Sunday, July 29, 2007
I loved seeing our students exchanging emails, phone numbers, etc. on the bus.
I loved hearing "Are we sitting together at church tonight?" in conversation.
I was humbled by "Thank you for taking me", and "Thank you for allowing me to go with you" from students.
I wasn't suprised by "Can I go now?" (You'll have that in every group...welcome to student ministry)
Thanks for following along on the blog. We hope to have the last of the photos up in a while. If you still want to follow along with our student ministry, and thoughts in general...
Friday, July 27, 2007
Education stops after what would we would consider our second year of high school.We painted the remaining home, ( a lovely color of green and light blue) with some outside brown as well. Also, some of our team ran electric which was no small task throughout the home. Another group moved the remaining items from Matt and Julie’s former living quarters to their new house. And some of our ladies finished their day helping sort all the donations and wrap birthday presents for the kids of Monontial who would hang out with us in the afternoon for a birthday/graduation party.
After lunch, “The CHILDREN ARE HERE!” was yelled across campus and it was time to play hard. The girls and boys swim individually so the ladies took first swim while the boys played soccer. We switched off a couple of times and had a blast. I got to help August on the grill cook the “red hot dogs”. It was hot, and I thought, “Why not serve by this flaming grill and cook food that I cannot eat?” (Character before comfort!)The kids were fed a feast of red hot dogs, nachos, jalepenos, cheetos, other hot condiments, lemonade, and one massive cupcake-cake-thing. Our students served each and every kid with a smile, a giggle, a “tee-hee” if you will. Then we handed out what would be these kid’s only birthday present that they would get, (since they literally have nobody but us). That was very special. Imagine Christmas morning….literally!
They ripped open their gifts with such joy and enthusiasm. I saw one of my friends open her new school jeans. I saw a young boy open his 5-car Matchbox set. Another boy had his new soccer video game.We gathered one last time with these kids and just spent a few moments praying. Our students prayed for us, and their kids prayed for us. We loaded them on the bus after many hugs and “I love you’s” and waved goodbye. We immediately got to cleaning up our party mess because soon it would be Market time and then….wait for it……mmmmm…..Taco’s Fede!
Instead of taking us into town like sheep to the slaughter, they set up market items and our kids bought some goods. I won’t reveal those goods in case someone back home is the recipient of those wonderful gifts. Then we loaded the bus with crazed anticipation for a ride downtown that has become “Lifeline Tradition” on the last night on campus…..wait for it…..mmmmm…Taco’s Fede.
We pulled into our spot, unloaded and sat down for a feast of feasts. I could hardly wait for DC to bite into a “Gringa” taco. We ate so much food that the heavens parted and a ray of light shined down upon where we sat. It was a great night at Taco's Fede.We got back to campus and had our devotional time down by the pool since all the other groups were already well into their time together.
We circled up our chairs and Ted shared with us not to forget our time in Mexico. After that, Stephen Smith had asked me before we had left if he could be baptized in Mexico. What a special moment for all of us to see that public display and declaration of faith. DC and I went with Stephen into the pool and baptized him as our team witnessed this special moment.After that, DC had us turn to John 13:1-5.
We had Katie read the passage about Jesus washing his disciples feet as DC and I would do the same with our team. It would be a highlight for all of us.
Friday was cleaning day on campus. Our team cleaned the entire boys and girls dorms, eating area, and helped pack up donations, dirty clothes, and scrubbed toilets! We had lunch and then packed up the bus and headed to Horsetail Falls. It is an amazing waterfall that the team gave a "double thumbs up" to. We loaded on the bus for a 2 hour trip to our hotel, unloaded again, and ate at Las Alitas, ("The Wings").
Our devotion time would conclude by the pool and after the prayer, it was time to jump in the pool fully clothed.
Hotel Security came out and asked to speak with me. They said pants in the pool would be dangerous. I asked where that was in the pool rules but got no response to that question. So now I'm finishing up my thoughts while 29 people are jammed into my hotel room flipping the channel, using Shea's new whip, and getting my bed wet because we just jumped in the pool. We are on the plane tomorrow at 10am and I'm going to end this and work on photos.Adios!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Today was a day of next steps for everyone. Our day was once again focused on the people of Cadereyta. For a warm-up (literally) we did a 5 hour concrete pour (2 concrete mixers going full out) of the new ministry building in the community. This was really special for us since we were one of the groups last year that started working on the foundation for the center. So, helping pour the concrete floor that will eventually hold many people worshiping God and experiencing His love - it was an honor today. That being said. . . whoa! it was HOT! I think that we were all chugging water just to try and keep up with how much was coming out. Part of our group loved on the kids during this time with piggy back rides, tickling games, flying kids in circles, and a random run-off-a-platform-into-our-arms game, which was a fan favorite!!
After we finished with the concrete work, we took the kids to a huge pool at a park, where we got to swim and just have fun for a few hours. It was amazing to be able to just hang with the kids and be a part of their joy. They were so happy to be playing with no worries. Then, we grilled some hot dogs for them and had a huge cookout. . . needless to say, they were ecstactic. . . it is such an honor to bring the love of Jesus to these kids - thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Seriously, you are a very real part of our experience, and we all have so much gratitdue for your participation. At the end of the cookout, we handed out back-packs full of school supplies for all the kids who had graduated from pre-school and 6th grade. . . what a joy! After we had said goodbye, we ended the day with a treat at the "Pollo Loco" ~ the crazy chicken. Yes, it was crazy good and hit the spot. What a great day!
Several of our students spoke of how real God felt today as they were broken physically, and leaned on Him for support. . . and guess what. . . He came through perfectly - He always does, He is a God who loves to save the day, and we were honored to be able to join in the adventure today! To GWedsod be the Glory.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
We knew from the beginning that today would be a little different. We did not have any work projects scheduled for today, at least, no work projects involving paint or concrete. . . but, trust me, much work was accomplished today. First, we went as a team to a ropes course, and tackled a few low elements. For example, we had to "try and get a piece of Noah's ark accross a river in order to bring amazing new biblical insights to the homeland." Of course to the average person it looked like a series of tire swings and a board, but no. . . - anyways, it was great to be able to figure it out, get through the frustrations that come with teamwork, and learn new ways of encouraging each other. There were so many parallels to us as one body in Christ, where together, we can accomplish things that we could never do alone. I think that we all got a pretty close look at ourselves and specifically, how we all can affect one another for good or bad. After a few more low elements we went to the LEAP. . . OF. . . FAITH ~ which was a pedastal in a tree about 35 - 40 feet in the air, where you would jump off, yes jump off. . . and try and reach a trapeze bar hanging from a different branch. . . yep. . . I think that we all took a step today - thanks Antonio (our guide) for helping us through everything!
Then the fun really began! We were paired up with one or two kids from Manantial De Amor that we would be "buddies" for the next 4 hours. We were going to a place that would blow us all away - it seriously had everything that a kid (or overgrown kids - us) would want. We started by going on a Safari ride with all of our kids. The animals were AWESOME - zebras, water buffalo, deer things, mules, monkeys, camels, llamas, giraffes, elephants, and a bunch of other aniimals that seemed to be a combination of about 4 different animals - let's just say, God IS very creative. Most of them came right up to the open air bus that we were on and ate grain out of our hands!!! Crazy - I think our students and adult leaders were just as juiced as the kids were (at least from what I can tell from the screaming and cat-like reflexes). And yes, in case you were wondering, the tongue of a water buffalo does tickle a little in the palm of your hand. After the ride, we had an hour or so to just go around with our buddy anywhere they wanted to in the park. There were water slides, splash pools, tons of playground things, a huge steel cable rope bridge that some adult leaders (ok. . . DC and I) decided to shake, which "enabled" the kids to fall off into the water to cool off :). There were zip lines for all ages of kids, a cactus garden, eating areas, seal shows, etc. . . I think you get the point - AMAZING. Eventually, we got around to eating dinner, after we decided to move the game of BUCK BUCK to the international stage! The HAMburgers (burgers in Mexico have slice of ham on top with guacomole and a tomato) were delightful. We said goodbye to the kids. . . at least until Thursday. . . knowing that with every smile and laugh that we all had together, Christ was smiling on us, and the kids, were able to feel love, true authentic love - the way it was meant to be. To God be the glory.
Kyle Dewitt and myself have had the pleasure to be nailed with a flu bug today. Apparently last week, 13 students got sick, and some of the staff...now its our turn. I was in tears this morning because we have to stay back. I'm not kidding you-this team is amazing and when you miss a day of it....bummer.
The team is at a ropes course this morning and then later on they will host some kids at a zoo, (where the animals run free apparently!) 2 people have told me that there is no way you would see what is at this park in America. I hope they have a great day. The weather is perfect. I just peaked out for a moment but I'm going back to bed.
DC is our video/picture guy today so hopefully we'll have some photos for you later.
If you could please pray for us...we have a couple of huge days left and we don't plan on spending it on our backs or hugging a toilet.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I always sleep goofy in Monterrey. I toss and turn and then its morning. I love the mornings though because there is so much time to eat breakfast, read my bible, read my book, pray, and polish that off with some small group time.
I’m in a small group with Brad, Steve, and Nate. I’m on chapter 2 of my book “7 Things You Should Have Nailed Down before All Hell Breaks Loose”. After our small group time we loaded up the shuttles and headed to the Cadarayta.
The Cadarayta is a neighborhood of squatters who were placed there by the government. The houses, (if you would call them that) are cement blocks. There is no running water, electricity, or any kind of health facility…yet.
It looks like the neighborhood is getting bigger since I was here, and it looks like electricity might be on the way. DC entered someone’s home and saw a small tv hooked up to 2 car batteries. A new added obstacle would be the rain which has turned the streets into pure mud. Thick mud that truly illustrates that these folks are just plain stuck.
A group of us walked from house to house inviting guests to our makeshift church service with Pastor Jose, and after that we would feed them lunch. I’m proud of Allison Reynolds, because she took a chance and invited folks while August the intern whispered her the correct Spanish to speak to them.
Another group started making lunch. Lots of lunch. We were estimating feeding 300, so it was ham, cheese, bread, watermelon, and water for our friends. When the group who had done the inviting returned, they began playing with a good handful of kids just standing around. A lot of piggie-back rides were happening at that time. Another group of guys started digging in the foundation of the community center that is slowly erecting in the Cadarayta thanks to Back2Back. We will be pouring cement there later in the week.
So “church” started with some songs, some prayer and an encouraging word from Pastor Jose. Then lunchtime hit. The whole team helped with feeding everyone. There was very little pushing and shoving. Actually, the students were surprised at how polite everyone was.
Before we left, I grabbed DC, Ted, Nate, and Colin and we prayed for Pastor Jose. He was feeling very discouraged, and needed a renewing of Jesus inside of him and his wife. That was a moment for us as we prayed. Later on, Jose would tell us that he didn’t know a word we said but knew it was powerful, knew that we were connected, and felt like he was given the “strength of a buffalo!” I would be thanked later by those students for letting them be a part of that prayer.
We finished that project, cleaned up our mess, and headed to Momma Connie’s house. She and her husband Chewie run a home, (when at full capacity-42 kids!) My first summer here in 2004, we came to Momma Connie’s house to dig some foundation, paint, clean, and then pour a cement roof addition. We came in 2005 to put some type of weather sealant-goo on her roof, paint, clean, and play with kids. It had been 2 years since I had since the kid’s home, but we spent time with Momma Connie last summer.
A handful of jobs needed to be done before we left. A new patio would be poured, doors and cabinets would be painted, along with the ceiling. And of course, there were kids to play with.
Our first big speed bump was the cement mixer. It would not start. DC, and Ted were really trying to fire that thing up-but it wouldn’t budge. All the while, a pretty dark set of storm clouds were heading straight for us. I think God had an interesting afternoon planned for our team. We decided to mix the cement by hand and shovel, and that turned out to be a great experience for us. The storm clouds sort of when around us, but there was just enough rain to keep us cool and actually help out with the cement mixing.
We had a blast mixing, digging, mixing, talking, joking around, and carrying it with a wheelbarrow to the patio. When we got done, it stopped raining. (Funny how that works.) We cleaned the site, and then gathered to pray for Momma Connie and Chewie. We said our goodbyes and it was back to the shuttle for an hour ride back to campus.
When we returned, dinner was waiting, followed by worship with Brandon from Oklahoma. (Remember the “Trenches” song anyone?) Then after a great debriefing of hearing “Jesus-sightings” and DC sharing with us 2nd Chronicles, (The battle is the Lord’s, not ours!) We went down to Matt and Julie’s new house, (just moved in!) to pray over them, the 3 new young men that would be living with them while they attended college and high school, and just celebrate a house built by God, funded by God, and blessed by God. (It’s a sweet house!)
DC is taking many photos, while I am staring through the view screen of the video camera. We took a tour through all the photos last night, so hopefully we can get those up sometime while we are here.
Today, its off to Monantial children’s home to work hard, and play hard. We will be there all day with projects and will return to campus tonight. We will be with all the boys today, (the girls home is separate). This home is actually run by Momma Connie’s daughter and son-in-law.
The team did phenomenal for day one. I’m not kidding, usually it’s a building vibe as the week continues, but this team came out of the gate ready to rock and they were terrific. You would be very, very proud of them and they way they are representing Jesus, GCC, you, and me.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
In one year the staff has doubled, the campus looks great, and there are 3 other church groups here with us this week. We had some dinner, and went through the ground rules of the week. Afterwards we made our way down to the hut and talked about Luke 18 for a bit.
I'm about to hit the bunk...DC is directly underneath me, and yes I did bring earplugs for him.
If you want to leave a comment for your students, please keep it encouraging, you can go ahead and leave out the "MISS YOU" comments, and I'll try to get it to them the best I can.
Tomorrow, we have church at the Cadarayta, and we will be feeding about 300 folks lunch. Then off to the Manantial children's home for some work and play. Adios amigos!
Friday, July 20, 2007
We are getting ready for the packing party for Monterrey, Mexico as we leave Saturday morning bright and early. I will try my best to consistantly update the blog throughout the week when time permits.
Thank you for your support through all this, and please remember to keep us in your prayers as the week progresses.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
This Sunday is another Mexico Team meeting from 3pm to 5pm at GCC. Here is what you are bringing...
- All of your signed paperwork
- Your passport
- Half of your money
- Your journal
Here is what we will have at the meeting...A person to put the stamp of approval on your official paperwork.
Something to think about...We would love to hear a 3 minute version of your SALVATION story, or maybe a 3 minute version of your BIG STEP story.
And last but not least...a journaling exercise from the BIBLE. BACK2BACK Ministries has sort of embraced Romans 12:1-2 as their summer scripture.
(The Message) So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Take a few moments to write about this verse, and what jumps out to you-what you resonate with-what convicts you, etc.
See you Sunday!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Just wanted to throw out several reminders to help you guys and gals out!
Next team meeting is in a couple weeks, Sunday July 1 from 3-5 pm at GCC.
All your forms are due at that meeting. Remember to get them notarized. We're working on having a notary here at that meeting.
Is your passport here yet? Remember to bring that to the next team meeting too!
Remember that$650 is due July 1st. We will have a report ready for you that will let you know where you are at and then the remainder of the trip will be due by July 21st, the date of the trip. If you have money that you've earned or have saved up for the trip, go ahead and turn it in by mailing it in with one of the pre-addressed labels or dropping it by the church with John Keim's/Student Missions on the envelope. It is best that you turn in all you have before the July 1st meeting to have the most accurate update.
Keep on working! Keep on raising support! Keep on praying! Keep on preparing! July 21st will be here before you know it!
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
It's this Saturday, (6/9) and we meet at GCC at 8am!
Hope to see you there!
It will be "Bueno"