So we are back in Victoria now, but still want to post these blog updates that we wrote while we were down in Mexico...
It's been a few days since we arrived in San Felipe. Finding the time to write and then some wifi to post has been tricky because of timing mostly, but we are well and happy!
We had an uneventful travel day on Monday....which is good! :) The drive down was beautiful in its variation of landscape from palm trees to what looked like huge piles of rock mountains to desert. God's handiwork displayed for all to see. The border crossing was all green lights and no traffic issues along the road. We see many busted and torn tires alongside the main road to San Felipe, which keeps you aware of the road conditions. The military checkpoint was a quick drive-through as well. We were thankful for all this today.
We went straight to the church because they were having a leaders meeting and Dave figured that most our billets would be there. They were having a time of sharing about all the different programs that the church is facilitating. This is a vibrant church, full of life and passion.
We were unaware of what our accommodations were to be, apart from the fact that we would have some. We were fully expecting to be separated into groups of 3-4. When their meeting was over we were informed that one of the members here donated his rental property to us. It was just what we were hoping for. Six in the house, and four in the attached apartment right near the market and beach, and the last four across this small town (5 minutes away) with a beautiful and generous woman from the church. So the girls in the house have wifi (great for them- and Kimmy especially -as she's finishing up a paper for school and needed to be connected). Kimmy has a great testimony of God's miraculous provision to get her here, AND give her what she's asked for. This was such an answer to prayer for all of us! We felt it was important to have our own accommodation so we could meet to worship and pray and debrief together. God knew exactly what we needed and provided it and we are so thankful.
We all slept well, and our next bright hot day we spent prepping for the kids program we've planned for. 29-32 degrees, and we spent a few hours walking through the town talking to folks inviting their kids to the program at the church's community centre. Door to door, speaking a combination of Spanish English and sign language. We DID have on sunscreen, but the sun managed to get through and burn a few of us today. But it was light and endurable...
The evening had our 3 couples (including Dave and Beth) attending 3 different marriage groups that members of the church hold weekly. We were asked in the afternoon to share at these groups. We are being stretched and God is proving Himself faithful in giving us words to encourage the people here.
Our kids were hosted by the pastors daughter for the evening and they had fun making quesadilla and watching a movie. :)
We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning to get to the Community Center to prep for the first day of VBS! We were again reminded of the relaxed pace here as the kids trickled in over an hour and in the end we ministered to about 35 kids. We played games, shared a story, did a craft, and played more games. Everyone did a fantastic job serving in their roles, and the kids left happy!! We trust that seeds were planted and in the evening we prayed that they would take root.
After another delicious lunch prepared by Pastor Salvador and Diana, we had a bit of time to go down town to do some shopping and see the beach where the fishermen are coming and going. It was a sleepy town compared to the last time we were here, but then again it was Wednesday.
Duane taking over here....Wednesday evenings there is a regular prayer service. What a beautiful time here with them. The passion with which they pray and persist in persevere in prayer hit me this time, again reminding me of what I need more of in my life. I felt like we came down in part to encourage and be a support to this congregation in some way, but really it was to me again. It was a reminder and an encouragement of what I need to live like more and more.
Thursday morning was the same, just the theme for the day was a little different. Yesterday was the 'house on the rock' and today' theme was JOY. The craft time today was great too. The girls as well as the boys really got into it as we built and painted butterflies with coffee filters and clothespins.
Friday morning the men left on a men's retreat a couple hours out of town to a very small place called Punta Bufeo. There is a very rustic motel there, with the basic necessities of a bed and a bathroom. Both have LED lights but the brighter fluorescent ones don't go on until the generator is started as it gets dark. The building reminds me of what you'd see in 'Gunsmoke' show or some other real old western. Although they had no airplanes land while we were staying there, they had an airstrip there for some of the people who have small winter homes here. It was great, and these groups of guys were real great too. There were about 16-17 of us from San Felipe, and the church plant in Gurrero Negro came with about 8-12 guys.
We had guns for target practice and shot some tin cans, but also shot a gecko, and a rabbit. Then of course the rabbit got skinned, and I saw it head towards the kitchen. The food was very good, and manly, and we also did some fishing, hiking, and a lot of relationship building. We also had some good words for all the guys in three different sessions, from Pastor Salvador, Miguel, Dave Goff and myself.
So while we were out having fun, playing and relationship building, the rest of the team were picking up the slack back at the community centre with the kids program.
Trish here... It's Friday night and we are all just tucked in after spending the evening with the youth. It was a great time of fellowship for all of our kids. They played games, sang and prayed together and Jamesa and Kimmy shared their testimonies. At one point all of my kids were standing together singing along and I had a "how did we get here" kind of thought. Watching my 4 kids interacting with a youth group in a small fishing village in Mexico, sharing testimonies and serving with their hearts. i was in awe and full of thanks of where God has taken our family.
The Daddies of our group (Dave, Jarrett and Duane) left at 7:00 this morning for the men's retreat. They took our rented 15 passenger van and drove a few hours south to get to where they are spending the night digging into God's word about being Men of Truth. Duane was asked to speak so has been preparing over the last few weeks. I know God will speak through him as his desire is to bring God's words to the men and not his own. As we are just a few blocks from the beach, Duane has been enjoying early morning walks and sunrises as he spends time in prayer asking God to work through him.
Today was our last VBS day for this week. It was a fun morning of teaching and playing with the kids. We have some regulars now that we are getting to know. They are a lovely bunch of kids! Our kids are doing a great job helping and jumping in to whatever needs doing. i am proud of all of them! They make a great team!
We have walked through and driven through some areas of significant poverty coming and going from the Community Center - formally knows as the Breakfast Diner. It is sobering for all of us as we see the living conditions of so many here in San Felipe. We live like kings and queens at home and well actually, here too as we have an actual house with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and living room. It is not as manicured as our homes at home but it is nonetheless a full home as compared to the one maybe two room homes we have visited over the course of this week.
We have visited marriage home groups this week and were able to share words of encouragement as well as pray for the couples that attended. It was good to connect at this level with the people of the church. They are a beautiful, passionate people!
Tomorrow we will have our first Fiesta! Daniel and Liam were going to go with the men but then we found out that the youth are also having a retreat tomorrow afternoon/evening so they decided to stay with us. We are grateful for their help! :)
Saturday, March 22
What a day!! We were up bright and early to go and help at the Community Center as the church hosts a breakfast every Saturday for the people in the vicinity. Right after breakfast we pulled out our crafts and activities and set up tables. The little kids jumped right in to all of the activities and had fun making crafts, getting they nails done, their hair spray painted and the faces painted. All of our kids did a great job at their station. Evan and Eric played and played with the boys - running, soccer, tag and more soccer. They have connected so well with the boys their age!
We were again blessed with a great lunch and after a very quick turn around we were on our way to the beach for the youth retreat. It is a beautiful beach about 20 minutes south of San Felipe. It is actually a campers resort of sorts where foreigners bring their motor homes and 5th wheels and spend a few months at a time. A family from the church own and operate the camp. It has a great meeting space where we gathered with the youth after having some fun on the beach playing games. We spent some time in worship and then our girls presented the Manos mime - an interpretive acting out of God's design of creation, the fall of man, and Christ's redemptive work on the cross. They did a beautiful job creating movement and presenting this moving piece. Then Daniel and Robyn both shared words of encouragement for the youth. Both of them did a great job sharing their hearts. Again...we were proud of "our kids"!
We met up with the Dads again and headed home tired but full of God's love!
Sunday we went to the English service at Le Grande Commission (LGC), followed up by the the Spanish service at 10:30. Apart from the language it felt a lot like home, and what was beautiful to see is the passion of the people here.
Trish here... Yesterday was a day off which we spent at the beach about 20 minutes south of San Felipe. It is the same beach we went to with the youth on Friday night. We had a great time of playing in the water, collecting shells along the sand bar and just reading and resting in the sun. We had dinner out at a downtown restaurant that Dave and Beth frequent with teams while they are here. Fish tacos!! Yum! :) We ended the day with some worship and prayer and Dave encouraged us all by reminding us that we were most definitely all called here by God and that His purposes for San Felipe and being fulfilled through us even though we have experienced some challenges with health this past week. We look forward to more of what God has for us and His people in San Felipe this week as we continue to open ourselves up to being His hands and feet.
Today is Tuesday and we will be heading to the Community center soon to hand out more invitations to this weeks activities. This evening the adults will be sharing at various couples home groups again.
We are blessed to be here and thank God daily for His provision and love over all of us! Praying for you too that you may be enjoying some rest during your Spring breaks!
Love and hugs...