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December 2001 Newsletter
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December 2001

A NEW BEGINNING
It is a great feeling to be sending you our very first real live missionary newsletter from the field. God truly can do above and beyond what we can ask or even imagine.
We arrived here in Guadalajara on August 23rd and hit the ground running. Steve and Kay Carpenter were so wonderful to help us get to Guadalajara in their van and find a place to live. After settling into our new home, we started our language study the day in which most of you celebrated Labor Day. Since then we have been hard at work learning to speak Spanish. As we are writing this newsletter, we have finished the first of four levels at Harvest Language Center and are beginning the second. Little by little we are getting it. Weve made our share of mistakes already. But it is so exciting to be able to communicate with the Mexican people in Spanish (And they understand!).

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The Carpenter and Hancock families in our house in Guadalajara

Sometimes I find myself pausing to reflect on where God has brought us. I cant help but feel a sense of humility and awe at what has happened over the last months and years. As I am looking out the bus window at the city streets, I think to myself. We are really here. We are not planning to go, we are not praying about where God would have us go, we are not trying to get to Mexico, where we will share the love of Christ. WE ARE HERE! God has moved in a mighty way and He made it happen. I remember being challenged in a sermon one time to attempt something so great for the Lord that it was sure to fail unless He was in it, unless He was the one who made it happen. Well, it is happening! And we wouldnt be here were it not for the Lords leading and the partnership of His people.
So many times throughout my time here so far, God has brought to mind so many of you who are praying for us, who have sent us here. I know that it must be the Holy Spirit. Sometimes a persons face or name will just come to mindtotally unrelated to what I am doing or thinking about. So I pause and think about that person or people and pray for them and thank God for the relationship we have.


NEW FREINDS
Not only have we gotten better acquainted with our Mexico City teammates, Steve and Kay Carpenter, but we also have appreciated getting to know Greg and Vicki Syverson and the other students at the language school. Greg and Vicki have helped us tremendously by showing us how to get around in Guadalajara on the buses.
We have also developed a great friendship with our landlord, Antonio. He is a single retired gentleman who lives on the first floor of our two story duplex. He has gone out of his way to take us under his wing and shown us around and take care of us. He even bought chocolate to have in his house for Mallory when we come to visit.
Antonios sister, Laura, and her family visit Antonio often and they have a son Mitchells age. Mitchell and Alexis have enjoyed playing with one another even when they dont understand what one another is saying. We are slowly becoming an extension of Antonios family. We are enjoying this growing relationship.


NEW EXPERIENCES
We werent able to have our vehicle here in Mexico for a while becausewell its a long story. It worked out to be a good experience for us. We were forced to use public transportation, which is readily available here in the big city, but it is a little more difficult with two children. So we started the school year by catching a bus four blocks from our house, but we were late a few days and thought it might be less stressful, on us parents at least, if we took a taxi. So we had Pepe the taxi driver pick us up every morning for school. We used the 25 minute drive to school through busy traffic to allow Pepe help us practice Spanish. He was a great helper and taught us a few things that we might not have learned.
A new experience for Mitchell and Mallory has been taking baths in our storage containers. Most homes in Mexico do not have bathtubs, only showers. Our children do not enjoy taking showers, so we came up with an alternative. Now, we can still bathe them at the same time and they can have their own bathtub. They both really enjoy their bathtubs.

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Sometimes you have to make due with what you've got.

We have enrolled Mitchell and Mallory in Gymnastics class to give them some physical exercise as well as give us an opportunity to meet other parents of children the same age as ours. This also allows us the opportunity to work on our language homework. We have met a couple named Luis and Paula who have a daughter in Mallorys gymnastics class. They recently invited us to go with them to a family gathering at Lake Chapala, where they have a home on the lake. We really enjoyed spending some time with them and practicing our Spanish. We are hoping to further develop a friendship with them and be an influence for Christ. It was also a good chance to see another part of Mexico.
By the way, we are enjoying the food here and are even trying to make some of the Mexican food in our home. Antonio makes sure we try the real, authentic stuff.

NEWS ABOUT MITCHELL AND MALLORY
Mitchell and Mallory began school the same day we did. They both go to the same school. It is called Kinder Kin. Like nearly every school here in Guadalajara, they have to wear uniforms. Mitchell is in Kindergarten and already learning to write in cursive (in Spanish). He knows the names of shapes in Spanish as well. Mallorys teacher says that she understands most of what she and others are saying in Spanish but she does not speak very much unless she is repeating what we tell her to say.

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Mitchell and Mallory ready for their first day of school in Mexico.

Mallory continues to draw attention wherever we go. The Mexicans like her long blonde hair. They call her Huerita, which means Little Blondie.
The kids are adjusting fairly well to their new language, culture, and surroundings. And they understand maybe even better than we do what we are doing here. They both know that we have moved here to Mexico to tell the people about Jesus Christ. Mitchell has made a verbal list of people here who need to know and he has targeted them in prayer and in action. While he cant speak fluent Spanish yet he does what he can. A couple of weeks ago he drew and colored a picture of the cross on the hill and was very eager to give it to Antonio so he would know what the most important thing was. Antonio accepted it gladly and later, I noticed that he had put it on his refrigerator. So, while our purpose in being here in Guadalajara is to learn Spanish, Mitchell reminds us that that is not the only thing we should be doing.

Thank you so much for your prayers and other support. We realize that we are not in this alone. Not only is the Holy Spirit within us but we know that through your prayers and giving you are a part of what is happening among us as well. Thank you.

PRAYER REQUESTS
1. Pray for us as well as the children as we continue to acquire the language.

2. Pray that we would be able to show the love of Christ to others even though we cant fully explain it in Spanish.

PRAISES
1. God has allowed us to have a smooth transition so far.
2. We were able to go to the border and bring our vehicle into Mexico. What a blessing to have our own transportation.
3. We praise God for you, our faithful friends and for our many new friends, both Mexican and other missionaries in the language school.

Love,
Todd and Tonja

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