Friday, June 29, 2007

Kingdom Encounters

Sunday, June 24th:

Tim decided that we should enjoy the experience of taking a Mexican bus into Zacatecas for church this morning, which was an adventure in itself! We arrived early for church, and Tim said that we should go out on the street and hand out invitations to church. I stayed behind to photocopy some invitations, and when I caught up with Tim and John, they were already talking to a man sitting in the doorway of the church. He had a cast on his leg, and I guessed him to be about 50 years old. I could tell he was in some distress, and I saw Tim begin to pray for him.

After Tim was done praying, he explained to me that the man (Jesús) was 31 years old, had severe diabetes, and had been addicted to cocaine. His blood sugar level was extremely high, and he did not have the money to buy the insulin that he needed. You don't always know if these people are on the up and up, but he did have several prescriptions that looked legitimate, and Tim decided to buy the insulin for him. They gave him the insulin, and invited him to come to the church service. One minute, he said he would come, and the next, he wanted to leave. He ultimately did leave, and you could almost literally watch the battle going on in his life. Looking at that man, I know his days are numbered, except for the divine intervention of God. I pray that divine intervention started today.

At the end of the service a lady came up for prayer because she had been suffering from a collapsed lung. Pastor Juan asked me to help him pray for her. I put my hands on her, and the same thing happened that has happened each time before; I could feel a surge of power that felt like electricity going through my hands.

After the church service was over, the lady and her sister invited all of us over to their family home for dinner. We arrived at their house, which was very simple and modest, and the ladies immediately began bustling around arranging the tables and chairs, and the sounds of chopping and mixing could be heard coming from the kitchen. We truly felt like the guests of honor, and they began bringing in plate after plate of food.

The first course they started with was "Menudo". At first, it looked like it might be tortilla soup, but I quickly found out that it was the infamous soup that contained cow stomach, yes, I said stomach. I knew that I couldn't eat a whole bowl, but that I had to try at least a little. After all, when in Rome (or Zacatecas)....and besides, how many people can say that they've eaten cow stomach??? The soup itself was actually quite tasty, but the piece of cow stomach tasted like you were chewing on a piece of white rubber!

Then, they started bringing out the tacos. There were a couple of different kinds, and they said that one of them was called "Lengua", which I found out was actually beef tongue. I found the beef tongue to be quite tender and delicious; better than the regular beef ones.

The food kept coming and coming, until finally I couldn't eat any more! All of the fellowshipping is done around the table here in México. Many times I've noticed in the smaller Méxican homes that they don't seem to have a living room, or even any living room furniture. But that is because when guests come over, a meal is served, and then all of the talking is done while sitting around the table. There is actually something very homey and intimate about it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Child's Laugh-Medicine for the Soul

Today, we took a group of street kids (there were 23 kids and 5 adults in Tim's van) on an outing to a ranch outside of town. There is a Mexican man and his wife who are working with kids who have single mothers, who are addicted to drugs/prostitution. A wonderful lady who used to live in California who now lives on this ranch has offered to give a piece of her land to Lalo and his wife to build a house for these kids.

We took them out to see the ranch today, and did some of our VBS program with them. I could cry just writing about it - those kids were so excited when they got in the van, you could almost touch it. The little boys were tough, almost all of them were dirty; you could tell that some of the girls had seen too much, and I fell in love with them all. They break my heart. Lalo pointed out some of the older ones to me (7 or 8 yrs. old) and said they all were addicted to sniffing glue when he first met them. He has taken some of them into his home to live with him & his wife. He showed me a picture of the place where one child was living, and it was a room filled with garbage, and nothing else. I wanted to break down and sob when he showed me that picture.

At first, they are a little leery of you, but when they realize that you want to give them your attention, they are all over you! I took pictures of some of the boys doing break dancing tricks for me; music truly is a universal language. The littlest children (2 or 3 yrs. old) got SO excited when I would take their picture with my digital camera and show it to them on the screen, it was absolutely precious!

I was in heaven when I saw this ranch - it was beautiful! Rich tones of adobe brick blended beautifully into its surroundings, with big beautiful shade trees to sit under. It was incredible! What a wonderful place for these troubled children to live. I know I was ready to stay! They had these goats and sheep there, and when you would walk over to the pen they would all start "Baaaaing" at once! It was hilarious, and I thought, "I bet that's what we sound like to God most of the time!"

We stayed until about two o'clock, and we must have played them out, because most of them fell asleep on the way back. There was one little one sitting right behind me (about 3 yrs. old) and I started playing peek-a-boo with her, and then she was putting her hand on my shoulder, and I would try to catch her. She laughed so hard she had everyone laughing around her. It was a great day, and I found it very encouraging. It's a very quiet evening at home, but it's nice and a perfect end to a day I want to savor. God is so good J

Friday, June 22, 2007

God's Touch

Thursday, June 14th:

I've been sitting up here this morning doing a little birdwatching. They have the most beautiful birds here. I saw a red one in one of the trees, and I kept praying that it would come closer, until it finally flew into the tree right in front of me. And my friend the eagle has been soaring around out there too. I'm actually going to miss sitting out here on the side of this mountain everyday. I was thinking that there are probably only a few hundred people that have ever been able to come here and experience this. It makes me realize how privileged I am.

We went and did an outreach in the town of Canoas yesterday. It is supposedly the capital for the Tepehuans that the Mexican government built, and although they do now have electricity, when you drive down into the little town, the homes are all these little buildings built out of planks, with a doorway, and one little opening cut out for a window, with no glass of course.

The people were already gathered and waiting for us, and Lorenzo's team began to sing some songs and do dramas etc. I walked around and took few discreet pictures, and then I went and sat down next to an older Tepehuan lady who was sitting along the front of one of the buildings. I spoke to her and introduced myself, and then I asked her who the little girl was that was with her. She looked to be about a year old.

The lady explained that this was her granddaughter, and that she had been sick lately and was not eating. I said to the lady that I would pray for her, and she immediately picked the little girl up and sat her over next to me. I explained to the lady that I was going to pray in English, but that God would hear me.

When I placed my hand on the little girl, it immediately began to burn, and I prayed against the sickness in her body, and I spoke the healing of Jesus over her. I commanded satan to leave her body and her life. A little while later, the lady began to tell me that she was having toruble with pain in her shoulder and across her chest. I asked her if she wanted me to pray for her, and she immediately agreed. I placed one hand on her back and the other on her chest where the pain was. This time the feeling was even more intense, and my hand began to burn and shake. I knew that something incredible was being released into her life. I commanded satan to leave her alone. I began to pray in both Spanish and English, and then I just prayed in tongues because the feeling was so intense. The lady took her shawl and put it over her head and began to cry. I was very touched by this because the Tepehuan people do not cry very often in public. I hope that I will be able to see her when we go up again in July so that I can hear about the incredible things God has done in her life.

The Thunder Roars

Wednesday, June 13th:

Well, it's been an interesting morning so far - we had pancakes on the menu for breakfast - pancakes have always been a problem up here, but when you have to make pancakes for 40 people it's even more of a problem! Kelly (from Houston) started out trying to make them on tortilla pans, which did not work at all. Then we switched to the two big frying pans they have, but we couldn't get them to heat evenly over the propane burners. I told them we had used small frying pans before, so I started to look for them, and when I finally found them, they hadn't been used in so long they were rusted! So, we switched to using one big frying pan on the big propane burner we had, and we immediately ran out of propane! Sammy brought another tank and hooked it up, and we started out again only to discover that the new propane tank was empty! The prospects for pancakes were looking dim, but the guys decided to go outside and build a fire to cook them over, but they had no wood, so they went to gather some, but the wood was all wet because of the huge thunderstorm that we had last night! I just heard that they did finally get the fire going, so I'll have to go see how these pancakes are going to turn out! We definitely ain't in Canada anymore!

I just have to say this about the thunderstorm - that you really haven't experienced one until you've experienced one at 10,000 feet up in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico! We are so high up that you are actually in the thunderstorm when it goes through. The thunder is so loud and right on top of you that it sounds like canons going off. And the lightning is constant, and lights up the whole sky when it flashes. I was so glad that we were safe inside the big building this time (we were in the cabins before - Tim says that the wind has actually moved them before!) And with no electricity, there were no TV's or appliances to blow up! I kept thinking about the guys who had hiked over to the Huichol village sleeping out in this, and about the hundreds of Indians who live throughout these mountains who have no homes whatsoever, who sleep in caves, or under trees and beside rocks. It rains so hard I don't know how you'd ever get away from it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Heartbeat of Worship

Tuesday, June 12th around 12 noon,

I´m just trying to catch my breath from hiking to my favorite spot at the top of the hill (we are at 10,000 feet, which is about two miles up.) I am sitting here looking out over the mountains, with the white clouds just skimming over the top of them, listening to the breeze sighing through the pine trees, and breathing in their delicious scent.

The sun has come out in full for the first time today, and it is absolutely beautiful. The birds are singing, and the breeze is nice and cool, which makes the temperature just perfect. When the sun is shining here you feel that you are only about two miles away from heaven, but when one of those big clouds roll in and you can only see for a few feet in front of you, you think that maybe you´ve been forgotten at the end of the earth.

I am just watching a little lizard that is about an inch and a half long sun himself on a rock. (I am hoping quite fervently that I don´t run into any snakes!) There is a big pile of rock not far from where I am sitting that Lorenzo says is a border marker between here and the next state. He also says the witch doctors have gathered around these rocks before and tried to put curses on the church and the bible school that he was starting. Lorenzo says that when they first started to clear the land for the church, that there were snakes and scorpions everywhere, but that there are hardly any now. Thank God!

I have to say that one of the things that touches me the most is the little prayer meeting that they have here at seven o´clock every morning. They ring a big bell and the people walk from all around the area to this little building with a tin roof and no heat, and they will sing worship songs in Spanish, with no music, maybe sometimes a guitar, and then they will break off into the song of the Lord, which sometimes may be in several different keys, but to me, I think it must be the most beautiful sound that heaven has ever heard. I just keep thinking, Lord, you hear these people, way up in these mountains that most of the world doesn´t even know about, bringing, to me, what a true sacrifice of praise is. I am sure that all of heaven goes silent just to hear it. It absolutely breaks me, and all I can do is weep when I hear it. I would fly for 12 hours and drive for 7 more just to hear that worship again.

Four of the guys from our team left this morning (including Tim, and he´d better make it back so he can drive us home!) to hike 9 hours through the mountains to a small Huichol Indian village that Lorenzo has made contact with. They will have to stay overnight, and hike for 12 hours tomorrow to get back. I knew that it was going to be a hard trip, but I did not fully understand the danger until Lorenzo had us pray for them this morning, and he warned them that they had to be very careful how they conducted themselves around these people. He said that a reporter had gone out there one time and taken some pictures of one of the little children. The men from the Huichol tribe chased him down and killed him. I thought to myself, this is the real deal. There are people right here in North America that have never been reached, that these men may be risking their lives to reach out to. My prayers for them and this trip have taken on a whole new dimension.

It is now 12:45 and I am supposed to go in and start preparing lunch, but I don´t want to! I could sit out here on this mountain the whole day.


Sunday, June 10th 2:00 p.m.

We are sitting here in the parking lot at the Soriana Dept. store, and the team from Texas has just arrived. I can´t get over how macho all of these gusy are! They´re just young, but they have that Texas swagger (including the big belt buckles!) to them. Dan´s wife´s name is Kelly, and seems like a very nice lady. We are going to be in charge of the kitchen together. We´ll have to see how cooking for 40 people on an ancient propane stove with no electricity goes!

We went into the Soriana while we were waiting, and on the way in, there was a young woman sitting on the ground with 3 or 4 children aournd her. All of their clothes were dirty, and I could tell that they were quite poor. But the thing that gets to me the most is the look on their faces. It´s something that I find hard to even put into words. It´s the look of survival. The look of hopelessness. I looked right into her eyes and smiled at her, and she just stared back at me. I gave her $40 pesos when I came out again.

Life is hard for the people here in Mexico. It is written on their faces. It makes me love them even more.

I was really excited this morning about the drive up to the mountains, but now I´m feeling a little homesick. I always find the afternoons the hardest, not sure why. The mountains and the countryside are absolutely beautiful, but so different from anything I´m used to at home. It makes me realize how far away I am from anything familiar. It also makes me realize how much I depend on all of the things that are familiar to me to give me a sense of comfort and a sense of who I am.

I can see the mountains looming up in front of us that we are going to cross. Tim says it takes about 6 to 7 hours to get there from his home. This really is an incredible opportunity that very few people get to experience. Tim says that the Huichol Indians are an almost totally unreached group of people. The vast majority of them have never even heard of God or Jesus, or even seen a white man. Tim is hoping to visit a Huichol Village that is about two days away from the camp to see about planting a church there. He said that one time a group of Huichols were walking through the mountains to visit Lorenzo´s church, and there was a little boy with them who did not show up when they arrived at the church. When they went back to look for him, they found that he had died along the trail. They think that he may have had pneumonia or something. How incredibly sad.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mexico Adventure Begins!

Well I arrived in Mexico safe and sound! (Well, I don't know how sound I felt yesterday!) It was a really long day, and I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was go to bed. I felt really homesick, and thought that if the next ten weeks were going to feel like this, I didn't know if I was going to make it! I slept really well through the night; so I’m feeling much better today, and no headache, praise God!

We came in to the Vineyard church here in Zacatecas first thing to use the computers. It is a beautiful sunny day, but the air is nice and cool which is great. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to take a shower this morning because the water went off yesterday, but it was back on, so things are looking up! Oh, the things we take for granted at home.

I have been thinking about the missionaries in the old days, and the ones that journey to the middle of nowhere where they have no contact with anyone from back home, and I have no idea how they did it. I don't know what I would do if I could not be in contact with the people that I love back home. This ten weeks in Mexico is nothing compared to what they have done.

I can feel your prayers, and I have a whole new understanding of what it means to people who are away to know that people are praying for them. Sometimes that's all we have to hang on to. I would appreciate your prayers for next weeks planned trip to the mountains with a group of 25 people. I'll not be able to email updates while there, but pray the Lord lays me on your heart when I need it :-)

While I was typing this email the pastor came over and asked me to help him pray for this young lady in the church who felt that she was being oppressed by a demon - she felt depressed and couldn't sleep at night because she felt that something was coming in and sitting on top of her. We prayed, and I felt I should put my hands on the back of her shoulders as I did, my hands just started to burn, and after a while she told the pastor that she could feel something being pulled out from the middle of her shoulders, but that it was not completely gone. We started to pray and come against the devil by the blood of Jesus, and after a while she started to cry and said that it was gone.

Wow, not bad for the first day!
OK, I'm feeling much better about this trip already. God is so amazing. I can hardly believe that this just happened! I'm still shaking my head! I pray that I will not miss one of these opportunities by being caught up in my own uncertainty or feeling overwhelmed. Thank you Lord for what you just did for me today.