Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Mexi-Blog pt. 8- A story of God's love.

I don’t know how to put into words what I’m feeling right now, but I know that writing will help me process my thoughts, so if any of this sounds disjointed please understand that right now I am completely broken, and trying to make sense of everything that is going on. I keep seeing their faces in my head. Their big brown eyes staring up at me. The eyes of children who had nothing. When I close my eyes I can see myself walking up to their trailer for the first time, although trailer doesn’t give a very good picture of what I’m looking at. This thing I’m looking at used to be a camper that went on the back of a pickup truck maybe 25-30 years ago. I don’t know where it’s been, but I know where it is now, in the middle of a plot of land no bigger than my hotel room or the foyer of the church I attend. There are a couple of crates outside with a few chickens running around in and around them. And there is a boy there. About one year old, he’s walking around in their yard and his four and five year old sister’s are watching him. I walk towards him and he looks startled. I try to comfort him by saying hello and bending down to talk to him, but he just stares at me. When I hold my arms out to him he starts to whimper, so I back off. I hold his hand and lead him back toward the house, so he can see his mom and know that everything will be alright. But inside me I’m concerned, because I don’t know if it will be. As we’re walking I see a sheetrock screw on the ground, so I bend down to pick it up. This is when I see the house for the first time. The first thing I notice is the size. This trailer was intended to house a few people for a few days at a time, not an entire family. They have somehow cut out the part of the floor where it extends over the truck in order to put a full size mattress on the floor of their ”house.” A couple pieces of plywood have been fastened in place to make the remaining space.

As I write this I’m also printing pictures off for our VBS tomorrow. It brings a little relief to my mind by giving me something else to focus on for a second. However I hesitate to look too far down the page, because I know that their pictures will be there.

Their house was an area maybe the size of my bathroom, and yet housed 6 people. In addition to the small bed for the parents, there were a few blankets on the ground for the kids to sleep on. I see one pot on the wall, and a single burner from a camping cook stove was their only way to cook. There are a few potatoes and some rice in one corner, and a single light hung from overhead. In the middle of the floor was the mom, holding her new little girl.

The baby was so precious, just a tiny little thing, probably about 5 pounds. She had such small features. Every once in a while she would try and open her eyes and stir just a little bit. And her mom knelt, holding her inside this tiny little shack that they called a home. I wonder what she was thinking when she got pregnant again. Was she happy when she found out? They don’t have enough to sustain the two of them, much less any children, much less four. One of the members of our team would point out later that the whole situation made them feel hopeless, because their was so much need it was impossible to know where to start. Another would later comment that this family wasn’t living, they were just surviving. How could she feel anything but hopeless knowing that they were already stretched to the breaking point, and now they have another mouth to feed. What will they do and how will they manage to exist?

Yet I also wonder if there was a glimmer of joy. I wonder if once the cloud of worry passed she thought about holding her baby for the first time, and the child’s first words, first steps and everything that comes with a baby. When I started my computer up I saw a picture of my daughter, she was holding an easter basket and dancing around with the biggest smile on her face. I know that everyone in this world does the best they can with the resources they have available to them. I know that this family will dance and laugh, play games and wrestle. I know that there will be many celebrations and many tears. I know there will be good times and bad times. Together they will experience all that their life has to offer, and that gives me some comfort.

I want to just end this blog right there, on a good note, but I’m reminded of something the interpreters said to me and a testimony that I want to share. Our interpreters grew up where this lady lives. One of them told me that he was that little boy, that he ran around bare foot in the dirt. He had to haul buckets of water from some distance away and he had to boil water so he could take a warm shower. His dad ended up crossing into the US illegally in order to provide a better life for his family, and once there he was able to get a good enough start to be able to provide for his family. Puts a whole different spin on the immigration problem for me.

The testimony I wanted to share is not an end for this family, but it’s a beginning. During the day on Tuesday, June 19th. Tiffanney and I were sitting at home preparing to leave for Mexico when we heard a knock at the door. We walked over to see who it was and there was a lady standing there who we’ve maybe seen a couple of times. She told us that she had heard of our missions trip and wanted to donate some things for the trip. I remember talking to Tiffanney after she closed the door and wondering how we were going to distribute infant formula. You really have to be in the right place at the right time in order to find someone who has a need for it. The thing that keeps echoing in my head is that God loved this lady so much that she inspired someone to bring us formula so that the same day her baby was born she could have formula and give her baby the nutrition she so badly needs.

I’m amazed that God thinks that much of us to orchestrate this whole situation.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Mexi-blog pt. 6- Why I love Missions Trips

Why I love Missions Trips

Here is a list, in no particular order, of why I love to go on Missions Trips:

1) Comfort Zone. Going on a missions trip forces you to step out of your box, get away from what is familiar and raise your game to the next level. You can’t stay comfortable on a missions trip. Even driving in a van for 24 hours helps to lower your defenses and give people more of a chance to see the real you, whether they want to or not.

2) Fatigue. There is a point that everyone going on a missions trip reaches, a point where they no they can’t go on any longer. When they realize that God is going to have to come through for them and strengthen them, because in their own strength they would fail. I had a small measure of that experience tonight, as I was praying for people around the altars there were several times that I wanted to stop, and even a couple of times that I did, and yet God kept picking me up and getting me back in there.

3) Desperation. It’s interesting to see how people handle this, but I know that everyone on a trip realizes that the job is too big for them. There are too many people to minister to, too many lives to impact. The city is too big and there’s too much going on. When students see this they (1) begin to rely on God and (2) believe God to make an impact back at home.

4) Tortas. I don’t know why people back home haven’t picked up on this yet, but tortas might just be the world’s most perfect food. First of all it’s simple, just some carne asada meat on something similar to a hamburger bun with some beans, salsa, and guacamole, but there’s just something about this combination that brings heaven down to Earth. You literally hear a chorus of angels singing every time you take a bite. Secondly, there only two bucks depending on where you go, and they’re an entire meal. Just amazing. I’m tearing up just thinking about it

5) Compassion. I think Andrea summed it up best tonight when she said that God showed her that she needed to look at other people more and love them, not just look at herself and what she can gain. Tiffanney noted that a lot of people go their whole lives without hearing the message that life isn’t about me. It’s about what we can give to others. Love God and love our neighbors, that’s what Jesus wants out of us.

6) Weight loss. It hasn’t happened yet, but a breakfast consisting of a sandwich and a bag of chips, combined with all of the exercise we’re doing, should lead to some pretty good looking bodies when we’re all said and done.

7) Curveballs. It doesn’t take much to crush a fastball out of the park, but curveballs have been fooling people for years. It doesn’t matter how well we prepare for a trip, there’s going to be something that goes wrong. And we love it. We thrive on adversity. We strive for perfection, but understand our limits and pitfalls.

8) Bonding. The is a side effect of a 24 hour van ride, but you get a lot closer with everyone on the trip. There’s also something to be said for experiencing the presence of God is a powerful way with a group of your friends. God uses things like this to draw us closer together and into His presence.

We met our Pastor tonight. God is really looking out for us and putting us in a great church and a great situation. We are so pumped to see what God is going to do tomorrow and for the rest of the week.

I'll be adding more thoughts as the week progresses so check back often.


Update: This was written Saturday night after the prayer meeting, but I didn’t get a chance to post it until Sunday night.

The Mexi-blog pt. 5- Our first day at our host church

Today was our first day at our host church. To give you an idea of how it went, I turned to a newbie and a veteran from our group and decided to ask them some questions.

Me: I want you to think back to when we first arrived at our church, what were you thinking?

Newbie: It was really little...

Veteran: I spent a lot of time comparing this years church and last years. This years church is nice, and so was last years. They were both very loving and compassionate.

M: What did you think of the church service?

N: It was moving.

V: I liked it.

V: I like their food too.

M: Did you guys feel at all weird during worship?

N: When we walked in a lot of people stopped and looked at us, it was kinda scary.

V: I tried the best I could to sing a long, but all the songs were in spanish.

Me: How did you like when they asked you to come and introduce yourself in front of the church?

N: I felt uncomfortable because I lost my voice.

V: I didn't mind it, because the church was small, except that I didn't really know what to say and I don't really like being in front of people. I mean, I'm still getting used to being in front of people, last year was the worst, after the first couple of words I was already sweating.

N: The pastor was really energetic.

N: I really like last night's service too, you should write something about that.

Me: Okay, what did you think of last night's service?

V: Oh my gosh...

N: Last night's service was probably the best service I've ever been to. With all the people crying and Alicia getting baptised in the Holy Spirit.

V: There were a lot of people who were slain in the spirit too. I don't think I've ever seen that many people slain in the spirit before.

V: There were a lot of people at the altar.

Me: I think most of the people in the church went up there.

N: There were a few people who stayed back, but they were still praying. Everyone was involved in the service.

Me: Okay, well I think I'm going to cut this off for tonight, but we can do this again tomorrow if you want.

V: Oh, you should write about the guy in the red shirt with the poofy hair who was going around laying hands on people. I think that was the best part of the service.

V: When God spoke through Abraham Perez to the guy with the poofy hair and prophesied over him, and then he went through and prayed for people and many were slain in the Holy spirit.

Me: Okay we really need to cut this off now. So Everyone say good night.

Everyone: Good night!!!


Friday, June 22, 2007

The Mexi-Blog pt4- Finally in Mexico!!!

It's 11:45pm and I just figured out how to get online here at our hotel. We had a good travel day today and went to a pretty cool concert tonight. I'll post more tomorrow in between training sessions.

I did want to share something that God spoke to me last night as I was praying over the students and trip while they were sleeping. God reminded me that walking with Him is simple. Ecclesiastes tells us that the whole duty of man is to fear God and follow His commands. Jesus told us that we need to Love God first and love our neighbor as ourselves. God isn't asking us to do anything hard, just to love and follow Him. I shared with the students that if they can remember just to love people that everything else will fall into place.

Well I'm tired, I'll post more tomorrow,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mexi-blog pt3

Thursday June 21st at 1:40pm

Just finished lunch at the Green Burrito and now we’re back for a quick one hour jaunt down to Kingsburg, our resting place for tonight. I can’t wait to change into shorts! I don’t know the temperature down here, but it’s a lot warmer than home.

Somehow we keep missing all of the sub 3 dollar gas stations, and have to fill up at the $3.20 ones. Earlier today we missed a gas station by three blocks. We filled up, turned the corner and were staring at gas $.30 cheaper than what we had just paid. The good news though is that we thought we’d be paying $3.50 a gallon and getting 10 miles to the gallon. We’re getting about 12 mpg. So far we’ve driven over 800 miles and everyone is really toughing it out. I don’t think I’ve heard much complaining at all!

With nothing else to add about the trip (how many different way can you write “Still in the van”), … Wait, I just found out that we’re only 10 miles from Kingsburg! We could be there by two! I’m so excited, I’m wigging out in here. In Kingsburg we’ll be doing some additional practice, but mostly just spending some time getting to know each other better. Tiff and I have some ideas for things we’re gonna do. 4 MILES TO GO!!! I’ll post more later tonight.

Pastor Jeff ;-)

Mexi-Blog pt 2 Driving and more driving

Travel Days

Thursday June 21st at 9:18am

On the road again…That’s been our anthem for the trip so far. We’ve been traveling for about 12 hours now! As I write this we just passed the town of Arbuckle, about an hour north of Sacramento. In addition to talking about the “Bare Necessities”, child birth and delicate fountains we spent some time at a rest stop this morning and after breakfast we had a devotion from one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew 10: 5-8. We talked about how Jesus sent His disciples out into their mission field after He had prepared them, and then we talked about the similarities to the trip we’re on right now. Also we know that God equips the called, and in this passage Jesus talks about some of the miracles that His disciples would see out there on the road. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone in order to see the power of God working in our lives. In fact, I would say almost all of the time that’s true.

So far it’s been a great trip. Everyone’s been VERY mellow! This picture is one that I took while writing this blog.

Well, I gotta drive now, so I’m gonna get going, but make sure and check back later to see the update on our progress. Also make sure and bookmark this page so you can get updates all week long. Lastly, if you have a message for the students, you can leave a comment here and I’ll make sure they get it.

Pastor Jeff ;-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Mexi-blog pt1

Ever since last year in Mexico, when I discovered they had internet access down there, I've dreamed of writing a blog to let everyone know what's going on and how to pray for us while we're gone. I'm experimenting with this and so we might not get everything done, but my goal is to post stories, comments from students, video clips and more, all from while we're on the road. If I have a hard time getting internet access while in Mexico I'll keep writing, but stuff might not get posted until Friday afternoon. So check back often, bookmark this site and make sure and write words of encouragement to us in the comment box!


PS: We are leaving on Wednesday June 20th at 8:30 pm. Expect the first update sometime around 1 pm on Thursday June 21st.

Update: We'll be having breakfast at a rest stop on Thursday, so I won't be at a place with internet access probably until noonish.