Friday, December 31, 2010

We wish you all a....

Happy New Year 2011!!
Feliz Año Nuevo 2011!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Herrin Happenings for the Coming Week - Jan.2 - 9

We are hoping to get to see you in the coming days.  Each week, we'll post our "happenings" with the hope that you can be with us at one place or another.  Since we can't get to everyone, we're hoping that some of you can be with us!!

Sunday, January 2nd - Woodland UMC, Rock Hill, SC.  9:30am Sunday School and 10:30am Worship.

Monday, January 3rd - Coosa UMC, Blairsville, GA. 3:00-5:00pm Drop-In, Video, Chat...just being!

Sunday, January 9th - Mt. Pleasant UMC, Cleveland, GA. 9:15am...SS and Worship.

Sunday, January 9th - Gainesville First UMC, Gainesville, GA. 3:00pm Dist. Training Event

During the week, we'll be hanging out with friends and family.  In a few days, we'll post our schedule for the next week...and hope that we can meet somewhere along the way.

We hope you and yours are doing well!  God bless...and Happy New Year!!!

Jon, Jeanne, Jesse, Megan and Andrew!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Very, Merry Christmas!!

Well, it has been all we hoped for...and more!

After arriving here in Dothan, we were able to drive around this small city to see all the sights of Christmas--beautifully decorated homes, the stores with all the tinsel and ribbon and wreath.

We were able to go to the Christmas Eve service with our family at the Covenant  UMC here in Dothan, AL.  What a wonderful, dancing, preaching...and all of it focused on the Birth of our Lord!  Wow!  At home with Mom and Papa,  we got to watch Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas.  As is our tradition, we had a wonderful "breakfast" for supper--scrambled eggs, cheese grits, sausage, biscuits--the works!  On Christmas morn, we gathered around the tree and opened gifts...!  Then, in the early afternoon, we ate turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet-potato casserole, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, ambrosia, pecan pie and caramel cake!!  What a blessed Christmas day.

Then, today--Boxing Day--we worshiped at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Webb, AL, with my parents...where I had been asked me to bring the sermon.  The weather was COLD...snow flurries were wisping around all over...but the small gathering at the church was full of warmth and welcome.  We had a wonderful time in worship...and hot soups were shared after.  What a good Lord's day....

We wanted a good, old-fashioned (at least from our youthful perspective!) Christmas since it had  been six years since we'd been home for this season...and that is exactly what we got.  We hope all of you, too, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas...and may the New Year find you filled with hopes and expectations!  God bless us...every one!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Good Read...?

Mission Teams – Sowing, Watering, Harvesting

Jesus' immortal words captured by the Evangelist resound in our heads, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few....”  And, from the early days of the Church right up until today, we hear these words repeated in the Church year after year...and we're moved to imagine how we can be a part of this great spiritual harvest.  I wonder from time to time if we've not taken the metaphor a bit far that we see only the harvest.

Just some 30 or 40 years after Jesus spoke those words, Paul the Apostle wrote these words, also associated with that spiritual harvest: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow (I Cor.3:6)   Here, Paul reminds us that in God's great mission to the world, people are also needed to simply sow the seed (Jesus agrees—see the parable of the sower), people are needed to water the soil and nourish the seed, and--finally--yes, people are needed to reap the harvest.

It seems that people are interested only in the harvest.  The whole focus is on the visible, tangible fruit.  As mission teams go out from local congregations they are only interested in doing something that is visible, tangible—that which can be caught on camera.  I'm not entirely sure of the reason for this—perhaps some of it comes from our North American fascination with “measurable outcomes”; or, perhaps the congregations want to be able to “see” what they've 'invested' in with regard to their mission team; or, perhaps we missionaries have inadvertently taught teams to expect such things by inviting them only to do such things.  After all, what other kind of ministry can a dozen folk from North Georiga have in the highlands of central Mexico...with all the barriers of language, culture, food, etc!  Easier for them to come in, build a small church building, take pictures and return-- “mission accomplished.” 

But, is that true?  Just as much a part of the mission effort is the sowing of seeds and the watering of small sprouts.  In fact, the ministry in which we find ourselves right now in Monterrey for the most part does not lend itself to the “harvest” ministries, to visible, concrete, hammer and nails type of work.  So, what are we to do?  Do we say, “thanks...but no thanks”??  Of course not!  We know there are ways that English-speaking, American Christians can come and impact lives in amazing ways...even among south-of-the-border, non-English-speaking Mexicans!

Just over two years ago, a group from the US came to Monterrey (where we were serving) to share on university campuses.  They met students at the university who wanted to practice their English!  A good number of those students came into the church where we worshiped because of this encounter...and today are leaders of discipleship groups!!  No “finished product” hands dirty, per se, and no "mission accomplished" photograph to take back and show others.  BUT, they formed relationships that can last life-time and had an impact on God's Church that is immeasurable!

So, what kinds of seed-sowing, plant-watering ministries can your church or group do?  A choir...singing a mix of appropriate popular music and Christian music that can share in schools all around the city;  a mime team that shouts out a message without saying a word, performing in plazas and schools; language teams (like the one mentioned above) coming simply to speak English with those who are learning and sharing life with them.

One mission perspective has been, “Send all the teams you can, as often as you can!”  This, we've learned, often leads to a dangerous dependency on outsiders.  Another perspective is, “Stay home; send your money.”  While this may build an indigenous church, it robs the local church of knowing their brothers and sisters in Christ from other countries.  Therefore, we'll opt for the middle road and say, "Yes, we'd love to receive a mission team from your church...a sowing and watering team that wants to impact lives, influence others and help lay a good foundation for God's church!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Doin's...the J.A.M.

Christmas in Mexico means "posadas!"  Posada translates "inn" in the phrase, " room in the inn." While the word is long associated with Christmas in this culture, it now means "Christmas party!"  So, we have been to a number of posadas this year already--one for the seminary, two for Laurens, one for our discipleship group...and just two more to go!!  Ain't it great?!?! ha, ha....

And, of course, the kiddos have had their share of posadas as well.  Below, you'll find some pix of the Book Club posada, the church-wide youth posada (a dress-up affair!), and birthday/sub-youth-group posada.  Enjoy...

Book Club enjoying their "Posada"
Lots of eats and sweets!

Not your usual Christmas fare...but happily Mexican!

And, for the church-wide youth Christmas gathering, everyone dressed in their finery!

Wow!!  Boy's growing on up! (Yes, that's a mohawk!)

Soooo good to have the Jesse back home for Christmas!

Good looking kiddos!

And, finally, a gathering of church youth at our apartment...


So, there you have a little "taste" of the festivities of  Christmas and how we celebrate the season here.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  May it be filled with Joy, Peace and good things.

And just one more with Meg...the "middle child" who's always left out...!

Wishing All a Merry Christmas...

"Throughout history, from the time of Jesus to the present, fruitful mission efforts have resulted from the amazing and necessary combination of hands, knees and feet--the hands of the faithful as they give to the mission need, knees of the faithful as they pray for the mission effort, and the feet of the faithful as they go and carry the mission message."

This quotation reminds us that EVERYONE can participate in God's mission of love to the world and that every Christian and every Church can participate in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.

Because of the gifts, prayers and goings of the faithful, literally millions of people around the globe are celebrating their very first Christmas this year...and if not their first "Christmas", then for the first time understanding what Christmas is really about--the coming of God in human form, in the person of Jesus the Christ, to bring forgiveness, hope and healing to our lives.  Our hope and our prayer is that this Season of Advent and Christmas will be a time of renewal for you and yours, that you will stride confidently into the New Year filled with a renewed Faith, buoyed by a tenacious Hope, impelled by God's gracious Love.

Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!!
With so much love and the greatest thanksgiving...

Jon, Jeanne, Jesse, Megan and Andrew

Some good links:

If you'd like to give a gift that will reach through this ministry into the lives of others, you can give here:

Jon shares with the Mission Network News, interview from Dec. 1, 2010:  (Written article)  (Live interview)

Rev. Dick McClain, Executive Director of The Mission Society, shares our vision and related news:

Friday, December 10, 2010

What Parrots Can Teach Us

This morning around 7am, as I was wrapping up my morning walk, the flock of parrots that now inhabits our valley took to flight to greet the day.  The sky was suddenly filled with their joyful cacophony of squawks and screaks as the 30+ of them  took to the cool morning air.

I watch them every morning that I get to walk, marveling at the their brilliant green, their maneuvering as group.  I hear their "noise" and wonder how they could ever learn to mimic human speech.  Mainly, I just enjoy the freedom they have as they fly on the winds over the busyness of the city.

As I watched this morning, they seemed to be waking and launching into the day with joy.  After flying around as a flock for about five minutes, greeting the new day, the flock began to break up--groups of four, six and eight birds, peeling off--I imagine--to go to their various feeding sites.  They always break off in even numbers...because, as we learned in natural science class somewhere along the way, parrots are monogamous--they have one mate for life.  So, they break off in even numbers, always.  Those small groups then begin to break off as well...into groups of two, off to face the day.

As I came to the end of my walk, and the sound of rejoicing parrots was fading, I realized what a model they are for us.  They begin their day in praise, all together in the strength of their numbers.  Then, as the needs of the day call to them, the break off into groups--four, six or eight.  And, finally, the take off, two-by-two.  Don't they reflect how we are to be as God's people??  We're to gather in numbers at some point during the week (in North America, usually on Sunday) to greet our God and lift our voices in praise.  Then, we can break off in smaller groups...even down to we walk as disciples, side-by-side in the daily grind of life.

Well, this morning, I give thanks to God for those noisy, screechy, beautiful parrots that raise their inharmonious voices to the day...and I add mine to it, thanking God for His goodness as I prepare to face the day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cost of an Education

Miguel came to me about two weeks ago.  He was stressed, and I was afraid he was coming to tell me that he was leaving the seminary.  Instead, he told me his story.  Miguel is 19-years-old.  His mom is a teacher and he has several brothers and sisters.  He came to explain why he had not turned in the last four assignments in my Ethics class.  After classes at the seminary, he told me, he goes straight to work.  He manages six or seven candy and snack stands on some of the major roads in the city.  He leaves seminary and begins making rounds to each one, replenishing their supply of candies, sweet rolls, magazines.  Not for just a couple of hours, mind you--for the next six to eight hours, long into the night.  He shared with me that his mom just doesn't make enough as a teacher to pay all the bills of the house and schooling and personal needs, so he has to help to keep the family together and "in the black."  However, he was stopping by to tell me that his seminary education was so important that he was giving up some of his work,  that he had discussed it with his family and they were going to cut back on expenses still more so that he could get all his seminary work done.

I was walking out of the office recently and Esteban was sitting in the foyer of the seminary doing something I never imagined of him.  Esteban, on first glance, might be the type of fellow you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley--day or night!  But, then he smiles, and the peace and love of God just radiates from his face.  He's not the best student, but he is a tenacious and determined student, sure of his call, and set on reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  So, what was this fellow doing?  He was sitting among several balls of yarn...knitting!  In my utter surprise, I exclaimed, "Esteban--what are you doing??  Are you knitting??"  He looked up, smiled that beautiful, disarming smile, and replied, "Well, I'm making scarves to sell."  And I returned, "What?  Why?"  Esteban explained, "Well, if I want to stay in seminary, if I want to pay the bills, I have to do something!"

Miguel and Esteban...just two of our 50+ students, doing whatever it is they have to do to get a seminary education, to get the training they want and need so they can serve their Lord in the most effective way they can.

The seminary program for dorm students costs about $250/month...and includes all course work, room and board.  Non-resident students pay about $120/month.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More...Interview with MNN

The recording of the live interview with Jon is now available as well.  Just turn on your speakers and go here:

We are so grateful for your continued prayers as we navigate the difficulties of life here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Gift from St. Phillip's UMC!!

Don't you just love it when God just brings everything together in a wonder way??  We took our daughter to college in Texas in August, and while there we stayed with a wonderful friend, Barbara, that we met one Sunday back in 2005 when we were sharing in a church in N. Georgia.  While in Texas, we went with our friend to her friends', Steve and Suzanne's, home for dinner...and in the midst of our conversation, I mentioned that we were in desperate need for computers in our office at the seminary, that our computers were so old and slow that it very much affected our labors.  Well, Barbara and Suzanne are both computer teachers...and Steve is a pastor at a church that was just then replacing their "older" but still very functional computers!!  To make a long story short, they all put their heads together, invited others at the university and the church to jump in...and we now have "new", fast, fully-functioning computers in the seminary office...and they are networked, and they all have internet!!  WOW!!  Thank you, St. Phillips UMC, for the gift of computers...and thank you friends in Georgetown and at Southwestern University for helping all of this come to pass!!

Itzeel, our Admin. Asst., and I are getting ready to set 'em up!!

Itzeel LOVES her new "compu"...and is already catching up on student grades, seminary publications, and all of that!

Panchita is able to see her work more clearly as she takes care of all the seminary finances.

We are so, so grateful to those who gave time, resources and all that went into make this possible!  May the Lord bless you all as you have blessed us!

Oh yes...and the Dean is a happy fellow too!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Interview with MNN

On December 1st, Mission Network News interviewed Jon about the violence and its effect on the ministry in Monterrey.  You can read this interview here:

Feel free to share this link with others...and do keep us in your prayers!