The last update I wrote on this blog was about our plans to move into a different neighbourhood and start a new ministry there. That was a couple months ago now and we are happy to be able to update you all with the way plans have progressed.
Because we weren’t going to be able to move into the Santa Bárbara neighbourhood until May, we wanted to find ways to get to know people there beforehand so we were not starting from scratch when we moved. We decided the easiest way to do that was to set up a table at the local open-air market, or tianguis as it is known here. The idea was simple: to sell Christian literature and meet people.
So one Saturday in December we went to the market for the first time and asked a few people how we might go about having a table of our own. We got our answer and the next Saturday I arrived early at the market, signed my name in the tianguis notebook, and then waited a couple hours till they assigned places for all the non-regular vendors. Once I got my spot I hauled out a small, foldable table and a Rubber-maid bin full of books, laid out the books on the table, and then sat down and waited to see what kind of interest there would be.
Annemarie and the kids came a few hours later to join me. They also brought home-made chocolate chip cookies to sell, just in case the books didn’t. And the books didn’t really sell that first day, but we did get to talk to a few people, and one lady even asked me who my parents were, which caught me off guard since nobody in Santa Bárbara knows my parents. Turns out she knew one of the previous directors of Pan de Vida (which was located in Santa Bárbara ) who is American, and she thought I might be his son.
Surprisingly the chocolate-chip cookies didn’t sell that well either. Mexicans don’t bake much and people were a bit suspicious of the cookies, in addition to their suspicion of the strange foreigners selling books in their market. But we counted the whole experience a success and were happy to be able to connect with a few people.
In the subsequent weeks sales have improved, which was no guarantee since Mexicans are not known for their love of reading. But more importantly we are meeting more people and starting to be recognized. One lady we met, who is one of the tianguistas, told us about a storefront that was available to rent. The location and size was just what we were looking for, so we were pretty excited at the possibility of having a space of our own.
That was about a month ago. After looking at the storefront, getting all the paperwork we needed, and learning patience as we tried to coordinate things with the owner (an older lady with no cellphone), today we were finally able to put pen to paper and sign a lease contract.
It is our hope and prayer that in the coming months we can begin a few ministries such as a bible study, Sunday evening service, English classes, and sports outreach. We are excited that things are moving along and that we now have a much clearer vision of our work here going forward. As we plan and pray we are reminded once again of the wise words of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.”