After many tearful goodbyes, we all traveled safely back to Indiana. Thank you for all who contributed financially to our trip and for all those who prayed for us. It truly was an amazing week and we feel so blessed in being a part of God’s work in McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico. We’d all love to share our stories with you personally!
Rise and shine everyone! Christ has risen from the dead!
This morning, the Indianapolis team woke up relatively early to attend the “Sunrise Service,” the Shepherd Community church hosts this service annually. During worship, we interchanged the language from English and Spanish, which was really fun and interesting.
Next, we all walked over to the cafeteria, the other side of the parking lot, and we ate breakfast. During breakfast, Cameron was showing Nicki how to do hand motions to a children’s song, but then Cameron hit Erica’s hand which caused her to spill her coffee all over the floor in epic, Disney-Channel-esque extravagance.
After we had finished breakfast, we all helped set up chairs because there was a much higher turn out rate than expected. The best part about the service was people’s testimonies. The way they shared their testimonies was by writing on a poster board who they were before on one side, and then wrote about where they are now on the other side. One person was a “crack addict,” but now they have been “clean [for] 1 year 5 months and 27 days.” One person was “homeless,” but then “God provided shelter” for them. Also, there was one person who was a “convicted felon,” but now they are a “devoted counselor.” There were too many testimonies that had been shared, and I can’t cover them all. From just reading about some of those testimonies in the church, I realized that God can make us “new” again by Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice.
After the service we passed out “spring break bags.” Spring break bags are bags filled with food products that are then given to families who need food through their spring break. Most of those families don’t even know when their next meal will be, so Shepherd provides food bags to help the parents out.
Later in the afternoon, we all went to the Eiler’s house to play with their children and eat dinner (Mrs. Eiler is a 3rd grade teacher at Horizon Christian School within Shepherd). At the park, we all did an Easter egg scavenger hunt. While we were all waiting for our leaders to hide the Easter eggs, we started singing children’s songs to pass the time. Yes, of course we had hand motions, and of course people stared at us.
Next, the team had a debrief session, which involved discussions of the highlights of the trip, reactions to returning to Taylor, and writing notes of encouragement to each other. After that we all played a new mafia game that we made up, which involves the cast of Harry Potter. And to wrap up the last full day of the Indianapolis Spring Break Missions Trip, we all decided to watch “A Cinderella Story.” It was a full day, but a great (“lit”) end to our week together.
Thank you all for partnering with us all! We have grown so close as a team and we have all learned so much about God, ourselves, and poverty. It has been a truly rewarding experience. We would love to share our experiences with you after the trip, so feel free to ask! Thanks again.
“The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated
Forever he is glorified
Forever he is lifted high
Forever he is risen
He is alive, He is alive!”
“Forever” by Kari Jobe
Today our team was able to reflect upon and celebrate Jesus’s resurrection and the sacrifice He made for us. We started off our day at a church service led by a group of house churches (neighborhood church) at the SOS complex. It was amazing to spend the morning in fellowship and community with the people of Memphis openly sharing our struggles and together rejoicing in the Hope that we have. Today we were able to reflect upon our week and the ways in which we saw God work within the community and even in our own hearts. Over the weekend we spent time exploring Memphis, making a spontaneous drive to Mississippi for lunch, and learning as we walked the halls of the National Civil Rights Museum.
Perhaps it’s safe to say that this trip to the National Civil Rights Museum left the largest impact out of the weekend’s events. We were challenged to step into the shoes of those who blazed a trail. We were challenged to ask ourselves: What would I do if I lived in those turbulent times? Would I stand for what is right despite the definite oppression? We were challenged to examine the ways in which, today and in our own environments, we can stand up for what is right and what fears may be holding us back. The conclusion? Jesus Christ not only paid the ultimate price for us through His death on the cross, but He also restored hope through His resurrection. And so, we have nothing left to fear.
During the five hour car ride to Jen Cline’s house where we will be staying the night tonight, James DiLeonardi spotted a convicting quote on a billboard that read: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke). While, we cannot change hearts (only the Holy Spirit can do that), we can leave a trail containing the footprints of heaven everywhere we go. And it doesn’t take a lot. As Deven Watson said in discussion tonight, “God’s hand can work even in the mundane things of life.” We have been freed by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and so our only response left is to love others like He has loved us and to say yes to His calling each and every day.
Our Father has revealed much to us this spring break. May He continue to work in our hearts. We trust that He will complete His glorious work.
It pains me to say that our time in McAllen is coming to an end. Time goes by so fast, doesn’t it? This Sunday was a special Sunday. Our Lord has risen. He is alive and all Christians come out and praise his holy name! It’s a bittersweet feeling being here. On one hand I would enjoy spending Easter at home with my family, but on the other hand it is good to see a different culture and prospective on Easter with a different culture. Easter here is incredible. Our day started out with a 6am sunrise service; starting the service pitch black and ending the service with the sun bringing out the good news. We then took some rest before our 10:30am service where we continue to worship our Lord and spend our last service at the church. After lunch we took a trip to downtown McAllen and did some more shopping. Snow cones are pretty great down here. The night ended with a beating of a piñata, cracking eggs filled with confetti on each other, and having a feast of a dinner. We did awards where each team member received an award for something the did on the trip. I won an award for eating a lot – classic. Gifts were given to the people who hosted us and we truly are so thankful for being here. Please continue to pray for the people here and pray for safe travels as we go home tomorrow. We appreciate everyone who has prayed for us and will continue to share God’s love wherever we are. -Chris Chang
Today, we spent our last day in Mexico. We began the day early with a delicious breakfast, and then we headed across the border into Reynosa. The entire team went to the work site to finish painting the house. With everyone painting, the job was quickly finished. The team then gathered with Roy and Rebecca, the missionaries who led this construction project, to dedicate the house. Unfortunately, the lady who will be living in the house was not able to be there because she was at work. We were able to record a video greeting telling her that this is not from us, but from God. We then prayed as a group, dedicating the house to the Lord.After the dedication, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends, first at the worksite. The men on the team prayed over two young boys, José and Raúl, whom they had grown close to working on the house. This was powerful to witness. Join us in praying that these boys will continue on the right path. We drove on the bumpy roads back to the mission house for lunch. We then walked the street that the mission house is on to pass out the last of our donations and say goodbye. In three short days in Reynosa, we got to know the kids, making this goodbye difficult.
After leaving Reynosa, we headed to Progreso, another Mexican border town. We split into groups for shopping. It was a great cultural experience as we had the chance to barter with the street vendors.
After an afternoon of shopping, we headed back across the border to McAllen. We had some free time before dinner when we got back. Some people napped, hung out, or did last-minute preparations for The Show.
We had a special dinner with the youth group and other church members. Immediately following dinner was a Tyner team tradition called ‘The Show.’ It’s not necessarily a talent show, but some acts do showcase real talent. Everyone on the team did something, from singing to eating to reciting the alphabet backwards. We were honored to have performances by some missionary kids as well as by the pastor. The church had prepared something special for us, too. They presented each team member with a bookmark and t-shirt. We were very thankful for this gift.
Unfortunately, the Tyners had to go to urgent care soon after The Show as Stan was very sick. The doctors quickly diagnosed him with pneumonia and he is on the mend now. Please pray for his complete recovery.
After The Show the team enjoyed time together. We spent time laughing and debriefing the day and trip as a whole. We have had a wonderful time together developing relationships with each other and the wonderful people in McAllen.
First off, we want to apologize to all the families that have been panicking because we have not been able to post blogs this week. We have not had very good wife in the past week, so we haven’t had the opportunity to post. But we are okay. No one has gotten terribly sick, and our hearts are full.
While debriefing with our team, several team members have tried to sum up this week in one sentence. “These people have so much hope.” “God’s providence and faithfulness have amazed me this week.” “There are so many types of ministry we can all use.” “Laughter goes a long way.”
We started our week at Palo Blanco. We had no idea what things would be like, so as we were leaving the team house, anxiety and excitement filled the air. However, once we got there, we were able to see what the kids were interested in and what would work with the children. This was also our first encounter with the language barrier, but thanks to our two amazing Spanish speakers, we were able to work through it.
We spent two more days at Palo Blanco. These days were mixtures of soccer, paper mache, nail painting, and basketball. Everyone tried their hardest to speak Spanish. For some it was a challenge, and for others it was a process of nonverbal communication. Nonetheless, we had amazing connections with a lot of the children.
The last two days were at The Ark, another home for children. This is a community that accepts at-risk children, brings them into a new home and family, and shows them strong practical and Christian values. Here, we had the opportunity to eat with different families from other houses, play with the children, listen to stories, and accomplish some mild construction work. We listened to testimonies from two of the people that are a part of The Ark and how God used The Ark to save them.
We heard heart wrenching stories of mothers abandoning their children and a mother that was killed. We heard phrases like “I remember what my life was like before The Ark. I had to steal and sell beer bottles so my siblings and I could eat,” “I miss my mom very much, but God gave me a new family,” and “The Ark saved my life.” While listening to these stories, many on the team broke into tears because of the hope that both of the stories contained.
The last three days, we were placed in a resort named Casa Tranquila near The Ark. It was relaxing, and a good ending to an inspirational week. Sunday, our last day, we went to church at The Ark where we met one last time with the friends we made. This Easter service was particularly special to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with our new friends.
We could go on for days about what this trip means to us, but unfortunately, we have a plane to catch in a few hours. However, the writers of this blog can speak for the whole team and say that the people of Jarabacoa changed our lives and hearts. When we get home, we would love to share every detail about what God showed us and the work He did around and through us.
We also want to share that because of the wonderful relationships that were made, two members of our team decided to sponsor children, one at Palo Blanco and one at The Ark.
Thank you for all your support, prayers, and encouragement. We will post one final blog when we are back in the States, and we apologize again for the inconvenience of not posting sooner.
Praise God that He is Lord over all! We may not know the impact we made, but we trust that God will continue to move in Jarabacoa. In the words of our pastor on Sunday:
“Behold the Lamb of God for he has come to take the sin of the world!”