Viva Las Vegas

 

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After a long day’s journey, we have arrived in Las Vegas for a short stay before heading to Ensenada, Mexico, and Rancho Agua Viva! We are thankful for your prayers as we began our mission trip and ask that you to continue to pray for our team as there is much that lies ahead.

Our drive to Minneapolis went by fairly quick but we did have a few interesting twists along the way that we will share with you another time. However, the most important is that we arrived safe and are excited to meet our dear old friends and meet new ones in Mexico tomorrow! Once arrive we will have a quick orientation regarding the youth camp, our responsibilities, and then get right to work supporting the evening game. We are excited and ready to begin our service but there is a lot to do tomorrow including picking up our rental vehicles, insurance, a few items needed for the youth camp, a seven to eight-hour drive, and crossing the border. Please pray for safety, health, peace, a smooth border crossing, and energy to serve the people with love, passion, and joy.  Feel free to scroll to the bottom of this post for a few more pictures. Goodnight and look for our blog sometime tomorrow evening from Mexico! 🙂

PS. Please note that we are two hours behind Winnipeg time so some of our entries during this trip may come later in the evening for everyone back home.

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Travelling Mercies

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Tomorrow is the big day! We’re meeting at Charleswood Community Church at 5:00 a.m. and depart for Minneapolis around 5:30 and our afternoon flight to Las Vegas. We will stay the night in Vegas and then pick up our rental vehicles and make the approximate 7.5 hour journey to Rancho Agua Viva, just outside of Ensenada, Mexico. I am sure there is some apprehension from team members as the magnitude of our journey is beginning to set it. Please don’t confuse this anxiety with a lack of enthusiasm, willingness to serve, or a sense of adventure. But for some, this will be the furthest from home they will have ever gone, especially without Mom or Dad. The familiarity of home, language, customs, food, and their surroundings are about to be completely thrown into disarray. I empathize with them and ask that you pray for each of us as we leave our sense of who we are and our loved ones for 17 days.

On the flip side is the anticipation of what will be and what we will all experience as a team and as individuals. As one of the leaders, this is perhaps one of my greatest joys; seeing young people encounter new challenges and how they learn and respond. Serving others and God in tangible ways is a great experience and I know that each person on our team will rise to the challenge, learning more about themselves and their God in powerful ways.

This will be our church’s sixth time partnering with Agua Viva Ministries and we feel blessed to have found such a wonderful ministry and team to serve under. I know I have said it repeatedly but Agua Viva is an amazing ministry and the people that work there are wonderful!

We will update this blog and our Facebook and Instagram accounts on a regular basis. The Twitter & Facebook accounts will provide more of a “real-time” update, while our blog will be updated most evenings beginning Sunday. Feel free to follow these pages so you can get the most current information.

Thank you to everyone for your faithful support and love as our team as prepared to serve. We couldn’t have done this without you and on behalf of our team; I want to say ¡Dios te bendiga! As we prepare for our journey to begin tomorrow, please pray for travelling mercies and our willingness to be open to new experiences and opportunities. Pray also for joy as we serve one another and the people we will encounter along the way.

Kent

Not So Cheap Trek 2018 Itinerary

Sunday, July 15th

5:00 AM  arrive at Charleswood Community Church

5:30       depart Charleswood Community Church for Minneapolis-St. Paul

1:00 PM  arrive at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

3:10       depart on Sun Country flight # SY103 to Las Vegas, NV

The following times are listed in Pacific Daylight Time. Add 2 hours for Central Daylight Time.

4:28        arrive at McCarran International Airport

5:00        arrive Tru by Hilton Las Vegas Airport

  • supper, team meeting, swim, and early bed time

Monday, July 16th 

9:00 AM Depart Las Vegas for Ranhco Agua Viva – Ensenada, Mexico

5:00 PM (approximate) arrive at Rancho Agua Viva

Monday, July 16th – Friday, July 20th 

Ministry at Rancho Agua Viva’s Youth Camp

Saturday, July 21st 

Enjoy a day off to site see, shop, go to the beach, etc.

Sunday, July 22nd 

Attend a local church worship service and prepare for our second week of ministry.

Monday, July 23rd – Thursday, July 26th

Ministry in the Ensenada, Mexico area which will include: Vacation Bible School children’s ministry at Iglesia El Gran Rey, general labour, and church visitation.

Friday, July 27th

10:00 AM   depart Rancho Agua Viva

4:00 PM     (approximate) arrive in Orange County 

5:30          debrief meeting and supper

Spend the weekend debriefing from our service trip, exploring the greater Los Angeles area, and visiting Hillsong Church!

Monday, July 30th 

4:00 PM   depart Orange County for Las Vegas, NV

9:00         arrive at McCarran International Airport

11:59       depart on Sun Country flight # SY120 to Minneapolis, MN

5:00 AM    arrive at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

6:00         depart Minneapolis for Winnipeg, MB

3:00 PM   (approximate) arrive at Charleswood Community Church!

Please pray for us and stay connected with our mission trip adventures in addition to our blog:

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Thank you for your faithful support! ¡Dios te bendiga!

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)

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!