Chris & Deb Miller

Oaxaca—Mexico

During 2013 we were dealing with a sense of longing for “more” and to possibly make a change for our family in terms of our purpose and goals in life. Our home church had gone through some trauma and many people were leaving. We visited other churches thinking maybe one of them would provide what we were looking for, but that wasn’t what we were looking for either. Then one day we made an appointment to go to the CRWM building on 28th St. We asked them if we had any skills that could be used in missions. We are not pastors or church planters and thought maybe we didn’t possess any valuable skills. After speaking with us for a bit to find out what skills and interests we did have, Nadine gave us a brochure with the needs of a school in Mexico. The first three needs listed were things we were able to help with. Another teacher from the school had just been in the CRWM office earlier that week to drop off the brochure. It was becoming clear to us then that we were being called into the mission field!

We lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan before moving to Oaxaca two years ago. We have four children: Evan, Jake, Karissa and Brianna. Evan is living in Holland, Michigan and working full time for Gadget Pro. Our other children live in Mexico with us and attend the school in which we volunteer.

Challenges:

  • A big challenge has been learning to deal with corruption. We bought a minivan from the local Honda dealer in 2014 (when we first moved to Oaxaca) and we have had nothing but problems with it. The Honda employee who sold us the van has lied to us and has manufactured false papers with incorrect dates in order to avoid repairing our van under warranty. After attempting to use an official mediator between Honda and us with no success, we are now responsible for replacing the engine. The van has been sitting at a local repair shop for 3 months waiting for an engine. This has definitely been an ongoing challenge and a big lesson in patience and thankfulness.
  • Another challenge has been living far away from family and friends, from familiarity, and from the comforts of home. Our challenge for this school year is deciding whether we return to Grand Rapids, or sign a new contract with Wycliffe Bible Translators and Christian Reformed World Missions to become career missionaries. If we are going to leave, we want to finish well at OCS. Every year there are many teacher needs, so it will be hard to leave.

Victories:

  • There have been six New Testament dedication ceremonies since we have moved here! Each one is in a different language area and has taken many years to complete. There is always a big celebration with music, dance, speakers, prayers, and food. We are so thankful to see God working in these villages where people are happy to receive a Bible in their own language.
  • Our children are learning some Spanish! Our school is an English school, but many of the students speak Spanish. This has been a challenge for
    kids like ours who do not know much Spanish.
  • Spiritual growth! We are becoming more aware of the struggles and hardships people face in the world and how the message of God’s love might be shared with them in meaningful ways.
  • A young lady from OCS asked Deb to be her mentor. We have been meeting for about a year whenever we are able.

Current projects:

Our main responsibility here is to serve at Oaxaca Chrisıan School, but we also try to be a blessing to the other missionary families here by being involved in as many things as possible. There are quite a few people planning to leave at the end of this school year so we have many holes to fill.

  • Deb is part of a Teacher-Recruitment committee for the school. Deb is teaching English for the 7th/8th grade class, is teaching a gardening elective twice a week, and working in the school library three ımes a week. She is also a new school board member this year.
  • Chris currently works every day at school in the computer lab and around school. He also helps neighbors and friends with their electronic and computer needs. Chris is also the ‘bus driver’ from our village to school every day. Our youth group meets every Friday night from September to May, and Chris and Deb are both youth group leaders.