ACTS 16:9,10: And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Mac‧e‧do′ni‧an man was standing and entreating him and saying: “Step over into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a and help us.” Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where in the World Are the Windhams?

   We are here, we are there, we are everywhere! Unfortunately the one place we are not is in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico. Early last month we left Mexico to head back to the States. No, we aren't worried about the whole Mayan calendar thing (just in case though...) but we had some family matters to attend to. So we decided that since we were leaving to get all our visiting in now and head back in January. So the first stop on our journey...sunny Jamaica!
working by threes
   We spent a few weeks there visiting Suzanne's dad and he was happy to see her of course. Visiting the island gave us a chance to renew acquaintance with the brothers there and also experience the ministry in Jamaica. In all the times we have visited I have never engaged there in the ministry; partially due to lack of time and partially out of fear. Yes, fear. You see, I was always worried that the first door I would get would be answered by a dread-lock rasta who after *ahem*  meditating wit di ganja would want to discuss the deeper points of Revelation. I also am hesitant to talk much to anyone in Jamaica because I have such difficulty understanding the Jamaican patois. But, muster up the courage we did and we enjoyed a nice time in the ministry.
  One of the interesting differences in the ministry there is that we worked not in pairs but in threes in door to door. The friends also do not leave sight of one another. If you reach the end of the block, you wait for any who are still working before turning the corner. I was told that this was a safety in numbers thing and strongly encouraged to put away my tablet and stop taking pictures. Duly noted! and yeah, I kept looking over my shoulder the rest of the morning.
Suzanne and her Dad

this fella came over and posed for a photo
   While there we also got to work with Terry and Trish Stires, a missionary couple from California who are serving in the same congregation with Suzanne's dad. We were very encouraged by them and "traded notes" so to speak about the adjustments we made to serving in a foreign land. It was extremely reassuring because we learned that many of the same feelings and thoughts we may have had, they experienced too. I also appreciated what a privilege it would be to have Gilead trained missionaries in the congregation. We soaked up as much as we could from them and look forward to our next visit and sharing in the ministry with them again.
sweetsop ( soooo good! ) fresh from the tree
   So for now we have returned to Florida and are enjoying visits with our old congregations and family. It is so great to see everyone but we are eager to get back to Guasave next month. We keep thinking about the congregation there and the studies and calls we left behind. Funny how that works. We just arrived there a few months ago but already it feels like home. We miss the brothers, we miss the ministry, we even miss the quirky little things that annoyed us when we were there.
   We plan to head back after the new year and hope to be able to share "a good report from a distant land" with you very soon.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don't Judge A book By It's Cover

"...For not the way man sees [is the way God sees], because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is" - 1 Samuel 16:7
   Yesterday in field service Enrique and I were working in house-to-house, asking for English speakers at each home we called on. As we moved down the block we saw sitting on the ground under a tree a man who looked very unkempt. As Enrique approached  him and asked if he spoke English I remember thinking to myself "why is he talking to this guy?". Of course you know how the story is going to proceed right?
   "Si" the man replied. Enrique looked at me for a split second and we both approached and started talking to him about the message. Enrique spoke basically about the critical times we are in, the need for guidance and how the Bible can help us. The man listened intently. As we were close to him now it was apparent he was indeed having a tough go of it. His hair was long, his clothes tattered and dirty, his face looked tired. But he listened to the kingdom message.
   He told us his name was Joe and that he was homeless. He said he was from a small town near Guasave but was in the city looking for work. He had no place to live but happened to be resting on the street we worked that morning. Interestingly Joe says he remembers his mother used to study when he was a child. He said he remembers going " to the Salon and studying the Atalaya". Enrique described to him the Bible study program and also invited him to our meetings on Sunday. Joe seemed eager to attend a meeting, we hope that he does indeed attend one soon. He thanked us for talking with him and accepted some magazines and went about his way.
   As I thought about our conversation with Joe I was reminded of the verse above when Samuel was sent to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel. We at times tend to make judgments about people based on what we see. Jehovah of course sees what we are inside. By his appearance Joe was just some homeless guy on the street. It would have been so easy to ignore him and keep on going. But we would have missed an opportunity to give a witness. Joe listened to what we had to say and expressed an interest in learning more. What will be the end result? For now I don't know. But I did receive a good reminder: don't judge a book by it's cover.


Monday, October 15, 2012

The One That Got Away

   The preaching work is quite often compared to fishing. That's a comparison I can appreciate as many years ago I used to fish for large-mouth bass. One of the most frustrating things a fisherman can have happen is to hook a fish and as you are reeling him in he escapes from the line.  You've done all he work, but get no reward, you feel a bit empty. A recent experience in field service was somewhat like that for me.
   About a month ago Danielle met in house to house a young man who is about her age. She asked me to go back with her on the return visit. We returned, met his family and were able to have a good conversation with him. One of the highlights was sharing with him the Peaceful New World tract. When I asked him what he thought of the picture he was filled with excitement! He mentioned how there were so many people from different races together. He pointed out how beautiful the trees and flowers were. He even noticed how the animals were not eating each other, but how everything was peaceful. When I asked him if he would like to know more about life in the new world he said yes; asking if he could keep the tract. He kept staring at the picture like a child with a new toy!
   In the past few weeks we have called back on him but he has been not at home or busy but we were able to reach him last Thursday evening. He met us outside his house and apologized for not being able to see us at that time. When we asked what would be a good day he kept saying he would be busy for a while but then finally indicated, very apologetically, that we need not return. In talking to us he kept apologizing but he mentioned several times that his family all went to the same church and he could not be different.
   About this time his father drove up and while he greeted us very cordially, I also noticed him giving his son a look that sort of said "you need to come inside". We took advantage of our last minute or two to share a couple of scriptures with him, one of which was Revelation 21:3,4. Again he absolutely was excited hearing about the promises the Bible holds out. He told us he still had the tract and magazines and enjoyed reading them but we would not be able to visit him anymore. We thanked him for listening to us and as we left he asked us if we had a website. We told him about and that he could read the latest magazines online. He apologized (again) and thanked us as we left.
   I felt a bit sad for him as we drove away. When we first met him I thought to myself "this is going to be a Bible Study". Alas it turned out to be the one that got away. While I am sad we are not studying with him somehow I am comforted by what we were able to accomplish. In a few visits he got to know God's name and that there is going to be a peaceful new world, a Paradise. Seeing the joy, the interest on this kid's face I can't help but think that a seed of truth was planted in his heart. He seemed to want to learn more but his circumstances at present do not allow for him to do so.
   Over the past few days I have been thinking about this young man. I prayed for him, that if he is truly sheep-like that Jehovah may give him an opportunity to respond to the message when his circumstances are more favorable. I also couldn't help but think how many more people are out there like that? People who perhaps have heard and enjoy but for varying reasons do not at present respond to the Good News. It serves as a reminder to me why this work is so important, not only here in Guasave but wherever we may be serving at present. There are still many who need to the hear the Good News. May we keep zealously proclaiming it while we have favorable times. We never know if we might by some chance be reeling in the one that got away!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Before Kings and Governors

   An interesting and 100% true experience from service this morning:

   Suzanne and Lizeth are working door to door this morning and approach an auto repair shop. When they asked if anyone there spoke English a man came out from the back to talk with them. " You are looking for people who speak English?" he asked. "Yes", they replied. "Why?" asked the man. They then explained that we were Witnesses and the purpose of our visit. The man expressed that he didn't think his English was good enough but they were patient with him and showed him the section Learn From God's Word in The Watchtower.
   He allowed them to demonstrate a paragraph to him, the topic was about God's name. After reading the scripture, they asked him what God's name was. He replied Lord, but they redirected his attention to the Bible. Suzanne explained that was a title and  that God has a personal name as we all do. She introduced herself and asked him what his name was. " Fidel" he replied. She then asked God's name again and he now understood "Jehovah" was his reply.
    He thanked them for coming by and they asked if they could return later and continue the next segment in the magazine with him. He was agreeable so before leaving Suzanne asked once more "your name is Fidel, right?". "Yes...", he replied "...Castro".
   Who would have thought that Suzanne would have the chance to come to Mexico and preach to Fidel Castro! :-)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Suzanne and the Good, Exciting, Happy, Very Wonderful Day

   Serving here in Guasave we really enjoy the warm, gentle disposition of the majority of the people we come across in our preaching work. We have never (as yet) had a door slammed in our faces, police called on us, been yelled at or any of the other rude things we used to brace ourselves up for back home. And, it seems that each week we are finding more people who listen to our message.
   However while Dani and I both enjoy the privilege of conducting Bible studies, Suzanne has not been successful in starting one. Though she has had many good conversations, when she returns she is not finding the people at home. In fact about two weeks ago she was really down when she said she went to one of her calls and the woman came to the window but did not open the door. She has kept a positive attitude and made her desire to conduct a study a matter of prayer and it seems as if now those prayers may be answered.
   Yesterday evening we set out to do return visits  but a tropical storm was on the way. As the skies were getting darker the group decided we should cut our evening short. Suzanne was looking forward to making her calls so we asked a couple of our young pioneer sisters if they would accompany us to do just her two calls as we were near them and then we would head in. They agreed and off we go.
   When we got to the first one they were invited in and ended up staying inside a good 15-20 minutes( I know, I was waiting in the car). When she returned to the car she was all smiles as she had found her call home and enjoyed a nice discussion with her. Suzanne says when her call came to the door she said: "I have been waiting for you to come back". Suzanne introduced the Listen to God brochure to her and made arrangements to follow up with her the following Friday. Incidentally this was the same call that came to the window but did not answer the door. Suzanne was a little upset by it but tried to call on her again. Good thing she did as the woman explained that her husband has been in the hospital lately and that she didn't remember not answering the door. Suzanne said she was glad they returned and was able to share comforting scriptures from Isaiah with her about the Bible's promise that no one will be sick in the new world.
   So as we leave the house my wife is absolutely beaming. We arrive at her next call and the wind is starting to pick up. We are thinking should we just head home but decided that we were one block away, just go for it. We arrived and found her call at home and another (lengthy!) conversation ensued. As homes in this area of Mexico have paper thin walls I was able to hear bits of what was going on inside and they seemed to be having a good ol' time in there. Again my wife came out of the house beaming.
   Suzanne used the "Truth" tract with her and when she asked which of the six questions she would like answered, the householder selected "what happens when we die". They were able to consider the paragraph and the scriptures right then and the woman thanked Suzanne so much. Suzanne says that there's nothing like it, for her to share Bible truths with someone. Apparently the woman was raised a Catholic and says she used to have nightmares about going to Hell. She also lost a cousin in death a few years ago and said reading what the Bible says about the condition of the dead "gave her peace". She expressed appreciation for what she learned and wondered how she could go to church for years and never have heard this before. She too has arranged to have another visit next Friday.
   Needless to say as we returned from service one person in the car was "glowing". After expressing herself to Jehovah in prayer to have it answered so quickly brought so much joy to Suzanne. Now she has two potential Bible studies in one evening. I would say that made for a pretty good day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Slay a False Doctrine With One Verse (While Not Even Trying)

2 Corinthians 10:4,5: "  For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God..."

   A few posts back I wrote about a young man named Chris with whom I have the privilege of studying the Bible Teach book. Chris lived in the U.S. until being deported in 2001 and said that when he first got back to Mexico he really did not speak Spanish. He was educated in American schools and is fluent in English.
   During our lesson today we were discussing the chapter about family life. In this segment we were sharing with him the Bible's teaching of the wife's role, being in subjection to the husband. One of the scriptures we read was 1 Corinthians 11:3 which states: "But I want YOU to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God". Remember, in this context we were talking about the marriage arrangement.
   Well, after reading that scripture, Chris looked up with a puzzled look on his face. He paused for a moment and then slowly said: "but, I always thought Jesus was God?" My heart raced with joy! (okay maybe it was more like a touchdown dance you see in the NFL) I asked him how he understood what he read and he replied that "Jesus is subject to God. That means God is over everything". Game, Set, and Match!
   It has become apparent to me over the two months we have been here in Mexico that The Truth is simple. We have experienced many times the joy of showing someone God's name in the Bible, of teaching them about the Paradise on earth or the resurrection and seeing humble hearts grasp these truths. It brings me a great deal of joy to be privileged to share these truths with others. To me there is no better feeling than this joy. 
   I find it interesting that in our study today we were not talking about the trinity or some other doctrinal matter. Yet for Chris at that moment he was able to recognize Bible truth. I do not know what the future holds for him. Will he continue his studies and progress in the truth? Will his family join him in his study? Will he attend meetings  eventually? These answers I don't have but today if for one moment only it felt as though we ripped off the blinders of false religion and were able to help Chris see the Truth for himself.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


   One of the things we have really come to enjoy about serving here is the warmth and hospitality of the friends, they are truly outstanding in this regard. As an example of this on the day we arrived here in Guasave the congregation had a party to welcome us. Unfortunately we were previously engaged in a 12 hour drive from the Arizona border so we missed the party. So today the Montoya family invited everyone over to their house for a "make-up party" and we celebrated with...Posole !
   What is Posole you ask? It is a dish common in Mexico, a rich, hearty soup. It is made with pork and hominy corn and it is very good. You can top your Posole with a variety of condiments such as cilantro, onion, a squeeze of lime or perhaps some salsa.  After a bowl or two you may want to find a nice spot and relax a bit.

   We enjoyed the Posole along with some tostadas, of course some Coca-Cola, and plenty of good conversation and some games later on. All in all it was a nice way to wrap up the weekend and enjoy upbuilding  association with our brothers and sisters.

Brother and Sister Lopez enjoying some Posole

Posole is best shared with friends

Dani caught on camera!

The ever present bottle of Coke

Poor Marien, she didn't get to have any Posole...

...but she got a nap in anyway

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breaking News From Guasave!

   Okay so maybe that was a little dramatic but you're already here so why not keep reading? As our new service year starts out I wanted to share some of the good experiences we have been having here in the field ministry.
   A few weeks ago one of our pioneers,  Liseth, was in the house to house work. As is our custom after introducing herself she asked if anyone in the house spoke English. The man replied he had a son who did and he went to get him. After some time the man came back and said his son was asleep and he wasn't able to awaken him (typical teenager). So our sister made arrangements to call back on the young man which she did and placed a Bible Teach book with him.
   So yesterday morning we are making return visits and Suzanne and Liseth call back on  *"Jake". They found him at home and began reminding him of their prior conversation. He went to get his book and mentioned that he and his brother had been reading the book and were already up to chapter 3. He even said he has been taking the book with him to school and reading it during his free time there. Jake is 13 and has lived most of his life in the U.S. His family returned to Mexico last year and he is fluent in English. Liseth was able to consider five paragraphs at the door with him and arrangements have been made for a Bible study to continue.
    Sometimes we are finding interest by word of mouth as well. For example recently there was a funeral held for a sister who was a member of one of the Spanish congregations here. While at the funeral a brother in the Spanish congregation told Brother Gomez that he had been trying to witness to a young man in his neighborhood. It seems that there was some difficulty though as the man had lived in The States for a number of years and was more comfortable talking in English than in Spanish. Could we call on him? (of course! ) 
   The following Wednesday we are out in service and Brother Gomez is relating to me what happened. He tells me the house is kind of far, on the other side of Guasave and he did not know the number only the street and a description of the house. I agreed to go with him, kind of thinking to myself  "this is going to be a wild goose chase". So off we drive over the river and through the woods, down some of the narrowest, bumpiest, pothole and crater filled streets I have ever seen. We followed the landmarks we were given: turn right just past the school, there is a big oak tree in the middle of the road and his house is in the next block. Finally we reached the street.
   We did not find a house like the one described to us but we knocked on a door (hey, this is Mexico and the people are friendly) and a nice old lady told us that yes there was a man named  *"Chris" in the house directly across from her; but she added that she didn't think he was home because she saw his car leave earlier in the morning. We thanked her and decided to knock anyway seeing how we were already there. After a brief wait Chris came to the door and we started a conversation with him. He invited us in and ironically he had been watching some religious programming on T.V.
   We were able to place a Bible Teach book with him. He said he was concerned about his family and his young son so we are considering the chapter on how to have a happy family life. During our study we mentioned the name Jehovah many times and at the conclusion we asked if he knew who that was, he did not. When we opened his Bible ( in Spanish ) to Ps. 83:18 and Isaiah 42:8 there it was clear as day: Jehova !   There is something very gratifying about teaching someone the divine name. He read with his own eyes, in his own Bible and recognized it as truth! Chris mentioned that he often prays to the saints and he wondered if they listen to his prayers. We used the scriptures to show him that prayers should be addressed to Jehovah through Jesus. He seemed to grasp the point and we asked if we could demonstrate to him how we should pray. He kept thanking us and we have arranged to conduct a regular Bible Study with him as well. Chris also had lived in the U.S. for over ten years.
   At times some have asked  us why are we trying to preach in English in Mexico, don't they already speak Spanish? We are seeing every week examples just like the two above, people who spent time in the States or Canada and for whatever reason are now back home in Mexico. Some want to continue practicing English so they won't forget it. Some find themselves to be like outsiders, more Ingles than Espanol. Others are disappointed by the economic conditions and disillusioned by the realities of life on the other side as they say here.  But they are spiritually hungry and humble. It makes for very pleasant and productive preaching here in Guasave.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Word of The Day Is...

   ...Improvisation. Since our arrival we have had to learn to do without many things we were used to having back home in the States. In some cases there is a local product we can substitute but many times we just make do with what we have on hand.
   For example the other day Suzanne braved the heat and fired up the oven to roast a chicken ( it is odd to actually cook in the oven. Many here use it only for storage since the oven heats up the whole house). She asked what I wanted with it and I said "some mashed potatoes would be nice." So my darling wife, already drenched in sweat from the oven, fires up another burner to boil water for my mashed potatoes. It is only after they have already been put in the pot that she reminds me "you know, we don't even have a potato masher."  The roasted chicken and boiled potatoes were excellent!
   So anyways our wedding anniversary is tomorrow and I wanted to do something to commemorate as we will not be going to our favorite spot this year. So on the way home Dani and I stopped and picked up a dozen roses, an absolute steal at only 200 pesos or about $16!  We bring them home, get ready to put them in water and of vase. So what do we do?  We Improvise :

23 years of wedded bliss. I cannot believe she has tolerated me for this long :-)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Necessity Is The Mother of Invention

   One of our big adjustments since coming to Mexico has been getting used to living in a Mexican style apartment.We used to live in an average American home. Multiple bedrooms and bathrooms...with  TUBS...and A/C.  Ahhh, life in the good ole' U.S.A.
   Alas, here in Guasave homes are a bit more compact shall we say? We live in a typical 2 bedroom 1 bath home. It has just enough space for us and when we consider that it is not unusual for an extended family of perhaps 6 or more to share the same size home, we are living large in comparison.
  One issue that has bugged us though is the lack of privacy we have. In order for Suzanne and I to get into our room we have to go through Danielle's room. This is not ideal especially when we are getting dressed or for a trip to el bano in the middle of the night. So what to do?

The Problem. Our room is on the left side, Dani's is on the right

   "You know what, maybe I can build a screen" I suggested. The two of them immediately started laughing at me. You have to understand. Those of you who know me know that I am not Bob the Builder. Ask me for a recipe for pork chops or what to do with a standing rib roast-no problem; I'll give you three different ideas. Ask me to build something-thaaat might be an issue. I'm telling you; I'm all thumbs. So when I had THE NERVE to imply that I would build, my family mocked me. The gauntlet had been laid down, duty and honor required that I respond. So it is with great pride that I present to you: The Wonderscreen 2000! (not available in stores)

Proud New Owner
 This piece of solid craftsmanship ( Hecho in Mexico) was proudly designed and assembled by one J. David Windham, owner and operator of Wonderscreen Industries (hey a guy can dream can't he?)
   Seriously though I put it together this afternoon using some pieces of scrap wood one of the brothers in the congregation had in his shop and about $6.00 worth of supplies I purchased at a  ferreteria (that's hardware store for you folks north-of-the-border) Danielle greatly appreciates it as now she can extend it when she is dressing. When Suzanne and I need to leave the room we don't have to call out "are you decent?". She has her privacy and all is well. The two of them are even talking about putting some fabric or lace on to dress it up a bit. I said that will make it too girly and suggested something like ohh I don't know maybe blue and orange with a N.Y. Mets logo on it but that idea was quickly shot down.
   Anyway this gives me hope. Maybe I can sell hundreds and make enough money to keep us here in Mexico. Or maybe not. But it did feel good to build something with my own hands. And now when I read in Isaiah "they will not build and someone else have occupancy" I will no longer break out in a nervous sweat. I will think to myself I can do this. After all, I invented the Wonderscreen.  ;-)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bienvenidos a Guasave

 Hard to believe it but we have been here for a month now. I guess time really does fly when you are having fun! After a rocky first couple of weeks we have settled in well here in Guasave. I won't go  into detail but suffice it to say we were Turistas  in every sense of the word :-)
   The past couple of weeks in the field ministry have been particularly exciting for us as Danielle was able to start a new bible study with a young lady she met in house-to-house work. We have also had a few experiences showing us the potential that exists here to find new interest. For example on a Saturday after service we were hungry but longing for something non-tortilla related. We finally gave in and wandered into the McDonald's here in town (the Golden Arches are everywhere!)  We were looking at the board and placing our order with some minor complication (the Spanish IS getting better though) when a woman behind the counter asks us in perfect English: "would you like to try a smoothie with your meal?" We talked to her for a moment and it turns out she used to live in San Jose, California. We will keep her in mind and have a tract on hand the next time we go in there.
"would you like fries with that?"

   On another occasion we were at the park swimming and a gentleman there struck up a conversation with me. I was able to converse with him in Spanish for a bit but to my surprise he switched to English without my prompting him to do so. He then told me that he had lived in Los Angeles back in the 1980s and gave me a little synopsis of his life. He then asked what I was doing in Guasave (remember this is not a tourist town) and that gave me an opportunity to explain to him the work we are doing here.
   We have many opportunities like this to witness informally. As I stated in an earlier post we stand out in Guasave and many people flat out ask us: what are you doing here? I love that because it's an easy opening to tell them we are Testigos de Jehova and helping people to learn the Bible's message in the English language. The local brothers have said it is good for our family to be here. It seems that many Mexicans hold all things American in high regard. So in their eyes the fact that some Americans are here to preach adds an "air of importance" to our work. Guasave is also a relatively small town so we often see the same people as we go about town. We hope that in time by being friendly and approachable we will get a chance to witness to some of the folks we meet.
   We had our C.O. visit last week and for two days we did street and business witnessing only. Hard to believe but all my years in the Truth and I have never done business witnessing before! It was very productive as we were able to find many English speakers and Dani, Suzanne and I each have several r.v. because of doing this work. People here are so friendly we simply walk in and explain what we are doing and ask if anyone in the business speaks English. We were never turned away and had several good conversations over the two days.  Hopefully we can continue to build on the interest we have found.
   So that's a bit about life here south of the border. We are working hard, searching out interest wherever we may find it. We pray that Jehovah may bless on our work here and to have more workers join us in  the harvest!

Some photos of Guasave:

La Congregacion Guasave Ingles

our two latest publishers

Daniel....this kid is a comedian !

the mercado in downtown Guasave

"...order for Mr. Fred Flintstone?"

"...hmmm, what to buy?"
this guy was scary with that knife :-)

the neighborhood watch

We have Wally World!

Dani and Suzanne in front of our casita

I guess we got the memo

Sunday, July 29, 2012

We Made It, WooHoooo!!!

   Pardon my excitement but from everything I read on the Internet I was expecting that we would a) be shot at by narco-trafficers immediately after crossing the border, b) kidnapped and held hostage by the same or c) pulled over every five miles by a crooked Mexican cop looking for a mordita. Thanks to Jehovah none of the preceding things occurred in fact we had a great trip out here and an interesting first two weeks in Mexico.
   The drive out west on I-10 was great, smooth sailing especially once we got past Houston. As this was my first time out west, I took lots of pictures of sights I had never seen before. We got to cross the Mississippi River, saw the Texas hill country, and Sonoran Desert in Arizona. I have never seen so many Cacti!
   We also got to experience the love of the brotherhood on more than one occasion. We stopped over for a few days  at a resort in Tucson before we crossed into Mexico. On our first evening there was a knock on the door and a nice young lady asked if we would like to have turn down service. When she came in she noticed some of our literature and asked if we were Witnesses. It turns out she was our sister from a nearby Spanish Congregation. She and her Mom both worked at the resort and invited us to their home for a meal. We got to meet the family and later that week joined them at the meeting on Thursday night.
La Familia Berreyes,  muy hospitalario!

Tacos Dorado, Cocido y Te de Jamaica; gracias Hermana Berreyes!

After the meeting a group of us went out for a frozen treat called raspados, kind of like a Mexican version of an Italian ice. An added blessing was that many in the congregation were from Mexico and had family in Sinaloa so we had people looking out for us when we arrived here and some contacts along the way just in case of emergency.

"The Raspados Crew"

   After a brief stop in Nogales and more hospitality from the friends there we arrived in Guasave late on Sunday evening( It is about an 11 hour drive from Nogales to Guasave). About a dozen of the friends showed up to help us get unpacked out of the car( a major task!) and welcome us. The brothers in Guasave have been beyond belief! Apparently there is no word for "no" here since anything we have asked they have happily helped us with.

Sooooo happy to have help unpack all of this!

  Last weekend we enjoyed our circuit assembly in Culiacan, about two hours south of here. We had an attendance of 289 and 2 were baptized. We were greatly encouraged to meet other needgreaters at the assembly and to hear their experiences about coming to Mexico. It was especially nice since there are no other foreigners in Guasave English Congregation, yes, we are the first. An interesting side note you should see some of the looks we get as we go about town. There are NO other black people here and for some we must be the first they've ever seen. We chuckle amongst ourselves about the stares we get when we go to the store. It's all good though, we just say "buenas tardes" and talk to them in Spanish, it kind of breaks the ice.
   So we have jumped right in to the work here. Our service days thus far are Wednesday through Saturday, with Thursday being a full day. After siesta, we go out at 4p.m. for studies, street witnessing and then meet for door to door at 6:00. We return home exhausted but are happy we've given Jehovah our best for the day.

Before our departure... I still don't know how it all fit inside!


Enjoying Beignets in Louisiana

Cacti always seem to be waving "Hello"

Beautiful Bowie, Arizona

Dani after her first bite of a  hot chile!

my favorite thing about texas

my second favorite thing about Texas

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homeless But Happy

   What can I say, I never cease to be amazed by Jehovah's blessings! When he gives, he does so very generously and it always surpasses our expectations.
   Just a few weeks ago we owned a fully furnished house. Within the span of a week we sold everything. Yes, ONE WEEK! We were especially surprised that our house went under contract in only 4 days!!! Given the housing market here in Central Florida we were expecting a prolonged time to sell but thankfully that is no worry now. Several friends in the congregation were able to buy or take furniture and household goods off of our hands. What we didn't sell went to Goodwill and the rest went into to storage ( where did we get all this STUFF? ).  We closed on the house this past Friday and now we are in the clear...homeless and jobless but we couldn't be happier!
   With our few remaining days we are kicking off the "Windhams 2012 Farewell Tour", making the rounds visiting with the friends here before we leave. We received a very warm send off from both Lake Mary English and Longwood Spanish, the two congregations we have been serving with here. Our last few days we'll spend with my family, gotta show Mom and Dad some love before we go!
   So we leave for Mexico this Saturday and expect to arrive sometime on Friday morning. We are taking our time driving across the SW of the country. We have never been west and are looking to stop to take in some sights along the way. Next stop, Nogales, Sonora....Mexico! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Do Not Look At The Things Behind

   As a student in school I was taught about the Age of Exploration and the conquest of "The New World". One of the men I remember learning about was named Hernando Cortes, a Spaniard who is credited with conquering Mexico for the Spanish Crown. Legend has it that upon his arrival in Mexico, Cortes burned  his ships so that his men would not entertain any thoughts of a return to Spain. Having no means of going back the men were motivated to press on with the task at hand, looking forward, not back.
   Today I can say that I totally relate to Cortes' men. We have "burned our ships" so to speak. As I sit on my couch writing this I can say that I am gainfully unemployed. Last week we listed our house on the market for sale, Suzanne and I both resigned from our jobs and  Danielle finished school. Our plans are now in motion for moving ahead to Mexico. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK!
   To be perfectly honest I have been very nervous of late. Why? Because although we have wanted to make this move for a couple of years now, the reality is upon us. It is one thing to read in the WT about moving where the need is great or even to give a grandiose comment about being willing to sacrifice anything to serve Jehovah more fully. It is, as I am learning, another matter entirely to actually follow through and do it!
   There is a realization I am coming to. Suzanne and I are no longer working. For the foreseeable future we will have no more money than we now have on hand. We will no longer be receiving vacation pay or medical insurance. How will we survive? What if one of us gets sick? What if the engine on the car gives out or...WHAT IF? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?!!!
   Adding to my nerves has been the fact that many of the friends in the congregation have been buying our "stuff". They are stripping us clean! We have so far sold most of our furniture, only our dining room set remains. Over the past few weeks we had begun to tell a few brothers and sisters we were selling our "stuff" to raise money to go to Mexico. We also prayed and asked Jehovah that we would be able to find people who would need what we had and be successful in getting rid of them. Well, be careful what you ask for... It started slowly a bike here or there then all of a sudden bam! We have sold most of the big items, I have even sold my big screen t.v. and my grill! Oh well, no more bbq :-(
   I was very encouraged by last Sunday's WT Study. It was difficult at first to see folks driving away with our things. When I would remember how hard we worked to acquire them and how much enjoyment we got out of them I found myself getting a little sad. But again Jehovah always finds a way to encourage us and correct our thinking. I found the article very encouraging; and have tried to apply it's encouragement- to not look back at the things behind. We have prayed for Jehovah's blessing and direction at every step along the way. We are acting in harmony with his instructions. Why would he leave us on our own now?
   Yes we are selling our home and possessions. Yes we have quit our jobs in the middle of a recession. Yes I will no longer enjoy watching Monday Night Football on my 42"  high-def flat screen from the soft comfy couch we have sold....Oh well, again I digress. The point is yes these things were very enjoyable but they are just that-THINGS! And really we can't take them with us to Mexico anyway so why the worry?
   So for now having "burned our ships" we will try to not look at the things behind. We will keep pressing forward towards our goal. It is our hope that by month's end we will be south of the border. And with Jehovah's blessing we will become so preoccupied with our ministry there we will not have time to even think about the things left behind.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Dominican Republic

   Since joining the Spanish congregation last September we have had one goal in mind: learning enough Spanish to return to D.R. and assist there in the preaching work. To that end we have worked hard at our language skills. We have all had parts on the Theocratic School, comment regularly, and are able to have (brief) conversations. We had set a goal to return to D.R. at the end of Danielle's school year in May. So, with all of our work in mind and the school year ending in a few weeks we're on our way back to the Dominican Republic; right?
   Well...not exactly. You might say we are:  Done with the Dominican; Quitting on Quisqueya; not Headed for Hispaniola! Why you ask? Because we are Moving to Mexico! So why the change and how did this all come about?
   From time to time I will do a Google search to look for blogs from friends who are serving where the need is great. I have found them to be a great source of encouragement while we are working our way to be able to serve ourselves. About three months ago I came across a very interesting report written by a sister who spent time serving in the English field in Mexico. When I first read it I had no intention of going anywhere but to D.R. However I found that the more I thought about what she wrote in reference to the work in Mexico, the more intrigued I became. We contacted the sister and heard her expressions first hand and were drawn to Mexico. After prayerful consideration and discussing matters as a family we decided to focus our attention on going to Mexico.
   So that was the how, now as for the why(?) Although we are seeing progress in our use of Spanish we are by no means fluent. We can make presentations in the ministry but we feel very limited in terms of making return visits or conducting a Bible Study. We sincerely desire is to help others learn The Truth and to assist in a congregation where there is a need. We think it would be difficult to do these things if we are struggling with the language.When we read about there being congregations made up entirely of language learners and a need for native English speakers it just seemed like a natural fit for us. Mexico will offer us an opportunity to serve where the need is great, support a group in need of English speakers and help where a great harvest is taking place. Additionally as Mexico is a Spanish speaking country we can continue to work on our Spanish when we go to the store, on the bus, talk to the brothers in the congregation, etc..
   We will be going to the city of Guasave which is located in the state of Sinaloa on Mexico's Pacific coast. If you view a map of Mexico it's located between Culiacan and Ciudad Obregon. Guasave has a small English congregation, 19 publishers, and we are looking forward to meeting and working with them in the ministry.
   As of now our plans are to leave from Florida the last week of June and to drive to Guasave. This will be an adventure for all of us as we have never been out west before. So we'll get a chance to see Texas, and maybe even go to the Grand Canyon while we are on our way. 2600 miles one way and just the three of us in the car...oh the joys we will see! Hopefully it will be a safe and uneventful trip for us!
   So for now we are in the process of de-cluttering...again. This time it's for real though. We are dumping, donating and selling what we can. The house will be listed by month's end. Every thing must go!!! I feel like a used car salesman right now, but it's all for a good cause. The funds we raise will keep us from having to come back to work so soon.
   Well, that's the latest with us. We hope in a short while to have exciting experiences, pictures of exotic locales and a report of good things from Guasave, Mexico.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Remembering a Lost Friend

This is a bit of a departure from the usual topic but hopefully you will read and enjoy...
   We first met Sister Keck when we moved to Lake Mary in September of 2001 and we were assigned to attend the book study in her home. I must admit I was less than thrilled to be sent there. In addition to Sister Keck there were a few other older ones in the group. I remember thinking to myself "great, I'm stuck with the old-timers" or something along those lines. Little did I realize at that time just how much I would come to care for her.
   Going to her home for the first time was an experience. We had heard a few whispers, "Oh; you're going there for the book study..." so we weren't sure what to expect. We found her home to be charming and immaculate, almost like an over sized doll house. We quickly learned the rules; shoes off, no bare feet on the carpet, after the study help put away the chairs, etcetera. Nothing too difficult but Sister Keck had a certain way and she let you know what was expected. The last week of each month she, as many homes did, had a goody night-some refreshments after the study had ended. This was held on the back patio and though we were usually tired after a long day of work we enjoyed these occasions as it gave us a chance to get to know our friends a little bit better.
   As she was getting older Sister Keck was no longer driving at night time and would get a ride with another sister to the hall on Tuesday nights.  In time this sister moved to another congregation and Sister Keck would need a ride to the meetings. I remember asking her "How will you get to the hall? she said "Oh, I'll find a ride with someone". I offered to take her with our family and she seemed a bit hesitant. I reassured her I would be there early and said : "Well, we live just down the road, we'll come get you." I had the feeling she didn't quite believe me and sure enough about 6:00 Tuesday evening the phone rang. "Brother Windham..." the voice said, "...this is Sister Keck." I replied  to her "no, Sis, we didn't forget about you we'll be there by 7pm." So began an arrangement that would last for several years, taking sister Keck to and from the meetings on Tuesdays and eventually on Sundays as well.
   During this point in our lives Suzanne and I were both working full time and feeling "the grind" as I call it. Our typical meeting night we rushed home many times with just enough time to shower, grab a sandwich and go. Study? Preparation? What was that? We would get to Sister Keck's house and be stressed from the day. It was at these moments I truly came to appreciate her. Sister Keck would always have something positive to say. Tuesday was her day in the ministry and she usually had an experience to share about a call or study she had. Often times she would go to visit another one our sisters who was staying in a nursing home and would share tidbits about her visit. Sometimes she would tell us about a particular point she had studied for the meeting and really appreciated. We would dutifully listen to her and often would talk when we got home about how encouraged we were by her remarks. Often times our minds would be racing away with the cares of the day but being around Sister Keck would remind us of what was really important. She made us want to be better students, and focus more on our serving Jehovah.
   Over the years we enjoyed associating with her socially as well. A few times our family went to her home on Saturdays to study the Watchtower together. Of course she had some cakes or other treat for us to enjoy afterwards. One year Danielle had dance class and she came to see her perform at the year end recital. On a number of occasions we had invited her to our home to share a meal and she at times would invite us over. One day I remember out of the blue getting a phone call: "Brother Windham..." -she never did address me as "Jonathan"- "...can you come over for a minute?" When we got there to our surprise waiting for us was a strawberry pie! We truly enjoyed her strawberry pies. I always wanted to but never did ask for the recipe. She would always say, it was easy to make but would insist you "had to get the pie crust from Publix" because theirs was the best.
   Fast forwarding to 2009 we visited her just before we left to go to the convention in Berlin. We had some photo cards of our family made up to give away to the new friends we would meet. We gave her one, made sure she had arrangements to get to the meetings and bade her goodbye. After we returned we visited again to share our pictures from the trip and as we left her house we saw that our photo card was placed in a niche with pictures of her family. We talked about this among ourselves afterwards and said that we had indeed missed her while we were away and felt a closeness to our sister.
   Unfortunately the ravages of old age and failing health began to slow her down. In time she had to go live with her son. One thing about Sister Keck is that she would not miss a meeting. If she didn't come out, it meant she was sick. That never changed even moving into her son's home. When we visited she showed us her room and proudly showed us the phone. She said she would remind her son "to dial in for her" so she would get the meetings by telephone connection. Even though she could not come out she still made her meetings!
   Suzanne and I visited her just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving holiday in 2010. We remember her saying that her daughter-in-law was big into family and the holidays. She apparently was making plans for a family celebration for the holidays and Sister Keck was determined not to be a part of it. She related that she just wanted to stay in the room and that the rest of the family could enjoy their holiday together. We remember her relating a conversation the two of them had and she was told that "everyone has to compromise" to which Sister Keck told us "we'll see about that". As Suzanne and I left I remember thinking this is going to be interesting. Not long after that she was moved to a nursing home.
   Over the next few months we would call and visit. She would often make remarks about not having much time left or being tired. We couldn't help noticing how frail she seemed.  Her determination again showed itself for the memorial of 2011. She wanted to attend but her health would not permit it. In order for her to not miss the celebration, the brothers arranged to conduct a memorial in one of the rooms at her nursing home. After we left our memorial a number of friends went to the second memorial at the nursing home. We were all so happy to see her and she smiled so much. She actually seemed a bit overwhelmed by so many being there. We could tell though she was happy and she made her goal- to be at the memorial!
   After we left we stopped to get a hot chocolate on the way home. It was much later in the evening and we saw another family from the congregation at the store. They had asked us why we were still dressed so late and we replied "oh, we just came from the memorial for Sister Keck." They had stunned looks on their faces and we just realized what we had said! "No!", we quickly corrected ourselves and explained what we meant. We all had a good laugh about it and went our separate ways. Sadly though just a few days later she did pass away.
   Perhaps because it is again the time of year for the memorial I find myself thinking about Lois Keck. Often my eyes well up with tears but then a smile takes over. I remember her strength and determination. I remember her loyalty, her hospitality and her consistency. Sometimes when people pass away we tend to make them "saints" so to speak, only thinking of the good. She was not perfect to be sure. She had her opinions and let you know them. But she truly loved Jehovah and always would talk about him and have an encouraging word for any who would listen.
  We never got to tell Sister Keck of our plans to be Needgreaters. By the time we decided to pursue this course she had become "forgetful" and her health was beginning to fail. I have to think she would have been happy for us, perhaps a bit concerned, but still happy. Although she was not family we miss her dearly and are looking forward to seeing her in the resurrection. When we see her again she will be young, vibrant and healthy. Her hands will no longer be bent and wrinkled from arthritis. She will no longer need to hold onto someone's arm for support or be out of breath after a few short paces. We can tell her about the end of this old wicked system and relate our experiences from the field. Sister Keck had said that when she got into the paradise she wanted to run through a field of flowers in her bare feet. Perhaps I'll join her or just watch her enjoying herself running. Then afterwards, maybe I can get her to show me how to make a strawberry pie.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


   As our time in the Spanish congregation goes on, we are making progress in many ways. During the past month we have been working at our commenting at meetings. We try to make one at each meeting. I still must read my comments but see small improvements in pronunciation and the pace that I read at. I have also been able to do a couple of Bible readings, no easy task when you don't know every word or how to pronounce them!
   The greatest improvement we see however is in the ministry. During the past month each of us has had good experiences in street and casa en casa witnessing. Interestingly, in our territory we have pockets of Mexicans, mostly males who share apartments. We get a very good response from them. In some cases it appears they are here without documentation but they listen to us. I have been very impressed as they are in general a very humble  people. They have a basic knowledge of the Bible and a respect for religion; they readily accept literature and converse with us. The trick is finding them to make a return visit. They are very transient and when you call back at the apartment and find someone different, the cycle starts again! Oh well, many seeds of truth are being planted!
   One pleasant surprise has been the opportunity we have had to "talk up" needgreatering in the past few months. When we have been out at social functions and people ask "what congregation are you from?" and we reply "Longwood Spanish" we get a long pause and we see the wheels turning in their heads. Usually the next statement is something like: "but're not Spanish...?" and we then get a chance to tell what we are doing. This has happened a few times and I realized many friends may want to know more about needgreatering or have thought about it and are curious to see someone else going through the "transition". So, I got the idea to write about a few of the questions we have been commonly asked. Therefore without further ado....
Okay, no one has really asked us this but we have asked ourselves when we started out in this process. We are about to leave a home, good jobs and the comforts of Florida, I mean this is the country's playground, Mickey lives here! When compared to the joys of teaching the truth to someone we think it's a good tradeoff!
The ministry is often compared to fishing for men. If you were to go fishing and heard the fish were biting in another part of the waters, you would get in your boat and go there. This is how we feel. We also realize that many are serving faithfully here and cannot for various reasons pick up and go. Some also need to be here to preach the message, we all can't leave, right? For now our circumstances allow us to "lift anchor and pull out to deeps waters" so to speak and we want to take advantage of that opportunity while we can. We know not what the future holds for us and would truly regret if we missed an available opportunity to expand our ministry while favorable season was here!
We started out looking at the statistics in the yearbook. We looked for lands with high ratios of population to publishers, memorial attendees and bible studies to publishers. We focused on Spanish speaking lands because Danielle has had it in school for 3 years now and I had it for 1 year in high school. We felt we had a basic familiarity and would be able to adjust to the language. We did a lot of Google searches on various countries and focused on the Caribbean because of its proximity to Florida and ease of travel there. 
Many people are able to live in retirement in developing lands on a social security check. Much of your expenses depend on how you want to live. Do you want a home just like the one you had in the U.S.A.? A beach front condo in a gated community? Marble counter tops and air conditioning? You can have it but it's gonna cost ya! When we were in Santiago we inquired about a modest apartment to rent and were told we should expect to pay at most about $400/ month- and that would be for a high end place. As for supporting ourselves, we are leaving much in Jehovah's hands. We will be living off of savings and hope to sell our home. We will stay until the money runs out and if we need to, come home to work for a few months and then return to our assignment. 
Got that one covered! That's why we switched congregations after all. In many locations the Branch Offices will arrange for language classes as well to help needgreaters learn a local language. As an example the branch in D.R. has offered classes in Haitian Creole which is in great need there. Want to serve where the need is greater but unsure about learning a new language? No problemo, English is needed almost everywhere!
She will complete her final year of schooling online. Our local school district offers virtual schooling as an option and we will take advantage of that. 
In the time we stayed there we at no time felt unsafe or in danger. We were there for the ministry and spent most of our time there or at meetings. Doing this and using good discretion and common sense we felt safe. Interestingly we found the Dominican people in generally to be very friendly. When we talked to them they were in amazement and seemed to "admire all things American". One caution is about theft. If you leave anything out or unlocked it is an invitation to have it stolen so caution must be exercised in this area.
We loved it there!!! Life was centered around the ministry and meetings. Much time was spent socially with the friends. We made friends with other needgreaters and got to know local friends as well. There are malls and movies if you want those things. With high speed Internet you can watch tv shows and sports events from home if you wish. We also went to the beach and spent time at a waterfall and sightseeing. Mostly we enjoyed spending time with our brothers and sisters whether we were just talking, playing dominoes or dancing meringue. Oh and did I mention the WINTER BASEBALL LEAGUE IN D.R.-yes!!!

So, there you have it a few frequently asked questions. Hope it was helpful....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Will Only Use These Powers To Do Good

  (Ecclesiastes 11:6) . . .In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good. . .

 Four months into our transition and all goes well. One thing that has been a bit of a surprise to me is how little we actually get to converse in Spanish. In our typical week we only use Spanish at the meetings and in the ministry and even then, I would say that 90% of the friends in the congregation speak English to us. As is the case in many congregations, in the field we seem to have more NH than anything else. This has presented a challenge for us to try to improve on our ability to communicate in Spanish.
   A few weeks ago however I had one of those "ah-hah moments"- you know where the heavens part and a bright shining light beams upon you and a celestial voice points you in the right direction. We were finishing up service on a Saturday and we were in a strip mall where there is a Spanish store that serves hot lunches. We decided to get some to take home with us for lunch. So, after deciding what we wanted I went to the counter and ordered: " Me gustaria tener pernil y arroz blanco con habichuelas y maduros ; para llevar por favor." The fellow behind the counter smiled and had a very pleased look on his face. He asked me where I learned to speak Spanish and without really thinking about it I said "in school". We thanked him for our order, paid the cashier, speaking to her in Spanish too and proceeded to leave. All of this I did without thinking or hesitating in any way, it seemed to come naturally.
   Then about two weeks ago at work I was making a delivery to an office where two women who appeared to be Latinas were working outside doing some landscaping. I thought to myself "I'll get some more practice in here" and so as I walked past them I said "Hola" to which they replied the same. I then asked them "Como Estan Hoy? "Bien!" they answered. It must have been something I said because they looked at each other for a split second as if to say "is this guy for real?" and then looking back at me they asked if I was  Puertorriqueno? I (laughed inside) smiled and told them no, I was Americano, but that I was learning to speak Spanish. I told them many persons spoke it and if I was able to I could speak to them as well. They told me I was doing good. I thanked them and entered the building to go about my work.
   It was just then that I had the aforementioned ah-hah moment. I thought to my self that was a golden opportunity to tell them I was studying to be a missionary and to give a brief witness. When I left the building they had moved on to somewhere else and I did not see them any more. That incident made me think about looking for opportunities to witness to people in Spanish; just as I have always done in my native tongue. I shouldn't  think that I don't know enough or what if I don't understand- just rely on Jehovah and make the effort, he will do the rest. I mean after all what good is it to speak the language and only use it to order lunch? I want to speak Spanish to help people learn The Truth!!!  Last Saturday having this point of view paid off.
   In our complex there are some new homes being built. For about the past month we have had construction crews coming and going. We were returning from service and as we were driving past we noticed the workers seemed to be at lunch. I remarked we should go over and talk to them. To my surprise Danielle agreed to go with me. Well, now I was stuck I couldn't back out of it. So, after parking the car at the house we grabbed our bags and walked over to the site. We said a prayer on the way over and I was shaking. I wonder what was in the guys minds as they saw us dressed in our service clothes coming over to them? A few of them scattered (maybe we looked like Feds?) but about seven or eight guys were sitting and eating their lunch. I said a greeting and just began talking to the group. One or two really listened and Dani and I focused on talking to them; all in Spanish of course! We were both able to place magazines and tracts with a few of the workers and were quite thrilled when we left. One of the guys started reading his mag right away as he was eating his lunch. I thought to myself: why had we not done this before?
   This has made me more determined to be prepared to witness informally. In the course of my workday I come across a lot of people who are Spanish speakers. Many times they may work in positions that I have simply overlooked them- landscapers, construction, janitors etc. As I think about it though, if I am willing to pick up and move to a foreign country to preach, why not show the same zeal now in reaching some who are here but may not be home when the brothers go house to house. Who knows if simply showing interest in, and identifying myself as a Witness may lead some to listen. Would it not be a privilege to plant a seed of truth in some one's heart?
 So, with a renewed focus I keep tracts in Spanish on hand and try to initiate conversation in Spanish wherever I can. With Jehovah's blessing, it is my hope that the end result may indeed be that some of the seed land on fine soil and bear fruit.