A few weeks later her Dad told her that our family was in the USA visiting family. Although she had never met us, her family has supported VNMinistries for many years and she had dreamed of coming to Mexico. With her dad’s encouragement she sent an email that would change the course of her life.
In response to that email, I called and spoke with her for a few minutes and then asked, “Are you ready to leave tomorrow?” After a few seconds of deafening silence she responded, “Yes.” While she didn’t leave the next day, within a few days Pam picked her up in Virginia. Her heart was quickly intertwined with the Mexican people and its culture. She quickly became effective in communicating in Spanish and has begun Bible studies with some of the local young ladies. Her love for the people whom she serves is obvious to all who meet her. I hope that you are encouraged by her story.
My Journey into Mexico ~ Ashley Mason
From the time that I began to read, I devoured books about missionaries; men and women that made a difference in other people’s lives through their service for Christ. The books captured my attention and became the focus of my dreams.
I remember reading a series about a girl; it followed her life from a young lady at home with her family to her marriage and then going to the mission field with her husband. I remember thinking, “Wow, how does one know if God has called you to the mission field or not? Is it too presumptuous of me to think He would ever call me? What if this is just a whim or emotion?” I really didn’t know, and I had no idea how to find out, what was God’s will for my life. So I just put the thoughts in the back of my mind. Meanwhile I kept reading.
By this time I was also devouring all the newsletters we received from the Richardson family-missionaries to Mexico. I could not wait for the newsletters to come! If they were even a little bit late; I’d start watching the mail for them very closely. I was fascinated by the fact that other girls were going down there to help out for months at a time and I told my Mom that’s what I wanted to do, too. She didn’t laugh it off, in fact she encouraged my dream, but she told me that I needed to learn to serve my family well before I went somewhere else. I was about ten years old. Learning to serve my family meant washing dishes and making meals without complaining or expecting other people to do my chores. I figured I could handle that.
Later, I was introduced to Amy Carmichael, the brave woman missionary of the late 19th and the 20th centuries. I read all the biographies I could get my hands on, as well as any books that she had written. I thought she was wonderful, practically perfect. Her zeal, for what God had given her to do, seemed unattainable to me. I remember feeling a great shock of disappointment when I finally realized that she wasn’t perfect and had character flaws like the rest of us. I can look back now and shake my head at myself but it was a big deal for a girl who didn’t know what to do with herself as a young teenager. I felt I could never be good enough.
It wasn’t easy being fourteen; I really felt like life had betrayed me. While, there were some good things, there was all the turmoil. I gave up on all of my dreams; I really didn’t want to have much to do with life.
I was 19 when my sister handed me a book to read. It was The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort. She said it equipped her to share the gospel with others. I knew that I needed to read it because I felt a total lack of knowhow in sharing Jesus Christ with someone. I had no clue how to start. I quickly read it and was totally shaken up. The author opened the Bible to me in a way that no one else had before. I gripped that book in my hands and prayed, “Lord, show me how awful my sin is, and how great your sacrifice was to give me eternal life.”
My Dad had been faithful to teach me the gospel and to read God’s Word to us, but I had never known exactly what sin was-it sounded so abstract. My eyes were opened and now none of it was abstract; suddenly all those passages in the book of Romans began to make sense. I also began to see that my breaking of God’s law demanded my death, “For the wages of sin is death”. I also understood the next part of the verse- “But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then I found the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I began to cry as I realized that the PERFECT Son of God had to bear the filth and shame of my sin. He had never known the feeling of guilt and shame and filth before and now He was taking it all on himself for me. He was taking the wrath of God to Himself that I deserved! I was so grateful. I finally understood!
A couple months later my sister found a Baptist Church and we started attending regularly. I grew so much there. God had been working all along, even when, and especially when, I could not see it. It was a missions-minded church; we had missionaries coming through frequently. I began to think about missions again; but I thought that I would have to wait until I was married and then perhaps my husband would be called to the mission field.
In the spring of 2013, a young missionary couple, whose testimony impacted me greatly, spoke several times in our church. One service he began to speak specifically to the young people. “You all need to get your passports. You never know where God will send you or what opportunities may arise and you’d better be ready.”
I could not get that out of my mind. It impressed me so much I went home and it was all I could talk about with my Mom and Dad. I got a job and by summer I had saved enough money to get my passport.
The time for mission’s conference came around again and I had enough gas money saved up to attend every night. I believe with all my heart that God wanted me there every night and He provided the way. The last night of the meetings the Lord spoke to my heart when one of the preachers was preaching about being willing and available in the hands of God. God was asking me, “Are you willing to go if I send you.” It is scary to realize that God is asking you to say “yes” to Him without reserve. I said, “God, I don’t have anything.” I meant that. I did not have anything; no money; no connections; nothing in myself. Then I said, “But if you will do it, I will go!”
Without a doubt God was working on my heart to prepare me for that question throughout the meetings. He used my faithful attendance the other nights of the conference to prepare my heart. Less than two weeks later, God opened the doors.
One day I was riding with my dad and telling him what God had been doing at the mission’s conference; he mentioned that the Richardsons were in the States right then visiting family and that the email sent out said if anyone wanted to come down and help them for a time to contact them. I got very still for a minute and then I said, “Dad, I could do it now; I could go now; work is slow; I have my passport; maybe I could even meet up with them in the States.”
I was excited! At home we talked it over with Mom and then sat down and wrote the Richardsons and email. I went to work the next morning not having any idea how my life was going to change. The minute I got home from work Mom met me at the door and said, “We got an email back. Mike said, ‘Call me.'”
We called and I was super nervous! I told Mike was who I was and then he asked if he could call me back in about fifteen minutes as he was in the middle of something. That just gave me more time to be nervous. Then he called back!
I picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“So why do you want to come to Mexico.”
Questions! I thought for sure here was where I failed the test! My voice squeaked and I stuttered as I tried to give him an intelligent answer. Then he asked me if I could be ready to leave that day!
Silence for a long moment.
“Um, yes, I can.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be today, so… How many brothers and sisters do you have?”
“I have one brother and one sister.”
I thought I had failed the test a second time as he mused out loud about how many kids they had and I might not be able to handle it.
By the end of the conversation I knew I was going to Mexico with a family I had never met and only somewhat knew through their newsletters and I was leaving in two days. I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited. I called my boss at work right away. She was shocked and wanted to know how in the world had this all happened.
I spent the rest of day packing. Sunday I spent at church telling everyone goodbye and where I was headed. They were pretty surprised as well. I think the Pastor was thrilled to see a part of what had come out of the mission’s conference. Then early Monday morning my Dad and brother drove me down to meet Pam and Joshua in Galax, Virginia. I liked them both right away. Pam told me that Joshua was praying that I didn’t get overwhelmed with their big family. I had a fun couple days with them as they visited with Pam’s relatives in Virginia and North Carolina. Then we headed to Georgia where I met the Thornton family-good friends of the Richardsons. After that we drove down to Preston to visit the rest of the family. We stopped at Michael and Jennifer’s house on the way to pick up Samuel. He took one look at me and asked if I was crazy or if I was naïve to be going to Mexico with a family I didn’t know. I told him I thought I was a little bit of both.
I was nervous about meeting the Richardsons, but not overly so. However, I WAS nervous about meeting Mike! He sounded so formidable on the phone. I really couldn’t tell what he thought of me when I first arrived. He didn’t say; he just kept talking to me and asking me questions about me and my family. I figured I’d found some more brothers to “adopt” when I met Timothy and Benjamin. Abigail was the cutest five year-old girl I had met in my entire life. Isaac was such a gentlemen and considerate young man. Anna had the prettiest red hair I’d ever seen. I didn’t know if I was going to like her or not-and I had the feeling she felt the same way about me.
We hit the road toward Mexico and I was very excited to be seeing parts of the country I had never been in-Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas. It took forever to drive through Texas! We might have crossed the border that night except the car broke down and we slept in a gas station just a few miles from the border in Laredo, Texas. By late morning the car was fixed and I was getting really apprehensive! What if they refused to give me a visa at the border? My imagination ran wild with all the things that could possibly go wrong. I really did not want to be back in the States-to my old job folding sheets and pillow cases. My fears were unfounded and I soon had permission to be in Mexico.
I couldn’t stop looking out the windows at the view as we drove into Mexico and headed for the Richardson’s home. It was so different; I had never seen anything like it. The style of houses, all the little stores, the cactus, and then the mountains-everything was different from anything that I had ever known.
Wow, I couldn’t believe the mountains.
Abigail kept asking me if I was used to Mexico yet. I would just shake my head no; she would exclaim, “Well, I am!”
The altitude was definitely higher than anything I had ever experienced. I kept watching the elevation on the GPS as it steadily climbed to over 8000 feet above sea level -when we were close to the house. I was overwhelmed by it all! We arrived and I climbed out of the Excursion. I couldn’t take it all in-no matter how hard I tried.
I decided the best thing to do was to help Anna get dinner made for the family. She told me later that was when she decided I was going to be okay-when I didn’t abandon her to do it all the first night. Pam had not arrived yet, she was in the other vehicle. They would be home in a couple hours.
I remember my first time at church; it felt like all the people looked at me so funny. I now realize that they had no idea I was coming or who I was. I was trying to remember how the Richardsons had told me to greet people here-shake hands with the men, touch cheeks and make the kissing sound with the ladies. I didn’t want to open my mouth and say anything in Spanish because I knew it would sound awful. I’d taken two years of it in high school, but with no one to practice with, I was woefully lacking. I couldn’t understand a thing that was being said and I didn’t have the guts to try and say anything to them either. I was desperate to communicate with these people-so it was not long until I opened my mouth and started talking! It was actually a lot of fun.
I’m really not sure what I expected when I came to Mexico but I know I didn’t expect for the Richardson family to become like my very own in just a few months. Anna became as close as a blood sister to me; Abigail is the baby sister I didn’t have before; the boys were my brothers. Mike became Uncle Mike and Pam is like Momma, Aunt, friend and sister all in one.
Within two months I was asking if I could please come again after I went to Virginia to visit my family. I didn’t expect to fall in love with the people here. Why the thought never occurred to me that this might happen, I’ll never know. The people of Mexico have become dear to my heart. It gives me an ache that makes me cry, I love them so much; I love learning their language. I never expected that they would love me back and want me to stay but they did. They are the family of my heart.
I never expected I would learn so much from these people-about life and family and hospitality and love for God-but I did!
I never expected I’d see God’s hand at work so powerfully in the lives of those around me-but I did!
I had no idea how much there was to learn and see and how it would help shape and mold me-but it did!
I’ve been here more than two years. When I first came I was so uncomfortable with all the new and strange things; now I have come to love it so much and I feel so at home here.
I hope that Ashley’s story encourages you in your service for the Lord.
Pam and I have had a heart for missions since we first accepted Christ. When missionaries or traveling evangelists would come to our church, we would always invite them to stay with us.
We had had a desire to go to the mission field for years, but God had given us a vision for going without raising support ahead of time. The only way I could see that happening was to work hard and save enough money to support ourselves-then go to the mission field later in life. God had a different idea-to be completely dependent on him and to trust him for our needs!
We moved to Mexico in August 1993. I had been the CFO for a boat anchor and boat trailer manufacturer for seven of the last eight years that we spent in the United States. For several of those years, I also served as a member of the board of directors. After paying off our home, about a year before coming to Mexico, I left my job as CFO and I continued working in the accounting practice that I had started several years before.
God used many circumstances, during that year, to purify our hearts and lives. We later realized that God was using many of the trials and problems during that year to prepare us for the mission field.
When we met Alfredo, a Mexican, in July of 1993, he told us about the ministry of his local church in Mexico. The next day he asked us to consider coming to Mexico to help their church. After praying about it, we drove down and met with the pastor and the elders. While we were visiting, we agreed, as a family, that God was calling us to Mexico. We moved to Mexico fifteen days after our visit.
Each year, as the work expands, the Lord has been faithful to meet all of our needs both personal and ministry related. We have learned that God knows our needs even before we do and that he is faithful in supplying them.
Pam and I appreciate those who have sacrificially supported this ministry and its ministers throughout the years-by coming to help, in prayer, and financially. It is our prayer that God will bless you abundantly in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the Lord is speaking to some of your hearts through Ashley’s story, or the Moss’ story, or our story. Seek him with your whole heart and he will give you life-life more abundantly.