[Phm 1:10-19 NASB] 10 I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, 11 who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. 12 I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel; 14 but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account; 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it (not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).
1. Even the useless ones of society can be given new life purpose through Jesus Christ; they can become brothers and sisters.
Love the useless with the love and message of Jesus Christ. See them reach their potential.
2. Usefulness that comes from a change of heart towards God, and in response to the Gospel; has impacting effects towards the new believer, to the believers, and to the Lord.
Expect to see real change in the most useless of our communities, when they respond to the Gospel in faith.
3. There may have been a lot of wrongs done by the useless. Be prepared to take responsibility and cover their shame by offering of your own resources and taking their blame; after-all, Jesus did this for us in a greater sense
Randomly, as I go through my day, I’ll have a train of thought that makes me think, “I should blog about how life is now”. Our lives have changed drastically over the past 8 months, and really the past 3+ years. I’ll try to focus on some key lessons or experiences we’ve had. I also hope you’ve been able to, and will ignore my poor grammar.
We came back with one day of preparations made. Basically it was an evacuation. Maria’s allergic reactions were so bad, that her throat was closing, and she had painful hives. When one of my sons started displaying similar symptoms, we knew we needed to get out fast. It was a whirlwind trip back and we were graciously received back into our hometown, and beautiful church family. We believed everything would be alright. We were in a way to be relieved of all we had been concerned with regarding acquiring our visa situation, furlough, and continuing to live in a foreign (and sometimes brutal) environment. I could again be comforted that my kids would be able to have their own yard to play in, have familiar faces to spend time with, and didn’t have to worry (as much) about them stepping in human waste as they walked down the street. There are many things that I won’t miss about the place we left. It’s not what we left, but who we left that we continue to miss. Our friends, teachers, and barely budding relationships with the Mongolian people. I’ve been closely watching the trees at our church, they’ve had buds for a while now, but only started to seriously flower this week. Our lives and relationships with Mongolians were seemingly stuck in suspended animation, buds with promise, but no flower yet. Then, we left because we had to.
I didn’t feel failure, or regret about how we did things. I didn’t experience much reverse culture shock immediately. I left my tears in our little apartment. I wept over the fact that I would never be able to declare love of Jesus Christ for the Mongolian people, in Mongolian. We were 6 weeks away from our language school being done. I was anticipating continuing my study based around bible words, spiritual concepts, etc. I wept for the teachers that I began to love like uncles and aunts that you see every so often but don’t know well enough (but you wish you did). I wept that many people were in such helpless situations, yet lived through it, because they didn’t know anything else, and yet couldn’t give them the Good News in a way that communicated. It is the job of the minister/missionary to preach the Gospel, it was my job to equip and teach, but we didn’t really get into that at all. We had to clear our first hurdle, language. It’s amazing that no matter how common sense that may be now, many people didn’t realize or understand. You cannot do much without becoming acquainted with their language and of course culture. Culture is elusive, (can it really be defined?) But it is something we try to understand. I found myself trying to decrypt it in everyday occurrences: In the checkout lane, at the car wash, dealing with the security guard at our apartments, watching our teacher’s mannerisms, etc. etc. We were so close to getting over the first part of that hurdle. I began to be able to hang with the average conversation. I could readily take a word and add proper endings, even if I didn’t memorize it as vocabulary. I got used to a simpler way of living. We were so close to really beginning.
We got back and the pressure to understand it all was relieved. I missed that though, having the goals we did. Aside from language and culture, we had some pretty large goals in regard to ministry. We wanted to equip people to take on the ministry. We wanted to take baby believers, and feed them to growth, to standing on their own, to walking, to wielding swords and shields in the battle. All in Mongolian. I miss that challenge. I miss working towards that war. I miss the march towards the fight. We had so much we wanted to do, but God had other plans. To make the decision we did, wasn’t hard, it was just biblical and practical. I love my family, I’ll protect them however I can.
So, we find ourselves in almost the same place we were in before we left. I have the same job doing building maintenance and repair at my church, we are renting a house, and being prepared for what is next. It is in being placed back in this situation that I’ve had the biggest struggle. It has felt at times as taking steps backwards. There are other reasons it’s been difficult. It’s hard to have had such goals and dreams of doing something, then suddenly being placed back where you had been. It’s like dropping your lollipop in the dirt when you were 3, all you can do is feel bad and hurt. It wasn’t until recently that I really realized that God wasn’t about putting me back, but continuing my training for war.
I was reading in Judges where God allows some of the Canaanite groups to remain unconquered. Israel didn’t want to conquer them to begin with. God, being willing to go along with that, decided to use it to teach them a lesson. If they didn’t want to be obedient to Him in displacing them, He would let them remain in their land as a goad to them. He also would let them be there to train them. They would be sovereignly allowed to stay to teach the new unexperienced generation, how to make war. Had this not happened, Israel would have lost the art of war.
God allows things in our lives for training. Whether it is our stubbornness, immaturity, naivety, neglect, or disobedience, God allows some things to happen to teach us how to war.
If God didn’t allow these things, we would be sitting ducks. I recently read a little bit about someone’s experience in Serbia in the 90’s. There were areas that became known as “snipers alley’s”. Surrounded by tall structures with long lines of sight. To go into one of these alley’s, you had to roll the dice. You knew that you just might get a large-caliber round through your body. God doesn’t send anyone out, unprepared, unarmed, or untrained. Had we not learned lessons before we left to Mongolia, we would have been an easy target. Had we not gone through our experience in going to Mongolia and coming back, we wouldn’t be prepared for whatever lay ahead.
Most of us when going through trial, want to figure out the answer to how to get past it. I’m learning how to appreciate and pay attention to the instructions I’m receiving. They may prove to be the very thing that gives me favor in battle in the future. There is no getting around the trial, you must go through the middle of it.
As the furlough time winds down and days turn into months passing quickly, I have to consider what’s next. We’ve been asked so many times something along the lines of “so do you have any idea of what’s next?”. An honest answer would be that I only have desires and inklings of what I would like to happen. I know full well however, that as much as I may plan, it’s the Lord that directs the steps.
I was reading recently in the book of Numbers. I came to chapter 32 where the sons of Gad and Reuben request to stay in the lands Jazer and Gilead and not settle across the Jordan where Israel hadn’t conquered yet. They saw the land that was right in front of them and saw possibilities for their livestock and families. Their request was met with the accusation that they were being faithless like their ancestors who had feared the battle that lay across the Jordan, even though God had called them into that land to be victorious. To the son’s of Gad and Reuben though, it was not an issue of faith, but of suitability. They met the accusation with a solution. If allowed to settle East of the Jordan, they would do so ready to war along side their brothers at a moments notice. If they would be allowed to stay and build cities and sheepfolds, they would do so with a sword and a shield ready for battle. They would settle, but be listening and ready to meet the call for war when it came. It wasn’t because of fear or unbelief that they wanted this. Practically speaking, the lands they wanted were fertile and would support herds. In their own words “the land which the LORD conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock; and your servants have livestock.”. It just made sense to them.
While I don’t know the specifics of what the Lord has next, I see Albuquerque and I see possibilities. A couple of months ago, I went to get a hair cut. I’ve always thought that an Asian stylist or barber would be able to cut my hair (thick and dark) well. I found out that I was right when we lived in Mongolia. I wanted to find one here in Albuquerque. I know where a large population of Vietnamese lives. I had a mind to go down to that part of town and find a place to get my hair cut…someday. I went out one day and although I had the thought of going there, I settled on finding someplace close by. As I pulled out on to one street, I noticed a man pulling luggage down the street. He looked like he was having a hard time with it (it was about 5 pieces of luggage). I also noticed he had a hat that I couldn’t totally read as I passed, but I did see that It was some sort of camouflage design and said Army. I realized he must be a veteran. I knew I had to help him so I U-turned and stopped to ask if he wanted help (I don’t recommend doing this, in fact you shouldn’t pick up strangers on the road). He said he did. He got in and I told him I could only take him down a couple of miles. He told me his story and that he was trying to get to his fathers funeral in another state. He is in fact an Iraqi war veteran who now suffers from PTSD. He said he was headed to the VA hospital. I was not headed that way, but I know I needed to take him down there. We got on the freeway and he told me more of his story. When we got to the hospital, I prayed for him and he thanked me. I drove away, but I was now in what is know as the “International District”. Since I was already there, I decided to look for a place to get my hair cut. I felt dumb for just driving around hoping to find an Asian person to cut my hair, maybe as you’re reading this you’re thinking “how silly”. As I drove around I saw a salon and passed it not feeling great about just going in the door only to ask if they had any Asians working. I made a circle around a city block and came back that salon. I mustered up the courage to park, walk in and as I did, I was met by a room full of Vietnamese faces. Success! I asked for a hair cut and they took me right away and gave me the best hair cut I’ve ever received in Albuquerque. I was happy.
I tell this story because it took all that to get me down to a place that I’ve been secretly wondering about. I’ve wondered about the possibilities in the international community. In the International District, I see a place that has a huge Native American and Asian population. I see people of many different lands. I also see the weird and eccentric which I feel compassion for also. I have memories from that part of town. I grew up (in part) in that part of town. I remember driving through those street on hot days in my parents Monte Carlo. We would go shopping, to school, and play in that part of town. I guess I didn’t really think about then, but we in my family are those people. My father’s family is from Mexico, and my mother is Navajo. We were the Native American lady with her kids shopping at Wal-Mart. You could hear Spanish being spoken in our home on any given day and sometimes even Navajo. I lived and breathed there for my early years and when I look at that place, I see and pray for the Lord to do something among the community there.
Like I’ve said before, I don’t know exactly why the Lord brought us back, but I can relate to the son’s of Gad and Reuben. I see a good place for several reasons, to settle. At the same time, I feel called to serve my brothers and sisters who serve on the field as full-time missionaries. What I mean is that I now know from experience that it is so difficult to explain what exactly happens on the field. Like a painter who ran out of a primary color and realizes it only after it’s late and he has the urge to be creative. You just can’t always clearly communicate what you’re going through on the field for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s just hard to capture it in words. Sometimes there’s safety or confidential considerations also. I’m sure those on the field would also say that they could always use more prayer and consistent financial support. I don’t say these things to complain, in fact the Lord always took care of us and we never lacked anything. I only want to say that I feel the Lord has called Maria and I to be there for the full-time missionaries as much as possible. To be their advocate, promoters, to garner support whether it be financial or prayer. I want to be a part of raising awareness of their ministries and families.
To put it simply I feel that the Lord is calling us to settle here in Albuquerque and serve the International community and be an advocate and ready to serve those serving full time in foreign countries. What that looks like practically, I don’t know. I have no specific plans for now other than to brush up my resume and possibly find a job for the time being while we pray for the details to unfold and the Lord to confirm His will to us.
I ask for your prayer for us and to consider financially supporting us in these final months of our transition. Pray that God would help us to continue to wait with a good attitude, and that in His timing, He’d show us the steps to take.
As a reminder you can support us financially through Global Adventures through December.
Among the things we didn’t expect (soon) upon returning to the US were the passing my grandfather, and having the chance to spend an entire day with a Mongolian. Both of these were opportunities that we couldn’t have planned or even dreamed up. I wanted to share about these experiences with you here because they were so amazing.
First, it was a few short days after we got back that I got a call from my Mom saying that my Grandfather was not doing well. We expected his passing soon, so I decided to ride over to Gallup with my Mom to see him. During our day there, I got to help my aunt feed and water her animals (sheep and horses), eat grilled mutton and blue corn mush, and share the word with my Grandpa (although he fell asleep), Mom, and two Aunts. I didn’t exactly have a plan of what to share, but I decided to just begin reading in Matthew. As I read about the Magi, I couldn’t help but think of my Grandpa. I stopped there because I felt like there was an obvious parallel to draw out. Magi, following a sign that God gave them, they journeyed, searched, inquired from people, and finally arrived, worshipped, and gave gifts to their king. That is exactly how my Grandpa lived. Although he didn’t have a star to follow, he followed the light of the Gospel, Jesus Christ himself. He hung on to His word. He was the son of a medicine man, brother to rebellious men, and relative to countless ones who rejected the Gospel. Yet, he followed the sign of God’s word. He followed even when having children of his own, he legally adopted my mom and her two sisters. He followed when he gathered them at the table and before they were allowed to eat, they had family Bible time. He followed the sign whenever we had a family gathering and he prayed as someone who knew God and wanted others to know him. He followed that bright morning star as He translated for missionaries and preached sermons of his own. He followed when he went to the flea markets, and as he encountered those who were sick, hurt, or hurting in other ways, he prayed for them on the spot (several people have stories of this). He followed in his last days as he scooted around on his walker and prayed for healing and help in Navajo. He followed Christ in his life’s journey, and upon his passing, arrived to worship Christ and lay his treasures at the feet of Jesus. He was a man of prayer and faith. I got to share this to my family, not only that day, but at his funeral. It’s not every time that as a preacher, you get a tangible sign that a point is well received, but as I shared during the service, there was something in between a sigh and a groan that I heard. It made me feel as though God did have me there for that reason. God brought us back in part, for me to share with my family and those that Grandpa knew. What a testimony! I pray that those who came to His funeral, will follow grandpa, as he followed Christ. In addition to sharing at the funeral, connecting with family I hadn’t seen in a long time was special. Other Native people might understand when I say that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen a relative in a long time you are always welcome as a grandson, nephew, or cousin into the family and to come around for a visit. I actually met family that I’ve never met before and connected with several cousins that I hope to visit again soon. Visiting the reservation reminded us of the Mongolian Countryside and how often the City-dwellers will go back to their familial homeland to visit with family that still resides there. Actually, being in Mongolia gave me more of an appetite to learn more about the Navajo people and I hope one day to learn Navajo.
Now, about meeting with Mongolians. Every year there is a large folk art festival in Santa Fe. For the past two years, my sister has gone and spent time, especially at the Mongolian booth. She had seen one artist there named “Jana” both years and told us about her and that she had a brief moment to explain that we lived in UlaanBaatar. Since the festival was just a couple weeks after we returned, we decided we couldn’t miss it, since it would provide us with the chance to speak Mongolian again to Mongolians. We felt like it was a special opportunity that we probably wouldn’t again get for a long time. Maria and I dropped the kids off at the grandparents house and drove up. When we got there, we went straight to the Mongolian booth. We waited to get the Artist’s attention and greeted her in Mongolian. She seemed a little surprised, but happy to be greeted in her language. She told us that the other artists were taking a food break. We talked to her for about 15 minutes, after which she presented us with some of her original artwork. We exchanged
information and told her to contact us next year before she came out so that we could show her around. We said goodbye and walked around the other booths. After browsing and visiting with several interesting people from other countries, we went back to see if the other Mongolian artists had come back. We saw that there were a few new faces and we introduced ourselves and struck up conversations, Maria with a young lady who is going to school in San Bernardino (she was interpreting), and I with a young man who had come from UlaanBaatar. We also met a Mongolian woman (who was also helping with interpreting) who lives in Los Alamos. We talked with each of them for a little while, were given more artwork and again asked them to please email before the come next year so that we could spend more time together. Both artists were very generous, so we decided to buy them each a small gift and send them off at the airport. We sent off two of our new friends the next day. We gave them their gifts and again asked them to stay in touch. We got the flight information for Jana and planned to meet her the following day to send her off. At 7:15 the next morning I got a call from someone at the Art Festival, asking if we could help Jana because she missed her flight out and need to change her ticket. After a bit of confusion, I told this lady to send her down our way and we would take care of her. We met Jana at the Airport and although she was flustered and worried, we were able to help her change her ticket to the evening. This left her with nothing to do but wait for the rest of the time, so we asked her if she wanted to go with us. She did. So that’s how we got to spend the entire day with her. We took her to Cracker Barrel, Old Town (where she shopped for souvenirs), stopped off at Maria’s sister’s house, and the Church (We stored her luggage there during our time out). She got to meet several people there at the Church and even go to present Pastor Skip with Artwork for the Church. During our time with her, she shared with us how her religious teacher told her she was a Native American woman in her past life. He also told her that she should meet Native Americans. She felt like it was destined for us to meet. I shared a little bit about the Navajo people and invited her to come with us for a visit to the Reservation next year.We hope that it will all work out and that we can spend more time with her. While at Old Town, we met a Omaha/Zuni man and his Cheyenne wife who happened to be performing.
After our day on the town, we took her back to the Airport. We were given permission to actually go to the gate with her. She was really impressed with Maria (as many people are, including me). She gave us more artwork and we helped her find an electrical plug adapter. We stayed there until she boarded her plane and said our final goodbyes to her. We felt some of the same emotions that we felt when we left Mongolia. We realized after we started walking back to our car that we spoke more Mongolian in that time than in any other single day while we were in Mongolia.
Our Lord has appointments for us to keep. We mentioned it before, but the Red Hero Project continues.
May He continue to lead us and set us in the right direction. We praise Him because He will.
Servy and Mia
Since we’ve had a lot of questions surrounding the topic of our return and future plans, I thought it would be good to try and write briefly about that.
We’ve been asked if it was really just for health reasons that we came back for. My answer to that is YES. Maria was exhibiting symptoms of Anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic reactions can be fatal. Her symptoms were troubling to me as they involved not only hives and swelling, but her airway and thinking. As sad as it was to leave the work we started and people we met, the decision to come back meant that I was being a responsible husband and leader of my family. I was protecting my wife and preferring her before me and any ministry opportunity or work we may have had there in the future. There were no other underlying reasons we left. We had the full support of our care team and sending organization in this decision.
Related to this are questions about how everyone is feeling now. To answer, everyone is seemingly fine. Since we arrived at the Seoul airport, showered and changed clothes, there’s been no severe symptoms. Maria did wear a shirt that we hadn’t washed since coming back, and began to have hives and redness on her neck. She immediately changed and the symptoms went away. Other than that, everyone is good.
Another question we often answer is about what we have planned for the future now that we are back. First, we would like to meet with so many of you who have supported us financially and prayed for us. Our Care Team will be setting up times and relating information for that soon. Much of our time since coming back has been spent on a couple of unexpected things (I’ll write more about both of these happenings in a separate post). One, being my Grandfather’s passing on and funeral, the other was meeting three Mongolian artists at the Santa Fe Folk Art Festival. We actually had the opportunity to spend an entire day with one of these Artists. Part of our time now and in the coming months, will be spent on continuing to make this transition practically (things like obtaining a vehicle etc.), seeking the Lord for His will, and just enjoying the blessing of being back “home”. Aside from these things, we’re treating this as a furlough with the intention of discovering what it is that the Lord has next for us.
Next, some have asked how long we are back for. We are back indefinitely. Since we don’t know what we will do next, we can’t say if we will remain here or move again. We want to remain open to whatever it is that the Lord has. While we are calling this “home” for now, we’re trying to not get too settled.
Lastly, of course we still appreciate your prayer and financial support. GA will continue to collect donations on our behalf through December, if you have the desire to support us either financially or through prayer please send us a comment with your contact information (we will not publish it) and we will get you more information on how to do that and add you to our email list. Thanks for your support through this all! Continue to pray for the Lords direction for us.
If you have more questions for us, please write to us and myself or Maria will respond.
I’ve been tasked with writing a letter to explain the events and reasonings behind our
recent decisions. I myself am still reacting to everything that has happened in the past
5 days and will do my best to relate what has happened so far. Though this letter is
lengthy, I feel the explanations are necessary, so please read this letter in its entirety.
To get to the point: We are on an airplane, approximately above Tokyo (as I type), on
our way home indefinitely. By “indefinitely” I mean that we will probably not be returning
to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We are returning to Albuquerque to seek out what the Lord
will have us do next, and also to rest.
Now for the explanation: Last summer (2010), within the first year into our mission,
Maria began to experience something like an allergic rash or hives. While annoying, it
seemed to be mild, and was taken care of by antihistamines. As the weather became
warmer this year, Maria again began to show similar symptoms. Her symptoms were
relieved (a little) by again taking antihistamines. Last Saturday, after having another
flare up of hives, the symptoms began to intensify and the hives became painful. After
trying to sooth and relieve the hives in several different ways, her condition worsened.
She stated that her throat felt like she had a lump in it, her mouth was “itchy” and she
began to have trouble breathing. She also became extremely pale. Later on, Maria
recalled not being able to think clearly. We are no strangers to allergies. We knew these
were symptoms of a serious allergic reaction and anaphylaxis. We knew that if we
didn’t act fast, her condition could worsen even more, possibly closing her airway. We
quickly arranged for our sleeping kids to be watched by our friend and rushed to the
hospital. At the hospital, Maria was treated with a shot of cortisone, and told that the
symptoms should soon subside. We left and began to try to figure out what could be
the cause of this reaction. We also began to talk of the need to leave if the symptoms
persisted. We went back to the hospital on Monday for a follow-up appointment.
Although Maria was feeling better overall, she was still having trouble at times. Maria
was prescribed Prednisone and was told that if, after two series of doses, things weren’t
better, we would have to go to Korea for her to be tested and treated. We were also
asked when we planned to return to the US and it was suggested to us to consider
leaving before our intended October return date. Maria began the Prednisone on
Tuesday and we began to plan for an early return.
Several factors came into play when we made our decision to return to Albuquerque:
First, we believe the reaction was due to recent growth of plants, weeds, or trees.
Within two minutes of going outdoors, Maria’s eyes would begin to drip, her face would
redden and the area around her eyes would begin to swell. When she returned inside,
those symptoms would go away, though the hives stayed present. Keep in mind that
this was while on as many as three antihistamines and Prednisone. Since vegetative
growth is a factor we can’t control, and one that would probably reoccur every year, we
decided it would be best that, if we did return to NM, it would be permanent.
Next, if we stayed in Mongolia, Maria would need to be on over-the-counter and
prescription medication every year to control these symptoms. I felt like it was not fair
for me to keep Maria in Mongolia for my sake. I’ve known people who were prescribed
Prednisone long term, and I didn’t want my wife to have to deal with those same side
Third, while there is medical care in Ulaanbaatar, it is not a great option for emergency
or urgent care situations. In the event of an emergency that they couldn’t handle, we’d
have to be evacuated to Korea or Thailand. We need close proximity to good urgent
care, emergency rooms, and now, allergy specialists.
Lastly, while relating what we were going through to our good friend over the phone,
Judah (our second born son) broke out in hives all over his face and neck. We feared
that he was going through the same thing as Maria. We immediately gave him Benadryl
and took him into the doctor. It was after this, that I told Maria, “Make plans!” We began
to look at what it would take to change our return ticket date. For the sake of my
family’s health, we needed to leave. Since returning, our local doctor confirmed our
suspicions that the allergies were probably pollen related. He also said that the only options
would have been to begin injections (which take two years to become effective) or move.
I can’t explain why, after almost two years of laboring and studying language, we have
to come back “home”. I’m still trying to figure out things like “Why, if we were just to
the point of being able to hold decent conversations with the people in their language,
would we need to leave?” Why did it have to be like this? There were several things I
wish would’ve gone differently. I wish we were able to say goodbye to many people that
we didn’t. We’ve made friends in Mongolia. We’ve served with other families who, even
though from different church backgrounds, poured out their time, effort, and resources
to help us in our transition upon arrival to, and now, in our departure from Mongolia.
It’s been a privilege to serve alongside these selfless servants of Jesus. It’s tough to
be the ones that come home for medical reasons, and know the difficult conditions that
these families will continue to face on a daily basis. It’s awful to us that we didn’t get to
say goodbye to them. We’ve made friends with our language teachers. It was painful
to say goodbye to them, literally. As we parted ways, we kissed them in the Mongolian
tradition, touching cheek to cheek and sniffing. Although it may seem strange, I realized
at that moment how much we loved them and how close they became to us. I will never
forget them. We just recently became closer as a family to our Nanny. We didn’t get to
say goodbye to her either.
What I do know is that there was no other option. I felt like staying wouldn’t be
fair to Maria or Judah. I thank the Lord for solid training that cautioned me against
putting ministry before family. Recently, we were praying about two different possible
opportunities for ministry. These opportunities would have afforded us the chance to not
only get our Visas, but work on the church plant as well. I felt like to take either would
have been great, since I would be filling a need. One was with a new project, and one
was with something that has been long established. We were preparing to talk more
with one person who told us of his need for help. I now feel like our health is what the
Lord used to close this door that seemed so open.
One of the questions we anticipate being asked a lot is, “So, what’s next?” While we
understand this question, the honest answer is that I don’t know. We moved with one
day to prepare. I have nothing lined up. But, I know the Lord brought us back for a
reason. We’ve learned to trust Him while we were very isolated and far away. I have
no reason to lose trust in Him now. Even while near “Home”, I need to rely, not on
the network of family, friends, and brothers and sisters, but on the same One who
brought us through the past year and seven months. Really, it’s been three years, since
we began to pray about going until now. I can say that we will be taking a break and
spending some time away to continue to process all that has happened during that time.
We plan to visit at least one area in the US where there is a Mongolian community and
seek out Mongolian families to meet and speak with. We don’t know what will come of
that, but it’s something we’d like to do anyway. I also feel that we are better equipped
now to engage any Tibetan Buddhist or shamanistic culture.
Finally, there is not enough in the words “thank you” to really convey the strength of
feeling we have for all of you that have stuck with us in prayer and giving your money
and time for the Red Hero project. While we were there, our communication was
very limited and we often couldn’t say with clarity what we were planning and doing.
Even though we had to take a more cautious and clandestine form of communication
(because of restriction by the government), many of you gave and prayed anyway. I
can’t think anything other than it was your faith that God was up to something through
us. Your gifts and prayers freed us to focus on going to school and getting life’s tasks
done in a setting that was so different and required a lot of extra effort. It was told to us
by Pastor Neil that we may never see the spiritual fruit of our labor. You, too, may not
see the direct result of your dollars and hearty prayers. You may not see as a result of
your giving and praying, similar fruit to those missions to other places, but know that
we’ve become able to converse in Mongolian and people who observed us on a day to
day basis have become curious about the Bible. For a Buddhist culture, that is a lot. I’ll
never forget when one of my teachers related to me how my only male teacher Batkhuu
said something to her to the effect of “we should be reading the Bible, because it has
good stuff in it.” We really feel like it was to our teachers, that our lives and words spoke
most. Another teacher, who was my first teacher and a believer, at times would seek
counsel about her life. She was afraid to lead her Bible study and sometimes ashamed
to admit that she was a Christian. I spoke to her in my lessons about this and it’s my
hope that she continues on, strong in the faith and in study of the Bible. Yet another
teacher, Maria was able to make a connection with. She came to the airport to say
goodbye, even though it had been about a year since we saw her last. Maria noticed a
change in her as we talked and can’t help but think that God is up to something in her
life. We can’t take credit for it all, because there are many Christian students that go to
that school, but we hope that we testified to them and lived our lives as a testimony as
I want to especially thank our Care Team. You are the best Care Team, period. I
hope that, as new missionaries are sent out and other teams see what you all did, the
standard would be set again. You guys labored for what you couldn’t see as well, and
it hurts to have all the hopes you also had for Mongolia and us not come to fruition. But
I also know that you all have the same perspective that we’ve come to have – that is,
the fact that it is not over. God is still at work in Mongolia. Now we know the warfare
and opposition that exists for those believers and those missionary families serving.
Continue praying for them. My family’s state was eased because of your work. Before
we left, I remember telling you that we were marching together into this. I never once
felt like any of you stopped marching. Your initiative and creativity never stopped and
was an inspiration to keep going. After we spoke online with you, we always felt inspired
and confident that our affairs back home were taken care of. Your example should be in
the definition and explanation of what it is to be a Care Team. Thank you.
To Pastor Skip, the pastoral staff, and Calvary Abq staff, thank you for remembering us,
asking about us, and keeping us in your prayers. We always felt soothed when we were
told that one of you asked about us or sent greetings. Thank you for supporting us and
getting behind us. It’s a dose of strength when you know you have so many others who
love and support you like this.
To Pastor Neil, Trudy, and the Global Adventures staff and volunteers, thank you.
Thank you for serving beyond your job descriptions and time constraints. Thank you
for faithfully getting together the “numbers” when you have so much else to do. Thank
you for your encouragement. After we would speak to you, we always felt pumped up
to continue serving. Your confidence in what the Lord was doing always gave us more
confidence in Him too.
With gratitude and hope,
The Pardo Family
Servy, Maria, Shemuel, Judah, and Moises
P.S. We are home now. We know some of you will have questions. We will have more details about our transition, financial support, and how our mission will draw to a close soon. For now other questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org