Huejotzingo VBS Day 4

Teaching the kidsThe usual pattern continued today, the 4th day of the 2018 TUtP VBS in Huejotzingo, Mexico—we again had an increase in the number of participants with a total of 44. We also gained one more worker. Your prayers are definitely making a difference. Thank you so very much. Because of you the lives of these young people are being positively affected for the sake of Jesus.

What with one thing and another, I got to bed at 1 a.m. this morning, so was a bit miffed (gross understatement) when at 5:30 a.m. the local church, as per their pattern of announcing their 6 a.m. mass, loudly broadcast panpipe music of “The Sound of Silence” over their loud speakers. I immediately thought that silence would indeed be golden.

The morning was a bit hectic getting ready, eating a somewhat hurried breakfast, washing and hanging up clothes, packing the car, taking everyone and everything over to the venue and then picking up the 5 children I pick up each morning. I got back to the venue as most of the children were signing in. I realized I had inadvertently left my camera at the TUtP Center. I also learned we had not packed the computer, which was supposed to be with all the other items by the front door, but wasn’t. Hurried 10 minute drive to pick up both items. Got back pretty much when the computer had become essential. So all was well.

Using a wig for a beardI am always amazed at how much joy and fun the kids display. Also I am aware of all that Abraham and Rachel do, how very creative they are in planning games and crafts that add to the teaching of the day. We really have a very modest budget and very simple things to use. I brought down a number of wigs and a fur stole I bought at an estate sale. I get a lot of items for our mission at estate sales. The stole, which was gray and white, became a beard for Paul. One of the wigs became a beard for Timothy. Both looked great. Rachel, who played a wealthy lady from Antioch who told the story of how Paul and Barnabas had come to their city and stayed for a year and how the Judaizing Christians came and tried to make the Gentile believers become Jews, requiring Paul and Barnabas to return to Jerusalem to settle the issue. She wore some of the costume jewelry I brought down. She really looked impressive.

Tomorrow is closing day and we expect at least a few parents to attend the closing ceremony at 2:30. Appreciate your prayers that a good number of parents will attend. We had a record number of parents last year. We recap all the songs and stories the kids learned throughout the week. Again, this is the most Biblical presentation most of these parents will encounter.

It’s getting close to 11:30 p.m., so I’m in for an early bedtime compared to the rest of the week. Rachel and Abraham will be up to the wee hours preparing the certificates of completion and the final poster that depicts the story the kids will hear tomorrow. The five posters, one representing the story told each day, will be awarded to each of the kids who can say all five Scriptures which they learned during the week.

2018 Huejotzingo VBS Day 3

The 3rd day of the 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS is now in the books. Yesterday I said we had 38 kids in attendance. We actually had 34. But we increased to 38 today. I also mentioned that we really needed at least 2 or 3 more helpers. God answered your prayers by sending 3. Hooray!!

Because of all that we had had to do the previous afternoon and evening after VBS ended at 3 p.m. we were not able to do all of the shopping for today. So Abraham and I dropped Joyce and Rachel and the grandkids at the VBS venue and drove hurriedly into the outskirts of town to pick up the few things we needed. Short trips sometimes don’t work out to be as quick as one would hope. Two places we stopped at to buy glue didn’t have any. That meant going into the center of town (the sokolo).

I couldn’t find a place to park so I dropped Abraham off so I could search for a parking spot. Easier said than done. The 1st two places I pulled into turned out to be non-parking spots for regular cars. One was actually a cross walk, though it was not marked very well. Fortunately a car pulled out as I was circling the square. I parked and got out to go to the store where Abraham was supposed to be. He was no longer there. My phone had lost all power the night before and had not recharged, though it was plugged in and showing it was charging. So I had no phone and could not call him or be called by him. I finally spotted him as he located where I’d parked.

We had one more place to shop, but it was almost time for VBS to begin and I still had to pick up 5 kids. They are all in one family so all at one house. We were close to their location, so I dropped Abraham at the store, went to pick them up. Ten minutes later we were heading to the VBS location. We arrived just as VBS was beginning.

Most of the kids arrived a little late and were still outside registering, so we were O.K

It was another fun day with all of the usual activities. The kids were very enthusiastic. There was a great deal of laughter and commraderie, especially among the older kids. Everyone really enjoyed eating the snack of a blue jello sea with the cookie boat on top. We had more water balloons today as well. It was a bright, warm sunny day, so getting wet was really enjoyable.

After our late afternoon meal and some preparation for crafts for tomorrow I drove Joyce and the grandkids back to the TUtP Center and Abraham, Rachel and I headed for the Puebla Costco to pick up a number of additional items for the Center. Unfortunately the GPS wasn’t working right, so we missed a couple of turns and wound up in a location neither Abraham or Rachel recognized. We stopped at a gated business entrance and Abraham asked one of the drivers who was leaving for the day if he could give us directions. Better than that, it turns out he was going to pass Costco on his way home. All we had to do was follow him. Yes, in heavy going home traffic. Nonetheless, we managed to keep close enough to get there only about 45 minutes latter than we should have.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Blessings!

Ken

Huejotzingo VBS Day 2

This is the end of the 2nd day of our 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS. We had 34 kids today, a nice increase over the 1st day. Generally the numbers tend to increase each day as word spreads among the kids. The lack of helpers was more evident today. Those we have are great, but we could use at least 3 more.

The kids were very active today. Play time involved lots of water balloon games, which they absolutely love. Fortunately we had sets of balloons that can be filled in multiples, which saved a lot of time this morning. Unfortunately about 1/3 of them leaked out all their water before they could be used. Product design issues. Still, we had more than enough for everyone to get quite wet and thoroughly happy.

They sang songs, prayed, listened to the story of Saul telling how he was converted and how Barnabas helped him, ate yummy cracked snacks that looked like little doors (Barnabas opened doors for him to be accepted by the other Christians), and did multiple crafts while learning the verse of the day.

Pray for stamina, focus and for the presence of Jesus to be real to every child who comes. Pray for good health for everyone. Your prayers make a huge difference.

Thanks and Blessings!

2018 Huejotzingo VBS Day 1

Monday, July 16 was the 1st day of our 2018 TUtP Huejotzingo VBS. We had 28 kids who showed up. I drove to the home of 5 of them to bring them as it is too far for them to walk and they always come each year.

The kids played a variety of fun games, memorized the daily Scripture passage, heard the story of Barnabas showing true love and generosity in donating the profits from the sale of his land, prayed, ate snacks and generally had a great time together.

For almost all of these kids, this is the only contact they have with Scripture. Some of these kids attend our Sunday kid’s club and so are gaining a good basic understanding of who Jesus is and what the Bible teaches. They share what they learn each day with their family at home.

We have fewer volunteer workers this year. It’s a fair distance from Dios es Amor, the congregation we cooperate with for our VBS.. So it can be difficult for folks to take the bus or drive here each day. Please pray for at least another 2 or 3 folks to come and help each day.

It’s 11:23 p.m. and we’re almost done with preparations for tomorrow. We need to prepare all the items for the various crafts, fix the snacks and prepare the posters we use to display the songs and the memory verses. This is routine each night of the VBS. Pray for our health and stamina. Pray for good sleep once we go to bed. I’ve had a bit of difficulty with sleep this trip. For one thing a local church begins to play rather loud music at 5;30 every morning in preparation for their 6 a.m. celebration of mass. I have noise cancelling earbuds to insert after the noise wakes me. But it is hard getting back to sleep and I find I can’t tolerate the earbuds an entire night as they become uncomfortable.

So appreciate your prayers and the many ways you enhance and bless the ministry of TUtP. You make it possible for these kids to participate in our various programs.

Thanks and Blessings!

1st Report 2018 TuTP Huejotzingo VBS:

The neighborhood volcanoes

Joyce and I flew into Huejotzingo on Tuesday evening, July 10. Our flight took most of the day as we were routed through Monterrey for a layover before fling on to the Puebla International Airport, which is actually in Huejo about a 15 minute drive away from our center. It was the perfect flight. Totally non-eventful.

After a fairly good night of sleep we began shopping for items we need to help make our center more comfortable—some chairs, bedding, kitchen items, etc.

The center is located in a semi-rural area that is fairly rapidly becoming a village. Our compound is about ½ an acre in size. We have a cement block and chain link security fence around the perimeter. Some landscaping is already underway, but we went to an open-air flea market about a 45-minute drive away to pick up more plants. Those were planted immediately. I brought down a number of packets of seeds that are being planted today in the garden soil we also bought at the flea market.

The Flea Market was bigger than expected
Last night Rachel was up until almost 1 a.m. working on one of 5 posters that depict the theme of each day during the VBS. VBS starts on Monday, and we still have to replicate most of the drawings used during craft time.

Wow! This is big and impressive! Another visit may be needed. In the meantime…
Where are the plants in all this?
We so appreciate you and your prayers for Jesus to make Himself known to the kids who come. Pray that there will be a great turn out. Each year has seen an increase over the prior year. That is a real challenge as we may not have all the help from the congregation at Dios es Amor, the Church we partner with in this area. Some of the folks who have helped in the past are going to be out of town during the week. So also pray for replacement volunteers. It is good that Joyce speaks Spanish and so will be a real asset.

Thanks and Blessings!

Found the plants!

Huejotzingo Mexico TUtP VBS Report

We just completed a record breaking Huejotzingo, Mexico TUtP VBS. The fewest kids we had any of the 5 days was 41 on the 1st day. On Weds. we had 55. We could just barely fit them into the activity room and courtyard. We had a total of 62 different children who came over the entire week. Some of these kids hear very little of the Bible at any other time than when they are involved in one of our activities.

The crafts each day are geared to the Bible story. The kids are supposed to tell the story to their parents when they get home. We know some do. A record-breaking 13 parents attended the last day when we gave diplomas and gifts to the kids. They heard a total recap of the theme story as their children answered questions about the week. For many of these adults, this is the only Bible they will hear.

Each day there were lots of games, Bible memorization, crafts, eating and a dramatized Bible story. The theme for the week was about forgiveness as demonstrated by Joseph in the O.T. Despite how his brothers betrayed him, he knew God had had a plan to work out as a result of their actions, and he was more than willing to forgive them their past evil actions. God through Jesus similarly forgives us because He loves us and wants to have us as His children in a healthy relationship.

I was the taxi driver, driving the Dios es Amor Church van to three houses each morning to pick up various children and adults who lived too far away from the center to walk. At the 1st house, no one was ever home during the week. We kept going just in case as the parents had indicated their kids would come at least some of the days and they have previously been part of our activities. At the 2nd house I usually picked up one adult and two kids. The 3rd house usually yielded 4 youngsters.

We faced some technical challenges as our printer did not always want to print properly. We print out 1 copy of what we need and go to town each afternoon or evening to get all the copies we need for the various crafts. This is cheaper and faster than trying to print out everything at the TUtP office.

At the end of every day, we debriefed our helpers, all of whom were simply marvelous this year. There are a few wrinkles each day that need to be worked on for the next day so we can be constantly improving what we do. This is especially helpful in dealing with a few kids who are disciplinary challenges. Some come from very difficult home situations and thrive on attention. They just don’t always use appropriate ways of gaining that attention.

On the final day, everyone had cake and ice cream. The older girls all got a brand new, lovely doll. Each of the little kids got brand new Beanie Babies. The older boys got spinners and a pen. The dolls and the Beanie Babies I bought at estate sales around Long Beach CA. I can get them so very inexpensively that way. The kids and their parents were absolutely delighted.

Construction on the buildings Abraham and Rachel are building is going well. This will be our new TUtP center in Huejo. They hope to move within 8 weeks. Construction methods are different there than they are here, especially the pouring of the concrete roof which involves a continuous pour on a single day to avoid any leaks or other structural problems. Fascinating.

I leave for Fiji August 30, returning September 14. We will do a medical outreach. Then I head to Romania from September 28 through October 9 to do a seminar on prayer for Romanian pastors. Please pray for stamina and effectiveness. Thanks and blessings!

Getting ready for street hockey
Cleaning up after VBS
Working on crafts
A day’s schedule
Asking and answering questions.

Signing in late arrivals
Telling the story
A volunteer dressed as Judah, Joseph’s brother, waits his cue. The story focuses on Joseph forgiving his brothers.
Construction

TuTP Mexico: Construction

ConstructionFor about a year, my mother-in-law´s house in Puebla was listed for sale. In January of this year, it finally sold for the asking price, and my mother-in-law moved in with us in Huejotzingo while she and Abraham looked for land to buy. They found four well-priced lots ten minutes by bus outside of Huejotzingo and spent some time negotiating to buy. The land is surrounded by corn fields on three sides and a dirt road in front. We will have neighbors across the street, but on our side, no one lives yet.

Once my mother-in-law Six paid for the land, we contracted a man we have known for many years to build our houses. Don Ezequiel has almost a life time of experience with construction, is honest, and does not drink or allow his workers to drink. He also works very hard and had Six´s house walls completed within two weeks.

At present, he and his crew have finished pouring the concrete roof on Six´s house, has begun the walls of our house, and is working on the cistern we will share. When Six´s roof has cured, a process that takes about two weeks, he will be ready to do our roof. In about a month, if all continues well, Six will be able to move into her house.

Progress has not been without problems. Frequently construction sites are vulnerable to theft. Wooden supports, castillo wire, anything left at the site has a way of walking off. Typically, neighbors by the construction site will agree to watch for potential robbers in exchange for some payment. Our soon-to-be neighbors did agree to that, but it has been difficult with them, because they pass by very frequently to ask for money from Don Ezequiel or from us, if we are there.
Also, several kilos of rebar was stolen one night. The happy resolution for that theft is that the rebar then mysteriously reappeared soon after.

However, as I write, there has been another theft. Don Ezequiel called Abraham, who is in Puebla for the day, to tell him. The call kept cutting out, so Abraham couldn’t hear details. Abraham called me, but we still don´t know exactly what is going on. Please pray.

TuTP Mexico Activities in November

Activities in Huejotzingo continue as before. We have Bible studies at a few houses and kids´ club every Sunday afternoon. We raise our two rambunctious kids and keep house and work at Puebla Christian School part-time. Very soon we will celebrate Leilani´s second birthday, and within a year we will start homeschool with Abishael.

A few weeks ago, I began a pencil drawing class at Dios es Amor for anyone over the age of 10 interested in learning. So far we have only had two meetings, because of different activities at church. There are five, or perhaps six, students. I emphasize that drawing is not a mysterious gift that only a few people have, but that anyone can learn how to really see in order to capture their world on paper.

Also at Dios es Amor, preparations have begun for the church Christmas presentation. This year there will be five scenes from Jesus´ life presented in different areas of the church property. Abraham will be one of the three narrators who will be guiding visiting groups through each of the scenes and reading the Biblical accounts of each part of Jesus´ life. Leilani and I have the role of shepherds, along with two other children from Huejotzingo. Abishael will be part of the group of angels, and Six will be one of the Magi. Four other children from Huejotzingo also have roles in the first scene as angels and Magi.

In a previous post, I wrote about several people who needed prayer for serious health problems. Aaron continues to receive chemo treatment for the tumor in his chest. He has been able to spend days at home between treatments, and so far hasn´t suffered nausea from the medicine. Fani decided to try alternative treatments for the tumor in her brain rather than have surgery immediately. Hortensia is now completely free of shingles. Alan has returned home, but is still very ill and must undergo more testing.

Another person who needs prayer is Martha, an older widow with reduced income. A few weeks ago, she was bitten by a black widow spider and went to the hospital for treatment. The treatment was effective, but the doctors warned her to stay out of the sun for a few months – apparently the venom remaining in her system can be reactivated by sun exposure. This restriction is difficult for Martha, because she lives in an isolated area, and her only means of transportation is walking. Needing to stay out of the sun makes getting to work difficult or impossible.
Please continue to pray for healing for these people and for continued health for all of us. Pray for us as we decide what curricula to use with Abish for his homeschooling. Thank you for your partnership with us.

Further Updates on the Mexico Prayer List

We have an update for the people on the prayer list. Luis does not have leukemia. He just has some anemia.

Irma passed away late last week.

Hortensia is much better, and we will return to Bible study with them again this week.

There is a new person to add to the list. Aron is a 7th grader at PCS. His mom is the secretary at the school, and three of his brothers graduated from PCS in the last few years. His mother was diagnosed with Lupus last year, and now he is undergoing many medical studies for a tumor that was found in his chest last week.
Please continue to pray!

TuTP Mexico News: Calling All Pray-ers

Puebla Christian School has begun the 2016-2017 school year. Once again Abraham and I are part-time teachers there. Abraham is the PE teacher for the whole school for the fourth year, and I am the elementary students´ art teacher for the second year. Like last year, I will alternate teaching drawing techniques with teaching art history and doing a project related to the artist or art movement. Around some holidays we will also craft gifts.

We just found out that Fani, one of the PCS teachers, a lady who also has three children attending there and who was on the board of directors, was diagnosed with a brain tumor that must be operated on as soon as possible. At this point, she and her family have no other information about the tumor.

The tumor adds her to a list of people Abraham and I are praying for and helping in any other way we can. My sister-in-law has a former co-worker Alan, a 25 year old man, who is in the hospital receiving chemo treatments for leukemia. His family is poor, and the treatments, while partially covered by public health insurance, are difficult for them to manage.
Another person recently diagnosed with leukemia is Irma, the grandmother of seven of the children we do Bible study with once a week. She believes she has the cancer because some one put a curse on her.

Our neighbor Luis, the teenage uncle of three of the kids who regularly attend Sunday kids´ club (and who used to attend himself), will be having tests done next week to determine the cause of his anemia. The thought is that he, too, may have leukemia.

Finally, we are also praying for Hortensia, a lady who lives with another of my sisters-in-law. She has been down with shingles for the last two and a half weeks. The family has been trying to find creams, lotions, and natural treatments to relieve her symptoms, but she is having a very rough time. So far nothing helps much. For this family also, the expenses of treatments are causing strain, since their budget is very limited

This is just too much serious illness! Please pray for these people and their families.

On a much brighter note, we were very blessed by one of the families that Abraham and Six regularly do a Bible study with. Ernesto and Marisol are new believers, and they still have many habits to change. However, they are taking the studies seriously, and two weeks ago decided to give Abraham an offering of money for two of the sick people mentioned above.
On Thursday evening, we heard a knock at the door, and Abraham went to answer. He returned with a box of groceries that these neighbors had bought for us. How wonderful to see them growing in their faith and willing to generously give! It is encouraging to see them grow. Pray for them as they grow, because they often face rejection and mocking from their relatives who live in the same compound.

We are checking to see if we can change a Bible study that we used to do on Fridays to Sundays. The Bible study sometimes involves three generations of women, all of whom have serious difficulties in their lives. Recently only one person, sometimes two, could be at the Bible study. Last Friday, one of the ladies asked us if we could change the Bible study to Sunday, because it is the only time she, and perhaps her four-year-old granddaughter, can attend. We will try going right when we arrive from church. Six will stay with the children who arrive for kids´ club as they play, and we will return for the other afternoon activities.