the youth. What impressed him most was their grit: “I was amazed by the team members and of their effort to help the people of Yucatan even through setbacks like injuries. One girl (Anna) strained her ankle, three guys cuts their fingers, but they kept working despite the pain. Anna surprised me when she got up to dance and sing with the team, as well the guys who had various cuts on their fingers.”
This perseverance prevailed among the eye team members as well. When figuring out prescriptions for the most difficult cases, examiners remained courteous, cool and collective as they continually measured and assessed each patient in the unbearable heat and humidity -- and what seemed to us a never-ending line of people waiting.
While the group could not know exactly how well their mission would turn out, nor what hiccups or delays to expect, they had been prepared to be led by the Spirit. It was reflected in their attitude of gentleness, self-control and steadfastness in serving the crowd. They exemplified Jesus' patience and love, even toward the end of the clinic when people kept crowding our work area, to the point of holding onto our chairs. (It gave Inez a tiny glimpse of Mark 5 when the crowds pressed against Jesus.)
Thank you, Missionary Kim and New Haven Korean church for your preparedness! We continue to give praise to the Lord for your work as you reached out to provide care for so many. Thank you for loving Kawika, showing him your compassion toward his beloved Yucatecos and what it looks like to trust in Jesus no matter the circumstances.
You might have not known what to expect, but you did what Jesus expected: You went forward, serving in faith.
Be sure to read related post in Reflections: 5 Questions to Test our "Spiritual Sight"
Ministry Tidbits in Yucatan:
Car Repairs in Mexico: A Great Test of Patience
We have our car back! Thank you to Calvin Presbyterian church for your generous donation to help with the cost to repair our van.
Back in May, we found out from a mechanic that, in addition to other problems needing to be repaired, our Toyota Sienna’s transmission had bit the dust. He told us our van would be ready in five days. So, when the van was supposedly finished, and after we paid the bill, the workers drove our vehicle out of the garage to us. Only to tell us there was one more detail they needed to work on. Well, for the next six weeks, each day we would call and each time the mechanic would say “Todavia, pero manana, seguro.” (Not yet, but tomorrow for sure).
Meanwhile, our transportation costs to Kawika’s school, outside of the city limits where we live, were quickly adding up with Uber and rental car expenses. But God did not abandon us. Our dear missionary friend, Doña Jean Legters, provided us temporary shelter in her lovely home during this time since Kawika’s school is a 5-minute walk away!
With the help of Jean’s daughter, Debbie, we enlisted the assistance of her friends: two lawyers and another mechanic. One visit with them to the repair shop and a week later, our van was fixed. Nonetheless, we learned that the laws here lean toward the protection of the business more so than the customer. Simply put, the repair shop needs to be given the chance to fix it, no matter how much longer it takes than estimated.
Byron asked the attorneys, “You mean, even if it takes two more months?”
Fortunately, in our case, their visit to the shop helped speed up the process dramatically. If it weren’t for Jean coming to our aid, our Uber and taxi costs could have ended up twice the costs than the repair. If it weren’t for Debbie and her friends, who knows how much more it would've been.
In our years of ministry, God, in his faithfulness, has continually brought us helpers to get through ordeals. But one thing is for sure. He’s still working on our character by placing challenges like this before us, revealing our weaknesses in impatience and in our stubborn dependency on expectations that may not be realistic here. And we well realize that he's not done with us by a long shot.
One day, we'll get it. Sometimes the best, polite thing to say is: Todavia, pero mañana, seguro.
Bike Reflectors - by Byron
A few years ago, a friend of ours, and his two buddies, were riding their bicycles at night in a pueblo outside of Mérida when a car from behind hit them. Fortunately, they escaped with no serious injuries. Here, most bicyclists can't afford reflective attire, much less bike reflectors. In fact, recently I came close to hitting a biker myself, so the next day I went ahead and bought 100 of these reflectors. So now, day or night, whenever I pass someone who doesn't have one, I stop, hand them one, and give simple instructions on how to attach as well as explain the importance of using it. We also give them out to friends. If anyone wants to join in, you're welcome to purchase some of them, approx 70 cents a piece. (Just send me a message at email@example.com)
(One night, when I stopped a man to give out reflectors, Kawika asked me, “Dad, do you know how scary it must be for people to see an Asian-looking foreigner signal to get on the side, and then get out of his white van with a little package? LOL!)
Pan Pita - by Byron
This past Monday, we had friends over and shared some tacos arabes with them. It reminded me of a funny story from a year ago that some friends asked us to re-tell:
Inez recently discovered Arabic tacos, so she asked me to buy Pita bread so she could make them for dinner. Sounded simple. So, I asked the grocery worker in the bread aisle, “Donde está Pita Pan?" (Where is the pita bread?) The guy laughs loudly & walks away. How rude. I then find two other workers and repeat the question. They both smile at me, when one of them asks for clarification: “Peeeeeta Pan?” You know … isn't it funny how, not 'til it's repeated back to you, that you finally catch on? Hate to admit it, but it's a true story, really.
Summer Praise Reports:
As summer comes to an end, we are thankful to the Lord for:
* Having our car back!
A shout out to our dear missionary friend, Doña Jean Legters, for hosting us for 6 weeks while our car was in the repair shop. What a great blessing to spend time with her and her beautiful family. By the way, she's made great strides in recovery from her accident, although she's unable to walk and therapy exercises are a painful struggle. But that hasn't kept her from teaching and playing the piano at churches, participating with camp ministry, receiving frequent visitors and even cooking . Please keep her in your prayers.
* The opening of the new water plant in Cantamayec! Please be sure to read our July update and watch the Living Waters Video.
* Kawika’s VBS week at church and his week at Porvenir beach camp. Youth from different churches in Mexico come to attend this camp every year. At the end of the camp, Kawika was presented his team’s “Pastores” flag for being “extraordinario” and overall cheer master during the week.
* For God's protection over Lidia, Pastor Gonzalo's wife in Maní. She had suffered a stroke and was at risk for sudden death. Sufficient funds were raised this month (thank you to Everett First Presbyterian for your generous contribution) for her defibrillator implant surgery which went successfully. She's healing well and her heart rate is now stable. Praise be to Jesus!
* A wonderful mission week with the New Haven Korean church from CT.
* Summer visitors: Including Kawika’s elementary school teachers from Yaldud (at our annual appreciation luncheon for them), friends who traveled from the pueblos to visit us (Carolina & family from Akil; Marcos, Selmi & daughters from Maní; Doña Magda & Ceymi, not pictured, from Maxcanu); and Jessica from Mérida & Joe Roberson from Alabama.
* God’s mercy: Our family in Hawaii was spared from Hurricane Lane!
* FOR YOU! Thank you for your continued support and interest in our ministry. Blessings in Christ!