Thursday, August 6, 2009

After a Long While....

Well, it has been a while since I've written...and that with good reason! Life has been pretty crazy, but things are finally calming down a bit.
We managed to finish up the school year--all of us--after making it through the Swine Flu and the resulting extended school year. But, the end of school did not bring rest! My brother, Jeph, and his family arrived the weekend we finished up school and graduations (Megan graduated from secondary school, Andrew graduated from primary school, and I preached the graduation sermon for the seminary!). That weekend before my brother arrived, we moved over to our new house...and not everything was moved! Still, we thoroughly enjoyed my brother and his family--even got to visit some places we'd never been in our area of México: Saltillo and Santiago de Nuevo Leon. The cousins had a great time together--first time in two years! Then, all the Virginia Herrins left....
We put the rest of the house together, got the rest of the painting done, and finally settled into some "do nothing" mode. Of course, that lasted about a week...and here we go again! Jesse started classes this past Monday (Aug. 3) and so did Jeanne. Jeanne has moved from the primary program at the Misiones campus to the high-school (Prepa) program at the Insurgentes, her classes began Monday, after they hired her last Friday! So, life is going again.
Megan and Andrew and I all start schooling on August 24th...and we'll be happy to see that day come. We'll fall in a rhythm again, and that somehow always makes life a little easier....
Meanwhile, we are thoroughly enjoying our new community. The children gather most evening in front of our house (and did so long before we moved here!) to play in the street and just hang out. Brandon, Francisco, Gregorio, Susanna, Evelin, Eric and others are often there and love to talk to the "gringos." We are also getting to know their parents, brothers and sisters, cousins...and anyone else who might be around! ha, ha. It is wonderful to be in a place where we can know people like this, where we can begin to share our lives in more and more meaningful ways.
We are confirmed in our move here...learning more and more each day about how God is working around us...and striving to live life one day at a time, sharing God's love and grace however we can.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wise as Serpents...Innocent as Doves

In a technical sense, I am a missionary. I am one of those set aside by the Church and commissioned to serve outside the immediate community of my local church, in a cross-cultural setting. I know this. However, I almost NEVER introduce myself as a missionary. Why is that?
In October this past year, I had the wonderful honor and opportunity of attending an international conference that our sending-agency held in Prague, Czech Republic. I boarded the plane here in Monterrey for the first jump to Atlanta, GA. The plane was almost full, and I was seated in the last row...with a woman from Monterrey. She was probably in her mid-to-late 40's. We exchanged greetings...and began to chat. She, I learned, was on her way to Italy for the vacation of a life-time, was going to meet her boyfriend there for a two-week stay at a luxury villa. We talked about Monterrey...the changes she has seen...the education system...our families...and a bunch of other things.
At the beginning of the conversation, when she asked, I introduced myself as "a professor." After all, that is what I DO...I'm a missionary serving as a professor at the John Wesley Seminary. Throughout the conversation that happily (for me) filled the 2-hour flight to Atlanta, I gradually revealed my connection to the Church...and some more aspects of our work and ministry.
As we touched down in Atlanta and were standing to gather our stuff, she turned to me and asked, "So...are you like a pastor or something???"
I responded, "Yes, I'm a Methodist minister teaching at the seminary."
If I could have captured the look on her face! She said, "I can't believe I talked with an evangelical pastor all the way from Monterrey to Atlanta!!" She then turned to the fellow who had been seated in front of us and said to him, "I can't believe it--I talked to a pastor all the way!!!"
If I had sat down from the beginning and introduced myself as a pastor and missionary, I am certain that it would have been a very quiet and uneventful flight from MTY to ATL.
Of course, I'm not "ashamed" of who I am or what I do--far from it. I love what I do. However, I also know how people react to what I do. For me, it is much more important that I keep doors of communication open. Announcing my religious vocation tends not to be a great door opener!!
As a minister and pastor, I have no problem introducing myself as an educator, community development worker, or leadership consultant. These all fall under what I do as a pastor/minister/missionary...and most important of all, in our culture here that generally holds Protestant/evangelicals in suspicion and at arms-length, presenting myself in one of these innocuous roles keeps the doors of communication wide-open so that relationships can develop...and discipleship can begin.
This way of living, I believe, is what Jesus meant when he said we are to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Mat.10:16). I hope that the lady on the flight to Atlanta is still telling that story, of how she talked for almost two hours with some "evangelical pastor." Our gentle, non-confrontational interaction just may have laid the groundwork for someone else, for another passionate Christian to come along and now find an open door to evangelicals in her life.
"I am sending you out as sheep among wolves; therefore, be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves" Matthew 10:16

The JAM...and She Did it AGAIN!

Well, looks like the Megan is really going for it all this year!
This past trimester, Megan participated in the annual speech competition. And, she took 2ND PLACE! Her topic was "Understanding the difference between needs and wants." Go, Meg, go!
Then, when the academic reports came out this past week, she also learned that she is 2ND in her class academically!! What next will this girl do!! We are so proud of her.
Of course, the rest of the JAM are doing great as well--Jesse holds 1ST PLACE in her class...and Andrew is sporting all A's!!! Not that I'm a proud father or anything, but these Herrin kids are doing great!!

The Swine-Flu in Monterrey...

You have seen it in the news...and seen it, and seen it! So, what is it like here...on the "front lines," so to speak?? Tough...but not nearly as bad as it could have been!
We were very happy to see the Mexican government become so pro-active as soon as it was clear that there was a very present danger in all of this. One of the first things the government did was encourage people to avoid social gatherings. And they followed that almost immediately with the closing of all schools, theatres, sports events and even religious gatherings. Restaurants in many areas were limited to "carry-out" only. From Monday, April 27 through Wed., May 6, our city was kind of like a ghost-town.
People really did all they could to avoid being outside among others in a effort to stop the spread of the influenza. We did our part to comply with the government wishes, staying in-doors most of the time, watching movies on DVD and reading books. We communicated with our friends here through phone calls and e-mail, taking every opportunity to encourage them.
Many people here live in fear...and this influenza certainly touched that part of their lives. Some folks were terrified...and all the hype about "the Spanish Influenza" of 1918 didn't help! So, we understood that part of our ministry was to quell fears, offer be a "calm in the storm."
Thankfully, the government's measures seem to have had a positive effect. With everyone home watching television and listening to radio, the government was able to bombard the population with flu prevention measures they could take, and basic anti-flu hygiene (wash hands, wash hands, wash hands!) While there are new flu cases appearing, things are not nearly as bad as they could have been.
All in all, while it certainly has not been easy time, the Lord has shown himself to be faithful through the calming presence of his Spirit. Please continue to pray for Mexico as the people wrestle with long-held fears and superstitions. And, pray that we can be the "calm in the storm" that they need.


On Saturday, April 4, a youth mission team from the Calhoun First UMC in north Georgia arrived to work at the John Wesley Methodist Seminary and to minister with the San Pablo Methodist Church. The fifteen team members--five adults and ten youth--arrived full of energy and enthusiasm...and it didn't diminish the entire week!!!

Sunday morning we went to the San Pablo church where we worshiped together and Pastor Brian from Calhoun preached. After the service, we gathered on the roof of the church (soon to be the new sanctuary of the church) for lunch--rice, beans, beef stew and nopales (stewed cactus!). After eating together...the church had games planned--and it was a blast to see the American young people who spoke no Spanish playing, dancing, and laughing together with the Mexican young people who spoke no English! Indeed, there is much in our life of faith that goes beyond language!

Monday morning we hit the seminary at full tilt, taking over where the Asbury UMC (Tulsa, OK) left off in replacing the first floor of the seminary. About six of the youth from San Pablo joined us all as we pulled up the old floor, put down the new flooring, laid the tile, painted the walls, stained and put down trim.... It was a lot of work, some of it quite tedious...but we all pulled together for a wonderful finish.

In the afternoons, after a late lunch and a little rest, we went over to the San Pablo church for afternoon Bible schools. The children were wonderful...and the youth from Calhoun put together some rather creative story-telling to share the Good News of the Bible. Our children--Jesse, Megan and Andrew--did all of the translations for these Bible Schools, and did a GREAT job.
Thursday night, we joined San Pablo for a Communion Service...and for the "Good-Bye." After only one week together, wonderful friendships had already been forged...and many tears we shed. The Calhoun Youth and the San Pablo Youth overcame the language barrier through that greater universal language of love. Even though we all said "good-bye" that evening, it wasn't over yet! When the Calhoun team got to the airport to leave the next morning, the San Pablo youth showed up there...posters and pictures in hand...and they sat in the airport and sang a farewell song for the Calhoun team. Another time of tears and good-byes...and the Calhoun team had to go to the gate.

Of course, we laid a beautiful floor at the seminary...and we taught children the eternal stories of Scripture--but the greatest part of the trip may well have been the relationships that were formed between people of differing lands, cultures and languages. Both Calhoun and San Pablo will never be the same, all because 10 teenagers (and five adults) in north Georgia gave up their "Spring Break" to travel to Monterrey. Thank you, Calhoun First UMC...for coming, for giving, and for sharing your love and the love of God with us here!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Herrin Kids...Going Stong!!

This week, ANDREW participated with his primary school choir in the regional "Himno Nacional" competition...and his choir of 15 students took THIRD PLACE!!! GO ANDREW!!! Over 20 schools participated in the event...and many of them had 25+ students. However, with great thanks to Andrew's very capable choir director, Marcela Valenzuela, and to the attention and dedication of the students, the Laurens Primiary Choir was able to march away smiling with 3rd place.

Megan and Jesse are doing great as well! Megan took 3rd place over-all academically in her class, and Jesse is in second place academically in her class. Megan continues to practice every Saturday with the theatre group at school...getting ready for their May production of the musical, _Hairspray_....

We are SOOOOO proud of our wonderful children...and we just had to share it all with you!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Parable of the Talents...a New Understanding

Two things the Lord has brought to my mind this week...again and again, and, I simply want to share them with you. However, I’ll just recount one at a you don’t have too long of a read!!

The first is the parable of the talents (Matthew 25)--you remember that one? A ruler was going on a journey so he called three of his trusted servants and gave one five talents, the second two and the last one (some trans. say 5,000, 3,000 and 1000 gold coins--either way, a LOT of money). And he left. When he returned, the servants were called before him to give an account of what they had done. The first had doubled his return, as had the second. However, the third had buried his money...because he was afraid of the master. Now, the ruler got really angry about what this third fellow did...and took all of his money away from him, giving it to the others. Often we preach and teach this parable with the understanding that this third fellow was supposed to have done something with the money...and, therefore, he was simply unfaithful. But, I’ve been thinking about that situation...and I think it is that--and more. I have wondered what the ruler would have done if the fellow had invested, or tried something, and LOST the money. What would have happened if he had tried to set up a business...and it failed! I really believe that the ruler would have been less angry...perhaps even understanding--for anything is better than “burying” the money! If I’m right (and I am at times...just ask my family), this parable is not only about being faithful, but also about taking risks. In fact, the whole reason for burying the money is that the fellow was not willing to take any risks.

 What risks are we avoiding? What risks are we afraid to take? I imagine that if fellow no.3 were walking with us today, from his own experience, he would tell us, “Go ahead...take the risk!”

In the last few weeks I guess I’ve been wrestling with this theme...needing to make some decisions that are risky, needing to take that leap...not sure of where I’ll land. The Lord seems to be saying, “Jon, go for it! Don’t just sit on your hands--try it, do something, take the risk.” After all, don’t we have the promise that He is with us always...even if we fail?? Wouldn’t the Lord want us to try something rather than just sit around doing nothing?? I think I’ll take the risk....

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Megan...our incredible 15-year-old daughter finished up her participation this evening in MUNterrey 2009--Model United Nations. She represented Saudi Arabia on the Human Rights Committee, and their topic of discussion was the Israeli/Palestinian issue. We are so proud of her participation in this event, with 300+ secondary school student participants from 20+ schools. And, in addition to her joyful participation, she came home with Best Speaker Award and the Gandhi Award!!! JOY!!!!! So, Megan and the rest of us are floating joyfully into Sunday....

Good to be Forty-Three...

Well,'s not my birthday, but I have been thinking lately that it is good to be 43-years-old. It seems that a lot of the clutter of my first 40+ years of life is finally falling away, that I am arriving at some clarity that I had not had before. While some of this may be a direct result of life in missions (probably is!), some of this must just be coming-of-age changes. I heard someone claim to quote Churchill once: "He who is not a liberal at 20 has no heart; he who is not a conservative at 40 has no mind." Well, that may reveal more about Churchill than the truth of humankind, but I do think it captures the truth that who we are at 20 and who are at 40 can be very different people.
I think that I am finding now that the 20-year-old Jon is passed away...and a new Jon is emerging. Oh, nothing terribly radical, mind you, but certainly a different way of viewing life. I was SO certain of all I knew back set in my understanding, in my politics, in my theology, in my practice of faith--in HOW I KNEW we should ALL practice and experience the life of faith. Now, I lack certainty in many areas. The worlds of philosophy, theology and politics have become more grey, more shadowed and elusive. This is not a bad thing in my fact, it has broadened my world to accept that we who are on this pilgrimage of faith may have differing experiences of God, of the risen Jesus--and that's okay! My experience with my neighbor, Jaime, will be different from those who work with him, from his family's, from those in his church--yet, we all know and love the same fellow. I can't expect everyone to have the same experience with Jesus that I have, to talk with Him in the same way, to enjoy His presence in the same way. Yet, we who walk with Jesus are certain that we know Him...and we would not want to live without Him in our lives, indeed, at the center of our lives.
While we change, while our view of the world may change and how we order reality in our minds may change, there is One Who does not change. We give thanks for our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever...a God Whose grace is extended to all in their various places along the path, in their various levels of relationship with Him. God is good.
Simply wanted to write today about changes in my case you, too, wrestle with change and think you are alone. Pray for me...for us...and know that we pray for you as you walk this pilgrimage of life. Dios te bendiga.... Jon