lunes, 27 de diciembre de 2010

Sharing the Love of God in your own backyard.

We are blessed to have Ms. Ruby and Ms. Jessica as our teachers for our kids. Each year our teachers help our kids think beyond their lists for what they want for Christmas and think of others. This year the kids walked around our neighborhood sharing the story of Jesus through candy canes. With a spanish poem of the meaning of the candy cane and a few special gifts for some families that a few of us know, we went door to door to share with those in our own community. Our friend Norma helped us get our foot in the door as some people are actually afraid of Americans and trust can be difficult to develop. One women and her son with whom we spoke said that her son thought that all Americans try to kidnap Mexican children. Our visiting that day helped to break this belief.
Our teachers collected gifts for three young girls who lost their dad this year to muscular dystrophy. It was great to see the surprised look on the girls' and the mom's faces. Yajira and her family went to church with us a little in the Spring before her husband, Julio went down hill. He accepted Christ in the spring when his sister shared Christ with him. She has been a great encouragement to Yajira. The three girls are Fabiola 2 yo, Marisol ~ 6 y. o. and Judith ~8.y.o. The girls loved opening up their gifts and enjoyed seeing our kids. I'm praying for opportunities to come along this family more. We met a older boy in a wheelchair, Jorge. Jorge will be another opportunity to visit and show the love of Jesus with a neighbor. One of the pictures is of Obed. Obed is 11 and has downs syndrome. He lives in a house next to the house we are renting for the Clouses, a new family with Back2Back. We also had gifts for a mother and her adult daughter. Angela, another B2B staff, had been giving these two women rides as they have difficult traveling up and down the mountain of which we live. Sometimes in my life, I look beyond the obvious to try and find great things that God might have me involved in. When all the while God is putting things on my own front porch. God is opening my eyes to opportunities in my regular routine and in my own backyard. What might you be looking beyond?

Even with an uncertain future, Jesus always gives a reason to celebrate

On Dec 11th, Rio 1 soup kitchen celebrated Christmas. Rio 1 is a poor community, like many in Monterrey, where people have come to the big city to find a new life but find instead find themselves unable to make ends meet. They squat on government property found within 70 meters of the rivers and create a home out of what they can find. Since Hurricane Alex brought 40 inches of rain to Monterrey, areas like Rio 1 were threatened and some completely destroyed. The government is making efforts to move these people to different housing to avoid this from happening again. In the past when something like this has happened the government makes many promises and is slow to make good on them. As of August the government was telling Meme, the head of the soup kitchen, and the rest of those who live at Rio 1 that they had until the end of the year to relocate to government housing that would be offered to them. As of Dec. most people of Rio 1 believe it will be at least another 3-6 months before they will be force to leave. So this very well might be the last Christmas at Rio 1's soup kitchen.
This year, God brought together quite the celebration. A local church brought about 40-50 people and helped lead singing. Greg said they really rocked the house in a ranchero traditional Mexican Christian music kind of way. Huge speakers, drums, guitars, lots of clapping and praising God. The 80 kids enjoyed a great Sunday School class. Hope, Tere and so many great volunteers helped share the Christmas stories. Pastor Christopher gave a great sermon about everyone being invited to the wedding feast and the need to be prepared. Afterwards, Back2Back staff, and youth from the Hope Program did a skit of Jesus' birth and how he grew up to defeat evil. Many kids seemed to respond to the gospel and it will be exciting to see the follow up take place. With a donation of a generous donor all 160 enjoyed a great Pollo Loco meal, pinata, crafts and went home with a gift. God continues to provide opportunities to share the good news, great teaching for kids and adults, and a meal at least once a week, and chances to share life with the people at Rio 1.
As the year come to an end, find ourselves praying and listening to the Lord on what He might have for future ministry at Rio 1 or locally. Reluctantly, Meme has agreed to temporarily put the soup kitchen on hold over Christmas and New Year Saturdays. We are praying for rest for Meme and guidance on what God might have instore for the people at Rio 1 and the ministry He would have for Back2Back and Meme. Will you pray with us?

sábado, 11 de diciembre de 2010

Christmas Parties at Manantial de Amor

Recently, Cathy and I were able to travel to Villa de Juarez and Guadalupe to visit two of the casa hogars that B2B serves. This is where Greg is the B2B captain. These homes are collectively called Manantial de Amor (MDA) which means 'natural spring of love'. Altogether there are about 30 kids in the three locations that comprise this children's home.

With donations from some faithful MDA supporters, we were able to purchase pinatas (can't have a Christmas party in Mexico without a pinata!), Pollo Loco chicken (a local treat) and Domino's pizza. We were able to bring a personal gift for each child. Cathy shared the Christmas story and it was so fun to see the kids be as much into the story as they were about the rest of the party. They would scream out the answers to Cathy's leading questions, eager to share their knowledge of Jesus' birth. And of course, it was a joy to watch the kids open their gifts. We were even able to provide modest gifts for the caregivers. Tears came to my eyes as these kids realized that they had been remembered. I remember one boy triumphantly raising his gift over his head as if to show the world, "Look what I got!" It was a glorious day to share with these precious kids.

It reminded me of the meaning of Christmas. It is all about giving. The birth of Jesus is about God giving to the world what we most needed- a divine Savior, when no other could save us. It is about God giving us hope, love, peace and joy through our eternal salvation. It is about giving to others in love out of the excess love that we have received from our heavenly Father. May this Christmas be a season of realizing the true joy of giving for each one of us.

jueves, 25 de noviembre de 2010

Ever wonder if prayer really works?

Would you believe me if I told you I saw it first hand. When I was little my mom always read this book to me called "Wacky Wednesday". It was about just what the title said. This girl wakes up on Wednesday and everything is wierd. A shoe on her wall, etc. Well this day seemed to be forming a lot like a Wacky Wednesday except that it was Tuesday. First of all Tuesday was to be a big day to take a group to the Rio. We had planned a fun thanksgiving activity, make blankets with the women, play with kids. It had the makings of a great day. Until, I woke up extremely depressed. I had cried maybe three times in front of my boys that morning. Something I try not to do, especially because one of mine is especially sensitive and worries all day about me if I do. As I mustard enough gumption to go to our morning meeting and ask for prayer. I come to find out two other staff are feeling under the weather. Hope especially feeling nauseous and weak. I was too whimpy to ask the question if she thought she should stay home. Since I was without a husband for the week (he was in Ohio), I had decided to drive separately so that I could drive home early to take care of my boys. We decided that if Hope didn't feel better or in fact felt worse that she would come home with me. We had decided to take the group 1/2 hour early and as that time came, the bus to take us had yet to arrive. Feeling like all of this wasn't a coincidence Hope had asked a group that was praying for the ministry that morning to pray especially for us.
As we pulled out, I was still asking the Lord to not just get us through the day (even though that was how I was feeling) but that He would give us strength for whatever He'd have us do. As I drove alone I was talking with God and these seemed "normal". Then we hit traffic and we slowed down. I remember thinking great, now we are going to be late. As we clear the traffic, I see a car come up in the fast left lane next to the bus who is in the middle lane and I am behind the bus. This car speeds by and almost rams into the bus. Right before it does, the driver over corrects and hits the guardrail and sends it to the middle lane passing behind the bus and in front of me. By the time I pass the car it is off the right side of the road and miraculously doesn't end up hitting anyone. I prayed for the driver as it was a little more than a fender bender but by no means did anyone seemed hurt. We continue on. I remember praising God instantly. Not only could that have been bad (mainly for the other car, driver and any passengers), it would have delayed our day considerably waiting on the police and insurance to come investigate the accident. Answer to prayer number one-that He protects us all from harm or satan's tactics.
So we get to the Rio and Meme shares and it touches more than one person in the group. Answer number 2- God's work by done. We go to invite the people and one in our group is bit by a dog. Mindy, another B2B staff, is able to walk her back to the soup kitchen and attend to her. She is also a trained first responder. Answer 3
As Antonio shares in Phil God reveals to a group member through a conversation that there is a woman from the Rio who lost her home in a fire three days before. The group lays hands on her and prays for God's comfort and provision for her. Moments later the group makes a blanket with the women there and Silvia takes home a blanket. Answer4 Hope, Meme, Antonio also share prayer requests and the group prays.
I am convinced Satan had his plan to keep Hope home sick, me home sad, Antonio home with his sick daughter, Mindy thinking she is too new to do anything. He wanted to take the group member down with a dog bite, and delay us with a car accident. But God stepped in the way. With somethings he didn't allow them to happen. With other things He gave us strength to endure and walk through them. Our God is bigger. He wants us to pray. " The prayer of a righteous man is powerful." I believe it do you.

What do we do with our sadness.......

I've been struggling with something recently and I don't think I'm alone. What do I do with my sadness? We live in a culture that has the saying " Don't worry Be Happy". My first response when someone is sad is feel bad for them. I call it compassion instead of pity but truly its not super comfortable and I want to get rid of it. Not really sure if its for their sake or for mine. So when I'm sad, I really struggle. I have thoughts of embarrassment not wanting to share it for many reasons really. I used to think that sadness and heaven forbid depression didn't have a place in a Christians life. Cause truly with Christ how could you be sad? Yeah, that is false. We live in a fallen world. We suffer from the results of sin. We all have times of sadness. It is a part of life. I hope I'm not sounding like a Debbie Downer. So what do we do with it?
Most of my life, I have been hiding from it. Let it build up than as it comes flooding out feel embarrassed like someone caught me with my pants down. Exposing something I was sure no one was to see. Here in Mexico I've experienced a different approach to handling sadness. I'm not sure if its cultural, or these people's personality, or their faith. But a few of my friends here handle there sadness in an honest and open way. They are vulnerable and open asking for prayer. Sometimes in a Bible Study, sometimes popping up at my house just for prayer and sharing sadness. As we pray I see a change in their countenance. I see the faith of knowing prayer is the remedy for their sadness. After we pray, sometime I do see relief from their pain and other times I just see hope amidst their pain.
Recently I have been hurting, grieving over the health of my mom. Last tuesday was particularly difficult as it was my Mother's birthday. I had a full day of ministry ahead of me and quite frankly I didn't even want to get out of bed. As I struggled with my sadness and the embarking embarrassment of sharing it with my co-workers, I knew I had to do something less I find myself bawling at what seemed like nothing. After much prayer, God urged me to go to my morning meeting and ask the Lord for prayer. Through more tears and embarrassment to not even want to look them in the eyes, I asked for prayer. I want to say that the Lord lifted my hurt and I am free from the pain, but I would be lying. Instead the Lord gifted my with the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The peace that allowed me to continue walking in the path that the Lord would have for me that day. The path to accomplish what He wanted in his strength. My three co workers surrounded me and lifted me up that morning and Christ peace ruled in my heart.
" Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil 4 :6

Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS......

Some leaves with things for which we are thankful "thankful for food, our families,,,,,,"
As Antonio, a fellow staff at B2B, shared at Rio 1 during a thanksgiving teaching, it really hit me. He was reading Philippians 4. "Rejoice in the Lord always". It was as if these word echoed in my mind. He was stressing the other part of the scripture to lift our prayers up with thanksgiving. That's another difficult thing, but I couldn't get past rejoice always. Really it started thinking about me. This year has been tough and I have felt many times that I didn't feel close to rejoicing. Then my mind went to another. You see I was sitting near a women, Siliva, whose house had burnt down three days before. She lives a life of bad choices but she chose to come hear God's word today. Today of all days, this is what the Lord had for her? Rejoice? As I reflect more on this I realize that this is what He had for me. I was forced to look at the scripture again. Phil 4 says Rejoice in the LORD always. Rejoice in the LORD, not in my circumstances. With the Lord in mind I can ask for what I need with thanksgiving that HE is big enough to do it. Thanksgiving that He is here with me. Thanksgiving that He hears me. Because of who Jesus is, I can rejoice always and can share this hope with my friend who hurt as she lost her home and everything they owed.
The cool thing is what God had for me and for Silvia. We had the opportunity to be grateful amidst our pain by focusing on the Lord and what He has given us. Then as the Lord would have it we made blankets and Silvia went home with something warm. I'm excited to see with what else the Lord will bless Silvia. Because of who He is, He is worthy of our rejoicing.

martes, 16 de noviembre de 2010

Continued pursuit of Independence

What if there was few expectations placed on you? Do you think you'd rise up to something better? Milagros has had hearing disability since around the time she was born. The plans from her parents were to take care of her until she was 18 years old then pray that some boy wanted to marry her to care for her. God had other plans. God put in Milagros heart a love for Him, a love for children and a desire to want more out of life. Through connections ordained by God, Milagros has had the opportunity to receive a year of learning sign language and is this spring planning on finishing beauty school. Will you pray with me for her? She is needing independence training to live alone or with others for assistance. There aren't many opportunities for her here. Pray that we are able to find a place where she can learn what she needs to become independent and be safe with her environment. The picture above is her coloring my hair. Anyone who knows me, knows I never have colored my hair. Only for her would I do such a thing. She indeed is inspiring.

domingo, 7 de noviembre de 2010

He heals the broken hearted and sets the captives free

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning and
a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61:1-3
These days it seems that the news isn't doing Mexico's image any favors. The truth is things are happening here, however the things that have brought us to serve here in Mexico still stands strong in our hearts. God continues to call us here to Monterrey, Mexico to preach the good news, to serve the orphan child and widow. Above are just two of the many kids that we serve. The obstacles they are facing are daunting some times -the hurt of being abandoned, the affects of attachment disorders, stunted physical growth or developmental delays. Although overwhelming for us to attempt to help, Jesus can heal it all. We are learning that we can try and help in our flesh the child in the children's home or the family in a poverty stricken community. However the best we can do is lead them to the One who can heal the broken hearted and sets the captives free.
So the next time you hear a news story about Mexico, would you take time out and pray for those who are hurting. pray for those who need to hear the good news. Pray for us too, that we would follow His leading in our lives to serve Him here in Mexico. Pray for the workers in the homes, the soup kitchens and churches in which we serve in Monterrey, Mexico.

jueves, 4 de noviembre de 2010

Spur one another on in love and good deeds...

This is what the women's group from Hope Church did while they were here a few weeks ago. They did so much in just a few short day. You will see them in the photos above cooking for one of our teen home moms, Mandy. You will see them praying over her after the morning work was over. They actually cooked, baked, cleaned for many of our staff. One photo shows them getting gifts ready for each worker in the homes they visited. They cooked meals for some of the children's homes, taught a practical craft of rug or pot holders to women in a poor community, prayed with a home full of preteen and teen aged girls. They even pampered us women with pedicures, messages and prayer. We were spurred on by this group of women. Thanks Hope Church.

Fall Festival Pics

Last week we had a great fall festival party, with a hayride in "Pearl" around the neighborhood, fun games, bon fire, great fellowship with everybody. I just wanted to share the pictures with everyone.

Saying thanks for working so hard for the Lord

One day as I was talking with Meme, she mentioned to me how she really didn't know the city that well. Even though she had lived in Monterrey a good part of her life, that she had never been downtown. She had either stayed in her community or traveled to work and back. That's when I had an idea to take her and her family to a park downtown. As I spoke with Hope, another staff from B2B who works with me at Rio 1, she asked if we could take Meme and Anita and their families since they both have been consistent workers at the soup kitchen for so long. Over the summer, one church gave Meme money to do something just for her. We used a little of this to make this fun outing happen. Sooo, last Sunday we took Meme's 9 (2 adult kids, spouses and grandchildren, and Anita's 3 and headed to Parque Fundidora. We took a picnic, and ate while the kids enjoyed the playground and then all went on a boat ride. It was such a blessing. I loved watching the kids play and marvel as we traveled down the canal in the tour boat. I loved hearing the laughing in my car. It was fun to eat chicken and tease with one another. And at the end of the day, they gave back to us as Hope and I both got to take a horseback ride as Angel, Meme's son helped us. What a great day.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.........Monster Trucks

If someone said your first Monster Truck experience would be in Monterrey, Mexico, I would have laughed but its true. Greg, myself and our boys joined about about 10 teens and a hand full of staff to go see Monster Truck in a university baseball across town. I was really reluctant to go, however I found that there is something exciting about a big truck crushing little cars lined up after big dirt ramps. The noise of the engines, the fresh smell of dirt in the air , or the visual of crushing metal. It was fun to see the boys get into it as well. I never thought I'd say this but Praise God for Monster Trucks.

martes, 12 de octubre de 2010

I love when a good plan comes together.....

Recently Greg has been trying to be more creative with his field trips and days with the groups and his children's home that he works with. Recently he took a group of Americans and teens from Manantial de Amor to Chipinque Park. He decided that they would do a scavenger hunt complete with English/Spanish and pictures of what they were to find or take a picture of. It went so well. The teams of group adult and teen were really working together and seemingly having so much fun in the process. Its great to see my husband us his creative side. I thought you'd enjoy the pictures too. This park has great places to hike.

Kids have so much fun with the simplest things....

Here are our kids with their friends at Chipinque a park not to far from our house. They have these cement slides at the top. We all enjoyed a great day of hiking and afterwards played on these slides.

miércoles, 15 de septiembre de 2010

Holding On......sometimes ends in a mess

This is Marcos. Recently we blew bubbles together. I purposely held the bubbles so they wouldn't spill. After just a short bit it became quite apparent that he wanted to hold the bubbles. I started out with a simple "No". However our struggle grew and I realized this little guy was quite determined. So I began my explanation of what could happen if I gave him the bubble bottle. He seemed unimpressed and kept fighting me for the bubbles. As stubborn as I can be, I finally caved and let him have the bubbles and just like I expected he spilled the bubbles all down the front of his shirt as the bottle fell to the ground spilling out on the ground around it.
Later that night God brought this back to my memory. As I recalled the sequence of events, He spoke these truths to my heart. Often I am like Marcos, wanting so badly to hold onto a situation, a relationship, control over my loved ones, a career, whatever it may be. As long as it is in the Lord's hands, I can dip my wand in the bubbles and enjoy. However the moment I grab things back and take control things begin to get messy. I find if I try and manipulate the situation around me when I know God is wanting differently things get messy. I've seen it in my teen years when I wanted a relationship to last longer even after God told me to let it go, or when I thought I knew making more money would make me happier and it didn't, and now wishing things were different with my mom and not wanting to feel the hurt. God wants differently. He wants to be in control and asks me to trust. Who's holding the bubbles in your life?

Taking someone along.....

Last week I found myself going to a children's home and God put it on my heart to ask Alonna to come with me. Alonna is 11 and just moved here with her family from North Carolina. I was impressed with how quickly she spoke the spanish she knew. First we helped one girl with her math multiplication table, then we moved to playing with the little ones. Bubbles, swings, games. We had a lot of fun. As I thought about our time I realized one general truth.........
"Ministry is so much more fun with someone else." I used to be afraid of doing ministry with others. I think its because I put way too much pressure on myself to "know it all" or have all the right answers or make sure I was not showing my weaknesses. Recently God has taught me alot about sharing ministry experiences with sometimes finding myself learning from others and sometimes God using me to teach others. I have been reading a lot about the early church these days and how Paul always seemed to have someone with him or send others to the places he had been. I am learning how God wants to use us all together to do His work. All the parts coming together to work towards the common goal of bringing others to Him and glorfying Him.

The blessing of being remembered......

This week I had the opportunity to pass on letters, photos and small gifts to some kids at a children's home near our apartment. The first boy is all of four years old and is cute as can be. I showed him the letter from my friend that had his photo with her on it. He is too little to read and especially not english. But as soon as he saw the photo he smiled and pointed at my friend. As I asked if he remembered her, he grinned from ear to ear and said yes. He listened intently as I attempted to translate the letter. He couldn't have been happier. As he sat there holding the letter, his face reflected contentment on being remembered. After some pictures and a quick video of him saying "tank you and I luv you", with a little coaching from Caroline, another B2B staff, I went to find a little girl for whom I also had things.
This girl is older, I'm guessing 8 or so. As we find her, I pull out the things another friend gave me to give to her. This included a photo album with the girl and my friend and my friend's family. She thumbed through the pages, her smile growing with every turn. She had very few words but as she walked off, she headed straight for her friends to tell them that she had been remembered. What a powerful witness to a child at a children's home. God loves you so much that He sent someone to play with you for a day, couple of days, a week. Then a time much later you receive word from them. They remembered you. Its a message that you are special. Its a message that you are loved. It's the message of Jesus Christ offers to all of us as we face what we deserve death, but He says you I remembered as I died on the cross for you and rose again so that you can live with me now and forever. I remembered you.....