Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We again greet you in the name of our Lord. We are excited about the coming Summer . It is a busy time of the year. First, Chris’ parents are coming next week for a visit. Then we will be preparing for Vacation Bible School. It will start May 21st and go to 25th. Please keep everyone in prayer. We are so grateful that the team from Louisiana continues to come and help with Vacation Bible School. It is an exciting week for the children and a wonderful way to share the Gospel to many people. We will also have a group from Alvin, TX come in June, to share the Gospel in some villages. They will not be the last group to come, some of Chris and Jasmine’s best friends from Moody, AL will be coming in late June for a visit, and a small group from Woodlands, TX will be coming in August to help us get things ready for the upcoming school year at the Albergue. Needless to say, things here will be quite busy, but that’s a good busy in our eyes. We love being able to still have people come and share in our Ministry in Mexico.
Things at the Albergue are going well. Chris and Jasmine have been keeping the teenagers who stay over during the weekends. There are many reasons for them staying. Some have nowhere to go on the weekends, others’ homes are too far away, and sometimes they do not have enough money to get a bus ticket. On average there are about seven teenagers who stay the weekend, sometimes more. They absolutely LOVE their time with us. As some of you know, Jasmine is an awesome cook and the kids always make sure to come hungry. We also get them Cokes, chips, and chocolate to spoil them. They are just like other teenagers; they love to eat junk food every now and then. They also get to watch movies and television shows while they are there. Sometimes the only thing on television is in English but they still enjoy watching it. It is important that the teenagers know they have a home, sometimes it is hard to be away from home and watch the other teenagers go home and enjoy time with their family when it is not possible for some of them to see their own family every weekend. Our goal is to allow them to have a “home” during their weekends. We allow them to rearrange their rooms, do their laundry, have free reign in the snack cabinets, and choose what to watch on TV or go to their soccer games (season ended in late April). They are some great teenagers. It is exhausting sometimes but the reward is so awesome. It is wonderful to see the teenagers enjoying themselves and loving life.
I (Chris) make an effort to go with Bro. Jose Luis to the villages when we are there during the week. Every Monday we go to La Piedra, Wednesdays we go to Santa Cruz, and Thursdays we go to Iturbide. Many of the services are attended by very few people. Sometimes you can count on one hand how many people come. Many of the village’s church members are working during our visits. But we are not in the numbers business. Each service takes on a character of its own. I will tell you this, each time we go I always come back blessed by what God has done. I always go back to the Bible verse Matthew 18:20 that says, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am with them.” I can bear witness to that verse, that’s for sure!
One of the things I enjoy when going with Bro. Jose Luis is talking to him. He knows a little English, and I know a little Spanish so it is quite interesting how we communicate with each other. Sometimes it seems that we have created our own “code” language. Bro. Jose Luis shares Jasmine and my love for the villages. When we are in the United States, he still goes to the churches. We ask that you pray for his efforts each week and for the pastors that allow him to go and speak at their churches and the new villages without pastors.
In our last newsletter we mentioned two young men who wanted to go to Seminary. Their names are Job and Gerardo. Job is from the Galeana area. Gerardo is from La Laja, Veracruz. Chris had the privilege to Baptize Gerardo in the summer of 2010 when he took his Youth Group on a Summer Youth Mission Trip to La Laja. These two young men were blessed by Ms Randerson who sent an offering for them which allowed us to buy two amazing Study Bibles for these young men. It took a little looking around to find Spanish Bibles, but we did. Each of the young men’s names were engraved on their Bible. When we returned to Galeana, we gave Job his Bible. Job was surprised and very grateful. Bro. Jose Luis gave Gerardo his Bible when he went to La Laja for the Church Conference this April. We know those Bibles will be able to help them study for their schoolwork and prepare sermons for years to come.
Church services in Galeana have been going rather well and are well attended. They
added a new family to their membership a few weeks ago and they are willing to jump right in and get involved. Their excitement really gave us a personal jolt of excitement to keep doing our work there. It is amazing how God continues to encourage us while the work is often times tiring and discouraging. He is always faithful to us and we are constantly amazed at the blessings He sends to us on a daily basis.
We are in the early beginning processes of converting the top story of the church in Galeana into a parsonage for Bro. Jose Luis and his family. This includes making each room accessible from the inside, elevating the water tank, installing two bathrooms, and adding a room to the church for a Sunday School class. This will help us financially and also give Bro. Jose Luis a great place to live with his family and study God’s Word.
Sister Santa who is the wife of Brother Pedro the pastor in Santa Cruz is very ill. She must be in her 80’s. She has been delicate for several years but now she is going down-hill fast. The mission has helped get her to specialist in Linares and Allende but Pepe says her time is near. The church will really miss her as well as her family. Please remember them in your prayers. Carolyn is in the midst of an attack from shingles. She has never had this affliction before and she is suffering. I am just getting over an upper respiratory infection. One of our kids, Veronica, had pains in her stomach and she is not the type to complain. We took her to the hospital and they said it was appendicitis. When they got in she also had a cyst on an ovary. She came through the surgery well and is back at the Albergue.
We are so blessed. God is continually working. Please keep all the staff and teenagers in your prayers. We are so grateful that each and every one of you are praying for this ministry, as well as for us. Your prayers are never in vain, they help us continue the ministry in Mexico. Thank you!
Your missionaries in Mexico,
Wayne & Carolyn Brown;
Chris & Jasmine Whitten
Mariache is a type of music that Mexican people love. The closes we have in English is the Ballard. A church in Alabama was holding a missions conference and wanted a Christian Mariache group to play. They knew the group who had worked with us for years. They sent an invitation and asked us to help them get to their church. To get permission for a Mexican to visit the U.S. is a lot of work and a lot of money. I tried to do it without all the red tape. They each had only their birth certificate and their invitation. I took them to the American Embassy in Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas. I should have started in Mexico City but that was a long way away. We all went in together and gave the man their papers. “So you are a Mariache group.” They replied they were. “Well I like Mariache music so sing me a song.” I told him their instruments were in the van outside and would bring them in. He replied if they were real Mariache they could sing without them. So they sang a song and then another and then a third. You could tell this man loved Mariache. When they finished he told them they were good and gave them their entry permits. We rushed out and went to the border. An official there looked at their papers and said they couldn’t enter the U.S. I protested the embassy had just said they could. He informed me they needed to show funds of $100 each and still he would not give permission. We returned across to Mexico. Half way to Reynosa where we normally cross I called Carolyn to bring me all the money we had and meet me at the bridge. We passed the money out to each one. We had a $20 bill wrapped around several ones. When we enter there was a Hispanic officer at the counter. He was nice and started filling out the papers. Another officer walked in just as another couple entered to get papers. I could tell the other officer was in a bad mood. I motioned them to go to the other officer as this one was taking care of all of us. We soon finished up and crossed the border. Each morning Enrique, the lead singer would ask where we would be that night and if there would be a telephone. I would tell him the place and give him the number. They were writing a Ballard about their trip and I thought he wanted the place and number for their song. After the fifth morning I asked him about his desire for telephone numbers. He told me his first child was to be born any day. He wanted the numbers so his family could contact him if the child was born. He didn’t realize just because he had a number didn’t mean his family had it to contact him. As we were traveling across Louisiana and Mississippi people passing the bus would wave and sometimes blow their horns as they passed. Carolyn discovered that Enrique had put on his sombrero and a Mexican serape and was sitting with his guitar at the back of the bus. He would smile and wave at everyone who passed. We stopped at a service station to gas up. I had a tank on each side of the bus so I had to fill one side, move the bus and fill the other side. While I was filling the second side the group came to me and wanted a dollar. Without thinking I handed them a dollar and returned to filling the tank. It took me a few seconds to hit me. What did they need a dollar for? I ran around the bus and found one of them starting to put the dollar into an automatic car wash while the others waited to enter. They had never seen a car wash and wanted to see it from inside. These guys lived in a village with no lights or running water and this machine was space age technology to them. We made it on to the conference and they played Sunday morning to thunderous applause. For lunch the pastor took us to a buffet. The guys couldn’t believe they could eat all they wanted. When they realized how it worked they stuffed themselves. When Carolyn came back with desert they were overjoyed. They loved dessert. When we left they were moaning from being over full. When we returned to the church they lay on the carpet moaning. They asked Carolyn to help them. She told them the only help was to next time not to eat so much. By the evening service they had recovered enough to play but they had a hard time fastening their pants. We were finally able to get a call to Enrique’s village and left a telephone number. Two days before we returned his wife had a son.
C. I. A.
There is something in here was the first night of the week we put up the wall for the church in La Laja. We had several of the church members helping us lay blocks and mix cement. We were pouring the last beam of cement when the police from the county seat came and took the pastor away. No one knew what was going on. After dark he sent word for us to come to his house. He had been put under house arrest. It had been reported he was working with a C.I.A. agent ( me ) and that he was doing things subversive to the country of Mexico. He had explained to the police that I was a Christian missionary and he was a certified pastor in Mexico. They had suggested that I leave Mexico and he was to stay in his house until further notice. That was okay with us as we had spent all our funds and planned on leaving the next day. The next month I visited the pastor to see how he was doing. When I asked him what was going on he burst out laughing. It seems we were building our church faster than the local Catholic was being built. Someone had reported us as being C.I.A. agents to try and slow us down. Three months later I took a team of men with air hammers and a load of materials. We put the roof on in one day. We then took instamatic pictures that are mandatory to register a church and mailed the to Mexico City. When we put those photos in the mail we were protected by Mexican law. That was the end of the catholic problem for us at that church.
THERE IS SOMETHING IN HERE
After moving from La Laja the first time we went back to help the pastor finish up the church. Not having a home there we rented the old fish market. My parents and the Kays would live in a motor home. Carolyn’s parents had a travel trailer they would live in. There was several stalls where they could park their vehicles under the roof. We brought some furniture and borrowed more to set up house in the one room that was closed in. It had a tin roof that I patched while Carolyn and the kids cleaned out years of dirt inside. It had a large roll up door and a regular walk thru door. There was a bathroom just outside. After working all day we decided to go to bed soon after dark. I instantly fell asleep. Soon Carolyn was punching me and saying there was a rat in the room. We got up, turned on all the lights and checked every inch of the room. Nothing. I grumbled a bit, turned off the lights and we went back to bed. Instantly I was asleep and almost as quickly Carolyn was saying she could hear the rat again. I listened and couldn’t hear anything but I have had difficulty hearing as long as I can remember. I tried to talk her into leaving me alone and going back to sleep. “If you won’t help me I will go and get my daddy. He will help me.” I guess we were kind of loud because Mom and Pop Johnson came in to see what was going on. Again we started looking in all the places a rat could hide. Pop Johnson got on a table and looked in the tube the rollup door rolls around. He had found the culprit. A family of iguanas had taken up residence in the tube. With a long pole he was able to get one to jump from the tube. It took off directly at Mom Johnson. She had a broom and was trying to stop it. She was hitting with the bristle part of the broom. She wound up standing on the bed. It was almost like in the cartoons when someone hits something and their feet come off the ground. I captured the iguanas as Pop poked them out and put them in a cardboard box. When we finished Mom Johnson wanted a picture of one. I grabbed the largest one that was about two feet long by the throat and tail. She was having trouble adjusting her little box camera. She would take a step backwards to get her shot. Every time she stepped back I would take a step forward. She kept stepping back without taking her eye from the camera until she backed against the wall. I had the iguana only three feet from her. When she hit the wall and looked up she screamed loud enough to scare us all. After she calmed down and the rest of us could stop laughing she took her picture. She even got brave enough to pet one. The next morning we took them to the woods and let them go.
IT’S NOT THE FALL BUT THE SUDDEN STOP
In 1990 we had bought a house in San Juan, Texas but had our mission headquarters in a village called San Francisco de los Blancos. Our house was the second floor of the church. It consisted of one big room that was a combination dorm, kitchen, and dining room. A smaller room was our bedroom with a curtained area for Misty. Flies in this village were horrendous and our windows had no screens. One morning I arose early and measured the windows. Working rapidly I had the screens built by 10 A. M. The old roof of the church was bigger than the walls so I had a ledge to walk on as I worked around the building. With screens in one hand I climbed onto the roof of my parents old home and then onto the ledge. I had to step down about two feet from the roof to the ledge. I had been on that ledge hundreds of times. But this time when I stepped on the ledge it crumbled. I remember looking down and seeing small chunks of cement falling away. My first thought was to turn a flip and land on my feet. Not near enough time. I was able to get my hands up or down as it may be to try to break my fall. In front of the church where I was there was a 3 foot sidewalk then 2 feet of dirt and then a spiked picket fence. The roof I stepped off was about twelve feet high. My right hand hit on the sidewalk, my left six inches lower on the dirt and my head on the corner of the sidewalk. As I crumpled to the ground I felt my back twist. I wound up in the dirt on my back with my knees bent. My first thought was I had broken my back. I wiggled my toes and decided I was okay. My right wrist had landed on my forehead. When I started to get up I noticed blood on my wrist. I asked someone where the blood was coming from. They said there was so much they couldn’t tell. Three Mexican men had been watching from across the street and came running. They bundled me into someone truck and took off to the hospital. Carolyn had gotten there just before I was put into the truck and she followed in our suburban. I was placed on a gurney and wheeled into x-ray. When I came out Carolyn was there. The doctors said I had bleeding on the brain or the x-rays were smudged. After much discussion I was x-rayed again. This time they wanted to drill a hole in my skull and I didn’t want them to. They said evidence was my slurred speech. Carolyn convinced them that Spanish was my second language and I was talking normal. The doctor would leave and then come back. They said a specialist had been called from Monterrey. During this time there was a lady in the same are as I was giving birth. We were only about three feet apart. Carolyn would lean back and give me updates on the baby’s progress. After several hours we got a report the specialist from Monterrey had come upon an accident and had to return with the victims. They wouldn’t be coming. The doctor asked what we wanted to do. We told them to sew up my forehead and cast my right wrist. I had crushed my right wrist and broken both elbows. My shoulders were never checked. They wanted to cut off my jeans to check my legs but since I had only worn them a couple of times I wouldn’t let them. I said my legs were fine. With blood all over my t- shirt I told them to cut it off since Carolyn had brought me another. They said if I didn’t want it someone there did. Here I was with a crushed wrist and two broken elbows and they pull my shirt off over my head. I still had not had any pain-killer. Finally the doctor told the nurse to give me a shot. First she tried to straighten my right arm. The elbow was broken and locked in place. Then she tried my left arm. I told her it was broken also. She replied it wasn’t. She pulled hard enough trying to straighten it that she sat me upright on the gurney. When that didn’t work she returned to my right side. She grabbed my right hand and turned it so she could put the shot there. When she twisted my hand it sounded like someone had stepped on a bunch of rice cereal. I almost passed out but she got the shot in my hand. I was getting a little skeptical of her bedside manner so I watched as she went and got a pan on scrub soap and a short bristled brush. She commenced to scrub my wound like she was trying to get a stain out of a pair of socks. It hurt so bad I sat up. I don’t remember if I yelled or not but the doctor came back and asked what the problem was. He asked if she had given me a local around the wound. She replied that no he hadn’t told her to. I thought finally she couldn’t hurt me any more. I was wrong. She returned with a syringe that had a needle at least an inch and a half. She stabbed me like she wanted to drive the needle all the way in. When it would go no farther she would rotate the syringe. I could hear it grating on my skull. A few minutes the doctor came back and sewed my head. Then they put a soft cast on my arm and gave me a sling. Later that day we returned to the U.S. It took me six months to get back to a semblance of normality. I lost a lot of strength and even now if I use my hand too much it hurts.
Mexico does not usually send their soldiers out of Mexico. The only recent incident was after hurricane Katrina. They sent a company to help in the rescue process. All men between 18 and 26 need to serve in one way or the other. All men have to go to the county seat and register in person. If one area has its quota the man will go in and fill out some papers and then play soccer for the next few hours. At the end of the day your papers are stamped and you are done for the next six months. In six months he will come back sign in and play soccer for the rest of the day. Then your military service is finished. One hour to fill in papers and nine hours playing soccer. Others actually join and are taught like our foot soldiers. Another way is to pay some one to serve your time. An active duty member coming to the end of his hitch can find someone who doesn’t want to spend the time in service. He pays the soldier to sign up for him. This is just a little bonus for the soldier and is acceptable to the officials. Many times traveling in Mexico there will be military check points. This is to check if someone is trying to smuggle something illegal. This also gives their soldiers something to do. At these check points they can wave you through or stop you. They can ask you to step out of your car. They have the right to search your car as much or as little as they want. This type of search in the U. S. is illegal but you are in Mexico. Many times I have had to wait ten od fifteen minutes while they searched my empty van. One afternoon I was bringing a group of men back to the states in our old blue bus. Carolyn had the ladies in a van that had A.C. The bus had been acting strange lately and didn’t want to start. If you let off the gas it would die. As we were coming up to an immigration and military check point I couldn’t tell if the engine had died or not. As long as it was moving I could let the clutch out and start the engine again. I had pushed in the clutch and pushed the gas pedal. I still couldn’t tell so I patted the gas pedal again. I realized the engine was dead and if I wanted to start it again I must let out the clutch. Twice I had patted the gas pedal. That had shot a large amount of gas into the pistons as well as the tail pipes. When I let the clutch out and the engine turned over it exploded all that gas at one time. It was such an explosion it blew both mufflers wide open. It sounded like a bomb going off. It must have seemed like that to the men standing guard also. I saw men diving into and under parked cars. Others ran into and around buildings. As I coasted to a stop with a dead engine there was no one to be seen. Slowly they began to reappear. Only the man checking our visa’s came on the bus. After a cursory check he told us to go ahead. I tried to crank the bus and it was dead. I asked the official if my wife in the van could pull around and help me jump-start the bus. With a smile he said no. looking around he said we looked like a healthy group and we would have to push start the bus. And that is what we did. By then all the soldiers had come out to watch the Americans have to push a bus. I bet they told their friends about that for a long time.
THIRD CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO
Our third Christmas in Mexico we were living in Iturbide. Here cedar trees grow everywhere. In La Laja we had to make our tree. A few days before Christmas we went into the mountains and cut a beautiful tree. We had decided to wait until the 24th to decorate it. On the 23rd Jeremy and Dustin decided to find a special cactus for their mom for Christmas. Jeremy remembered seeing one just around the first curve down the mountain. They got on their bikes and headed down hill. They couldn’t find it there so they decided to try the next curve. Not finding it there they kept going. Soon it was just a joy ride down the mountain. They would pass trucks and ride between other cars. Carolyn and I didn’t know they were gone and as they had planned to be right back they had not asked permission. Many times they would play in the gully in front of the house or in the caves behind the house. After they were missed for two hours we started looking for them. It was starting to get dark and they knew they were supposed to be home before dark. Andy went to check the caves while I went up town to check the plaza and school. Carolyn checked the gully in front of the house. As she walked out she saw a fat chicken climbing a tree to roost. It slipped and as she watched it fell into our power lines. There was a green flash and the power transformer exploded. All the lights on our end of town went out. We all met back at the house without finding the boys. After dark a dump truck stops in front of our house. A deacon from the church steps out and hands the boys and their bikes down. They had ridden nine miles down the mountain. They had just started back when the deacon spotted them. The next day I asked the pastor when we could expect to get our lights back. He said he didn’t know if anyone had called the power company. It cost fifty cents and everyone was waiting on others to spend the money. I gave him the fifty cents and asked if he would call. The rest of the day we made tea cookies. We had to mix the batter by hand. We strung the lights and tinsel on the tree but it just wasn’t the same with no lights. We used lamps and candles to see but decided to go to bed early. All our lights had pull chains on them so you couldn’t tell if they were off or on. Besides I didn’t expect the repairmen to get around to fixing the lights until after the holidays. Around four A. M. I was startled awake. The lights were on. I ran into the kids room and cut the lights off and convinced them it was not Christmas yet. As I walked by the tree I noticed the lights. As they twinkled they seemed to say ’Wayne it’s not about you and having a perfect Christmas. Rejoice. The Son of Man has come. I sat for a long time enjoying the lights and talking to the Lord. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him.