Monday, September 24, 2007

EL RETO FULL REPORT OF WEEK #4 (scroll down to see reports of weeks 1, 2, and 3)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2007 (Arrayanes Church)

WOW!! Another interesting week! I am seeing more and more reasons why we do this. We aren’t preaching sermons, we don’t have a song service, and there’s nothing liturgical about this event. It is just a simple outreach to new and fringe youth in order to help them know Christ and make them feel welcome in the church.

Before I continue with the report, I want to share with you the most unheard-of thing that happened this week. About midway through the evening, one of the students who we picked up the first week in Santa Fe lost control of his emotions and did something to another student which made him bleed (further details are not important). What is interesting though is that the student who was left bleeding was one of our fringe/semi-regular attendees in the youth group who also has a short fuse. When I arrived, a number of students came up to me with fire in their eyes telling me that there was a fight (which was almost the truth). I talked to the bleeding victim who was defiantly shook up and tried to calm him (and others) down a bit to get some information. I asked Pastor Gollo, Martin (Student Leader and team leader of the new student) to accompany me in a confrontation with the new student. As we got his story, I had Pastor Gollo bring in the bleeding one. After talking maybe for about 10 minutes, they agreed to forgive each other! When I asked the new student from Santa Fe if he would like to apologize and ask forgiveness for what he’d done his words were, “I don’t know how to do that, I’ve never asked forgiveness for anything before.” What an open door! The student leaders have been sharing the Bridge Illustration (from Navigator’s 2:7-book 3) this month with their teams and I wrapped up what had been taught showing him that we need to ask Christ for forgiveness because we all have a death sentence. He understood and realized that he had done something wrong. I then told him that in Revelations 3:20, the Bible says that Christ is at the door of our hearts, knocking. He would like to come in and have fellowship with us, but we need to invite him, he will not push the door down and force himself in. The new student said he would like to invite Christ into his heart, so I had Martin lead us in a simple prayer of repentance and acceptance of Christ.

In short, two young teenagers 14 and 17 who were pretty upset at each other end up reconciling and one receives Christ into his life for the first time (all within a half an hour)! I still am amazed that this actually happened. Our new brother’s name is Valente. Please pray for him that God would protect him and that the seed that has been planted would grow. I was impressed to see him in Church the next day for the first time ever!

That is what this event has been teaching us as a group this year. We are seeing that through the struggles (challenges) of life, we can make a choice: either we wallow in our sorrow or learn from the situation. The students are learning very practical things this year and that excites me.

Ok, now for the report…

Once again, we began where the race ended last week at the Arrayanes Church. After a time of team devotions, one by one in the order in which they arrived last week, the teams went searching for a hidden envelope somewhere on the church property (the children’s classroom) with their team’s name. They then counted the columns of the speed soccer court to receive their next clue.

From there they had to run to the baseball field where a staff member was waiting for them. Instead of using vehicles, the staff member accompanied them back to Cofradía by foot. They could get a ride if one showed up (not very common from Arrayanes to Cofradía), but once they got to the bridge, they had to cross the river carrying their staff member; they could not go over the bridge.

Los Convertidos carrying Feliciano

Los Victoriosos carrying Horacio

Los Perseguidos carrying Hugo (Gena's brother)

Los Crucificados carrying Pastor Gollo

Los Sabios carrying Lauro

La Vision carrying Gaby

In the end, each team received a ride (two teams in each ride) back to the Kiosk in Cofradía where they had to figure out what a word was in order to continue. The envelope looked like this “_ _ N _ U _ T _” (they do not know what “nut” is and it had nothing to do with this activity). They could buy letters for 10 points each. The word was “BANQUETE” or Banquet in English. They were sure to figure out what was next…

Each year we have done a “banquet” Fear Factor style. It has always been a hit, and this year a number of the students were not able to get down the items set before them. Needless to say, the three buckets placed at the tables were not clean when we were done! Last year was amazing, so we had to do something interesting this year in order to…keep their interest.

Each team had to have one person participate in each food or drink item. They all received points for placing, but if they were unable to finish it, their team did not receive any points.

Some of these things may sound mean, but keep in mind, the students love it and no one is forcing them to participate.

The menu…


Dr. Pepper (this is a soft-drink that most people think tastes like medicine—we did this two years ago as well).

Warm sugarless lime water, burnt cow milk (not processed, the cow was milked in the morning), and blended cactus (licuado de nopal—this is a very gooey and slimy drink).


Raw (but washed) fish eyes.

Garlic clove (big enough to have to bite it).

Unripe banana (very green).

Enchiladas (with peanut butter, horse radish sauce, carrot, syrup, and mustard spread on top—same thing with the Dr. Pepper, most people here don’t like peanut butter or mustard).

A burnt mustard filled cupcake.


We also had two “flashback” items that were featured in last year’s menu:

Half of an onion and a Jalapeño pepper.

Each student was given some ice and peanut butter to take away the hot sensation.

We were going to do another one of last year’s hits, cow eyes, but there were none available.

We had to improvise on their final challenge of the day because it was already dark. We tied each team up individually and they had to run together into the meeting hall where a three liter coke was waiting for them. They had to drink the coke and the team that finished last did the chores (cleaning up the church in preparation for the next day’s service).

It was a very eventful evening and it’s something the students will be talking about all year long (they still talk about last year).

Each week new students arrive, some don’t continue, some do. We had 47 students this week and a total of 69 in all who have participated at least one week. Next week we have the FINAL CHALLENGE and a guest speaker from Mazatlán. Who’s going to win? The agenda is packed with games, skits from each of the six teams, worship, preaching, and prayer.

I have a very busy week this week, but I’ll see what I can do about putting some video clips together of the banquet and post them later.

EL RETO FULL REPORT OF WEEK #3 (scroll down to see week #1 and #2 reports)

SEPTEMBER 15, 2007 (Las Pilas—Basketball Court)

Another interesting week as the race in the challenge continues…

As we were preparing the event around noon, I found out that a few people might not be able to make it to help out on staff, so I scrambled for plans B and more. Finally, everything worked out and it was a fun evening with the youth.

We started where we ended last week giving the team leaders time to share some of the Word with their teammates and encourage them in continuing to do a great job. All of the leaders are doing really good with their teams.

Los Crucificados
Los Victoriosos
Los Sabios
La Vision
Los Convertidos
Los Perseguidos
When the sharing time was finished, we started the continuation of the race one team after another in the order in which they finished last week. Their first activity was to make a goal on Chuy (Student Leader-Staff) in the speed soccer court. The first team made it on their first try, but the other five teams spent over 20 minutes trying to make it in! It was a lot of fun to watch as the last place team caught up to the second place team in this event.

Once they made the goal, they hopped in a truck and searched for a balloon of the color of their team along side the road for their next clue.

That directed them to the river where they were to memorize a series of pictures.

Then cross the river to put them in the same order as they were on the post.

If they were unable to put them in the right order, a different member from their team had to try. Once the one member of the team was able to figure it out, they got their next clue which led them to the bridge on the road from Cofradía to Arrayanes. There, they were to find a rock with the name of their team on it that was sitting on an island of rocks in the middle of the river beneath the bridge. Some were amazingly able to get the rock right away.

From there they were dropped off at the baseball field in Arrayanes where they had to find their colored balloon with directions to their next the Arrayanes Church. This is where they finished the race for the day.

It was Independence Day in Mexico so like last year, we had a water balloon-gladiators style game which was to be our big event for the day. We filled over 1200 water balloons in the morning in preparation for this!
We had four of these barrells full!
Once all the teams arrived, the excitement began. They would receive points for each person they hit with a water balloon. While one team tossed water balloons, the other teams, one by one, ran through an obstacle course that ended at the soccer court goal. This was a lot of fun to watch. Each team member had to make it through the goal before the song ended (the song was what is played twice in the video below).

Their final challenge for the day was in form of questions once again. This was to determine who would do the chores this week. The same two teams that ended up doing the chores last week got stuck doing them again this week. They had to wash all six trucks used in the race, and then I gave them extra points for washing a couple other things.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Outreach to Puerta Colorada

On September 19th, we went to the town of Puerta Colorada (about 40 minutes from Cofradia). This is where Pastor Gollo's wife, Mati, is from and where they began their married life together. I personally have never been there and it was great to have the opportunity to see just a small part.

The youth put together an evangelistic program much like the one's they did last month, and Pastor Gollo preached a great sermon (see the short clip below). It was a great time and we got to see many people prayed for.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mexican Independance Day--September 16

As Mexico is celebrating their Independance Day, the schools are filled with festivities and the colors of the flag are seen everywhere...even on the students. Rebecka wore her colorful outfit to school yesterday as all the whole kindergarten class dressed up and celebrated by eating a meal at school.
Rebecka's cousin, Luis, won frist prize for best costume of the boys.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

EL RETO FULL REPORT OF WEEK #2 (scroll down to see week #1's report)

SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 (Santa Fe Town Center)

We packed up the vehicles and headed out to Santa Fe to start week #2. Teams receive points for bringing new students, wearing a shirt of the color of their team, good attitudes, the place they sit at in church, and a coin collection. The coin collection is a “Change War”. Each piece of change has a value to it; from 5 cents to 10 pesos. As we gathered the teams together and finished role call, I gave each team leader a short bible study to share with their team at the beginning.

After about 15-20 minutes, we started the race once again with a record breaking 51 students! Each team was given a clue one minute apart in the order in which they finished the previous week. They were to go to a house of a lady who goes to our church and would have a balloon of each of the colors of the teams with a note in it. After running across town, the note directed them to the baseball field on the other side of town (this was to let me get to the baseball field to manage the first activity).

The first activity which was the second stop was to make an American Football Field Goal. No team member could repeat a try until all of them had tried. They started at 30 yards, and then went to 20 yards after five tries, then to 10 yards after another 5 tries.

If they made a field goal, they got their next clue and were off to Las Pilas (a town about 3 miles west of Cofradía).

Arriving in Las Pilas they had to find their next clue in a fountain at the park.

The clue told them to find another new player from Las Pilas and buy them something from the store.

As soon as they were able to get their new member to eat some chips or drink a coke, they got their next clue which led them to the nearby lake.

At the lake, they were to send one team member into the water to get a floating balloon (tied to a string with a rock at the bottom of the lake) which would have the instructions to their next activity.

One by one as a team they would run down to the edge of the lake, fill up a two liter plastic cup, run back to put the water in a bucket, then pass the cup to the next team member.

Once the team filled the bucket, they got their next clue sending them to the basketball court.

At the basketball court, two members were to carry another across the court where another member would fill their mouth with coke. They needed to carry them back and while another member held up a glass coke bottle, the one being carried had to pass as much coke as they could in the bottle. The team that filled up the bottle the most was immune of having to do chores the next day. Check out the video...
The Final Challenge of the day was a Q & A time. The first four teams to get four answers right did not have to do chores. All of the questions had to do with the sermon on Sunday. Los Victoriosos and La Visión had to do chores this week which was to machete and clean the church grounds in Arrayanes.

Staff person, Rebecka, is helping the purple team :)


This is a FULL report for those of you who are really interested (I know some are).

SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 (Centro Cristiano Cofradía)

The Staff: This year we purchased t-shirts for the staff so they will stand out amongst others. Black and yellow with a fiery orange are the colors we’ve been using for the RETO so we decided to go with black shirts and yellow writing. Below is a picture of the design on the back. It is a road pointing to the cross. On the road it says, "Siguelo" which means, "Follow Him." Underneath the design is the beginning of Philippians 3:14, "I press on toward the goal..."

We divided the 29 students who showed up into six different teams. After orientating them about the rules of this game/outreach, they were to choose a name from a Bible Story and decorate their flag.

The teams:

Martin is the leader of Los Crucificados (The Crucified). This name comes from the story of Abraham as he takes his son Isaac up the hill to be crucified. Just as God provided a lamb to take Isaac’s place, Christ took our place as well. As we give our lives to Christ and accept his gift to us, we become crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.

Mili is the leader of Los Sabios (The Wisemen). This name comes from the story of King Solomon when he has a dream and God tells him to ask for whatever he would like. Instead of asking for fame and fortune, he asks for wisdom.

Julio is the leader of Los Convertidos (The Converted). This name comes from the story of Saul’s conversion on the Damascus road. Saul was converted from a persecutor of the church to a preacher in the church.

Ruben is the leader of Los Victoriosos (The Victorious). This name comes from Deuteronomy when God tells them if they obey His commands, they will be victorious.

Gollito is the leader of Los Perseguidos (The Persecuted). This name comes from the story of when the Israelites were chased by the Pharaoh and his army as they were leaving Egypt.

Pedro is the leader of La Visión (The Vision). This name comes from the story of when God promises Abraham a son in a vision. It would be through that son (Isaac) that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars.

As soon as each team had finished sharing their names and the story they represented. We told them to go back to the area where they were painting together and they would find something for their team (an envelope with a balloon of the color of their team attached to it.) In the envelope was an announcement that a race had begun and they were to go to a certain location in Cofradía (each team different) in order to find their next clue. This is a lot like The Amazing Race, but ideas come from Survivor and Fear Factor as well. The students love it!

There was a staff person waiting at the location each team was directed to. They had with them 9 pieces of different colored foamy paper and had to put them in order according to the directions they were given.

Would you like to try it? The fastest time for the students was 5 minutes.

The colors are: Brown, Orange, Black, Blue, Purple, White, Red, Yellow, and Green. They were to put them into a square grid of 3 lines by 3 columns (this was in an activity on Survivor once).

Here are the directions:
1) Green is in the same column as black and blue.
2) Yellow is to the left of green and directly above orange.
3) White is to the right of red and directly above yellow.
4) Orange is to the left of blue and in the same row as brown.

Let me know how you do…:). The answer will be at the end of this report in a picture of a team that completed it.

Once they finished that brain teaser, they were to go back to the church where a staff member was waiting for them. There, they had to put in order the books of the bible with only using a list of the books in alphabetical order. Can you do that?

When they finished, they were directed to the baseball field where a truck and driver was waiting for them. They were to get in and not get off until the truck stopped…in Santa Fe (about 3 miles east of here).

They got off their truck, went to “a store on December 12th street.” There they received another clue that told them to find someone (a youth) in Santa Fe to join their team, they would participate in the Final Challenge of the day.

Once they found their new member, they took them to the town center where we blindfolded the new member and they tossed water balloons to the rest of the team as they tried to catch them in a small tub.

The three teams to catch the least amount of water were sentenced to do chores the next day. Their job was to clean the very dirty, moldy, muddy tents from camp (one month earlier). They would loose points for each member not present.

First RETO lesson: As one of the teams headed out after receiving their first clue, they ended up finding the trucks at the baseball field (the third stop). They were supposed to be on the other side of town to find their clue! They lost a lot of time, but were able to recuperate a little. The lesson is from Proverbs 14:12, “there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” What this team learned from experience is that in life, we may be going down a road that seems like it’s the right one, but when we get to the end, we find out that we were absolutely wrong. As the verse says, “it leads to death.” This team did not reach death or anything close, but they did reach disappointment knowing that another team was already two clues ahead of them. They kept their heads up and made it to the last stop that day (in last place). Many people search for answers in life; many people are deceived by a lie that looks very much like the truth. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden were deceived; we can be deceived as well. Thus, we have a world full of different religions. Many of them look like the real thing, but there’s just enough falsehood in them to make it absolutely wrong.

In the end, each team found a member from Santa Fe to join their team, making the final tally 35 students in week one! The three teams—Los Sabios, Los Convertidos, and Los Perseguidos ended up cleaning the tents the next day after church.

Answer to the brain teaser..