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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.