Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Los Mochis, Mexico - June 2008

Okay, so this is going to be long, but I’m going to post it all at once – so bare with me…and if you want the short version, then go to my recap at the bottom of the post after all the pictures and you can get a quick rundown…

To sum it up in one word – my trip was amazing. We had a pretty long day of travel to get to Los Mochis that began at 4:00 am on Saturday…..our plane flew from Alabama, to Dallas to Pheonix to Hermasillo, MX then to Los Mochis (we had the same flights on the way back too). God moved in so many ways from the very beginning of the trip. The flights were fine, however when we landed in Hermasillo, Mexico we were told we were three seats short on the final flight to Los Mochis. One of the guys on our trip, John, led a small group of us in prayer asking God to allow our group to arrive in Los Mochis together. That’s how we started the trip – all together – and we needed to arrive all together. Previously, John had struck up a conversation with three men who were from California but traveling to Mexico for a week long fishing trip. It was about an hour of waiting and wondering how we’d get to Mexico and these three fishermen offered their seats to us. Thanks God! Later John went over and prayed with these guys….that was cool. Speaking of fishermen, the first lesson that Deric taught at Betel was on Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."….and we get on the bus on Sunday evening and our leader, Chad, shows us the shirts that he had made for us all and Matthew 4:19 is on the shirt along with a boat. And to bring this full circle, the three fishermen who gave up their seats for us were on our return flight from Hermasillo to Tuscon at the end of the trip. God definitely had His hand in that whole situation…nothing happened by chance.

During our week in Mexico we had several things going on…one was the pastor’s conference that we lead. Most of the men (maybe even all of the men) from our group taught one or two of the messages that our pastor back at home did last summer. It’s the “Follow Me” series and if you have time I’d recommend going here and downloading some of David Platt’s messages – they are: 1) Two Simple Words, Follow me 2) Share the Word 3) Show the Word 4) Teach the Word 5) Serve the World 6) Two Simple Words, Make Disciples. It’s a really great message series so go check it out…..
http://www.brookhills.org/media/pages_audioseries/page_audio_series_followme.htm We would meet in the main church building at Betel -
with the pastors and their wives for an hour or so, then we’d split up and the men of our group led the pastors and all the women would squeeze into a very small room on the second floor of the church thankfully there were lights in this room and air conditioning. The conference was Monday – Wednesday night of our trip and typically started at 7:00pm and didn’t end until 10:30 or later. Deric led a lot of it...I love listening to him preach…God clearly speaks through him and the study time he put into it was so evident. The men and women were so hungry for the Word and would listen diligently to the leaders speak. Each night started with worship music and (for the women) ended with worship music. There were over 100 folks attending each night. These families came from all over the state of Sinaloa to the conference, some driving 6 hours.

Omar is the pastor of Betel:Sunday, our first full day there was not really even a long day, but we were all very exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel. We were all heading to our hotel rooms when Owen suggested we all meet back at the pool to talk about the day. I can’t tell you how much I did not want to go. It was seriously, the last thing I wanted to do that day. Heather and I almost didn’t go….but we did – and I’m so thankful we did. It started out with everyone being kinda quiet but then people started to share. It turned into a great discussion with several people really sharing what was on their hearts. When we got back the room that night Heather and I talked about how glad we both were we went and then prayed together. It was so worth the energy and loss of sleep to hang out and talk. Unfortunately, with our late nights getting back the rest of the week we didn’t get a chance to do that again until the last night of our stay.

During the day we did several things including: going to the University, doing Backyard Bible Clubs with the kids of Praderas and Siglo XXI (that means Century 21), leading a women’s conference for these two communities and light construction work.

This cross is on Siglo XXI’s property -
The men were planning to plaster the inside walls of the church at Siglo XXI, but Marco said that they didn’t have the expertise to do that! I thought that was very funny….so he gave them a shovel and the guys dug 4 holes – 4 feet deep and 3 feet square. The mission needs a storage building and this was the beginning of the foundation that they were building. All they had to work with was a couple shovels and a pick ax and by the end of the day there were 4 very large holes in the ground – I was impressed. I wish they’d come to my house and dig some holes in my yard…..however; living on what used to be a mountain makes digging holes very difficult! The finished by getting the foundation built.
On Thursday morning we left our hotel at 6:45 to drive to the Pacific Ocean. The drive was pretty with lots of mountains coming straight out of the water, but there is not much vegetation and no grass.
I saw enough cactus to hold me over forever. Once we got to the beach I was surprised not to see any high rise buildings. It was beautiful – white sand, clear water, very few people. Ches and Nan (from Brook Hills) as well as Marco’s teenage daughter were baptized there.
It was glorious…..what an amazing moment to be a part of. Dave brought his guitar and led us in singing while we stood around this really incredible sight. Abner (one of the pastors we worked with in Mexico) baptized Victoria (who is his brother, Marco’s daughter).

Afterwards he thanked us all for being there and through his emotion explained this was the first baptism he has done. Apparently, in Mexico there is a lot of red tape to get through in order to become a pastor and just recently he became ‘official’. I’m not certain if he had to wait until that time to baptize, but possibly.

At Praderas each day we would walk around and invite the women and children to the church for the Backyard Bible Clubs and the women's conference. The second day the group I was walking with was able to go to a local therapeutic horse farm. It was absolutely amazing. The owner, Paul, used to be a drug runner and heavily involved in some very bad things, however a couple of years ago he turned his life around and started following Christ. He moved back to Mexico where his family lives and opened up a therapeutic horse farm last summer. He began with 1 horse and now has 10. Children with disabilities from all over come to him for therapy. He pairs a child with a horse based on both of their heart beats and the horses gait. It was remarkable listening to what Paul was saying about his program. The families who can afford it pay $300+ per month for the therapy sessions, but no one is turned away due to finances. God is blessing him and making is possible for him to allow children to come free of charge. We were able to see a little boy named Jesus riding the horse with his therapists while we were there. The horse just walked in a large circle for 30 minutes while they moved the child around and put him in different positions. He has about 85 kids now and has 35 on a waiting list. When Jesus’ grandmother took him off the horse, Deric asked if we could pray over him and the grandmother said yes. Deric walked over and reached out for this boy, who was probably 5 and held him while he prayed over him.
Thursday afternoon we had an opportunity to go shopping. On my past mission trip experiences they would load us up on the bus and drop us off at one store where we would file in, buy our stuff, then get right back out to the bus. However, this was not our experience in Mexico. The bus picked us up from the hotel and drove about 30 minutes through Los Mochis, then dropped us off in the middle of a busy marketplace type city street. Then the bus took off – I asked how we were getting back to the hotel and was told we were walking. Holy smokes – we drove around the city for 30 minutes and they expected us to WALK back. I was surprised by this because up to this point we were all together pretty much everywhere we went and all of a sudden we were completely on our own. Luckily, the bus has gone the long way to the market area and the walk back was probably only 25 blocks or so. We leisurely walked back and went into lots of stores so it took a couple of hours – it was a neat experience. We found a meat market….note to self – do not EVER go into a meat market again. It was horrible – the smell, the floor, the walls. I guess these people are used to getting their meat there. I prefer to stick to Publix. We found lots of stores including jewelry stores, purse stores, sports stores, then we found the Vallejo family book store. Heather was able to find a Spanish/English Bible – something she had been wanting for some time now.

Eating in Mexico was good…the Vallejo family cooked us lunch and dinner most days and that food was really good. Everything we ate was fresh and homemade; my favorite was the limeade they had for us each day. Since having air conditioning throughout your house in Mexico isn’t common, we would all pack into the backporch area of the Vallejo home to eat. They had a small window unit air conditioner that kept that small room cool. Marco said because the A/C bill is so expensive each month (as much as $180) that they only turn it on when company is over or when the temperature gets above 105 degrees. And back in the states we keep our air set on 75 degrees all year long….we could learn a thing or two from our friends in Mexico! They were kind enough to let everyone use their phone – so it was free for me to call home…that was really great. My little man had a fever for 11 days and the last 4 days of that time I was in Mexico. It was hard being gone from home with him sick and I lost it at one point...but I was reminded by a friend that Brad was taking great care of David and I was in Mexico for a reason.
Marco and his wife and youngest daughter:A couple of nights we did go out to eat – we had sushi (very interesting), a nicer Mexican restaurant and then twice we went to a taco stand type place. The food was really good, but when I looked over and saw a raw slab of meat spinning in circles I about lost it. Apparently the meat spins by this flame that cooks it, then the guy shaves off just the cooked part and then the raw section underneath gets cooked on the next go-round. YUCK! All in all, it was a good outdoor place to eat tacos and drink Fresca from a real glass bottle. And they had the biggest baked potatoes any of us have seen.

At Siglo XXI some of the ladies make wedding and birthday cakes and sell them to the community to raise money for their families and for the mission. Nan, who owns a cute local cookie shop, brought lots of cookies and icing and taught the ladies how to decorate them. The ladies all seemed to have a nice time while learning a new skill.
The women of this community were so gracious. When we arrived on Friday for the cookie day they had prepared many jewelry pieces and wanted us to take them home with us. We all wanted to buy several pieces, however they were refusing to take any money and wanted to give them as a gift to us. Through Missy, our interpreter, she explained that it would mean so much to them for us accept these as gifts – that is why the women made them for us. If we didn’t accept it we could have offended them. We all chose one piece to take home, the rest were packed up to be given to the other people on the bus who weren’t with us at the time. Betty, a sweet and very funny woman, came up to me and wrapped a beautiful bracelet around my wrist. I tried to tell her that I had already chosen a piece and she gestured okay, but here’s another. I finally just had to walk away because I was so overcome with emotion...here these women are struggling to make ends meet for their families and they wanted to give US a gift.

With this town being safer than where I’ve traveled before we were able to walk pretty much where we wanted. Heather and I ventured out on our own on day one, but were cautious not to tell anyone because we thought they might not think too highly of that…but we later learned that everyone was walking around. So several days/nights we walked to get coffee. We went to a cute little coffee shop during the day (it must have been 100 degrees)…Heather wanted to go back in the morning and get their orange pancakes, but sadly it never worked out. Then a couple of nights we walked to a coffee shop that was a little closer for frappuccinos with a small group. One night about 10 of us piled into the back of Marco’s small pick up truck and his wife drove us to the coffee shop. That was a fun ride.

I am so thankful God allowed me to go on this trip….and especially go to with my very dear friend and roomie, Heather. She is special to me. I thank God often for putting us together on our trip to Honduras….had we not been there together in the summer of 2007 then I probably wouldn’t have met her by now and we wouldn’t be the friends that we are. I love you, friend!Here are some random pictures from the trip -
Me, Heather, Janet and Dave:

Mr. and Mrs. Vallejo:

Dave and Angel playing together:Janet and Dave:

The boys really liked Tim:

Dave and his buddies:

Saying Hasta la Later to Abner:

John, Me and Heather:
The short recap –
Some thoughts about my trip:
1) I’ve never been so sweaty in my entire life.
2) However, there is no humidity in Mexico, therefore my hair wasn’t frizzy!
3) The women of Siglo XXI showed us so much love – it was overwhelming.
4) I don’t want to eat Mexican food for an entire month.
5) Don’t underestimate the power and sovereignty of God, He is in everything.
6) It was amazing witnessing the baptism of three believers while in Mexico.
7) Some customs people are nicer than others – Thanks Juan!
8) The Vallejo family is amazing.
9) I pray that God will let me go back to Los Mochis again.
10) My new favorite flower/tree is the Flower of Fire or Arbol del Fuego.
11) Wheelbarrows are easier to push when the tire is inflated.
12) Hanging your feet in a pool for over an hour turns my entire foot into a raisin.
13) Dave Nix really does know more than 2 chords.
14) These people in Los Mochis are God’s people too, they need Him, they need to learn about Him. The Vallejo family is working hard to make sure they do.
15) Don’t ever go into a meat market again….especially while wearing flip flops.
16) Don’t eat the corn fungus at the hotel restaurant; it’s horrible, no matter what Marco and Laura say.
17) My new favorite game is Gallos and Gallinas.
18) It’s unnerving when the flight crew asks some people to move to the front of the plane because the weight needs to be distributed better.
19) God really showed me that He wants me to be in His Word more. I was encouraged by watching those around me study and really know His Word.
20) People in Mexico don’t care for much ice in their drinks.
21) I can’t play basketball….but I’m pretty good at Gallos and Gallinas.
22) Don’t wear flip flops when playing Gallos and Gallinas.
23) All three Vallejo boys get their sweet sweet spirit from their mama and their ability to evangelize and share the truth from their papa.
24) “Juup” is a word for “hey”.
25) “Bato” is slang for “dude”.
26) Sitting in the very back of a very small plane can make one sick.
27) I still sleep walk - even in Mexico.
28) Clark W. is the chairman of the board of trustees at Samford – go Bulldogs!
29) “Women, get my chips” was part of one of Deric’s sermons….we laughed about it all week long.
30) John Brown and Dave Nix are two of the funniest people I know.
31) It was worth making small talk (thanks, Heather) to the weird maintenance guy, Martin, who was often hanging out near our room – on our last day there we saw him standing to the side at the pool listening to us all talk about our trip and watching the video. Maybe a seed was planted….
32) Buses with air conditioning are wonderful things.
33) Frappuccino’s in Mexico are way better than they are here, but fruit smoothies are not.
34) Friendships can begin on a plane ride.
35) I can say that I am friends with an author…John Brown…here is a link to his book – you should check it out: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=satan+the+fallen+angel+exposed
36) Finding a soccer outfit for David is harder than it first seemed….and the main supporter of soccer in Mexico is BIMBO – therefore, David’s jersey has that plastered on the front of it. Good thing he’s only three.
37) Marco’s wife makes some really good chicken corn chowder.
38) It's not about me.
39) There is no grass in Mexico.
40) God blesses those who follow His will, as is seen in the Vallejo family.
41) God is good at putting you in uncomfortable places exactly when you don’t want to be in that uncomfortable place in order to stretch you.
42) Jesus told ordinary people to go make disciples (Matthew 4:19) and He says the same to ordinary people today.
43) I am grateful for a God who cares enough for His people to use us in spite of ourselves, to bring others to His name.

I pray that I will be able to return to Los Mochis in the future and serve with the Vallejo family again. What a blessing they are. They are certainly the hands and feet of Christ to that city and the entire country of Mexico.

“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34 – 35). – Jesus Christ

1 comment:

Shelly said...

I came upon this website by accident but probably because the Lord wanted me too! I attended and served in this church last year while I taught English in Mexico. I loved the Church, their heart for others, and desire to share the gospel. I am glad that you had a fantastic trip and were blessed because of your time there. I am thankful that you were willing to go and experience the Lord's work first hand, meet the wonderful people at Betel, and share your experience with others! Take care and Dios te bendiga! (God bless you)