Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Brandon

If I am being honest I started with a very poor attitude about going. I was excited to spend time with my daughter in a foreign place and away from all of life's distractions. But other than that I had some angst about traveling, about the country the water, the planning, and the fundraising, just to name a few. It was so hard to leave work and put life on hold for a week to go on a mission trip.

I am thankful that God pushes us out of our nests. He forces us on stress journeys to temper our souls. He did that for all of us in Mexico. You name it, we each had our challenges to overcome - the heat, the language, homesickness, bowel sickness, or itchy bug bites of torture. For me God, put me in a place that I did not want to go to serve people I didn't want to serve, and he used this to strengthen my relationship with him, with my daughter, and with my church family. It always amazes me the attempts of Satan during times like this. It is an amazing experience to know that you are following God’s will because of the amount of challenge the opposition is putting in your path. 

Mexico and the orphans of Hogar de Amor don't need us.  Rather, we need them. God asks us to do things not because he needs us or our resources, but because he knows our imperfections and he knows how to use them for His glory. Dios es Bueno! and he glorifies that truth best when we overcome challenges and rely on Him along the way.

I pray that the changes we experienced in Mexico will motivate us to more often oppose our bad attitudes and serve the will of God in an answer to the need that exists all around us.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Gabby

Reflections on our time in Mexico by Gabby, age 9:

I had lots of fun! It was fun to see all the kids interact with me and each other. They really are one big family. It was fun to be able to try to communicate with them and play with the ones that were not my age. I think I had more fun than the adults. I think that it was super fun to see that the they have less than us but really love the things they have.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Lindsay

Our trip to Colima was a wonderful experience that was uplifting in every possible way.  It was such a privilege to serve the children and caregivers at the orphanage and have my eyes opened to life in Mexico and the Mexican people. They are doing a great service for these children and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the orphanage, the school and the care of the children.

I loved every moment spent with the children and the time working and playing with the group we traveled with. And I will always be thankful for what I learned about myself and my daughter while there.

I’ve never been an extremely confident or brave person and surprised myself VERY much at my boldness in attempting to communicate in a language I haven’t used since high school. Knowing God had given me a job to do, I was able to think less about myself and overcome shyness and insecurity for the sake of serving others. I’m sure I can accomplish many other things in my life if I remember that attitude.

Growing closer to my daughter was an added bonus. I’ve always known she likes people and enjoys being around people but a special experience on the trip made me conclude my observations are a bit more profound. She made friends with a few of the Mexican children and decided to make gifts for two of them before we left. One of the girls, a 13 yr old named Yaki was very deeply touched by my daughter's love and they both shared a lot of tears. The words they expressed to each other and to me showed me a lot about my daughter.  I believe that her ability to connect with people is a God given gift that is meant for her to bless others. I can’t wait to see her grow and realize her gift.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Stephanie

Reflections on our time in Mexico by Stephanie, age 18:

This trip was such an incredible and humbling experience. It is something I would love to continue doing through out the future. Not only did these kids show love to one another, they proved God's love for each and every one of them.

It was so much fun getting to know the people in our group more closely and forming a special bond within our church family. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that this brought for me to grow in every aspect of my life, especially my faith in God. May we continue to walk by faith because God is good.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Scott

I had a wonderful time in Colima. My biggest takeaway is how apparently contented and happy the people are. Both folks we met on the street or in a shop, and of course the kids and staff of the orphanage were kind, easygoing, funny and patient. Even with my inability to coherently speak Spanish, communication was always effective, if not always easy or efficient! Thank God for Google – “Spanish word for ______.” This was particularly useful when at Home Depot trying to get just the right fitting for plumbing...

As for the heat, Utahans just need to learn to embrace the humidity, just like we have on the east coast! :) [See Sam's Reflections on Serving for a Utah kid's struggles with humidity]

All in all a lovely trip, filled with good memories and great food! Only one thing I still don’t understand: Why are car seats not required and a dozen people of all ages drive down the highway in the back of a pickup truck, yet helmets are required for motorcycles???

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Sam

Reflections on our time in Mexico by Sam, age 12:

I think mexico was a very fun and enjoyable experience. I`m not saying its for everybody, mainly because of the heat. so much heat. honestly, that was my least favorite part. my favorite part is just playing with the kids, and conquering the language barrier between us. more particularly, bingo. it was my favorite part to learn my numbers, and give the kids a chance to eat skittles(we used them as counters). I learned on this trip that even if we dont speak the same language, we can still comunicate.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reflections on Serving - Ben

Reflections on our time in Mexico by Ben, age 9:

I think the times I connected most with the kids were during Perler Beads and bingo and other crafts. Those times were special cause the kids were so active and having so much fun with the things that we have at home but aren't really that fun at home. The things we don't appreciate as much. It's special to the kids because they had nothing until the orphanage came into their life, and they still don't have much, so everything is appreciated.

I was really surprised at how much they shared. They have a lot less than us, but they still shared generously. Like when they got some candy from bingo, they always would share it. I need to work on that more.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Faces of Hogar de Amor

Now can you see why we're in love with this place?

Today please join us in prayer for these kids.  Pray for the health of their parents and the reunification of their families when it's in the best interest of the children.  Pray for their education and that they would receive the schooling and skills needed to provide for themselves and their future families.  Pray for the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of these kiddos - that God would bless and grow them despite and even because of the tough start that they have endured.  

Pray for their caregivers, that God would grant them abounding energy and grace for the kids and each other and that they would be blessed tremendously in their service. 

Pray that the families of the Grupo Amor church, that they would continue to give generously to these kids with such large needs and that they would be blessed for each and every gift.

Please join us in prayer for the children of Hogar de Amor!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tremendous Thursday - Our Last Full Day of Work

It's hard to believe that our time in Colima is almost over.  It's gone by so quickly and although we're very proud of the work we accomplished, we are so very aware right now of how much more work there is to do every day in the lives of these kiddos and how much of our hearts we will leave behind in Colima when we depart on Saturday.

Still, we leave with grateful hearts knowing that these kiddos are in the best of hands. And we're glad to have been able to do a little to make their home more comfortable and maybe even a little more loving and fun.
Today was our last full day of work and we were able to finish up almost all of our projects - hooray!

We fixed the water tanks on top of Casa Matriz so that the water stops running once the tank is full.

We pondered some shelves in a storage closet that seemed to have issues...

...determined that wood is definitely not supposed to look like this on the inside...
...and had lots of helpful hands ready to assist in the building of new shelves! (the helpful part is debatable, but at least we had some company while working!)
The new shelves are fab and we hope they will last a long time.
We completely finished painting the beds and closets in both of the Senorita rooms (that's the home for the older teenage girls).  The beds look so cheery and bright with their new coats of paint and we were proud to be able to provide for these young woman as they enter adulthood.

We did lots (and lots and lots) of mending in Casa Leonel (the sibling home).  We fixed zippers in uniforms, hemmed pants, shortened shirts, and did anything else they needed us to do.  It's amazing how the piles of clothes to mend come out of the woodwork once you demonstrate a willingness to sew!
We finished painting the upstairs of Casa Cuna (the baby house) and it looks great!
The kids in Casa Cuna were very excited to show off all of their new clothes today.  Thanks to everybody who donated clothes for this trip, your donations are so very much appreciated down here, as you can tell by these big smiles.

Somebody was very excited about her puppy shirt and just had to show it off.

The soccer ball donations were also a huge hit with the older crowd.  Thanks so much to everybody who donated the balls, clothes, craft supplies, and cash to bless these kids - you have done very good work down here in Colima and brought lots of smiles to these kiddos' faces.

We still had all of our craft and activity times today and, as usual, the kids were very energetic and very appreciative of all of our efforts.

We finished up the day with a tour of the school that the kids in Hogar de Amor attend.  This is a private school run by the same church that runs the Hogar de Amor - Grupo Amor.  The facility is brand new and simply beautiful - these kids are so, so blessed to be under the care of Grupo Amor and it was amazing to see the school they attend.

The school is well-respected by the community and is one of the most sought-after private schools in Colima.  The funds from the private school go to pay for the cost of having the orphans attend as well.

Here's our whole tired, happy crew outside of the kids' school.

And here is the best use of old tires I have ever seen!  A tire tower, tire wall, tire tube to crawl through, tire skipping stones, and tire climbing net.  No wonder everybody wants to send their kids to this school!

This evening we got to sponsor a tamale party at Casa Leonel and let me tell you - that house knows how to party!

The pinatas are, of course, the focal point of the evening.  We had - count em - three giant pinatas to enjoy this evening including this magnificent representation of the mighty Thor.

The food was wonderful, but everybody knew that the dinner was really just the pre-game show for the pinatas. As expected, breaking the pinatas was energetic, a little dangerous, and definitely frantic once the candy was unleashed.

These two are clearly birds of a feather when it comes to candy collection - I'm surprised their shirts didn't burst with the weight of all that loot!

Our party was cut short by a torrential thunderstorm, which was a shame but definitely didn't dampen our enjoyment of the evening or our memories of Casa Leonel and each of the homes of Grupo Amor.  This is such a special place.

Tomorrow we're going to take some time to explore the area around Colima and take in a few sights of the city.  As our trip winds down, here are a few prayer requests:

  • Please start praying now for easy travel back to the U.S. and boringly simple logistics for the remainder of our trip. Our trip has been so smooth and we are so grateful for easy travel - please pray that the remainder of our travels are so easy!
  • We are all healthy and doing well physically (except for the fatigue of all that work!).  Thanks so much for praying for our health.
  • Please pray that the seeds planted in us and the things that God is doing in each member of the team as a result of this trip have lifelong (and eternal!) impact.
  • Pray that the work that we did during our short time in Colima would continue to bless the kids and their caregivers and remind them of our love and, more importantly, God's unfailing and unending love for them.