Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Newsletter - May 2012: Where are they now?

Dear Family, Friends and Partners in Ministry,

We are approaching our first anniversary back here in the US, so we wanted to catch you up on our lives. The house has become home, the once new streets and stores are now all familiar. Life has changed in some ways, but stays the same in others.

Mexico--We continue to minister and serve in Mexico through the Instituto Laurens, the Methodist-affiliated school where both Jon and Jeanne taught (see: El Intituto Laurens ). In April, Jon was asked to come to Monterrey to be a part of a Bilingual Science Teachers Training course. What does Jon know about science?? Ha,ha... Not enough...but his session with these young teachers was all about the practice of teaching, so he brought to them his passion for teaching and 'methods of pedagogy.' Also, science teachers at the college where Jon teaches here in McAllen donated over $3000 worth of books, CDs and DVDs to be given to the student teachers. More recently, Jon was invited to be one of four presenters at their XVI Annual Education Seminar--a gathering of student-teachers and bi-lingual teachers from over a dozen schools in the metro-Monterrey area. Jon's presentation was entitled, "Forming Critical Readers" and he was able to draw from experiences in Venezuela, Mexico and US as he shared with the 60+ educators.

McAllen--Jon has just completed his first year of teaching full-time with South Texas College. It was a wonderful year, and several deep, life-changing relationships were formed with students.

Jesse finished up her semester at Austin Community College with a 4.0 and will begin studies at Texas State University in the Fall as an English/Spanish double major...planning also to seek 8-12 certification for teaching. She is doing great…and is so excited about her upcoming changes. We are so happy, too, that she will spend the better part of the summer at home with us!

Megan finished her last year of high school as a dual-enrollment student at South Texas College. During the Spring semester she was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, received the Valley Scholars' award (a scholarship for future studies), and has been named to the President's Honor Roll for maintaining a 4.0 for two consecutive semesters. In the Fall, she will begin studies towards becoming an R.N. In addition to her academics, Megan is very involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship through campus ministries, and has served as a campus Bible-study leader and went to the Yucatan (Mexico) on a mission trip with 30+ students. She was one of the translators!

Andrew has adapted very well to life in the US, especially to school here. In the recent awards ceremony at his school (B.E.T.A.), he received an award for having the highest grade in his pre-A.P. Math class, and he was named to the Honor Roll. Just this week, he was elected to be Vice President for the rising sophomore class...so he is excelling in both academics and socialization!

Jeanne—last, but absolutely not least!--manages to keep all of us on our toes...and at the right places at the right time. She has devoted this first year in the US to setting up our home and to making sure the children got all they needed for the transition to American society. As the children get older and are home less and less, Jeanne has decided to enter the working world (outside the home!) once again, most probably in an educational setting. Please pray that the right doors open for her….

At this time, Jon is on 'voluntary leave of absence' from the NGC-UMC due to Discipline requirements for oversight--while Jon and the family remain in ministry, while we are with The Mission Society as ‘mission affiliates, we do not have a person or entity to whom we report directly or who oversees our work. Until we resolve that administrative issue, Jon has to remain on leave of absence.

And, that is ‘where’ the Herrins are! As Christians, we are light and salt wherever we find ourselves. As we straddle the border and as we straddle religious and secular places of life and service, we understand more than ever how important it is to allow our faith to guide our lives and to shine through our speech, our actions, our reactions—through all aspects of our lives.

With great thanksgiving for your prayers and gifts and concern….
Jon, Jeanne, Jesse, Megan and Andrew

See recent postings on these websites:
http://herrin-horizon.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-does-god-really-want.html http://herrinmission.blogspot.com/2012/05/airports-or-bus-stations.html

Airports or Bus Stations?

While I sit in el Central de Autobuses (the main bus station) in Monterrey, I realize just how different bus stations are from airports. Yes, they are both about transportation…even ‘international’ transportation. One is cool, modern, clean and predictable…and one is hot, aging, dirty and full of life!

When I arrive at the station to wait for the bus that would take me back to McAllen, Texas, on the border, I find a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant whose tables spill out into a large, open area where people are coming and going. A young man named José takes my order (enchiladas suizas and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, thank you)…and I sit back to watch the world go by.

A young lady passes—perhaps 18- or 19-years old—with her long, black hair carefully ‘fixed up’…her ‘nice’ jeans on…and a bouquet of flowers in hand…smile on her face. She walks hurriedly towards the arrival area. A mother passes…with six children in tow, all brightly scrubbed and neatly dressed in clothes that have been washed many, many times. One of the Federales (national police) walks by…and he catches my eye because I saw him the day before at another site in the city—he looks ‘hard’…pock-marked face, eyes that betray a distrust of everyone and everything, hand on his semi-automatic pistol. He walks purposefully through the crowds.

An old cowboy comes strolling through the masses…the real deal; not a pretend cowboy…because his boots are worn and dusty, his pants rumpled and stained, his leathery, cracked skin betrays years of outdoors…and in his hand he carefully cradles a small but beautiful cake—perhaps on his way to a grand-daughter’s birthday or first communion. Three businessmen in their business suits laugh loudly together, slapping each other the back…saying their good-byes as they head for different buses, headed back to their home cities. An indigenous woman passes by, and the look on her face is fierce, defiant…perhaps for all the insults and discriminations suffered in the streets day after day.

The older couple walking past, hand-in-hand, are tourists…Mexican tourists seeing their country by bus, perhaps visiting family in various cities; they walk as if there is not a care in the world. A man in his mid-40’s (looks like he’s 60 already) comes to me and asks for help getting home—he was living in Laredo, Texas, but the ‘migras’ caught him and deported him, and now he wants to go home to San Luis Potosi. I give him some money and wish God’s blessing on him as he journeys. A young lady—18? 20?—sits nearby; she is dressed in “la moda” (she is ‘in style’!)…has her make-up just so…carries a new ‘smart phone’…but the look on her face belies misery, emptiness, sadness.

After I eat, I move to the waiting area where rows of chair back up to and face each other. A man sits there across from me, maybe 34-years-old? He looks worried…his suitcase has a wheel broken off. His guitar case stands in front of him. In his lap, a boy—perhaps 4-years-old?—lies in a deep sleep, sweat running off his forehead. Over the scratchy intercom/sound system, I hear “Stranger in the Night,” instrumental, saxophone…so soothing, so amazingly out of place.

In the bus station I see “life”…life as it really is—the happy and the sad, the light and the heavy, the plenty and poverty, love and love-lost. The smells of the taco stands, the exhausts of the too many cars in a too big city hang in the air, and odors of bathed, perfumed and unbathed all mingle and merge in one place…and as I sit surrounded by this writhing sea of humanity, breathing the same air with them, I feel more alive than I have in a long, long time. Yes, give me a bus station, right here on tierra firme, anytime…over an airport.

El Central de Autobuses is become a microcosm of Monterrey, perhaps of Mexico. As I sit I realize that God has created and even now loves all of these people. And, I realize that many, all too many of this tapestry of people don’t even realize these two truths. I am reminded that we as God’s ambassadors must wade into the smelly, mixed-up, damaged, angry, hurt and wondering lives with Good News that can be an eternal ‘tipping point’ for these loved people.

I smile tentatively at the fellow with the child asleep in his arms and ask him how old his son is….

Jon, May 2012