God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

Sorry for the delay in the post.

We spent Easter at a church that some teenagers who volunteer with Back2Back attend. They met up with us at the hotel and we took the bus with them to church from there. Before the trip, we had originally planned on going to a very conservative church, but plans changed and God worked everything out for the best. The church we ended up attending was very alive and excited about the work God is doing in Mexico. They were extremely hospitable towards us and even prayed with us before we left. The worship was incredible; I’m talking people jumping up and down and simply finding true, genuine joy in worshipping the Lord. We all want to bring this style of worship back to Taylor now, but it may be a little much for what Americans tend to be comfortable with. After worship, some of our team helped out with Sunday school while some of us stayed for the Spanish church service. Those who volunteered to help out in the Sunday school were so encouraged to see teenagers leading the classes, who were so on fire for God and students who were so eager to learn more about who God is. One of our team members noted that in America, we tend to only let the “qualified” people (usually adults) teach Sunday school, but this church had teenagers leading the teaching. This made me think of how many “unqualified” or young people God has used to preach the gospel. As far as I know, the disciples were a bunch of teenagers. God used so many unqualified people. I came across a quote that talked about all the “unqualified” people God used in the Bible. To name a few: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Jacob was a liar, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, the disciples fell asleep while praying, the Samaritan woman was divorced, and more. I was really struck by how we do not need to have it all together in order for God to work through us. In fact, I believe one reason our team was so unified was because we all admitted that we did not have it all together and yet we all longed to love and serve Christ with everything we have. I do not know who the author is, but I came across a common quote that said, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” I think this was a great reminder; especially coming out of the trip, some of us may believe lies that God cannot use us. But, He already has and will continue to.

When we returned to Taylor, technically Tuesday morning, we hit the ground running. We arrived at Taylor at 2:15 am and had to go to class in the morning. So needless to say, the distraction of our busy lives is something we are all battling. Although our hearts are very sad as the trip has come to a close, our hearts are very blessed as we reflect back on our experience in Mexico. God answered so many prayers, brought us new realizations daily, brought us closer to Him, and brought us closer to each other. We had asked at the beginning of the trip if you all would pray for team unity and God certainly answered that prayer! We truly felt God at work in our team, as we were so vulnerable and real with each other. No one pretended to have it all together, while we also expressed a common longing to seek truth in the Lord. We cannot even express how much all of your prayers were appreciated.

Some things we learned:

–       The importance of putting others needs before our own

–       The incredible power of God

–       God’s love can reach beyond language barriers

–       The importance of being in community and what real, intentional community looks like (even beyond how much intentional community is stressed at Taylor)

–       The importance of being real with each other and sharing what God is doing in our lives

–       How blessed we are

–       What it really means to live for Christ (we met some incredible role models)

–       What it truly means to care for one another

Please continue to pray for:

–       strength as we adjust back to life at Taylor

–       keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus despite the business

–       us not to be discouraged

–       us to stay connected as a team, despite our separate schedules and busy lives

–       God to continue to work in the lives of the people we met in Mexico, both the Back2Back staff, their ministry partners, and the children we worked with

A little R&R

Sorry, I’ve been a little behind on the blogging. We’ve had some technical difficulties.

Thursday, we went to the beach with the children of a family that Back2Back works with. Even though these children live only about ten minutes from the beach, they rarely go. For some of them it had been months and for others it had been about an entire year since they had last been. It is not uncommon for children in the area to have never even seen the ocean. We were each assigned a child to take care of for the day at the beach. We splashed around in the waves, built sandcastles, caught fish, and buried each other in the sand.

It was a really neat experience to be able to go to the beach in Cancun during spring break to serve kids, instead of simply for a vacation. Some of our team members and their little buddies for the day really hit it off and we all dreaded returning them home.

After shopping at the market, we came back to the house and ate a delicious authentic Mexican meal. Following the meal, we had team time including worship, sharing about our fun experiences with the children, and discussing our plan for action after the trip.

We have absolutely loved the experiences we have had here and how we have grown together as a team. God has worked in so many amazing ways on this trip so far, breaking our hearts and teaching us to believe in His incredible power.

Friday, we returned to Rosie’s house to finish the wall we had begun earlier in the week. We played with some of the kids – painting, playing soccer, and just having a great time. We then bought some jewelry from Rosie that she had made. It was really neat to see that because of the jewelry we bought, she was able to pay for something she had needed money for. She has an incredible faith that God will provide.

After our time at Rosie’s, we packed up our stuff in the van and drove to the hotel as our time at Back2back came to a close. We are so thankful for the family that the staff at Back2Back became to us. They were truly a part of our team.

Today, we had a nice day off at the beach, which we spent with a few of the teenagers who volunteer with Back2back. They were incredibly hospitable, showing us our way around Cancun. As we were dropped off in the touristy area of Cancun, we experienced a bit of culture shock; it felt like a different world. It was heartbreaking to realize that the glitzy area of Cancun is just minutes away from the poverty stricken areas we had been ministering in. After a fun day at the beach, we went to a local mall to get a great deal on some Mexican food, including quesadillas and churros. When we returned to the hotel, we had a great debrief, reflection, and encouragement time. It was so nice to have a day to just get reenergized, reflect on what has happened on this trip, and prepare our hearts to return to Taylor.

Mau

We began our packed day of ministry with a visit to CAT (Casa de Asistencia Temporal); a government assisted emergency shelter for abused children. The attitude of the children there was captured in the moment the kids walked in the gate. In a moment, a little boy and one of our team members immediately locked eyes, the little boy running towards him and embracing him. The kids at the shelter had such a longing to be loved and held onto us the entire time we sang songs and played games. We practically had to pull them off of us. It got us thinking about what they may have gone through. We cannot even imagine, but we know that they have come from incredibly difficult situations, the CAT only being a temporary home. The fact that we were able to share the message of Christ with those children was such a blessing. We cannot even imagine being so young and having already gone through so much; if anyone needs Christ, those kids certainly do.

The next thing we did was go to the grocery store to shop for groceries for a woman named Oti. This is something that Back2Back regularly does in order to help out this woman and her eight children. Simply grocery shopping made us realize the real need that Back2Back was meeting. They are not simply giving things to her, but they are working with her. When we delivered the groceries to her small house, we saw her washing machine in her front yard from which she runs her laundry business. She had lost her husband and all she wants is to keep her family together. Even though the children share beds and they do not have much, Back2Back has paid to provide the children with an education and has worked with Oti to discipline her children in a healthy way.

We then returned to the house to prepare a meal to take to the house of a woman named Rosie, whose home we had began building a wall at earlier in the trip. She runs a children’s ministry out of her home about three times a week and we had the opportunity to assist her in that tonight. Since she includes a meal, we took care of that for the day. I cannot even describe what an incredible woman Rosie is, but the variety of volunteers who showed up tonight can somewhat express her faith. The father of a family from Illinois had met Rosie during a trip of hers to America, during a time in which her ministry was more in its beginning stages. They had prayed for volunteers to come join Rosie in her ministry. Him and his family are on vacation in Cancun and came to volunteer tonight with Rosie’s ministry. Then there were two women who said they met Rosie at their hotel and she invited them over for the ministry tonight; I did not realize it at first, but they were actually from Alaska! The night was incredible, filled with a spirit of joy that can only come from the Lord as we sang songs, ate a delicious meal, and played games. At the end of the night, we all stood in a circle and prayed. It was incredible how God brought all of us together at Rosie’s house to serve for a common purpose. We may never see each other again, but tonight was such an incredible picture of the kingdom of God.

During our reflection time tonight, we heard the testimony of one of our beloved Back2Back staff members named Mau. He is an incredible man of God. His story showed God’s faithfulness and how God can work, even in the most helpless situations. He brought many of us to tears and showed us what it truly means to live our lives for Christ. We said goodbye and tears began streaming down some of our faces. We thought he was gone for good and then we saw the door open and willingly welcomed him back in for some last words. He told us about the importance of not passing up a chance to tell people how you really feel and he said how truly thankful he was for us. When Mau was gone for real, we prayed for him, tears steaming down our faces and tried to piece together the incredible impact this trip has had on our lives so far, determined to make an actual change in the way we live our lives, and realizing just how much one person can make a difference through the power of Christ.

Eat as much as you want. They have pepto bismol.

Today we went to a Catholic girls children’s home called “Casa Hogar San Jose” where we spent the day playing with beautiful little girls and painting a wall near the entrance to the home. There were only about eight little girls, as well as some other children who joined us from the area. We were there all day and some team members think they had as much, if not more, fun than the kids. We painted, played card games, read books, and just enjoyed laughing with beautiful children who were so quick to love on us, despite the language barrier.

The Back2Back staff told us that our dinner at San Jose would be our favorite of the week. They were right.  We began the dinner with waiting in line, the children each holding one of our hands and guiding us through the line. Then, it was time to eat the long anticipated meal. The nuns at San Jose made the dinner from scratch, cooking it right in front of us. We have never had more authentic and delicious Mexican food. We definitely took advantage of the delicious food by going back for seconds, and thirds, and in some cases, fourths. It was that good. Alfredo, one of our drivers said, “Eat as much as you want. They have pepto bismol for that.”

Reflecting on the day, we came to see just how sweet and caring the little girls at the home were, which brought us back to being content in Christ. We have so much and yet we tend to be so selfish. However, these little girls have so little and are so generous. One team member said that he did not have a seat at dinner and one of the little girls insisted that he have one. The girls are so joyful even though they have so little. When touring the facility, a Back2Back staff member told us that they had wanted to donate washing machines to the home, but the nuns were against it because they want to prepare the girls for their future and most of them will never have a washing machine. As Americans, we can have trouble with properly responding to poverty because we do not understand it. It is so eye opening to realize that sometimes the American way of responding to poverty is not actually the right way to respond to the it. In addition, we have been realizing that true joy comes from Christ, not from any worldly possessions that we, as Americans, are so accustomed to.

One last thing we have seen so much in Mexico is how relational they are. While we tend to be so focused on being individuals, they are much more inclined to work together and admit that they need each other. Even though they do not have that much, the people we have worked with know that they have each other and they have God.

Please continue to pray for us as we continue our ministry. Tomorrow we will be going to a government children’s home where we are allowed to share the gospel, which has been made possible only through the power of God. We appreciate you all and your prayer support greatly!