Thursday, June 25, 2020

June 25 2020

Dear Praying Friends,
     We are praying for you as you continue to pray for us. We are still quarantined and have just passed the top of the mountain concerning the Covid-19 disaster. We have not heard an "all clear" but it appears that our trouble spots concern Mexico City more than here. We have heard of a few we know that have been sick, but it has been lighter here than in other places. We are still under a strict facial mask mandate and are unable to ride in a car or enter a store without social distancing and a mask. It does get old but like so many, we lost ancestors during the 1918-19 flu epidemic, so we realize that safety does make a huge difference in final numbers.
     As you can see, I am including a picture of Lance and I. We have not included pictures for several years after it was discovered that much of the evil of past days was caused by posting pictures, information, etc. and the guys in the penitentiary were capturing profiles and picture and could send someone to a school or address to pressure for money. However, I have wanted to update so many who have not been able to keep up with Lance's progress. He turned 15 on Tuesday. He is about two inches taller than I, just clearing 6 feet tall. The most wonderful thing about him is his humbleness and his love for the Lord. He said all along he wasn't going to be upset with this illness because God was going to heal him. He did.
    All of us are well and are able to maintain a decent ministry through the cell phone. Everyday Gary makes a video from one verse of Psalm 119 and helps them make application for their personal life. By sending it through social media, it is then sent to Monterrey where it is taught there through their pastor making additional applications and on to eastern Mexico where another deaf pastors uses it for further ministry. We also communicate almost daily through video calls because many of the deaf are not working right now.
     We hope to open services on or near the 12 of July with several stipulations required by the government. The building must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, only persons 18 - 60 may attend (no children and no senior citizens), everyone must use a mask to arrive and through the entire service and every person  must clean their feet on a special sanitizing mat, wash their hands and then apply disinfecting gel as well as sit at least two meters apart. Of course that is the map lined out today. It could change.
     When I was five I memorized Psalm 121: 1, 2 and I know it is still as good today as it was many years ago. During this frustrating time let us lift up our eyes unto Him that made Heaven and earth. God bless you all.
Gary and Ann Layne

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Planting the SEED

Dear Praying Friends,
     Thank you so much for praying concerning the witnessing opportunity today. I believe that God gave the victory. We arrived at the hospital and I quickly saw how ravaging cancer can be. Juan's mother could barely move although she is in her early 50's. She has had three operations in the month of May. Juan was not fully understanding the situation until his sister pulled him apart this week and told him the doctors have predicted five days or less.
     Juan was on one side of the bed and I on the other with his father nearby catching it all. I was able to give a simple presentation both in signs and voice with many Scriptures. Just as I was bringing the Scriptures to a close, I felt someone slip behind me. It was a nurse who checked everything so I kept on sharing. When she turned to leave I noticed she had a syringe and had injected it into the IV. In just a few seconds, the mother's eyes started to roll and they were unfocused. I paused a few minutes to see if she would recover or if it would put her to sleep. She eventually gathered her senses but she was still groggy. I summarized the Gospel again andI asked if I could pray for her and she responded quickly,"Yes." I repeated a short version of salvation in the prayer and then stepped outside the room to give the family a moment.
     Why not push for a decision? I felt the Holy Spirit say wait. Earlier when I mentioned John 14:6 that Christ was the only way to Heaven, her eyes perked up and she nodded differently than at any other time. Juan is returning to town now and has promised to follow through. He will review with her what I taught and ask if she has made a decision. I really felt that a shot of morphine and the most important decision of Eternity do not mix.
     I am thrilled to be able to do as God commanded and give the Gospel, clearly and plainly. I would be thrilled beyond explanation if Juan is able to get her to actually make the decision when she is clear minded. I told Juan that I planted and maybe God will allow him to water. He smiled from ear to ear. Please do continue to pray for "Juan's mom" and family. Thank you so much for caring.
Gary

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Thursday, June 3, 2020

     Without any details, please pray for the opportunity I have tomorrow morning to share the Gospel with the mother of one of our deaf. She is dying with cancer and has given the OK for me to talk with her.
     Second, we are still under strict quarantine, so pray we will not have difficulties with the authorities. Thank you.
Gary 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

May 15, 2020

Dear Praying Friends,
     We praise the Lord that we are able to keep in contact with our deaf through video conferencing and WhatsApp. They all seem to be doing well, but it is hard to tell through social media. I am preparing and sending out a devotional nearly every day. The only time I miss is if my blood pressure has me all messed up. We send it to all of our folks who want to receive it and then also to several other states to Deaf who have requested it. Some of our group then sends it on to other family members, including some hearing folks - by the way it is only in sign language, but they still enjoy it. I always try to visualize the verse first by explaining words they may not understand and then in the explication, I try to be clear with examples as well.
     I mentioned that it takes hours to prepare everything to teach. I usually prepare my mind and heart the evening before. The next morning I will print out the verse with "hints" on the difficult words for  them. That may be a drawing, a picture or a synonym that is easier to be understood. That often means searching a dictionary or thesaurus to make sure I am not putting an American spin on a word from the Bible. I then print it out, scan it to clear up any imperfections, send the picture file to Cheyenne, and then tape a 5-7 minute explanation of the verse. It then gets downloaded to the cloud and eventually sent to Cheyenne who compresses it and sends it on to the phone connections. I know, it could be done by taking a photo with the phone but they always turn out very dark, even in sunlight. Anyway, that is how a simple verse becomes a many hour production. This way, the Deaf see the verse with the "hints," then eventually see a video explaining with examples that hopefully plants the Word in their hearts. 
     A few of our deaf have continued to work all through this time. Most are on a partial salary until this calms down. Some obviously have no income, but we have heard no griping. They have had their difficulties. One family lost their father, and were "told" that he had passed away a week before he did. Obviously the family tried to explain that he had a stroke or something and was very serious. The Deaf understood he was gone. The next day he posted a picture with his dad in the hospital. There is no humor in this, because it shows what many Deaf go through with a family that does not communicate with them in their language. Another family is going through a rough time because the mother had major surgery and is still in the hospital. Visitation is VERY limited and under strict conditions, so it makes it hard on them, as you may very well know.
     There is food to be bought, although maybe not everything you want. Our weekly street markets have been limited as to what they can sell. Those who sold trinkets, deemed not essential, have found other things to sell like masks, or cleaners. We are doing everything possible to buy almost everything here in the village to help these folks. They are so admirable because we do not hear loud griping from anyone. They buckle down and get through the day.
      We do realize that the borders are closed both ways except for emergency reasons. We could not leave if we wanted, but we are totally happy being right here. We live on what used to be a hog farm. All of the animals are gone and a couple of houses now stand on the property. Therefore, we are sort of a gated community. The owner is living next door to us because of the dangers of COVID-19 in the city. There are two other families here, so we can close the gate whenever needed. The owner is two years older than I, so he does not want a parade of people through here. That protects all of us. We praise the Lord for the protection He has given us.
      Thank you for praying for us. We do pray for your needs as we become aware of them.
For DEAF souls in Mexico,
Gary and Ann Layne   

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Life in the country

     Well, week before last we had no Internet. That finally got fixed and so I doubled up on the devotionals for the deaf. It takes several hours a day by the time I fix the visuals, video it and then send it through the channels to be ready for them. As you well know also, things which took minutes now take a long time. So after a good week with classes there has been a few developments. The mother of one of our faithfuls was diagnosed with cancer, so we are praying especially for them. One of our deaf men said he was really strained at only getting half pay. I shared with him that he should be praising God for that half pay since most in the world are not even getting that. He changed his attitude,
     This week I started so wiped out that I was late getting started on our devotional. Several dominoes started to fall and suddenly we were without a good connection again. We got that back yesterday only to have it start sputtering again before it closed down completely. About an hour later we were back up and running. When I opened the door to our house for Cheyenne yesterday morning, I was nearly knocked down with the smell of grass and wood burning. Several hours later Cheyenne went to the village to get a few necessities and discovered that the large gas pipeline that passes in front of our house was on fire. It had been all day, fortunately up the hill by a couple of hundred yards. The highway was covered with fire engines, civil protection, gas people and a fleet of others. About nine we sneaked out again with our masks (first time for me since the first part of March) and walked up across the street to see what was happening. They were covering the pipe back up and were waiting to reopen the line. This morning we learned that it all happened again about Midnight. Fire, dig, fix, cover and then open valve. Lord willing it is fixed!
     About eleven this morning all the power went out. Apparently they had to repair the electric lines over the burned area because they had been damaged. Almost four this afternoon we finally got our power back on. It was only above 90 degrees today and no fans. So, we never know what a day brings - just like you.
     Hopefully our deaf are really understanding the lessons that are visualized and then taught in sign language. Psalm 119 is a wonderful treatise on the Word of God so I really hope they take every word to heart. We are trying to read, see and then explain one verse a day (IF we have Internet and/or power). We are sending the links to several Christians who do not attend regularly, our pastor to the deaf in Monterrey and several other deaf contacts. They in turn send the videos along to a handful of others. Again we pray that the Lord takes our weak abilities and uses them for His glory. The deaf often comment that one verse or the other was special to them.
     Nothing has been said here about opening up yet. I do believe that we are behind your schedule in the whole process. Our numbers are way lower than what we see for the USA, but then again, numbers often get "treated" here before being made public. We are in the strictest rules of protection. If caught outside without a mask you can be fined heftily. At the stores, the traffic police, public buses, etc. there are people checking that if you have no mask, you get no service. Our stores are likewise marked with tape and measures for social distancing. We sincerely pray that they are right about the virus not liking the heat.
     All here are well and doing fine except for the corona stretch around the waist (or is that waste?). Continue to keep us in your prayers and we will do so with you. May God bless you today.
Gary and Ann

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Rewired

     No, we have not disappeared! We live in a foreign country and when something happens, it goes by clout. We live along side of a four lane highway that connects with the coast. Nearly every double trailer arrival comes through here. They often park beside the highway in front of our house. It has not been prepared for that, but they use the area anyhow. Through the years we have lost Internet MANY times because the double trailer carries sea boxes that are a little higher than a normal trailer. Usually when they leave, if they have parked closer to the wall, they will take something with them: our wires; electricity, cable, telephone, anything. Now, living outside of the city limits normally mean we are put on the bottom of the list for repairs. During this crisis there is no one answering the phone, only a recording. Anyway, we are now connected again (until the next truck).
     We are doing fine here as far as the virus. I read before the loss of our Internet that about 290 had tested positive for the virus and approximately 15 deaths for our state. When you consider the amount of people in and out of our city on any given day, that is excellent. On Monday they have instituted a mandatory face mask law. Until now it has been very strongly suggested but there were no penalties if you did not use them. Come Monday, if you do not have a mask you will be unable to board public transportation or enter certain areas. Some of our population still does not believe this is more than a cold, but they are a small minority. Most folks are heeding the warnings. I do not know of any Deaf who are still working. They have announced that we will not be able to return to church services until at least May 1.
      Cheyenne is our "mother hen" to make sure we and her boys are safe. If I suggested that I go to town for anything, she would stand in the doorway. We are thankful for her and her eagerness to help us. When she does go to town, she will leave her two boys with us. When she returns and before she greets us, she goes to her house, showers and changed clothes. Of course she has always used a mask and gloves. We are not running scared by any means, always reminded of Esther's challenge, "If I perish, I perish." But at the same time, we try to be careful and not play the fool.
     Until we lost Internet, I was sending video devotions to our Deaf each day. They have connected with Cheyenne through her phone several times to see if we were connected yet. Today I doubled up with the studies to try to catch up with days missed. I will do so until I get to a more difficult part or they feel it is too much at once. It has been a challenge. Ann has three phones, one current and two older ones. One has USA contacts and one has MX contacts. One has USA What's app and one has MX What's App. My computer will not connect with her phone. I tape the video with a good camera, then send it to Cheyenne. She sends it to Ann's phone to edit the video and reduce the size and then sends it back to her own in order to post it on our church page. Sometimes, things get lost or mangled in the process. I used to keep up with technology for years. We got busy in the work and when I wanted to return to technology, it was gone to outer space. Now I am lost and depend on someone else for the technology. Anyway, it works (most of the time).
     Not a day goes by but what we chat about one of our supporting churches as we are reminded of you both in our conversation and prayers. We are praying for you as we know you pray for us. Seldom has the entire world been enveloped by a major disaster, all at the same time. We do appreciate your sacrifices and prayers for the work here. We shall keep you in our prayers that all will be safe and that He might get the glory. God bless you.
Gary and Ann

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday, April 5, 2020

     Again we have posted a short devotional for our Deaf congregation to keep them encouraged. It is more difficult for them since their circle of friends with whom they can communicate is smaller than the hearing community. Please continue to pray that our folks will continue in the Word of God and use this time faithfully. I am checking regularly that all of our regular folks are still doing OK as far as food and medicine. We praise the Lord for cell phones because without them we would not be able to keep in touch with each other.
     You may wonder how things are going today. I just checked our state statistics and we have a little over 120 confirmed sick and a total of six deaths in our state. The neighboring state will not let anyone from our state cross the state lines. There are police check points at all of the exits to the city because normally Guadalajara empties completely during Holy Week with the beaches so packed that they complain there is no room to put a towel down. We always rejoice because our city becomes so quiet. The check point is to see if anyone is leaving with luggage. If so, they will be sent back to the city.
     There are also check points in the city to make sure that everyone is following the mandates concerning health. Mexico has taken note of the other countries and are trying desperately to protect all who are here. There have been arrests, but I think a lot of them had to do with alcohol.
     Pray as we work with Fernando to keep devotionals going to our folks to keep them centered in Christ and not circumstances. I was shocked last Thursday when I received a conference call from six families. I have trouble getting a devotional to them through WhatsApp and they managed a conference call to me! As two or three of them logged in, they were kicked off - I think maybe too many were trying to get on at the same time or perhaps some were not following the exact protocol. We have been looking and working for two weeks to find the best way to connect. Remember that we cannot be there to help them download certain programs or fix issues. So we stay with what is working most of the time. 
     Thank you for continuing to pray and we will do likewise. We are all praying for brothers and sisters in Christ. May God bless each of you.
Gary & Ann