Contact Info:

5333 E. 6 Mile Rd. - White Cloud, MI - 49349 -

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Well Ive been back in the states for 5 months now. A lot has changed since then. For one, I have moved from Alaska back to Michigan at the end of the summer. Earlier in the summer I had heard about a film and video program at a christian collage in Michigan. Since I want to develop my skills in that field and use them in the ministry, I decided to apply. By the time I got the application filled out it was late summer and I didn't really think anything would work out. Well, I was wrong. I got a voicemail while I was at work one day in late August saying that I was accepted. less than a month later I was back in Michigan and getting ready for classes to start.
school has been going for close to a month now. In a lot of ways it has been easier than I expected, my schedule is a bit more complicated than I originally had planed it, so that makes it difficult to do part time work. Please pray that I will be able to focus on my studies and learn from them. Please also pray that tuition will be met in time.
If you are interested in checking out any previous videos that I have put together, please check out:

Thank you for your prayers, and God Bless!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Trip South, Part 2

Day 4

Pastor Waldo's Church
                Today was Sunday. We went to Pastor Waldo’s Church.  There was a missions team there from Sonora. They had gotten to Tepic late last night and spent the night in the Church. They were headed to the cost to work with the natives there. Apparently this time of year most of the natives move to the cost because they can find better work there or something like that. They left before Church started. I’m a little confused about how everything is going to work out, but it sounds like Pastor Waldo is going to meet them there tomorrow. I was under the impression though that we were going to be going farther inland tomorrow…unless Pastor Waldo isn’t going with us…
                One of the people from the team was actually from Mexico City. I’m not sure how she found out about the trip, but she had met up with them last night and was going with them. She spoke English pretty well. She told me that she had gone to Bible School here in Mexico but the school was based out of Oklahoma or something like that. She had never done any work with the natives before and had only heard about the trip two days ago. I told her about what we are doing and we exchanged e-mail. I want to find out how their trip goes and see if I can possible get any pictures that could help with documenting the work that is going on here with the natives. Also, It would be good to know how their trip went, how they were received, are there Christians where they went or not? ….etc. From what I can tell, there are not very many people who are willing to work with the natives.  It is exciting to see and meet people who are excited about the ministry going on here.
Day 5
                We drove several hours to a different dam than the one we were at the other day. It is on the same river, just further up. Pastor Waldo said that this dam supplies Las Vegas and a large portion of southern California with power. Because of that the security around it is very strong. Apparently after 9-11 he was not able to get through until after Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden were killed.
                After signing in with the military we crossed over to the other side of the dam and met a man named José. He spoke a little English. Apparently he lived in Washington State for a while. Pastor Waldo left us with him. (I guess he was going to the coast after all) José had arranged a boat taxi to take us up river. The ride took about 30-40 min. When we finally put in to shore, there were two mules waiting for us, one of which was the one that Koenes Ministries just purchased for Pastor Waldo. Ramon and I rode while José Walked. The mission is located about just north of and about 800 ft. above the river.
Pastor Lupe's house/church 
                The mission consists of a small piece of land with a single building on it. One side is the Pastor’s house and the other is the church. The pastor used to live in a camping trailer but that rotted to pieces a long time ago. Then finally some people from California came and helped him to build the house and church that they are in now. They finished the house for which the pastor is very thankful, but the Church is not finished yet…. Basically the walls, which are adobe, are not plastered with the traditional mud plaster and half of the floor needs to be poured still. Pouring the floor could be solved by buying concrete and having it shipped out to him, but plastering the walls is going to be quite the project. The dirt that is used for the plaster is located several hundred feet above him in elevation. (he lives on the side of a mountain) It would take three or four people almost a week to haul all the dirt, mix and plaster the church.  Right now he is too embarrassed to ask people to walk from all over the place to come to church in a building that is not finished so most of the services are done in the next town up. Also, he said the door is not safe enough…not sure what he meant by that.
                Here in the village we are at right now there are several other families, all relatives of his, however only his sister is saved. Apparently there were other converts at one point, but the local witch, who is very influential in over this whole region, threatened them back into their traditional ways. After a lunch of fried onions, beans, potatoes and fish we met most of the people in the village.
Pastor Lupe's niece and daughter making us chicken soup. 
                There are 18 missions in the area, most of which he walks to. (As I understand it, the word ‘mission’ refers to a location in which one or more Christians live.) The farthest missions he stays and preaches for 3 days because he can’t make it to them as often.
                We rested in the church during the heat of the day. Late in the afternoon we saddled up and went to the next village. There are two families here apparently. I have only seen one so far though. The family we are with is the pastor’s niece. After a very plain but tasty dinner of Chicken with salsa and corn tortillas, the pastor asked me to preach. (The chicken soup consisted of chicken, water and salt.)
                The preaching was over walkie-talkie. There are 16 villages that each have their own walkie-talkie. Every night at a set time they tune into the same channel and listen as the pastor preaches from wherever he is that night. I shared the same story that I shared earlier this week about trusting God. I didn’t feel like I did as good a job as the first time though. I think that part of the reason was that I couldn’t see the people I was talking to.
Our means of transportation. 
                After the walkie-talkie service was done the pastor asked me to share something from the Word with the family we were staying with I was nervous because I didn’t feel like I really understood these people enough to preach something that would be relevant to them. I had already used up the one story that I felt like would be relevant to them…What do you preach to a family that is from a completely different culture than I am? They are a completely different culture than even anything I have experienced back in Sonora….After praying about it I read from John chapter 1 and shared some thoughts about Jesus being the light of the world. I illustrated that light can overcome darkness by turning on a flashlight and shining it at a tree. Then I pointed out that no darkness in the world is able to put out light. I hope that this is an encouragement to them sine they are experiencing firsthand the battle between light and darkness through the persecution of the witchdoctors.
                The family here is very happy, content and hospitable. I am quite sure, based on the number of chickens that I have seen here that chicken soup is very rare.  The pastor’s niece made sure that I knew that I was always welcome in her house any time I wanted to come and visit.
                After the message we sang several worship songs. There were no instruments. We worshiped beneath a cathedral of stars and to the tune of the crickets and the wind in the trees.  After the worship service we spread blankets out under a tree in front of the house and went to sleep.
Day 6.
I didn’t sleep very well last night. We slept outside in front of the house. Someone laid a tarp out and covered it in blankets. Sleeping on the ground and outside were both fine, I’ve done that more times that I can remember but there was a little boy that kept talking to José until late. About the time he stopped talking someone started snoring and the local cats and dogs started a fight on the hill above us that sounded like a death match. When that finally died down the rooster in the tree behind the house started crowing….That was @ about 11pm and he kept it up all night. At about 2am the bees started harvesting nectar from the tree we were sleeping under. It sounded like we were sleeping in a bee hive.  The family started their day about 5am, probably to get some of their work done before the heat of the day.
                The witch seems to play a very powerful roll in these communities. I have asked several different questions about the openness and receptiveness of the Gospel as well as the spiritual health of the church etc. Almost always the witch is brought up as playing a major defining part in how the Gospel is received. Traditionally the village is subject to the witch but when people are saved they  no longer serve the witch. For this reason the witch will threaten new converts in different ways. In many cases theses converts will recant their faith out of fear of the witch. For this reason converts are referred to as ‘believers’ and are not baptized right away but have to wait for a while and be able to look into their own heart and know the faith that is there is real. After baptism they are referred to as ‘Christians.’  Baptisms can happen as young as 10 ½ years old. The ones who understand Jesus’ authority over the enemy are the ones who stay faithful. This practice seems to be very similar to the practices of the early church during the beginning of the Roman persecution.
A native worship service.
                After breakfast we rode for an hour to the next village. We had a service there. If I counted right, there were two families here. They were very energetic and danced to guitar music after which Ramon and I preached to them. I talked about choosing your path through life and trusting and honoring God in the different paths that you choose. They insisted that we eat lunch with them even though it was only mid-morning. Lunch was something similar to spaghetti.
                The next village that we stopped at was not native, but a native man came to our service. I shared again about choosing your path. Then Ramon shared about being a new creation. After the service the man asked for prayer. He was afraid and didn’t know why. I thought of Phil 4:4-7 and asked Ramon if it would be appropriate to bring that particular passage up. He read it and thought it was really good. At first I was envisioning me sharing the passage but right then I realized that Ramon could probably do a better job than I could so I told him to share what was on his heart. I don’t know what all he said, or if it had any bearing on what happened next, but as soon as he was done the man declared that he was ready to give his life to Jesus. This was a big decision for him because his mom is a witch.
Two of the families who we visited. 
                On the way back we rode past a drug deal. Most of our ridding had been on trails, but there was a short stretch where we rode on a dirt road.  At the end of the road there were several truck pulled off to the side. I didn’t notice any details because when we were still a good way off Ramon told me just not to look at them. He grew up in I had wondered if it was a drug deal when I first saw them, but wasn’t sure until Ramon said something. I asked him later and he said that the giveaway was when he saw one of the guys with a machine gun. There were at least two vehicles and half a dozen men. We rode past them and Pastor Lupe told them ‘good afternoon’ and that was that.
Day 7
                We got up and left late in the morning, met Pastor Waldo back at the dam and drove back to Tepic. After dinner we went to the mall for ice cream. While we were at the mall we interviewed Pastor Waldo about his work with the natives. I thought that the interviews went exceptionally well.
                Through the course of the interviews we were able to see even more clearly Pastor Waldo’s heart for his ministry. One thing that I was particularly encouraged by  was that it was increasingly obvious that Pastor Waldo has a good understanding on the importance of discipleship. His goal is to train native converts and send them back out to be missionaries to their own people. When someone is saved, they are taught and trained for roughly a year or so. Once they have completed this discipleship stage, they are sent out to make disciples of their own. He pointed out the way that this model is taken from Jesus’ ministry and that if done well, the training of disciples who make disciples is a powerful method of spreading the Gospel. It’s like a virus, it just takes over everything!  
                Another interesting story that he told was about a family who got saved but who lived a long way from any church meeting location. Because of their hunger for the Word they would put their youngest kids on their shoulders and start walking on Friday afternoon. They would walk into the night and all day Saturday and would be the first ones at Pastor Waldo’s church in Tepic on Sunday morning. Then after the service they would walk all day Sunday and Monday and get home Tuesday afternoon. This is the hunger of the people here.
Day 8
Posing in the print shop with the Printer (center)
                We went to see the print shop where the Bibles are going to be printed. I would have liked to interview the printer, but he didn’t seem to understand the concept of an interview and was getting frustrated with us so I had to settle with getting video of him operating his machines. He had four machines in his shop. Each one was for something different and all of them were way out of date. By out of date, I mean some of them by his own admittance should be in a museum on printing machines. His machines range from anywhere between the 1880’s to the 1960’s.  The oldest one is a foot operated machine and is used for printing the numbers on pages.
                The owner of the shop is committed to printing the Bible in Huichol and is going to dedicate his shop solely to the printing of 2,000. This process will take about 2 months to complete. Right now however he is still waiting for the money to purchase supplies such as paper and ink which will cost roughly $9,000 USD.
                We interviewed Pastor Waldo some more, prayed with his family and got on the bus and headed home. Pastor Waldo seemed to be very encouraged by our visit and interest in what he is doing. I was originally going to use this footage to make a documentary about mission opportunities that are here in Mexico but I won’t be ready to do that until next fall at the soonest. There is so much going on here though that I think that I will have to put together a video specifically for Pastor Waldo.As soon as this video is finished I will upload it to YouTube and post an update on this blog along with the YouTube address.
                Before I close, There are a few quick things I would like to mention that are not related to the trip. First, my home church just sent their youth group down. Out of the team of 20+ people there was only one person I didn’t already know. I also had two siblings on the trip, so it was nice to be able to see so many familiar faces.

                Things winding down here. Our last team left Yesterday morning. Lord willing Art, Brenda and I will be leaving Monday. They will drop me off in Phoenix on the way back to Montana where they farm during the summer. From Phoenix I will be flying back to Alaska where I will spend the summer working. It has been an amazing year full of amazing opportunities and experiences and I have learned a lot on the way. As I head from one extreme to the next I look forward to the things that God has in store for me through the summer. (Which will probably seem more like winter to me.)

              Every month it cost $450 to live here at the Casa de Esperanza. This covers my meals and other living expenses. I am still trying to raise a total of $2500. Currently I have raised $1,550 and have $1450 to go. If you have not already done so, please prayerfully consider supporting me. To everyone who has supported me, both finantually and through prayer, I would like to thank you once again. Your support has been a huge blessing to me. 

Pleas send checks to:
Koenes Ministries
3565 Veltkamp Rd.
Manhattan, MT 59741

Please Note: Checks should be made out to Koenes Ministries. Also, please be sure to write my name on the memo line of the check to distinguish it form general support for Casa de Esperanza. 
                Finally, last but not least, after many hours of work I have put together a promotional video for a ministry that I have had the privilege of working with over the past few months. The ministry is called Agua y Mas (Water and More) and is a shelter for single mothers. The mission also offers local children English/Bible lessons 3 days every week after school. The video can be seen at: 

Friday, April 5, 2013

A trip South

                To start, I will say that I am sorry for missing my post from last week, the internet has been out since the day that I got back from my trip down south. Until today I have been unable to get online to update my blog.
                 As I was thinking about how to best share the experiences of this past week with you, I thought that perhaps the best way would be to simply copy some of my journal entries. Also, I have decided to take use both this week and next week to cover the trip simply because there was too much that happened to cover in one post.
                Just to fill in a little background information, Ramon, my brother in Christ and fellow missionary from Casa de Esperanza, and I recently traveled to Tepic Nayrit Mexico. Out purpose was to meet and document a mission to the natives of the area. The mission is operated by Pastor Waldo, a Hispanic pastor for Tepic Nayrit. Pastor Waldo reaches out to the Huichol people of Nayrit Mexico. The following is the first part of a two part post about and is taken from my journal of the trip. 
We drove all through the night From Guymas to Tepic. It was about 17 hr total. Pastor Waldo met us at the bus stop and took us to his house for lunch of fried fish. After lunch Pastor Waldo took us to see a mission which was just outside Tepic. On the way we drove past numerous sugar cane fields, 60% of Mexico’s sugar is produced here.  There are a lot of Mango orchards too.
                The mission was on the outskirts of a small native village. It consisted of several houses. By houses, I mean structures that looked like the forts that we used to build as kids using yarn and dead corn stalks. The walls were of cane stalks, (not sugar cane, some other type) lined up side by side so that you could still see through them with either tin or palm branches for a roof. The actual area where they have their church meetings is just a large open area that is partly shaded by several large trees. About 50 families meet here for Church. They have plans to build a roof over the area but haven’t been able to yet. They also have plans to build a brick wall around the south side of the property because the neighbor man doesn’t like their services and shoots his machine gun into the air to disrupt their services. There are about 7 families that live at this mission. The purpose of this mission appears to be to train native converts as missionaries and send them back out to their people. Later we met an old native pastor who is 86 years old. He used to be a witch and now he walks 3 days a month through the mountains to spread the Gospel.

                On our way back to the house we met with a man who is printing the Bible into Huichol dialect. Right now there are only 4 Bibles in Huichol. There were more that were printed earlier in the 1900’s but most of them were lost during an earthquake. Right now only the New Testament and part of Psalms and Proverbs has been translated. Many of the native people don’t speak Spanish very well, if at all. Even the younger generation, though they are bilingual are more literate in their native tong than they are in Spanish. Right now they need more money before they can start. I got about ten minutes of interview time with the printer and with Ramon translating. I which I could have known ahead of time that we were going to meet with him so I could have planned out an interview better.
Day 2
On the boat taxi
                Today we picked up several people from the mission that we were at last night. We drove for over an hour and came to a dam on a river. The driver, a man from Pastor Waldo’s church told us that the dam was dedicated 13 years ago. During the dedication ceremony the president of the Hydro Electric part of the government stood there and waved the flag while live children were sacrificed in the fire for the protection of either the dam or the people who worked on the dam…I had a little trouble understanding that part of the conversation… Apparently this is the traditional way for the Huichol to receive protection…
Part of the local congregation posing in front of their church. 
                We got in a boat taxi on the back side of the dam and went about ½ hour up river to a small community. There were 20 families who met there. Their church was a small hut, 12x12 with a roof for shade and no walls. Some of the families had to walk quite a ways to get to church. They have services on Wednesday and Sunday.  I asked several times how many people came to church here/how many people in the area were Christians, etc. Every time I was told that around 30 Christian families here. It appears that in this area there are no individual Christians, when one person gets saved, the whole family gets saved, and in this village, all the families are saved! There are several other villages many hours walking distance form here where there is only one Christian. People walk from here on a regular basis to do ministry there.
A Huchol house on stilts. 

                We had a short service while we were there. Pastor Waldo asked us to share something. I shared a story about orienteering and trusting the map and compass. I compared that to how we have to trust God and the Bible. I chose that story because I knew they would be able to relate to that and I wasn't sure what else they would….
A Huchol Boy posing in a traditional hat.
Day 3
                We drove 4 hours to a native community, 2hr on pavement and 2 hrs on dirt. Before the governor built the road, Pastor Waldo would walk on foot for three days to reach this community…. There was a fiesta in town. It has something to do with celebrating the corn. Apparently there is some demonic traditions that are associated this fiesta, it was unclear what those were however.
                We were shown to the church and met the Pastor. He owns a Huichol Bible. The church was different form the one we were at yesterday. This one is built of adobe. I’m not sure if we got a straight answer on how many people go to church here. I do know though that there are a number of people in the area that are not saved.
                For lunch we had blue, handmade tortillas. They were the best tortillas I have ever had. Along with the blue tortillas we were served chicken foot soup. I didn’t get the chicken foot, but saw one in the bowel next to me. It made me remember all the missionary stories form growing up, stories about missionaries who had to eat bugs, animal brains or intestines etc. in order to not offend their host. The chicken foot soup seemed to be a common appearance in those stories and now here I am eating it! …It was actually pretty good and seemed more normal than strange.
                On the way back we stopped in another village that a Church which is currently meeting under a tree. Their old building was too small so they had to take it down. They are in the process of building the new building. Someone donated all the brick for it, but it is still in Tepic and they need to find a way to get it to their village, which is quite a ways off the beaten path.

                On the way back to Tepic we passed through a village. Pastor Waldo told us that there were no Christians in this village. They had tried to build a church here at one point but had been shot at by either the witch or people who worked for him.

Me posing with a Huchol man who is dressed in his traditional clothing. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the Road again

Right now I am in Tepic, in the Mexican state of Nayarit. I and my friend and fellow missionary Ramon are visiting a pastor who is in charge of overseeing a minstry which trains native pastors and missionaries. His ministry is supported by Koenis ministries (the ministry I am uner in San Carlos) The reason for this trip is to be able have someone form Koenis Ministries see firsthand what he is doing down here. The other reason for my coming on this trip is to get video footage of is ministry. My hope is to use this footage, along with other footage which I have collected over my time here in Mexico, and to put together a video that will inform people of the current state of the Mexican church, reveal spesific prayer needs and encourage people in supporting the Mexican church.
Pleas pray for saftey for Ramon and I as we travle with Pastor Waldo over the next few days. Pray that the Lord would lead us each day and that we would be intune with the Holy Spirit. Please pray that we will be an encouragement to the brothers and sisters here and that I would be able to get the footage I need. Pray also that none of my equippment gets dammage or stolen.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scout Repot

                Hey Everyone! The trip into the mountains was a success! We were able to map and scout out several areas that we had never been to before. A number of the communities were a considerable distance off the mapped road system. The roads leading to them were rough. One of the larger towns  we visited was 30 miles off of the mapped road system. The road its self was extremely rough, large bolders, lose rock, washouts and steep climbing up steep hillsides was the norm. Due to the rough terrain, any future attempts to show the film in this village will probably be done with ATVs rather than risking a vehicle.
We were able to meet several Christian brothers and sisters in various communities. Whenever we met a brother or sister, we would stop and visit them for a while. These visits are very encouraging as the Christian community in this part of the country is extremely small and often, they can feel forgotten by the rest of the Church. Being able to stop in and visit these people is proof to them that they are not alone and are not forgotten. Although many of the villages have only one or two Christians, in one village  we were excited to discover a pastor by the name of Juan. There were twelve members in his congregation. Besides working in his own area, he travels to many of the surrounding communities, including the towns and villages that we visited last month. As we sat and visited with him and his family he told us of even more communities that were in need of the Gospel but could only be reached by foot.
Although Spanish is the official language in Mexico, a number of these native villages are so far off of the beaten trail that some of them only speak their native language. On top of the language barrier, the natives are often closed to outsiders. Although Pastor Juan speaks very little of the native language, he is a member of the local tribe which means that he will be much better received than any one coming in from North America, or even other parts of Mexico. Finding him there was a huge blessing and encouragement.
Please pray for Pastor Juan as he pastors his small congregation and also as he reaches out to the surrounding communities. Pray for encouragement for him and that God would prepare hearts ahead of him to hear and to receive the truth that he brings. Pray that the Lord would raise up other Christian leaders in the Allimos region so that the Gospel would be clearly preached to people living there.
Although we were not able to do any evangelism work, we did hand out several hundred Bibles to the people that we met on the way. In many cases, simply having the Word of God available in their hands transforms lives. One story comes to mind where an illiterate woman fasted and prayed and at the end of her fast God had given her the ability to read her Bible. Please pray that the people who received those Bible would read and understand them and that they would respond to the Gospel Message. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Quick Update.

It has been a busy week doing a number of different odds and end, including working on another video for a ministry that we are working alongside, helping out at a church dinner and another wedding.
Today we are leaving on another trip into the mountains. This trip was more or less put together as a last minute deal, filling up a few spare days we had before the next team comes in. We won't be showing the Jesus film this time but are scouting out an area that we know we can access with quads and dirt bikes but aren't sure we can get into with vehicles. If everything goes well, next fall a followup trip will be made into this area to show the film. Pleas pray for the safety of the team and God would lead and direct our path each day.
Thank you for your prayers and support
God Bless
-Jonathan Cargill

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dreams Coming True

     For a number of years, I have dreamed of producing movies. I remember dreaming and even making several attempts at putting together short films. This was done with the family video camera and windows movie maker. Then, when I was 16 I had the opportunity of being an extra in the interdependent Christian film, Pendragon, Sword of His Father, by Burn's Family Studios. I was fascinated with all the behind the scene work that went into production and often dreamed of being able to produce my own films someday. I was discouraged however by the amount of equipment that was needed to do that.

     Over the years I have also developed a passion for photography. I found that a camera that could take decent photos was easier to get my hands on than one that could take decent video, so I focused on photography. Every year or so I would upgrade to a new camera that was better that the one that I had before. With each upgrade I learned more about photography and was able to get better and better pictures. Finally, this past fall I realized that I was in a unique season of my life in which I could potentially use the skills that I had developed and the passion that God had given me to help support the ministries that I am working and partnering with here in Mexico.

     In December I decided to take advantage of the season that I am in. I purchased a camera that was capable of taking professional quality pictures and video. Over the past month I have been exploring all the different capabilities of my new camera. Finally, this past week I downloaded some video editing software and began exploring how to use it, using the footage I have collected over the last month. After many hours of watching YouTube tutorials and applying what I was learning, I was able to put together a video update for the Casa de Esperanza.

      I always thought that my dream was just that, something that I would get excited about and then forget about as I got back to my every day life. I am grateful however that God has allowed this dream to become a reality. I learned a lot over this past week, including how exhausting sitting at a computer can be. I hope that this experience will sharpen my skills and knowledge to be able to do even more work for God in the future. Regardless of what the future holds however, I am thankful for this opportunity that He has blessed me with today and that I am taking advantage of it.

The following is a link to YouTube video mentioned in the post:
Casa de Esperanza Update

Friday, February 8, 2013

          This past week I went with 14 other people up into the mountains of Sonora. Our purpose was to show the Jesus film in villages and towns that are often overlooked by other missions organizations due to their 'off grid' locations. As I was trying to figure out the best way to share about what took place this past week, I decided that the best way was simply to share pages from my journal. I hope you enjoy.

Day 1
We took all the bikes and quads by the trailer to Baticosta. We left the trailer at the pastors house in Baticosta. We picked up the pastor and her daughter and left. Our team consisted of 15 people, [two vehicles] 4 quads and two dirt bikes. We loaded up and rode 50+ miles North East of Baticosta. It was mostly all dirt roads. There was a lot of hills and only a few small communities with ranches spread out in between. The weather is warm, around 80F. We stopped at a hotel in a decent sized community somewhere just north of Alamos.
The man we helped, with his house in the background. 

Two things left an impression on me today. The first thing was when I went with Art (Brenda’s husband), Juan Carlos, (Evangelist and translator here at the mission), and Hymar (Art’s friend from MT). We went to fix the wheel on a wheelchair. On the way into town Juan had seen a man in a motorized wheelchair and had invited him to come see the Jesus film. He said that he couldn’t because one of the wheels on his chair was flat. Once we all got settled into the hotel, the four of us went back to see if we could fix it for him. As we were working on the wheel, I noticed him. The man was a Christian. He was crippled from birth, hence the wheelchair. (How he got a chair like this way out here, and how he gets on these dirt roads, I don’t know.) I also noticed that he had a bag on the side of his chair that looked like it was for going to the bathroom in. His house was not the nicest, although I’ve seen worse in Guymas. Despite all his ‘setbacks’ and ‘miss fortunes,’ the man seemed very content and joy filled. It was apparent that he had a very real and special relationship with the Lord. To see everything that he ‘lacked,’ that is ‘required’ for having a ‘happy’ life, and then to see how content and happy he was without those things really says something about his faith and his relationship with God. It challenges me to be more grateful for everything that God has blessed me with.
Owner of the local bear shop reading
his new Bible after the film. 

The second thing that stood out to me happened after we showed the Jesus film. As I was standing there I noticed the owner of the Beer store sitting in his window reading the New Testament that we had given him. He must have sat there in the window reading it for at least half an hour. After he closed shop for the night, Juan and Rob (Team captain) approached him and asked if he was ready to receive Jesus into his heart. He was and so they prayed with him right there on the spot. (It is interesting to note that the man was older. Most older people, especially men in these rural Mexican communities are friendly enough to us, but are quite cold in relation to the Gospel. However, It was very obvious that this man was very hungry!)
Earlier in the day the team had spent quite a bit of time praying as a team for tonight’s program, as they normally do. I realized thought that I was not a part of the prayer meeting. As I thought about it more, I realized that I am hardly ever a part of those prayer meetings. This thought bothered me because I know how important prayer is and because of its importance I wanted to be a part of it.
  The more I thought about it the more I realized that the reason that I am normally absent from these prayer meetings is because I am usually busy rounding up kids and playing soccer with them at the same time that he prayer meetings take place. The kids seem to be drawn to me and I seem to get along pretty good with them even thought I don’t speak much Spanish.
We gave out hundreds of children's Bibles. 
                As I was thinking about all of this, I was reminded of Paul and how he talks about how we each have a different gift and how if we all had the same gift that the body would not function properly. In many cases these kids lack a positive male figure in their lives, so to have someone like me come and want to spend time playing soccer with them is huge! Also, we have noticed that playing soccer seems to get them excited about coming to the film and it also drains some of their energy so that they sit more quietly and pay better attention during the film.
                Normally soccer happens at about the same time that prayer happens so it would be difficult to do both. In the future I will make it a point to watch for opportunities to join the prayer time but if I’m busy doing what I’m gifted at and can’t join them, I won’t let it bother me.

Day 2
                Juan Carlos woke up this morning to a phone call about a family emergency back in Guymas so he took off right away on his dirt bike. Juan often is the back bone of the team as he does almost all of the translation. We also rely on him pretty heavily when it comes to scouting ahead and making sure that we are going in the right direction when we are on the road. It is going to change things a lot now that he is gone.
Beautiful scenery on the road.
We rode pretty good today. We wanted to make it to La Mesa for the night because we were told that there was a hotel there.  On the way there Omar (staff member at Casa de Esperanza) got his quad stuck in a river that we were trying to cross. Art came back and tried to drive it out and accidently backed in into the main channel and it got washed down river a ways.
                La Mesa is a native community. All the women and Girls had simple dresses that are similar to dresses which I have seen Alaskan women wear during the summer; A floral pattern on a brightly colored cloth. They also used a sort of bandanna head covering. The men dress in the typical cowboy/rancher dress.
More amazing scenery!
           Their life style seems to me more of subsistence farming than any of the other communities we’ve been in. The community sits right on the Rio Mayo. All along the bank are small plots of cultivated ground surrounded by fences which are constructed of everything form barbed wire to woven sticks with thorns on them. These are to keep the animals, which roam freely, out of the food plots. Adobe brick is still used as a building material, but stone is much more common here. There are a number of sheep, goats and donkeys which roam wherever they want.
The benches were overloaded at La Mesa
There were just as many people standing behind the
benches as there were sitting on them. 

                Almost the whole town showed up for the film. The benches were full and there were many more people standing in groups all over the plaza. I was able to get a number of pretty good photos. After the film Devin’s wife invited people forward to pray. (Devin is Rob’s son and his wife is Mexican so she did a lot of the translating after Juan left.) There must have been 50+ people who came forward. What exactly happened after that, I’m not exactly sure. I do know this though, the Holy Spirit was moving! There were a lot of people praying in tongues and asking for prayer.   I wasn't sure if I should be praying or taking pictures or just thanking God, so I just did the best I could to do all three at once. There were a number of women off to one side with their hands in the air and they were shaking violently. There were also a number of men who came forward for prayer. The pastor from Baticosta did most of the praying while the rest of the team handed out Bibles and eye glasses. We ran out of eye glasses and gave away a lot of Bibles, over 160 kids Bibles alone.

Right: Devin's wife praying
 with the native women. 

                                        Left: The crowd that 
                                        came forward for 
                                        prayer after the                                                         
                                        Jesus film . 

Day 3
We were planning on going quite a way to the next village today but about 3 miles down the road we came to a small community of roughly 100 people that wasn’t on the map. We decided to stay there. At first I was a bit disappointed because we hadn’t gone very far yet and the village was small, so it didn’t feel like we were doing very much, but in the end, I’m glad that they did.
The yard that we camped out in. 
                Again, the people were very hospitable. One of the families form the village let us pitch our tents in their yard. Some of the team wanted to camp on a dry river just out of town instead. The ground would have probably been a bit more flat and the night quieter (no dogs barking, donkeys braying or roosters crowing just outside our tent), but Brenda pointed out that the culture here is very relational and that we would be a lot better received if we slept in their yard, so we took them up on their offer.
Getting feet sized at
 the sandal factory. 
                A lot of the people here wear sandals that are made of used tires. The governor offered to make us each a pair for 150 pesos a pair. (roughly $12) There were about three guys who were working on sandals. They would make a rough outline on the old tire and then cut it out with a knife. Then they spent the next hour or so having you step on the piece of rubber, eyeing it, and trimming a little off. I was pretty impressed with the end result. They are not the most comfortable sandals I've ever worn, but think that once they get broken in they will be a lot better. They sure have good tread though and they will last ten times as long as any sandals from the store!
 I Played soccer with the kids this afternoon. There were only about 8 kids that actually came out and played, but we had a lot of fun! After we were done I gave the soccer ball to the family in whose yard we set up camp.
Again, the whole village came out for the film and the majority of them came forward for prayer after words. It wasn’t quite the same as last night though. I think that the people in the last village were a bit more hungry and open to the Spirit than the people tonight.
Praying with a young woman after the film. 
After the film, Omar told us that he had found out that the Mormons had been to the village the day before. It sounded like the people were only slightly less open to them than they were to us. It is interesting to note though that yesterday, after we got permission from the Governor in La Mesa to show the film there, his wife asked one of the Mexican ladies with us if we were good people? She wanted to know if we brought the truth or if we were going to hurt the people. After hearing about the Mormons, I wonder if they had also been to La Mesa, and if so, had the people of La Mesa been able to somehow discern that they were not bringing the truth, but a lie?.....Either way, It made me realize that even though we brought the Gospel into these communities and even though they received it, they are still have no one to teach them and help them to grow. They are sheep without a shepherd.
Day 4
We were up and out of town at a reasonable hour. By noon we were back on a paved road. We stopped at one village and asked to show the film there, but the people there didn’t seem to be ok with that, so we moved on to the next village. It reminded me of when Jesus send the disciples out to preach the kingdom of God. He told them that when they came to a village, or a home, if the people received them, to leave their peace with them, but if they didn’t, to shake the dust off their feet as they left the village…We did find another village that received us, but they seemed to be much more reserved than the previous 3 communities.
For some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable taking picture tonight, so I put my camera away. Once the film was done and the invitation given, there were a few people who came forward for prayer, but it wasn’t the same as the previous communities. It makes me wonder why? The only think that I can think of is that since they are just off a main road way, and a paved one at that, maybe they receive more people trying to sell religion and thus making them more skeptical of newcomers like us.  
I learned a lot on this trip. I saw God move in ways that I have not experienced before. There are a number of things, some of which I have shared here that I believe God taught me, lessons that I will be applying to my life. I am grateful for everything that I learned and am glad to be back, but at the same time, my heart is still with those often overlooked communities out in the mountains of Sonora. I pray that God will bring a minister to that region who will follow up with what we have done.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Children's Camps International

God is doing some exciting things here in Mexico. This past week we hosted four representatives from Children’s Camps International. CCI is an evangelical organization whose goal is to “Seek opportunities in the developing world together with indigenous churches/leaders to equip them to reach their communities with ongoing ministry that targets the next generation to fulfill the great Commission.” CCI works to accomplish this vision by establishing kids camps that are funded by small business which are operated by members of the local church.
CCI currently operates in 6 developing countries and they are expanding. One of the countries they hope to expand into in the near future is Mexico. The four representatives I mentioned earlier were here to meet with the local pastors and to inform them of their ministry and express their desire to expand their ministry into Mexico. They wanted to know if the local churches were interested in starting kids camps and if so, would micro financing be a reasonable means for launching small businesses to support these kids clubs.
On Thursday we had a pastors meeting here at the mission. Over 40 pastors from the surrounding community came; this was a major deal as there has been quite a bit of division among the local churches recently.  There were several pastors there who already have healthy kids camps in their churches, but there were a number of pastors who did not have kids camps. There was quite a bit of enthusiasm expressed about starting up more kids camps, but there was also concern that micro financing might not be the best way to go about funding those camps.
Over the next few days the men form CCI traveled around the community to meet with a number of these pastors to get to know them better and also to discuss more in-depth the ministry opportunities as well as the concerns.  I was privileged to be able to go along with them as their photographer.
It was exciting and encouraging to see all of the enthusiasm expressed in starting up kids camps but perhaps the most exciting thing for me was to see the local churches come together and work toward a common vision. CCI not only pushed for starting kids camps but they also stressed unity among the local church. Division among believers can be a powerful hindrance to expanding God’s kingdom. My hope and prayer is that through the work that CCI is doing the local church will be reunited.
A meeting between the locals church leaders and the CCI representatives. 

Between meetings one of the CCI representatives stopped to get his shoes shined. 

The shoe shining session quickly turned into a Son shining session 
as the men shared the Gospel message with the shoe shiner. 
He claimed to be an atheist but it was apparent that he also held some 
new age/eastern beliefs. We left him a Bible and encouraged him 
to read it. Please pray that the seeds we planted in this 
man's heart would produce a 100 fold crop. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Family Missions Trip

This past week was the most unique and perhaps most interesting week I have had in Mexico yet. The mission team that we hosted consisted of 5 homeschool families (10 parents and 35 kids, ages 1-10)
The majority of the ministry that we did with the families was through kids clubs. The families had practiced a number of songs in Spanish that they sung for the kids. Besides the songs, they had puppet plays and skits that they also performed in Spanish.
Here in Mexico the children are taught in the schools that the earth is millions of years old the same as they are taught in the public schools in the US. The major theme that the team had prepared in their kids club messages was that the earth is not millions of years old. This theme was illustrated in everything that they presented, from the worship songs, to the stories and puppet shows and even the crafts. Then at the end of each kids club they handed out Spanish coloring books that were put together frrm the creation museum illustrating the creation week.
Before and after ministry every day my time was spent hanging out around the mission with the team. Usually in the mornings we would do some work on the dorms and then after ministry the teenage boys would want to go exploring, of which I was often a part. We did all kinds of things from climbing mountains to hunting scorpions, giant centipedes and sea shells.
About half way through the week the hot water line blew in one of the showers.  Before we had a chance to finish patching the first leak a second one busted in the new dorm building. The next morning I woke up to find that a pipe beneath the office room had busted, flooding the office and spilling out onto the patio. This was followed by yet another leak in the new dorm building. Needless to say, the second half of the week was spent pulling back tile, chopping through concrete floors and walls and putting in new plumbing.  Due to the leaks we were also out of running water several times throughout the week which meant no showers and no flushing toilets. Thankfully however the team was gracious and understanding. (It is not uncommon to have a pipe blow a leak on occasion, however 4 major brakes in a week is unheard of.)

With the exception of one family, none of them had been to Mexico before and none of them had been on a mission’s trip. I always enjoy watching individuals grow over the duration of their stay here but this team was even more so. Perhaps it was due to the fact that so many of them were experiencing this at such a young age, an age where they are growing exponentially in so many ways. My hope and prayer is that this trip will have planted seeds in the lives of these young people. Seeds that will be nurtured by parents and that will grow into a passion to spread the Gospel into the farthest corners of the earth!
Prayer needs:
The general physical health of the staff here at Casa de Esperanza has been a little under the weather for several weeks now. Please pray for good health, strength and energy!
In a closing note: I am currently attempting to post a slideshow/video of this past week but am experiencing some technical issues with my computer. Lord willing it will be available in a day or two. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Why Poverty?

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo a todos! (Merry Christmas and Happy New year everyone!) I had a good Christmas back in Michigan with my family and was back in San Carlos for the turn of the year. My New Year’s Eve was spent on the beach in San Carlos with my girlfriend, Laura, a mission team from Canada and all of my Mexican friends. (Laura came down from Alaska and spent just over a week visiting and helping around the mission) We did our own firework show right there on the beach. I had a blast as I was one of the ones in charge of launching off the fireworks!
One of my highlights from this week (Besides spending time with Laura) was after we had taken the missions team into the community of Fatima to do a food distribution. We went with members of the local church leadership and distributed food hampers to a number of different families. Most of the homes we saw were pretty run down. Roofs had had holes in them letting light into otherwise dark rooms. Windows were missing glass and doorways had blankets hung over them. Some of the houses had dirt floors. In one home we were invited in to pray for a woman who was bedridden with a cold. It was apparent that she needed to see a doctor, yet that was probably out of the question simply because the family could not afford it.  
When we got back to the Church several of us sat down with the pastor and began discussing what we had seen. He explained to us that the main source of income for the local community is fishing. When the fishing is good, everyone makes a lot of money. Recently however, the fishing has not been very good and for the most part no one ever saves up their money during the good seasons. They would simply rather live like a king for a few weeks out of the year and barley scrape by the rest of the time. For this reason when the fishing isn't very good, things get really hard. They run out of money for food for their families. Their houses get run down and no one has the money to repair them. People get sick easier because of lack of nutrition and poor living conditions and taking someone to see the doctor when that happens is not possible. It’s not that they don’t make enough money; they simply don’t plan ahead and save it.
One of the team leaders asked if promoting things like microfinancing, financial seminars or co-ops would be an effective means of helping the community. The pastor didn't seem to think so. He pointed out again that even when the fishing is good and people have money to spare they just spend it right away. He made the point that the only thing that will really change anything for the better is for people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His point is a good reminder that although meeting a person’s physical needs is important, the value of addressing their spiritual needs cannot go over looked. Without their spiritual needs met, there is no lasting change.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Mathew 9:37-38) The people in Mexico are hungry for the Gospel. Please lift up Mexico in your prayers. Pray for unity among the local churches, that they will work together to spread the Gospel and make disciples. Pray for revival.