Monday, July 30

How to find the center

Drive down the highway
Turn at the Corona sign.

Monday, July 16

Crossing the border, take 2

So, I'm starting to wonder if every single border crossing is going to be filled with excitement and frustration. I suppose when you deal with two border crossing teams where you "lose" your rights to say or do anything, other than "yes, sir" or "si, senor", then excitement and frustration should be expected.

Yesterday's adventure started at the dark hour of 4:30 AM (!!!). Everyone was bleary-eyed as we loaded up. Our envoy contained three vans of people and the center's ghetto van, which held every one's luggage plus Erin and I and our visiting friends who flew home yesterday. We led the envoy in our center's van (some day I'll have to do a post on the ghetto van and share all it's glory with you!).

When we arrived to the border, Erin commented that it had been a long time since she had seen that particular border's line being so long. According to the border crossing wait time, it was only an hour's wait but little did we know! Erin chose what is the typically the fastest lane but our visiting friend Drew informed us that because Drew was with us, all four vans would be subject to his "gift." His gift is simply that whatever line he is in becomes the longest wait time. Sure enough in our chosen "fast" wait, the projected wait time turned into 2.5 hours. We were all sweating buckets as the ghetto van has no air conditioning and the driver side window doesn't roll down.

When we reached the border, we crossed first. For some reason, the border guy wasn't too excited about the 40 pieces of luggage in the back of van and then requested that we proceed to the second inspection! Thankfully we were the only van to be send to 2nd inspection...everyone was passed through just fine.

We parked the van to wait for an officer's attention and direction. A70 year old-ish female officer comes to our vehicle and told us that she needs every bag to be unloaded for inspection. The four of us start to undo our seat belts when she commands that only one of us can get out. So Erin hops out and starts the process of unloading all 40 bags. After the woman officer left, a kinder male officer came around...I asked him if I could help Erin to which he replied, "sure, no problem." Praise the Lord! So Erin and I unloaded them all, the woman came back and look through 5 bags, and shortly thereafter, we were told we could go. So Erin, Drew, and I loaded up all the bags, once again. And after that additional 20 minute-ish delay, we were back on the road to meet up with the team. The team got to the airport with about 1 hour to spare. And that was part 1 of our exciting adventure on Saturday. Part 2 was the trip home.

In Mexico, we stopped for gas. Here in Mexico, attendants fill your tank. While gas was being filled into our two tanks, the attendant checked the oil, only to discover that our oil (and other fluids) were all very low. She poured in three liters of oil and a couple of other items. We were finally good to go about 15 minutes later. However, when Erin tried to start the ghetto van, the battery only chugging or turning over. So we had to have a old Mexican cowboy help us out by jump starting our van. He was thankfully about to get us going again, much to our relief. At this time, we were still about 1.5 hours away from home so have asked our teammates to rescue us would have been a big long deal. Needless to say, it was a crazy day. We all came home very very tired.

And next Saturday, I get to go up there again! Who knows what exciting adventures await!?!

Wednesday, July 11

Photos of Mexico

It took only the first team for someone to say that I need a Mexican boyfriend. They then shared their opinion with the local Mexican pastors which got them all excited. After I took this picture, I erased the message...I wasn't brave/foolish enough to drive around with it.

We had a pinata for the 4th of July!

Every Thursday night, we take the groups to the beach to play in the water and sand, and to see the sunset.

Fishing boats. I love this picture...the dusky colors, the waves, etc.

Friends of mine and interns: Rachel and Josue

Monday, July 9

Migrant workers

There are three Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastors in the city where I'm living. One of the churches is located in the heart of agricultural fields: asparagus, squash, corn, etc. This church's congregation consists largely of migrant workers. People who have traveled for days, with their family, to come up to the Ensenada region for a better life. However, this better life often means working sunrise to sunset (5am? to 8pm?) either 6 or 7 days a week. Their families live in, what we would call, shacks: buildings that look like they'd top over if a strong wind or rain ever came through. Moreover, I was told that they receive minimum wage which according to another webpage is $57.46 pesos/day, which is approximate $4.25/day.

In most families, both parents work this schedule, leaving the children to fend for themselves. In my first week here, I had the privilege of babysitting a 2 month old baby girl, just so that her 7 year old sister could play soccer with the other kids. Seeing 7 or 8 year olds toting around their 2 year old siblings is not uncommon. They have the responsibility of caring for them while their parents are working. It's a bit shocking to see from our North American point of view. And yet God cares for each of these kids. He is the protector and champion of children. He is the father to the fatherless, which these kids essentially are for a large percentage of their day.

One good thing about this migrant community is that they genuinely desire to take care of each other. In some ways, it has a "it takes a village to raise a child" feel to it...they would support and defend each other. However, with most of the adults gone, the children are vulnerable. One such 14 year old girl was raped two years ago when she was home alone and is now the parent of a 2 year old...a child raising a child.

These children have woven their way into the heart of this one pastor. His small church has at least 75 children (and approximately 30 adults). He desires to have them know God, through regular Sunday school lessons. He also desires to start a before-school and after-school program to teach them English, help them with school-work and provide them a safe place to be while their parents are not home. And the more time I spend out at Pastor Reynerio's church, the more my heart is being tied to these children and this community. In fact, not knowing Pastor's Reynerio's before and after school desires, I mentioned last week to a coworker that an after school program is needed for the same reasons listed above. My friend Rachel turned to me after I said this and told me excitedly that this is what Pastor Reynerio has wanted.

I'm not sure what lies in my future in regards to this ministry. However I will continue to pray about this ministry potential and for the well-being and growth of these children.

Monday, July 2

A great story

There are a few Bible stories that ignite my mind and heart, more than others; ones that really get me thinking and make me want to teach about them or at least share about them with others. Stories that continually teach me about who Jesus is or how I should live.

I know I already touched on this particular story before but it's so good that, in my opinion, it deserves another post!

This particular story is located a couple places in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John): Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5: 21-43, and Luke 8:40-56. It's the story of Jarius' daughter and the old woman.  May I briefly recount the story to you?

Jesus crosses a sea, only to be met by a synagogue leader named Jarius, who requests that Jesus come quickly to heal his daughter. The daughter is very ill and near death. Jesus agrees to come heal the daughter and the whole entourage starts immediately walking throug the time to waste.

And yet in the midst of that, an old woman is present who had been hemmoraging for 12 years! (Ladies, let's all have a moment of silence to sympathize with this poor woman.) She had visited many doctors, which had taken much of her money, hadn't help, and left her feeling like a medical guinea pig. Plus, over the years, her health had only grown worse. But she sees Jesus and thinks "if I could just touch his robe, maybe I'll be healed." After all, what had she to lose? So she reaches out, touches His robe and finds herself immediately and knowingly healed. But then Jesus immediately stops and asks, despite the pressing crowds, who it was that touched Him. This woman fearfully steps forward and Jesus shares a moment validating and blessing her.

Once that is finished, the entourage starts their journey again. However they are quickly met by a servant of Jarius' who sadly informs them all that Jarius' daughter has already died. Jesus quickly assures Jarius to "only believe" and they continue on their way. Then when they get to the house, Jesus heals the daughter, who immediately get up and starts walking. Amazing!

There are so many little things about this story that I love:
  • Jesus is willing to heal anyone, from little girls to old women
  • Jesus is willing to heal anyone, from high-offical's daughters to societial "rejects"
  • Jesus allows for an interruption, even when He is on a set assignment. He doesn't allow for this "to do" list to become more important than meeting the needs of people who cross His path, even though it means His plans are interrupted.
  • Jesus takes the time to speak and show loving compassion to this destitute old woman, who probably felt rejected, bruised in her body and soul, and alone.
  • Jesus sees impossible situations as opportunities for God to be glorified through miraculous healings.
  • Jesus invited others to be a part of His ministry, like His disciples.
I am challenged, in this story, to be more like Jesus in my actions. I guess that is why it always seems to get me excited and thinking.

Sunday, July 1

My first conversation

For the last week, I've been having good conversations with various Americanos but when it came to the Mexicans, it was mainly "hola, como estas"...which means hi, how are you? After that I would get lost when they'd start rattling off in Spanish. Of course I could occasionally pick up a word or two or three but really couldn't communicate anything other than how my health was.

But yesterday, I got to have an actual conversation!
Our cook's name is Leyda, who is a gem. She pronunciates very clear and speaks slowly for those of us who are not yet novices. This was incredibly helpful as I was able to understand more of what was being said!

We started our conversation talking about coffee and then it moved to whether or not I like Ensenada and the weather in western Washington. We also talked about where she is previously from (Mexicali). Then she talked about how I can understand Spanish if someone speaks slowly and lastly about how I will learn Spanish, in short time, like my fellow coworker Brian.

I was pretty giddy after having a real conversation (still am)!
It's definitely hard feeling very limited in what I can say and understand. Plus, I won't be starting language training until I have the whole summer to be a bit lost, although I'm sure even before then there'll be improvements.

Anyhow, thought I'd share this little highlight with you all.
Happy Sunday!