Saturday, September 07, 2013

Border Crossing

Thanks to those of you who were praying for our border crossing.  It could have been worse, but it definitely was not the easiest crossing we've had...

I've learned that things go a little smoother when Geña goes in to talk to the officials to declare items.  So, at the first check point for the declaration of the items we had, Geña went in and I stayed in the truck with the girls.  It was 78 degrees (the coolest it's been since Oregon).  Because of the lack of receipts for certain garage sale and craigslist items we purchased, they charged us an incredible amount.  We ended up paying over $1,700 pesos ($150 US Dollars) of tax!  Then, got a red light...but they didn't check anything (time saver!).

At the second checkpoint, we had to get our vehicle permit and have our passports stamped.  Everything was fine until they found out I was a Permanent Resident in Mexico.  The official said that made me Mexican and Mexicans cannot drive foreign vehicles in Mexico.  According to the government, I'm not a Mexican until I become a citizen, but they still would not let me get a permit for the truck, they told me to nationalize it (have it registered in Mexico with Mexican plates instead of US plates).  That's impossible right now until we get our loan paid off.  But, Geña could get a permit for it since she had an American passport (by the way, so do I and they had it in there possession).  But, (again), she could not get permission for the trailer because it's not in her name.  Our Marriage Certificate was enough for her to get a permit.  However, we only have a copy of it, they do not accept copies.  So, they bent the rules for us, had it authorized by the guy in charge (who couldn't figure out why the official wouldn't let me get a permit in the first place), and made the paper valid.  We finally got it done and ANOTHER red light; the second one of the evening and third in the past 13 years!  The same man who authorized the Marriage Certificate just looked in our overpacked utility trailer, asked what we had in it, and let us go.

So, we are finally 60 miles south of Nogales in a Hotel in Santa Ana, Sonora, Mexico.  After a very confusing, double standard crossing, we're safe.  It could have been a lot worse, so thanks again for your prayers!

Let me tell you about the hotel now.  We arrived at the Starr Inn where we have stayed for the past few years when we get to Santa Ana and have had no problems.  This time, the wife of the owner said no to pets.  The owner always said it was ok.  And he did again this time, but the wife came out and started arguing with him saying that they do not let pets stay.  Wow!  We decided to go across the street where they do accept pets.  We didn't want to cause a divorce. :)  And, it's cheaper!

What an exciting I'd rather not repeat!
"Three Shades of Blue" should be the name of our travel machine.  You can't see it, but the canopy is a lighter blue than the truck...yes, lighter.


Max has put a slide show video up of the first week of EL RETO; 80 students in attendance!  Take a look!



Friday, September 06, 2013

What is EL RETO?

EL RETO (The Challenge) started in 2005 and is an event that reaches out to youth in Mexico.  As we get them involved in group activities, they learn teamwork skills, leadership skills, how to work out relational difficulties, and most importantly to us, they learn about God’s love for them.  This is an event that not only the youth benefit from, but the adults who donate their time as Staff learn many of the same things.  The children see the activities and can’t wait until they’re old enough to participate.

The activities we use look like what you might see on Survivor, Amazing Race, and Fear Factor.  We have six teams and we meet every Saturday for 6 weeks starting on the last Saturday of August.  It catches the participants' attention through things like a hidden treasure they search for throughout the week(s), trying to read the clues to the treasure through a code language as they buy letters with points they accumulate, voting for other teams to have to do the chores (instead of voting them out of the game), the competition of the activities, applying every day principles through those activities, meeting new people, hanging out at the end of each week in a time of "Refuge" with free food and drinks, and many more exciting adventures.  Each year more and more students get involved as other churches have begun to participate with us.

It is an event that costs us $2000 dollars.  Please help us reach out to the youth of Mexico.  Click here to make your EL RETO donation.