4.12.2016

//Mexico 2016//

We entered into Mexico on March 10th. We were all so excited to be back; last year was a wonderful experience and we were so thrilled for the opportunity to return.

God blessed our time there above and beyond anything we could've dreamed. There were so many divine appointments and opportunities. We met thousands of people and made so many new friends. With being there for twice as long this time, and also having been there once before, we did a lot more one-on-one connecting with different people and families, and over all just spent lots of rich time with many different people. 

We entered Mexico on March 10th and were there for fifteen days, leaving on the 25th. We sang in three different "states"---Zacatecus, Durango, + Chihuahua, and had twelve full concerts that were attended by an approximate estimate of 10,000 people. 
(we also had three additional half-concerts at a Rehab Center, a Spanish church, and a Disabled People's Home) 
One of our first concerts in Mexico. We had approx 1700 people in attendance at this gym.
Our product table, ready to go.
Everything set up beforehand...
Most of the venues we sang at in Mexico were community gyms. We got to set up on all manner of different stages. The trailers were our favorites; reminded us of home. =)
One night we sang right across from a dairy farm. It was so good to smell the farm smells again! And stock up on raw milk. =)
The scenery in Mexico is very different from the states. We sang in the plains, where everything was flat for almost as far as you could see, and we also sang near the mountains, which was completely different. Most areas were very dry and barren. The skies were very blue and the mountains were beautiful. There were many very poor communities and shacks, but at other places just a short drive away where the communities were very beautiful and built up. 
God gave us the sweetest couple to travel with us and be our guides/translators. We had met them last year and worked with them some then, and we were all thrilled to have them travel on the bus with us on several of our big driving days when we drove down to Durango and Zacatecus states, and also other times. Many other people helped as well in many ways but they were with us at almost every service and coordinated most of our stops. 
While we did love our dear translators...their precious baby was probably the favored one for most of us. =) She provided lots of entertainment and fun! Its been eight years since we had a baby on the bus and we thoroughly enjoyed it again! She was a very social little lady and it was a good thing, since she was constantly passed around from sibling to sibling. 
We almost had to set up a schedule to hold her; she was in such high demand always. =)
Funny story....one night at dinner Josh and I were sitting at the same table and I was holding Bella, and the couple sitting across from us asked if were were husband + wife, and she was our baby! We all got a kick out of that, especially because Josh + I are two of the darkest ones in our family, and Bella is as light and fair as can be. =)
Exercise in a parking lot, behind the bus.
Rousing Dutch Blitz at 12am with the pastor's family at a church we sang at in Durango state. 
Our parents were gone meeting with someone that night, and the rest of us were parked at the pastors' home in the bus. We had a great time of encouragement with these dear people and my parents were able to see their one-on-one ministry rewarded as the man they met with got saved that night!
Driving down to Durango and Zachetacus made for several long days on the bus, since we couldn't drive at night like we normally do. We tried to make the time go faster with various activities on the bus. Above, Peter is teaching the girls a new game.
We spent a day with this dear lady and her family. They made waffles on an indoor cast iron skillet grill. 
We bought boots and fabric and food at this "has it all" store. Ah, we LOVED the prices in Mexico! Nearly everything (except for gas) is WAY cheaper there.
Singing in a community barn one night. Loved these settings. =)
This was also the night we were struck with sickness! We had about a week where various family members got hit with a nasty stomach bug. Taylor's was the worst-he was "down" for almost four days! Thankfully he never missed a concert-we arranged our song order so that all of his songs were right in a row, and he would come in just for them and then go right back to the bus. It was a challenge for sure but we were SO grateful that at least he didn't have to totally skip any concerts, because that would've been disaster! (On this tour particularly we have began using our younger ones much more, and each and every family member has become so integral to each concert)
We were blessed with the best translator around. =) By the end of three weeks we had lots of inside jokes and stories from our time with him, and after hearing him translate our testimonies SO MANY TIMES, some of us thought we could almost do it for him! (haha!)
We sang at this Spanish church one Sunday morning. It was an amazing experience-we especially loved their Spanish worship service!
A random little store, out in the middle of nowhere.
The chillens getting out some energy at a playground, after a long morning driving in the bus.
These sweet people were friends we met last time we were in Mexico. They were our guides for several of our concerts at the end of our tour, and were so kind and generous to our family. We loved spending time with them + their family.
Mom with two friends.
This road was...quite the road. We were told ahead of time that we wouldn't be able to take our bus on it, so our hosts came and picked us and the trailer up with several vehicles. 
By the time we arrived, after a hour on those dirt roads, everything in the trailer was literally COVERED in dust. Instrument cases, clothes, cds...everything. Some of the dust even seeped inside the cases onto the instruments. We will never forget that road! =) 
It was so worth it, though-we had an amazing night that evening and it was great to be there.
We had to stop and get a picture by Trump's amazing wall. (i.e. very rickety barbed wire fence behind us...haha!)
Returning from a road side grocery stop! The treasures we found at these places (fresh fruit, chips, tortillas, etc) were so yummy and a fraction of the price they would be in the states!
A picture of one of our meals at a  "Mennonite/Mexican" restaurant.  By the way, that is an incredibly delicious combination. Mennonites are AMAZING cooks and the Mexicans add the most amazing flavors and seasonings. We fell in love with the food there last time and we still make things today, here at home, that we learned to make in Mexico! We got to try many more new foods this time (don't ask me to tell you what because I won't be able to spell/pronounce them correctly!) but we definitely have some new favorites! 
Out to dinner at Thiesens! We loved this place! It was a bit challenging ordering off a Spanish menu but we managed with the help of our guide/interpreter. Carson, Josh, + Rebecca are all learning Spanish so they know a little but not enough to fluently converse.
Whenever possible though, we would ask our guide how to say something and then try to repeat when having a conversation with one of the Mexicans. He liked to play around with us-at one point during dinner someone needed ice so Peter told Carson how to ask the waitress, in Spanish.
He was laughing and before asking Carson said, "wait...what does that mean?" and found out that instead of giving him the translation for "can I get ice", Peter had told him how to say in Spanish, "you are sure beautiful." We all got a good laugh out of Carson's narrow escape. =)

Our translators' wife taught us a new game, "Hands + Feet", and it was played frequently on the trip. 

The sunsets in Mexico were SO BEAUTIFUL. Mexico has completely different scenery/landscape than most of the places we've been, but we find that each place is unique and beautiful in its own ways.
Mountains.

It is crazy sometimes, the connections we make, even in Mexico! This lady was a teacher from PA and sure enough, mom grew up in the same area as her family and they discovered mutual friends and relatives. (Her dad is my mother's brother-in-law's cousin.  Any questions??)  The world is really so small!
Sibling selfie in the desert. =)
We spent part of our lo-o-o-ong drive from Chihuahua state, down to Durango state, learning a German song to incorporate into our concerts.  Above, Taylor and Liz working on the song.
 One day a group of us went hiking with some of our new friends.
 Sibling picture!
Liz and Mitchell at the top. What a view!
 This gentleman shared his testimony at one of our concerts. He was a former drug lord whose life was radically transformed by Jesus!
 Denver and Hudson enjoying some action at a farm where we were invited for dinner one day.
 Hudson, excited about digging in! =)
Allison after one of our concerts, surrounded by a group of aspiring violinists.
 Market time! One afternoon, a group of us went to the market. What an experience. We provided some free entertainment for the different vendors and discovered that it is quite difficult to barter with a very limited knowledge of the language! So thankful for our interpreter!
We visited several stores in search of the perfect cowboy boots.
Score for Josh and Carson!
 Story of my life! =) Bagging up laundry from the bay and then trying to find a place to fit the oversized bags!

Speaking of laundry...you never know what you're going to find when you use someone's washer and dryer in Mexico!
Thankfully, (over the past eight years of doing laundry all over the place) I have used many different kinds of washers and dryers, and had used this particular brand several times before, so I was able to remember which was which with several of the dials. The rest was guess! =)
This church served the most incredible grilled pork I have EVER had. We also had quesidillas, salad, sauce, and then the trademark jalapenos. (jalapeños are on served on the side almost ALWAYS with meals in Mexico. Some of us REALLY loved that!)
Not quite sure what was being translated here? Obviously something funny! We always joked that for all we knew, he was adding all sorts of bonus material to what we were saying. =)
Pardon the excessive amount of baby pictures. =)
She wasn't quite sure about Denver at first....
...but then she warmed up!
A few of the yummy things we got at the market!
Liz and Allison cutting fruit one morning in a church kitchen.
One day some friends took us to tour one of the local cheese factories. It was fascinating and we left with some yummy cheese!
Sibling cooperation!
As mentioned before, we sang on all manner of stage set ups. Several nights we sang on this kind of trailer and the "ramp" made for some MOST memorable experiences. Some of us seemed to be more skilled than others in ascending. Thankfully nobody broke a limb and certain individuals even learned how to safely run up and down. =)

Mom and Peter, bartering for some honey and pistachio nuts at a roadside stand.
In the midst of a very busy singing + social schedule...personal training + strengthening of the mind and body continued! =) Above, Denver working out one morning. The younger ones also did LOTS of school and us older ones worked on new music and scored their work.
 A rather common sight in Mexico...trucks loaded down with heavily armed military.
 One evening before we sang, someone brought us this dinner from a local restaurant. Grilled chicken with tortillas, tortilla chips, marinated red onions, spicy salsa, and cilantro. My, it was SO GOOD!!
 Our guys and their never-ending and always-abounding basketball games....=)
One morning we were parked at a gym that also had a school. Our younger ones joined the class for their PE time.
 We found ourselves almost everywhere we went. =) This schedule took so much hard work and time to put together and we are SO GRATEFUL to the team of people from Mexico who organized and facilitated each concert.
Driving in town....
Making breakfast at a church one morning-fresh corn tortillas with eggs + cheese.
Breakfast of champions! We simply loved all the fresh fruit in Mexico!
Our border crossing on the way out of Mexico, back to the states, was destined to be our most eventful yet. I really can't do the story justice here but will give just a little simplified recap....

So, it was Good Friday when we crossed the border. Now, nearly everyone in Mexico is either Catholic or Mennonite (it seemed at least!) and they all celebrate this holiday, so different lanes at the border were shut down due to...whatever. The border patrol told us that we would need to all exit the bus and walk through security, and that dad should drive the bus through a different lane. 

All this would have been great...except that the baby was sleeping and our translator's wife didn't want to wake her up. (they were planning to cross the border with us so we could be together just a little bit longer!!) 
So she asked the Mexican patrol if it was okay if she stayed in the bus with her baby while dad drove over. The Mexican guard said "no problem", so all of the rest of us got out and we proceeded to walk through. 

Meanwhile, dad made it easily through the Mexican guard. Then he came to the USA patrol side, and here the trouble started. They were not happy that someone was with him. When he told them that there was also a baby sleeping in the back, that just REALLY put things over the edge and the guards became irate. (if you know anything about Mexico/the border/drug issues/what all goes along with that, then you understand how having what appeared to be a random woman and child with you is not a good thing) On top of all that, Bella was born in Canada and they don't have her papers yet, so technically as of now she is a citizen of nowhere, and that definitely did not help the situation. =/

They made them sit on the couches while they searched the bus top to bottom. Thank-goodness Dad asked them if he could first put the lunch away. (we had just been ready to eat) 
He said the dog they had with them was sniffing and licking all over the place. Apparently the dog even climbed in one of our bunks. (!!) 

Dad sat next to the diaper bag PRAYING that they wouldn't think to look inside. Because if they would've...they would have found our ???? pesos that we had gotten from our cd sale donations in Mexico, that our translators were going to exchange for USA funds for us. (we might be sitting in jail right now if they had found those!) 

There were other funny things that happened. They asked Dad what food we were bringing back with us. Dad said, "Um...I'm not sure? Maybe like tortilla chips and cheese and avocados?" They said "well avocados are illegal; you can't take those." So they opened the fridge and then told dad, "We don't see any avocados." Dad came over and said "they're right there", whereupon they said, "those aren't avocados, those are LIMES!" Oh dear!!  Dad didn't know the difference (he isn't the chef of the family, in case you were wondering.:)

Also they confiscated our eggs; they said it wasn't legal for us to take those either. So dad asked if he could give them to our translator's wife. They said fine. Which he did. She took the eggs and diaper bag and they made her sit in a separate area to wait for her husband. Eventually he came and got the baby so she could walk over and say goodbye to the rest of us. After she did, she took the baby again and then he had come to say goodbye. He couldn't figure out why the eggs were setting there so he gave them to my mom. She thought, "Eggs!" so she brought them in the bus. After ALL THIS was over and we were finally all in the bus and going to drive away, dad looked over and saw the carton of eggs and said "HOW DID THOSE GET BACK IN HERE?" We all looked at him- "are they not supposed to be here?" Dad-"They took them away from me!!  Apparently it's not legal to take eggs from Mexico to the US!" Us- "Well it appears we got them back!" =) So we brought back eggs illegally, and the border thought we were trying to smuggle a random woman and her child. 

Other than that, the crossing was quite peaceful and uneventful. =)
Headed towards OUR FLAG!
On American soil again!! This was taken right before we all broke out into our national anthem. =)
In closing, we want to extend a very special thanks to all of our readers from Mexico. We were so blessed by the opportunity to spend time in your communities, and we thank you so very much for reaching out to our family and loving us as you did. We will never forget our time with y'all and look forward to returning next year, Lord willing!
We also thank those of you from our country who prayed for our safety and for Jesus to go before and behind us. He blessed our time there so greatly and we know that it was in large part because of His people who were praying for Him to work through our family. 
Thank-you each for your faithfulness in partnering with our ministry through the greatest weapon of all which is PRAYER! We praise Jesus for each of you.
Finally, and most of all...
"Now unto HIM Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly 
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 
unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end, amen."
-Ephesians 3:20+21 

15 comments:

  1. Nobody told me about the "crimes" you committed by bringing eggs and limes disguised as avocados (or was that avocados disguised as limes) back into the US. I didn't know I was friends with so many lawbreakers...
    On a more serious note, I'm so glad that all of our prayers for all of you were answered. You all did great things for Jesus and helped lead people to Him and you came home safely. God is good, no matter what.
    I loved the pic of Allison showing people her violin skills. I wasn't surprised you found baby Bella to take care of either. God knows how to use our skills better than we do.
    Just so you know, you can use me as a guinea pig on any new Mexican food recipes (especially if they involved jalapeños). Have any of you every tried using red chili powder with chocolate?...pretty awesome.(hint to Allison) I'm proving Carson's foodie label true now.
    Lastly, I liked the "Trump wall", Chels. Quite fitting.

    Matt

    PS: What do I get for keeping quiet and not calling Customs and Border Patrol?

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  2. so glad that ya'll had a very blessed time in Mexico! that story was funny about crossing the border!! lololol
    God Bless!!!!!
    Clo, Is. 53:5, #UNASHAMED, heresclo.blogspot.com, YouTube channel- Clo Hale

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  3. Trump's amazing wall, haha - better watch out for that well-used Ted Cruz amnesty path just to your left :)

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  4. So many funny stories in one post!! You had me laughing here in Indiana! Always praying for your family. Lord Bless!!!!

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  5. Howdy! This post made me chuckle. Especially the part where it was said that Mexico had a unique look all to its own. Well let me yell ya, there's a place a bit north that is Mexico's identical twin! IDAHO! Yesireebob! Every single landscape, sunset and road pic could have been taken right here in the Treasure Valley.:)
    We also have a mighty big Hispanic population to boot!(So the food pics are like ours too). Spanish is the second language here after of course, good ol' American Redneck! (smirk)
    Been enjoying your blog for years, God bless, consider coming to Idaho sometime!
    ~Abby, a Pig raising, God fearing, sunset lovin' American Redneck!

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  6. Hey there! I'm from mexico and I absolutely loved your concerts. Got lucky and could go twice! I went very anxious too hear your family and left blessed and encouraged! Thank you for coming aaaaall the way to mexico!! Since some of you are learning Spanish, does that mean you're coming back? You sure are welcome to! Got a good laugh at the "ice" translation :)

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  7. Thank you for your blog post! I'm a Mennonite from Canada, so I found it very interesting and funny, too! My husband was born in a Mennonite colony in Paraguay with roots in Canada, so I'm sure that we're related to most of the Mennonites you met there. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Bless you all!

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  8. Wow, what an amazing opportunity to minister, y'all! I enjoyed reading about all y'alls many adventures=) Have to say I got a laugh out of the narrow escape of the "ice" translation=) The "hands+feet" game...well, all of the younger ones(and us olders sometimes too:) have been liberally playing it=)

    Thanks again for sharing how the Lord works! God bless!!

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am always so inspired by your family, always praying God will place it on your hearts to visit the PNW, Seattle in particular, one of theses days.

    I am hoping you will share another election post with your readers. Confusing time this election season and it's comforting when you break it all down.

    Blessings,
    Mari

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  10. Wonderful post and photos. You have a lovely blog. :)

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  12. I loved the post! I am one of 11 and can personally testify how awesome big families are:) A lot of work, yes, but the blessings, adventures, and wowness defintly out weighs! Anyways:) I love the song "Someone You Can Reach" and would love to have the words to it? Thanks!
    Hannah

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  13. Ephesians 3:20-21 - Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
    Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

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  14. I just saw an article about your family doing a tour through the Mennonite colonies in Mexico in "Die Mennonitische Post" last night at my mother-in-law's. Thank you for the encouragement that your family is to so many! Bless you all!

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