Category Archives: Mexico – November 2016

Day Six – A Consuming Fire

img_20161125_152323Friday in Mexico was a sunny day, unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. After a fulfilling breakfast and some quiet time, we gathered for a final trip back to the Douglas Children’s Home. While there we did what no other sane group of humans would ever do: we prayed over the beds of every child at that home. It was single-handedly one of the most emotional things I’ve ever experienced. There were tears and feelings rushing through the air, wrapping us all in a cocoon of love and Godliness. We felt His presence, standing in those rooms with us and listening to the words we spoke over the beds and the children. I believe the I Am was smiling through our crying, and embracing us in the feelings of loneliness.

Later, we played at a beautiful park and ice skated at the local rink. Funny, when I think of Mexico, I would have never guessed that they would have an ice skating rink. The beautiful ducks swam and watched the children with curious eyes, the trees rustled and swayed in the soft breeze. You could see it in the eyes of the children, they were free.

Ice skating was a different story entirely. Most of them spent the majority of their time on their backsides, but they had a determination that dispels all belief in the fact that they couldn’t do anything. I can still see the face of the child that I helped around the ice as he looked up at me and just said, “Solo!” and so with a slight shove and silent prayer I sent him a few feet ahead of me. While he fell back several times, I was there to catch him every single time, and I don’t know his story, but something tells me that I was the first person to ever do that for him,and that’s a fact strong enough to nearly bring me to tears.

Well, our dear friends and families, the time has come. We all knew it would, but I don’t think the fact that time was passing really resonated with us until now. Through all the work, all the play and laughter and fun we’ve had here, I’m not sure any of us wanted it to end. God has planted a seed here, though; He’s begun a revolution in the hearts of these beautiful children that perhaps we can’t see, but it resonates through every passing gust of wind, through every echo of their sweet voices in our heads. We became a part of their life and in turn they became a part of ours, which is tough to think about because, personally I may never see them again. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, allowing someone to enter your life and then have them leave so suddenly.

I have a fact for everyone to dwell on with me: there are approximatekly 153,000,000 orphans on this planet (that’s one-hundred and fifty-three million in case you missed a zero). It is not my intention to sound insensitive, but that’s enough children to fill the Phillipines Arena (the largest arena in the world) 2,782 times over. That’s also the equivalent of adding the population of all five major cities in the world and doubling them. In other words, we have a problem, one that can only be fixed on an astronomical and emotional scale. We need God in this world, we need a Savior that understands our struggles and is willing to send His Son to come and die on a cross for every single one of us, we need a revival to sweep through these lands, crushing every soul and every heart and rebuilding them piece-by-piece.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 ESV

If you have yet to do so, please do research on Back2Back and come to complete terms with their mission. They aim to solve a problem that has plagued this earth for centuries and they cannot do it alone. We’ve been here a week and we’ve experienced only a fraction of what they do here and the hard work that they put in and I have to say that there is no way that I could do any of that. I’m not asking you to sign up for a donation plan, to move your life down here and live here for years, nor am I asking you to adopt a child from a foreign country, decisions like that are between you and God only. What I am asking you to do is simple: pray. Prayer is the match that sets the world ablaze, consuming everything it touches with a tenacious ferocity that hungers for more. Prayer is everything, as God is the great I Am. Last night our guide here said that here at Back2Back they seem themselves as the infantry and we at home are the Air Force, dropping payloads of prayer and love on them from above. It’s what they need, and even if you don’t believe in God or the power of prayer, I want you to close your eyes and kneel where you are and just say, “Jesus.” you don’t care what everyone else thinks, only that that name has the power to change the course of history.

Finally, we want to thank Back2Back for the amazing work that they do here and for all the love and support that they show these children every single day. Again, we cannot begin to understand what they all go through on a daily basis, but we sure are thankful for what they do. Thank you to everyone back home as well because without your continued prayer and support none of this could have been possible the way it was. So here’s to more safe travels and the adherence of the lessons we learned here. God Bless and may love consume this world like a vicious wildfire.

Day Five – Thanksgiving Day!

received_10211084816339255Now that I compromised the time line yesterday, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to say Happy Thanksgiving everyone! There are so many things that we are thankful for here that I would need a separate blog to include it all, but I think I speak for everyone when I say, “Thank you to all those that supported us on this missions trip and for your prayers and support you’ve given us.” I’m sure that you may have gotten tired of hearing me say that by now but it’s just because we really mean it.

Now, about Thanksgiving Day in Mexico! Looking back, it was a day of cooking massive portions of meals, setting up a beautiful tent and decorations, making the most delicious pumpkin pie from scratch, and sneaking bites of the delicious turkeys that we carved…wait, I mean, no we didn’t…?

Now, you may be wondering why we had such a massive celebration for a holiday in a foreign country that does not recognize it as such, and that is a good question! The meaning of Thanksgiving is to thank God for all the things He has done for us in the past year, and as one of the Mexican hosts we had yesterday pointed out, the holiday has become heavily commercialized in the states. Now, if you celebrate a holiday in a country that doesn’t recognize that holiday, then it’s as though you can go back to the roots of the holiday and not celebrate the money that it rakes in for some companies, you get to celebrate the blessings that God rains down on us every day.

Also, it was nice to be able to share such a holiday and national feast with those from another place. We fed them Turkey with cranberry sauce, sweet corn casserole (mama’s recipe), sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, scalloped potatoes, stuffing (or dressing if you’re old), and green bean casserole. In other words, we gave them the fixin’s. Afterwards we played games, took pictures at a “makeshift” photo booth (though I’m inclined to believe that it was in no way makeshift considering I would have lived in it), and enjoyed each other’s company, sharing what each other was thankful for.

All-in-all I would say that Mexico throws some pretty dope Thanksgiving parties, so you better watch out America, this land down south is coming up in a close second. As a group, we want to thank our hosts for their hospitality and acceptance of our culture and customs. We had a blast and enjoyed every second of the day as a whole.

So, we have one more full day here in Monterrey, which is definitely a bittersweet feeling. We have loved every second of this trip and, personally, I’m going to shed some tears when this is all over because despite being a homebody, I have had some of the best times here, and I’m going to miss them.

Now, we have a park and an ice skating rink to get to so I must bid everyone adios for now, and be sure to look out on Saturday for our final blog entry tomorrow morning! Thanks again to everyone for love and support and may God Bless everyone back home and everywhere!

Photo credits to the talented Chris Howe

Day Four – Pizza in Mexico

received_821863637955636¡Hola estamos en Mexico! ¡Hoy es el dia de gracias! For those of you that have never been introduced to the wonders of Google Translate I just said, “Hello from Mexico! Today is Thanksgiving Day!” and boy are we excited because we get to enjoy a massive American Thanksgiving dinner and get to experience a little bit of home right here in Mexico!

But before I get too excited, let me give you a run down of all the fun we had yesterday, and did we have a fun day indeed! Despite it possibly being the hardest any of us have worked in years, if ever, we did enjoy our time and not a frown could be seen for miles. We had teams working on moving a wall (which I was under the impression was not possible but I guess they showed me), a team trimming trees with machetes, a team that helped a local worker nail Styrofoam to an unfinished roof (which might seem odd but you must research Mexican roof building techniques and then you’ll understand the cleverness behind it), and a team that had to move nearly a hundred tiles, then dig out the ground beneath them and around them as well as level out said dirt and tamp it down. Yes indeed, a day filled with hard work and lots of pain but also lots of smiles.

I would like to point out the fact that we had pizza for lunch and Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner, making the ratio of American to Mexican meals we’ve had here close to 10:1, not that we’re complaining because everything we’ve had to eat here has been fantastically filling! I don’t know about everyone else but I was halfway expecting the food here to be like Taco Bell on steroids, and I don’t think I need to tell anyone that I was wrong on that one.

Our work here was tough and rough, but necesssary and fulfilling to say the least, and despite some minor injuries that some of us may have sustained, we are filled with joy and happiness at the opportunity to just be here.

As always, please continue to pray because we aren’t done here yet! We would also like to thank the Lord for His blessings and love and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us here in Monterrey! Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here and back home!

Photo credits to our own @eeast5

Day Three – Mexican Sunsets

fb_img_1479909157278Tuesday the 22nd marked day three for us, and it certainly came to a close much quicker than we all had anticipated! During debrief last night, our guide here gave us a phrase that has mountains of truth to it, “Here in Monterrey, the days seem like a thousand hours but the weeks feel like a thousand seconds.” and though some days full of play and fun seem to drag on and on, it’s difficult to think about the fact that the week is almost halfway over already.

The morning brought us to a session of trauma training, a very informative training meeting in which we learned so much about these amazing kids we are working with here. We all learned so much through that, and there is no doubt that it helped us in our interactions with the kids. I believe it is heavily worth noting that Back2Back has made this entire trip so easy and un-complicated, taking the burden of stress to an all new low. One of our guys here pointed out that Back2Back is so organized and so schedule-oriented that we feel as though they are taking care of us.

Our day at the Douglas Children’s Home was complete with work, work, some food, then more work, and then some play in the afternoon. We had groups all over the home working on different projects, each as important as the other. We had a group deep-cleaning a kitchen that would put Gordon Ramsey in a coma, a group cleaning the “papala” to no avail seeing as the children undid their work in a matter of moments, a group was painting columns on a church on a hill and when they had finished they descended looking like warriors from Braveheart, as well as a group that got to live the fantasy of breaking through walls with sledgehammers, and a group that painted over a lovely wall of lime-green and yellow. Everyone worked so hard and put their effort forth into everything they did, which made for a very quick work day.

In the evening we played with the kids, slid down the slide, ate a hot-dog dinner, and watched a sunset so gorgeous that it nearly rivals an Indiana sunset. It was such a wonderful day with these amazing kids and we are filled with sorrow that Wednesday is our last day with these kids, but the memories that we made here will remain, and we will therefore always be with them.

Again, your continued prayers are always appreciated, and we wish we could send a million more “thank you’s” back home to everyone that supported us. For now, a simple “Thank you!” is all we can give as well as the promise that we are going to continue to work with and play with these kids until we can’t move anymore. Much love from Monterrey Mexico, and God bless!

Photo credits to our amazing photographer Chris Howe

Days One and Two – The Image of God

fb_img_1479830519495Where to begin…

It’s hard to put into words exactly how much of a blessing this trip has already been. We’ve been here only one whole day with the kids and we have already begun shedding tears and delighting in the amazing atmosphere this place brings.

Let’s go back to the beginning so as to get the full story. We began our journey at the Indianapolis Airport at 4:30 in the morning after passing through the entrance with 25 degree air at our backs. Thankfully we were able to leave all that behind when we boarded our first plane to…Chicago. So we finally left it all behind when we boarded our second plane to Monterrey,  Mexico. It was a long day full of mini-naps and plane rides.

When we landed in Mexico, we all let out a metaphorical and physical (not to mention mental) sigh of relief. One long trip through customs, long hallways, baggage claims, more hallways, the entire airport, and then across the sidewalk afront the building brought us to the bus that took us through the city itself. With the sightings of an H&M, a GAP, and that beautiful golden beacon that is the logo of Burger King, it felt as though we were in a North American city that had embraced its Mexican heritage.

Our arrival at the Back2Back campus had us all crying out for the sweet embrace of blankets and pillows, and (for some of us) the fulfilling intake of a full Thanksgiving meal. So we unpacked the bus, had a tour, had a meeting, had some lunch, and then some free-time which was the highlight of the day for a portion of us travelers.

All-in-all, day one was a success and a great time. Still, we had much to do, after all, God hadn’t sent us to Mexico to rest and eat!

Day two came upon us with a swift kick to the cranium. We awoke, had breakfast, and then enjoyed a very entertaining lesson from a staff-member in which we learned about the mission here. She had us pumped up to meet those sweet kids and show them the love of Christ. And so, with the wind at our backs, our backpacks on our backs, and without looking back, we headed out for a long and treacherous journey to the Douglas Children’s Home, which happens to be a whole half-mile away.

The tour of the children’s home was very humbling indeed. While we were able to see some of the handi-work of the previous Trader’s Point group, we also saw the parts of the home that were in desperate need of work, and we are here to answer that call.

It was a long day full of playing, laughter, physical exhaustion, and interacting with some of the most adorable children we have perhaps ever seen (with the exception of our own of course). At first we played a few games to get us all acquainted with each other. One game that was particularly memorable was called “Mango Mango” which was originally called “Mingle Mingle” but like a real-life game of telephone, the translation was lost somewhere down the line! After meeting each other, it was time to play. The children led us around and despite the large barrier we call “foreign language” we somehow were able to communicate so well with these blessings from Heaven.

We ate with them, played with them, talked with them and walked with them, and the biggest blessing of all was being able to see the smiles on their faces as they finally had someone to play with, someone to give them the attention they need as children. I don’t want to make the homes seem like they are inadequate though because they certainly do a better job than any of us could. Due to the fact that not everyone can spare the time or themselves for very long, the homes are slightly short on caregivers, which are basically full-time parents, cooks, janitors, baby-sitter, and more all rolled into one. It’s a job that rivals the top spot of “worlds deadliest profession”.

After arriving back at the campus, we were all filled with the joy in knowing that we had shown those kids just how special they truly are, and perhaps they will soon understand that God loves them all even more than that.

At debrief last night (a meeting we have every night before bed) our leader from Back2Back brought up a great story that I thought needed sharing. Apparently a few weeks back she had been tasked with leading a large group of 7th and 8th graders, and during their debrief, a thirteen-year-old girl brought up this wonderful thought. She said, “Today I realized that we were all made in God’s image, and because of this we all must share something about us. I noticed [today] that no matter what you did for those kids, they still smiled and still laughed. I believe that that is what God is like, that is His image in us. He is laughter and joy and happiness.” If that bit of knowledge doesn’t knock your socks off then I don’t know what will.

Here’s to looking forward to another great day with these wonderful children of Christ. We have enjoyed our short time with them thus far and we look forward to the rest of the time we will have with them! As usual, prayers are appreciated! Also, a tremendous “Thank you!” to all those that have encouraged us and been praying for us on this trip, God is working on and through us all! God bless!