Temporary Resident!

How is faith exercised? Who exercises faith?

Like a young boy on his dad’s shoulders, this past month has been full of faith building exercises. God has both placed us in situations where we have had the opportunity to exercise our faith, and we have had to lean into Him and choose to allow our faith to be exercised.

One situation involved Whitney’s visa. We were working on getting Whitney’s temporary resident visa so that we could stay here in Mexico for longer stretches of time.

This process included lots of different visits to downtown Chihuahua to find forms, fill them out, return them with the required copied documents, and submit payments for each one. Praise the Lord we were able to get most of the required documents in the 30 days that we were given! 

We had one little hiccup. We did not get our Mexican marriage license in time. We were told it would be ready to pick up 10 days after Whitney’s visa was due to expire. This meant it would not be ready in time. Without that document we had to write an extra letter explaining that JJ is a citizen of both the USA and Mexico and that his name on his American passport refers to the same person as in his Mexican passport (in Mexico he has two last names). We are so thankful for our support staff who was able to write that letter on his laptop in the waiting room on the day of the appointment. Thank you!

The entire process took us 3.5 hours, but it was so worth it as Whitney now has a visa that is good for the next two years! Thank you for all your prayers! This was one event where we saw God EXERCISING our FAITH in Him.

Life in Mexico

through the eyes of the Arnold kids

  PRAYER & PRAISES

  • Praise the Lord with us! God guided our steps and Whitney was able to get a two year temporary resident visa as well as a two year car permit! This is HUGE as it will allow us to now really dive in and focus on learning language and culture!
  • Praise the Lord that each day, each week, we are feeling more and more comfortable down here. There is so much we need to grow in still, but we are thankful for the baby steps!
  • Praise the Lord for answered prayer in that we are finding different people to engage with down here to learn the Mexican culture and Spanish. Pray that we can lean into the relationships that God brings our way to love on people
  • Pray for the start of school and the adjustment that comes with it. Our oldest started kindergarten on the 14th of August (pictured above), and we start school the first week of September!
  • We are humbled. God continues to build our team as we are down here. Praise the Lord with us! Thank you to the individuals and church bodies who are praying for us and financially investing in us so that we can serve Him down here. God has a way of working out all things for our good and His glory. We still need $800 of monthly financial partnerships to make it to our goal.
  • Please let us know how we can be praising the Lord with you and/or praying for you. Ministry is not about just a JJ and Whitney and family thing, we want to and need to hear from you too. We would be blessed by hearing from you!

God’s at Work in the Delays (Part 1)

On August 6th, the day before Whitney’s visa expired, we drove to the border. The trip from our house in Chihuahua to the border is about a 4 hour drive. On top of it being a relatively short trip, the road is quite ‘smooth.’

(Quick little side note: When I, JJ, was little and when we traveled down here in Mexico the road often would be asphalt for a stretch and at other points the road would be gravel. When we got onto the asphalt road we would express out loud, ‘Yay, we are finally on the smooth and soft road!’ Asphalt can be smooth, but it’s not so soft. But in the mind of a little boy, gliding on the asphalt was way more soft than bouncing this way and that on the rough, dirt, gravel road.)

Getting back to the trip up to the border: It is a smooth, soft, asphalt road the whole way up. At least at one point in its history it was, haha.  Although the road is asphalt, there are plenty of areas where vehicles of all shapes and sizes have left their impressions. Sometimes so much so that you second guess you aren’t on a gravel road.

We were about an hour into the trip when we felt the van shaking a little more than the normal shakes from the uneven road. We drove a couple hundred meters more and soon realized that we had a flat/blown tire. I pulled over safely to the side of the road (as much as I could), and I jumped out to see that the rear driver side tire was the issue. I got the donut tire down from the belly of the van, and I started to loosen the lugnuts of the damaged tire when a van pulled up behind us.

A man got out of his van and very quickly was helping me change the tire. After a few minutes of conversation he mentioned that he is a pastor of a church in Chihuahua and that he also helps run an orphanage there. He said that he was on his way to the border to get a few people from the airport to bring down. He then gave me his contact information, and he said he would contact a friend up the road to see if he could find us a used tire to put on the van. He drove on ahead of us, and when we entered the next town we followed him to a tire shop. He asked the mechanic if he had our size tire, but after looking around he confirmed that he did not. I told the pastor that if I go slowly I think we can make it to the border. He then asked if he could buy us some gas to get us there, and he persisted that we get some snacks for the kids as well. He then went on his way, and we went on ours. It was a slow trip, but nothing else unexpected happened. 

God used this pastor friend in the most awesome way. He said he saw kids playing on the side of the road and so he stopped to help. It was so cool to see the hand of God as this pastor friend took time to minister to a missionary family stranded on the side of a Mexican road. It was neat to share with him about what we are doing in Chihuahua and to hear from him the connection he has with the town that JJ grew up in. This pastor adopted a girl 16 years ago from the small town JJ grew up in. What are the odds of that little connection? We were blown away by his willingness to help. We were blown away by his desire to see us taken care of. We were blown away by how God used this situation to again EXERCISE our FAITH.

God’s at Work in Chipotle’s

We spent ONE whole day at the border, and it was FULL with different errands that we ran. We also ate at different places we can’t find in Mexico like Jimmy John’s and Chipotle’s. 

Now before you say anything about missionaries to Mexico eating at a TexMex fast food place, listen closely. God showed up HUGE in Chipotle’s. Here is how it happened.

It was around lunch time, and we searched for ‘Chipotle’s’ in maps. There was one about 1/2 mile from where we were shopping which was PERFECT. We drove into the parking lot and as soon as we did a school bus showed up. We saw a large group of students go in. We knew that we were going to wait a while if we went in there so we decided to see if there was another one we could go to, and there was! We got there, ordered our food, and found a table to sit at.

I got up to get some drinks, and as I was standing by the drinks I hear a man say, “Nice shirt, I like your shirt.” I looked down to remind myself what shirt I was wearing. He said that he has been reading in Galatians 6, and he really appreciated the armor of God passage. He then asked me if I was a pastor, and I told him that my family and I are missionaries in Chihuahua. We talked for a couple more seconds, and I returned to the table with drinks in hand. A couple minutes later the man walks back into Chipotle’s and gives me a handshake saying that he noticed that the Lord was with us and that the Holy Spirit was guiding us. I thanked him and told him about our website and the different ways we see God guiding our family. We then said our goodbyes and continued eating. In the afternoon later that day I received an email from this man we met at Chipotle’s, and he encouraged us with Scripture and told us he would love to be a part in what God is doing through us. Isn’t this crazy? Of all places to meet someone like this and have this type of interaction. We want to thank this man for initiating the conversation, and I want to give a shout out to the Lord for leading and guiding our interactions. Who knew? God did!

BUT WAIT the story does not end there! 

As JJ was coming to the table with the drinks, a young college aged woman comes to Whitney and says, “Did I just hear your husband say you are missionaries in Chihuahua?” She continued to talk with Whitney sharing that she is a student in El Paso but that she is from Chihuahua. She asked what church we are missionaries with, and we told her that we are missionaries with Ethnos360. She told Whitney that she JUST heard about this organization, and she also said she is interested in doing something with them. We told her that we have been attending Capilla Calvario in Chihuahua, and she said, “That’s it! That is where I heard about them. I went to that church last week with my cousins and someone was giving announcements explaining who they are and a little bit about what they do.” Whitney found out that this young woman was heading back to Chihuahua for a couple weeks before returning to El Paso to start the semester. Whitney and her exchanged contact information and they have been chatting off and on since!

Again, isn’t this at least a little bizarre? We found ourselves in a restaurant that we did not initially plan to be at interacting with people that God sent to us. We were (and still are) blown away by these FAITH builders. This was another aspect of this lesson we have been reminded of a lot this month: to EXERCISING FAITH involves stepping into conversations with people allowing God to guide and direct. 

God’s at Work in the Delays (Part 2)

Returning to Chihuahua: When the Day Doesn’t Go As Planned

God used another event to EXERCISE our FAITH. He allowed a trip that usually takes 4 hours turn into a 9 hour trip. A trip that included going into Mexico, going back into the USA, going back into Mexico a different way, and then getting a 2-year car visa (which no missionary has done before!). That’s the day in a nutshell.

Continue reading for more details (and may I say more DRAMA!)

In the morning as we were packing the van to get ready to leave for Chihuahua we were visiting with some of the other missionaries there at the Ethnos360 guesthouse. Knowing that Whitney had just received a 2-year temporary resident visa a couple days before, I was asking them if missionaries had ever received car paperwork for 2 years or more. All the missionaries who where there were telling me that in the 10-15 years that they have been going in and out of the country the maximum length of vehicle permit anyone has been given is 1 year at a time. This was good information to have so that I knew what to expect at the border. Or at least I thought I knew what to expect.

We left mid-morning for the border. We arrived at the border and stood in line to get the van registered. When we got to the front of the line, they asked for the required documents and I handed in all of them (and then some). Right away they noticed that the form I had for my registration looked different from what they were used to seeing. I explained to them that when I renewed the plates earlier in the year, I was mailed this ‘receipt’ with the plate stickers, and that this is the proof of registration. They did not like that it looked like a ‘receipt’ and not like the ‘original’ registration. They asked me to call the number on the registration form and get them to email me current registration that looks more like the original.

I told them I would. I got out of line and was on the phone for over an hour (on hold most of the time). I was told that the receipt is the standard, and that the receipt that comes in the mail with the stickers is valid proof of registration. They said they could email it to me and so they did. I went back in line and showed them the email I received, but they did not like that it was still the ‘receipt.’ They said they could not give us car paperwork with the documents that we had. As a way to bid us farewell they said that we could TRY to go back to the same border entry we went to a month ago and see if we are ‘lucky’ to get the same guy who gave us paperwork before. 

So we pilled in the van full of various emotions and re-entered into the USA. We drove back into El Paso, and Whitney got back on the phone to try to see if there was anything we could do to get the paperwork the border officers were asking for. It wasn’t until after we entered into Mexico again that Whitney was able to finalize things. We graciously received a couple more emails that included an official email from the state with the state seal communicating in so many words that this is the standard and that there is no other form that is available. We felt God’s guidance in this entire process! 

We got to the place to do the vehicle paperwork, and it was already mid-afternoon. We went in as a family, but after a couple minutes I, JJ, took the kids outside so that they wouldn’t case too much noise inside. As soon as I got to the van with the kids I got a text from Whitney saying that the line is going quickly and to come inside NOW! I came in with the kids and Whitney was talking with a worker. I heard her ask if Whitney could switch to Spanish, and Whitney motioned for me to come closer. I then mentioned to her that this ‘receipt’ is how registration is done. I also showed her the different emails we received just minutes earlier. The worker went back to talk to someone and then a minute or so later she came back and said that she can proceed with getting paperwork for the van. She asked for a couple more documents like a copy of our marriage license and my date of birth, but she quickly pushed paperwork through. We paid, signed a couple documents, and received the paperwork. And guess what?! It was a 2 year visa!! Unheard of! Incredible! Such a miracle from God!

After a roller coaster ride of a day we could finally take a deep sigh of relief. We don’t have to do paperwork for 2 years!! Wow! Circumstances are opportunities to rely on the Lord and EXERCISE our FAITH watching Him provide!

  July’s Lessons…When Facing Trials Seek His Face

Experiencing car issues

Lingering feelings of unsettledness

The day not going as originally planned

Literally not knowing where to go or what to do next

Feeling like nothing is going your way

These are all of the things we have endured this past month. There was a time when we literally fell apart and cried out to God for His help and direction because the heaviness of the situation felt in the moment too much to withstand. Even in that helpless state God reminded us that He had brought us to this point, and He will keep us. We never doubted His presence or purpose, but we were questioning the method for how He was going to see us through it. Everything felt out of our control, but we felt like we needed to just kept the wheels churning and take one thing at a time. As we did this there was a subtle peace in our hearts that He would get us there. We had a combination of mixed feelings all at once: trusting in the Lord, questioning how He will provide, and knowing He has brought us this far not to leave us. I’m reminded of James 1:2-8:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (ESV)

God works in the messiness of our lives. He doesn’t wait for us to have everything figured out. We are so thankful for His constant pursuit of our hearts!

THANK YOU fellow teammates!         

Our Current Monthly Need: $800 Monthly 

Click here if you want to help: Fund Our Ministry

We are seeing the Lord continue to provide for us financially and even BUILD our team while we have been down here!

A couple of individuals and churches have reached out to us and told us they would like to partner with us. We are humbled by how God continues to go before us! We have been so encouraged by the reminder that God’s heart is to see a people of every tongue and language worshipping Him (Rev. 7:9-10).

God’s heart is for His Church to partner with Him in seeing this become a reality. I’m reminded of how God had Adam share in partaking and enjoying His creation. God blessed Adam with the job of caring for what He created. God shared His glory and His love in bringing Adam alongside Him and gave him a job. I encourage you to read John 13-15 and see how it depicts a Father who is all about sharing His love and His glory! And we get to be recipients of it and work alongside Him! How incredible!!

The numbers:

In order to be 100% funded, we still need $800 in monthly support.  If the Lord is prodding at your heart at being a part in what He is doing through us, please reach out to us!

God has a unique way of providing all we need. We believe that every contribution counts: $10, $20, $50, $100 or $500 per month, we value each and every gift as it enables us to fulfill our calling.

We are amazed by the generosity of those who have partnered with us so far, and we are excited to see how the Lord will continue to provide through willing hearts. If you know of others who might share our passion for God’s work, please connect them with us.

Together, we can make a impact in advancing His kingdom. Thank you for considering how you can contribute to this incredible journey. Let’s join hands and make a difference for God’s glory!

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