Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Don't Give Up!"

Martin is one of our student leaders and for three years in a row has held a camp out in the "woods" for the guys. It's actually in a field they grow crops in, but the edges are full of brush, riverbed, and small trees that provide shade. This year he called his camp "Don't Give Up."

I just got back from visiting them and I was more than impressed with Martin's organization and well thought-out plan. He has been running them through a bunch of games, much like we do in EL RETO. They camp out in a tent made of tarps, they have two slabs of wood for their dining hall, and a small kitchen set apart from camp.

When we (Luis, Pedro, and myself) got there to visit them after driving back into the woods for about 10 minutes and then walking another ten, they were in the middle of a Bible Study that Martin's dad, Pastor Horacio, was sharing; "'re either saved, or your lost...". Pretty point blank!

Martin showed me around and explained to me what he had been doing and what his plans were for the rest of the evening. Martin is GOLD! He was explaining some of the games, the food they were eating; "they eat a lot!" he said. A couple of guys went out to the riverbed where there's some still water and caught a couple of fish for tonight's dinner. I'm amazed at what they're doing. A lot of them are tired and it's a good thing the theme is "Don't Give Up."

There's a full night ahead with some debriefing time around a campfire, a night-game called, "No Fear", and pack up in the morning to leave.

I'm proud of Martin!

Here are some pics I took...
Here's the "Welcome to Camp 'Don't Give Up!'" sign (above)
Martin built this cart that he hooked up to his donkey in order to get all the supplies out there (below)

This is the tent of tarps that Martin built.
Opening the door...
The kitchen (above)
The stove (below)
The dining hall...
The fish the guys caught last night (2)
Getting firewood for the bonfire (with marshmallows).
The Bible Study we walked in on...
The Gang...
Thanks for your prayers for Martin and the guys that the Lord would work in their hearts!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

José Luís' Newsletter

José Luis is our missionary from Cofradía working with YWAM in Mazatlán, México.  He is involved in a skate ministry, Homes of Hope, helps with maintenance of base, as well as numerous other ministry opportunities that come up.  We are proud of José Luís as he has followed God's call on his life to a tough situation--especially financially.  I remember the day he accepted the Lord in one of our youth meetings here in Cofradía.  After a few years of being part of our youth group, worship band, and student leadership team, he went to Mazatlán to be a missionary.  If you would like to help him financially, send me an email or comment and I'll get you the information needed.   

YWAM Mazatlán--April

I hope that everyone is doing well.  I write to share with you a little of what I have been doing.  The whole month of March we were building houses with “Homes of Hope.”  We were very busy and it’s exciting to be a part of what God is doing in the outskirts of Mazatlán.  I’ve been working a lot in the maintenance of the Mazatlán YWAM base.

Also, April was very fun as we were working with some youth from some of the churches here in Mazatlán during Holy Week.  We had a Youth Camp for a whole week as we were divided into teams to do service tasks such as give out lemonade, free hugs, picking up garbage, and giving balloons to children.  More than anything, it was a very cool time as we were serving and sharing the gospel to people on the beach enjoying Holy Week.  Sometimes, people would ask us why we were doing these things and we responded, “we are doing it for God; we want to serve you because we love you and we love God.”

Even though we did not see many salvations, the people were open to what we shared with them and the seed was left planted for God to work in each one of them.

Thank you also for your prayers, financial support, and for being part of this group of pioneers.

God bless you and I will be praying for you all.

Thanks to everyone!

José Luís González

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oaxaca Report

Twelve of us set out on Friday April 3 at 1pm for a 24 hour drive to Oaxaca City.  Our purpose was to help missionaries Jeffrey and Sylvia Simons start up a youth ministry in an un-churched Zapotec Indigenous village called San Juan Guelavía, located thirty minutes outside the city.  As a team we wanted to “Serve, Give, and Connect.”  That was on our mind the whole time we were there, and our students did a great job of serving the Lord, the ministry, the missionaries, and the youth of San Juan Guelavía;  they did an excellent job of giving themselves to be used by the Lord and useful to the people; and they had a lot of fun connecting with others and made friends with students who don’t know Jesus.

Missionaries, Jeffrey and Sylvia Simons and Kaleb and Gracie (above).

Here are some pics of the Zapotec people in the day-to-day lives (below).

Saturday night we were able to spend some time in the historic downtown plaza.  Oaxaca is overwhelmingly full of culture and history.  We had our first taste of culture with the Oaxaca “tlayuda” (a huge flower tortilla with beans and anything else you want on it).

The next morning we shared at the Simons church, Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower). This church is involved in ministering to San Juan Guelavía on Sunday nights with a Home Group.  We got to share about how God is moving in our student ministry and why it is so important to intentionally minister to the younger generations, and we invited their youth to join us during the week to participate in the outreach activities.  That evening we went out to the village and met the people we have been reading about and covering in praying for a couple of months now.  Many of the families represented in the Home Group are receiving support from the government and the church in order to get a one room house to live in...the Judge called it a dream come true for many of them.  We would be working with one of them in the mornings for the next three days.

Our host family in San Juan Guelavia.

We were told to be careful with our Christian jargon because of the testimony of previous Missionary groups who have come to town to try to convert them.  As a result, they place Christians in the same disdainful category as Politicians and Drug Traffickers. Our goal was to minimize our “christianese” ways so as to prevent any further barriers from going up among the people. Right before we arrived at the home were the meeting was to be, a drunk man with a couple rocks in his hands came up to Jeffrey as he had just gotten into the van and sternly asked hum what his purpose was for being there.  After a few moments of Jeffrey calmly talking to the man, he apologized and told him, “I can see in your eyes that you come with good intentions.”

At the Home Group, we found out that the host is the Judge of the town and in charge of overseeing the house-building project that the government and church are helping with.  Most of the people who were present were people who are receiving help with their homes.  Many of them were Christians.  During the study, three of our students led a Bible story with the children while another student, Martin, shared the Word with the adults.  He shared about the two men who built homes -- one on the sand and the other on a rock -- and did a great job of connecting with the people because that is exactly what was on their minds!  By the way, he did not know about this beforehand.

Home Group and children's class pics...

Our schedule was basically the same for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  In the mornings our team split into two; a group of guys went to do some construction and our Student Leadership team led a Leadership Workshop with some of the more involved youth in San Juan Guelavía and a few others who came in from the Oaxaca City Church, Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower).

The Leadership Workshop was well done.  They spent the first day talking about the importance of having a personal devotion life with Jesus as being the foundation of our leadership.  The next day, they talked about service and set the example by washing the students’ feet.  The third morning they put into practice their service as a team, and we poured a floor in a room that was built for a family in need.  The construction team spent Monday and Tuesday preparing for the pour.

Leadership Workshop...Day One (above).

Pouring the floor (below).

In the evenings, we wanted to connect with the youth from San Juan Guelavía through what we’ve done in Cofradía: EL RETO.  Monday was dedicated to getting to know each other and finding their team identities by choosing names from Bible stories.  One team used the story of creation, calling themselves “Creation.”  Another team used the story of David and Goliath, calling themselves “La Onda” which is a play on words: it means “The Sling” and also slang for something similar to “Happening” (usually used to ask “What’s up?” as well as refer to understanding what’s going on or a person who is deservedly well-liked).  The final team used the story of Abraham’s calling, choosing to call themselves “Abraham’s Descendants”, which was another play on words since their team leader’s name was Abraham.


"La Onda"

"Abraham's Descendants"

Each evening we had an event similar to pin the tail on the donkey where they had to tape together a whole body searching for the wall blindfolded and following the directions shouted by their team members.  The first day focused on the head with eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.  The next day was the torso with arms and hands, and the final day was the legs and feet.  After this was all finished, Luis shared a short message on how we are all part of one body and need each other.

Each evening also had a “Final Challenge” which determined some sort of punishment for the loosing team.  Monday night was “King of the Circle.”  It ended with one of our students winning, but because he had stepped on the line he was actually out.  We gave a trophy to Francisco from San Juan Guelavía who was the runner-up.  

Francisco (left) is a young man that is struggling with a number of difficulties, and everyone was happy to see him participate, especially his Aunt and Uncle who hosted us.

On Tuesday we had a number of active games such as the Olympics with javelin (toothpick), discus (paper plate), and shot put (balloon) events.  The winner of each of the three events also won a medal.  Following the Olympics event, we had relay races and brain teasers to keep it exciting.

Wednesday was the finals, and after a devotional by Luis, the #2 (Abraham’s Descendants) and #3 (Creation) teams participated in a balloon launch activity.  They had to throw a water balloon onto a bulls eye about 20 yards away, and they received a certain amount of points depending on where they hit.  Their team leader from Cofradía was standing at the top of the bulls eye, and they got even more points if they hit them!  

Abraham’s Descendants won and played the finals with the #1 team (La Onda) in a nose blowing contest: they had to stick an M&M in their nostril and try to shoot it into a bucket. 

The team that made the most shots won EL RETO.  Congratulations to...La Onda!

Thursday was our tourist day as Jeffrey took us up to see some ruins called Monte Alban and spent the afternoon downtown.  
Monte Albán
The Central Market downtown Oaxaca.
That evening we had a great debriefing time with our students, and it was really neat to hear how God spoke into some of their lives.  Here are a few testimonies of what they had to say about the trip...

Abraham's Testimony



My name is Abraham Isaac and I want to share with you some of the many things that God did in my life when I was in Oaxaca.

I am thankful to God because He has always been faithful and because He provided everything I needed in order to go on the trip.

Also, I am impacted to see how God puts together everything; because on the road while we were driving through some of the cities, sometimes we didn’t know which way to go, we weren’t familiar with the roads, but God used some people we didn’t know to help guide us so that we can find the roads that led to Oaxaca.  He kept us safe all the way to Oaxaca and back.

When we arrived, missionaries Jeffrey and Sylvia welcomed us and it was a pleasure to be able to get to know them, they are a good example for us and I thank God for their lives.

Also, the days that we were in San Juan Guelavia were a huge blessing.  The first day we arrived at a house of a family that welcomed us with open doors.  They are such nice people and I was impressed to see the friendly way that they served us; they were very happy to have us in their home.

In addition, this family loaned us their house so that we could do “THE CHALLENGE.”  That was a great blessing because when we first arrived we didn’t have any idea of where we would do “the challenge.”  I’m thankful to God that this family was willing to loan us their house.

“THE CHALLENGE’ was an activity that many of the youth in Oaxaca enjoyed.  I even heard someone say, “I’ve never seen games like these”.  For me, the challenge was really cool because I got to meet new teenagers, new people, etc.

I believe we were able to complete our objective of “Serve, Give, and Connect” and all of this happened thanks to God.

I was also privileged to be able to participate helping pour a floor in a house of one of the families there.  They were living without a floor and I believe we were a great blessing to them.

During my stay in Oaxaca I had a good experience because I was able to try some typical foods they have there, some I have never tried before.  The city is also very beautiful, the people of Oaxaca are very kind, the landscapes that we saw on the drive was really cool.  There are a lot more things that I could say about what I experienced in Oaxaca but it would take me a few more pages to write them all down.  This is why this is “some” of the all the things that I learned there.

It was a great experience and I hope to return some day.  



Mi nombre es Abraham Isaac y quiero compartir con ustedes algunas de muchas cosas que Dios hizo en mi vida cuando estuve en Oaxaca.

Estoy agradecido con Dios porque Él ha sido siempre fiel y porque proveyó todo lo que yo necesitaba para hacer el viaje.

También estoy impactado de ver como Dios arregla todas las cosas,  porque en el camino  cuando atravesamos algunas ciudades a veces no sabíamos para donde ir, pues no conocíamos el camino, pero Dios usó a algunas personas desconocidas para que nos guiaran para encontrar el camino que lleva a Oaxaca. El nos guardó en todo el camino a Oaxaca de ida y vuelta.

Cuando llegamos nos recibieron Jeffrey y Silvia (misioneros en Oaxaca) y fue un gusto poder convivir con ellos y conocerlos, son un buen ejemplo para nosotros le doy gracias a Dios por sus vidas.

Además los días que estuvimos en San Juan Guelavía fueron una gran bendición, pues el primer día llegamos a la casa de una familia que nos recibió con puertas abiertas, son unas personas tan amables y me quedo impresionado de ver la amabilidad con que nos servían, ellos estaban muy contentos por tenernos en su casa.

Además esta familia prestó su casa para que ahí hiciéramos “EL RETO”, esto fue una bendición porque cuando recién llegamos no teníamos ni idea de donde íbamos a hacer “el reto” gracias a Dios esta familia se dispuso a prestar su casa.

“EL RETO” fue una actividad que les gusto a muchos jóvenes de ahí de Oaxaca, pues hasta escuché a alguien decir “nunca he visto juegos como estos”.

Y para mi el reto fue muy chido porque conocí a jóvenes nuevos, personas nuevas etc.

Creo que pudimos cumplir el objetivo que teníamos “servir, dar y conectar” y todo esto fue gracias a Dios.

También para mi fue un privilegio poder participar ayudando para que una familia tuviera un piso en su casa, porque ellos estaban viviendo ahí sin y creo que fuimos de mucha bendición para ellos.

Durante mi estancia en Oaxaca tuve una buena experiencia porque probé algunas de las comidas típicas de allá, las cuales nunca antes las había comido, también la ciudad es muy bonita, la gente de Oaxaca es muy agradable, el paisaje que hay por el camino es muy chido.   Y hay muchas cosas más que puedo decir sobre lo que viví en Oaxaca  pero me llevaría muchas hojas más. Pero esto es algo de todo lo que viví allá.

Fue una muy buena experiencia única y espero volver otra vez.