Thursday, November 8, 2007
well, in about two days i get to return to my community of friends in Ensenada. I head out Sunday with a team from my church and cannot wait for the grand reunion!! Seeing Lil' Britt in the airport, driving around in the jeep with Marvin, catching up with all the guys, and of coarse seeing new addition Naomi! I just can't wait to swing a hammer, eat some tacos (and perhaps drink a margarita or two...) and be part of such intentional community again. there's few times i feel as close to God and such a tangible example of being Christ to people in need than i do when i'm at EOC.
i can't wait to return "home" my friends!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
but here's a scattering of things i learned this summer...
that love is an action.
it's not always about the mountain top experiences. it sometimes just is.
chirizo is so yummy.
that i want to be more in love with God.
...and then live with that passion.
community is beautiful.
diversity is beautiful.
diversity is essential.
a little bit of spanish
to be cont'd...
no more dogs barking.
no more ice cream man bells.
no more fireworks.
no more dust.
no more crazy mexico driving.
no more toilet paper in the waste basket.
no more awkward spanish conversations.
no more crazy groups.
what i would do for it all back again!
no more mexico.
so i've been home for almost a week today. last week was a bit of a blur. jumping into our church's VBS (on the energy and power of God!), visiting with friends, and sleeping. lots.
After a great long weekend, and momentum that the new season has started, i am slowly feeling settled. Switching gears to my ministries at the church. Enjoying the blessings I have here in Canada... but still being reminded of the simple things (like flushing toilet paper, drinking from the tap, having a roof over my head even if i don't have furniture right now!)...
The transition is going pretty smooth. I don't think I know how to articulate it all yet. Or know what to articulate yet either.
But wanted to say "im baaaaaack" if you haven't figured it out already.
Cant wait to share this experience with you... if i can find words to explain it... or if you have the time to sit thru photo after photo after photo!
thank you all for your support and encouragement and prayers! I am so blessed!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Well, it's midnight on Sunday night. My last sleep here in Ensenada, Mexico. Myself and the other Bdot crew are rolling out to San Diego for the day and night, and then fly home Tuesday.
I don't really know if i can really write much at this time. Im not sure i have any wise epiphanies for you all yet... i think most of my reflections and ponderings will come most when i return home to the bustle of Burlington, the north american 'church life', quickly bombarded with 'stuff', but also embracing the comforts of familiar faces, a language I speak, and a community i love. It's bitter sweet indeed....
it's definitely been sad saying the goodbyes the last week or so - sharing community, ministry, and a home like here at EOC draws people together. Diverse people of different ages, personalities, and nationalities - but a unity I only see in Christ. What a blessing it has been to meet every single ones of these brothers and sisters... I wish you could all have the chance to live and work alongside them b/c i know you would be blessed like i was... but i'll be back - and perhaps next time you'll join me!
but I am so grateful for my community back home too. my church. my friends. my family. for supporting me and encouraging me as i ventured out for this wee chapter of my life. I could not have done it without your support - financially and prayerfully! Gracias! I look forward to the next chapter of the journey - sharing my experience with you, sharing with you the hearts and passion of these brothers and sisters here in Mexico, sharing with you my photos and stories, sharing with you what i've learned.
so like i said - i dont have much to say...??!! (when am i not wordy and rambling... come on!) But i will continue to post and share with you on this lil' bloggy thingy. I'll try and post more pictures too (for all you folks who haven't been able to check them out/stalk us on facebook. )
So keep posted as a come on back to the mother land!
thanks again my friends.
(aka Mamma Rho)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
19. Tuesday night games night! Obvi!
18. Beach bonfires. and fireworks. no wait. just the bonfires. the fireworks terrify me.
17. Driving around in my sweet ride - the 15passenger van! ah yeah!
16. Coca. from a bottle.
15. Meeting people from all over the States, Canada (go Yukon), and of coarse Mexico every week!
14. Attempting to learn Spanish...or smiling and nodding "si" (aka I have no idea what you just said!)
13. Worshiping with a chapel full of youth and adults everyday!
12. $5 Chinese Buffet!?! need i say more?
11. Watching "The office" after a long hard days work...
10. Taco stands on every corner sure beats Tim Hortons on every corner in my books! And alot cheaper too!
9. The simple smile of a child whose excited to see you even though you've never met them before....
8. Hearing 'you can do it sister' and other such encouragements every day - in broken English from my Mexican brothers!
7. At any turn catching breathtaking views of mountains and the ocean!
6. Grocery runs with Kimyco... and stop offs at Mi Ranchitos...and watching eva & jose bicker as they make us our food! (ok, i know that was three... but they go together!)
5. Jeep offroading everyday. With Marvin.
4. Getting to watch my interns grow and serve - especially those Canadian punks that tagged along with me :)
3. Living in community.. a taste of the acts 2 church if you ask me...
2. Being a part of a real life 'extreme home makeover' every week. except cooler. and realer. and way more practical.
1. Living everyday with purpose and tangible opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ in amazing ways!
Friday, August 10, 2007
Hope you enjoy her insights as much as i did
When I was driving today I was thinking about the phrase "two-thirds majority world"- I think I must have read an article recently that used that term. Also, at Guelph, development students almost always use "majority world" as opposed to the common "third world."
So, I was driving, thinking about the phrase "2/3 majority world" - but this time, rather than just letting it be a fleeting thought, I actually did the math. I pretended for a second that 2 out of every 3 people I know lived in poverty. It is sad and strange how the phrase became so much more powerful when I used people that I know in my imaginary illustration. The bizarre thing is that I was driving and if I had pretended that two thirds of the people on the road were a part of the 'majority world', 93% of the cars on the road would suddenly disappear because only 7% of the world's pop'n owns a car. Almost everyone I know owns a car. Most families have 2 and many have 3 cars...
It made me think about how even though two thirds of the world's people live in conditions that I can't even begin to understand, I never see it. I feel like this one third of people who live like I do, live in such a bubble- in such ignorance of what the world is actually like. What makes this possible is a complete stratification of poverty- we NEVER see the other two thirds. We live in complete oblivion ( or purposeful ignorance?)- we forget that "our world" is really only a tiny fraction of the bigger picture. I am not saying that there are not seriously poor people here in our midst- because there are-but it's sad the criteria that I use in order to determine if someone is poor- where and what they live in, where they get their clothing, how many and what type of possessions they have, etc. Especially when a great majority of the world does not even have food security or access to save drinking water.
Imagine a world where the 'two thirds majority' world intersected with our 'rich one third world' - imagine that you didn't need to fly across the world to see what that really looks like.. Imagine if suburbia didn't protect and shield you from the reality of how MOST people in the world live. Imagine if most of your neighbours didn't have access to basic health care, water or food? Imagine, like I did, that two out of every three people you saw every day lived in sub-human conditions?
I wonder if things would change? I wonder if we would actually do something. Maybe the reason that we (myself fully included) are so apathetic is because we are masters of deception. We have successfully convinced ourselves that we deserve excess- and more than that, that our 'one third' world is really all there is. We have convinced ourselves that we need to compete with our neighbours so we are not poor in relation to them. We consume so we don't get left behind. We consume and compete because we think financial freedom is real freedom- but we are in chains. Chained to the very thing that we think gives us life, freedom, and choices.
I don't know what make me think about the actual breakdown of rich and poor in the world today- but I am glad that it happened. I don't want to continue to live in ignorance. I need to remind myself daily of the realities of our world. If I don't- all that I am left with is the lies that I tell myself- that I am all that matters, that wealth is determined by what I have in relation to those immediately around me.
I need to remember that not that long ago, I met people that lived and worked in a garbage dump- that I could hardly breathe in. There is a lot more to the world than what we can see.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I've been reminded of and taught a lot on joy this summer. getting to see what being 'content whatever your circumstances' really looks like as I watch 3 young siblings play with 2 empty plastic coke bottles... finding joy in family, in simple things... as i see a mother or father weep for joy at the site of their new home which to us would be the size of a small tool shed, to them is a castle... to even just falling asleep so tired - that good, satisfying tired - where a smirk is on your face as you drift to sleep. that kinda joy...
I'm encouraged again that living this acts 2 kinda life... this living together, sharing together, encoruaging one another, so that no one is in need kinda living is so life giving. i know this 'camp life' isn't for everyone, but this community life should be. i thrive in it. i love it. i love that there's a person just a walk across the hallway... i love that laughter abounds from this place.
This experience is so much more than giving and 'intense ministry'. It's also been about community, memory making, and a whole lotta fun.... God knew what He waqs doing when he made us relational beings...
here's some random pics of some of those memories and good times so far!
Monday, July 30, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I've been praying lately for God to open me eyes to see things in a new way while I'm down here - to reveal new things to me....
i've been stirred alot about what it means to be poor. in the full sense of the word.
i took one of my interns to visit a family her church had built a house for a few years back. they maintained a relationship and wanted to drop in for a visit. what an incredible family it was! Jacob was the father of this family of 4 - two daughters, and his wife. Quickly they invite us all into there home. how many of us do that - when visitors drop in unexpected we grumble or wish we had notice to prepare something for them. instead, they immediately offer us a coke or somethingto eat. we find a spot of some dusty old chairs, and quickly learn of Jacob's passion and minsitry. He recently started a cell group/church out of his home. Every Tuesday and Saturday Jacob hooks up an old CDplayer, and some old school speakers and hosts an informal time of worship and teaching. his neighbors come over, they share in community together, they worship on there beaten down instrument that were just covered by a tarp, sitting outside his house. he shares with us his vision and passion to share christ with those around him, how he wants to build a 'real church' in his community. his need right now? just for some screws and parts to help fix his drum kit. but they can't afford that...
he was a simple man. with a simple vision really. and even tho he now had a yugo house, it was still obvious they were poor. but they were so rich. in spirit. in love. in generosity.
many of the pastors and national workers i meet here are teaching me lessons on what it means to be rich in spirit, even if they are poor in the world. I am being shown again how so many of us live lives that are full of stuff, but we are so poor... so poor in spirit....
i know these aren't new things. or earth shattering reflections. but i have names and faces to "these people" now. I have made friends here who are reminding me of what the beatitudes are talking about...
may you be full of the riches of God's blessings today...
Saturday, July 14, 2007
hola from a newbie Canadian staff here at EOC. It's the 2 week anniversary of the three Ontario-ites that joined the staff team here. My role is a pretty sweet one - host the groups; connect with the groups, leaders, youth; lead chapels & worship; a 'go-to' gal; hang out and mentor some incredibly fantastic interns, and a favorite - cruise around to the sites with mi amigo Marvin as he takes video... It's really a pretty awesome job!
So i get to see so many different sides of this rich ministry. Leading chapel, I get to see youth worship and draw close to God. Hanging out with interns & staff, I am reminded of what Christ centered community is all about. Chatting with our national workers, I am humbled and inspired everyday. And Thursday I was reminded of yet another reason why I was here.
It was dedication day, and I hadn't yet made it to a dedication of a house yet. I had incredible memories of this moment when I have brought teams down from my church, but had forgotten the power of that moment. Sitting off to the side, I was quickly overwhelmed seeing these young jr high kids attempt to find words to capture the moment.... watching a mother clutch her young child as she holds back tears of joy... praying with a pastor as he blesses their new home... catching a glimpse into a moment of that hope and future God promises his children (Jer 29:11).
so another week down and another showering down of God's love and power in and thru this place....
continue to lift up EOC in your prayers!
Sunday, July 8, 2007
i know that the base camp is a place where we want to serve our groups and staff well, so that they can better serve the Mexican people in need. But as I drive around to the different work sites where the groups are building or serving, Im reminded or how even here in Mexico I take so much for granted. How quickly I already get used to seeing shack houses, garbage on the roads, dirty water, no electricity... I know it's not about going and living in Mexico that will teach or humble or reveal things to me. it's about being in a place - spiritually, mentally - where I allow God to stir my heart... for my eyes to see things the way he does... to see his chidlren he loves...
every night when i lead chapel, we have a sharing time and I ask the kids how did they see God today. the simple momentsw where God reveals himself to them, how he stirs up something in there heart - an awareness of injustice, a moment of true joy, or surrender, or confession...
I pray I won't forget to do that myself more and more...
as the weeks go on, that i won't my eyes and ears will become more and more aware of God's heart for his children... here in Mexico and in Burlington and around the world...
Gonna catch a nap before the next crew comes in for the week. 100 jr. highers. God bless us!
blessings and thanks for your prayers!
Monday, July 2, 2007
there's about 75 youth in right now, more to come this week, and four homes are being built in the nearby villages. today was the first day where we hit the work sites and I forgot how amazing the first days in construction are. walls get built. the slabs of wood turn into pieces of a real home. you meet the families, the groups bond together... it was amazing to be apart of and observe as i roamed around to the different sites. my role during the day is to support and connect with the groups, youth, leaders, and interns. some days i will drive around in my sweet jeep (well, im the passenger. i haven't gotten up enough courage yet to drive here... and it's standard, so that's my excuse for now), sometimes taking video for the highlights clips and sometimes i'll stay around the base prepping for chapels, worship, bible studies, etc.
so today i cruised around in a very bumpy jeep (thus the one armed sun burn) with Patrick and an incredible kid named Marvin. He's a local youth who heads up the new video stuff (capturing the days highlights, putting together a dvd for the groups, etc). He's an awesome young man and it was so much fun to learn about the real culture of Mexico from him... and some spanish too! Today I lead my first two chapel times as well! One short one in the morning, and one longer one at night. I wasn't quite as prepared as i wanted, but God provided words and the kids seem to be receptive and responsive. Worship is going pretty good and it's great with play with Patrick - he's such a talented musician! The Spirit has been already moving in the groups and in our times together!
other than that im enjoying being the 'go-to gal' for the leaders, connecting with kids, etc. it feels alot like camp (except i know alot less... but doing a good job of faking it!) Having a great time with Steph, Patrick, the other youth interns and meeting the other staff as well. Besides, it's really only been 3 days! wow! almost feels like home. the awkardness already fading quickly. a few more days under my belt and i'll be even more comfortable.... but hopefully not too comfortable as i know this summer is a space to allow God to speak, move, and be in control. not something im often good at allowing him the space to do....
so all that to say - i'm doing fantastic down here! please continue to pray for me and the ministry of EOC.
Friday, June 29, 2007
and now we are here.
we have been warmly greeted and taken care off. im definitly not 'roughin' it' in my sweet digs in the staff house... and i don't need to point out that im already on the internet. from my laptop. in my room. so yeah. God is good.
feels great to be back. an element of comfort and home...
but also lots of changes and new faces...
so we are looking forward to a weekend of chill to settle in, but also getting a week of routine under our belts. right now we are still a bit in the 'awkard' phase.
people seem excited to have us. i feel a bit overwhelmed/nervous that starting Sunday i have to run all these things and I don't really know anything... but I know i'll be fine. and have the spiritual gift of 'winging it'.
please pray for transition, meeting people, and settling into my role as a newbie, but a newbie whose a senior staff/leader...
and fyi. it's way hotter in ontario than it is here. for all you folks who said the heat would be unbearable. it's just perfect. suckas.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Thursday at 2:00, we're flying out of Buffalo to Georgia then to San Diego, California. We'll spend the night in Cali, and Scott will pick us up sometime Friday and bring us back to our new home in Ensenada! gaaahhhh! So excited. After all the preparations and goodbyes, i just wanna go now! The anticipation is building that im so ready now.
I know it's going to be an amazing experience. And i know it's not 'about me'...but i have a sneaky suspicion God is going to be working on me... The last month or so have stirred up some new questions, transitions, and changes which are prompting me to reflect and ponder a bit more than normal... which is good. It's good to be shaken and challenged. And i pray this experience will provide freshness and new chapters in my life and faith.
now in the (terrible) words of some fellow mexico mission'ers...
it's time to
GET 'ER DONE.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
slowly im wrapping things up at the square for the summer, and checking things off my 'to do list'. i think this week it will become more and more real as i work on more mexico preparations.
i've felt so encouraged by such a community of supporters... brothers and sisters in christ, who are so excited for me. it's helped me, in turn, get more excited too. not everyone is called to travel to another country to serve, and in many cases it's not even always the more effective and efficient use of resources - however, im feeling called and know that part of it is about my personal journey, learning, and sheer adventure of it all. but it's so cool to see how although im going on the actual trip, there are so many people apart of this mission. people supporting me financially, thru prayers, and encouragement. what a blessing it is to be apart of the family of God...
Thursday, June 7, 2007
YUGO Ministries, and in particular the "Ensenada Outreach Center" (EOC) is a great organization that seeks to serve the Mexican people. Currently YUGO works primarily in 'border cities' - areas near the US/Mexican border. Every time I make that drive from San Diego airport into Mexico, I'm humbled and moved by the obvious differences. Poverty is a real issue in many of these Mexican cities and towns. YUGO's desire to to show God's love to these people in various ways. What I like about YUGO and EOC is the desire to do missions "well" and in a way that's empowering to the local people, leaders, and pastors. Scott Wester, the director at EOC shared with me how he hopes the mission can become more and more invisible - simply providing behind the scenes resources, support, and man-power to the local churches and leaders. We don't want to be the 'white canadians/americans to the rescue with all the right answers'. Instead we want to simply respond to Christ's call to take care of the widows, the orphans, the poor...simply, humbly, and in love...
We aren't all called to do that in other countries. I never thought i was "one of those people" either, as I still feel a strong calling to serve in the local church here in Burlington, Ontario. But for this season, I am being called.
There are many ways in which EOC serves the people:
CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS/SCHOOLS - many children are not able to afford to go to school. You will often just find them playing and wandering about in their villages and towns. YUGO runs several school and daycare programs, as well as runs VBS programs.
FEEDING PROGRAMS - Currently there are 2, 3 programs which provide breakfast or lunch for children of various villages. It's often just a cup of oatmeal and a biscuit but for some of these kids - it is all they will eat that day.
WOMEN'S MINISTRY - They have just begun to work in this area, connecting with the women of the villages/towns. Meeting with them, caring for them, ministering to them.
CONSTRUCTION MINISTRY - this is the area which our church has participated the most in. In about a week, a group of 10-13 people can build a home for a family. Many people in the nearby towns live in shacks, half built homes, some made of cardboard and tarps, roofs caving in on them, rooms too small to house there large extended families. Teams come up to volunteer and by thursday or friday they are handing keys over to a family. It's such a powerful and emotional experience and I dont think I'll ever get used to that humbling experience. There are other construction projects such as building banjos (bathrooms), churches, and schools that YUGO does as well.
... AND MORE... - I know there are many other ways EOC works with the people, handing out food at the hospital where people wait for days to be seen by a doctor, working with local pastors, supporting other ministries, and so much more! i can't wait to learn all about it!
So where will i fit in all of this? Well, hopefully i'll get to put my hand in it all a bit. Give some "capochees" (piggy backs) to some kids, hammering some nails (i'm a good hammerer!), helping with special services (aka cleaning bathrooms at the base camp) - wherever! But my main role will be as the base camp director/host.
In Chipultapec, EOC has its 'base' camp. This is where many of the mission staff live, as well as where the volunteer teams and groups stay. It can house up to 200 people in dorm style rooms, includes a dining hall, kitchen, chapel, and several garages/buildings for the construction projects and donations. During the summer the camp is full to capacity and there's always lots going on. When a group arrives - the questions, details, and craziness begins. Where do sleep? When do we eat? What do we do? How do we do this? I'll be the one hosting, facilitating, and directing these groups when they arrive. I will also be leading chapel times, an essential aspect to the process for the groups - helping them debreif and gain the most out of there time in Mexico. You see the EOC does not just serve the local Mexican people but also the hundreds of Canadians and Americans who come down to volunteer. So i get to help empower, encourage and provide a positive experience for everyone involved!
Im really stoked about the position - i love watching people grow and learn and feel empowered. I am excited to see the transformation in people in just a week! And this way too - Im not totally screwed because i don't know very much Spanish... at all.
It's a great example of the body of Christ... we all have different gifts, passions and callings! im excited for this unique role where i can use my gifts and skills to help serve the teams that come, so that they can serve the Mexican people. I hope and pray I can jump into this leadership role with ease and a quick learning curve. I guess those years of directing at camp will pay off again! It'll kinda be like camp... except not with children... and in Mexico.... ? ok, so it's not like camp at all... but Im still excited!
So hopefully that will give you a bit of a picture of what I'll be doing in my time in Mexico!
Maybe I should start from the beginning, for those partnering with me on this journey in prayer and support, so you all know the full story...
I began my adventures to Mexico about 4 years ago, when I lead my first Mexico Missions Trip with the youth. God lead us to YUGO thru a random internet search and it was a great first experience! My first trip was more about the excitement and the 'spiritual adrenaline rush' i get when my youth 'get it'... watching them grow, step up, step out - it was amazing! Since then i've lead 3 more youth trips, and been apart of an adult/mixed team as well. As I continued to return year after year, friendship formed with staff and local people, and i grew more and more in love with the culture, pace, people, and beauty of Mexico.
I have been involved in summer camp ministry for over 10 years and I don't really know what a summer looks like without morning devos, mosquitoes, and random dress up clothes and spandex! I sensed my time at Silver Lake Camp was coming to an end, and this fall after much thoughts, prayer, and some tears... i said goodbye to my role of director at SLC. I quickly began to plan ways to distract myself and fill up my summer months! When I spent two weeks in Mexico in November I had a chance to get a small sense of what it would be like to be there a bit longer. The leadership at YUGO asked me to pray about joining the staff on the summer. And that's what lead me to today... preparing myself for an amazing adventure in a wonderful country!
God works in mysterious ways...
I am so looking forward to this experience. To experience a new culture, living in simplicity, in the face of poverty but still so much beauty and purpose. To have a break from my work at the church - a world sometimes clouded with politics, meetings, and emails! To be the hands and feet of Christ in a hurting world. To provide homes, food, hope, and love to people in need. And hopefully have lots of fun in the process...