Today, a bittersweet day, was our last time in Monterrey with the kids.
We started off the morning with full bellies from our Thanksgiving feast and headed to our last talk with the Back2Back staff, which reflected on the Foster care system that they have created here in Monterrey. It was an enlightening experience to hear about all the effort that they put into this program so that these kids can get more focused one-on-one mentoring or more of an ideal, traditional family.
Next we headed over to Douglas to finish off some projects that we had started this week. Thats right you guessed it! More concrete fun for our group! We finished off a patio and sidewalk for the home and the men finished the wall they drywalled. We received much praise from our leader, Irving, who thanked us for our hard work all week and how much we were able to accomplish. He said our hard work allowed him to finish things he didn’t think would get done for a long time! The lady chefs of our group also went in and cooked a HUGE pot of spaghetti for our team and the children from the home.
One of our most cherished memories was being led by Sammy and Irving to pray over each individual child’s bed. They placed each child’s picture on their bed and we were able to pray for these wonderful children that we met. So many emotions were felt not only by us individually, but a collective outcry to the Lord was felt in the room. Even some younger children began to cry and it was so meaningful to see that they understood the magnitude of that moment. We had specific, tangible experiences with these children and now we were seeing where they lived and how truly how blessed we are. This was such a great moment to sum up the week and allow us to truly feel the weight of the love we had for these children.
We then served them lunches, ate with them and later played more games. Throughout Casa Hogar Douglas you would see the younger boys and girls playing on the slide with some of the children from Douglas, the older boys playing soccer or under the palapa with games, the girls playing on the swings and even some wrestling matches! We even got to play our last soccer game with the kids from the home and had some of our big guys from TPCC play. It was an intense match-up of the Americans vs. the Mexicans! Its no surprise who won, the children from the home definitely beat us out.
That was when Sammy told us it was time to leave. All of our hearts sank a little. Our goodbyes that lasted 10-15 minutes, were some of the hardest moments, but in these moments we remember what the Back2Back team taught us in using this love to make a change.
We all discussed at our debrief what God was teaching us and how to allow this change to take place back in the states.
Picture of the Day: Ben
Ben shared with the group how his son, Will made such a beautiful connection with one of the children at the home and at the good-bye even began to cry a little. This touched him so much to know that his son was gaining something out of the experience and truly feeling for his friend from the home.
We are so, so full. That is the only word I can think of to describe our attitude in this moment. We feel filled with the spirit and God’s wonderful heart for orphans. We have such a good, good Father and feel blessed to be used by Him to carry out His plan for these children’s lives.
Goodnight for the last time from the TPCC Monterrey Team.
Today was so special to our whole group, because it was Thanksgiving! We have been continually blessed as a group, because we come to serve and yet we are served in return.
All of the Back2Back Staff came around us and prepared such an amazing day. Not only the Back2Back staff, but the families from the Hope Program served us today. They opened their homes and allowed a family from Traders Point to come in and be apart of their Thanksgiving dinner and family time. Every single TPCC family had good feedback and said it was such a special time for them.
To begin each TPCC family was paired with a house and was assigned a traditional side dish to help prepare (sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole etc). Which was such a great way to bond with the family despite a language barrier. We were able to eat with the family and even had ice breaker questions in both languages.
After dinner, we walked up to the beautifully decorated Palapa for a time of worship and reflection. The worship team sang beautifully in both languages and recited meaningful verses as well. There was a resounding unified voice that radiated throughout the cold night, even with people from all different walks of life and different languages. There were also thought-provoking stations that asked each person to reflect on different aspects of their faith. For example, one asked us to write down on a sheet of paper a lie we believed about ourselves and then nail it to the cross. After we would write on a new nametag of what God says of us and what is true.
This along with worship allowed each of us to take a moment to stop and think about our moments throughout this week and what God has been teaching us. The spirit moved in this precious moment and will be a favorite memory for our team for a long time.
We are so grateful to the Back2Back team, the Hope Program families and God himself for this wonderful Thanksgiving day. We are truly blessed and have been given immeasurably more than we could ever ask for.
The Monterrey team was extremely excited to begin our 4th day of work and play at Douglas.
We started off the morning with another Trauma Competent Care with Sammy, which allows all of us to learn about some of the science behind certain things we observe in the home. Then we headed to Douglas to begin another day of fun with Concrete making! The technical men again worked on the wall that they had previously moved and were able to dry-wall it today. They said it was both awkward when the girls came home to see them in their home, but also exciting once the girls realized that these strange men were actually going to allow them to have all their kitchen appliances in one place. The concrete team continued their fervor from the first day, but this time carried the heavy concrete all the way down a hill and through an alleyway and up a ramp. The concrete team would like to extend a huge thank-you to the engineering skills of young Zach. He fashioned a wonderful ramp for all the hard workers to wheel their concrete up! It would have been way more difficult without his careful crafting! We had some spills, some falls, some trips and some injuries, but we ended up finishing and definitely impressing Irving our work team leader.
The second half of the day was the absolute favorite of many. We got to take all of our wonderful kids to the…ZOO!
While Sammy set our expectations low, we each were paired up with two Mexican children and took on a scavenger hunt at the zoo and had an amazing time! Some of us were even able to learn new spanish words for animals. Except for Nate, who recalled confidently at our debrief, “My team saw the ‘Pavo Real’ which I don’t know if you all know, but thats Flamingo!” We all had to laugh, because “Pavo Real” is actually spanish for Peacock. We all had a great laugh out of it. Now, to top it all off, we got to eat some delicious chicken at “El Pollo Loco!” In my opinion, this was my favorite meal here so far, although not very good for you. We all had such an amazing time in our teams that allowed us a more intimate setting to get to know the children from Douglas.
Picture of the Day: Julie
Julie shared with us how awesome it was to see all the young kids on shovel duty. Since we had to haul all the concrete down a huge hill, most of the adults were on wheel-barrow duty, and so the kids were tasked with shoveling all the sand into the machine- no easy feat. Julie described how proud she was to see how they worked so hard and were able to get the job done efficiently, without complaining.
**Since it was such an eventful day, we will do two pictures of the day.
Picture of the Day: Kate
Kate shared how awesome it was to see the kids getting comfortable with us volunteers. She explained a sweet instance, where one of the boys from Douglas was so tired from playing that he snuggled up and fell asleep on Nate’s lap on the bus.
It is these proud and sweet moments in which we see God teaching and revealing more to us. The picture of the day reminds us to be present throughout the day, open to experiencing God at work in any moment. We all feel the change stirring within our own hearts and hope to continue to individually fully take part in this process.
Goodnight and blessings from the Monterrey Team.
Our third day was my personal favorite thus far. We began our day by heading to Douglas and were split into 2 teams. The first team of our more technical guys went up to a room and actually moved a wall to make more room for these young girls’ kitchen. Then the second team was blessed with the task of pouring concrete. We were shoveling sand, pouring water, and adding cement into a huge (and loud) machine, to produce concrete that would help make a walkway and small patio near the boys dorm. Everyone worked extremely hard. We had shovelers, wheel-barrow movers, water pourers and cement handlers. It was awesome to see everyone contribute to one unified product. We were all very proud to see a smooth patio and walkaway at the end of the day. Some of my favorite observations were seeing young kids like Trey working extremely hard and getting almost covered in cement. Also Carlie, or as we like to call her: Wonderwoman, getting cement ALL in her hair and yet continuing to work even harder.
After a grueling day of work, we enjoyed a mole sauce with chicken with the kids and began our time of play. We again played soccer in the fields in between the mountains and TONS of uno of course! We grilled out hamburgers later and bonded with the kids over some of the food we really enjoy.
Picture of the day:
Suzanne: Suzanne shared with us how she was able to bond with Carime. She shared this moment where Carime reached up with her arms for Suzanne to hug her and how this melted her heart. Suzanne has a shared a desire to either be a mother to many children or even eventually adopt a child. She is opening her heart to what God may show her while she is here, that relates to his future plan for her.
A verse we all were able to meditate and focus on today was:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Goodnight and blessings from the Traders Point Monterrey Team
The TPCC Monterrey, Mexico team had a little bit of trouble getting the internet to work, so we are going to recap day 1 and 2.
The team arrived in Mexico and got settled into our new home for the week, the Back2back campus. We were given a tour of the beautiful campus and also got to meet some of the amazing families in the Hope Program. Sammy, our guide and leader for the week, gave us an overview of the week and some things we may encounter as we visit the sites. She helped us all understand the importance of “Indiscriminate Friendliness” and being able to set a good example for these children on how to interact with strangers. Later, the families in the Hope program showed us some wonderful hospitality and allowed each family from the Monterrey team to eat with them at a picnic table and get to know them. We all bonded over some yummy hotdogs and other cook-out food.
After our tummies were full, the sun began to set over the mountains and the cool air set in. Some of the kids continued to play with the Back2back staff kids and soon we all headed to bed after a long, but amazing first day.
We all awoke again to a beautiful mountain scene and were eager to began our first day at “Casa Hogar Douglas.” As we arrived, we were given a tour by Sammy of the whole campus and the way of life for these beautiful children. Then we began our first work project. Half of the team (the stronger half in my opinion), worked on moving a huge load of sand to another location on the campus, so that the following day we could pour concrete to create a new walkway. Meanwhile, the other half of the team moved a ginormous load of wood from the bottom of the campus all the way up a hill to organize in a shed. After our legs and arms were sore, we waited for the kids to come back from visiting some family members (this day was the Mexican Revolution Holiday.) As soon as the children trickled in, each member of the Monterrey team jumped in! Reese and Myah befriended a young girl they call “Jujah” and played on the slide for hours. Ethan was able to see a friend he made last year named Kenan! He was so excited to reconnect and see him again. Many of the kids and adults who were a little nervous about the language barrier, were able to jump in and have so much fun nevertheless. Unsurprisingly, countless soccer games were played. Even those who were not big on soccer jumped in and enjoyed relaxing with the game after a long day of work. One of our favorite parts of the day, was getting to play in this huge field behind Douglas right in between the mountains, not only was the scene beautiful, but we were able to see everyone get involved and have fun.
Dinner was served by two chefs that cook for Douglas, called “Discola” which was huge mix of meat and vegetables. We all enjoyed our very first day at Douglas even with our bumps and bruises. Sammy helped us debrief our very first full day in Monterrey and began our night recap tradition of the “Picture of the Day.” I will share someones picture of the day each day on here to help show our collective experience. (The picture of the day is each individual’s favorite moment of the day in a “snapshot.”)
Day 2: Picture of the Day: Carlie’s picture of the day was seeing her young 8 year old daughter, Anna, play on the swings with a young girl from Douglas. Her Dad, Shane, also said his picture of the day was this moment, because at one point he saw Anna comforting the young girl when she was crying. It was a great reminder to all of us that despite a language barrier, we can show the love of Jesus to each and every child here just with simple acts of kindness. Anna was a great example for us all on Day 2.
We are so excited for Day 3 to see what God continues to teach us.
The Mexico mission trip with Back2Back Ministries was definitely one of the most impactful experiences of my life. First of all, I learned that a group of nearly-strangers (17 of us!) can come together and become an authentic and unified team when we all put Christ ahead of ourselves and take on a servant’s heart. Secondly, under the leadership of the superb staff at Back2Back, we received excellent training on how to work more effectively with kids from challenging backgrounds. That was one of the biggest positive surprises for me–the ministry really invests in those who are coming to serve with them, even though we are there for only a few days.
The experience was humbling; it was and is almost overwhelming to think about how God has blessed me with so many privileges when others have so little. This was the most poignant for me when we were doing our prayer walk through the kids’ residences on our last day there.
As I reflect back two weeks after returning from Monterrey, I can see that God used this trip to clearly remind me of my need to trust him to guide my path and my decisions. He has chosen me for a purpose and that is to serve him wholeheartedly.
~ Russ Baker
This trip was truly life changing in so many ways for me. My prayer from the beginning was that God would push me out of my comfort zone, although I didn’t really know how that would happen. I’m a teacher who was going to work at an orphanage, so everything seemed right up my alley. Throughout the week, I was given opportunities to do two major things which I never in a million years would have thought I’d volunteer for. The first was climbing up onto a roof to apply thick layers of Thermotek to keep water from leaking into the house. The second was to build a wall on the entrance of the orphanage. I gained a new respect for cement trucks that mix cement for you, but we did it by hand with shovels two days in a row. God definitely gave me so many little situations throughout the week that pushed me to new places in my faith as well, and I’m so extremely grateful.
Overall, the most encouraging parts of this trip were the relationships built and amazing teamwork that came with that. I have never met a group of people who come together from all different places in life, but mesh like family. During the most intense projects, our team worked so well together taking over when others needed a moment to grab water or just rest. I can’t accurately express how amazing the teamwork was. I truly believe this was possible because of everyone’s openness to forming new relationships and growing together as a group. God brought us together for a reason, and I really feel that we were able to make a huge impact during such a short time spent in Mexico. I cant wait to go back and work with Back2back again!
~ Brianna Baker