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December 2005

 
 
Dear Friends in Christ,
We were blessed by the opportunity to host a team and return to Mexico as a family this month. Although it was not as big and as labor intensive as a building team it was exciting for us to once again be doing what we love and know best.
Wednesday, December 14th we packed up and headed for the Mexico border with a highly energetic group from our church here in Fredericksburg, TX. The team leaders were Tim Bolton & Cody Carnett. Cody is full of enthusiasm and has a love for the Lord that overflows to everyone he's around. Tim has an incredible testimony of how years ago the Lord gave him a heart for evangelism. Since then he, his wife Carol and children Mac and Augusta have traveled all over the world taking teams on short term evangelism trips. Tim was also the one who organized the team to Haiti that our daughter Sara went on in August. Also on the team were friends, Siobhon (pronounced Shavon), Cody & Cole Criddle, A.J. Pucek, Joel Wean, Alex Hurtado & Tim Bolton's son Mac. Micah, Holly & Heidi Wakefield also came to help with some of the translating and Bible School.
Once in Mexico we delivered food packages to 70 needy families. We also delivered and installed 14 heaters. Work seems to be harder to come by for the Mexican families through the winter months, so the food packages are especially helpful during this time of year. Giving the gift of heat to a family is an extreme luxury most families never expect to have.
The team's main goal however was to evangelize, and evangelize they did. Every home they stopped at with a food package or heater the family would hear about Christ and what He did for them. Each team member participated in enthusiastically sharing Christ, His love and what he had done in their lives. Many hearts were truly turned to Christ for the first time and countless lives were touched by His love for them through this group.
During the week some of the men went with Pastor Santos to a prison in the border town, Piedras Negras. This was a new and interesting experience for all of them. The prisons in Mexico are quite different from those here. The depression of the place is almost overwhelming as you enter. Only days before our visit the son of a family we built for had been killed in a fight there. The men look very depressed and lifeless, most of them covered in tattoo markings identifying themselves with different gangs. Several men had tears tattooed on their cheeks, our group inquired if this meant they were part of the same gang. The pastor at the prison said it did and they tattooed a tear for each person they had killed. The facilities were very primitive. Many prisoners were suffering from illnesses due to the cold. Their rooms are not well heated and blankets are not provided. Tim shared the love of Christ with the prisoners during their chapel time. The group left very sobered by the experience.
We had two nights of Bible School with the children in the John 3:16 Church. It's been so long since we've held a Bible School that we almost forgot how much energy the children have! It was a blessing to be there with them once again!
What a challenging year this was for us. This assuredly has been the most difficult year of our lives. The first half of our year was spent fighting for Shelby's life and comfort. Our hearts were torn apart as we bid our 'first-born' daughter, Shelby Kay, goodbye. After pouring everything we had physically, emotionally and spiritually into a long and painful fight against leiomyo-sarcoma cancer Shelby left her exhausted body here on earth and went to be with her Heavenly Father in her eternal home and resting place. Although she has left us in body, her legacy will always burn strongly in our hearts and in the many hearts she touched during her short life here on earth. We look forward to being with Shelby again one day soon!
A more joyous event that took place this year was the birth of our first grandchild, Heidi Summer Wakefield. This was an encouragement to Shelby near the end of her life. We were grateful that they met and Heidi was able to get hugs, snuggles and pictures with her Aunt Shelby. Heidi was born March 9th and has been a healing ray of sunshine for all of us.
Our son Micah started taking flight classes this year. Micah has a heart for the Lord and would like to use aviation in ministry one day. Sara and Kenny have been in and out of Mexico all year. Sara enjoys teaching and helping the ladies with sewing projects. She took several trips to Mexico working in the Dorcas house, providing work for a few ladies through a sewing business, learning more Spanish and helping Pastor Santos and Hermana Fini in different areas. Kenny goes to Mexico helping Pastor Santos run his ranches and working on his Spanish as well. He loves any type of agriculture project and is always willing to help.
Sara was also able to join a team from our church, to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Being pretty fluent in Spanish and knowing a little Creole as well she was able to help with the translating in the Dominican and Haiti. The team lodged in the Dominican Republic and traveled into Haiti each day. In Haiti they spent the day evangelizing in the market areas and holding Bible Schools, singing and playing with the children of a local orphanage. Sara enjoyed the visit and hopes to return sometime in 2006.
After the hurricane in Louisiana we took several trips there as a family helping to clear debris from yards and delivering supplies as funds were donated. Some of our children with the help of Dana and Abraham Sweet helped a few families replace their roofs.
The Lord also allowed us to work with the Sweet family this year. We were grateful for their help to O.S.M. during the time when we needed to focus more on Shelby. Although the Sweets are no longer a part of O.S.M. their ministry is continuing. The Sweets have started a ministry called WIDE Ministries, Inc. If you would like to keep up with the Sweets we've included their contact information below.
Word In Deed Evangelism,
WIDE Ministries, Inc.,
2400 Veterans Blvd Ste. 16C #456,
Del Rio, TX 78840,
(619) 664-4386,
dlsweet@prodigy.net.mx,
www.wideministries.net
Looking back over 2005 reminds us that even though this was a very difficult year, we have been loved, served and honored in ways beyond our expectations. Losing a parent or a spouse, however difficult, we expect will have to happen one day. But to lose our daughter Shelby was a shock we still find very hard to believe. We are so grateful to the Father that we have had each of you standing behind us as we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. We often take time to think about the outpouring of love to our family, and it is truly mind-boggling. Thank you so much for your patience with us as we grieve her loss and look to our Father to show us His direction for O.S.M. in 2006.
And He has said to me, "My Grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. II Corinthians 12:9
Because of Christ,
The Kennedy Family