Stories from the Road: A Year of Partnership Development
As we look back on a year spent building our partner team for ministry, we can see God’s fingerprints in everything. His loving-kindness and provision has walked with us every step of the way.
This is a record of His faithfulness to us over the last year, written in hopes that it will be an encouragement to you too. These are excerpts from our email updates that we send out every other month. If you are interested in getting stories like these in your inbox, you can subscribe on the home page of our website: batesfamilyministry.com
If you've been following our story for a while, you know that finding housing in Washington was a huge need for us. With the craziness of the housing market and a baby on the way, finding somewhere safe and affordable was essential for us to be able to use this time well. I know so many of you joined in prayer with us, asking the Lord to provide a place for us to stay. And he did provide in an incredible way! Some friends had a newly renovated manufactured home on their property and have graciously invited us to live here as their way of partnering with our ministry! And between friends old and new, the furniture we needed has been provided and moved into the space! It is such a blessing to have a safe and comfortable home, and we love having the opportunity to host people here for meals and visits.
In the early days of our son’s life, we ran into two major medical challenges, both of which could have been much more severe if they were not caught so early. Four days after Philip was born, we attended a check-up for me (Abby) and him (a new program set up by our insurance to help catch postpartum health issues early). At that appointment, they discovered that my blood pressure was extremely elevated, and when they ran labs, it showed that my liver wasn’t functioning properly. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (which apparently can develop after delivery – who knew!) and because it was so severe that it was affecting my liver function, I was admitted to the hospital for 48 hours for intravenous medication and monitoring.
The crazy thing is – I should have had very extreme symptoms for how bad the pre-eclampsia was. Every medical professional I saw was shocked by how fine I felt while my blood pressure was so high. Were it not for that appointment, I might have gone on getting sicker and sicker without knowing it, and the condition could have caused seizures or stroke. Praise the Lord that we went and they figured out what was going on. Those days were very rough, but I'm so thankful Ian and Philip were able to be with me in the hospital. 6 weeks post delivery, I was off of blood pressure medicine and healthy again.
As we raise our support and build our team of ministry partners, our desire has always been not just for finances, but for relationship. We want to have ministry partners who we know and can pray for, and who are invested in what God is doing in Mexico. Praise God he has been providing just that. We have had the joy and honor to sit with many families to share about what God is doing in Mexico and what he has called us to, and many have decided to partner with us. Likewise, two churches have stepped up and decided to get involved with God's work in Mexico. We are so glad to be partnering with two new churches starting in January of 2022! During our time here as well, we have had the opportunity to be part of a small group that our friends attend. Meeting weekly to share a meal, study the Word, and encourage one another to live intentionally for the Lord, this group has been a mainstay during our time here in Washington. Even when we have to miss weeks due to ministry travel, sickness, and flood (literally), they always welcome us back. It's such a blessing to fellowship with the body of Christ.
God provided in another huge way - with a car! As you may have heard in our last update, our little Ford Focus was totaled in a car accident in September. Thankfully, we received a sizable payout from insurance and began shopping for a used car that would meet our needs. Our hope had always been to purchase a used minivan before moving to Mexico so we could pack our belongings into it and take it with us. With the insurance payout, some savings, and funds from a generous donor, we were able to purchase a Dodge Grand Caravan in good condition and with really low miles! We are so thankful for this car and it has been great as we've driven it around for the last month.
We experienced a major blizzard starting the evening of Christmas itself! For a region that rarely gets more than an inch of snow at a time (and shuts everything down for that!), the 18 inches of fresh snow that coated the ground proved both beautiful and complicated. You see, we had planned to make a trip to Oregon beginning two days after Christmas. It was perfect, at least in our minds - we would see friends who had returned home for the holidays, visit with churches, and even attend a retreat at the camp where we met. To traverse our hilly driveway with a minivan was daunting, let alone making it all the way to Oregon and attending a retreat at a camp in the mountains! Nevertheless, we were determined to go, so we hiked all our belongings down our driveway to the car (we couldn't drive it back up anymore with the snow) and made it about an hour south....Then we heard that the camp had just been hit with another foot of snow and it would be impossible for our vehicle to make it through. We turned around and headed home, feeling a bit defeated that we couldn't make it happen but accepting that the Lord knew best. And He certainly did! We suddenly had three days stuck at home as a family. In the whirlwind of support raising and seeing extended family, we had hardly had the chance to come together, just the three of us, to rest and enjoy time with each other. While totally different from our plans, that weekend refreshed our souls and was exactly what we needed.
At the end of January, our time out on the farm came to a close. The sweet little house was a huge blessing for this season of life, and was a wonderful place for us to bring Philip home to. We are so grateful to the family that hosted us and to the Lord who provided for us through them! In the last weeks of January, we packed up most of our belongings, determining what would fit in our car to take to Mexico, what we need for the current season of travel, and what we could give away. Now half our belongings are in a storage unit and the rest we use in our travels until we move to Mexico At present, we live with friends nearby. Before we even knew when we would be transitioning out of the farm, they offered this space to us. We believe the Lord prompted their hearts to offer before we even knew we had a need! And living here, in this season, is perfect for us. We are gone nearly half of every month, so it's nice to live simply and have a space to return to for the weeks we are in Washington.
In having a child with food allergies (something we never thought we would have to walk through), God has been so kind and faithful to us. Through your prayers and encouragement, he has filled our hearts with peace. FPIES is stressful, as we never really know when he might have a severe vomiting reaction or when we might need to go to the ER. But the Lord is giving us the grace we need to have peace and trust Him in this. As well, we were beginning to feel lately that we were pushing too hard and too fast, that our pace of life was not sustainable. We desire to arrive in Mexico and begin ministry as soon as possible, but we don't want to arrive tired and burnt out before we even begin. Our son's diagnosis is forcing us to slow down, spend more time here, and Lord willing, will give us the time we need to get to 100% of our support rather than going when we have the minimum level. Through the unexpectedness and stress of dealing with our son’s allergies, we see the Lord taking care of us so gently.
Our time in Wisconsin was very full! Nearly every evening we were getting together with supporters, friends, and people interested in our ministry. Over meals we sat with our brothers and sisters, swapping stories of the Lord’s faithfulness and sharing this ministry he has put on our hearts. As busy as this time was, it was so wonderful to reconnect with people we hadn’t seen for years.
Our sending church hosted a lovely reception for us after service so we could talk with members of the church about what we will be doing in Mexico. This body of believers has been part of our story since before we were married! When Ian was attending Bible college back in 2015, he first started attending there with one of his roommates, and then it became our church home as a married couple when we returned to the area in 2018. They supported us through missionary training and walked with us through the Lord leading us to serve in Mexico. We are so thankful for our church family and the ways they have been there for us over the years.
Observing God’s faithfulness over the last year prompts us to worship. He has called us, equipped us, and now he is providing. We look forward to telling you soon about how he brought in the last portion of our needed support, and how he cared for us during our transition into Mexico. Thank you for being on this journey with us!