I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day of our 2015 Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS. It looks like we will have directly affected the lives of around 50 individual kids. We have had an attendance of around 40 each day, but some kids don’t come back every day and some new kids join each day. This has been a very fruitful time of ministry impacting the lives of these children and their parents.
I help prepare handouts or whatever needs done to get things ready each day. I’m the chief photographer, I set up the multimedia equipment each day and I handle most of the publicity. I’ve been preparing the PowerPoint we will use at the graduation ceremony on Sunday when some of the parents of the kids come to watch their kids perform. Rachel and Abraham will also use the PowerPoint to show at Dios es Amor, their home church that has done so much to support their ministry over the years.
Yesterday the batteries in my camera died just at the end of the day. Off to the market to buy a new set of batteries. Started taking pictures and shooting videos first thing this morning, only to have the new batteries fail at around 2 p.m. I grabbed the camera I brought with me this trip for Rachel and Abraham and started using it, only to have the batteries run dry on it after about 3 minutes. Fortunately I got most of the day covered.
Off early this evening to buy another three sets of batteries at a local market. I trust I will get all the pictures I need tomorrow and Sunday without further difficulty, but don’t want to take any chances, hence the spares. I thought batteries had a shelf life of some 12-15 years. Wonder how long the ones I bought yesterday had been in inventory?
Please be in prayer for a great finale to our VBS tomorrow. This has been a lot of effort to put on, especially on the part of Rachel and Abraham who have stayed up as late as 2 a.m. each day getting things together for the next day. It is worth the effort to watch these kids enjoy themselves and learn about God and His love and faithfulness.
We discovered early this morning that the schools were registering students today. That usually does not happen until August. There were long lines in front of the schools as parents and kids waited their turn to complete the process. Every student must register each year. These are the same kids who should be coming to our VBS. We didn’t know how that would affect attendance. We need not have been concerned. We had 38 kids, only 3 fewer than yesterday, and some of those who came were new.
It was another great day with a lot of fun games, food, memory verses and the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac. He was a man of great faith who obeyed God without question. The kids enjoyed the tale, as Rachel played the part of Rebecca talking about what Isaac had told her regarding what happened that day. He was tied down on the wood and his father raised a knife to take his life when suddenly God called out and stopped the process, providing a ram as an offering instead.
I’ve always wondered what Isaac thought about all that happened that day. Must have been quite traumatic. What conversations he and Abraham must have had in the weeks and months afterwards, until Isaac finally understood what was in his father’s mind at the time. Abraham knew God could raise Isaac from the dead, since God had promised it would be through Isaac that the promises would be fulfilled.
My grandson continues in perfect health, though he mentioned to his mom that he had seen something evil yesterday. We prayed with him this morning after his mother and father explained that if anything like that appears to him again, he has the ability to tell it to go away in the Name of Jesus. Another lesson in faith.
I’m beginning to assemble a PowerPoint presentation we will use during the graduation ceremony. Rachel and Abraham will also show it at Deos es Amor, the church they are affiliated with here in Mexico. Most of the volunteers that are coming each day are from that congregation, though there are two neighbors who are helping as well.
Appreciate your prayers for ongoing health and stamina as we go into the 4th day tomorrow.
Faster! Faster! The relay race is run
God provided a lamb to sacrifice in place of Isaac
Thank God for volunteers like these women from Dios es Amor
Our second day of VBS started very early. My grandson had a very high fever and a lot of pain in his side, so my daughter woke me up at 7 a.m. to pray for him. We anointed him with oil and did an hour of soaking prayer. By 8 a.m. his temperature was normal and he was soundly and peacefully asleep. He remained in excellent health all day with no further meds or doctor visit required.
We had 41 youngsters at our second day of VBS. Some of the kids were ones who had never been to the TUtP center before. That’s just awesome. I mentioned yesterday that several moms brought their kids to registration. This is great, as it shows both trust and interest in what Rachel and Abraham are doing here in Huejotzingo, Mexico. They have lived here for 4 years, but working in the area together for 7 years. Before they were married, Abraham had been working for another 5 years. We have purchased land to build a new center to take the place of the property we now rent. Hope to begin building sometime soon, depending upon funding.
Just like yesterday, the kids had a fantastic time playing games, eating, singing, listening to Bible stories and memorizing the Bible verse of the day. So many of the kids we work with come from difficult situations at home. They really enjoy the one-on-one contact with loving, concerned, safe adults who so obviously care for them.
Day 1 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS is in the books. It was a great day. We had 31 kids, which for day 1 is the best ever. Usually the attendance builds, with some kids not returning but with more new ones coming each day than those that don’t return. We have 13 helpers, some from the neighborhood and some from Deos Es Amor, the church Rachel and Abraham are affiliated with. The church also provides equipment and some funds.
I was interested to see how many mothers brought their kids to register. Most often the kids come by themselves. I think the interest of the parents is an encouragement. They know Rachel and Abraham and greet them as their kids get their name tags and are assigned to their age group for various activities. And a number of parents have been coming to the closing ceremonies as well.
Mexico celebrates Día del Niño on April 30. Thanks to help from Dios es Amor, their home church in Mexico,Rachel and Abraham were able to provide the children in the neighborhood a true celebration and a reminder that God celebrates them every day. The church provided a pinata (always popular), ice cream, and toys. Volunteers from 2T2 Internacional put on a puppet and clown show. They ran several games and a simple craft as well.
I had planned to go down to Mexico last August, taking a team from my local church to prayer walk the area of Huejotzingo where our TUtP team works. Huejo is a very spiritually dark area and so we wanted to bring more of the light of Jesus into the neighborhood. My illness which resulted in my getting a pacemaker implanted made it necessary to postpone that trip. I was finally cleared by my doctor to go the end of November.
Due to the change in dates, I was unable to take a team with me, so instead of prayer walking, I helped with some of the children’s work and with building a convertible table that can be used effectively
in the small space available for our center activities. Abraham and Rachel Lechuga, our team, do a variety of things in Huejo. They conduct Bible studies for adults and children. Many of the children who participate in these studies are also part of the craft and English language classes we offer throughout the week. Rachel and her mother-inlaw, Six, teach the kids and some of the adults to cook and to sew. At least once a year they conduct a very popular vacation Bible school in the neighborhood.
It has been a slow growing work over the years they have been living in this village. It has taken time to make friends and to build trust within the community. Now they have made a number of friends with those living near our center. More adults are participating in their Bible studies, even inviting them to teach in some their homes nearby. The goal is to start a number of small home churches throughout the area.
We are in the process of purchasing land where we can build a more adequate center to carry out our work. This would help save the money currently used to rent our present building. With enough land, we can grow a good garden, keep bees and raise small animals as well.
One great benefit in having to postpone this trip was that Rachel, our youngest daughter, gave birth to our second grandchild, a daughter named Leilani Joy, just a few days prior to my arrival. Leilani is, of course, a most perfect and beautiful little girl. Her two-year-old big brother, Abishael, doesn’t know quite what to make of her yet. He is all about playing non-stop. Leilani doesn’t know what to do with all the toys he offers her. He adores her, but she also demands lots of Mom’s time, which is taking him a while to get used to. He hasn’t had to share his Mom and Dad before. He’s adjusting, though, and he was a lot of fun as well. He is pretty much in non-stop motion from morning until bedtime. A true delight!
This afternoon, I watched my daughter, Rachel, who is a TUtP missionary in Huejotzingo Mexico where I am this week, teaching reading to one of the young girls we work with here. The girl read a passage from the Bible and answered questions Rachel asked her from the passage to make sure she understood what she just read. The Catholic Church in this area discourages people from reading the Bible. We believe everyone should read and study the Bible to gain an understanding of what Jesus has done for them and to let them know how much He loves them.
The Bible she was reading a simplified version of the Spanish Bible with a more limited vocabulary. I brought this version down for Rachel to use in her classes. She starts her students in Matthew 1 and they read straight through. The most advanced student has reached Luke. That girl this afternoon is twelve years old and no longer attends school. Rachel and Abraham tried to do home schooling with her and some others, but her parents don’t believe in education. Still she is the most advanced reader.
The teaching that Rachel and her husband Abraham do with these children is often the only exposure to Scripture these children receive. The kids also get to do multiple types of crafts, play games, and generally have fun in a safe, loving and accepting environment. Many of these kids also participate in our Vacation Bible School and other activities and occasional trips to places of interest in surrounding communities.
Sometimes our interest in their children sparks an interest in their parents to learn about the Bible since we encourage the kids to tell their parents what they are studying. As I am writing this evening, Rachel and Abraham took my 6-day old granddaughter with them to a neighbor’s house to continue a Bible study with a woman who has said she wants to know more about the Scriptures–friendship evangelism in action. Rachel just returned to say that the daughter of the hostess is going into premature labor, so Abraham is arranging to get her to the doctor that delivered their daughter–love in action.
Wherever TUtP works, we try to meet whatever needs we encounter as best we are able.
Teaching in Transylvania, Romania[/caption]I was in Romania most of November, 2013 teaching pastors and other Church leaders on various prayer topics and addressing a number of other practical ministry concerns. Initially I was with the same pastors and churches I’d ministered to in 2011. They asked me to return to help them more fully implement what I had previously taught and to expand into other prayer areas. These pastors face unique challenges. Most have multiple congregations. Many work with gypsy churches in difficult situations. My traveling companion, Pastor Paul Muerson, and I ministered in over 20 churches and met one-on-one with a number of key leaders to strategize for the future. I’ve been asked to return and teach in two training schools that have been set up to prepare new pastors for ministry. There would be around 125 men in just one of these seminaries. A pastor who focuses on gypsy congregations says he can guarantee an equal number of men in his location. Paul and I are discussing when to return this year to take up this opportunity.
During the first week, I taught for 3 hours in the morning and 2 1/2 hours in the evening. My translator had hurt his back as a boy and had been in some degree of pain ever since. During a practicum on healing prayer, as the group prayed for another man, I was quietly praying for Lucian, with my hand on his lower back. God took away all of his pain immediately, though he did not tell me this at the time. He didn’t want to be premature in claiming healing of a problem he’d had for so many years. Four days later, after a day of chopping firewood, he finally told me what God had done. He has since emailed to say that he remains free of all pain. Praise the Lord! God is so very good.
In two weeks I will head to Fiji to review the progress in our beekeeping and agricultural initiatives and to plan for our summer outreach. I will travel to both of the main islands–Viti Levu and Vanua Levu–to meet with those with whom I work. In the past, we have not done any outreaches on Vanua Levu. However, Aisake Emmanuel, the general secretary of GIFT ministries, the Fijian doctors group under whose auspices we conduct the medical portion of our work, moved to that island to build a new home and to establish his own beekeeping activities. He believes there is a great opportunity for us to work among those where he now lives.
Most of the time, however, will be spent in the area of the Lomawai Trade School where we have moved all of our beekeeping activities. There are a number of Indian schools in the area that we want to make the focus of our medical and dental clinics. In the past we have seen many Hindus and Muslims accept Christ as a result of what God does as we work among them. Students from Azusa Pacific University will join us to conduct Vacation Bible School activities for the various students. Please be in prayer.
The Huejotzingo neighborhood VBS was a very successful event. A total of 31 kids participated in the Bible studies, skits, Bible memorization, crafts and games. One of the things that amazed me is how enthusiastically these children, ages 4-15, participated in all that was going on. What Abraham and Rachel did with their leadership team reminded me in many ways of the sorts of more simple things we used to do at such events when I was a kid. Nothing high-tech or slick, just simple, straight forward games using a variety of things at hand. They had a lot of games that used car tires or hula hoops and balls. They made crafts using toilet paper tubes, etc. A lot of thought and effort on the part of the leaders went into preparation. Everything was very hands on. There was a lot of individual attention to and encouragement towards each child. Each kid responded well. Many of these kids are in at risk situations.
At the graduation ceremony on Sunday, a few parents showed up to watch their kids repeat their memory verses, recap the stories of creation, fall and redemption, receive a certificate of completion, and eat cake. This is a great way for Abraham and Rachel to gain greater acceptance in the local community. One of the families invited Abraham and Rachel over to their home for the evening meal. This is very encouraging to them.
One of the girls that attended most of the week and on Sunday is a pre-teen of 11 years. She began coming to their house with her sister almost 2 years ago. Now she attends every event she can. She is a member of the English class and studies diligently. She also enjoys the Tuesday craft nights, and she recently opened up about a very difficult situation that she experienced and continues to struggle with at home. She and her sister come every Sunday afternoon that they are allowed, and they learn the Bible stories that Abraham and Rachel teach. She lives with her mother and grandparents. Her father is in the States, but he left her mother and now has another family. Her story is very typical of what many of the youth Abraham and Rachel are reaching with the love of Jesus.
Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for being a vital part of the ministry of Teach Us to Pray.