Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The last few days in Mexico were a tremendous blessing-coming back to the States was a whirlwind; I want to let you know what happened, ask for your prayers, and thank you for your support.
Wednesday July 28 was a time I can still remember clearly. We went out into the city center with some of the kids who wanted to powerfully serve God, and we prayed for anyone we felt led to pray for. My group had a particularly long chat with a fellow who didn’t believe in the Bible. It was very interesting to sit back and watch how the oldest, Lucilla, handled the situation. I could see that she definitely wanted to respect the older man but also that she was upset by some of his statements (including some rather rough language). The talk that I had with her afterwards about what she perceived from her encounter was very neat. It was also a blessing to see how some of the kids there prayed for strangers.
Leaving the home to go to the States was hard, as usual. I sincerely wanted to stay with many of the children just to hold them and speak into them—to tell them how valuable and worthwhile and amazing they are. Many have been abandoned by their families and truly believe they are ugly or stupid or somehow wrong… otherwise why would their families give them up? Each one of the children there is precious to me, and I will keep them in my prayers. I would ask you to do the same—especially the oldest ones.
The home is in somewhat of a tough situation in that, due to the news, only 40 people went this summer vs. 800 in summers past. The children need not only money and prayers (and they are somewhat tight for money since the groups bring money with them for the service projects they do), but they desperately need people to see them for the amazing children they are… to engage them, hold them, pray with them, and love them. I strongly urge anyone who has interest to contact me at Brandon.firstname.lastname@example.org I would be more than happy to work with the home to set up a visit for you. I also plan to return there in December; I am not sure if that will be as an individual, with the Church, or with Unite, the college ministry I lead. However, there will be future options for you if you would like to come. All of us were deeply touched by God and what He is doing there, and I have no doubt that we would all urge you to pray and see if you might have more of a part to play in this than you realize. Thank you sincerely for your prayers and support! The Home was incredibly thankful to have us as a group since they have had so few. Your contributed greatly--Brandon
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
While on the roof, I had the opportunity to pray with Esteban and Alex. Esteban has been at the Home six years—he is an amazing twelve year old kid with a warm smile and something always going on behind his brown eyes. He told me that his first family had separated and would never come back together or come back for him. Every day for the past six years he has earnestly prayed for a new family. This is still his prayer. I could see how badly he hurt and how much he yearned for family connection as he told me his story. It nearly broke my heart for such an amazing young boy to have such pain.
Alex is maybe six or seven. He asked me to pray for his brothers and sister. They are with his father in the United States. He does not know where they are or if they are ok, and he told me that he never will know. They crossed and permanently left him and his mother behind. They will not reconnect again. His mother lives in a Durango, so his home moves sometimes when he isn’t at the Home. He desperately misses his siblings and prays that they are ok.
Please pray for these, our little brothers in Mexico, and all the other kids at the Home. Many go through more pain in their days than we ever realize.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Listening to a lesson in Spanish. I need to work on my Spanish.
Give the kids some more Manzana Lift (Mexican Pop).
Blind folding some chicas for an activity.
Girls class of 7-11 years.
Working off some energy in the chicos class.
Dawn and chica.
The morning ninas class.
The class playing a name game with a ball and Catherine Wilson (another missionary)
The veiw looking out of the classroom window.
The ninas decided that they didn't want to sit in chairs.
A morning class of the young ones.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We also had a big fiesta to end the week with the kids after our classes with them. Many will be gone next week for vacation. I’ll let the others share more though...
The chicas love to play with James.
The kids love to play with the yarn we brought. They try to make different things like "Jacob's ladder" or cat wiskers. We didn't even plan on doing that, it just happened.
Playing with kids during class.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Between two lessons it was requested that our group share during the afternoon service. Since the lessons are finished around 4:50 p.m. and service was at 5:00 p.m. and we had to drop our things off at the casita (little house—where the missionaries (us) stay), that meant we had no time to prepare. I was a little nervous, but we prayed and I knew the Holy Spirit would do what He wanted. The service was awesome—I LOVED the thunderstorm partway through that blew a fresh breeze through at several opportune moments as we sang and prayed. When the Americans shared, I could feel the Spirit move—each had something right to say. God helped me get through the interpretation (verbal translation) as each spoke to the audience. I was able to share something about how I DEEPLY desire for all of the youth to either have a relationship with God or a stronger relationship with God… Then we read 1 Corinthians 13 (the beginning and love section) and we replaced ‘love’ with God when we read it a second time (to help the youth know the nature of the one they should seek relationship with). It seemed to go very well.
Immediately afterwards we practiced Spanish worship with Armando (the worship leader) for two hours and then headed up the hill to grab supper. Three of us left it cooling on the table so we could catch as much time with the kids as possible while the others ate and recuperated—then they joined us. During the oldest girls’ lesson we had offered to pray in the concha (the court where they play basketball). I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they not only remembered but were asking when we could start. We got together and asked them what to pray for—we prayed for quite some time (in English and Spanish) for the Home, for unity, for relationships, families, health, and a few other requests. After we were done we got back in time to eat and cool down for a few minutes. Exhausted, we sat down to chat.
I was excited because even though we were all dog tired at least two were brimming with excitement and energy from our experiences today. That’s when I was able to surprise everyone with the letters of support from you (those who love us and had the time to write one for a trip-goer). Thank you SO much! I saw so many smiles and more than a few tears. Your letters provided a powerful push when we were excited but very very tired. Thank you so dearly for your love and support—it along with God’s love will give us the strength to push through successfully to tomorrow. Now we are going to write up encouraging things for each of the kids for tomorrow—we are going to give them to them for them to keep (a page with their picture and things like ‘you have beautiful eyes’, ‘you are a great artist’, ‘you have so much energy and excitement’… I know that, at least for the little ones, it should have a very big impact to be so encouraged. We are all excited to complete our project for tomorrow. Thanks again, and good night!!!--Brandon
There is a different feel here, though. It shows that there have been far less visitors to the Home this summer. The initial reaction from the younger kids was cooler, though they warmed up very, very quickly. The older ones who recognized me seemed very glad to see me, and I am deeply happy to see them again. Their warm greetings meant a great deal to me, and I am excited to catch up with them. It also saddens me quite a bit to know that they have been unable to give such warm greetings to many of their recurring friends over the years.
Today we had a surprise—right as we were preparing to teach a lesson to our last group of the day, the oldest boys, Luis (our contact for whatever we need) asked us if we could join him and the kids for a surprise trip. We canceled the lesson and joined him and the oldest boys and girls as we loaded up the van and the Home’s bus and headed for a nearby park. There 15 of the students from the Home who have been at a camp put on by Joventud (a Christian organization) met us. It was very exciting to see some of my friends again (this is where I received some of the warmest greetings). We were able to watch them perform a few street evangelism skits in the park. Afterwards, we returned for an evening of supper, music, and playing with the kids in the concha (outdoor courtyard). It was a great day.
A few highlights for me: One of the originally troublesome girls is now helping us quite a bit with the other students and seems to be very touched by the ‘His Princess’ letters we read. Also, the other night we learning Spanish worship with Armando in the concha, and we were surrounded by a couple dozen of the kids… Most of the youngest girls were there. They jumped up on the tables where we were worshipping in and loudly joined us as they swayed back and forth. It was so awesome to enjoy the cool sound of Spanish worship music on guitar (Armando has an incredible voice) as a bunch of very cute five-year-old girls smiled and danced and sang to the music while the moon rose into the night sky. The moment was very unforgettable.
Just for those of you who wonder what we do in a typical day… We get up in the morning for personal time with God, group devotions, a little lesson planning/tweaking, and off to the Home for time with the kids. We teach three sessions before and three sessions after lunch—each involves a lesson of some sort with some activities (we’ve done skits with the youngest kids and more discussion/question/answer interactions with the older ones). Letters from ‘His Princess’ translated for the girls and times we’ve shared very personal occurrences relevant to the lessons seem to have had the greatest impact on the youth so far. The lessons run 45 minutes and we have 5 minutes between lessons to switch up the room. Sometimes we combine a section for larger activities, and we always do at least some fun stuff—time in the concha, drawing, cards… etc….
Probably the most impactful activity so far has been the ‘red and blue cup activity’. We filled red cups with dirt, water, coffee, salsa, and spit in them (in front of the kids—believe me, some of the kids would have drank it otherwise). The kids were very disgusted. Then we filled blue cups with soda (the good Mexican kind from the little stores). We blindfolded the kids and ultimately sat them in front of a cup. It was possibly to smell the putrid nature of the ‘feos’ (gross ones). The kids were squirming and not sure if they wanted to drink them or not. We had quietly switched out the red ones with nasty stuff for red ones with soda (we kept them red for peekers). Then we told the students to drink (and gave them the option to refuse). Afterwards we had them open their eyes and let them drink their pop. We had some great reactions and excellent discussion afterwards—many of them said they were afraid…. The lesson was over meekness and how it didn’t mean weakness (Christ was powerful and even told the Pharisees that He would be seated next the right hand of the Almighty, yet submitted to God’s will and let them beat Him not two minutes later (Matthew 26:62-68; also Isaiah 53:7)—He was incredibly strong, yet obedient to God). It was also over the fact that the meek are always submissive to God (true meekness) and that we have to trust God and submit even when it seems like a bad idea (like drinking when you smell the grossness and maybe even peeked and saw a red cup in front of you). It seemed to go over very well and definitely made for good discussion.
After the last section of lessons we have time to plan and prepare for the set the next day, then grab supper and take a short break. Afterwards we usually play with the kids in the concha until around 9 or 9:30 p.m. There is sometimes an evening debriefing, and always some time to rest…
So far it has been a blessed trip—I have definitely seen God working with the kids and with those with me…. I am excited to see what is yet to come—especially with my friends who are at the camp and will be rejoining us Saturday.
Please keep us and the kids in your prayers—there is much to do and yet we always must discern what is in God’s will and needs done vs. what is just a good idea. We also need to continue to take the time to rest and draw our strength from God.
Thanks again for your prayers and support
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The pastor Sunday made a special point in the service of thanking us for coming when so few have. According to Wendy the Children’s Home has only had about 40 visitors so far and that may be all they get (compared to 800 a few years ago). To the pastor here, the congregation, and the children, we are a big blessing. It works my own heart pretty hard to see some of the kids whom I have grown to love and then to know that they have not been loved this summer as usual. The kids are amazing kids. Most of them are pretty smart, and most of them are very loving. They are still kids and there are plenty who are ornery and some who are even obnoxious sometimes, but they all are amazing and each so deserving to be loved. Some are being extra loud and distracting for attention likely just because they have received so little for such a long time. The rest are some of the coolest kids I have had the pleasure to talk with (though I think almost all kids are pretty amazing). Most have been very happy to see us, and quite a few remember James and me (I remember more of them than I would have figured, myself). Some have grown up pretty well—I’ve enjoyed watching some of the older boys give the younger ones opportunities to have the ball in soccer… even giving up great shots and sometimes hurting the momentum of their team to give the younger kids the joy of playing up front… God seems to be raising up some cool leaders in that age range.
Worship on Sunday was beyond what words can describe. I was borderline crying at one point and felt the Spirit move in powerful ways. Something about the way that worship in the Spirit occurs in this local Church moves me greatly every time. Especially powerful to me was a song that, in English (roughly) repeats “adore, adore, adore, all of the glory and all of the honor to His majesty”… It’s not really just the words or just the music or just the way in which it is sung/played… it’s more than that which makes that chorus ring so powerfully… The Spirit was almost tangible in the place as we sung those verses… and the presence of God easily can move one to tears…
It has been interesting to see the status of the city. In the poor district here, it is almost the same (except the lack of Christian visitors). It hurts my heart that, regardless of the reasons why, so many are not coming the Children’s Home now. The message that the Church is sending by stopping its flow of servants is quite simple and quite clear. When it looks rough or dangerous, or even if it is rough or dangerous, the body of Christ stops loving. As one who deeply loves some of these kids, that cuts me straight to the core. THE most powerful thing that one can do for the kid here is to help them know God and know His love… The message sent is a strong contradictor to what the groups have taught them for a long time about how strong and great God’s love is… If we Christians really embody the love of Christ, then how can His love be all that great? If these kids don’t get into a powerful RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, then all of the efforts of all the years have been for almost nothing… I WANT these kids whom I care about to know God—He is the only one who can give them a life worth living… Please pray that they see His love for them despite the recent circumstances…
Please pray that God embolden His children so that more of them would come here. Please also be praying for our team to be listening to God’s spirit and to continue to be sensitive. Pray also for unity in the Spirit and that God help us let go of what we need to and move with Him in everything. Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The kids like to get rides from James all the time.
Chelsea in a nice action shot.
Sooooo..... apparently the girls like to mess with my hair. They also thought James' hair was cool too.
Our group outside the church after church.
The church was at the bottom of the steep hill, so we all got a nice workout afterwards.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I feel that we are ready to roll! (<- not an Aikido pun)
Until next time!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Holly and Cheslea's sister Jenny helped us with lesson outlines and had many ideas to offer because of her teaching experience.
Besides making lesson plans, we have been trying to study scripture, pray, and journal daily to best have a spiritual impact while we are in Juarez.
Thank You to all of the people donating to the trip so far. We have come along way financially, but we still have a little bit left to go to reach our fiscal goal for the trip. As of now, we are definitely going and trust that God will help us out with what we have left.
I feel excited to be going on my first missions trip and hope to learn a few things along the way. I think God will teach each person in the group something important during this trip. Also, I think everyone in the group will grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally and in many other ways during this opportunity to go with God.
Emmanuel Children's Home has been going under a loss of support for the past few years due to the rise in crime. Every year there has been less and less support and groups visit the Home. They are in need of our group and of people to support them financially and personally. We shouldn't back down in times of turmoil because that is when they need us the most. I find that God uses trials and turmoil to strengthen us in our faith the most. We don't grow stronger when we sit around the house doing nothing. We have to exercise.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Please keep the Home in your prayers!
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Please be in prayer as two additional people are seeking to discern if it is in God’s will for them to go. We’d love to have them join but want them to be wherever God wants them… at home OR with us…
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
We have the opportunity to be a part of an exciting opportunity to serve the children of Juarez, Mexico. We are going to the Emmanuel Children’s Home on July 16th through August 1st. You can search Emmanuel Children’s Home on the internet and find information on their ministries.
The team has met once a week to discuss and pray over the upcoming missions work in Juarez.
In case you don’t know, in the entire world Juarez is considered one of the top five most dangerous cities to live in. It sits on the US/Mexican border and contains many rival drug cartels. The children that live in this city are exposed to murders and kidnappings on a daily basis. The Children’s Home is an oasis that provides protection and guidance from the outside violence and drugs on the street.
You can be a part of this mission work in several ways. First, I would ask that you please pray for our group, the city of Juarez, Mexico and the Children’s Home. Secondly, the team is still in need of financial support to make this missions work possible. We know that God will supply our needs for this trip. If God has given you the desire to give to this missions work then you can send a check or cash to North Oak Community Church (3000 Oak Street Hays, KS 67601-1645) made out to “North Oak Community Church” with “Lifeguard-Mexico” in the memo line on the check but please do not write any names because of legality. Please attach a separate note to the check with my name or any person in the group’s name if you support a specific person. The totally cost for the trip is $400 but any amount of donation will be greatly appreciated. The extra funds that we receive will go to the Children's Home. Whether you donate or not, I would at least like for you to pray for us and the Children’s Home.
Thanks! God Bless!