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.