Dios te bendiga & hasta luego!

To start the day off, we grabbed our sandwiches, gear, and set off for our very last day of VBS ministry. We arrived to the smiling faces of children at Iglesia el gran rey, and instantly I was sad that we had to leave, despite the oppressive heat and humidity. We unloaded our sports equipment and the children promptly lost their minds at the prospect of our dusty hula-hoops and jump ropes. We played with them for a while, and then the session began. A small girl who had perched on my lap cowered in terror when the infamous gorilla sprung out of the shadows during the skits, but thankfully there were no crying toddlers this time. Everything went very smoothly, as our team made the whole lesson run like a well-oiled machine.

After the craft, we went outside and played soccer. However, most of us Canadians whipped out our phones and started taking rapid-fire selfies with the kids. The goodbyes were long and drawn out, as each tiny kid wrapped their arms around us and gave us multiple fist bumps and high fives. I was pretty sad to inevitably watch them all scamper back up the dusty streets to their homes one by one. After our lunch break, a handful of the older kids and others returned for the youth ministry portion of our day, in which I was given the opportunity to share my testimony! We paused our games of soccer to pray and share my testimony, which was good to get off my chest in the end. After a while, we all piled back into that beige van and drove away from the church for the last time.

Most people in the community were attending their church services tonight, but Pastor Marco’s church have their evening services on Wednesday. The service the previous night was very good, with awesome music and a testimony sharing time, in which Ashley and Shay got to share their stories. Kent then preached with our amazing translator Leslye’s assistance while the rest of us went downstairs for children’s ministry.

Back to today. After we cleaned up the church we drove away, hit up a grocery store (Soriana), and then came back to Agua Viva. When it was time for supper, Kent handed me the keys to our van to let me drive down to the dining hall, because the walk down is like crossing the Sahara. We all piled in, and I got to drive a thrilling four hundred meters to the dining hall. Everyone thought I would crash the van, however, I dispelled those preconceived notions by being the best driver ever! After our delicious supper of burritos, we came back to the quad to cool off on the balcony, debrief about our two weeks, share our highlights and what we learned, pray, and plan for our weekend in the Los Angeles area! Currently, we’re still hanging out here, listening to Riley and Ashley argue over baby names.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers these past two weeks! The most difficult part is over, so prayers for energy over this weekend while we enjoy LA would be most appreciated. We will be leaving tomorrow around noon Winnipeg time and it will be a long journey to LA with the wait at the border. We will try to post an update on this blog and photos on our Facebook page during the weekend when possible.

Abbey (with additions and edits by Kent)

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Mi casa es su casa!

After having a delicious breakfast this morning, we grabbed all our supplies and headed out to the church. Upon arrival, some of the team started to get to work on the skit preparations, the rest of us went outside to play games in the blistering heat. Across the road from the church, there is a dirt field with old rubber tires that serve as a boundary where the games are played. After playing snatch the bacon and octopus, we came into the church and began our VBS program.

There were the catchy songs first, and then the skit began. During one portion of the skit, there was a part that involved Desi screeching at the top of his lungs in a gorilla suit. If you can imagine how well that went in a room full of tiny Mexican ninõs (kiddos)…In short, they went ballistic. Four little ninõs started screaming and crying while their mothers laughed. Contrary to today’s reaction, we’re still bringing out the gorilla again tomorrow. Pray for the children. Anyway, after that little debacle, a great Bibe lesson, and a cute craft about the fruit of love, we enjoyed a snack with our friends! After snack, we played a few more games before saying adios until tomorrow.

After lunch, the teens came and there were endless soccer matches, in which we the Canadians were spanked by the Mexicans. It was downright embarrassing. But at least it made the youth happy to slam-dunk us into the dirt through and laugh at our efforts, so that was a highlight. Sweaty and lethargic, we were graciously invited back to Pastor Marco’s house for some ice cream, watermelon, and fellowship. When we arrived at their house, Abbey and Nolan promptly fell asleep on the couch after eating a cup of ice cream. Pastor Marcos then gave us a tour of their casa, showed pictures from when the church was planted around 1999, and his fruit and vegetables growing in their yard. They even have two hens that provide eggs! It is amazing all of the things they are able to grow in this climate.

Pastor Marcos then gave Kent a haircut in the middle of his living room, and Desi made another vlog. Marcos is a great stylist that has been cutting hair for years and Kent has never looked better! After a rather snazzy haircut, we said our goodbyes to the Pastor and his family and then headed back to Agua Viva. We rolled into camp just in time for a weirdly fancy dinner! For dinner, we had unseasoned white chicken breast with potatoes. We also were blessed to hear about the many aspects of the ministry of Agua Viva. After supper, we went back to the quad and started prepping for our next round of VBS tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who’s been praying for us. We’ll especially need it as we power through the last couple days and try to keep our energy up while California and Universal Studios Theme Park is in our sights. Please pray for energy and willing hearts for serving the Lord here!

Iglesia el gran rey!

This morning, after grabbing some breakfast and preparing sandwiches for later that afternoon, we headed to Pastor Marco’s church (Iglesia el gran rey) to run our Vacation Bible School (VBS) program, general labour, and soccer with the youth. Before we arrived at the church, we stopped at Bodega Aurrera to pick up snacks for the week of ministry. This store is basically a Mexico version of a Costco and translated means “cheap pantry.” Kent loves this store and finds any excuse to shop there.

But on this stop, God used this as an opportunity for our team to minister to a woman and her daughter. While Kent and Riley were picking up snacks, a woman approached Olivia who is a staff member at Agua Viva. Maria asked if we were Christians as she noticed us pull up in our 15 passenger van which is often used by groups on mission trips. When Olivia said yes, Maria asked if we could pray for her and her family because they are going for a very difficult time. Maria is looking after her ill mother and brother and recently lost her job. They will soon be evicted from their house because she has been unable to pay for rent. Maria never asked for money, she simply asked us to pray for her and the whole situation. We, of course, were willing to pray for her and we all gathered outside our van and prayed for her in English and Spanish. After we prayed she thanked us and many of us gave her and her daughter a hug. We were all moved by this experience and we have continued to pray for her throughout the day and during our meeting tonight. It was difficult at first to only pray for her and not have an opportunity to help Maria in a more tangible way. But upon reflecting on it more, we realise that we were faithful to what God asked of us and what Maria requested. We simply obeyed and trust that God will work in Maria’s situation and answer all of our prayers. God is bigger than our abilities and is not limited by our human perspective.

After navigating through the dusty, bumpy streets, we arrived at the church. Once we were there, it was a flurry of activity, quickly setting up our VBS program and adding the finishing touches to the props for the skit. We started off with some fun Spanish songs, and then the skit began. First up, it was Riley and Liam, followed by Riley and Abbey. Our skits went off without a hitch, and then the crafts began. The children coloured a paper with the object of their lesson on it and then taped it to a flowerpot. Once that was done, we would fill their pots with soil, wildflower seeds and water, so they would learn about patience through the slow growth of the little flowers.

After the crafts, we doled out snacks and then collapsed onto chairs once they left for the day. VBS is exhausting once you really just sit down and breathe after it’s all over. After we ate a long lunch with a weirdly long break, we got right into the labour portion of the day. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy. While the boys filled potholes outside, the womenfolk stayed in the shade and just swept the floor. Strict cultural traditions kept the girls cool throughout the duration of the work period, so that was a plus. After the work, we played soccer and other games with the youth we worked with, and then Nolan shared his testimony with us all about an hour into the sports time. Finally, after we were all drained, hot, and sleepy, we piled into the van and drove back to the camp. At the camp, we relaxed for a bit, had supper, and then came back to the quad.

Sorry for the brevity of this post, but the days are getting long and there is always much work to do to prepare for the next day. As always, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page as we love to hear from our family and friends back home! Please visit our Facebook page for continual updates and pictures of our daily activities. Thank you for your prayers and love!

Everybody’s working for the weekend.

We’ve had a busy but enjoyable weekend! On Saturday most of the team had a chance for a bit of a sleep in Kent left at 8:00 a.m. to pick up Ashley & Riley in San Diego. They joined us for the rest of our ministry time and it was wonderful to see them again! After a quick stop for an amazing Chick-fil-A lunch and to pick up some of our final supplies for our Vacation Bible School program at Iglesia el gran rey this week. Ash, Riley, and Kent met back up with the rest of the team at Alfonso’s pizza, which was a delicious change of pace from the amazing Mexican food we have been eating most days.

While Kent was off to San Diego, Desi and the rest of the team and some of the Agua Viva staff headed for the beach. This was a great time to relax and enjoy time by the Pacific Ocean. After grabbing some interesting seafood tacos, we headed down to the beach. The ocean was amazing! The water was beautiful shades of blue, and upon further inspection, the waves were massive and slightly terrifying. The water was salty to the extreme as the youth made their way into the water. The waves were so powerful that they would knock you off your feet and send you tumbling several meters whilst desperately holding your breath. We stayed in the ocean for quite some time and then baked in the sun for an hour. We all turned about eight shades darker, or in some people’s cases, eight shades redder, in the span of sixty minutes. So, all in all, the beach time in that afternoon was awesome.

This morning we were blessed to attend Vino Nuevo Comunidad Cristián and enjoyed the service. The worship team was the very same one that was at the youth camp, so there was some familiarity there. After the service, we grabbed lunch at Macroplaza del Mar, a very authentic Mexican meal of Burger King, and some desserts for those of us with a sweet tooth. Then we piled into our van and zoomed away into the mountains to visit La Boufadora! It was a rather interesting place with lots of little shops crammed into the narrow street. As you walk down the street, you’re bombarded with the scents of baked goods, and people yelling at you to buy their products. The whole experience was very new and a little overwhelming at times, but it was very fun to watch Riley, Ashley, and Kent barter their way into cheaper prices for our goods that we purchased. We were all tired and hot as we piled into the van again and headed back to Agua Viva.

When we got back, we ate some supper and headed back to the quad to meet and finalise our plans for VBS tomorrow with Pastor Marcos at Iglesia el gran rey. We’ll also assist with general labour and soccer with teens in the afternoon.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We’ll update how our first day of ministry with Pastor Marcos goes tomorrow evening!

Hasta la vista amigos ~ Youth camp concludes!

This morning some of our team woke up early for a hike to the top of the big hill with the campers at youth camp staff here at Agua Viva. Actually, since we are from Manitoba it really is like a massive mountain to us. The speaker Timmy Ost wanted to pray for the campers as they overlooked the beautiful valley below. Agua Viva is truly a gift from God and displays God’s beautiful creation!

We then enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast and were blessed to have 3 of the counsellors briefly share with our team about their faith journey and experiences at youth camp over the years. They also expressed their appreciation for all that we did this week and that we would travel all the way from Canada to do so. This once again reminded our team of the value of what we have done and will do in the week ahead, as we serve the wonderful people of Mexico. After this special time, we cleaned up our sports equipment that we used during the week and then thoroughly cleaned our quad cabin. Yes, everyone did their part and there is no excuse for any of the youth to not help out at home if they don’t do so already!

After our quad  cleaning was completed, we said adios to the campers and had another delicious lunch before we left for Ensenada. Our buddy “Chapo” (Fernando) and sister Mariana led us to where the laundromat was before bidding us farewell. We dropped off our clothes and then headed to the tourist zone to explore and also to the waterfront. Ty bartered for a pair of sunglasses while Shay got her braided. The rest of us kept our hands in our pockets as we plan to go to La Bufadora on Sunday afternoon to do some shopping.

After walking around for a few hours, we were hungry and headed for delicious tacos at a place Chapo recommended. Dinner was fabulous and the fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa complimented the flavour of the tacos immensely. The cilantro in the pico de gallo was especially delightful! We then headed for a few breakfast groceries at Calimax before picking up our freshly laundered and folded clothes. It is pretty crazy to think that it cost approximately $3.80 USD each to have a big bag of laundry done for us!

We are now back at Agua Viva relaxing and sharing stories on our deck, allowing the breeze to cool us off since our quad currently feels like 200 degrees. Tomorrow we will get to sleep in for a bit before heading to the beach in the afternoon. Actually, Kent will be leaving for San Diego at 8:00 a.m. to pick up Riley & Ashley who will be joining our team for the rest of our trip! Please pray for safe travels and smooth border crossings for them as well as safety for our team and Agua Viva staff while in Ensenada . Once Riley, Ashley, and Kent arrive we will have dinner and then a meeting to get everything prepared for our second week of ministry.

Thank you for your continued interest and prayers for our team! Dios te bendiga!

 

 

Do not eat a habanero pepper…ever!

On Wednesday night, after another fantastic chapel service, we lead a “Minute to Win it” game, where there were many challenges that one representative from each team had to complete in order to be the top dog. The excitement lasted for a long time until we went to bed.

This morning, after eating breakfast, we were blessed with a break before our morning games, which I was mercifully able to ref from the shade of a tree house. Thankfully, in the shade of that tree house, it was only a mere three million degrees with the humidity and hot winds. Liam and were perched in the tree house and got to witness the awe-inspiring cheers of the two teams we judged. He made some points, I made some points, and in the end after careful deliberation, it was clear that Team Germany was like watered down kool-aid in comparison to the masterpiece of Team Brazil.

After the morning games, we had some awesome a stir-fry type of meal for lunch, and then the afternoon games commenced. The afternoon games involved relay races with the sports teams in the dry field. We all perished under the sun’s wrath as we were scorched right down to the soles of our feet. Some of the relays were water based, but I definitely was more soaked than any other camper there on account of my constant cooling off with the sponges we used. After the games, there was a bunch of free time that some of us used for socializing with the campers, whereas I just slept. Then there was dinner, and I finally joined my friends to go hang out with the campers at the basketball court.

On our journey to the basketball court, we were treated to the image of Ty carrying a tiny kid on his shoulders and screaming the chorus of a song for five minutes straight – good times! Once we were there and waiting for chapel to start, I finally got to know the other teenagers, and we discussed our cultural differences. I picked up one or two Spanish phrases, so I guess you could say I’m practically one of them now. Our group made our way down to the outdoor chapel area, and then the worship started. Powerful as usual, the chapel service was the highlight of my evening. Except, Shay, unfortunately, took a beating due to the Haberno pepper she ate as part of a challenge that she had to do. It was a part of a game the campers participated in, and my friend next to me said (and I quote), “It was cruel to make a white person eat the pepper,” whilst laughing. She was quite sick but is now feeling much better.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! The campers leave tomorrow after breakfast and then we’ll help clean up the campsite before heading to Ensenada to do some laundry and site seeing.

Abbey (with a few additions and edits by Kent)

We like it hot, hot, hot!

To continue from yesterday, the chapel service was incredible. It brought tears to my eyes with the intensity and magnitude of the worship time. Everyone was so genuine and full of love for the Lord, it was a lot to take in. After an emotional time and a really cool speaker sharing his life stories, we then commenced with the “Catch The Canadians” game. We paired up with the different summer staff to act as our translators, and then scurried off into the darkness to hide away. Unfortunately, some of us (me) were found almost instantly and were bombarded by a flurry of rapid Spanish and papers being shoved in our faces for us to sign. Others of us paid a different kind of price for staying hidden throughout the entire duration of the game. When we met back up, I was somehow unsurprised that Nolan was literally soaked in his own sweat from hiding in a utility closet. The most impressive thing about that whole situation was how much sweat he and his translator produced in an hour. If I had to guess, I’d say that it was about enough to keep all the campers of Agua Viva hydrated for two weeks. But enough about that. The game ended, and we went to bed, exhausted.

In the morning, we ate our breakfast and then got right to our work for the afternoon games. We filled up a bunch of water balloons, which thoroughly soaked some of us in the process. After that, we got ready for the games and coached them. The teams played Three Way Soccer and Flag Tag. I love how competitive the kids get in these games, and how loudly they constantly cheered. After all was said and done, we ate a delicious lunch of spaghetti, and then rested a bit before hanging up the team banners in the dining hall. An hour later of chatting with the campers and hanging up banners, we got ready for the afternoon games. The sun absolutely blazed down on us, which made us all lethargic. We coached the games, and as time wore on, the constant enthusiastic screaming started to sound more like a drill in my ears than anything. The dust that was being kicked up settled in every pore of my skin, and now no matter how much I scrub, there’s always a fine layer of dirt on my arms. Finally, after

An hour later of chatting with the campers and hanging up banners, we got ready for the afternoon games. The sun absolutely blazed down on us, which made us all lethargic. We coached the games, and as time wore on, the constant enthusiastic screaming started to sound more like a drill in my ears than anything. The dust that was being kicked up settled in every pore of my skin, and now no matter how much I scrub, there’s always a fine layer of dirt on my arms. Finally, after all the sports were done, we came back to the quad, exhausted, dust-covered, and ready for supper.

Tonight we will head to evening chapel and then lead “Minute to Win It” for the evening game. Thank you for your interest and continued prayers. As always, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page as we love to hear from our family and friends back home! We will post pictures of today’s adventures on our Facebook page when we have a chance.

Abbey