Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Change in Plans

Our internship class was supposed to go to New York this weekend to participate in ministry and outreach. Personally, our plans to join them fell through. We just didn't have the finances.

We were disappointed, but God has all things in control, and we were at peace about it.

The trip ended up being canceled due to other interns not being able to go as well.

God has opened up another door that we are VERY excited about!! Next weekend our class will be going to Washington D.C.!! These times together help us about team building and relationships,which are so important for missionary life! We are so excited that we will be able to participate.

While there, we will be spending time ministering in churches and communities, and most importantly, praying for our Nation. We may even have an opportunity to join the ministry Bound 4 Life in a time of prayer.

Please pray for us this coming weekend that God will teach us what we need to learn, and that He will use us to minister according to His will.

Please pray also for protection and traveling mercies. (Our team will be driving, its about 6-7 hours away.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amor por Juarez

We are back in the wonderful US of A! God is so good, and we had an amazing time in Mexico.

Before I post my daily journal, I want to tell you about the wonderful missionaries we worked with. We had the most unique mixture of people.

There are two missionary families associated with WOC that are working in Juarez.

The first is Randall and Tina. A family of seven from the USA, and fellow college alumni. They live in El Paso, and go into Juarez to help in the orphanages. They are doing a great work, and opened our eyes to the giant needs in the Mexico orphanages. Our time of fellowship with them was encouraging to us and our children. We are blessed to have made this connection.

The second is Rita and Leo and their two children. Rita and Leo were missionaries in Italy for eleven years before coming to Mexico. Rita is from England and Leo is from Italy. Their testimony and the story of their journey to Mexico is smothered with the grace and provision of God. It challenge our faith and gave us hope at the same time!

The love that Leo and Rita have for Jesus and the passion they have to share that love with the people of Mexico is deeper and richer than words can describe. I want to go back to Juarez if just to fellowship and learn from them!

Our kids fell in love with their kids. Our kids had so much fun playing together that they didn't want to come home!
Thirdly, we were hosted by a group of Mennonites from Canada (Frank, Liz and Emil). They have been coming to Mexico twice or more a year for eight years to build houses for the locals. They have built a beautiful out reach center that is ready to house teams and be used to reach the community with the love of Jesus.

They took very good care of us. I have never eaten so well on a mission trip in my whole life! Liz is an AMAZING cook! This group dear group of Believers are some of the kindest and most generous people I have met.

On top of the unique mix of missionaries, we have our unique team, which consists of North Westerners, New Yorkers, Southern Bells, and a German.

God, in His infinite wisdom and love brought us all together for a moment in time to share His love and salvation with the residents of Zone 29 in the city of Juarez in country of Mexico. My mind boggles at the greatness of His love and the lengths He will go to touch an individual and change their lives forever.

Thank you all for praying for us. Thank you for being apart of the process of bringing His love to Juarez. We will together share the rewards from this week.

While we were there, we saw no evidence of violence. We heard of one episode, but even the locals commented on the unusual quietness. We know it is because we had an army praying for us.


Today was a typical missionary sort of day. Nothing went according to plan. We checked out of our hotel at noon and went to get something to eat. We had to wait for Leo who was at a meeting until 2. Two o'clock came and went, finally, around 4 we were headed into Mexico.

Crossing the boarder we were stopped by the US police. The tags on the car were expired. The officer was nice, but stern. She was ready to give us a ticket. We prayed for grace. Leo spoke with her, and showed her he was a missionary and she let us go. Thank you Jesus!

Off we went. Our original plan was to go to the Outreach Center and get settled in before heading to the tent. That didn't happen. We went straight to the tent. The first night, Leo showed the movie Facing the Giants in Spanish. The tent was full, and everyone enjoyed the movie.

After wards, Mr. Cava, shared a short message and invited people to give their life to Jesus. About 15-20 people responded! PRAISE THE LORD!!! He prayed with them and then we prayed for them and for anyone else who wanted prayer.

I want to take a moment to be a proud Momma...both kids jumped right in and prayed for all the children who responded to the altar. When they were done with the kids, they helped us with the grown ups!

After everyone went home, we finally headed to the outreach center. We were so ready for bed! And what a treat to be staying in such a nice place!

The outreach center is huge! It has a meeting hall, kitchen and dining room, two bathrooms, and four bedrooms downstairs. Upstairs is five more bedrooms and two more bathrooms. Each room has a set of bunk beds with a full on the bottom and a twin on top and then a single twin bed. Each room also had a personal sink.

AND---RUNNING HOT WATER THROUGHOUT THE PLACE!!! What a luxurious place for a missions trip!


Today was AWESOME! Today was Kids day at the tent. We arrived at about 10 am, and already there was quite a crowd. We estimated that there was around 250 kids, plus some parents. They had clowns, pinatas, and bounce houses. We provided face painting, stickers (Son was in charge of passing out the stickers and did a great job), and made bracelets for the kids.

Daughter made the bracelets. She really, really, wanted to do the face painting, but wasn't very good at it. (It's hard to paint on a small, moving canvas!) After a bit of a fight, and some time spent praying about it, she died to self and made bracelets for the kids, something she is very good at. She learned an important lesson about listening and obeying God even when you don't want to, and what it means to be apart of a team. I was really proud of her.

Myself and three other ladies were in charge of the face painting. I was not much better than Daughter, but all the kids seemed happy. We did lots of stars and hearts and flowers and mickey mouses and cars. I attempted and failed at two spider mans, but Jody successfully painted one batman.

We were doing all this outside the tent. Inside, the clowns were singing and sharing the Gospel message with the kids.

After the message, the children came out to play on the bounce houses and break the pinatas. Each child received a small bag of candy and a stuff animal. The parents who came received free clothes for their family.

Rita told me this is a BIG treat for these children, whose lives are very hard. This sort of event doesn't happen very often. I am so glad we were able to help bring some joy and fun into their lives.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the outreach waiting for the evening service. The tent was nearly full, and the service was great. Some of our team members sang and shared, and Mr. Cava preached. The prayer time after the service was incredible. Salivations and people being set free and experiencing His love and presence.

It can be a challenge to pray for someone if you don't know the language, but you just have to remember that you are praying to the Creator of all Language, and the Holy Spirit is the best of translators.

However, it was nice to know a few words of Spanish. My very limited High School Spanish education came in handy. I could pray "Amor Mas" (More Love) "Senor Mas" (More Lord) "En el nombre de Jesus" (In the Name of Jesus) "Gracias Senor" (Thank you Lord). When I had nothing else to pray, I prayed in the Spirit.


Today we went back into the USA to visit a church in El Paso where Mr. Cava was scheduled to speak. We were given a chance to share about Africa with the church. Then they anointed us and prayed a blessing over us. Thank you Lord for this divine meeting!

On our way into El Paso, we got stopped again! (Different car this time) This time for speeding (we weren't speeding, though). We prayed and once again received favor. Randall told us that they stop people, especially Americans, who them buy them off so they wont get a ticket. Randall did not do this, he just asked forgiveness and for grace, and they let him go. Thank you Lord!

We also got to walk across the boarder! Randall has a fast pass that allows him to go quickly through customs, but he cant do that with extra people in the car, so we walked across and went through customs on foot. A much quicker process than waiting in the car.

Our team was split up, we were in the early group with Randall, and the other group was with Leo. Leo doesn't have a fast pass and it took them 2 1/2 hours to cross the boarder.

We spent the afternoon at Randall and Tina's house. Kids had so much fun playing and we had a good time hanging out with our team and the Partridges. Mr. Cava had a good time napping on the couch. How he got any sleep is beyond me because it was NOISY in their little home with 18 people!

We went from their house to the Outreach Center for a quick change of clothes and then onto the tent.

When we got there, the place was already hoppin'! The worship band was AMAZING!! There was such a sense of joy in the tent, it was a time of celebration! After much worship, Mr. Cava gave a brief message and a call to salvation. About another 20 people gave their lives to Jesus for the first time. He prayed with them, and then we spent more time in praise and celebrating our Lord. The only thing that would have made the night even better was understanding what the heck we were singing! :-)
After everyone was gone, we decided we were hungry and went to an authentic Mexican restaurant, La Cabanna. Best. Mexican. Food. Ever. They bring beef, chicken and shrimp out on a platter with cooked peppers and avocados. A bowl of warm melted cheese is in the center, and beans are on the side. They also served amazing baked potatoes. Not really a Mexican food in my mind, but it worked! And the chips and salsa were AMAZING! The pork rinds served with the chips....not so amazing.

With a full and happy belly, we went back to the Outreach Center and hit the hay.


We were supposed to help take down the tent today, but it was VERY windy. We got to the tent and Leo and his friends already had the entire inside torn down. The next step was to take down the walls, and it was too windy to do that, so we returned to the Outreach center.

Later that afternoon we joined Randall to help in a feeding program. We went to what appeared to be a much poorer part of the city. We thought we were going to an orphanage, but it was actually a pastor's home. Their home was small, but they had an entire room dedicated to the children. It was only about 10' x 15', maybe 20'. There was about 60 kids of all ages crammed into that room, waiting for us (we were late). It was so full and small that only about half of our team could fit into the room.
The children obviously from poor families, and we were told that for many, the only food they ate all week was what they would receive from this program. Sadly, because of funding, they are only able to offer lunch to the children three times a week.

There lunch consisted of a bologna sandwich and juice. A church in El Paso had donated chips and cookies, and that was a real treat! We had enough sandwiches that whoever wanted seconds could help themselves. One little girl asked for a sandwich for her mama, and ran home quickly after she received it.
We sang songs with the children and shared Bible stories. We held them and loved on them. We fed them, and we prayed for them. For some on our team it was overwhelming. I myself had a hard time containing my emotion.

We have so much, I have never had to go hungry, yet I worry and complain about the silliest of things. Seeing children in conditions such as these reminds me how blessed I am and how great the need is throughout the world.

People are not only starving for the Love of Jesus, they are literally starving physically! More children will go to bed hungry tonight than will go to bed full. Next week, during Thanksgiving, Americans will consume more food in one meal than most people consume in an entire year.

After everyone had eaten and been prayed for, the children went home. Then the pastor and his wife prayed for us. This couple, and people like them, are my heroes. They do not have much, but they gave what they have. They saw a need, and found a way to fill it.

The Word of God talks about the first being last and the last first. I think in heaven, they will be among the firsts. There will be a lot of firsts that no one on earth has ever heard about, but who are very well known in the heavens because of their faith and love and obedience and generosity.

The pastor is desiring to expand the room so he can have more space for the children. He wants to enclose his patio area and knock down the wall of the small room they currently meet in. The total cost of this project is about $3,000. Jody would love to help with the construction. If God provides them with the money for the project, we are praying that God will provide him away to return to help build it for them before we go to Africa.


Today was a do nothing day. Our scheduled appointment wasn't until this evening, and some of the team had dental work that needed to be done. (I am told that Mexico is the place to go for dental work.)

So, hung out at the outreach center. We make good use of our time and baked cookies for tomorrows feeding program.

Finally, after dinner, it was time to head out. We went to an orphanage. Our mission: love on the kids.

The orphanage we went to was a very nice one. It is ran by a beautiful Mexican couple. They have several supporters who help them. However, they did not start out this way! They opened the orphanage 25 years ago. For 15 years they had no electricity or running water. They had to believe God for food. (They often still have to do that!) They remained faithful to the children, and over the years God has blessed them.

We had such a good time with the kids. I fell in love with a few. Leo played guitar and sang songs with some. Mr. Cava was surrounded by a group of kids watching him play bowling on his phone. Jody arm wrestled many of the older boys. Our kids colored with the children.

One eight year old girl was writing her Christmas list when we arrived. Her letter said, "All i want for Christmas is a pair of boots and some clothes, but if not, then anything is ok."

We took a tour of the facility. They dorm rooms are simple, but very nice. Each child has a small locker (1'x2'x2') This locker holds all their clothes and possessions. Most were not even half full.

The directors (below with Carolyn) explained to us that their goal is to find forever homes for the children. They love them all, but know that a forever home is their best option. They have a lawyer that donates his services. The Mexico adoption fee is only $60.00. Then, whatever fees are requires on the US side (which are next to nothing if you are not using an agency).

Only $60.00!!!???!!!! Oh, Jesus, I see two I would like to take home right now! Lord provide Godly homes for these children.

When it was time for the kids to go to bed, we made a huge circle around the room, and prayed for all the kids. Then it was time to go home.


Today was our last day in Juarez. We have had such a blessed week! Our family has decided that although our heart is in Africa, and we know that is where He wants us to be, we would would be happy serving anywhere among the Nations. As long as we can bring the Good News to the poor and broken hearted.

After breakfast this morning, we made 200 sandwiches. The plan was to go around the corner from the Outreach Center and feed the children as they come out of school.

We gave them a sandwich, juice, cookies, and a track. We fed all the school children, and any adults that passed by. Some of our friends took the Outreach Center bus and went and picked up their friends so they could eat. As parents picked up their children, they would send them back for another sandwich for themselves.

A truck of workers was parked across the street. They watched us for over half an hour. Jody decided to bring them some sandwiches and a track. They were so happy and thankful for the food!

The food we were offering was far from a five course meal. We used bread that a few days old, but still good, a thin slice of ham, and an even thinner portion of mayonnaise. A woman on our team mentioned that this food be discarded by most of America's poor, and it's true. Although there are poor and hungry in America, even the poorest American is richer than most in this world.

After all the sandwiches were gone, we went to the Outreach center, loaded up the cars and headed into Jaurez to go to the international market. What we found amazed us. The place was virtually deserted. Only about half the shops were open and we were the only customers. The violence has scared away the tourists. And the threats of the drug cartel who demand money for "protection" from the shop owners has scared away most of the business people. Still we were able to find a few nice things to remember our time in Mexico.

Then, it was back to La Canbanna for a final meal together with all the missionaries. (Daughter was sick today, so it was just Son and I shopping and at the meal.) We had a good time together, but it was sad to say good bye to our new friends.

Tomorrow we will wake up, pack, clean our rooms and head back to El Paso and then home. We are so thankful for all God has done in us and through us during this week. Thank You Lord, You are a wonderful and magnificent God, full of Mercy, Compassion, and Truth.

Thanks to all who have prayed for us during this time.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Poverty All Around.

I have personal opinions regarding illegal immigration and what this country should do about it. However, as I drove across the boarder into Mexico yesterday, I understood why so many would do whatever it takes to come into our country. I knew that Mexico was a poorer nation, but I didn't realize how poor.

My expectations prior to going to Mexico was that it would be comparable to the poorer parts of LA. Jody and I joked about the possibilities of it looking just like SE Portland! :-) I was surprised to find that the conditions were much worse than what I imagined.

My only other point of reference to extreme poverty is West Africa. If, in regards to poverty, Ghana was a 10 and America was a 1, I would put Mexico at a 7. The contrasts between El Paso, and Juarez, which are only minutes apart, is night and day.

As a mother, if I were living in a home with spotty electricity and water that had to be trucked in, and could see the America skyline, I know I would do everything within my power to get there and make a better life for my children.

Juarez is a city of 2 million people. A few years ago it was 2.5 million, but many have left because of the violence. This city needs Jesus. The people are losing hope, and need the Hope that comes from the sacrifice made on the cross.

We are working with missionaries from around the world who have come to Juarez to see this city changed for Jesus. In the mix are Americans, British, Italians, and Canadians. Their hearts are broken for Juarez, and they are standing in the gap interceding for this city and Nation.

A few weeks before we arrived, a team from IHOP came here, and spent a week interceding specifically for Juarez. We are praying that we will be able to reap what they sowed in the spirit.

Beginning tonight through Sunday, we will be helping with nightly crusades. We are expecting great things.

Kids update: My kids are amazing. They are flexible, adaptable, and share the love of Jesus in their own way. It took them no time to jump in. They helped set up the chairs in the tent and played with the local kids. Son even took initiative to learn some Spanish words, so he could talk to the children.

Last night, we went to a missionary families home. They have a 5 year old boy, and my son was in heaven. They had a great time playing together.

Daughter is enjoying being apart of the team. She took time yesterday to pray over each chair in the tent. She can't wait to be able to minister to the kids through face painting later this week.

I want to encourage you all, there are hurting people around the world, everywhere you look someone needs Jesus. What are your passions? Are you interested in a specific ethnicity or people group? God has given you those desires for a reason, look around, and find where you can share the Good News locally and where you can help share it Globally.

We are packing up now to head back into Juarez where we will remain for the rest of the week.

Be blessed!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hola from El Paso!

Good morning! We are in El Paso right now, preparing to head into Mexico. We left yesterday afternoon, and arrived at our hotel around 10:30, 12:30 EST.

Our kids were very tired, but were very good all day. The crawled right into bed when we walked in the room and fell asleep.

The kids love to travel, especially on planes. Traveling in a group is different than being on your own. You have to make more stops and wait for people. Son especially keeps asking why we are "just standing here". This is good training for them!

We will be in El Paso one more night, and so I will be able to give another update. After that, I don't think we will have internet, but I will still blog about our trip, you'll just have to wait to read it! :-)

Please keep us and our team in your prayers. Please pray for Jody's Dad. When we arrived in El Paso, we received a message that he had had a mild stroke. He is ok right now, but will be in the hospital until at least tomorrow.