When people say 'retreat' we think of different things; some think of the tired weary soldiers who are losing the battle and begin to turn and run. Others think of going to a monastery where one sits in silence for a week or two. Well, our team retreat didn't really match either of those descriptions, but there were elements of both!
The photo below was taken on our last day of three nights away. In the photo all the current OMS Mexico missionaries are present, with the exception of two families who are home support-raising right now. We also have four couples not present who come and visit the field on a regular basis. So compared to a few months ago, it's now a pretty big team Steve is supervising. In the photo are also Randal and Linda Spacht - who were our speakers, (Randy is the executive director of OMS' International Ministries Department which is the department we work under when we're on the field) and also in the photo are some of our OMS Mexican staff (back left) who were looking after the kids whilst we were in the teaching sessions together.
It was a blessing to have a few days away after an intense couple of months. The missionary team is just one of the many teams/ministries Steve oversees. Another team is our ECC (Every Community for Christ) team, who plant new churches across Mexico. Steve was involved in a summit this month involving some international directors from OMS and the national church leaders in Mexico. During the summit an agreement was drawn up on how things could be improved after all the lessons learnt during the past few years. Steve is carrying a big responsibility in the execution of that change. As the chairperson for the committee overseeing the work he also supervises the national coordinator. This change has consumed a lot of Steve's time, whilst he has also been executing change on two other fronts, which are beginning to produce some exciting fruit.
One of these has to do with the Bible Seminary, for which Steve has inherited the role of president. This could well be a full time role on it's own so Steve has appointed 4 new senior members to the administration to share the workload. Steve met with the team before we went on retreat and gave them three WIGS (widely important goals) to work on in the next quarter. The team were motivated and excited by the challenge, which was a great encouragement to Steve.
The other has to do with the transition of leadership with MEFI which has been encouraging. Carmen is beginning to be more proactive and is making decisions on her own, which is something Steve has been keen for her to do.
This is obviously just an overview of some of the organisational changes that have been happening, and doesn't give you much info about the work on the ground, but it may give you an idea of the intensity of the recent few weeks. We can say we are beginning to see shoots of new life popping up as a result of all this hard work however.
One of the dangers of all this activity is that family time can suffer. We were aware that this was beginning to happen so, as a result of this we spent time reading a really good book together called the '3 questions for a frantic family' by Patrick Lencioni, which we would definitely recommend for all families. Patrick normally writes for the business world, but this is an exception where he applies his business knowledge to the family in an attempt to help families work better and more effectively. At the end, Patrick encourages families to draw up a 'family scoreboard' by which you can evaluate your progress. So this is something we have done, and it is something we are going to try and involve Nisha in as much as possible as well. The hope is that it may bring more clarity and context to what we do everyday so as not to lose our focus in the middle of the franticness! It is amazingly simple but amazingly profound, so if any of you feel the same need, read the book!
As Christmas approaches Steve's work schedule is beginning to slow down. Steve is travelling to the USA on Thursday for 10 days of meetings, and then with the exception of a few Christmas events when he gets back we'll start winding down. Please continue to pray for Helen, the pregnancy is advancing well - she's now almost 6 months pregnant. We have gone back to the same doctor that helped us with Anya. We'll be at a different hospital, but we actually prefer the hospital where we're going now, so we're happy about the change.
Have a wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Immanuel - God with us!