Mom called me to her office one evening when we were at her house in mid June and read to me an email that my brother-in-law, Ulises Martínez had written to her. He wrote that the roads that lead to the small village in which they live had been blocked off on all sides. They had not had food nor water for a couple of weeks; there was no money in the banks; the shelves in the grocery stores were not being stocked with more food. They were literally living from meal to meal. The water supply had been cut off to the village. "Please pray for us," was his earnest plea.
My heart sank, and I prayed, "Oh, Lord, please be with my sister and her family! Provide for them, comfort them, and help them to feel Your presence!"
The days following, Ulises and my sister, Elizabeth, were not off my mind. I woke up during the night and prayed for them. I wrote to my friends and family and asked them to please be praying.
Knowing they had no food, we wanted to drive down the mountain to take them some; but we were told there was a danger that they would confiscate any vehicles that were even driven to the edge of the village. Feeling so helpless (as we certainly are as humans!), we placed them in our Heavenly Father's hands and trusted Him to take care of them.
In early July, I was able to visit with my sister, Elizabeth, for the first time since their traumatic experience. We stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning, and I couldn't hold back the tears as she told me about what she had lived and seen and felt during those weeks they were "taken hostage" in their little village.
I was so touched by her account of what she told me that she and her family went through, and I thought that others might be encouraged to take heart when the going gets rough. I asked Elizabeth if she would write about her experience, so I could share it on my blog. I appreciate her taking time to write to me the following, so that I could share this with you.
So, with a prayer on my heart that the Lord will take this and use it for His honor and glory, and that someone's heart somewhere might be encouraged, I share with you the following that she wrote to me.
Ulises and Elizabeth have three children, Sophia Grace (10), Paul Laymon (8), and Emily Ruth (2)
"Thank you, Anna, for letting me share with you what God has taught me these past few months. When you asked me to write what God has taught me, I could not find a place to start, because God has done so much! I think, then, the most simple and brief way is for me to write small excerpts from my journal. I pray this will bring God honor and glory. I pray this will be an encouragement to some weary, struggling missionary lady. Yes! It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
June 3: I got up at 4:40. Ulises went to men's prayer meeting. I drove up to town with Hermana Elvira to the mission to ladies' prayer meeting. Hermana Pili gave a sweet devotional on Ecclesiastes 3, a time for everything. As we drove back home, I noticed a lot of Indian men on the sides of the highway. Any time there is a big group of Indians on the side of the highway, it can't be anything good. Fog covered the mountains. I marveled at the beautiful sunrise, and forgot about the trouble I knew was coming. Ulises came home from men's prayer meeting. He told me the awful news...the roads are blocked. About noon, the day turned cold and rainy. I gave the children their school. Faithful few walked down the mountain through road block to church. Thank you, Lord, for these precious, faithful people.
Indians put up banners with their demands. They want fertilizer.
June 5: Herds of rats and mice. One ran into the house. Ulises and Hermano Emanuel killed it in the kitchen. It is hard to cook; I can't keep the flies off the food. They swarm in through the opening in the roof. Men keep sending Ulises messages, telling him not to go out, to stay inside with doors locked. Things in town are not good. Indians are protesting. They did not get all the fertilizer the government promised them.
June 6: Ulises and Hermano Jorge walked up the mountain around road block. The roof at the mission leaks, and there are worms falling through the holes. They cleaned it...Ulises didn't have an appetite at dinner. I was sick today. My stomach hurt, headache. Ulises and children took care of Emily.
June 7: Cold and rainy. Roads still blocked. Our roof is leaking. Our bedding is damp and cold. When we get in bed at night, it takes a while for us to go to sleep...it is so cold. I sense the children are scared. A thief came in, stole Sophie's beautiful black dog. I feel unsafe. Ulises gets up a lot during the night to look out the windows.
June 8: No money. Ran out of water, gas, diapers. When Ulises and I walked over to church, there was a sparrow that had fallen from its nest. It took my breath away, my eyes filled with tears. Yes, Lord, you saw when he fell from his nest. You see me, you see the danger we are in. Thank you, Lord, for the delicious papaya from the tree in front of the church! That was our dinner today. Thank you, Lord, for the faithful people who came to church today, in spite of the rain and road blocks.
Papaya Tree outside the church
June 10: Roads blocked. Thank you, Lord, for Bro. Manuel bringing us fresh cow milk for Emily. I am still learning how to keep my floors clean. Sprinkle it with water and dip the broom in a bucket. Seems to keep the dust and cement at a minimum. Sarah and Jason's family have Typhoid. Emily woke up from her nap with fever. Thank you, Lord, for the Motrin I had! Ulises and I sat up after the children were in bed, listening to gun shots, men shouting. Those people are getting tired of sitting out in the rain day and night, demanding their fertilizer. They are getting restless, bored, and violent. I am learning the power and sweet relief of prayer.
Fresh cow milk every morning
June 11: Paul's wheezing is getting worse, I am sure because of the damp walls next to his bed. Girls and I stayed home while Ulises and Paul walked up mountain around road block in their rain coats. Ulises preached at the mission. Sophie and I had a devotional. I did my best to listen to her sweet devotional she worked so hard to prepare, but I was uneasy. Indian men were running back and forth on the highway, shouting. How wonderful to see the men's flashlights as they came down the mountain. Paul told me how he fearlessly walked by the cliff around the road block. Thank you, Father, for letting us be together again.
The blessing of rain boots!
June 12: Roads still blocked. No water. The Indians have taken over the town's water supply. Thank you, Lord, for the rain you sent. We put buckets along the edge of the roof outside, gathering rain water. We all put on our rain coats and mud boots. Walked up the mountain to the mission. I carried Bibles and flashlight. Ulises carried Emily. As our family was singing a song, I was holding Emily, and she would give everyone thumbs up. "Aren't we singing so pretty?!" I got tickled and couldn't sing. God gives joy and laughter in the midst of fear and trials. We walked back down the mountain in the dark. Thank you, Lord, for the moon light and my Mother's prayers. Made it home safely. I am praying for curtains. I felt we were being watched as we ate supper.
The invaluable gift of water!
June 13: Roads still blocked. God sent us water! As I was bathing Paul, I said, "Raise your arms." He said, "Please don't shoot!" He hasn't lost his sense of humor. Washed all our clothes! Ulises went soulwinning. I stayed home with the children. I was very uneasy. Kept children busy with a drawing contest; they both won. Hid their prizes and had them hunt for them. So very thankful to see Ulises' flashlight as he walked down the mountain.
June 14: Roads still blocked. Used the last of our gas baking two cakes for Father's Day. All stores in Ixtapa closed. Store owners threatened with being ransacked if they opened or sold to anyone. Heard gun shots. Hermano Emanuel brought us a jug of drinking water. He told Ulises to stay in the house. Sarah called. Anna and Mom sent messages; several churches in the States are praying for us. Our dear friends in Decatur are praying. How comforting to know we are not forgotten by our friends!
June 15: Father's Day. Men enjoyed chocolate cakes. Hermano Ramón licked the plate. He said he had never tasted chocolate cake before. It was worth using the last of our gas! Anna called me today. Thank you, Lord, for my dear, precious sister. We walked up the mountain to the mission. Lightening and rain. Tin roof on mission leaks.
June 16: Stayed home all day (...duh.) Ulises worked on our water supply. Joel called with wonderful news: someone sent us a love offering. But we have no way to get it. We are held hostage, 3 road blocks toward Bochil, 4 road blocks toward Cañitas. And even if we had money, there are no stores open. During the night I sat up in bed. I heard a truck driving past...how long has it been since I have heard a car drive past on the highway?! Can it be, Lord? The roads might be opened!
June 17: ROADS OPENED!!!! What a feeling of freedom! And we got water! The sun shined today for the first time in so many days, and it didn't rain. Jumping up and down, embracing, someone knocked on the door. Hermana Elvira brought delicious breakfast, and homemade tortillas. We had, perhaps, the sweetest family devotions we have ever had. we each wept as we gave testimony of God's protection, faithfulness and goodness. Thank you, Lord, for letting my children really SEE you.
Since that day, we continue to see God's miracles, His protection, His blessings! We now have running water in our home! I could write many more stories! About the children saved during Bible School, and the families that have been added to the church because of Bible School. Our trips to Soyalo, the blind Indian man and the old widow lady who attend the mission there. The people God brings to our door for us to witness to. Sicknesses. Earthquakes. Rain and wind storms under a tin roof. Our house flooding. I could write about Bro. Beltran and Aurora, the loss of their baby, and his ordination as pastor. I could write about Angelita, Susana and Sany's salvation.
His blessings are endless! Just when I think I could not love Him more, my Precious Lord does more miracles and I fall in love with Him again!
If I could resume all I have learned into one phrase, it would be this: Serving Jesus is a privilege. There is no higher calling. No sacrifice is too great. No burden is too heavy. This light affliction works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! And all I could possibly go through, at the end all I will be able to say is, 'We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.'"
Will you please take time to pray for this missionary family?