June 15, 2015 — Orientation, Mexico, General Assembly

Wow, a lot has happened since I last wrote! On June 1 I flew to Atlanta for RUF New Staff Orientation. This year I have two new campus ministers and six new interns. Brandon Haan is taking over RUF at the University of Minnesota, and Nick Owens is beginning RUF at the University of Delaware. Brandon and Erin grew up in South Dakota, so the Minnesota winters will not be new for them. Brandon is replacing Chad Brewer who is moving to southern California to start RUF at UC Irvine. Nick and Erin (two Erins!) come from the Chicago area. They finished degrees at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and did campus ministry for one year at Tenth Presbyterian Church.

I taught one session, went to dinner with campus ministers and interns, and answered a lot of questions. The number of questions is a reflection of how good these people are – they are already anticipating the issues involved in their work. That week I also began getting ready for my trip to Mexico.

I was not intending to return to Mexico after my April visit. But this is the 10th year of RUF in Mexico, and we are making a major staff transition – so I felt I had to go. I returned home Thursday, June 4, and early the next day Ruth and I caught a bus for the airport.

Saturday afternoon there was a celebration of 10 years of RUF in Mexico. We sang, heard testimonies, saw a slide show, and I was the main speaker. I spoke from Mark 4:26-32 – the parables of the farmer and of the mustard seed. My message was that although our ministry started small, and even still seems small – God promises to do amazing things with small efforts when the gospel is sown.

Zurielly Martinez has been our primary contact in Mexico for several years, but she is getting married this summer and moving to France with her husband. Barush Sanchez and Monse Santiago will be leading the ministry next year. I spent Saturday morning orienting them to their jobs. After church on Sunday I met with two volunteers: Josue, who will be leading a Bible study, and Lizet who will be leading social events. Sunday evening I met with two local pastors – Victor Cruz and Marco Escalante – who will help us supervise the ministry. It was a very good trip, and I think we accomplished all we needed to do, but we were exhausted!

First thing Monday morning we left for the airport. We flew to Newark, then immediately boarded a plane for Chattanooga via Detroit. We finally tumbled into bed at 10:30.

Ruth and I enjoyed Chattanooga. As always, I filled my time with meeting people I need to see and with the business of the assembly. A special opportunity was giving the Mexico country director an update on my previous week’s activities in Mexico. Ruth participated in the women’s events and joined me at dinner and for evening worship.

By Thursday night Ruth and I were beat, and had to pack up for an early morning departure – so I missed the evening assembly meeting. God’s Spirit was present to bring powerful repentance and healing in the matter of racism and civil rights. You can read a report here.

We got back home Friday night – in time to attend Benjamin’s graduation from high school on Saturday. I was the speaker at the ceremony, and spoke on “Our Global Challenge.” We were glad that Daniel and Ginny came up from Maryland for the weekend.

Today we are getting back into home life. Tomorrow I will go to New England for a few days to tie up some loose ends I missed in April.