The summer sun can be merciless in the city of Tecate, Mexico, but that didn't stop about 150 people from attending Amor Ministries 1st Annual outreach in Tecate.
Amor Ministries together with the Ministry Planning Board of Tecate hosted a community outreach in the Cerro Azul area. Many children came to have fun winning prizes with our game booths and gave out over 200 hot dogs.
Pastor Hortencio Guerrero gave a wonderful message of God's love to many hungry souls. Many came up for prayer and the tears flowed freely.
I love the way God moves on the hearts of his people!
I've been going to a women's Bible study that has been such a great encouragement for me. The last meeting we talked about the word goodness.
Narrowing it all down what I learned was that goodness is not just a "state of being good", but an "action of goodness".
As Mexico ministry coordinator for Amor Ministries I have many opportunites to work with men and women who demonstrate goodness to others.
For example this past month a group from Anchorage, Alaska and the ministry planning board of Rosarito hosted an outreach for the families in the community of Ames. Amor Ministries coordinates such events where over 100 people were in attendance!
I had an opportunity to even share God's word with everyone and many raised their hand for prayer.
Together we were able to bless many and with the help of the pastors in the community we have also impacted the Mexican church.
I thank God for the opportunity to share His "goodness" with others.
This is inside a school in the community of "3 de Octubre" in Tijuana, Mexico. This room holds grades 4-6.
Children no matter what social status or economy always seem to have a smile on their face
Posing with the children of the "3 de Octubre" school with the new school supplies I brought them
I have been in ministry for many years and I am so amazed on how a story of a family can move me so much. For example, the story of the Luque Henriquez family that live in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora.
This family is composed of a father, mother and four children. Sounds normal enough doesn’t it? If it were only that easy… One of the pastors took me to visit this family who is waiting a new home in November of this year. This family has been through many struggles and heartaches. Miguel, the father is currently unable to work due to illness. He recently was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia that has affected his red blood cells to the point of needing a transfusion.
Guadalupe, his wife needs to work doing menial work like washing other people's clothes by hand to feed her family and take care of her children. Not only their need for food, but also medicine and therapy because Guadalupe has three disabled children.
Israel who is 25 years-old has cerebral palsy and about three years ago came down with meningitis that has completely paralyzed him.
He is in need of a wheelchair and diapers.
Edgar Ivan is 22 years-old and is mental retarded. His sweet smile made my heart ache. He understands many things, but is unable to speak. He needs resources so that he can learn a trade.
Larisa Isabel who is 13 years-old does not have a disability, but she shares the responsibility of taking care of her family. Currently, Larisa is going to school and is making excellent grades.
Tiny Miguel Daniel has a thyroid problem which has stunted his development and is physically and mentally challenged.
This family averages between $50.00 a week barely enough to live on let alone build a house.
As I entered the home made of scrap pieces of wood and a roof made of a worn piece of blue tarp I felt so unsafe.
The walls creaked back and forth as the wind moved the rickety shack.
Guadalupe mentioned that she was afraid that one day that her children will be hurt or trapped inside the home if it ever collapsed. What a scary thought!
I just can’t even in my wildest dreams imagine how they can live day in and day out in those conditions.
Who will show God’s love for them? I pray that it’s you and me!
Let’s stop complaining for what we don't have and give thanks for God’s abundance of mercy toward us and let’s take action to help those that are in desperate need of love and concern. Join with me! Together we may not be able to save the world, but with the help of the Lord we can help the Luque Henriquez family to have a better life.
Please keep this family and all the other families who we serve on a daily basis in prayer.
Thank you again for your seed in the Garden of Mercy!
"And they shall dwell safely in it and shall build houses and plant vineyards; yes, they shall dwell securely and with confidence when I have executed judgments and punishments upon all those round about them who have despised and trodden upon them and pushed them away, and they shall know (understand and realize) that I am the Lord their God [their Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service]." Ezekiel 28:26 (Amplified Bible)
I visited with the Gonzalez Ramirez family living in the community of "Mariano Matamorros". "TJ", our seasonal field staff person, told me about this family. He said that he was so moved by the kindness and gratitude this family showed him as he drove up to their house to verfiy the site before the group would arrive that Monday morning. He said that from the back of the house came a small woman whose tears moved his heart. I spoke with Demetrio & Dolores and they shared a very important truth with me
Lydia: Dolores, thank you for allowing me to come into your little house.
Dolores: Thank God for all of you who work so hard in building us this house!
L:How has this experience changed your lives?
Dolores:Just seeing all these young people coming to Mexico leaving the their comfortable homes to work and sweat and get physically tired to build us a house...well, it just makes me want to cry. There are no words to describe my gratitude. Thank God!
L: What can you say about the Love of God shown to you?
Dolores: We have seen the Love of God and also the power of it through these kids. It proves to us if God can move in providing us a house He will take care of all our other needs too. Through life's struggles God has multiplied everything... Our work is humble, but we want to give God all our obedience. ("TJ" walks in and Dolores offers him a gum. He sweetly declines. Dolores sells gum for a living.)
Demetrio: I am just happy...very happy. I didn't work today just to be here to help the group. (Demetrio washes and waxes cars) We waited and hoped to one day have a house that would not leak. I cannot do it myself because I never learned a trade. I am not a carpenter or a bricklayer I just wash cars. I was an alcoholic for many years. It was God who helped me and now I've been sober for 10 years. On top of that I couldn't read, but God taught me to read the Bible. I want my new house to be a place so many people can come and enjoy sharing God's word. We have been faithful to our church and joyfully give our tithes and offerings. (Demetrio earns around $35.00 a week and Dolores maybe $30.00 a week)
L: Your faithfulness amazes me. What could you tell the many participants that want to come down to build homes in Mexico.
Dolores:If I could tell everyone who would want to come to build homes for the poor and needy in Mexico I would tell them that if they obey God's calling He will provide the rest. He will provide strength most of all. He blesses those who obey Him.
L: Amen to that!
Dolores: I can remember my husband and I praying together and he would always mention in the prayer the request for a new house. And now...(tears of joy flooded her eyes)..I just see these young people and it touches my heart. Many people have a hard time believing in God, but we do believe in Him.
This little couple challenged me. Demetrio who is 53 years-old and Dolores who is 63 years-old challenged me to obey God even through all my struggles.
After talking with them I thought it would be nice to talk to the Chris, the trip coordinator from Federal Way, Washington. Chris brought 16 young men and women to build hope in Mexico.
Lydia: Tell me a little bit more about your group.
Chris:We are from Washington and I have with me a group of 16 people. Harvest Ministries has been coming down to work with Amor for about ten years.
L: What has been your personal experience with Amor Ministries?
Chris: I have been coming down on trips for five years. First, as a volunteer now as a trip coordinator. It has changed my life. It's a lot of work to prepare for a trip like this, but it always seems that God provides for everything. Our church backs us up 100%. We are here to "Build Hope" just like Amor Ministries motto.
L: On a personal level does it discourage you that you are not able to speak Spanish to the family?
Chris: No. We communicate to them so many other ways just being here and showing our love through building breaks the language barrier.
L: That's great. The family told me that they were very happy you all are here.
Chris: These trips have impacted my life. This is my second time coordinating trips to Mexico. I was not the designated person, but when I found that maybe this trip was going to be cancelled I stepped up to take the job. I just couldn't see breaking tradition. This trip is so important for our church. It builds relationships and strong testimonies. It's easier than an over sea missionary trip, but just as fruitful. It's affordable for the group to come with Amor Ministries. Our church rallies with us by making fundaraisers, lots of prayers and a few phone calls of encouragement on the trip down. It's just a great testimony of Faith!
Demetrio and Dolores in their old house.
This is where they use to live.
This is the group hard at work.
Dolores moved to tears unable to contain her happiness in seeing this group work so hard to build them a new house.
This is Chris from Harvest Ministries.
Demetrio helping the group building his house.
Dolores can see the group working from her back door.
Dolores in her wedding gown. One of the few things of value that they had in their little house.
Ruben, a friend of the ministry, brought down with him two young people from Cerritos, California. He was bringing donations with him and the kids wanted to see what we at Amor Ministries was all about. What was so amazing is the earnest desire to help.
Dion (about 12 years old) was so excited to learn more about the ministry in Mexico. He asked different questions like..."Do they need more books in Spanish?"..."Can they use the shoes and clothes I out grew?"... He was so stirred up that he said that next time his school had a book fair he was going to get Spanish books so he can give them to ministry. Also he made a list of all the shirts and toys that he wanted to donate. What a kid!
His sister wasn't to far behind. Brionne (about 13 years old) stared at me amazed at the fact that people could use the clothes she brought down with her. I explained to her that families at times have a hard time putting food on the table let alone buying nice clothes for their kids. She loved that fact that she too could participant in helping others.
Here is Dion and Brionne Joyner smiling as they give their donations.
Amor gave them a T-Shirt to remind them of their little trip.
Here they are witrh their aunt Naomi.
Ruben Ruiz's "giving family" has increased. Ruben, Naomi and the kids.
Ruben brought in some more school supplies and also some very cute shoes and socks. Just right for a little child with out any new shoes of his own.
Thanks again to all the donors who continualy support our efforts to give "Love" to many adults and children in Mexico!
There has been a song in my heart and in my CD player that has been a constant reminder of the journey we call "Life". The song is from a Christian singer from Columbia named Alex Campos. The song is "Al Taller del Maestro" (At The Workshop of the Master).
Ay como duele estar despierto y no poder cantar (Oh, it hurts to be awake and not be able to sing)
Como expresarte sin palabras que me muero si tu no estas (How to express without words that I feel near death if you are not with me)
Que el tiempo pasa y todo cambia; hoy lloro de soledad (That time passes and everything changes; And I cry from loneliness)
Que el sueño que llevo en el alma de repente ya no esta (That the dream that I had in my soul all of a sudden has disappeared)
Que la sonrisa ha marchado; mis lagrimas caeran (That the smile on my face has left me; my tears begin flow)
Coro: Al taller de maestro vengo pues El me curara (At the workshop of the Master I come well He will cure my pain)
Me tomara entre sus brazos y cada herida sanara (He will take me into his arms and every hurt He will heal)
Las heramientas del Maestro mi alma El rememdara (The tools of the Master my soul He will mend)
Martillo en mano y mucho fuego aunque me duela ayudara (With a hammer in His hand and much fire even if it hurts I know it will help me)
A conocerlo y entenderlo a saber que nada merezco (to know Him and understand Him to see that nothing I deserve)
Amar es mas que un pretexto es un entrega es un negar (To Love is not only an excuse but it's a surrender it's a denial of self)
Mas que aquel sentimiento es la decision de amar (More than just a feeling it's a decision to Love)
Al taller del maestro vengo (At the workshop of the Master I come)
Alli el sol saldra (There the sun will rise)
Al taller del maestro vengo (At the workshop of the Master I come)
Carpintero mi alma aqui esta (Carpenter, my soul here it is)
Al taller del maestro vengo (At the workshop of the master I come)
No importa el tiempo que alli he de estar ( It doesn't matter how long I need to stay)
Ay aquellos dias que hizo frio el sol no aparecio(Oh, the days that was so cold and the sun did not appear)
Cuando el talento no es todo (When our talent is not everything)
Y el silencio vale mas que mil palabras sin sentido (Even the silence is worth much more than thousands of words without heart)
y una vida que morira si tu no estas aqui conmigo ( And a life that would die if you are not with me)
De que sirve mi cantar? (What is the use of my singing?)
Para que la fama y las estrellas si el maestro no esta? (Why would I want fame and the stars if the Master is not there?)
Para que decirte que te amo si contigo no quiero estar? (Why would I say that I love you if I don't want to stay?)
I remember someone telling me that Alex Campos wrote this song during the most difficult time in his life. He had cysts on his vocal chords and when he had them removed the doctors told him that he would loose over 50% of his voice. For a singer that means his whole career! But then GOD! Just like in the Bible when Paul and Silas were in prison...
Acts 16:25-26... "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose."
We have been through some trials. Physically, mentally, emotionally and in every way it seems like we were all in a stronghold. Now we rejoice because even in the "Workshop of the Master" we find the miracles we need...Even when it comes at the midnight hour!
I met this family on my way to camp. They live near the communities of Terrazas and El Niño. They live on a land whose owner requires them make from 300 - 500 bricks a day. The owner only pays them $15.00 per day. It's hard backbreaking work that calluses the hands and breaks the heart. Breaks the heart because it doesn't allow much to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. The father was more than gracious to show us his work even the children work diligently to help their father.
The mother of the family quietly asked if we could please help them in any way. The good part is that I had plenty of food to leave them...Beans, rice, tuna and cookies for the kids. She was so grateful because they did not have any food left...we came at their "midnight hour".
"And Jesus went about the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was "moved" with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few.
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into harvest." Matthew 9:35-38
Have you ever been "moved"? I don't mean someone who physically pushes or pulls you into a direction, but actually a feeling down deep in your gut that stirs you. It's something that causes a chain reaction in your soul. This "moving" I'm talking about is something that can't be put down or ignored. This same "moving" caused Jesus to overextend himself and do more than what was required of Him. Friday I felt this feeling of being "moved with compassion". Where to even start...
Amor Ministries has been working hard on the production of the "Casa de Amor" video. Friday, Alon, myself, and a crew of photographers went to Tijuana, Mexico to take pictures of families who daily struggle with the stronghold of poverty. I came along to interpret and to facilitate the photo shoot for the photographers. I never imagined the impact that these families were going to have on me.
Off of the main road going into the community of "El Niño" there are families living in dilapidated shacks dangerously close to railroad tracks and main electrical towers. These families are barely thriving and work in extreme conditions to put food on the table. How I encountered this family was when I stopped near the house and a little boy named Jose came up to me on his bike. He had a very warm smile and asked why were there. I told him that we were working on a project and if he thought that his mom would not mind if we talked with their family. Jose with his sweet smile told me that we were welcome to come. As I walked closer my heart sank. I've been exposed to poverty in my lifetime but at this instant the sight of this family's living conditions "moved" me.
As I got closer I noticed an older lady cleaning cactus (nopales) with a dull knife and cutting them into little pieces and placing them into plastic bags to sell. Her sun worn skin showed the years of pain. She lived in a two room shack with her husband and four grandchildren. Her daughter lived near by with her three children in pretty much the same conditions. All the children were so happy to see us that they immediately asked questions and chatted with us non-stop. I spoke with the grandmother who told me that they were on this property due to the fact that they had no where else to go. She suffers from a condition that has left her legs stiff and she is unable to walk so she and her grandchildren clean cactus and sell them in the near by community. I marveled at their tenacity to keep going. Her husband makes tombstones for the nearby cementary. His calloused hands and hunched shoulders spoke volumes to me. Young girls ranging from 8 to 16 years-old playfully showed me their dolls. Young boys ranging from 7 to 12 years-old showed off their little muscles. I could not just turn away to their need. They on the other hand did not even ask anything from us. Except the grandmother asked if we could find a wheelchair for her because the one she had was not working properly.
I was "moved" to tears.
I was "moved" to give.
I was "moved" with compassion.
The kids adopted me as their own. Showing me their rooms. Wanting me to play "duck, duck, goose" with them. Telling me their silly jokes and riddles. Having me teach them a lesson because they wanted to play school. I felt torn up inside. I did however take some donations with me. Donations that Sheri L. had brought in to the office. Beautiful plates, a bowl and some drinking glasses. Another donation donated by Jen L. a sleeping bag was a big hit with the grandmother who said that she wanted something like that to keep her warm from the cold. I also went to the nearest market and bought beans, tuna, tortillas, and cookies for the kids. Not much in our eyes, but a bountiful harvest for this family. Plus, I recently bought Bibles in Spanish and I took eight Bibles with me. Well, all but one Bible found a home!
I challenge you where ever you are at to be "moved with compassion". A compassion that cannot turn away and ignore the need, but a compassion that takes action.
This is Jose showing off his little puppies. He was the one who found us on the side of the road.
Ths is the grandmother who welcomed us to her home.
The family's income was brought in by selling sodas, cactus and the grandfather making tombstones.
This is a picture of these awesome kids. I will never forget the loved that they showed us.
Here I am in the middle of the crew.
Alon had his fair share of "playtime" too.
Here are the kids eating the cookies I bought them.
My little "boyfriend" Manuel.
Monica loved to show off. Here she is in a barrel trying to hide from the photographers.
Such a little ham!
This young girl told us that last year when she celebrated her fifteenth birthday "Quinceñera"(which is a big event in Mexico) her family bought her a dress and a beautiful doll. She also said that they went a few days with out eating to be able to get her the dress.
The kids having a great time with Alon. They were wanting him to give them horse rides over and over again!
I was teaching them a new game... Bubble gum, Bubble gum in a dish...
This was the family's kitchen...an open fire.
Here's grandma with kids grateful for the donations I left them.
The grandmother was so moved that she asked me if she could hug me. Her tears rolled freely as I took her into my arms and prayed with her. She said to me that they all are Christians and she knew that God had sent us there.
As I drove away I took this final picture. Leaving them behind was difficult. I told Alon if only I had a "Million Dollars". Of course, they are not the only ones with desperate needs, but I am thankful for the opportunity for us all to be used by God and grateful also that I could experience what Jesus felt when He saw the multitude...He was moved with compassion.
We have had such an awesome response to the "Back to School" program! I love how people come to action when presented with a need. It's like taking a lighted torch in a olympic event. One person carries it so far then another person takes it even a bit further until it reaches it's ultimate goal.
One person has taken the initiative to use the "Back to School" program for their Vacation Bible School, another one has made his goal to go to retailers in his city and tell them about the need and how they can help and still another person, who is a school teacher, has the wonderful idea of not receiving gifts for Christmas, but have her students bring school supplies to give to the needy children of Mexico and this goes on and on. Until the ultimate goal of having over 200 backpacks to give to the children of Mexico! Even our volunteers that come and help at our office get involved by stuffing the supplies inside the backpacks. It's such an inspiration to me when I see the excitement in giving.
"I love Amor Ministries! I have over 100 packages of school supplies to give to the kids of Mexico. I enjoy shopping because it gives me an opportunity to meet managers and owners of different stores that catch the vision of Amor." Quote from Ruben R. of Cerritos, California.
"Boy, are you going to have your work cut out for you! Friday was our last day at VBS and we totaled up the supplies and I have the numbers for you. We had a total of 135 kids participate in VBS and they were all so excited about collecting supplies for kids that really needed them. The parents thought that it was an amazing ministries and really easy to do! Here goes! We collected:
82 packs of loose paper
14 packs of graph paper
193 spiral notebooks
8 3-ring binders
59 packs of index cards
114 bottles of glue
126 boxes of crayons
80 boxes of pencils
45 boxes of colored pencils
51 pairs of scissors
9 boxes of markers
29 boxes of pens
122 pencils sharperns
4 pencils boxes
1 pack of highliters
1 large pack of contruction paper
and 31 backpacks
"Isn't that amazing!" Katie H. from Washington.
"I returned to the Chicago area last night after spending a short week in Tijuana with Amor and my group from Community Christian Church.
This was my first ever mission trip, and I was so deeply stirred by the conditions these people live in. I know I will work in Tijuana again, and I am thankful for the work your organization does.
I have a favor to ask, and if I have not chosen the correct person to contact, I would hope you would send this email on. At the end of our week, the families of the "3rd of October" neighborhood/street served us lunch on the school grounds.
I teach fifth grade here and, so, was interested in seeing the school's classrooms. Though I understand school was not in session, I was upset (of all things, this caused me to cry) by the condition of the classroom and the materials.
I teach fifth grade in Batavia IL, and each year my students give me gifts at Christmas. Because there's nothing I need, and because I live in a small home, I usually ask that they just write a card or give a gift to the classroom. This year I may suggest they give a gift to the school I visited on my mission trip last week. I also have some access to quality paperback books in Spanish through Scholastic Book Clubs, so I will start collecting those.When I went to Mexico last week, I brought with me two tablets of paper and two packs of markers. I watched the kids during the week, and hard as it was, I selected two to quietly give this small gift to. They treated them like gold, and they ran home to keep them safe, so I asked my interpreter to ask if they liked to draw. They both smiled and nodded their heads and said, "Very much." Markers will be on the list!" Ellen from Chicago
In my recent blog I told you about the Ayala Duarte family. In one of the statements from Alma Ayala Duarte she said that she wanted this experience of receiving a house to serve as a testimony to her husband. Well, our Seasonal Field Staff member TJ just told me that last night when the group took the family to camp to have dinner with them they asked Fernando Ayala Duarte, Sr. if he wanted to accept Christ as his Savior and he said, YES! There's a party in heaven just as we speak... That's why we do what we do here at Amor Ministries to show others the practical love of God and to make it an avenue for them to receive God as the caring heavenly Father He is!
Dad Fernando happy to not only receive a house, but also a Savior!