In 2007 Heather and I hosted a farewell party for the Sholl family at St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Ashbury. The party was a mixture of joy and sadness. We all rejoiced to be partners with Pete and Sarah heading off as gospel workers with CMS in Latin America. However, we were also sad to be farewelling our founding church Pastor and his family. For our family it was even harder having worked with Pete and Sarah so closely for 5 years and with our 3 girls and their 3 girls having grown up together. So, last month, it was an incredible joy for us to be able to visit the Sholl family in Monterrey, Mexico and to see the difference God has made in 10 years to their life.
Monterrey is nestled in a valley between two limestone mountain ranges. The lavish homes of the wealthy perch high on the mountain sides above the thick haze of the city whilst the bulk of people are crammed in small homes in the valley, living at or below the poverty line.
The oppressive heat of summer weighs on the city but never slows down the constant thrum of traffic. Wide roads flow with speeding traffic and you see everything from the latest Mercedes to 70 year-old rusted trucks packed with people and chickens. Five different heavily armed police forces patrol the city as a constant reminder of the city’s violent and corrupt past.
Many Monterrey residents work in the large manufacturing plants making white goods and cars to service the US economy. Others make daily commutes either to outlying farms or into the US to be low paid workers with daily entrance visas.
We spent our first week with the Sholls experiencing life in their home town. We went to church and, despite our lack of Spanish, communicated with many of the people Pete and Sarah have been discipling in small bible study groups and in the youth group. We also met Jorje, the minister of their church, who we have been praying for in recent years.
We joined in with the end of year celebrations for the playgroup and women’s Bible study and met many women who told us of their thanks to God for Sarah and her years of training them to read the Bible for themselves.
Whilst we couldn’t personally experience much of Pete’s work with MOCLAM we were able to hear of the latest plans and we met one of his key Latin America partners – the head of IFES Latin America. He had just arrived back in Monterrey after visiting our other link missionaries – Peter and Terry Blowes in Buenos Aires. He was very thankful for the gospel partnership with CMS Australia and us at SNAC!
The Sholl girls also proved to be great hosts. Competent in local language and custom, they gave us tours of their schools and invited us to a series of celebrations, ceremonies and concerts during the week. Lucy was particularly excited for Sarah and Hannah to share in her high school graduation.
One of the striking aspects of Mexican life was the central place the Roman Catholic church played in all these occasions. Catholic masses were held to mark every occasion from high school graduations to 15th birthday parties. An Aztec-influenced version of Mary was sadly central to most churches. This just underlined the important work of CMS to teach about the centrality of Jesus to salvation and to train people to read God’s Word for themselves.
As we have reflected on how God has provided for our friends the Sholls in the last 10 years we have been very encouraged about CMS’s long-term commitment to gospel work in Latin America and the importance of our ongoing partnership with them at SNAC.
Pete and Sarah asked us to thank everyone at SNAC for all the cards, presents and prayers which they found incredibly encouraging. If this update has left you wanting to know more about the Sholl’s ministry or CMS then please visit www.cms.org.au and subscribe to their prayer letters.