Wednesday, September 28, 2011



One of the key words you will learn on a missions trip to Mexico is "flexibility."   Sometimes you have to be ready to make split decisions given the circumstances that arise.  This is how we started on Saturday.

Because of a death in town and a town meeting, the Town Commissioner asked us if we could do our open-air program on Sunday.  Our plan was to carry out our activities in the Center of town after we were given permission last week.  Since Town Hall is less than a block away and the funeral wake was directly in front of Town Hall, it didn't work out. 

It was 3pm already, time to start.  Instead of cancelling the whole event, we decided to go back to the church for our annual RETO Auction.  Each team had a drama or skit ready as well; this was all to take place in the center as part of the outreach and open-air evangelism.  Instead of performing the dramas, each team did a "practice run" in preparation for Sunday as we decided to do just the open-air evangelism at the south end of town in front of the Jr. High. 

So, we had three activities on Saturday (The Auction, the practice, and Part Two) and one on Sunday (The Evangelism).

The students had been anticipating the auction all week.  It is something we've done for the past four years and has turned into a classic.  Each team is given a secret note informing them of how many points they have.  All the teams can bid on any item they want, however, all of the items are hidden in a box.  They "buy" theses unknown items with the points they have.  Some teams use up all their points as they really have fun bidding and receiving the prizes we give them.  Some prizes are good; others are not so good.

The RETO AUCTION 2011 begins!
Each time a team bought an item, we would bring out another box so they could choose between the two.  Sometimes, they chose the one we brought out instead.
The Servants of the Lord bought the first item--a cake!
The Humble bought the second item (some kind of tree gum).
They also bought #3--ICE CREAM!
The Heirs entered into the action taking #4--another cake!
When The Prudent got in on the action, they got A NEW CAR!--a matchbox car, that is.
The Chosen's first item bought were the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Grace."
The Faithful bought some Oreo Cookies in #7.
By this time, the students were on their feet going crazy as they bid the most points ever in the history of EL RETO AUCTION!
The Chosen would say that it paid off by getting three 3-liter cokes in #8!
and The Servants of the Lord got a bunch of chips!
The Humble finished their ice cream and bought some Snickers!
The Prudent entered in again and got the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Judgement."
The Faithful won 3,000 points!
Then, right away, bought the next item--all the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Resurrection."
The Prudent took the candy.
Fran is about to open a note that says his team has to do chores after church on Sunday.  He wasn't happy.
The Heirs entered the bidding again and had to distribute 3000 points amongst two teams.  They decided to give The Servants of the Lord 500 points and take 2,500 points for themselves.
In the end, Alfredo's team won a taco feast for the second year in a row!  This is the item that all the teams are hoping to get!

  • The Prudent - 11,600 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 11,100 pts.
  • The Chosen - 8,100 pts.
  • The Humble - 7,900 pts.
  • The Heirs - 2,400 pts.
  • The Faithful - 9,300 pts.

Once we finished the auction, each team did a practice run of their team project.  We saw dramas, skits, and human videos.

In Part Two, we shared about what the Bible says about Heaven, where it is and who it's for. 

Part Two begins
The teams, then, came up for their final vote as they voted for another team to receive a prize (all of the clues to all of the hidden treasures).  

Here are the votes...

The Heirs voted for The Humble.
The Prudent voted for The Humble.
The Faithful voted for The Humble.
The Servants of the Lord voted for The Humble.
The Chosen voted for The Humble.
The Humble voted for The Chosen.
Amazing!  The votes were unanimous as all the teams (except for The Humble) voted for The Humble.

We had the staff pass through the graveyard to the voting room as well so they could experience what the students experienced each week.  They even got to cast a vote for the team they thought had done a great job during EL RETO.

The Staff makes their way through the Graveyard.
Without knowing how the teams voted, the majority of the staff voted for The Humble, so they got the vote.

The next day, we held the open-air evangelism at the basketball court in front of the Jr. High.  Five of the six teams performed their project and they all did a great job.  Pastor Luis shared about the Rich Man and Lazarus followed by the students leading a couple of praise songs.  The energy was incredible and it was a very exciting time.  The students are learning about Christ, learning about the need to share their faith, and learning about what it means to persevere in Leadership.  I am proud of every one of them!

Worship to begin with.
Chuy in action.
Fran and Cintia in the Lifehouse-Everything Human Video
The Faithful had probably the best performance as they put together a skit of the story about the Talents.
Team captain, Alfredo Garzon, rocking out on his homemade electric guitar.  He was absolutely hilarious as he had the crowd roaring with laughter!

The students led a time of praise in the end.

Next week, EL RETO FINAL.


Thursday, September 22, 2011




Ninety-two students have participated in this year's event so far.  Right away, the students hopped in the vehicles to get started with all the action in Las Pilas, a town about 3 miles west.  EL RETO goes from town to town in an attempt to attract attention and draw in not just students, but adults as well.  As we are reaching out to the students involved, the people watching get interested and start asking questions.  What an opportunity!

Getting ready to start in Las Pilas
After taking roll call, the teams' first challenge was to toss as many small sandbags into buckets as possible.  Each bucket had a different value; the more points the farther away.

  • The Faithful - 1,350 pts.
  • The Heirs - 900 pts.
  • The Prudent - 750 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 400 pts.
  • The Humble - 300 pts.
  • The Chosen - 50 pts.

After finishing in Las Pilas, the teams travelled another two miles to the town of Paso Real del Bejuco.  There, the teams played a basketball/footbal style game as they tried to get as many balloons in guarded buckets as possible.

  • The Humble - 2,800 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord - 2,500 pts.
  • The Heirs - 2,400 pts.
  • The Prudent - 1,900 pts.
  • The Faithful - 1,700 pts.
  • The Chosen - 1,600 pts.

From there, everyone got back into the trucks and headed back to Cofradía for the much awaited annual RETO Banquet Fear Factor style.  This has proven to be one of the biggest events that everyone looks forward to every year!  This year, with Martín Garzon's homecoming, we asked him to prepare some of the food that he experienced during his time in Oaxaca (not that the food is bad, just different).  Also, some of the staff prepared some other dishes as well along with the classics that the students always expect: Cow Eyes and Jalapeño Peppers.

Here is the menu:
Mixed Cactus Drink
Grasshoppers (from Oaxaca)
Tamale with Black Beans (from Oaxaca)
Homemade Pocket Bread with Zucchini (from Oaxaca)
Eggroll-style flour burrito with zucchini and black beans (from Oaxaca)
Homemade Pocket Bread with Chicken Liver filling

Cow eye

Jalapeño Peppers

An onion the size of a racket ball
Then the whole team had to down a 3 liter bottle of coke.
The Banquet is always an incredible time with lots of energy.  It is probably the most desired event by the students.

  • First Place: The Heirs - 3,000 pts.
  • Second Place: The Chosen - 2,000 pts.
  • Third Place:  The Prudent - 1,000 pts.
  • Fourth Place: The Servants of the Lord - 750 pts.
  • Participation Points:  The Humble and The Faithful - 500 pts.

After the Banquet, we continued with Part Two.  This was going to be a very unique Part Two since the Lord showed us how we could incorporate a very important lesson about real life, "Things Done in Secret."
Part Two
Each year we have what in English would be called "The War of Coins."  Each Mexican peso coin has a point value. The greater the coin; the greater the point value.  The ten-peso coin is worth a negative 250 points.  Each team has the opportunity to deposit coins each week in their bottle as well as deposit ten-peso coins in other teams' bottles.  This is why it's called a War.  This year, the students have not waged any war for fear that they'll be seen.  So, we set it up for them to be able to wage war in secret while they had their voting time.  After each team had waged war, I removed the coins so that the other teams would not notice what had happened as they came in to vote.  The end result was that 5 of the 6 teams waged war.

After the voting and the Coin War, I shared about how hurtful things can be to others, ourselves, and God, when we do things in secret that do not glorify God.  Not only are those things hurtful, but also the Bible says, in real life, that those things that are done in secret will come to light.

At this point, I asked the students if they could put themselves in the place of being victimized.  Then, for those who were responsible for the actions, I asked if they would like to come forward to the microphone to ask for forgiveness for what they did against the other teams.  It was an amazing time!  EL RETO is just a game, but we were able to create a teachable moment that had a huge impact on the lives of not only the students, but the adults as well who were watching.  Four of the five teams came forward to ask for forgiveness, and each one was forgiven.  The negative points were nullified and the slates were wiped clean.