Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On to Nueva Rosita, Coahuila After a Quick Tour of Piedras Negras

back to Our Walk of Faith

The group from Dilley ended up including a couple from just outside of San Antonio as well (plus Brother Ralph and us.) They were meeting a missionary (John Bivens) who has a real heart for working with the orphans in and around Piedras Negras. Just after we crossed the border, we picked up John and Juanito (one of the kids who lives with John & Paulina--pictured with Chris). From there we went to a Casa Hogar (a home for kids whose parents don't want them or can't take of them--for economic reason or because the government took their parental rights away--and for orphans) that is located in Morelos. We toured the Casa Hogar...it will have 5 houses with a limited number of children in each house with house parents in each house. Right now only three of the houses have people in them. They are still working on constructing the other houses and getting them finished. Older people who don't want to live on their own anymore, but can still pretty much take care of themselves will also be a part of this set up. We really enjoyed playing with all the kids while the other adults chatted and looked around.

From there, we went to a Baptist Children's Home for handicapped children. We toured the facility--the bedrooms, clinic, physical therapy room, playground, etc. They also have a school on the campus that the kids all go to. Chris and I found out that several of the girls liked to hear music, so we sang a couple of Bible school songs we've learned over the years. Then we went outside and
played with some of the children on the playground and

danced around to the chicken dance and ring-around-the rosies. (We first learned of this particular home when we were in Gonzales, so we were really excited to get to see it!!)

The 3rd place we stopped was also a Baptist Children's Home. John & his wife, Paulina, had worked at this home before God opened the door to begin hosting children in their own home. It was a nice facility where about 10 kids live with their house parents. Chris & I played soccer with several of the boys while the other adults talked for a bit.

Chris and I decided we would get out when they dropped John and Juanito off at their house. From there, we would decide what to do and where to go. We all got out to take a picture of the whole crew, and then John invited us into his house. We had lunch with them and shared with him a little more about what we were doing and about God's faithfulness. He also shared testimony of God's goodness to them and how he constantly provides for their needs. Then John invited us to speak at the Youth meeting that evening. We were really happy to do so! So we spent the afternoon hanging out with their family...John & Paulina have been married for about 10 years. They have anywhere between 9-11 kids living with them at all times. It was so fun playing with the younger kids and talking with the older ones!! They even had two Rottweilers that reminded me of my parents' dog, Rocky! We also asked John about cell phone service and what we should do about that. He explained and then gave us an old cell phone that they had laying around, but that still worked. All we had to do was put money on the phone! Wow! We knew God was going to provide for us (even in Mexico), but we had no idea how!

We learned that John was going to be driving back to Morelos that evening to help out with some groups coming down that week from the US, so we asked him if we could ride with him. I called my "family" in Nueva Rosita to see if they were around because Morelos is pretty close to their house. They were, so they wanted to come get us. We weren't completely sure that this was what we were supposed to do, but it's been almost 2 years since I've seen my family there. I wanted to be there so bad, so we decided that we'd go on to Nueva Rosita after the youth meeting.

That evening we shared with youth...it was our first time in Spanish, so I was a little nervous. I translated for Chris and told my part of the story too. It turned out okay. They were attentive and responsive. They also helped me at the end of the service with a couple of words that I wasn't sure of. The pastor invited us to speak at the church on Sunday, but since we had already made plans, we had to decline the invitiation. (That made me doubt a little about whether we'd made the right choice or not...)

When John and several of the boys got ready, we headed out towards Morelos. He wanted to take us a little further to Allende where we would get out visas. That was were the Agüeros were going to meet us. We went in to get our visas...which can sometimes be time consuming and hard to get, but we walked in and out without any problems. Then when we got outside this guy selling food and drinks had come up to John and the boys to see if they wanted anything. When he saw us with our packs, he started asking a ton of questions. We told him what we were doing, and he started telling us city by city where we needed to go. (The same route that everyone else had told us, but with more detail!!) He was so excited about what we were doing for the Lord! We couldn't believe it...then he told us that he would be afraid to do something like that...it sounded a little crazy, but that God was going with us...He had put His protective covering over us and we were going to be just fine. What confirmation!!! (This guy came out of no where, so we don't know if it was really a man or a messenger from the Lord!!) We were so excited after meeting him!

Right as he finished sharing Hermana Benita and Ismael (part of my "family") came up! So we came on home and saw Raquel and Hermano Filemon. We ate a little supper--my favorite-potatoes with eggs, flour tortillas, and refried beans!! Then we went to get ready for bed because we were pretty tired. (The time changed on us when we crossed the border because Mexico hasn't started daylight savings time yet.) When I was just about to go to bed, Suzy and Libny got home from the circus. Then Eva, Juan, Joel, Reyna, and Jaciel all came in...they just so happened to be in Rosita for someone's birthday party. They knew I was coming into town so they stopped by on their way home. The kids all squished in to hug me at once! Oh, I've missed them so much! I hadn't even met Jaciel yet!! As Eva was going out the door she said...you arrived just in time to be my birthday present. Her birthday was that day! I was so excited that I could barely go to sleep that night!

Sunday morning we went to Sunday School at Templo Shalom FWB Church. Efrain (one of my "brothers") brought the lesson. We were learning about the man who asked Jesus for his son's healing...Jesus told him "Everything is possible for him who believes." The father responded, "I do believe; help me overccome my unbelief!" (Mark 9) We just have to trust in the One who hears our prayers...that He has the power to heal and to save even when we don't have any strength at all! After our lesson was over, the kids came in from their class and sang a song for us. (In the picture showing off their craft-l to r-Lessly, Luis, & Libny)

Sunday evening is when a lot of the Mexican churches have their big service. One of my favorite parts is when they "open the floor" to anyone who wants to thank the Lord. You can sing a song, read a scripture, give testimony about something the Lord has done that week, etc. So the kids came up to sing a song (l to r: Reyna, Libny, Joel, Luis). Several others stood to give testimonies or to sing!! Then Chris and I shared our testimony of this journey--of God's provision, protection, and direction along the way. At the end of the service, we got everyone together for picture. I also got to meet Hno Orelio's wife, Natalie, and their son, Daniel. Daniel is another miracle baby...they had been married 16-17 years before they had him. They didn't think it was possible to have a child...but with God the impossible can become possible. God has used Daniel to touch Natalie's life because she has never wanted anything to do with church or with God. She has not made a profession of faith, but she is attending church now. Seeds are being planted now, and we are trusting that soon she's going to know the Lord as her personal Savior!!

On Monday (3/19) morning, we learned of another reason why we came to Rosita when we did. The Agüeros were pouring a driveway at their house. In Mexico, that means a lot of work...there are no machines...so you mix the concrete by hand and then you haul it in a wheel barrow or in buckets to where it needs to go. To make the concrete you need equal parts of sand, cement mix, and gravel. Then you add water and mix with shovels. Chris, Chuy, and Luis mixed. Ismael (black shirt) made wheel barrow runs. Hno Cristobal, Hiram, and Hno Filemon (white shirt) leveled the wet cement. Susy (shovelling with RE), Raquel (with the hose) and I shovelled and manned the water. Hna Benita cooked for us all! The hard labor only lasted 4 hours or so the girls finished up at lunch time...just the guys kept working.

About mid-morning, two ladies who obviously weren't Mexicans came up to me and asked me what we were doing. Chris and I had noticed a van at the neighbors house that had "Derby Friends Church, Derby, Kansas" printed on the side. We immediately thought of the Cuthrells in Lexington, NC. We wanted to take some pictures or meet them, but we didn't really have time since we were working. So God sent Stacy and Julie to talk to us. They were down over their Spring break with about 200 other Friends from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Their group of 11 had been struggling a bit that morning because they weren't able to communicate very well while they were building. They thought they would have a translator, but they didn't so they weren't sure what they were going to do especially that evening for the Vacation Bible School. I couldn't believe it! (I told Chris the night before that I was sad because I didn't have anything with me to do a VBS, but I really wanted to...the kids are always asking me when I come into town to have VBS.) I quickly explained that I was a translator for VBS for 7-8 summers, and I would love to help them!!! They weren't sure what the pastor would say, so they told me that they would get back to me. I immediately started praying for God's will to be done. I wanted to help, but if something else was supposed to happen, I didn't want to work outside of the will of God. After lunch, they were having trouble understanding each other, so they called me over. I met the pastor, his wife, their daughter and their daughter-in-law, and translated for them. (I realized that I had played with their son, Marcos, in the street since he was about 5 years old.) After chatting for a bit, Pastor Antonio invited me to translate. I was soooo pumped up!! (The Regugio en Dios is the name of the church...it means Refuge in God!)

We met the rest of the Derby team...Shawn and Stacy are the youth pastors at the church. Bryan & Julie have come alongside of Shawn and Stacy to work with the youth over the past year. Stacy and Julie had both been praying for a friend because they both felt lonely, and God brought them together. We enjoyed being apart of their very special fellowship for a couple of days. The other seven team members are students from the youth group...Nicole, Megan, Teresa, Kyleen, Ryan, Jake, and Grant. Thanks for letting us be part of your team!! God used them to provide for us and used us to provide for them! What an amazing God we serve?!!

So Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night Chris and I went to Bible school and worked with the kids. We learned new songs, helped with games, and translated for the lesson and craft. Chris even got to play soccer at least one night!! Wednesday night, Pastor Antonio asked me to expand upon the lesson that the team brought for kids. It went okay...sometimes I try to rely on myself instead of the Lord. I've learned that I need Him not to just to teach me, but also to help me share it with others.

Tuesday during the day, we paid our visas (We have 180 days to leave Mexico.), worked on e-mail and updated the blog. Wednesday, Hno Milton invited us to his house to eat lunch. He owns the papeleria where I go to get my copies done every summer. When I didn't come by this past summer, he asked Hno Filemon about us. He explained where we were. So from time to time Hno Milton would ask Hno Filemon o Hna Benita about us especially after they told him about the journey that we are on right now. He told them that whenever we came to town that we should come see him. Wednesday we learned why...He's from El Salvador and a several of his siblings still live there! Two of his children also live in Monterrey (a city that we will more than likely pass through). He also wanted us to meet his wife, Adriana, and their daughter, Cinthia. We had a great time fellowshipping with them. Adriana is a special ed teacher, so we only got to talk with her for a short time. The schools here have two shifts--7-12 and 2-7, and she works both of them. Cinthia has been learning English for quite some time, so she practiced a little with us...I were pretty impressed with her skill!

Thursday we ran a few more errands and worked a little more on communicating with friends in the US. That evening, the Derby Friends invited us to the closing service in Agujita. Each team would give 2 testimonies of what God had done that week. Wow...it was amazing singing praised to the Lord with such a large group in two different languages! A little taste of heaven! Many of the students had really been touched by all that had happened during the week. Hno Samuel, the pastor of the friends church in Agujita, brought a short but powerful message. He took us to Luke 6:12-16, and he zeroed in on verse 15...I was a little puzzled at first because it was just part of the list of the disciples, but then he explained a little more. Matthew was a Jew who worked for the Roman government as a tax collector. Simon, the Zealot, belonged to a religious sect who hated the Roman government and wanted to overthrow it. Yet these two served together under the same calling from the Lord!! Wow! He encouraged us to do the same...lay aside our differences and fulfill the calling the Lord has given us as His disciples! So simple, yet so profound!!

After the service, we chatted with a few people and then the entire group 200+ gringos and our Mexican brothers and sisters went to eat together. It took hours, but it was a wonderful time of fellowship and sharing testimony! We really enjoyed being with them and were so thankful that they invited us to be apart of their group! It was the refreshing that we needed to continue on our journey!!

Friday was a recovery day…we just played with the kids at the house and relaxed.

Saturday, we washed clothes…a process that’s a little different than at home…it usually involves buckets of water, scrubbing by hand and some use of a washing machine. In the afternoon, we went with Susy to see if her friend could “open up” our phone (the one that the brother in Piedras Negras gave us). This process makes the phone work with different chips which means we don’t have to search for a new phone when we go into another country…we just buy a new chip...chips cost about $7 and phones can cost $50 or more. Her friend was able to help us (he even check to see if it would work if you changed the chip!), and we didn’t have to pay! Again…we witnessed God’s provision!!

Later Saturday afternoon, we went with Ismael to hand out tracts and to invite people to church. Raquel’s been a little sick, so she stayed at the church to pray for us while we were out and about. I was pretty impressed at her dedication because when I’m sick, I just want to lay in bed! We talked to people and handed out about 70 tracts each with a simple salvation message. By the time we finished it was pretty dark, so we went back to the house to hang out with the family a little more!

Sunday morning, we went to Sunday school and Raquel taught. (still feeling horrible, but praising the Lord just the same!) We learned about the man who was waiting for the angel to move the water so he could get in and be healed. He was trusting in an angel and water instead of the one who made them both! Jesus stood right before him, but he didn’t recognize Him! Sometimes we are like that too!

Sunday evening, they asked if I would bring the message, so I shared from Luke 5 about Jesus calling Peter and his co-workers to be fishermen of men! I’ve never realized until I was studying this passage this week that those guys left the biggest catch of their lives just laying on the beach and followed Jesus. I stand in awe of that! Are we that dedicated to Him?

There were several answers to prayer at the service that night…Hna Aurora’s husband has begun to come to church (we’ve been praying for him as long as I’ve been coming to Rosita—at least 8 year). Also Hna Matilde’s grandson, Jorge (on right), was there. They’ve been praying for him for quite sometime because he’s battling a drug addiction. Well, he’s in a drug rehab program here in Rosita now. He and another guy (Jorge also (in middle)) from the program came up at the end of the service to make a profession of faith! Chris and I were able to share Mikul’s testimony from Dilley with them, and they really seemed encouraged by his story!! Please be in prayer for Jorge and Jorge that God will make authentic changes in their lives and that they will be freed from their addictions.

Monday (3/26) Chris and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary!! We were walked to downtown to do a little work and spend some time together when this car pulled over. I was thinking to myself…and we don’t even have our packs on…why’s this guy stopping? Well, his name is Juan and he’s in Rosita visiting family. He’s lived in Dallas and a couple other cities in Texas for the past 16 years. We chatted for a few seconds because he was on his way to drop his cousin off at school. He offered his house and anything else that might help us that he had at his disposal, and he drove away. When we got to the road where he told us his house was, we looked and saw his house. We looked again, and we realized that he was waiting for us at the edge of the road. As it turns out, he went through the Kairos program when he lived in Texas. (This is the same program that the Jacksons and several others from Gonzales told us about. They had spent lots of time working with this program and had seen radical transformation take place in the participants.) He couldn’t stop talking about the authentic love that he found their and how God had given him a second chance. I had goose bumps just hearing his testimony…we had heard from the presenters, but to hear from a participant…oh what a blessing!! We are hoping to visit with Juan again today (Tuesday) before we head back to the Agüero’s house.

From there we walked around downtown for a bit, and then Chris wanted us to go out to eat. He had asked the Agüeros where he should take me, and Ismael had drawn a map for him. We ate at La Puntada…pretty good food for a restaurant, but not as good as Hna Benita’s food of course! Then we walked around a little more just reflecting on the awesomeness of our Lord and all that He has done in our lives. We stopped in for a mango milkshake for Chris and some yogurt for me as our dessert! Then we headed home.

Today, Tuesday (3/27) we are working on up-dating the site. We’re thinking that it’s time to go…maybe tomorrow. We’re praying about it because it usually ends up that our plans are different than the Lord’s…we definitely want His plans over our own! The next town of any size is about 75 miles away. It will be interesting to see God’s provision in getting us there!

We love y’all! God bless!

Below... 1) RE visiting with a family that lives in front of the church. 2) CE with some of the kids we invited to church on Saturday who came!!

3) RE with Libni (left) and Lessly (right) 4) RE with some of the kids from the neighborhood.

5) Spring in Mexico...I'm shocked to see all the flowers and how green everything is!! 6) A parade celebrating the beginning of Spring!

A few pictures from VBS!!!