Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Holy Night!!!!

The Womens Group normally comes to Monterrey in the beginning of December. They bring presents for every child, serve them wholeheartedly, and give lots of love. This year they decided to go to Cancun instead of coming to Monterrey! We had the privilege of trying to be them. haha we actually realized how much we appreciate all they do when they come down. So here is an overview of all the Christmas parties i have taken part of since i have been back from Cancun!

ERJ Christmas Party- Pollo Loco, pop, Decorating trees, Decorating cookies, Opening presents, and lots of laughter! Manantial De Amor (MDA) Christmas Party- Pizza, pop, presents, and pinata! (yes i am wearing santa earrings)
Annual Ornament Exchange- Staff women with lots of yummy food and a fire.

Spa night with the Joven Girls- We had snacks, pop, make-up, hair, manicure station, pedicure station, a fire going, and lots of fun. My favorite quote of the night was from Jazmin. After having her make-up and nails done, she was sitting in a chair getting a pedicure and said "i feel like a queen"! To me, that is the exact reason we wanted to do this for them. We wanted them to know that they are beautiful and they are Queens. It was a success!Single Ladies Christmas Party- This one was a little bittersweet for me. Every year we draw names and celebrate a single ladies Christmas. It was bittersweet for me because it is my last single ladies Christmas celebration. Next year i will be a married woman! We went to dinner, came home, made hot chocolate, opened presents, ate a pumpkin roll, and watched a Christmas movie! i love you girls!

And to finish all the parties, Jessica and I took the MDA girls out for a night of ice skating and dinner! It was so fun watching them try to skate. They don't do it very often so i am not sure how they know how to skate, but they had fun. The 2 little girls didn't know how to skate so Jess and i were with them the majority of the time. IT was very fun trying to teach them how to skate. Lots of memories in these 5 hours we were with these girls! Everyone was jealous of Jessica's sweet moves on the ice! Here is to wishing you and your families a wonderful Christmas filled with love, peace, and hope! May you enjoy time with friends and family this holiday season. And most importantly, remember the Reason for the Season!
I am flying home tomorrow for a couple days to be with my family on Christmas day. I will update my blog once i return! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

San Jose and Quiet time on the Beach!

Yes i live a life as a missionary and every day is like a mission trip! But, i haven't been to a new place on a mission trip in a long time. Even though i am staff for Back2Back and went to Cancun as Staff, it was still so new to me! It was something that was definitely needed. Every child i came in contact with, i couldn't help but fall in love! it reminded me of my first time here to Monterrey!
San Jose is a Catholic Casa Hogar Back2Back is partnering with. There are 12 children that live there and only 1 boy! It was a sibling set so they didn't want to separate them from each other. We were there to decorate trees with them, feed them a pancake breakfast, put on a skit, make cookies, and redecorate their rooms without them knowing. When i was helping with decorating their Christmas tree i notices these VERY SWEET TWINS. Their names are Isabella and Sofia. I seriously fell in love with them. I have been praying for them since i got back. Their faces are just too precious. They were well behaved and very fun and the best part, there was 2 of them!!!! While we were busy putting the tree decorations on and making the kids be outside so the women could re-decorate their rooms, the children could suspect something was going on. So finally we were ready to show them. We had them stand outside of their room with the door closed to make it more intense. We walked them in with their eyes closed. We counted to 3 and said OPEN YOUR EYES!!! The excitement that filled that room, from 11 little girls, could have been compared to a million people cheering on their favorite football team. They were jumping up and down screaming and so excited. Each new bed had new sheets, new polka-dot blanket, and a pillow with their names embroidered on them. They were hugging their pillows and laying in their beds. It was a sweet picture of them being thankful. They were so excited when other kids got home from school. They would tell them outside to close their eyes and they walked them into the new room. Just like we did for them. They were all thrilled and happy for the new room make-over we did for them. I will never forget this day!
One morning we had to leave so early we weren't able to do our quiet times. So, we thought it would be a fun surprise to take the women to the beach to do a quiet time and our small groups. This beach is absolutely one of the prettiest beaches in the world. When i was with the Cooper's babysitting them for 2 weeks, this is the beach we went to.
Anyway, Matt did a little devotion time with us before our quiet times. He had us take our shoes off and put our feet in the sand. Then he told us to look out into the ocean. That it was a representative of God's love for us. You can never see the end of it. His love for us goes too deep and too wide. We can't comprehend His love for us. Then he told us to dig our feet in the sand. That every grain of sand that we could feel, on and under our feet, was the lives we were going to touch.
Then we broke off for 30 minutes by ourselves and with God. Talk about one of the most peaceful quiet times i have ever had in my entire life. Just sitting there praying and confessing before the Lord. It reminded me of how small i am and how BIG our God is! Then we broke out into small groups. Since us staff women were not in small groups, we decided to have our own little small group! The picture above is our group of woman praying for one another. This was a big highlight of mine from the Cancun trip because it was something i had never done before. And God showed me a lot in my 30 minutes alone with Him on the beach that day!
I think i want to have my quiet times on the beach every day! haha

Highlights of Womens Christmas Group in Cancun Pt. 1

One of my favorite moments on the entire trip to Cancun. My roommate Hope has put into words exactly like i would. So i am going to let her tell you our encounter with him.

"This is the story of a blind boy I met in Cancun. For his protection he will be referred to as Jamie in this entry.

Jamie is 17 and has been blind since the day he was born. He is tall with a chubby face and black curly hair. I ran into Jaime on a tour of the orphanage during my first day in Cancun. He was alone in his dorm room talking with Mau a fellow B2B staff member when I first laid eyes on him. The compassion that gripped my heart when I first saw him is hard to describe. All I know is that with one glimpse I felt like I saw into the depths of his pain and sorrow and knew that he was so hurt. I left the dorm room without saying a word to Jamie and began another conversation with two teenage girls right outside the door.

Mau left Jaime’s dorm room just as I was finishing my conversation with Virginia and began to fill me in on the details of Jamie’s life. Jamie had arrived at the home about a week earlier. He had been battered and bruised by his father. His story revealed that he had grown up familiar with such abuse from his dad. His real mom died when he was little and his step mother stepped into the picture. About a week earlier Jamie’s stepmother had too much of him and his needs. She loaded blind Jamie up on a bus, paid a ticket to who knows where, and said she never wanted to see him again. Jamie arrived in the middle of Cancun, hours from his home, knowing no one, and seeing nothing. Government officials picked him up and took him to the children’s home where we met him a few days later.

My heart broke as Mau told me Jamie’s story. Jamie said that he had heard about Mau from the other boys at the home and wondered if Mau would take him out to talk and hang out as he had with the others. He also asked Mau if he would find him some music. “I’m bored,” Jamie commented, “music makes me relax.”
At the end of the conversation Mau felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to give Jamie a hug. As he pulled away Jamie calmly told Mau that that was the first hug he can ever remember receiving. … As Mau told me this story, I cried.

Both Mau and I wept in the courtyard of the children’s home, as God let us feel the pain and hurt in these lives. God began speaking to me that while I cover up my heart and numb it from the pain in this world and the pain that I see in the Rio every week, His heart is never numb. His heart feels every hurt. His heart cries with every child. He feels every pain and it hurts his heart to the core. The compassion of the Lord is amazing. I went to bed that night with these things still on my heart and mind.

Two days later our team of ladies returned to this same children’s home to throw a Christmas party. Part of the festivities included a skit put on by our team. At this particular children’s home we are not able to openly share the gospel, so in a metaphorical way we portrayed Christ conquering evil in the world. At one point in the skit “the evil” was whispering lies in the ear of a child. Things like, “no one loves you,” “you are stupid,” “they are laughing at you.” During this part of the skit Jamie leaned over to a fellow staff member and said, “I’ve heard those things before. I hear those lies every day.” When I heard this I knew that I wanted to pray for Jamie.

After the skit, I sat down next to Jamie with some other ladies from our team and began to talk with him. Another lady also felt the urge to pray so we asked Jamie if we could. He readily agreed. About halfway through our prayer Jamie started grabbing at his chest. “My heart hurts. My heart hurts,” he repeated. We clarified that it was a spiritual pain that he was feeling. We finished praying and I went to find Mau. I knew in my spirit that today was the day of salvation for Jamie. I have never been so sure of something in my life! I found Mau and told him that he needed to explain the gospel to Jamie. Jamie was so ready, but my Spanish couldn’t do it justice and Mau is the one who is going to be there long term with Jamie. After the activities of the Christmas party calmed down a bit, Mau went over and sat next to Jamie. I knew that he was sharing the gospel with Jamie, so I began to pray. The next thing I know Jamie is crying and hugging Mau. He prayed that day and met Jesus as his Savior and the Healer of his heart!

Later, I gave Jamie a hug to welcome him into the family. He told me that when we had prayed earlier he had felt so much peace, but that now he felt so happy. “This is the best day of my life!” said an excited Jamie, “I will never forget this day as long as I live.” I know that I too will never forget this day. Praise Jesus who is able to heal the most hurt of hearts. Nothing is impossible for God! Please continue to keep Jamie in your prayers. Pray for this growth in Christ and for his physical sight to be restored! Amen!" - Hope Maglich

Another great moment....

One morning we prepared gift boxes for the pregnancy center for the DIF. They work with girls between 12-17 years of age. They bring their brand new, days old babies and some workers watch them while the girls either talk with a psychologist or learn a practical new job such as nails or hair.
We brought all these boxes filled with goodies for mommies and babies. We packed a lunch for everyone, practiced skits, and set off for a great day! I had no idea what to expect. But i knew there was going to be some new babies there so i was ready to hold them.
As the mothers started flooding in with their babies, and some with more than one, my eyes were filling up with tears. These girls were so young! 12 years old, 13 years old, 16 years old. They were beautiful, young, and were in such bad situations. My heart continued to break for them. Most of them i am sure had no choice but to get pregnant. As we started asking more questions and i was translating for some of the American Women, i almost couldn't even ask some of the questions. One of the Americans had asked one of the girls if there was a father, her face went to complete shame. In those instances that is when you know these girls need Jesus and they need to know that He loves them and promises to provide for them.
Hope and Priscilla put together a skit about a princess and her King. So before we got started we were taking the babies so the young moms could have some time to concentrate for once. In a little room we had 30 BABIES. i was in heaven. So, of course i stayed in the room with all the babies. I loved holding these precious little ones and praying for them. There is no sweeter moments than those, i think.
Meanwhile, the event starts off with the skit. Apparently, the mothers were all listening and super interested. They loved it. I heard someone say from our American group, that they thought it could have been the first time these young girls were ever told they were a princess and the daughter of a King!
Then they started handing off the boxes to the mothers. each box either had a pink or blue lid. And these American women prepare MONTHS in advance before coming with their gifts and each were assigned to get a pink or blue lid. Some women were beside themselves because they could not find the pink or blue lids that they were assigned. So, they ended up getting the other color. Well, they start handing the boxes out. If the young mom had a daughter they would receive a pink box, and for a boy, they would receive a blue. ( I BET YOU ALL ALREADY FIGURED THAT OUT)!!!! It was getting down to the last moms and wouldn't you know that God completely knew Every boy box and every girl box needed because it was totally like the fishes and loaves miracle!!!! There was the exact amount needed for boys and for girls. The moms got what they needed and were so thrilled. They were able to decorate their boxes really cool with stickers, pens, and fun girly things. While they were decorating we were all praising God and thanking Him for the joy that He created with all those boxes.

Highlights of Womens Christmas Group in Cancun Pt. 2

Back2Back Cancun is in the process of making offices for the pregnant teens that come weekly. They were starting to realize that the girls that have been abused, abandoned, or even raped were wanting to talk with a psychologist, didn't have any privacy. The offices were so close together that you would be sitting side by side to another girl sharing what had happened to her. Enabling you to hear everything of the other person. There was shame, guilt, and no privacy! Realizing there was a problem, Back2Back has come alongside the DIF and are in the process of preparing 4 new offices for the girls. This way there will be privacy, security, and confidentiality.
Matt told us about a men's group that had been down right before the women's group. They were at the new offices and joking around about all the things you would find in between the structure of the walls if you were to tear them down. Things like coke bottles, cigarettes, and lots of trash. So, Matt and Mau had a great idea. The women were going to "dedicate" this building to the Lord. Instead of finding trash in between the drywall, if you knocked it down, you were to find scripture and prayers! So that is exactly what we did, we dedicated the building/offices to the Lord. We wrote scriptures and prayers all over the drywall. Bringing a sense of peace instead of shame, love instead of hate, and Beauty instead of ashes!
Oti's house! Meet Oti, she is a widow of about a month. She has 8 children. The oldest being about 14 and the youngest 6 months.
After dedicating the DIF offices, we drove to Oti's house. We had heard that her children had never been in school. Except for the oldest boy, but only up to an education of 1st grader. And we had also heard that she wasn't able to (pretty much ever) give them Christmas presents. So, our women's group took this as an opportunity to serve Oti and her 8 children.
When we arrived, the kids were all around us, pretty much in their underwear and the oldest boy was very embarrassed that all of these women are coming into his house/life and looking around. He kept hiding and going into the back room. But we gathered all the women together and Oti shared about her life. After sharing, we gathered their family together and put our hands on them and prayed for them. We prayed for healing in Oti's body. She has a hernia that is Huge, but she has no money to get it fixed and also, no one to take care of her children while she would be in recovery. We prayed for many things for this family and God was in control during that sweet prayer time.
Then it was time for the kids to open presents. The oldest boy finally came out of the back room. Still looking disappointed. We started with the youngest and gave out the presents. We watched her start opening and then let her start playing with her new toys. We were taking so long, the 4th youngest girl thought she wasn't going to get a present so she started crying. So we quickly started passing out all the presents so all of them would know they each had a present. The 14 year old boy was passed his present and words can not describe the way his face lit up. He said that normally things are for the youngest baby or for the girls, and he often gets left out. NOT THIS TIME! His face lit up as he started opening his gift. First a t-shirt from old navy, then a super cool watch... it just kept going and going! His whole attitude changed right there in that moment. It was very cool to watch how something so little, could make a 14 year old boys Christmas. And, knowing that God has not forgotten him and his situation. That is what I hope he received from that moment! God is in pursuit of him!!!!

Craft time at the DIF-

This is where i had spent most of my time the weeks i was with the Cooper's. It was so fun seeing some of the same faces only weeks later. And that they remembered me! This is the temporary DIF. basically these kids have been taken away from their family situation instead of their parents bringing them to a childrens home. We brought them a tree, we decorated cookies, put Christmas tattoos on them, we played games, we put on a skit (that they loved), we decorated their tree, we made crafts and ornaments with each kids face on one, and we loved on them with the love of the Lord.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yessica's Wedding!!!!

Our sweet Yessica Sanchez from the hope program got married November 26, 2011. It was a very small intimate wedding. I remember when Yessica decided to leave the hope program. i was super sad. But she finished her schooling and got engaged.
Girls that we work with normally crave love from any person they can. But Yessica was grounded in the Lord. So i knew, and was hoping, that this case was different. As i was sitting in the pew watching the ceremony, i couldn't take my eyes off of Julio, the groom! I could tell that he genuinely loves her. It made my heart very happy to witness this. When they read their vows to each other, Julio couldn't stop crying. But Yessica couldn't either. So as he is saying his vows to her, he was wiping her tears also. Then she read her vows to him. Her vows were based on Biblical truth. It made me realize that this case is different. Yessica didn't fall away from who she was or what her foundation was, she was just growing up! Somebody who loves her and cares for her, found her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. It was a really sweet ceremony! I am really happy for Yessica and Julio. I wish them a lifetime of happiness together. My prayer is that the decisions they make in their life would reflect the plans that God has for them! Felicidades Yessica y Julio!!!!!

A Thanksgiving Feast!!!!

Kenzi was here and it made me really happy to have one of my best friends here!
I am pretty sure you are only supposed to have a fist size of food on your plate????? hahha
We had 150 people here for Thanksgiving Dinner. 8 Turkeys in All!!!!!
Me and my handsome man!!!!!

I was overwhelmed this Thanksgiving Season with so many things to be thankful for. So instead of spelling each one of them out to you i will just tell you in a top 10 list of things i am thankful for in this season of my life.

1.) First, i am so THANKFUL for my Lord, Jesus Christ who died for my sins because He loves me! He is constantly showing off for me and He continues to Amaze me!

2.) I am SUPER THANKFUL for my handsome fiance. The way he shows me God's love, patience, and pursuit everyday. I can't WAIT to spend the rest of my life with Rodolfo!!

3.) I am THANKFUL for my incredible Supporters. It is so evident that God has put all of you in my life long ago so you could come along this journey with me! Being a missionary in Mexico makes it worth it when i know there are people like you all behind me 100% and praying for me! Thank you all for everything.

4.) I am THANKFUL for my family. My sister is about to have her first baby and i can't wait to meet my niece. My parents will be coming to Mexico for the first time for my wedding and i can't even begin to explain how excited i am that they will finally see my life here!

5.) I am THANKFUL for all of my friends! The people that really know me and can tell me anything and will listen to anything from me. I am so thankful for each and every one of you girls.

6.) I am THANKFUL for Back2Back Ministries. God brought this ministry into my life 11 years ago. Little did i know i would be here serving for my 3rd year. I love how God is a story weaver and that my story is not over yet with this ministry!

7.) I am THANKFUL for New Staff. For those of you that know me, i am not a big fan of change. So when i heard new staff couples were coming i got a little bit anxious. But, God has already used them in my life so much. They are definitely supposed to be here in this Season!

8.) I am THANKFUL for my Room mates (yes Ruby, this includes you)! As the countdown gets closer and closer when my time of living with them is done, i am saddened. But, i could not have asked for better room mates. They have always been there for me when i needed someone. Their hearts are full of joy and i feel like i learn so much from them everyday! I love you girls.

9.) I am THANKFUL for skype/ technology! Without this, i wouldn't be able to keep in touch with my friends and family. it has saved me in times of needing to know things from back home and it has helped me in times of not feeling homesick. Thank you Lord, for technology.

10.) Last but not least, I am THANKFUL for the sweet little faces i get to see every day! No matter what Childrens Home I am at, i get to see sweet smiles, hear sweet laughs, and hug on some cute kids.

My list could go on and on. My heart is overflowing with Thanksgiving! Thank you Lord, for the ways you are moving in my life!