Saturday, December 29, 2012

Landing in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Last night a friend of mine on Facebook posted this video of the landing (of a jet) into the main airport at Tegucigalpa. We have done this twice. You literally come in over the mountains and have a short runway to hit. It is quite the trip! Here also is a view from the ground of the descent.
Looking forward to going back in 2013!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making Sense of it All.....

It really does not make sense. I cannot explain nor begin to understand why someone would walk into a school and just shoot innocent children. Our age of innocence is long gone. Each day we wake to a new horror it seems. I have heard several people ask "Where is God'? Why would God allow this to happen"? I am not a theologian but I know the answer lies with the fact that God is Love. We talked about this today in church. God loved us before we even were. God's very nature is to love us to our inner core. We were made to love him back and to live in harmony with him. However he also gave us the choice of free will. God did not want companions who were just robots that had no choice but to love him. He gave us the power of choice. The choice to love or not to love. Of course He knew what was going to happen and when we had the choice we began to sin. From the moment that Eve listened to Satan and ate the fruit our fates were sealed. We began to give into our selfish desires. Sadly this has brought us to the point where we are today. God does offer us a solution through His Son. John 3:16 is the truth in a nutshell. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that who so ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life". God, in His love, freely gave His Son to redeem us. Bottom line!  Do not doubt for one minute that God did not shed a tear over the Sandy Hook. He wept more than any of us. This is not what he wanted or wished to happen. He could control and stop the evil but then we lose our free will. When we lose our free will then we lose the ability to love. However; he does offer the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I am sure as the days and weeks go by many loving Christians will be reaching out to this community to show the love of Christ. When this happens then we will know where God is. I know that God can take any situation and use it for His Glory. As trite as it may seem and as hard as it may be to believe or understand in the long run God will use this tragedy for a greater good. God Bless as we keep Sandy Hook in our prayers. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Last night I was watching a movie and heard a great line. A football team was about to score on the one yard line and win the game (after an awesome comeback) and ended up fumbling and losing the game. A fan made the comment that the team was able to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory". I really loved that line and it got me to thinking. My role as an advocate for Compassion is to encourage others to sponsor children or to help in some way those in poverty. My individual goal is to encourage those children that I sponsor to reach their potential and to DREAM BIG. The opposite of poverty is not wealth but rather "enough". Not enough in our terms but enough to be able to function on a daily basis. This differs from culture to culture but the bottom line is that "enough" allows our dreams to flourish. We are not worried about our our next meal or where we will sleep. Our needs are met and we can begin to hope.
         That is what Compassion is all about. Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. By giving them enough and connecting them with a sponsor they can begin to really grow. Our next generations are the children of the world. Without them there is no future. Satan knows this. What better way to grow his kingdom then by giving children mixed messages or a lack of hope. Start removing the church from their lives and he is free to rein. I look out at the world and see several things. One is that our own society has turned away from basic truths. What was once the standard is now seen as wrong or too conservative. Everything seems to be permissible as long as it does not hurt others. We have watered down and diluted the message. We have grown too comfortable. In fact I tend to think that Satan does not really need to worry about America. He has an easy inroad into our lives and there is no challenge. In third world countries where poverty is rampant it is easy for him to sow the seeds of discontent. It is easy for him to keep God's word hidden when there are so many other things to worry about.

        He is like that football team on the one yard line. He is about to score! ( We know though how this is going to end) However we can force him to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We can mount that defense and come out winners. Joshua 24:15 states "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!" I love that verse and have decided to make "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" my mantra. I choose not to let Satan win. As I go through life as a husband, a father, and as an advocate I want to make sure that I mount that last stand defense. Compassion does all it can to make sure that poverty is not victorious and is defeated. I am proud to make that my calling and ministry.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Not really the end.....

Yesterday marked the end of our special month of Blogging for Compassion. I must admit that I had a blast writing for each of the assignments. They stretched me and encouraged me to move deeper in my advocacy. I am not a professional blogger; rather I serve the ministry through coordinating volunteers for events. I keep this blog going as a testimony to something that is important me. There are people like Michelle, that truly take their advocacy to the next level by showing children available for sponsorship, offering letter writing ideas and lots of other information. These are the blogging hero's in my eyes. That is why I originally suggested in my first post not to sponsor through my blog but to go to her page if you want to sponsor a child. The top blogger prize is actually a Compassion trip into the field. I hope that Michelle is in the running for it. I think she had somewhere over fifty sponsorships from her blog. That alone is amazing. However I must say that everyone came through. Whether you blogged every single day, or on a weekly basis or even maybe just a post everyone made a difference. The goal was 3,108 children sponsored and at the close of the month 3,159 children had been sponsored through this event. That means there are now 6, 318 changed lives. Both a sponsor and a child are now beginning an incredible journey. This is not really the end of a special month but rather the beginning of lives being changed. That is why I love Compassion and this ministry. Blessings!

Join the Compassion Blogger Network

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hola Mis Padrinos (Hello my Sponsors)

   I am writing to you with much so much love for what you have done in my life. I am enclosing this picture for it is one of my favorites and will be a reminder have how you helped me to grow. I have appreciated everything you have done for me and my family. You were not my first sponsor. However you and your wife have done so much for me. I remember when I first went to the Compassion project. It was close to my home and I did not have to travel far. However it still seemed scary as we had to travel on roads that were not safe. My father had died and it was just my mother and I. We did not have much and she managed to earn some money by selling snacks out on the road in front of our house. She was excited for me that I had been picked to be part of the project and would have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. I was excited to be able to get a meal and do some neat things. I looked forward to attending each week and looked especially forward to the hot meal they served us. I remember getting only one letter from my first sponsor- it was a special day and made me feel loved. Sadly I did not hear from them again. Then the day came when I heard that I got a new sponsor. I was not sure why I had a new sponsor but from that first letter I got from you I felt very special. You have encouraged me and always made me feel important. I worked harder in school because I knew you wanted me to. I used to not really want to go to school. I was not even sure what to do with my life. I remember meeting you in 2007 and that was one of the things you really wanted to know about. "What are your dreams" you asked? I had not even thought about the future. I guess I just wanted to make it through each day. That day that we met I knew you were real and you really cared about me. I decided to work hard in school and to perhaps one day be a doctor. I knew you would be proud of that. You were like the father I did not have. I love you for that.
    You have faithfully written and I have every single letter. They are special to me. My family and I have been blessed by the gifts you have given. When things seemed to be going in the wrong direction sometimes a letter or package would come that brought both my mother and I so much hope. The best day in my life was when you came for my Quinceanera party. It is a special day when I turn fifteen. I am no longer a child but now a woman. I traded in my tennis shoes for high heels. Though that was symbolic it meant a lot. In fact that is why this is my favorite picture. It also symbolizes that before I got into the project how lost or scared I felt. Sometimes I did not know if we would have a meal to eat. Sometimes I did not not what the future held. If something happened to my mother what would become of me? As I went on I knew there were others that loved me especially Jesus. I think that if it had not been for you all I would never really truly know Jesus. As I have grown I now know that with hard work I can accomplish much. I am looking forward to having good grades this year so that I can perhaps also work some in a doctor's office and be a helper. I am sending one last picture that shows me now as a lady in my heels. You have helped me in this journey arrive at this point and I send you many blessings! Thank you for being my sponsor and giving me dreams and hopes. I love you.

(Note: This is the 4th assignment for our Blogging for Compassion Month- we were to write as a sponsored child. Linda has changed me as much as I encouraged her. I would not have had this adventure with Compassion if I had not met her. While some of the above is conjecture most of this is true based on our letters and visits! Sponsoring a child does make a difference! I encourage you to visit here and perhaps find your own "Linda". We had a goal of 3,108 children to get sponsored this month. We need to find 811 more. Will you reach out???? )

Friday, September 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

   Tonight I mourn the loss of a friend. Well it is not like they died but the business is now gone. Let me begin back about eleven years ago. My memory is not that exact but the key point is I never used to drink any hot drink let alone a coffee. My wife, Karen, turned me on to White Chocolate Mochas and I became hooked. I used to teach preschool right down the street near a local shopping center. I am not sure but somewhere around 2001-2002 a coffee shop opened called Huckleberry's. They offered a great mocha at a better price than the chains. I became a daily customer and was known for my twice a day visits. Sadly that shop went bankrupt mainly because I think of poor ownership. Right after that Huckleberry's II took over somewhere around 2004 or so. Again I was a daily visitor and became friends with the owners and staff. This was before I even became a sponsor with Compassion. Anyway that version lasted longer until about 2008 or so. This was about the time that I began to ramp up my ministry with Compassion.
     Anyway that latest version of Huckleberry's reached the point that they too had to close. It is not a great shopping center with a big draw but it had a grocery store, a Blockbuster, a local gym and a clothing anchor. However they decided to close and a new coffee store opened. Raenette Rogers opened a coffee and tea shop called Rogers. I know before she opened we got to meet. She did not know what a white chocolate mocha was but learned the recipe and I became a daily customer. We soon got to talking about Compassion and I discovered she was a Christian. The coffee shop actually sponsored a girl in Bolivia. They had her packet displayed on the wall and all of her information. They had Fair Trade coffee and were an awesome  local shop. I had child packets placed there as well as brochures. It was great! I do not know how many children we had sponsored there or how many donations were made through brochures but it was my own little Compassion spot.
      Sadly though the economy began to change. Blockbuster went out of business. A Wegman's moved across the street and the grocery store closed. The local gym went corporate and the shopping center itself seemed to lose its spirit. Rae still tried to make a go of it. She had to cut back the business hours as a cost saving measure which sadly meant I could no longer go in the mornings before work. I managed to go on Saturdays when I could. The new shopping center across the street (with Wegman's) added a Panera Bread which was the death knell for Roger's. Tonight I happened to be down at the shopping center as they were moving the equipment out. I said my goodbyes and she had saved my displays. I lament the fact that more and more small local shops are not able to stay in business. I feel a void now. I was not a frequent customer at the end but as we hugged goodbye I felt like I had lost a family member. This was a business owner who had a heart for the poor. It was neat having someone locally that loved Compassion and was a sponsor. Tonight as they close down the shop I think the light grew just a little darker. I am not sure what Rae's  plans are for the future but I know together we planted some seeds and made a difference in a little girl's life. I hope the blessings continue to multiply. God Bless you Rae!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pin it to Win it!

Here we go into the third week of Blogging for Compassion! So far this has been a blast. From getting the assignment to actually writing something I feel so energized. This week we are getting into another facet of Social Networking~the Pinterest board. This is where you can pin pictures, notes and other stuff to show your interests. Now of course I already had one and of course I had a board all about Compassion. Did you really expect anything different? The neat thing is that anyone can create a Pinterest account and enter the cool contest that Compassion is having. Just go right here and read all about it. Set up a board and enter the contest. Hopefully you can direct some people to this link from your board and even get some children sponsored on your own. If you check out the page the prizes are incredible. Gifts for either your sponsored child or their family. Talk about pinning to win it. You win and they win!!!!
If you would like to see my board it is right here. If you make one comment your link below. I would love to see it.
        As far as our goal of getting children sponsored this month through our blogging network we   are half way through. So far 1,515 children have been sponsored out of goal of 3,108. A little short of 50% but still an awesome response so far. Two weeks to go and 1,593 children still need to find a special sponsor. Will you help and be part of this?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Prayer to God

Dear God.......
      I pray to  you today with an open heart and a willingness to surrender my will to yours. I am thankful for the ministry you have given me to be an advocate for Compassion. You knew the road that I would travel to this point and the brokenness I would need in order to be effective. I know now you had a plan from the very beginning when we picked up a child packet from the table of a "spunky" little girl named Linda. At that point you called me to be a sponsor. I thought little of it at the time but you knew where it would lead me. Invited to visit Linda in 2007 I went to Honduras for all the wrong reasons. I still imagine you laughing when you heard me talking about going to be an "inspiration". How immature and  simple minded that was. That day that I met Linda you broke me and made me realize the importance of reaching out for the least of these. When Linda stepped out, dressed up, and broke into tears at the sight of us I realized the love that you had for me. I was her sponsor but in her eyes I was so much more. In her eyes I saw a reflection of the unconditional love you have for each one of us. I realized that just as I had chosen her for sponsorship you do the same for each one of us. In a sense each of us are your sponsored children. You have chosen us, you nurture us, you disciple us and you want us to reach for salvation. 
    I confess that sometimes I grow frustrated with my ministry. I try to hold on to the image  of that special day and try to convey it others. How hard is it to understand that we can make a difference in a child's life. You have called us to watch out for the widows and orphans. In the parable of the sheep and goats you said whatever we do for the least of these we are doing for you. I am blessed more and more with each sponsorship. I am blessed by being able to volunteer within Compassion to encourage sponsorships. I just pray that you would continue to open hearts to your words and lead them to find the fulfillment and joy that I have found. I realize that you know those that will be sponsors and it is not my words or pleadings that will change anything. Rather you already know who will be sponsored and by whom and all is done in your time. I can only ask that you continue to use me in your way to be an agent of change in this undertaking. 
   I am thankful for this opportunity. I thank you that already 837 children have been sponsored from all of us encouraging others through our blogs. As the next few weeks unfold I pray that more and more people will reach out through sponsorship. I have an opportunity this week to work at a concert and I pray that the words that will be spoken will bring people to the table. Lord I thank you so much for showing me what love really looks like. It is in your Son's name that I pray. Amen <><

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3108 Reasons to Sponsor a Child

So in the previous post I told you all about Compassion's Blog Month. Pretty cool idea. I have been fascinated with social media since its inception. I have a blog, a twitter account and a Facebook page. I do have a pinterest account but not a Tumblr nor have I figured Reddit out yet. However it is interesting how social media has impacted our lives. Facebook has been heavily used by Compassion Advocates to encourage sponsorships and to get the word out about child advocacy. I do not know the numbers but it would be awesome to see how many children have been impacted through these mediums rather than traditional means. The world is changing. However one thing remains constant and that is the fact that there are children that still need to be released from poverty. Jesus still calls to us to act when "the least of these" reach out to us.

      So this month Compassion, through its bloggers, are looking to get 3,108 children sponsored. That is a little over a hundred a day by people reading these blogs and being encouraged to make a difference. Prizes and incentives matter not to me. In my previous post I encouraged you to visit this blog and "click" through there so Michelle would get the credit rather than me. I only want to see us hit this goal and make a difference in these children's lives.

       I encourage you to visit this Compassion site and look at the children that need sponsorship. Pray for these children and pray that they will find a sponsor! Spend time in prayer perhaps asking God to open your heart and make a difference in a child's life. If you are a sponsor could you perhaps open your heart to one more? If you are not a sponsor will you take a leap of faith? I have done it five times and been blessed each and every time. Perhaps you just don't feel the calling right now but maybe you could help spread the word. Share the page and the blogs with others. Like a ripple in a pond lets see how this grows.

      If you read my posts you know I can give you many concrete reasons for sponsorship as I have seen it action and know how lives can be changed. However as I said this month there are exactly 3108 reasons to sponsor. Can you make one of those your reason to sponsor right now?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

    You all know my passion is Compassion. You know I blog all about Compassion (and sometimes other stuff)! To me social media is one of the best tools to get the word out about my ministry and to see children sponsored. I recently became a Compassion Blogger and will sometimes write blogs on assignments that I am given. To me that is a perfect fit~the opportunity to write about something I love. There is a large list of bloggers (advocates, sponsors and just regular bloggers with a heart for Compassion) that participate in this type of endeavor.
    Well September has been declared Blog Month at Compassion. All the participating bloggers will be writing about assigned topics and encouraging others to sponsor children. There are incentives for us to do this BUT the best part is the goal. It is hoped that through this medium over 3,108 children will be sponsored between Sept 1st and 30th. How cool is that? That is over 310 children each day impacted based on what we write. The challenge is out there. If you are interested in being a Compassion blogger than please visit here. If you are interested in reading some of the blogs and some of the thoughts then please visit this page and follow along.
    Finally if you are interested in sponsoring a child I encourage you to do so by going through the links that will be published on the blogs. You see the blogger that brings in the most amount of sponsorships will win a trip with Compassion to one of the countries that Compassion works in. I have travelled several times with Compassion on these trips and they are life changing. While I do not expect to win I wish that anyone who is considering sponsoring through my site instead go to this site and sponsor through Michelle. She is an awesome advocate and a fantastic blogger! I know she would be blessed by a trip like this! So happy reading, blogging and sponsoring!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

DCFest~Those little God Moments

     Yesterday we worked DCFest for Compassion International. It is an all day Christian Music festival that was held at the Patriot Center to benefit Compassion. As a volunteer coordinator it was one of the events that I worked on staffing and both Karen and I enjoyed being able to work the event. Some of the bands were Sanctus Real, Third Day, Mercy Me and others. Bob Lentz (who is an awesome speaker) would be giving the message. We were just excited to be able to hear these artists and of course encourage child sponsorship. However there were at least three little "God moments" that I really wanted to share.

      The first was just one of those little things. We had a lady come up to the table looking for a child with a certain birthdate. Searching in a database or online it can usually be found. However at a concert with only so many available packets the odds are not going to be in favor of nailing that. We grabbed a pack of packets from a box. The one on top had the birthdate she was looking for. Score 1 for God providing.

      The second was just kind of cool for Karen and I. We recently became a correspondant sponsor for a girl in Honduras. She has a sponsor that is paying for her to attend the project but for some reason does not want to write. We know the importance of writing and having a relationship with the child so we have agreed to do this. We began this about a month ago after our recent Compassion retreat. We have written our first letter. Anyway Tim was one of the Compassion employees there to help facilitate things with Bob Lentz and his speaking. Tim saw we sponsored kids in Honduras and mentioned he would be going to Honduras next week if we wanted to send anything with him. Well it was kind of last minute to do anything like that~especially since we were on site at a festival. Suddenly it dawned on us that we could throw something together for Kellyn ( our correspondant child). We got a cloth backpack from one of the college exhibitors, we bought a Christian t-shirt from a vendor and Karen had some hair scrunchies with her. We were able to write a letter (and get it translated- see next story) and put together a nice little gift for Tim to take. Score another for God providing!

    The final God moment was just one of those things I had wished would happen and it did. Two of the people that signed up to work a table were Paul and Maria Diamond. They were going to be working the late shift. I was blessed to have met them officially at the retreat mentioned above. They are both advocates like myself. However there is a little backstory. Maria is a former sponsored child who went through the program in Peru. She then worked for Compassion "in country" as a translator for Compassion for tours. Paul visited several times to see his sponsor child and met Maria as a translator. Well God is awesome, they started a long distance relationship and got married about ten months ago and now live in Maryland. She has an awesome story and they both believe in Compassion's mission. She will be training in October with Compassion to share her story at events like this. Anyway I was talking to Tim and told him that Maria would be translating my letter that I would be sending with him. I told him about her story and then things began rolling. Turns out that within Compassion he works with these people to facilitate their speaking engagements. He will be working with Maria! He then asked if she would mind speaking for a few moments to the crowd with Bob Lentz. She agreed and it was such a God moment. Bob is a great speaker with awesome messages but what could be better than to close out a message with a former sponsored child that is now volunteering at one of the tables.  Several weeks ago I had joked with Karen (when Paul and Maria signed up) that she should share with the crowd her story. I take no credit for that "little prayer"~God had it planned and He hit a home-run with that one!!!!

It was just an great day watching God at work!!!!  Oh and at last count we had over 60 children sponsored. <><

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blogging for a Purpose

     I started this little blog back in 2009 as I got ready to travel to Honduras on my second sponsor tour with Compassion. At that point I had been an advocate with Compassion for two years and was serving as an Area Coordinator. I wanted a platform for my passion. I started out heavy and then in 2010 I slowed down to about three postings a month. Sadly in 2011 I slowed down even more to about two posts a month. Time seemed to get away from me with daughters in college and a new job that was demanding more of my time. My passion had not waned but my availability to sit down and write never seemed to be there. Last year I decided to broaden the scope of my blog and recently have rebooted the overall appearance. I have made a commitment to make this blog more of a priority.
     I am also part of a group of like minded bloggers who write a majority of the time about Compassion. I am a Compassion Blogger. My ministry is Compassion. Those that know me understand my passion. I can be found placing displays, working events, and speaking up for "the least of these". Jesus told us to do this but I also do it because I have seen the difference we can make. I have met my sponsored children and seen the difference Compassion is making in their lives. I have spoken to young adults who have been through the program and have heard their testimony. We are making a difference in their lives. Therefore I have found my purpose and my "soapbox".
     So what can you do? I encourage you speak out for the children in poverty. Do you blog? Even if your blog is not as focused as mine you still may want to join the ranks of the Compassion bloggers. I encourage you to check out their website here. I believe in making ripples. Just as when you throw a stone into a pond and ripples begin to spread out I hope that perhaps a few of you may begin to also cast some stones out and see what happens. The more we speak the more things begin to change. Both in ourselves and in others. I have chosen to blog for a purpose in hopes that lives can be changed. Keep me in prayer in this adventure.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Change the Story: The Compassion Experience

Change the Story: The Compassion Experience

As a Compassion advocate I have been hearing for a long time about this new type of ministry for Compassion. This is a travelling exhibit that takes you into the life of a child. It actually takes two tractor trailers to create the entire experience. It will be touring across the United States over the next few months. Word has it that it will be part of the Newsboys tour next Spring. I encourage you to follow the link above to the initial Compassion blog about this and then check out some further links to see if it will be near you. You won't want to miss it!

Impact Mexico~Final Thoughts

It has been a little over a month since our return from Mexico. I wanted to allow some time to return to the norm before I posted. I needed that time to process all that we had experienced and to key in on those things that I felt were well worth remembering. Do not get me wrong-there is nothing worth forgetting but I wanted to share those things that were most important to me. So here are my top five:

1) I was blessed to serve with a group of eleven amazing people. All gifted differently we worked together, laughed together and became a family. I am especially blessed to have been able to go on this trip with my wife and to experience this together.
2) The sights and sounds of Mexico! We experienced Mexico City, Texcoco, and Puebla. Each was different and unique and each brings a special memory. The marketplace was fun, the subway was interesting (to say the least) but my most favorite memory was seeing an active volcano. Of course that was followed up by our day at Las Estacas. A natural water park it was incredible to see some of the beauty God had made. It was beautiful and a great way to close out our trip
3) The pyramids- I have included this in a separate section rather than above. It was amazing to go and see them. I know I was impacted by this attraction. Just seeing the work that went into the building of this and then realizing that the conquistadors went in and just decimated the natives really bothered me. I did not fully climb to the top but sat about 1/3 of the way up and just reflected on this. For some reason it just really hit home.
4) VBS and God showing up: I was in charge of planning out VBS. If you know me I had every "I" dotted and "t" crossed. However as much as I had this planned God took and unplanned it. The first night we were 90 minutes late due to a traffic jam. (Will try to forget a bus trying to push our van out of the way and into oncoming traffic-I am convinced Angels were there fighting off Satan). The next two nights were rainy. However it was awesome to see God show up in so many ways. The smiles of the children just made it worth it to be there. The biggest God moment was the last night when we had a monsoon. One family opened their apartment to us and allowed us to minister there. Besides trying to preach over a pouring rain the best memory is that family. They were not part of the church there but helped us out of love. Karen gave them a crocheted heart pillow that we had brought for the first night but never got to use. God apparently had a reason for us to really bring it to Mexico.
5) Our  friends and new family: Adrian and Lula who are the missionaries in Texcoco who hosted us. They opened their home to us and hosted us beyond expectations. Adrian brought levity to every situation and Lula has a servants heart. Jason and Tracy Schroeder- who just moved down there from the states. They had just arrived there about two days before us to serve with Southern Mexico Missions. I am sure our arrival was not easy but they worked with us and served with us. They will be in our prayers now. As I write this they have found a home and are settling in. Finally Rudy and his wife Julia. They are the evangelists in Puebla that we worked with. They ( and the church) opened their hearts to us. I have never felt more welcome anywhere. We were they to serve them yet I can't help feeling they served us more. The one thing I want to remember is their giving hearts. One of the girls in our group commented on Julia's jewelry and how pretty it was. Julia took it off and gave it away. Then later that night they stopped by our hotel and gave us little tokens. They do not have much of an income  but wanted to give us something. The picture on this post is "Rudy"- a little stuffed dog that now sits on my car. It helps me to remember that no matter what we have so much to give for His kingdom. All of these people are my new family who I will always keep in prayer.

In closing this out I do miss my time in Mexico. It was an awesome trip and will always be a special memory. I do want to leave with some "inside comments" that are also special memories- this are really team related and I do not expect anyone else to understand. However as a team we will always remember " that photography guy", the strange little museum, rabbits, Double "D" and a host of other things that made us a family!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Impact Mexico ~ Days 9 & 10

Final Days

Tuesday would be our final full day in Texcoco. We are looking forward to getting home but our hearts are obviously heavy for what we have seen and experienced here. Bags are being packed, as we get ready for our last day. Today’s adventure would be a trip to the Marketplace to shop for those things that “we really don’t need but have to buy”. Indeed it is time to go and buy our souvenirs. We travelled to the marketplace by car, then bus, then subway. We got to experience all aspects of Mexico City travel. We were told to be very careful on the subway. In fact we created a circle around the girls so they would not be hassled. We spent around 2-3 hours in the marketplace shopping. Karen and I found two ponchos that we just had to have from Mexico. One is a Steelers poncho and the other is a Raven’s one.  LOL! We got some other things as a reminder of our first mission trip together. In the evening we heard Adrian’s personal testimony as well as his role with Southern Mexico Missions. We closed out the evening meeting by praying over Adrian, Lula, Justin and Tracy. Most of us went into town afterwards for a late night dinner. Upon our return we found electric had gone out. This would last until sometime after we headed back to the United States. We showered and cleaned up the best we could. Thank goodness for the flashlight app on my Smartphone.

      Wednesday was our last breakfast with our hosts. We were on the road and to the airport shortly after 10am. We got to the airport with two hours to go. Checked in and we gave our final goodbyes and hugs to Adrian and Lula. It is really hard to imagine that just ten days ago we did not even know them. Now they are special friends and their ministry will be in our prayers. We leave a part of our hearts back in Mexico.  We got into Dallas Fort Worth a little early so we ended up waiting for our gate. Then it took close to two hours to get through customs and immigration. As I write this we are heading east to Baltimore. The journey is ending but the memories and friendships will remain. Karen and I were blessed to go to Mexico with a great team! I hope that many trips like this will continue with our church and I am praying that this will happen. I am not sure if we will return next year as we are planning to return to Honduras for Jeyelly’s birthday celebration however I do know that God willing we will return back sometime in the future so serve again! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Impact Mexico~ Days 7 & 8

Sunday and Monday

      I am combining these days as it marked the closing of our ministry time as well as a time to process all that we had seen and done.  Sunday morning we got up and headed back to the church building for breakfast. Afterwards we helped get the empty lot next to the building set up for church. Typically the church meets in the small building we have been using. The typical attendance is around 30-35 people I would imagine. However with all of us we would need more space. We also would be doing our final VBS as a children’s program. We basically hung three large tarps over the lot for the service. It would be interesting as business would go on as usual all around us (traffic, buses, shops all operating). We headed back to the hotel to get ready and then off to worship.

     We returned to the church around 1pm and the service was incredible. It opened with several songs being sung. Then families could take turns singing some specials. We got to sing two songs for the congregation. We chose “Blessed be your Name” and “Open the eyes of my Heart”.  At one point we had the congregation sing back to us. On all of my overseas trips I am always moved to tears when (despite our language differences) we can worship and share together our God.  Adrian Sanchez (Field Director/Missionary) would be preaching the message. Sadly I did not get to hear it, as I would be doing children’s church. We taught the salvation message to the kids, had them make salvation bracelets and then played a balloon game with them. They seemed to have a blast doing that. After the service we had a potluck supper and fellowship time with the congregation. It was lots of fun even though we didn’t fully understand each other all of the time. When it came time to go there were a lot of hugs and tears. Over the past four days we had formed relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. After church we went to a mall and hung out at a coffee shop with both our Texcoco and Puebla hosts. True to course around dinner time it poured! The evening was spent in a team meeting and Rudy and Julia (Puebla missionary) stopped by the hotel to say a final goodbye. Julia brought us small gifts to say “Thanks”. The girls all got some jewelry and the guys a little keychain except for me. I got a little dog-stuffed animal. It is cute and a special reminder of our service there.
     Monday was a planned recreational day. At the end of many mission trips there is a day built in to process all that we have experienced. It serves as a bridge for our return back into the real world. Our day was at a park called Las Estacas. It is a beautiful place with an incredible spring fed river. We enjoyed time just experiencing God in a natural surrounding. We had a cookout and just a great time swimming in the river. On a side note on the trip to the park we got to see an active volcano. The trip back to Texcoco was again an experience. It ended up taking us almost four hours to travel 70 miles due to rain. We arrived back home around midnight and quickly crashed.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Impact Mexico Day 6~”God shows up”

      Saturday morning! We actually got to sleep in a little today as breakfast was at ten. We waited to see what the weather would do before we did our community service project. Right as we ended breakfast the sun came out and we decided to proceed with our plan. We returned to the park area that we are holding our VBS in to clean it up and to repaint the basketball court. There is a play area for the kids but it was filled with trash and broken glass. Across the way from that is a shaded area that was also filled with trash. A group of us worked on clearing up both areas. Another group swept the basketball court free of dirt and rain puddles. Once that area was dry we worked on taping off the lines of a full basketball court. Then we worked on getting the entire taped off area painted and looking good! As we worked a few of the children from the area came and joined us. They helped and fellowshipped with us. Most of them are interested in hearing what the English equivalent of a Spanish word is. I have a favorite girl that has been here the past few days named Natalia. She is Mi Amiga!!!  In some ways she reminds me of Jeyelly in Honduras. As we waited for the paint to dry we spent some time taking pictures of the kids and our group.  The afternoon was our big meal and some down time. We also worked on our group song (Jump into the Light) and are also working on preparing for both VBS and church tomorrow. We just found out that they want us to sing three songs during worship as well as teach Sunday school. The Sunday school part will replace our VBS program for that day so we are good to go! 
     So time for VBS-half of us head down to get things ready. The group in the other van is going to make a stop at a medical center as two of our team members are having stomach issues.  Our group gets to the park and begins to peel the masking tape up from the basketball court. The paint had dried and looks great.  However true to form a storm is coming. We get up our two tarps for lesson and crafts but they are quickly blown down with heavy winds. Looks like VBS may have to be cancelled for tonight. However this is the moment that God shows up. The place where we are doing this VBS is in a park surrounded by apartment buildings. One of the neighbors saw what was happening and invited us to use her back patio area, which was partially covered. This meant carrying tables, chairs and tarps through their small apartment and out back. Not to mention having 35-40 kids walk through their home. We got our tarps up to cover the rest of the patio area despite the winds. We then began the lesson with me teaching and Marcos translating for me. The louder I spoke the heavier the rain came. At that point it was actually quite funny. We got the lesson done and then the lady had us all come inside to do the craft. Imagine having all of these kids settle in your home, however God had provided a wonderful woman with an open heart to help us. One neat thing is that for our first lesson which we never taught Karen had crocheted a heart as a prop. We gave that to the lady as a token for showing us her heart. She does go to a church but may now be considering the church that we represent.  Good stuff!  We ended the day sharing a meal and conversation with our host church. A great night of fellowship!!!!