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A Photo for the Family Album

12 Feb

Danny, David, Jon and Sergio–a story of friendship

This could be a group shot from any BBQ or carne asada.  But the fact that these four men are in the same frame reveals a God-inspired journey.

Jon chose to start investing in David as a life-coach/mentor/pastor over 18 years ago.

Then about 10 years ago David began a similar process with Danny.  As a reflection of their shared heritage, Danny calls Jon “Grandpa!”

Now in the last few months, David has assumed the same role with Sergio. Along with David, Danny and Jon also invest in Sergio’s life through their friendship, support, encouragement, teaching and counsel, just as they have all done faithfully with one another.

Being friends at this level brings joy, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging.  But most of all it provokes change.  None of these four men will ever be the same person they were when they began the journey–and that’s enough to put a smile on your face!


Turning Pain into Peace

17 May

Marcelina with David, and Scott Simons and Cheri Steele from Terra Nova Church

I’ve never known the pain of losing a child, but through my counseling work I have met many people who have faced this life-altering experience. Recently one of my former patients lost her son as the result of a chronic ear infection that was never treated properly and resulted in an abcess in his brain. (The lack of resources and adequate health care here in Mexico could be the topic of another post sometime!)

On Mother’s Day weekend, this grieving mom accepted my invitation to join us and members of Terra Nova Church as we returned to Casa de Esperanza, a refuge for abused and abandoned mothers and their children. By being willing to move beyond her own pain, Marcelina experienced joy and peace that had been eluding her in the two months since her son’s death.

We thank Terra Nova for sharing their Mother’s Day with women in Mexico who really need to know that they are loved and valued and at the same time provide an environment where a mother’s pain could be replaced with peace.

“Thank you so much…for the work you do”

10 Jun

We send out letters, write Facebook updates, type emails and even blog occasionally. So being on the sending side is normal for us and we love sharing what we do here in Mexico and more importantly what God is doing here.

There is a unique satisfaction, however, that comes from being on the receiving end. We got a note a few months ago from one of our partners that affirmed and encouraged us in just a few lines. It was unexpected and so refreshing–it gave us that extra push that we sometimes need to face the challenges of working with people and helping them deal with the difficult circumstances that are part of daily life. Here’s what she said:

“Thank you so much for working to save and improve marriages…I’ve been expressing much thankfulness to God lately as there’s been peace and harmony at home…My points: 1) We’re doing well. 2) I often think, but seldom express gratitude for the work you do, and especially all you do for marriages and families.”

May God continue to give us the privilege and the opportunity to bring His message of hope and healing for troubled marriages and families.

Sharing Christmas with Orphans and the Homeless

23 Dec

I am proud of my girls quite often.  But there are days, they surpass my hopes and expectations…and I believe Jesus smiles too.

Jessica’s school joined in a project in conjunction with a local clinic where David counsels to provide gifts for the residents of a home for orphaned and abused children.  This past Wednesday almost the entire student body and their teachers went to “Casa de Paz” (House of Peace), took the presents, performed their Christmas musical, played with the kids and had lunch together.

Each student was given a name of one of the residents.  Jessica got Carmen who is 18 years old and has special needs.  When they first met both of them were a little shy.  But Jessica invited Carmen to play soccer and they ran around the playground together laughing and playing.

Jessica & Carmen at Casa de Paz

When it came time for goodbyes, Carmen asked us to go visit her again.  I believe we will.  She asked me to take a picture of her by herself.  “That one’s for you,” she said.

Another opportunity came just after returning from Casa de Paz.  The Principal’s wife asked Jessica if she would go and sing for the homeless that they serve lunch to on Wednesday afternoons.  Jessi had her last soccer practice before Christmas vacation, but I left the decision in her court.  She said she wanted to do it.  So she sang, “I Can Only Imagine” a song about heaven to dozens of homeless men and women as they finished their lunch.  We also helped serve sodas and bread to the people gathered there.

Jessica singing “I Can Only Imagine”

I asked her afterwards how she felt in those two situations.  She said a little scared at first, but then good.   Did I mention that I am very proud of my daughter?

any given first Thursday of the month…

16 Dec

Thursday morning, a little after 7 a.m. people are beginning to gather at a local restaurant and coffee is being poured and enjoyed around the tables. Where I am seated there is also an architect; an older gentleman who used to be part of the Mexican secret service and currently works as the only licensed private detective in our city; a psychologist; a retired executive with an international company; a state congresswoman and the general manager of the local plant for the national fuel company.

By 10 a.m. I am in my office at the family crisis center. In this room over the next few hours I will listen to several women tell heartbreaking stories of drug dealing, prostitution, jail time, addictions, alcoholism, severe abuse, broken relationships and children removed from their care and put into the “system.”

What do these two very distinct scenes have in common? Both are strategic facets of the ministry that we do here in Ensenada, and both are contexts in which we can openly and honestly share our lives and our faith.

At the monthly breakfasts, leaders from government, business, education, the arts, media, churches and non-profits are meeting together to deepen our relationship with God and with one another in order to better serve our city. Some divine networking has taken place and many plans and projects are been discussed and initiated. We, along with our friends and ministry colleagues, are amazed and humbled by all God has orchestrated in these months we have been meeting. Please pray with us for these breakfast gatherings on the 1st Thursday of each month.

In our counseling we first share the reality of our spiritual dimension as human beings, and then begin to introduce the reality of God and His power to heal, to save, to set the captives free and to transform lives and circumstances. You can pray for us in this work every Thursday morning from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. David also recently joined the staff of a new counseling center as well and will work there Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 4 – 8 p.m.

Papers and "Paletas"

6 Nov

She sells newspapers at a busy intersection that we pass by as we drive the girls to school. At first we didn’t really notice her in the distraction of the morning rush. Then we would refer to her as the older woman who sells the papers. Then there was the tentative, but mutual recognition that comes from seeing a familiar face every day over a period of time.

As the weeks went by our passing acquaintance led us to smile, then to wave and finally I began to lower my window and greet the newspaper woman every day. She tells me that I bring her blessings each day for her sales. One day I noticed she had company at her appointed spot and she told me she had recruited her daughter to help sell papers too. She introduced me to her and also told me the day she celebrated her one year anniversary of selling newspapers.

Since I don’t buy the paper, some days as I drove away from our morning greetings, I would ask God if there was anything I could do for this sweet woman who always has a smile and a kind word despite the early hour or the harsh weather. God put in on my heart to invite them to a workshop I organized at our family crisis center (CAME) for needy women to learn a craft that they can sell to generate income. Maria Luisa López, a friend from Agua Viva days, designs and produces edible marshmallow figures on a stick (paletas) to sell as a way to generate additional income for her family. She shares my passion to see opportunities for women who are un- or under employed to have opportunities and tools to begin their own businesses and support their families.

Yesterday we had six women in our first workshop and among them were the “newspaper women”, where we learned their names are Salomé and her daughter, Yeimy. They along with the other four made their two marshmallow creations and left the Center with a new skill and a new and exciting vision.

This morning when we drove by their spot, we greeted our friends (and future businesswomen), and Salomé gave us some great news: “I sold my first paleta!”

Thank you for supporting us with your gifts and your prayers so that we can support others. It is an incredible privilege to love and serve God and our neighbors in this city.

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