Within the past few weeks, one family conversation around our dinner table was about the connection between the Spanish words gracia and gracias. Gracia is the Spanish word for grace. The gracia of our God is freely given to meet our every need - and that overflowing gracia should produce in our hearts the expression of gratitude: gracias! Gracias because each test, each provision, each reassurance of His working in our lives and others here in Spain is for God's glory and our good. Just one letter, "s," separates graciafrom gracias, a word we utter (sometimes mindlessly) in constant daily interactions. We are literally saying "graces." What a wonderful way of expressing gratitude!
We have said more than a few times since beginning this "adventure," that if we had known all that lay before us, it would have been much harder to take the first step. How gracious our heavenly Father is to lead us one step at a time and to give us the "burdens" He has assigned for each day. It is exciting for us to look back and see how far we have come on the deputation journey and look forward as we begin this new year with eyes of faith to see what the Lord will do.
Our December journey took us 10,000 miles as we ventured across the Atlantic to northern Spain. This was the first time our children were able to see Spain and meet the people there the Lord has called us to serve.
All of us have looked back on a year and wondered where the time went. We feel that our days, as Moses described them in Psalm 90, are swept away in a flood-- never to return to us again. In April, we attended two funerals where we cried and rejoiced with our friends at the home going of their loved ones. This reminded us again of how brief our time is on this earth. What purpose and significance we can have by using our days for God's work!
The days of this season have been full and fruitful for us. We greatly value the many friendships we have made during the last three months of our travels. We have spent our time in nine different churches (six of them for mission conferences) in seven different states. We have attended the FBFI conference, evangelistic meetings, and the Baptist World orientation at Camp Joy. I have preached, taught Sunday School, shared in school classrooms and children's ministries, and presented our ministry to all ages. I have seen the Lord stretch me in ways I didn't think was possible. Our hearts and our heads are overflowing with all we have learned along the way.
One thing we can say, without a doubt, that churches in the South are blessed with excellent cooks! We have no fear of going hungry, as feeding missionaries well is an unwritten mandate in all churches.
You have prayed with us for opportunities to minister wherever we go. We have had those opportunities and have received abundant ministry in return.
How amazing it is to see the work of Christ going forward in each place and in so many lives. Our desire is to pray like Moses, "Let your work appear to your servants, and your glory to their children."
Our journey began in 2010 when the Lord began working in our hearts about our direct involvement in the lives of people. We saw more urgently a need to be building redemptive relationships in our community and to be discipling our fellow believers. This budding desire began to grow and through the teaching of God's Word, a series of circumstances, and conversations with various people, the Lord began directing us to the mission field and more specifically, the field of Spain.