This summer, the goal that Reggie and I set before us was to pray and seriously consider what we need as individuals and a couple/family to set ourselves up for longevity. Now that we have seen what life is like in Morelia and working at Centro NOE, we are fully praying through what God is calling us to.
A standing prayer request has been for Reggie’s language learning. Because of limited time with him managing the home, finances, international transactions, and a lot of donor retention along with responsibilities at NOE, his ability to comprehend and speak Spanish has been delayed. This has led to a stunted growth in involvement in ministry with students and their families.
As a result, with full approval of NOE leadership, Reggie will be dedicating this year to studying and practicing Spanish. He will not be teaching classes so he can spend more time studying and practicing. He will remain the coordinator for short-term missions groups and will also manage details for the Dream Team American Visa process. He will also help me lead worship when possible. This is a huge shift for Reggie’s schedule, but we hope and pray that this will allow him to grow personal friendships with other men to give him more spiritual encouragement in Morelia and lead classes and other ministries with more confidence.
For me, Karlee, I am looking forward to a more sustainable role this year, too. Having taught two levels of English during the first two years, it was
agreed that I would only teach one level of English, so I can focus on youth Bible study, English teacher trainings, workshops, and development, and a new girls’ discipleship group that I am really excited about.
With Selah only having two more years at home and Levi only three, we are hoping to have a bit more time with them in the evenings and on weekends. Because we are an after-school program, balancing our busy schedules isn’t always easy. We also want to make sure we can be available to help Harmony as much as possible during these first few months.
Please continue praying for us that we can balance our schedule to meet these goals, especially Reggie’s language learning.
June is here. Rain season seems to be taking its time. It’s hot. My classroom is hot. The students look tired. I am tired. We are SO. Close. to the end of the school year. We have all worked so hard. There are days where it is harder to find the energy to jump into teacher or leader mode, but I feel like God keeps whispering in my ear, “Karlee, finish well.”
In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “But I do not account my life of any true value nor as previous to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
On the evening of Friday, June 30th, NOE will have its English program graduation. Due to longer breaks for Christmas and Easter, here in Mexico, schools do not let out until the end of June or middle of July, then start again anywhere from the beginning to end of August. As a teacher who is accustomed to finishing at the end of May or early June, I’ve decided my yearly motto come May 31st will be, “Finish well”. It is easy to get lazy and just finish, but I truly believe that God is calling me to focus on finishing well.
This year at our center, I have been leading the youth Bible study on Wednesday nights after English classes. Last year this wouldn’t have even been an option, as our students were very young, spiritually absent, and simply weren’t interested in God, a relationship with Jesus, nor studying His Word. By the end of June last year, they were excited to hear that we were opening a youth Bible study once again at our center!
For an hour and fifteen minutes each week, an average of about 15-20 students have been gathering to learn about the gospel of John and answering the question, “Who is Jesus?”
Savior. Son of God. Living Water. Bread of Life. Light of the World. The Resurrection and the Life. The Word. 100% God and 100% Man. Miracle Worker. Healer. Prophet. Teacher. Friend. The Door. One Who Loves. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Messiah. Lamb of God. Rebel. The Good Shepherd. The Way, the Truth, and the Life. The True Vine.
Our group is growing with students inviting others to learn Truth, worship together in music and prayer, and have a group of like-minded people who want to know Christ and live forgiven. They are worth finishing well for! Please continue to pray for us as we finish well in English and guitar classes and sharing the power of the gospel through June 30th!
Hebrews 12:2 – “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus, in the middle of enduring the cross, considered it His joy. Jesus, in the middle of the shame of all He experienced, considered it His joy.
Hebrews 12:2 makes me think of Chick-fil-A. When you make an order with one of the friendly cashiers at Chick-fil-A, almost 100% of time you receive the response, “My pleasure”. If somehow you manage to order the most complicated order ever heard at one of these franchises, still, it is likely you will hear, “My pleasure.”
Jesus was the master of “My pleasure”. He knew his purpose. He knew what He came to do. His heart was right. His eyes were focused and no matter his circumstance, “in his joy”, He fulfilled his purpose to his earthly end. I could only imagine seeing Jesus for the first time in heaven and saying to Him, “Jesus, thank you for what You did as my Creator and Savior!” His response may very well be, “My pleasure”. When we know our purpose, our hearts are right, and our eyes are focused, no matter our circumstance, our response can also be, “My pleasure”.
We, as lovers of Jesus, get to know the “what” and the “why”, the vision and reason of our lives. We are called to love God and love others (the what) because He first loved us (the why). It is in that “what” and “why” where life makes sense. It is where we find purpose. It is what God puts deep within us so that, if everything in our lives failed, we would still have success and be able to continue “in our joy”.
A few years ago, I struggled through a job position transition. I found myself unsuccessful in being able to adequately find solutions for some serious needs of my team. I worked hard. I thought outside the box. I made many recommendations. I even re-created a mathematical tool my organization used so that it would account for overtime to be able to show organizational loss with the overuse of staff. However, I didn’t accomplish what I had initially sought out to do, and professionally, I felt like I had failed. It was during those 7 months or so that I had to determine what a “win” was for me every day. My conclusion was that if I was able to connect with God every day, see His beauty, and then be able to effectively speak that beauty into my staff, then it was a win.
There were lots of tears over those seven months as we tried to figure things out organizationally for an overworked staff. However, I also saw tears over those seven months from staff as they were reminded regularly of God’s love for them. So, although professionally, I felt like a failure because I didn’t accomplish what I was being paid to do, personally, because of the fulfilling of my “what” and “why”, I fulfilled what I was called to do.
This year, 2023, I pray we as believers are able to fulfill our purpose and live with intentionality to speak God’s love into the lives of others and consider this our win for each day.
“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King.
Before B.B. King died, Karlee and I had the opportunity to see one of his last concerts at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. It was a night to remember! B.B. King knew his guitar intimately. It was his world. It was his life. God created sound, music, melodies…all things used to worship our Creator through music.
Twice a week I teach 5-7 students that range from 14-55 years old how to play the guitar. A goal of the music program at NOE is to try to help students fall in love with music. What an honor it is to be a part of someone’s life-journey through which they can worship! Before every guitar class, we pray a version of the following, “God, we pray that You are honored through the music we make tonight and that our hearts are moved to give this gift back to You throughout our lives”.
Over Christmas, my class had the opportunity of leading a group of about 100 people in Christmas songs to honor the birth of our Savior. They were nervous and excited. Together, we led, and God was glorified through the songs we sung. The class has now entered their 2nd of 3 trimesters of guitar class. I am super excited to see how the class grows over the remainder of the year!