We have a lot to share with you since we last wrote. In short, we have been living a time of transition and change and have more change on the horizon. Through it all, we are thankful to know that many of you have been thinking and praying for us. We will try now to fill you in on our journey…
As you are most likely aware, much of Mexico — especially the northern part — has been affected by the war against and between the drug cartels. The city of Monterrey has been increasingly affected in waves of violence that have ups and downs every few months. We have felt it possible to operate safely here by maintaining a low profile and taking a range of security precautions. However, we have also felt corresponding waves of stress and anxiety as things around us continue to be unpredictable.
Around the middle of April we shared these feelings of stress with some of the leadership of the Family Foundation. We were so grateful for the ways that the leadership listened, prayed, and cared for us. In the end, they made a unanimous recommendation: that the two missionary families serving at the Foundation (ourselves and Lisandro and Patty Restrepo) take a leave of several weeks to step out of ministry and life in Monterrey to be able to rest, relax and reflect.
This recommendation was presented to our supervisors in Covenant World Mission (CWM) and was received very well. CWM quickly organized to get us to Miami for a time of debriefing, reflection, and prayer. We felt God’s presence and love for us in the special ways Dave and Wendy Mark, Byron Amundsen and Bob Auger ministered to us and cared for our boys. We are very grateful for how CWM takes care of us as missionaries. From Miami our family traveled north (Restrepos stayed in Florida) to have time to reflect alone as a family and also with our extended family.
In the end, we have come to the very difficult decision that it is time for our family to begin to transition out of Monterrey. We felt, and continue to feel, that the risk level is not so high as to necessitate an evacuation-type departure. In fact, our colleagues, Lisandro and Patty, will continue to live and serve in Monterrey for the time being. But our time away helped us recognize that we have been living with moderate to high levels of stress in an evolving and unpredictable situation and that a change for our family is necessary.
Our next steps are still being defined. We are back in Monterrey now and plan to move from here this summer, probably in early August, and hope to finish off the 2-3 years of our term in another part of Mexico before returning for our next home assignment. We anticipate that part of our job description will be to continue to support the Family Foundation from a distance. We will update you about where we will be heading next and what we will be doing as soon as we know more.
In a sense, we have known and even celebrated that this time was coming from the stand point that we have seen the leadership and the volunteer base of the Family Foundation grow and stabilize to the point where missionaries could move on to other areas. Eighteen months ago, Claudia Garza and Sandra Cázares (see pictures) were hired as the Ministry Director and Administrative Director respectively, marking the first time in the 10+ years of the Foundation that it has had full non-missionary leadership. And this milestone was the result of an organized and thoughtful search process by the Board of Directors — a small but passionate and talented group that has solidified in recent years.
Additionally, we praise God for the growing team of volunteers that are whole-heartedly serving in a variety of areas. Please keep the entire team in your prayers. We trust God has great plans for them, but our earlier than anticipated departure will add some additional stress in the near future. So while it is with sadness that we will be saying goodbye to Monterrey, we are also filled with joy and hope as we see the ministries of the Family Foundation in very good hands and as relevant and necessary as they have ever been.
There is much more we could write, and we will try to post more frequently on our blog as we go through this transition time. In the mean time, we ask you to join us in prayer. Pray with us first and foremost for peace in Mexico. Pray also for our transition, including the decision of where we will go, and for our family’s adjustment to where ever we end up, especially for the boys and their schooling. Finally, please keep praying for everyone at the Family Foundation.
We are blessed to know that we are part of the great family of God. It is our privilege to consider you our friends, co-workers and prayer partners for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.