Notes from the Field: Mexico Outreach Day 1
During the next two weeks, 2,500 high school youth and adults, including 250 Azusa Pacific University students, are spending Easter Vacation serving the people of Ensenada and Mexicali through APU's Mexico Outreach Program, now in its 39th year. Here's a glimpse of what's happening straight from the teams.
Ministry: Day 1
Had an amazing first day of ministry! Started work on a home for a single mother of two. I wish I could describe the look on her face, as our whole team was out tearing up the ground, getting it ready for the concrete foundation. It seemed like the entire local community was out watching us, and at the end of the work day, some people from a local taco stand brought us delicious carnitas tacos hot off the grill. What an amazing first day!
Rolling Hills Community Church
We breezed through the border on Saturday and set up camp quickly so we could get to Pastor German’s house for an afternoon lunch and celebration. It was a great afternoon, and gave us time to talk to the pastor about the Mexicali Valley and safety concerns. He calmly assured us that things are no different in the Mexicali Valley than they have been. He said there are only “the usual” stories of trouble, nothing out of the ordinary.
We enjoyed a great worship service yesterday and a feast that families offered us as a greeting, a welcome, and a thank you for being there year after year. God’s name was praised, long-standing friendships were renewed, and we felt as if we were honored guests and treasured friends.
This week in the Mexicali Valley already promises to be one of the highlights in our 21 year history here. All of us who overcame the fears raised by the news media feel so blessed to be here.
Grace Lutheran Church
Gloria a Dios. Gloria a Dios. Gloria a Dios. Amen!
We are finally in Mexico and doing the Lord’s work. It’s amazing to see and witness the power of prayer. We went to our site today expecting to purchase supplies for more than 100 kids. We made a list and checked it twice. After we checked out the site, everything we needed was already there. Bruce, Evonne, Olivia, and Roberto, our site directors, helped us out so much. God totally provided and multiplied. Just like the five loaves and the two fish we talked about during chapel today.
We were able to attend church and watch kids as young as four years old recite verses by memory and declare God’s glory. We hung out with the kids and made a “Bienvenidos Niños” sign to let the kids know that we were here. Later, we were able to visit with the community and practice our Spanish. Everyone welcomed our presence and there was no sign of danger. Through that, we could see how much God is in control. All the worries some people had about the violence was no where to be seen. We only saw love and smiles and more than anything, we felt God’s presence in everything. It’s only day one and God is working in only ways He can.
APU Team, Orphanage “Helping Hands”
The first day of hospice ministry is over! As we walked in this morning, I recall watching my teammates greet some of the hospice patients near the entrance. Our objective was to show the residents of “Casa de Paco” as much love as we could in tangible ways so that our actions would reflect the One who first showed us love, Jesus Christ.
One thing that challenged me at first was the language barrier. I found myself running into conversational walls whenever I couldn’t find the words. (I haven’t spoken Spanish since high school.) However, I remembered that not only in my words could I speak God’s name and God’s love; smiles were an amazing tool.
What really surprised me were the stories of the people living there. One man was suffering from several moderate injuries, ranging from his knee to his shoulder to his hand. He has no family to take care of him, and so he was sent to Casa de Paco. I learned that he was a very talented musician on trumpet, drums, and guitar. Despite his injuries, he was so thankful that he was still able to play one instrument, the guitar. He blessed us with his story, even if it wrecked my heart, not because he was without a family, but because he could still remain in good spirits and good faith regardless of his circumstances.
I cannot tell you what the long term of heaven is like, but I can tell you that I am discovering more and more of it each day, and will continue to hope and pray that we will learn to hold fast to God as many here do regardless of their situation.
APU Team Luke, Hospice: Casa de Paco
Returning to the hospice has been a time of excited anticipation. After leading a team last November and visiting in February, coming back to continue relationships is an awesome blessing. Today was spent re-connecting with the residents and staff members, catching up about what happened since we’ve been away. Thankfully, most of the residents are in relatively good health!
The most significant encounter of my day was connecting with a 26-year-old resident who is disabled and suffering from HIV infection. With the help of our translator, Jennifer Bamaca, who was able to share her testimony, we discussed the love of Christ, the forgiveness he offers, the problem of hypocrisy in the Church, and the possibility of purpose in the midst of a disease.
Yet this patient has hope, and that realizes the fact he survived the drug abuse is a miracle from God. After sharing a poem he wrote about perseverance in the midst of such an isolating and hopeless disease, we asked him if he would be willing to write a letter of encouragement to an HIV/AIDS colony in Thailand that I heard about and may have a chance to visit. Our friend was excited to have this opportunity and said he will give us his letter of encouragement by Thursday! Praise God!
To all the parents and loved ones of Team Luck Hospice members, your sons/daughters say “Love Ya!” and thank you for your prayers.
Daralynn Glazer, co-leader
APU Team Luke, Hospice: Casa de Paco
Posted: April 6, 2009