The blessing of the time in-between

It’s been three weeks now since we left Michigan and this time of travel has been filled with blessing upon blessing. As we prepare for our move to Uganda, one of our primary purposes of this trip was to fundraise and seek out ministry partners. The Lord, however, has turned it into so much more. As we reconnect with friends and church family, God has provided us with many opportunities to minister and be ministered to and we have been humbled, encouraged, convicted, rebuilt and drawn into more intimate fellowship with Him.

During our last week in Michigan some friends of ours, a fellow homeschooling family, handed us a wad of cash and insisted that we use it to go to the Creation Museum which we would pass on route. We spent two days visiting the Museum and the Arc and it was amazing.

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To get to the Arc, you have to park and take a shuttle. We told the girls that the shuttle buses were time-travel buses and that we were going back pre-flood to the time of Noah. It happened to be a day of heavy fog which created a convincing and magical effect. Mila, of course, didn’t believe us but played along. As you enter the Arc they play wind gusts and thunder through speakers which happened to match that day’s weather. When Hadassah bravely declared that she was ready to face the flood even though she knew that she wasn’t included in the eight people who would be on the Arc when it came, we decided it was time to let her know it was all just a game. After that she and Talai had fun running around and pretending to tend the animals while they “waited for the Arc to stop on dry ground.”

For those who don’t know, the Creation Museum is a museum which showcases the Creationist worldview of the earth and everything in it. The Arc is a replica of Noah’s arc built to Biblical proportions. Inside it showcases how creatures of every kind could have fit within the arc and just how that might have been managed, answering questions like: how would they have fed all those animals and what did they do with all the waste. Whereas the girls enjoyed and learned a lot at the Creation Museum, they were absolutely captivated by the Arc. The sheer size of it is very impressive and I thought it was fascinating to no end to consider the technology that may have been used to address needs like watering the animals and creating a current of fresh air.

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We also ran into a YWAM team from Tyler, Texas while we were at the Arc. We spotted a van with the Tyler YWAM logo on it and so we took a picture of it and sent it via Facebook to the base, letting them know we had seen their van and were also at the Arc. They, unbeknown to us, then took a picture of Sal and I from Facebook and sent it to their team. While we were on the second floor of the Arc we noticed a young woman staring uncertainly at us. When we made eye contact she seemed to make up her mind and walked over to us. “Are you Sal and Heather?” she asked. She was part of the YWAM Tyler team and had sook us out to say hello and introduce us to leaders and other members in their team. We had a great time of fellowship and later when we were on our way to Austin, Texas, we stopped the night at the Tyler base which turned out to be an awesome YWAM base which really embodied the generous and mission-sending heart of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). We reconnected with some of the YWAMers who had been on the Arc and enjoyed an overall time of rest and delicious food. We also connected with a YWAM family whose vision is to take entire families into the mission field. Since we share the same philosophy of families in missions, we decided to keep in touch with the idea of possibly working together in the future. This is just another example of the grand family that YWAM is.

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After our visit to the Creation Museum and Arc we headed to Charlotte, North Carolina where another family and friends of ours hosted us and arranged for us to share about our mission work on a college campus and in their church. With their help we made some valuable connections with others who are either already ministering in the same area of Africa or interested in extending their resources to help with the mission work we will be doing. Already we are communicating with a ministry that wants to get practical technology into the hands of students in Northern Uganda and excited about how we might work together to do that.

These particular friends who hosted us in Charlotte are some of the most generous and devoted Christians we know. Being with them was both convicting and encouraging. Our hearts were filled as we fellowshipped and discussed deep truths late into the night. They are steller apologists which means we had a lot of fun thrashing out and debating many different theological and philosophical issues. Overall it was an extremely blessed time.

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Queen’s University in Charlotte, NC where we shared about our mission work

Currently we are camping on a friend’s property in Austin, Texas. To understand the significance of our time here, you need to know a little of our history with this place. Back in 2007 Sal and I dedicated our lives and family to the Lord after God had miraculously saved our marriage. Shortly after, following God’s leading through prayer, we moved out to Austin, Texas to “start over.” On the Sunday after our arrival we decided to start our church shopping by attending the church which was inside a warehouse across the road from our apartment complex. It was our first experience with a fiery charismatic and passionate for Jesus group of people and we were amazed. Neither of us came from Christian families and we had no idea that such a sincere and tangible relationship with God through His Spirit even existed. We were challenged and captivated and hooked immediately. It was from here that God truly restored our marriage, gave us a vision for the future, captured our adoration and called us to the international mission field.

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There is something unique about returning to where it all began that stirs our spirits. In the few days we’ve been in Austin and reconnected with our old church, Northwest Fellowship, we have already been laid bare before God as we repent of areas of compromise in our lives and press into greater obedience and fellowship with Him. God is faithfully drawing nearer to us as we draw nearer to Him.

Our friends who, from our first days in Austin, became spiritual parents to us and grandparents to our daughters invited us to share in their family Thanksgiving. It will be a huge blessing to do so. On Friday night I am accompanying the young adult prayer team that goes to Sixth Street, Austin in bright orange T-shirts to offer prayer and words of hope in a mardi gras-style environment. Sal and I were among the original group of young people who dreamed up the idea and participated in its birth. It will be a great blessing to partake in what it has matured to over the past nine years.

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Highest point in Louisiana. We got out to stretch our legs… it was definitely the easiest peak we’ve ever bagged 🙂

In about a week we will head to Gillette, Wyoming to reconnect with our home church family there. We look forward to seeing old friends and fellowshipping with them for a time before we head to Uganda.

As missionaries, a large part of the purpose of this trip was “business,” a.k.a., fund-raising and resource partnering. However, God is always working a myriad of purposes at once and He has used this trip to expose a weariness within us that we hadn’t realized was there. He is abundantly filling that place of weariness with renewed strength and intimacy with Him. It comes as no surprise that the Lord knew far better than we what our real needs were and He is fulfilling them with His own perfect methods.

We appreciate your continued prayers as we prepare for long-term mission work in Uganda and will do our best to keep a regularly updated report of our progress. We pray abundant blessings for you and your familly throughout this holiday season.

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Our Texan by birth Talai “representin'” after we crossed the Texan border

PS: There has been a slight change in our plans. Salazar, who was planning to head to Uganda in mid November, is now remaining Stateside until the first week of January. After reevaluating our timeline and speaking with the Arua base, we decided to delay his departure until after the New Year. By mid December the YWAM base in Arua will close for the Holidays. Together with the base we decided that it would be better for Sal to go when his stay wouldn’t fall on their vacation time which also freed him up to complete our US loop with me (super helpful) and cut out a second trip to Austin before we left for Uganda. Overall it made more sense to do it this way and proved a better use of resources. I will update the calendar in our earlier post promptly after publishing this article.

Special Report: Northern Uganda

Northern Uganda is the primary receiving area for South Sudanese refugees. South Sudan, although the world’s youngest nation, is home of the fastest growing refugee  crisis on the globe. Below is our Special Report newsletter which takes a look at the situation in this West Nile region and explains what our family is doing about it.

If you would like to receive our monthly newsletters, please contact us via email at <hsanchez5811@gmail.com>. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “subscribe” button in the right column.

Please click the link below to view/save/print our Special Report newsletter. Thank you and God bless.

Borderlands special report

Uganda, here we come! Calendar

If you receive our newsletter, then you have already received our calendar.  If you are not currently receiving our newsletters and would like to, please contact us at <hsanchez5811@gmail.com>.

Below is a calendar of where we’ll be and when during this short period before our family leaves for Uganda. We are making a loop to visit friends/partners and fulfill speaking engagements. If you live in or around those areas we would love to see you while we are there. Please contact us via email to connect. Also note: from November 15th through December 22nd Sal will be in Uganda. He is going ahead to work and prepare a place for the family.

You can also view/save/print our calendar in pdf form by clicking on the links below.

Sanchez 2017 calendar

Sanchez 2018 Calendar

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

February 2018

Thoughts on the cost

Last week the girls and I were doing our morning prayers and intercession when Talai prayed, “Dear heavenly Father, when we go to Uganda, please protect me, and please help me to endure if I become an orphan. No matter what, help me never to deny You, but always follow You faithfully.”

Hadassah prayed a similar prayer ending with “Jesus please help me to follow you no matter what and if I have to go to an orphanage, let it be one where they treat the children nicely.”

Whoa! Right? What kind of nine-year-old or six-year-old prays that in complete johnny-automatic-girl-praying-800pxsincerity? So came my moment to respond and I sat silent for a while contemplating what to say. Should I assure them that God would not allow Sal or I to die or that they would never be orphans? As a mother wanting to quench their fears that was my temptation, but I couldn’t honestly give them any assurances and I would not have them disillusioned with God because I put false promises in His mouth that He did not keep. How would you respond?

 

I fear some will misunderstand what I am about to say. I love my children more than life, and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. I have sacrificed a career, much of my education and more to stay at home and spend time with them, watch them grow and give them an exquisite education. This was completely contrary to my plans before becoming a mother, but I count it all a joy now and would not have it any other way. However, my love for them is ashes compared to the extravagant love their heavenly Father has for them. For this reason, the best and most loving thing I can do for them is to be obedient to God and trust Him with their lives.

That said, please be gracious as you read my response if I do not communicate as clearly as I should.

Firstly in response, I hugged all three of my precious darlings because even though Mila did not voice such fears I’m sure she wrestles with her own. I told them that God has a plan for each of our lives, for theirs and my own. If we are walking in His will nothing and no one can kill us until we have completed God’s intended plan. Just as God protected David while King Saul hunted him through the wilderness and how He protected Jesus when those of His own town tried to throw Him off of a cliff, so too will God protect us while we still have His orders to carry out on earth, orders that probably include being around to raise them.

However, that didn’t mean that God would not allow them to be orphaned. I told them that I did not think that Sal or I’s deaths were a part of God’s plan any time soon. God has promised much to us that we have yet to see manifested and given us much instruction that we’ve yet to accomplish. But we all need to be ready to give everything, even our lives for God’s Kingdom if it so requires. However, the Bible teaches that the angels who watch over children are ever before the face of God, and I assured the girls that, no matter what, God would watch over and protect them. I also told them they shouldn’t ever end up in an orphanage because they would live with family or friends should anything ever happen to Sal and I. And finally I encouraged and fortified them to never forsake Jesus for any reason. As long as we hold fast to Christ, we will see each other again.

reverse silloutte crossI know this response may sound radical to the Westerner, including many Western Christians. However, I recently heard Michael Ramsden speak on this topic and he said something that merits repeating; As Western Christians, we live in a time that is unique. The peace and prosperity that the Western church enjoys is peculiar not only historically, but also globally in our present world. The normality for Christians, that which has been typical since the day Jesus died, is a life of suffering and/or persecution, but even so, a life of joy and peace, of generosity and beauty.

Hebrews 11 gives us a goose-bump raising account of our Christian legacy:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again.” (v. 32-35a)

How much would we love to see these kinds of miracles in our churches and in our lives? How many of us have inquired of God why these things tarry? Perhaps the key can be found in the very next words:

“There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (v.35b-38)

This part of our Christian legacy continues today as many endure such conditions for the sake of Christ. If you don’t believe that, you should go on a mission trip.

I see a lot of the Western world’s desire for comfort and security within the heart of the Western church and even within my own heart. Yet how much of the security that we enjoy is an illusion? One has only to turn on the television to hear of wars and rumors of wars, of division and schemings. Ramsden also said that the type of persecution that we see in places like the 10/40 window is “only ever one generation away.” I truly believe that.

But even were peace not so fragile, what would I be should I not follow the call of God on my life? No one wants to be Jonah. No one wants to believe themselves a coward, and that is definitely not how God created us to be. But how do we overcome fear when called to a place where the odds are stacked dangerously against us?knightingoldenarmor-2400px

The beautiful simplicity of the trust and faith my daughters have in their heavenly Father was deeply convicting for me. It was unbridled by the the reins of doubt and burdens of past experience that so many of us grown-ups haul around with us. It is no wonder that Jesus taught that we must become as children to enter the Kingdom of God!

I recently had a pastor ask me bluntly, “So what is the cost (of following God’s call)?” It was difficult for me to give an answer. Anything Sal or I have “given up” thus far seems quite unimportant and superficial and hardly meriting the title “cost.” Anything that may arise in the future remains hypothetical. So I suppose the costs we’re counting as we say “yes” to God are largely control, security and pride. To be willing to be utterly out-of-control of of our situation even when physical danger may be present, to be willing to face danger head-on without the security of a safety net and pride in that we may not always have the answers or solutions, and of course to look like complete fools in the eyes of the world.

Yet by God’s grace, we shall say “yes,” agreeing to whatever costs and willing to trust Him with everything. Hopefully we may in some way prove ourselves worthy of our amazing daughters who could school us on graciously surrendering to God’s will and perhaps take one step closer to being worthy dwelling places of Christ Jesus.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and may God bountifully bless you and yours.

YWAM: Our Family

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courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

This Fall when we arrive in Uganda, Africa, we will be received by the staff of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Arua. We have been in contact off and on with these guys for about four years now, since we first believed God was calling us to Uganda. We have enjoyed getting to know them and learning of all they do. Their examples of courage and humble obedience to the call of God delights our hearts and it will be an honor to work alongside them and learn from them.

Interpersonal relationships within YWAM are a peculiar and special thing. Jesus taught us that Christianity is a brotherhood, that we are all family. Theoretically I know this, but it is a principle truly manifest amongst YWAMers. For example, if a ragged travel-worn stranger showed up at my front door and said, “Hello, I am a Christian. I was told you are a Christian also. May I stay here for a few days and rest from my travels?” I would likely invite them in, but my hospitality would not be so great as it is, for example, when my sisters come to visit nor would I likely trust them alone in my home. Please understand, I’m not saying

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courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

that is the Biblical response, I’m simply saying that in my flesh this is what I would do and I suspect most of those reading this article would react similarly.

However, if the same stranger said, “Hello, I am a YWAMer. I heard you guys are a YWAM family. I’m just passing through and a bit hungry and tired. Would you mind if I crashed here for a bit?” I would be genuinely excited to invite them in with open arms, open fridge and open trust. White, Black, Brown, Yellow, African, Indian, Russian, male, female, old, young it simply wouldn’t matter. This is the heart of YWAM.

Before you challenge that statement, or claim it unique to myself, I would share that we did this exact thing many times during our trip through Central and South America. Inevitably we would run out of food, gas and money and be unable to travel any further. At these times (and others as well) we headed to the nearest YWAM base, knocked on their front door and said something along the lines of, “Hello, we are YWAMers. We are from the USA and on our way to Argentina but we need a place to stay until God grants us provisions to continue on our journey. We have no idea how long that may take, but could we please stay here until then?”

Through the many countries we traversed they always welcomed us in with open arms and hearts. They would feed us, show us around the town, give us gifts, pray with us and bless us tremendously. They even let our dogs sleep in our rooms with us, which is culturally unacceptable in most of these countries.

IMG_20160505_163722Once in Columbia we called ahead of time and asked to stay at the base. We were told that although they would love to host us, they were packed to over capacity. With several visiting teams they had people sleeping on floors and outside in tents and simply had no space. After spending a week in a Columbian hostel while waiting to receive our van (we had shipped it from Panama), we picked it up and realized that we were too broke to continue. So, we prayerfully decided to show up at the YWAM base anyway where we asked if we could sleep in our van in their driveway. Again we were invited in with open arms. There truly was no space within the base but a few YWAM girls who lived down the road and were headed out of town gave us the keys to their apartment and told us we could stay there. And as always, they fed us too.

The following day a young woman we had not yet met walked up and introduced herself. “Hello, My name is Evenly,” she said. “There is a Bible school I’ve wanted to attend in Uruguay for a long time, but I’ve never had the resources to go. However, two days ago God told me that He was sending me there soon and to pack my bags. So, I packed my bags, prayed that God would provide a way and have been waiting for a miracle. I believe you may be the answer to that prayer. Could I ride with you as far as Corrientes? From there I can take a bus”

For Sal and I, there really was no question. She absolutely could come. We responded, “Of course you can come! After all, we are family. However,” we continued, “you must understand that we can’t guarantee a comfortable or safe place to sleep. We don’t know how long it will take us to get there and if we run out of money again we may be stuck on route until God provides finances to continue. We cannot guarantee you’ll arrive before the school starts. We can be loud at times and, just to warn you, when it gets hot our dogs drool a lot.  That said, if you believe this is your transport to God’s calling and are willing to trust Him in that, we would love to have you.”

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This picture is a little blurry but you get the idea

And just like that our traveling family went from five members to six. Well, actually as soon as we left town she announced that she had a friend on route who also wanted to take the Bible school in Uruguay. So, by sunset our traveling family had reached seven members. At one point we were up to nine for a string of our journey, but I’ll save that story for another time. Our family keeps in contact with Evenly to this day and we consider her a dear friend.

Back to my previous thought, however, this Fall we will be received by YWAM Arua, Uganda where we have made a two-year commitment to serve at (but with the intention of remaining in Uganda much longer) . Their work in Arua and the West Nile region is amazing. The daily risks they face by ministering in troubled and war-torn areas reflects a healthy and profound faith. Their vision is to “be a bridge of God’s healing to the nations” and they focus primarily on Uganda, South Sudan, DR Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR). We are so excited to be joining them in all they do, and would encourage anyone reading this article to check them out. Below are links to help you do so.

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Click above to go to YWAM Arua’s webpage

ywam aruaClick above to go to YWAM Arua’s Facebook page

 

 

Above is an informational video about YWAM Arua that they made a few years ago.

As always, may God bountifully bless you and yours. Please keep us in your prayers as we move forward in preparations for Arua, Uganda. Thank you, and God bless.

A lovely detour

It is hard to believe that the year is almost over! 2016 has been an incredible year, full of laughter and tears, disappointments and victories, sorrows and joy. And God has met us every step of the way.

img_20161124_084400As some already know, our plans have changed slightly in that we have temporarily returned to the United States. We are so excited and blessed to have this opportunity before reestablishing ourselves and serving long-term in Uganda, Africa. During our months in the US we will be busy taking care of the many logistical details involved with getting to and established in Uganda and spearheading the Borderlands Restoration and Education Project.

We know that, among the many things we have done this past year, we have not appropriately prioritized our web updates. We take full responsibility for the neglect and beg your pardon.

This is what you can expect from this site over the next several months:

  • Regular postings
  • A sort of retracing of our steps- Since driving across the Mexican border to shipping around the Darien Gap to sharing love with street kids in Argentina and back to Michigan again: where we have been; what we have done; things we have learned.
  • Lots of pictures
  • Current updates
  • Whatever else might be of interest

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    digitalphotos.net_supakitmod

As far as why else we are in the States again:

  • Obtain long-term working or religious visas for Uganda
  • See to logistical and legal aspects of Love’s Training Ground
  • Fundraise and establish new partnerships

Tuesday morning Sal and I will be flying out of Detroit on route to Jacksonville Port in Florida. Our van will be there by tomorrow and we are on our way to pick it up. We are actually still short on the funds needed to retrieve it (for online giving click here) but we figure that after bringing us this far God wouldn’t have us abandon our vehicle at the port. Having to trust God to financially come through for us time and time again has been an adventure in and of itself and the stakes just seem to keep getting higher, but that is a story all its own and perhaps I’ll share it in another post someday.

Please pray safe travel for us. Sal and I are flying Spirit Airlines from Detroit to Atlanta and then taking an overnight bus into Jacksonville. Since our oldest, Mila, was born, we haven’t done any trip like this without the girls. Please pray peace for them during the time we are away (they’ll be with Grandma). And of course, pray for the financial miracle we are confident the Lord will provide so that we can retrieve our van. Sal already has a job in Michigan so we’ll bquill-and-letter_simon-howdene able to sustain ourselves, but port fees and such simply go beyond our typical expenses. We are excited to be turning the last page of another chapter as we set our eyes toward the thickening plot of God’s master script into which he has penned our lives.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and God bless and keep you and yours.christmas-trees_simon-howden

Cute Challenges to writing an update: or “From point A to point B”

As I write this, I am hiding in a corner at the YWAM base (our internet access location). Earlier I sat up to a table in the community area as I composed the first draft. Linda, a very cute girl around 9 years old skipped up to me. She is mute and was having trouble with the other kids because of her inability to articulate. No invitation needed she jumped up onto my lap. I showed her some pictures on my computer which completely fascinated her. She stayed by my side, jumping on and off my lap, wiggling like she had a scorpion in her dress and trying to buy games through the Play Store on my phone. In her excitement she pointed to a picture on my computer and started swiping her fingers across its touch screen. Somehow her actions combinedIMG_20160506_193739 with my keyboard typing completely erased my first draft.

At that moment I had a sort of internal struggle where I lept between “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and “This sweet little girl just needs a friend. What’s the big deal?” Poor Linda looked at me, mouth open attempting an “uh-oh” and waiting to see how I would react… Well, I’ve always been a softie when it comes to kids.

After about half an hour of play time showing Linda more pictures and how to play a math game on my phone, I figured I’d better get to rewriting the update. I tracked down Linda’s parents and then found another spot on the base with a decent wifi signal and began to write. Within 10 minutes a young Paraguayan missionary and friend who is in cross-cultural missions classes, approached me. “Heather” he said with his Guarani-thick Spanish accent. “I really need your help. In one hour I am presenting on the differences between North American and South American culture. You are the only North American on the base right now so can I please interview you?” Without waiting for a response he started asking all about my “cold northern culture,” as he called it. No matter what I said I just couldn’t convince him I wasn’t cold-blooded. “You are from the north after all,” he said. “That is why it is so hard for you here with us warm Latins while Sal (my Mexican-descended husband) gets along so well. I hear North Americans don’t like hugs.”

“But it’s not difficult for me here,” I responded. “I love Latin culture and I love hugs.”

“Maybe you just don’t realize that our ways are really hard on you or maybe your husband is just rubbing off on you.” Oh well, my friend is sure to discover one way or another that not all North Americans are “cold cultured.”I believe we are the first US family he has yet met.

Forty-five minutes later he wrapped up his interview and headed to class. I turned on my screen to write and another young Argentine missionary (whose hair I agreed to dread next week) sat down next to me. She just needed a “big sister” talk.

After listening a bit and encouraging her not to hide big decisions from her parents, I excused myself and sook out a seemingly quiet spot of ground outside where I didn’t think I’d be disturbed. I loved all the interaction, but I had work to do. The update was coming along well until a group of kids stampeded around a corner IMG_20160514_115203and pounced on me. It was a mix of missionaries’ kids and our restoration home students.  “Tia Heather!” they yelled. They were so rambunctious it was all I could do to stop them from stomping on my computer. Once I climbed out from underneath them I explained that I had some important work to do but could come back later to play. “OK,” they said disappointingly. I reopened by laptop, sat down and found myself in the middle of a half-dozen kid huddle… “Where is Mila and Talai and Dassah?”… “What does that button say?”… “What are you writing?”… “Will you teach us to lasso cattle”…So much for not liking hugs.

After a short tickle fight, I decided I had better take drastic measures or I would never complete the update. That brings us to now, with me hiding from a bunch of very cute distractions in a dark corner of the YWAM base quietly writing. With that introduction, let me invite you to read:

 The Update

or, “Where we are and where we are headed”

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We have been working in Argentina while attending the School of Rescue and Restoration through the University of the Nations from which we recently graduated. The school involved long days of up to 15 hours in the classroom and required us to put in many hours of hands-on work with children in the youth penitentiary, orphanages and homes and with the onsite restoration home or Casa Abierta. We worked directly with the kids and when possible their parents as well. We learned about: childhood sexual abuse, family restoration, human trafficking and extractions, restorative counseling, working with governments and much more. Now with our education paid off and our counseling certificates in hand we are headed for Uganda, Africa.

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courtesy “africa” at freedigitalphotos.net

To reach and become established in Uganda is the second step in a multi-phased plan to ultimately run a restorative home and private school for highly traumatized youth in Uganda Africa. The plan looks something like this:

  • Phase One: Study and prepare, get certified (completed)
  • Phase Two: Arrive and become established in Uganda, Africa-
    • Prepare van for drive from South Africa to Uganda
    • Ship van to South Africa
    • Fly to South Africa
    • Obtain Ugandan working visa
    • Drive to Uganda
    • Work alongside other ministry, learn culture/worldview/politics
  • Phase Three: Buying and Building Phase
  • Phase Four: Running the home and school
  • Phase Five: If the Lord wills, help others start and run their own restoration homes and schools for traumatized youth

 By the first week of August we will leave Corrientes and head for Buenos Aires, the port we will likely be shipping the van from and flying out of. The Buenos Aires metropolitan area is home to around 14.5 million inhabitants and we are grateful to have contacts in several areas of the city who will help us navigate the landscape and bureaucracy. There is a lot of footwork

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Courtesy “photoraidz” at freedigitalphotos.net

and paperwork involved in transporting 5 people, 2 dogs and 1 van across the Atlantic! We expect the process to take about a month or so. Other than that, we are waiting on funding and will be turning a lot of attention towards fundraising. If you are interested in helping us in this phase of the project, please see our “Support Page” or go to

http://paypal.me/salandheather.

 We are excited about the adventure ahead and the opportunity to anchor in some roots in Uganda. We have been in a sort of transitional chapter in our lives for almost seven months now and we are anxious to establish a home that we can “come home to.”

 A Note on Driving:

 Several people have already asked us  why, considering the risks, are we driving half-way across Africa. Usually the question is framed something like, “Are you crazy?!?” Truthfully, sometimes I think perhaps we are, a little. However, ultimately we feel that the benefits of overlanding far outweigh the risks. Here is our nutshell explanation:1212151441

  1. With our experience overlanding Central and South America, we feel confident in our competence to minimize the risk involved in this trip.
  2. This trip allows us to create valuable networking and contacts which will be immensely helpful toward starting a home and school. It also provides for us the opportunity to learn African culture before jumping into ministry with them.
  3. A vehicle is a must-have in Uganda one way or another. Without it there is no way to dependably transport our family. We have a dependable van that is invaluable to us. Our van (donated by Family Life Church) is large enough to fit our family and has proven it is up to rigorous driving.
  4. It is cheaper this way. A used, questionably dependable vehicle in Uganda costs around $17-20K. Our trip, including gas and traveling costs, plane tickets and shipping the van should cost significantly less than that.
  5. It is less complicated. As foreigners, obtaining a vehicle in Uganda is complicated.
  6. After much prayer, we feel this is God’s guiding.

 That said, it would be a lie to claim that we’re disappointed with how things are working out. As explorers and adventurists at heart, our whole family is very excited at the prospect of driving through Africa, seeing new places, meeting new people, learning completely foreign customs and everything else involved with such a journey.  We are exquisitely blessed that God has merged our dreams with His plans for our lives. We get to do what we love as we serve His Kingdom and help the “statistically hopeless” to have and follow their own dreams.

Isn’t our God simply amazing?

We’re Back!

Wow… And thank you for your patience!world map

First bit of business: We just sent out our newsletters, so if you didn’t receive one and would like to, please write us at hsanchez5811@gmail.com and request to be added to our updates list.

We have been quite ill lately with some nasty viruses that have put us behind schedule in much of what we are doing. As happens with families, one person gets sick and then the next and then the next and so a week-long virus takes almost a month to work its way through a household. All this to say, “Thank you so much for your patience and we are happy to announce that we are back online.”

IMG_20160514_114316We are very excited to share our experiences and our vision. Bit by bit our page will be transforming, so check back periodically for updated information. That said, the current information on our website (including how to donate) is accurate, if not complete.

We have completed the School of Rescue and Restoration through the University of the Nations and are now certified in counseling. It was an intense school with grueling hours and lots of hands on work in orphanages, street ministries, foster homes and the youth penitentiary. We are still working with troubled youth but we now have time to breath since our classes are over.

And now… drum-roll please…we are headed for Africa!… that is, as soon as possible. For some time now we have planned to work in Uganda long-term with traumatized and exploited youth. We have neglected to make a large announcement, however, because we’ve been unsure of God’s timing. Following graduation we spent many hours in prayer seeking God’s guidance and now are confident that the time is now. That said there is a lot to do in preparation, which of course takes time. We’ve finances to raise and lots of research and paperwork to do but our goal is to make it to Africa in a few months. Over the IMG_20160630_174325next couple of weeks we’ll be updating our website to clearly communicate our vision for reaching children in Uganda.

Also, over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting “Road Diary” articles which will share fun and thoughtful experiences from our journey driving from the United States to Argentina. Please accept our sincere apologies for not keeping our website better updated in a timely fashion. It is our goal to improve on that.

There are many exciting changes for us on the horizon. We will be posting more soon. Thank you for checking us out and God bless!

Michigan to Guadalajara and 4,000 miles in between

Since leaving Gillette, Wyoming following the Picnic in the Park, life has been a bit of a whirlwind. We have shared much of our stateside journey already, so I’ll jump right into our trip here in Mexico.

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     We crossed the border in Laredo. For anyone looking for a mission field within the United States, Laredo is your place! The city itself is not very welcoming or attractive. The spiritual oppression is palpable and among the worst we’ve ever encountered.

     Crossing the border itself was anything from easy to frustrating to comical. After crossing the bridge into Mexico we got in the “things to

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Border control guards

declare” line (for the dogs). Two border control guards asked us to take our dogs out and when we did they jumped back with exclamations of “Wow! They are big!” Within moments we were surrounded by border control guards who were all taking pictures of our dogs and uploading them on Facebook.

     They let us through without any hang-ups ad pointed us towards customs to obtain visas and a car permit. At this point the road was divided by a meridian in the middle with two lanes of opposite traffic on either side. It was a bit eerie because there was bumper-to-bumper completely stopped traffic leaving Mexico for miles on end. Even the bomberos (firefighters) who were directing traffic were taking pictures of the line. Our lanes, however, entering Mexico had only sporadic traffic. Where it was a relief to not be stuck in the worst traffic I’ve ever seen, it was a little intimidating to be among the few that were entering when a multitude were leaving. Sal and I had a good laugh over it. God’s people are always called to go against the flow of the world anyway.

     In our excitement over how easy it had been to cross the border, we completely missed customs. As we continued further and further south on the highway, we realized the fact. We followed signs to Los Federales (federal police station) and asked for directions to customs. In retrospect we questioned the wisdom of stopping there for directions, considering we had just entered Mexico illegally (by accident), but they just chuckled and pointed us back the way we had come.

IMG_20160105_095501_433     Inevitably we got lost several times on our way to customs. We stopped multiple times for directions, but everyone gave us different routes. After about three hours in and out of Nuevo Laredo, we finally made it to customs and continued legally to Monterrey.

     From there, everything went as planned, except that because of the hang-up at the border, we arrived in Monterrey after dark (#1 rule of driving in Mexico: Don’t drive after dark!) Being in a hurry to get off the road we decided to find a hotel instead of risking getting lost in Monterrey at night trying to find the YWAM base. We stopped at a 7/11 to ask where a good hotel was and the guy behind the counter said, “You’re in luck! Take a right at the next light and there is a whole district of hotels.”

     “Wonderful!” we thought. “Praise God!” We turned right and sure enough there were several hotels. We stopped at one that advertised 300 pesos, commenting on how inexpensive Mexican hotels were (17pesos = U$D 1). When Sal asked for a double bed room, the receptionist gave him a quizzical look and explained he only had single beds and they were 300 pesos for four hours. A little alarmed we observed our surroundings better and realized indeed we were in the red light district (which was curiously lit not in red but with Christmas lights). We got directions to a family friendly area with hotels, but even there prostitution was very prevalent. As uncomfortable as the whole event was, I pray every Christian experiences the heartbreak that we did that night over beautiful women created in the image of God being extorted so grotesquely. It was both haunting and convicting.

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     The next morning we found the Monterrey YWAM base.We were well received and shown exquisite hospitality. They connected us with other YWAM bases along our way as well as a contact in Corrientes (there was an Argentine there who’s sister lives two blocks from the Corrientes YWAM base). They invited us to spend the night as to get an early start for Guadalajara, and that is precisely what we did.

     In Guadalajara we received a very warm welcome from old friends. Tonight will be our third and final night here. We’ve accompanied them in IMG_20160101_245102_555ministry to an unreached area in Jalisco, Sal helped fix a problem with the water, we rested a spell from the road, repacked the van and washed our clothes and ourselves. It has been a huge blessing. Long trips always remind me of what a grand blessing water is. From here, our plan is to continue through Central America only stopping to sleep through the night. We should be able to jump from YWAM base to YWAM base almost exclusively. Although we have passed a few military checkpoints, we have not yet been stopped. It could seem they are much more concerned about traffic headed north. Also the fact that we speak Spanish has been immensely helpful and allows us to fit in very well.

     Thank you for your continued prayers. You are often in our thoughts and prayers as we carry you in our hearts across the continent. May God richly bless you!

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Two weeks to go! And some answered questions…

Firstly, thank you, THANK you, THANK YOU! to all those who have supported us through this unpredictable and often frustrating transitional period. Your prayers and financial support have been largely felt and truly, we could not do this without you. Sal and I would like to send a special thank you to our Gillette church family,

Family Life Church, for the donated van which we are confident will carry us safely across the dozen countries we’ll soon be traversing.

As we prepare to follow God’s will across borders, the wrapping up of loose ends and preparations have taken longer than expected. We just want to express our gratitude for your continued patience and understanding. However, we now have a take-off date: Monday, December 7th. After departing from Michigan, we have a short pit-stop in North Carolina and then we’ll be about 2 weeks in Austin, Texas visiting Central American consulates to ensure smooth border crossings (Truthfully nothing apart from God can “ensure” smooth border crossings, but it greatly decreases our risk of complications). This puts us crossing into Mexico within the first few days of the New Year.

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italphotos.net_supakitmod

Q & A

Q. How can we pray for you?

A. Please, please do pray! We cannot express how much confidence your prayers give us.

  • Pray discernment for us; we’ll face many decisions during our journey plenty of which could have serious repercussions. We need to exercise wisdom and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance continually.
  • Pray for divine appointments; God’s work doesn’t stop because we are traveling from point A to point B. Along the way we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for opportunities to share the Gospel.
  • Pray for open doors; we’ll be resting at YWAM bases, crossing borders and making connections on route.
  • Pray divine protection over us; we’ll be crossing about a dozen borders on a trip of over 11,000 miles and even taking a boat for a short stretch into Columbia. Bandits, cartel and illness are only a few things we could run into, but the good news is that we serve a BIG God!
  • Pray for a breakthrough in finances; we do not currently have sufficient funds to complete the drive and the YWAM School of Rescue and Restoration. However, we feel confident that we are moving in God’s timing and are standing on faith for His provision.
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freedigitalphotos.net_surasakiStock

Q. How can I get your updates?

A. We are honored that you are invested in us. Request to receive our email updates by clicking on the “Contact Us” tab. We’ll send a monthly newsletter and prayer requests. Also, connect with us on Facebook if you have not done so already. Follow these links for Heather’s Facebook and Salazar’s Facebook. Email and Facebook messenger are the best ways to contact us, and we’d love your updates from home!

Q. How can we get money and/or supplies to you?

A. Thank you so much for your tangible support! We are currently able to receive cash and checks and will soon be accepting credit/debit cards through a link on this website. Donations can be tax-deductible. Please click the “Support” tab for more information.

Because we’ll be traveling extensively we don’t currently have a system to receive items. Our plan is to establish this once we’ve settled in Corrientes, Argentina.
Q. How is the money I send being spent?

A. Our most immediate financial need is traveling costs (gas, food, occasional lodging, etc.) Once we reach Argentina our greatest expenses will be living costs and schooling. The YWAM School of Rescue and Restoration is an intense three-month program. Following the school we will likely serve an internship with a YWAM home of restoration. You can find out more about the YWAM base and school at: YWAM North, Corrientes, Argentina.

Although we will be putting financial resources into sharing the Gospel from the very start of our journey, relational ministry will become our primary focus following the school. This involves things like: reaching out to street children, mentoring kids from impoverished/inner-city homes, counseling/mentoring victims of sexual exploitation and other traumatic backgrounds and always sharing the Gospel.

Q. Are you accountable to anyone?

A. Wise question! And the answer is yes, we are. Our immediate church family extends to two main churches, Family Life Church of

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freedigitalphotos.net_Tuomas_Lehtinen

Gillette, Wyoming and Dwelling Place Ministries of Kingsley, Michigan. We hold ourselves accountable to the leadership of both of these congregations. In addition, our credit card processor is For a Friend, a nonprofit credit card processing company for Christian missionaries. As part of their policy, we are accountable to them for all donations made through them.

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