Dec 31, 2008

Our First Tests/Trials

       Shortly after getting settled in Rosarito Beach my motorcycle was stolen. The following Thanksgiving our house was broken into and many expensive things were stolen. What was God up to? Well, in regards to the motorcycle, it had been a distraction from family and my God and was an icon of pride and escapism. It needed to go. Thank you, Father! God also used our responding to His grace and praising Him right from the start to be an encouragement to others.

       The house robbery was good for us as well. It was a good reminder of how little “things” really matter. Much money in goods was stolen and yet nothing that we really cared about or missed. God showed us that we had (and still do have) many items left over from our opulent life in California that are neither appropriate for Mexico or for His children. How can we say we love the brothers and sisters around us and yet hord such comparatively great wealth. He has blessed us with many opportunities to share and meet various needs that His family has had. We have since begun to downsize even more, selling what we can on eBay and Craig's list. We have a long ways to go but it is freeing to be headed in the right direction.

        Another test was the difficulty of living in town. We are country folk unaccustomed to dogs barking all night, sirens, horns, loud speakers mounted on cars, etc. The lot behind us was used by some local fishermen to clean their daily catch and repair their nets and the house next to that had a pig farm on their cement roof. The noises, smells, and interruptions seemed too much. We weren't sleeping well or living well. God had given us this wonderful house but we were struggling with the surroundings. He had an important lesson to teach us. We were excited about being in exotic Mexico but there are uncomfortable, or even bad, things about this culture. We were called to come to Mexico and commanded to love His children. This wasn't going to be cozy and that was OK. At home in California much of our effort was focused around creating our version of heaven on earth. How perfect, comfortable and rewarding can we make all of our surroundings? Well, that was sin and needed to go, just like the motorcycle.

       Once we had settled in a little and began to learn these lessons He provided us with a beautiful country home in the middle of a large ranch near the coast! Much more to our liking! In addition, the house was owned by the mission we work with and they wouldn't let us pay rent!

Oct 26, 2008

Getting Started With Work

       Scott Pepito introduced me to an orphanage in Tijuana called Alcanzando la Vision B.  A local church started this orphanage on faith (they didn't have the means to support it) and found an amazing couple, Victor and Gaby, to be the parents and run it. There are twenty-five of them living together in a fifty's vintage, two room, one bath bungalow. In the states it would have been condemned. On our first visit we worked to get the bathroom in working order. The tub had fallen through the floor revealing a situation that defies description. The plumbing had been broken for some time turning the sub-area into a cesspool. The Pepito's oldest daughter became quite sick after working to clean out the area below. With God's help we were able to replace the plumbing and the floor. A couple of weeks later their was a working toilet, hot water and a cement double shower. The double shower was a blessing because many of the young children were afraid to bathe alone and required the help of an older sibling. Thankfully sibling groups are not usually separated in Mexican orphanages.

       Our next project was to build twelve beds in a ten by twelve foot room. This required custom mattresses and a special bed design. God provided a man who could design the beds and also a factory that was willing to donate custom mattresses at their cost. As if that wasn't enough He brought that man and his whole family down to help build the bunk beds! Now the girls had real beds with storage drawers underneath.

        The boys were not yet so fortunate. The twelve of them slept on the cement slab floor in the living room. It wasn't too bad though, most of them had a blanket to themselves. It was heartbreaking really. We asked God if He would provide for an additional room for the boys. He did of course. He sent a group of young people who had some experience building in Mexico. They got the foundation, a few walls, and the roof up in just one weekend. God also brought another group of young people who were interested in a long term relationship with the orphanage. With their help (financial and labor) we were able to add two new bathrooms as well. One for the parents and one for the boys! Wow God!

       The next hurdle was beds for the boys. My sons and I had designed and built a triple bunk that was rock solid. It seemed perfect for orphanages. It was simple enough to be constructed by teams of volunteers and they were stout enough to last through a hundred years of abuse by boys. The problem was that they were quite expensive. God's solution, a team of men, rich men, wanted to come and do something for the orphanage. Thanks again God! They came and not only paid for but also built four sets of triple bunks for the boys. The day before they arrived I discovered that the beds wouldn't fit! We would need to make some creative adjustments. Help God! He wasn't as surprised as I was. He had already arranged for a couple of carpenters and some other very handy men to be on the team and they came up with workable solutions for every difficulty. For the first time in over a year (and for some the first time ever) the boys slept in real beds, with mattresses and linens.

       Victor and Gaby, the parents, had been living in what most of us would call a small office or a large walk-in closet but now, at least, they had a private bathroom. It is hard to express how special God has made Victor and Gaby. They gave up all expectation of a comfortable life for a life of complete servitude. They don't get vacations. They seldom get any sort of a break. They have three children of their own that now have to share their parents with many others. Not just twenty-three to thirty children at a time but that number of children, all with extra needs. They seldom have enough of anything. They have no privacy! They never get to experience a peaceful night. They took up this cross with no promise of regular support. Just an abiding faith in God's goodness.

      The children who are not actually orphans all have a horrific story that is their past. The Mexican version of Child Protective Services (DIF) doesn't take a child from a home unless the situation is criminal and Mexico doesn't call the same small things criminal that California does. Most of the children were not only unwanted but hated as well. Some could not come home until they had begged, stolen, or earned enough money to placate their parents. Some were put into childhood prostitution by their parents. Virtually all were abused. One boy could no longer make himself speak and all that DIF knew of why was that he had seen his father cut another man's throat. God is amazing though and all of these children have repented and confessed their need for Jesus to save them and are well on their way to leading blessed lives. It is beautiful to hear the boy who could not speak tell his testimony of how God has changed him and helped him to forgive his father.

Jul 31, 2008

GOD Brought Us In For A Smooth Landing

       We had been planning on going to Mexico to be any help we could to the orphans and extremely poor children in the Tijuana/Rosarito Beach area since December of 2003. Life is life though and with one delay after another (a new baby, house remodel, a major earthquake, quitting work, house sale, another new baby, etc.) it took 4 years to get going.

       In February of 2008 we were ready to go. We had waited for God's timing, truly trusting Him. Initially we could not find anyone who would rent to a family with nine children. Our realtor was at a loss. We were telling God that we would take anything, even a shack. Anything! God then moved the heart of the real estate group's accountant to offer us his six thousand square foot castle and, because he had no room for them in his new smaller home, we could buy the furnishings too. God was showing us that He was only waiting for us to give up our expectation in order to bless us beyond what we would have dreamed.

       It's always hard to move to a new place. A foreign country is much harder. Our Spanish was marginal. We didn't know the culture well. We couldn't find the foods that we liked. Was the water safe? Where do you drive when there are no lane markings? God had it all worked out though. He surrounded us with people to love and help us. We had the family that we came to work with, the Pepitos, working hard to help us get settled and acclimated. God gave us dear Mexican National friends, the Aguilars, to help us with language and culture among other things. The director's of YUGO Canada, the Hooples, befriended us and were a blessing in so many ways. God even provided neighbors across the street that did everything they could to be helpful. They were Jehovah's witnesses and really wanted to convert us but God meant if for good and they were a great help!

       We are truly blessed to have God for our pilot!

Mar 1, 2008

Why did we go to Mexico.

Around 1987, when Andrew was in the Navy and living with a friend in Ensenada, Mexico, they would cross the border to go to work at the San Diego Naval Station. In order to cross the border without a long wait, they would cross between 4 to 5am. There were usually many little children begging for money and selling chicklets (gum). Upon learning that these children were orphans or the children of very poor families, God put it on his heart to look into what could be done to help them.  At that time only the Catholic church was allowed to have orphanages so he didn't see anyway to make a difference.

Extremely poor children in east Tijuana
For years he told God that if I ever had the means he would love to help the orphans of Northern Baja California. After Andrew's mother passed away and left us a property in Atascadero, California, we started to see the doors opening up.  Around Christmas 2004 a missionary that we had worked with on short term trips to Mexico spoke at our home church, telling about their work of building orphanages, their successes, and their needs.  God let us know at that time that we were to go and help.

Four years later, in March of 2008, we moved to Rosartio Beach, B.C.N., Mexico and we began working with Firm Foundations doing construction for orphanages and feeding kitchens for poor children.

Other goals we have are for the family to learn Spanish and for the children to have an opportunity to experience a different life and to spend considerable time serving others.