Saturday, February 29, 2020

February Thoughts?

Before February comes to a close, I need to share some of the highlights.  Mid-month I took a team down to Baja Mexico again.  (Today, I am thankful for Leap Year, as it gave me one more day to get this done in February(!) I do realize this is a long post.  Hoping you can hang in until the end.....)
in San Diego - Coronado Beach
One thing about getting out of Washington in February is the noticeable presence of SUNshine in California. Glad I had my shades! Feels like we hadn't seen that in a long time.  Another interesting sight -- when we got off the plane in San Diego, one of the youngest in our group said, "Hey! What is that?"  (Referring to a palm tree he saw in the parking lot...LOL)

For a few months I've been dealing with an internal battle.  It's a war between what my head knows is true, and what my heart (truly deceitful...Jeremiah 17:9) will believe or not believe depending on my emotions. I find myself in times of doubt of God's faithfulness to come through for me.  I truly hope I'm not bringing down the friends and family who look up to me and my faith by admitting this. But there are times I don't feel hope 100%.  I mean ultimately, I have 100% hope in the eternal future, and while that should also provide hope in the near future, unfortunately my heart does not always make the connection.  In this case, I think going to Mexico helped me find God's faithfulness (yet again).

When we first arrived we stopped for tacos.  That absolutely has to be done....
 

 

After gaining sustenance for ourselves, we stopped at a grocery store for supplies and sustenance for others.  Our team filled two shopping carts with food and supplies for 12 families sheltered at a church-turned-refugee center in TJ.





After shopping we split up the supplies into 12 separate bags.  Our FIRST mission trip task!!  The man from the local ministry who gave us this task was Dave.  He said some teams get it done efficiently and some take 2 hours.  (Happy to say, we were on the quick side....organized chaos, as the video below shows.)



What we've seen or heard on the news about the immigration crisis and the caravans coming from Central America seems pretty far away when we are up in the Northwest.  But seeing it firsthand and hearing the stories from the refugees themselves was different.  A group of ladies asked us (in Spanish) what kind of documentation the kids travelling in our group needed to cross the border.  They desperately want to get their kids into America, safe from the violence and poverty they left behind.  What our kids wanted to do, though, was play with their kids.  Soccer is a universal language.  God showed up in the smiles of the immigrant women who really just enjoyed a chance to talk and laugh with us (and our rusty Spanish.)
Our team with Dave in front of Agape immigrant shelter
This trip we stayed at the now familiar orphanage: Door of Faith.  I am thankful for great photographers like Hilary who was diligent about snapping group photos like this one in front of the cross at DOFO.


Our bunkhouse


After meeting up with "old" friends (Bonnie & Mark, Shane, Rich & Ann, Mary) at Mary's house for dinner, we fellowshipped around the campfire and went straight to bed. 
Joanna, Hilary and Grace cut up hamburger fixin's

Adam & Soren chat
 


Desserts (it was Valentine's Day)
It was Valentine's Day when we arrived in Baja this trip.  And anyone that knows my family well, knows this is also Keaton's birthday.  While I was not around to celebrate with him ON THE DAY, we did have a small celebration before I left.  It was a strange feeling not to have the boys with me on this trip.  But they were able to stay home with their grandparents and had a great time (even though Nonna made them do their homework.  WAY TO GO NONNA!)

The next day in Mexico would be a busy one.  We helped at a home for girls (and a few boys) by serving them in ways they needed help.  That's what I love about these short-term trips arranged by Strong Tower.  We do what the ministries need done.  No make-work projects.  Just showing others love in Jesus' name by doing what THEY need done.

Grace & Lillian
Joanna & Shane
Most of the group worked on painting the interior.  While Hilary showed some of the girls how to crochet and Mike and I make lunch for 35.


in the kitchen with our finished product: Spaghetti, meat sauce and salad
There are more stories to tell about this home for girls. Feel free to ask me for a one-on-one conversation, but I am limited in what I can share here due to safety concerns. What we learned about the girls after we left does not explain why they were all so full of joy.  Another testament to God's faithfulness.  Even the lost, broken, and abused can be filled with JOY through the power of Jesus Christ.

Later that night...following a long afternoon of manual labor, two homeschooling moms (and a few friends) head into the red light district of Tijuana.  Sounds like the start of a bad joke.  But that's exactly what happened.  We visited a ministry called Selah House where we worshipped, prayed for and ministered to the ladies on the street in TJ.  If ever I was out of my comfort zone, this was it.  Public speaking?  I can do.  Leading worship in front of hundreds of people.  I'm on it.  Talking one-on-one with and praying for prostitutes.  Umm.  Duly challenged.  Only in God's strength.



Esther with puppy Obi
At this point, I felt God taking my hand and showing me His faithfulness once again.  In the picture, you'll see Ana, the director of Selah House, with 4 girls from our team sitting behind her.  Selah is a musical term used in the Psalms to represent a time to pause and reflect. The basis of the ministry at Selah House is to praise, worship and pray, because the battle is the Lord's.  This part of the trip was something my worship-loving soul was sooooo looking forward to!  This night, however, Ana could not find a local worship band to lead.  I had already delegated worship for our group to Grace and Lillian. They had a full set prepared for singing around campfires. BUT, the thing is, they did not bring their music or a capo to this ministry stop.  Who knew we would need it??  God apparently had this all planned out. Joanna actually DID tuck a set of the lyrics in her pack that day. So I pulled out my phone and got onto Planning Center that we use for worship team back home (which is a miracle in and of itself - the battery was dead almost every time I picked up my phone this trip).  We put the microphones in front of Grace and Hilary so they could sing, while I chose songs in the Key of G from Planning Center for Lillian to play on guitar (no capo needed!)  I filled in with keyboards and we praised the Lord anyway!  It's like He was saying, "You say you want to worship me.  You said you were excited about coming here.  So now I'm asking you to help lead worship, for my glory, so others can worship me too."  He is King.

All of the kids stayed back at the ministry building with Adam and Rich and prayed some more (and played with Ana's cute puppy) while the adults hit the streets with team leaders from the ministry.  What happened that night was pretty much life-changing for the adults in the group.  We were all thoroughly moved, hearts pricked for what breaks God's heart, in this area of human trafficking.  More to come on that in the future.

On Sunday we headed up to the hilltop to see the progress on the warehouse, to fill in a ditch and to collect some wildflowers.  Again, this trip up the hill showed me, how faithful our God is.  Last time we visited Baja (Nov 2019) this hillside was a charred wasteland.  SEE BLOG POSTS from that TRIP. Now the hillside was lush green, littered with wildflowers, oranges and purples and whites all over.  Just beautiful!

inside the warehouse that was being framed in Nov2019 when we came last time

Warehouse almost finished.  Needs a coat of stucco and doors. 




Beauty From Ashes - poppies across the hillside


 

filling in a ditch with loose dirt - part of septic system


collecting wildflowers for Bonnie
Sunday evening we found ourselves trekking over the river (literally) and through the brush to get to Santa Rosa.  Not far from La Mision, this little town has no Americans living there.  They are very poor, but very proud of their heritage.  The pastor there spoke of leaving the valley, and being called back there to do ministry later in life.  A church from Montana built the shell of a building for this small church group (who had been meeting on someone's back patio for a long time.)  We spent the afternoon sheetrocking some of the interior and laying insulation in the attic crawl space.  The church also served us an authentic Mexican dinner.  Some in our group were tasked with hand-rolling the tortillas.  Yum!  We were asked again to sing with their worship leader, Reynaldo.  So we sang a couple of songs in Spanish and one in English before the Pastor's sermon that night.

crossing the riverbed








 




 

This sweet puppy reminded me of my own puppy back home....

church in Santa Rosa with our team
Again, I'll point out God's faithfulness to me.  After the evening was over and we were debriefing as a group, Lillian mentioned that even though we do not know these Mexicans intimately, they treated us like family.  The love of Jesus is so evident.  And it helps us to see that we are all one big church family.  So thankful for that tie that binds!
Our Team - headed back to San Diego
I Samuel 17:45-47 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.”

3 comments:

  1. This was such a wonderful overview of your trip. Thank you for posting and sharing about it.

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  2. This is great! Thanks for doing this, LIsa! We hope to go down to Baja in the next year or so.

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  3. Thank You,we so loved having you here with us.my God richly bless you and your team..

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