Friday, June 29, 2007

im here!!!!

Hola! Quick report just to say we have arrived and are settling into our new home here in Ensenada! Our travels went super smooth and our night in Cali was fun and great transition moment. Steph and Patrick , my travelling amigos/2 youth from my church, and myself have had several moments where we've turned to each other and squeeled "where goin' to Mexico!!"

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


So I'm pretty much all packed... my list of things to do is almost done... and in one more sleep, i'll be off on my summer adventure!

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

Sunday, June 17, 2007

winding down... winding up...

it's such a strange season. wrapping up at the church, saying goodbye to my youth - many of which will be moving on and out of youth/burlington. it's been bitter sweet for sure.... excited about newness and freshness - both in the summer and in the fall - but definitely am gonna miss sharing life with these kids.

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

What will I be doing?

I promise... this will be the last looong, rambling post. But I just want to be able to sketch a picture of where I'm headed and what I'll be doing...

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!

21 days and counting

On June 28 I'll be boarding a plane to begin my journey to Ensenada, Mexico for two months. 21 days away... crazy! I can't believe how quickly this month is going to fly by. I can't believe how it has just crept up on me - i guess it's a bit different than preparing for camp where I would have already invested so much in the pre-camp season, and often check out earlier in mind than in body. Where as for this experience I haven't had to really think about Mexico much and so outta nowhere it's here! It's pretty exciting!

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...