Friends, Family, and Fun Folks...
We've really been blessed recently. We finished the soccer field, held a massive neighborhood party, and kicked off "DEPORTES CON CRISTO" in November. A month later we're still averaging over 20 kids to each practice or game night. Also the adults in the barrio are gathering for games twice a week!
We have big plans moving forward but for now we're just happy that the kids are embracing the program- they are memorizing scripture each week and seem to really treasure their stickers, earned for playing soccer and learning scripture. Nearly every kid has a decent pair of cleats and the overall mood is really happy and joyful! We're building a bathroom, which will benefit both the sports ministry and the church.
Our focus continues- to develop deep, long lasting relationships with the church and Pastor Julio. Thank you SO MUCH for your continued financial support! Many photos are being posted on Facebook under the page "Mathews Family Mission" so if you haven't already...check that out.
We love you all!
Friends, family, followers...
We are thankful for what the Lord has done in 2021. The soccer field is finished, Deportes con Cristo has kicked off! We now gather twice a week to practice, play, and hear the word of the Lord. Kids are eagerly learning and memorizing verses in order to earn stickers and decorate their water bottles. We aren't just running a soccer league, we're running a weekly bible class with a gospel message. We're using soccer to draw in kids and it's working.
We have begun building a bathroom for the kids- a while back we buried a septic tank so it's been ready. Maggie as always is pushing all the kids to drink "mas agua, mas agua" so yeah we need a bańo.
The challenge moving forward is that we are running low on financial support and volunteers. Maybe if you're reading this you're already helping financially, but we'll be asking for more help from new team members. We're also hoping to raise volunteers from Julio's church so this ministry becomes part of the culture in the neighborhood.
We are now serving and helping out with Casa de Fe and we can't say enough about our new local church. They were praying for a ministry like ours to partner with and we needed a supportive church to come alongside us- it was a match made in heaven. Joel is a young pastor from central California and we've hit it off.
Now that soccer is happening regularly we have more time and we're considering starting an English class for adults- and maybe one for kids too. We just have to be smart about where to have the class and when and that sort of thing. Please pray for wisdom.
Our primary ministry is to our kids, as always. The twins are still homeschooling for math, take an online English class with our dear friend Lise Caldwell, and attend a music school here in Playa where all the instruction is given in Espanol. Their Spanish is improving a lot.
Well that's the news from the Caribbean. Please pray for us and tell your friends God is doing amazing things in Mexico!
The Mathews Family
Here's the latest from Mexico. It's been an exciting month!
The soccer field is nearly finished, it is a sand field now, we have not yet added a layer of fine gravel. 11 holes have been dug around the field for metal posts, which will be set in concrete soon. Atop each pole a 100 Watt LED light will be attached. Night soccer! It's so incredibly hot here during the day, we anticipate the field being used at night. Also we'll be attaching netting to each post to encircle the field- so balls aren't constantly being kicked into the jungle. We have buried a septic tank and although there's no toilet or walls yet we hope to finish that later so our little athletes have a bathroom. There's already a well nearby with clear, clean cenote water. The property already has legal (!) electricity. We have much to do but that's where we're at right now.
After our trip home in October (my niece's wedding!) we are beginning to plan a large event for late October. We'll throw a big party and invite the entire barrio for food, registration into "Deportes con Cristo", and soccer. We hope to get many kids signed up and organized by age. Maggie has written an 8 week curriculum and that's being translated into Spanish. Then we really start our "Deportes con Cristo" program, which will take us into January.
In the meantime, as the field is built, we continue to work in the barrio building relationships and trust. We take folks to their medical appointments in town. We help the local church, which now has electric lights and a well! Moving forward we hope the church members see the value in Deportes con Cristo and want to support and continue the sports ministry- not only as a way to grow their church but for the opportunities it will create to help others.
We've partnered with our new bilingual church and now "Casa de Fe" has purchased many roof panels to help the families whose roofs were damaged in the last hurricane. Next week will be our first volunteer work day with people from both churches- we're even inviting our youth group kids to help!
Thanks so much for reading (you are reading this, right?) and praying and supporting what we're doing here.
There have been many changes in our ministry recently, and we have exciting news!
After the completion of our successful English class in Chanchen in December, our ministry focus has been shifting to the barrio. The Barrio del Torres is a very poor neighborhood just down the street from us.
We now teach English classes 4 times a week at the barrio school and have been steadily building relationships. But the big news is that we've begun construction of a soccer field! We've partnered with Pastor Julio's church to begin a small sports ministry in the barrio and provide a place for the local kids to play, learn, and grow. The total cost of the project is under $8,000 and as of May 8 we've raised over $3500 of that- so once again God is providing!
Our first group of USA missionaries arrives May 17 and will be putting on a sports-themed VBS. These friends from our former homeschooling coop ("In Grace Coop") will be helping with the soccer field, inviting the kids of the barrio, and building relationships as we all share the love of God.
We have decided to separate from GCF (Global Community Fellowship) so you'll be hearing more about that in the coming months. This GiveSendGo site will continue to be active but will connect to another organization if all goes as planned.
As always we are humbled by your support and love. Thank you for reading! If you haven't already done so, please join our "Mathews Family Mission" page on Facebook. We hope to see some of you Hoosiers soon as we'll be home in June.
In Jesus' love,
The Mathews Family
Hello friends, family, church family, fellow believers...
2020 was quite a year for all of you and all of us. The overall consensus seems to be that folks are more than happy to put this "bad year" behind us and move on into a more hopeful 2021. But this year we've also seen God move over and over again and write you today to tell you a little about what He's done through our family.
We moved here in January and by March had purchased a house. We settled in just as the pandemic was shutting down Riviera Maya tourism, and with it the local economy. Many thousands lost their jobs in a three-week period and we saw the city of Playa del Carmen go from 200,000+ to a maybe a tenth of that as people moved back to other parts of Mexico.
Our small missions group (Doug & Darla Millar, Greg & Tracie Ford, Gustavo & Tati Acosta) was cut off from our main mission- the Maya people in Chanchen- and left with only the Paamul church. Then that was shut down also. We began delivering food to the poor people nearby in the Barrio del Torres. Doug & Gustavo focused on feeding unemployed musicians. The church went online to a Zoom format for a few months.
In the fall things began to stabilize enough for us to commit to an English class in Chanchen. School was "online" for the Maya, a cruelty for the kids who don't own computers. We had a captive audience so we began teaching classes 3 times a week and the Mathews family traveled to Chanchen every Friday for four months of English instruction. We built relationships with the young people there and the class was worthwhile both academically and spiritually as we shared our faith to the youth.
Meanwhile we were establishing relationships in the barrio. We purchased food and assembled the "despensas" for Pastor Julio to hand out to his congregation and their neighbors. Those relationships continue to grow as does our ability to speak and understand Spanish.
Also in the barrio is a school. Margaret worked with the children and I worked with the high school aged kids. Many of the families are from Chiapas, a very poor farming state of Mexico to the south. Many of the younger children are far behind on reading and writing Spanish. We found through this work (and our experience in Chanchen) that our calling here in Mexico is indeed teaching. English is a valuable skill for these kids, many of whom will work in the tourism industry.
Our family met many nice people in our neighborhood, which is a mix of Mexican families and European, American, and South Americans. It's an interesting place where the sounds of children playing is always in the air, along with the sounds of the active bird population. We've seen toucans and parrots and yes, tarantulas. We met a lot of our neighbors with the help of our Golden Retreiver "Wilson"- a bit of a local celebrity. Our twins Michael and Glory immediately met kids their age and we're now friends with their families. In fact we've invited several to church and it's grown our small church's numbers considerably- so Michael and Glory are perhaps the most effective missionaries in the house! They're also serving on the worship team and helped establish a youth group. The adults formed a "Rooted" bible study.
Our jobs in 2020 included speaking occasionally at church, Sunday School, worship team, Tuesday AM women's bible study, Wednesday evening bible study, teaching in Chanchen, and teaching in the barrio. There's more but that's the core of where we've invested our time.
As we look forward to 2021, we'd like to continue to take advantage of this open window- kids are not in school and are hungry for instruction. We're planning to expand English teaching in the barrio, this time at the local church.
We've seen the Lord bless our ministry and walk with us during this tough time. But it wasn't what we'd planned or thought of course! We thought we'd have groups come visit us. We thought we'd be able to go home for Christmas and hug our parents and families. But as I've said, 2020 was a special year and we were prepared to make sacrifices to do the Lord's will.
Thank you so, so much for supporting us. If you haven't already, please follow our Facebook page called "Mathews Family Mission". There you'll find many more stories I haven't written about here.
We underestimated our living expenses a bit and in November raised our monthly salary from $2000 to $2350. We seem to be OK at this level and THANK GOD you've all been so faithful and generous. We pray we are somehow worthy of the sacrifice you've made to keep us working down here.
We committed to 2 years here in Mexico so around this time next year we'll be making plans to move home unless we feel a very clear calling to stay. Much of that will be decided by Michael and Glory. Something more to pray about!
Please do keep us in your prayers. We love and miss you all.
The Mathews Family
Hello friends, family, supporters! We're excited about the things God is doing.
We are teaching English classes now, though school is not yet in session. We call them "learning clubs" or "enrichment classes" and are able to meet with kids who desperately need an education. While kids in private schools across Mexico can learn online, the kids we serve do not have access to computers or WIFI or have an online curriculum to connect with! With GCF we travel to Chanchen once a week and Margaret and I are each assisting the barrio school another day of the week.
Our home group has been so life-giving. We've met people from our neighborhood and sprinkled in a few friends from church- the result is a multinational group representing Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and the USA of course. We have a young agnostic attending and a couple who are Catholic seekers... our conversations have been so interesting and exciting.
The ministry with GCF and the Paamul church is going well. Michael and Glory have joined the worship team on cajon and keyboards and it's exciting to be worshiping the Lord with my kids. Maggie and I have both preached and helped with kids and cleaned the church and try to be generally helpful.
Ministry will enter a new phase in January, when we expect the Mexican schools to officially open up. We'll see how we can fit in and possibly expand our teaching times.
We've learned that we can't actually survive on our planned $2000 a month and will be increasing our fundraising amount to $2500 for November. In addition we may end up staying a bit longer due to the COVID pause, we could be down here until June 2021 instead of January 2021. But we don't claim to know God's plan for our family yet. Traveling home has turned out to be much more expensive than we thought due to the airline business/ economy troubles.
Please continue to pray for our family, our kids, and our ministry here. Please pray for Grace at IU Bloomington, we miss her so much! We speak more Spanish every day and we know we are touching lives with the love of Jesus.
The Mathews Family
August 11, 2020
Supporters of the Mathews Family Mission in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Hello again! Here’s an update to bring you up to speed on what God is doing through us....
Getting Our Hearts Right. We arrived with some amount of pride in our own abilities, full of exuberance to serve the Lord in many awesome ways. Instead we have been humbled to learn that God is in control of everything and we are to wait on Him at all times. God has shown us our many areas of pride as we learn more about what poverty truly is.
Like you in the USA, we have been given an incredible amount of time to reflect! The quarantine time came just as we moved into our new home here. During that time we found a new appreciation for God’s peace, for each other, and for time in His word. We also appreciated our kids’ Kindles!
Making friends. God has been faithful to provide us with good people down here who love us and make us feel comfortable. Glory and Michael have friends their age in our neighborhood
Learning the Language. We arrived in Playa with some Spanish but have been meeting with our Spanish teacher for months, prioritizing our ability to speak with the people- podemos hablar con la gente! We meet 4 times a week and are making progress.
We Bought a House. With our own money we invested in a home here. We don’t use any fundraising money for our rent. We bought just as the US economy faltered and that actually helped us get a great deal. We are happy in our new home and spend time decorating and landscaping our tiny yard.
Hosted an International Student. Not really, but our daughter Grace came down for a visit on March 13, the start of Indiana University's Spring Break. It was supposed to be a week but it turned out to be 4 months! It was an unexpected gift and we enjoyed Grace SO much. She did a great job just rolling with it. Please keep her in your prayers as she starts school at IU.
Serving the Paamul Church. We continue to help wherever needed at the expat church where Doug & Darla Millar live. I have given sermons and play guitar for worship. Margaret helps with the kids and leads a women’s bible study. Doug has many plans for new ministries and we’re excited about what God will be doing through the leadership team and with the congregation. There are four couples on the leadership team now!
Although Chanchen was shut off to visitors for 2-3 months, we are now planning to offer English classes to the village youth. Please pray for this program!
Margaret and I remain passionate about small groups. We met neighbors and invited people into our home for our first meeting, which never happened due to the beginning of quarantine! We are now planning to restart the group outdoors so we can study the word and practice social distancing.
Cancer Fundraiser. Longtime Paamul church member (and amazing woman of God!) Claudia Torres has been fighting breast cancer and wanted to be treated in Cancun. We began a GoFundMe fundraiser for her and were able to raise all the money she needed for excellent treatment- about $28,000 USD! She’s doing great and is very appreciative of all the support.
Feeding the Hungry. The Barrio del Torres is the neighborhood just down the street where people are living in poverty under the power lines. This is where we have been feeding people throughout the pandemic. We’ve partnered with a church of 20 or 25 families and brought them 30 despensas each week. A despensa is a bag of food with beans, rice, cooking oil, toilet paper, soap, etc. The church used the extra bags as neighborhood outreach/evangelism.
Most of the Barrio families have gone back to work but a few remain unemployed so we are now supplying only 5 per week to this neighborhood.
In the barrio there's a school with about 60 students total but only 2 are high school students. All parents want their children to learn English, as it gives them a huge boost in the tourism job market.
We are dipping our toes into this water and hope to help the school raise funds for solar panels and get reliable internet. We have a couple of computers to donate when we reach that point!
Homeschooling. Michael and Glory just started their freshman year of Indian Lake Academy, a prestigious boarding school with a student to teacher ratio of 1:1. They remain our primary ministry.
Thank you all so much for your support, your prayers and encouragement mean a lot to us. Please consider a visit as things begin to open up… Mexico is one of the only places open right now!
God bless you all, the Mathews Family
1 Cor. 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Greetings in the name of Jesus from the church in Mexico. Please accept our apologies for not updating sooner.
Greetings in the name of Jesus from the church in Mexico!
Phillipians 4 verses 6 & 7 tell us, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
January 13 to March 13 were two productive months. We arrived emotionally exhausted but happy. Right away we began to work on our visas, began taking Spanish lessons, set up our banking, bought a used car, and generally got comfortable living in Mexico. Fridays were spent in Chanchen, Thursdays were staff meetings and a one on one discipleship with a young man in Tulum, Sundays Eddie leads worship. God brought two other couples to help Doug & Darla- both felt called recently- and the team building process began. Doug has a vision for reaching & discipling the young Maya kids and every week we brainstorm new ideas about exactly to do that. Another young man Eddie met, Bebe, has allowed Jesus to reform his life after some tough mistakes. He and his wife and son are attending church with us. So life has been good.
Then the virus news really started dominating headlines. By the time we got Grace from the airport on March 13 (she made it!) IU had extended Spring Break and decided that the rest of the semester would be online- so we are once again a family of 5. The news reports became more and more intense and we sensed anxiety from every direction. The situation in Quintana Roo is strange now. Gatherings are limited. The economy is entirely dependent upon tourism and tourists are not coming. Trips are being cancelled, workers are being laid off. Hotels and beaches are empty, the highway is empty. The outlook for the next 3-4 months is dire. We are sensing much more anxiety about the average Mexican's income than fear of getting sick from a virus. Either way, fear is a powerful force and so we are sharing a message of hope. Fear not!
We had planned to begin a small group Bible study in our home on March 25 and had some success telling people in our neighborhood about it. We had about 5 people planning on attending and some folks outside the neighborhood for our English speaking bible study. Now with social distancing we are starting tiny bible studies in our outdoor spaces. We’ve met twice and everyone seems to be happy for the interaction. We have great weather and many outdoor spaces so we can do things and keep our space.
Mexican culture is not built well for a virus. People have very little personal space, they hug and kiss everyone. Most workers get around on crowded buses called "collectivos". Cleanliness is often not to USA standards. The health care system is underequipped. On the other hand, the virus supposedly dies quickly in heat.
Recently we ventured into a nearby slum- an area under power lines where the poorest are living in shacks made of pallets with tarp roofs. There we met a pastor of a tiny church which is running their own food bank and giving aid to everyone in the area. We now collect food from our neighbors and donate it to the church.
We are friends with Jessica, a young doctor sent to Chanchen to run their clinic. Although she is from Mexico City, a city twice the size of NYC, she is now lonely in the tiny Maya village. Although she speaks no Mayan, she's stuck in an ill-equipped clinic with no protective masks. Margaret is working with our friend Todd Durell and his organization (Center for Global Impact) to have masks made in Cambodia shipped to us here in Playa so we can distribute them to the Maya clinics. Please pray that happens!
How will the virus affect our ministry here? Were we called here to help feed the poor in the event of an economic depression? We will continue to pray for guidance and wisdom as we serve. Please continue to pray for our family as we feel we are on the verge of something big, something new.
We thank you for your support, your prayers, your love. We are confident that God is in control of our lives and will turn this horrible situation around- that amazing opportunities are being created right now for His glory.
In Jesus' love,
The Mathews Family
Friends, here's a more in-depth explanation of our finances. Our monthly budget is $2500. We are supplying $500/ mo from our home rental (after mortgage, insurance, etc.). That leaves $2000/ mo to raise over our 2 year stay for a total of $48,000.
We have had approximately $15,000 in one-time donations...amazing, right? Then there's about $500/ month pledged, which equates to $12,000.
GiveSendGo is awesome but they do not compute monthly giving toward the "grand total" so we have to do that manually.
We set a lower goal first and then the full goal and that's what we've done.
If we raise more than $48K we will not shut down fundraising. The money will be used a safety net (in case folks can't follow through on their giving) and then used toward a new Maya outreach project like the proposed Maya youth center in Tulum.