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Reflejo on 2 Weeks with DC Interns | Julianne Huyett & Sarah Utton

8 Apr

For two weeks in March we had the privilege to receive two amazing and fascinating young women who are part of service programs in Washington, DC.  Julianne is from Annapolis, Maryland and Sarah is from South Africa.  They blended seamlessly into our family and our community.

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Although they spoke little Spanish, Sarah and Julianne served boldly and tirelessly in many different settings throughout our city from teaching English classes in a pre-school and Elementary school, to packing food bags for needy families.  They also participated in a Saturday kids’ program in a migrant workers’ camp; played with kids in a Day Care for working parents; served at an all-day Medical clinic in a remote area; as well as attending our Ensenada Leadership breakfast and taking part twice in our Home Church activities.

Of course there were lots of opportunities for walks and hikes, movie nights, baking cookies and sharing meals; and on the final afternoon, a good soaking at our world famous blowhole—La Bufadora.

We consider Julianne and Sarah our international daughters now and are grateful for the time they spent here and their contribution to what God is doing in our city.  Following are some comments that they shared with us about their time here:

“This time has gone so quickly but it has been an amazing blessing in both of our lives.  We will always cherish the time we had in your amazing city.  We learned so much from your lives and the community of friends you share life with.

Ensenada is filled with incredible people who are the hands and feet of God.  Thank you for welcoming us to what Jesus is doing here.

We are going to miss you!  Come visit us!  We love you!

Your South African and American daughters.”

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A Photo for the Family Album

12 Feb
Image

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!

Thanksgiving Means Friends

2 Dec

For the past seventeen years we have been sharing a favorite holiday from the United States with friends here in Mexico.  Through serving the traditional fare of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie (with a green bean casserole thrown in too this year!), we include our Mexican friends in the heritage of corporately expressing our gratitude to God for all He has done for us throughout the year…and the years.

Sharing the Thanksgiving meal

Sharing the Thanksgiving meal

One of the couples from this group was not able to join us this year as their youngest daughter had a baby Thanksgiving evening.  Once again we were able to share one of life’s milestones together yelling our collective felicidades to them into the telephone.  Great friends, delicious and abundant food, and a brand new granddaughter–now that’s more than enough reasons to be thankful!

Fifty Seven Words that Changed our Lives

17 Nov

Through some friends who did their Masters at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, Canada, we were introduced to the teachings of Darrell W. Johnson.   His name was not unfamiliar to us as he was the Pastor of a special friend who is now “Dancing in Heaven”–Don Valencia.

Darrell W Johnson Fifty-Seven Words that Change the World: A Journey through the Lord's PrayerThrough listening to some of Darrell’s teachings we discovered that one of his books covered in depth some teachings from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7); specifically those dealing with the Lord’s Prayer.   The intriguing title is “Fifty Seven Words that Change the World.” After reading the book in English we thought it would be perfect for our Thursday night study group made up of Catholic friends who have been studying the Bible with us for the past 15 years.  We were all very enthusiastic and scheduled to begin.    Each week that we met however meant that David and I had to spend hours translating each chapter into Spanish.  Sometimes we were putting the finishing touches on it minutes before we ran out the door to share it with the group.

The effort was worth it though as the Lord’s Prayer moved from being just a prayer that Jesus prayed, or the words used to close a religious service in a church; to something dynamic, powerful, real, personal and above all life-changing.  For all of us who went through the book we have said we will never hear or say the Prayer the same again.  Thank you, Jesus.  And thank you, Darrell.

Cleansing the Temple=Love

23 Apr

I had an amazing thought the other day.  It wasn’t amazing because I had it, but rather because of Whom I was thinking about.

And this was the thought–everything Jesus did during His life on this earth was motivated by love.  Everything.  Every single thing.  I pondered this and then I questioned, “What about the time when He blasted the Pharisees and Experts in Religious Law?  Was that motivated by love?”  I believe it was.  It was His love that yearned for those who were so committed to their traditions and practices to taste the true love and grace of His Father.

Then my thoughts turned to the occasion when He cleansed the Temple and threw out the moneychangers who had set up shop there.  I grew up hearing that we could classify Jesus’ strong reaction in that setting to “righteous anger”, and maybe that’s accurate.  However, could it be called loving?  I pondered that for a while too and had to conclude once again that it was.  My conviction is that He was not only zealous for His Father’s house, but His heart ached because they were missing the point of being in the Temple.

Then just a few minutes ago I read one of my favorite blogs:

http://conversationsforthejourney.com/2011/04/15/palm-sunday-reflection-he-looked-around-at-everything/

It is written by our dear friends Bart and Linda Tarman.  God has used them in our lives over the past 15 years to encourage us in our faith journey as we follow Jesus and to grow together with an international community of believers.  In this post Bart was reflecting on the very same scene in the temple and one of his concluding statements put an exclamation point on my own thoughts.

“…the temple was meant to be a house of prayer for all people.  It was not supposed to exclude and divide- but invite.  Invite all.  To meet the God of unbounded love.”  

So, as we anticipate and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, may we follow in His steps and be instruments of His unending, unspeakable and “unbounded” love.

Women Making a Difference

14 Oct

Last night I had a women’s cafecito here at the house. There were seven of us around the table ranging from young moms in their 30’s to a grandmother. It had been a few months since the last time we had met.

To get us caught up I asked for each one to share what had impacted, challenged or excited them in their lives recently.
It was amazing to hear how with passion and spontaneity each and every one shared that what was most exciting in their lives had to do with an opportunity that God has given them to serve in the community. Here is a sample of how God is using women from our home church and Reflejo to make a difference to those who need it most:
  • Thermalton–a project between a Pre-school, an Elementary school and a Family Therapy clinic to collect long underwear as gifts for the 54 children and youth of a local orphanage
  • Casa de Paz–the name of the orphanage mentioned above. Another woman, a psychologist, is working together with other colleagues and professionals to direct a program for the 11 special needs youth that live there
  • Casa para los Bello–gathering resources to build a house for a retired pastor who is blind and his wife.
  • A home Bible study
  • A Day Care Center for working moms
  • A feeding program for the homeless

And what did I share?…How I was witnessing a dream come true before my eyes–leaders who are following Jesus and are sharing the heart of their Saviour; to bring hope, help and healing to hurting people.

Reflections from February in Ensenada

26 Feb

This year has ushered in a season in the ministry that can be likened to tending a field.  For many years we have planted seeds, watered, waited and watched expectantly and joyfully. But lately as we observe the soil we are seeing sprouts and plants springing up everywhere! Here is a quick look:

For several months we have been collaborating with friends from another ministry to organize and host monthly breakfast gatherings for local leaders.  The purpose is to provide a setting to build relationships, introduce the person of Jesus, promote love for our neighbor and unite in a spirit of prayer for and service to the community.  David and I have been praying for the vision of a city wide prayer breakfast for over 15 years.  Now we are working with others who share our passion.  There are buds on the branches of that dream!  Please pray for the next one on April 8.

Leaders gather monthly for breakfast and prayer

Likewise, each Friday a small group from our Reflejo community has been uniting in prayer for our city, for the needs we encounter and the channels through which we desire to see God meet those needs.  This has become a way to support one another both in the challenges of our daily lives and our respective areas of service.  Each one plants, we all water, and God gives the growth.

One example is a couple that went with us to Mt. Hermon for the first time this past December and returned home inspired to respond to the need they observed among the homeless.  This month they began an outreach each Wednesday afternoon that provides a hot meal for approximately 80 men and women. Leaders impacted by Jesus serving among “the least of these”—fruit that fulfills one aspect of the vision we shared when we began investing in leaders almost 20 years ago.

Hector & Alma Rosa leading a ministry to the homeless

An Another was our fourth Ensenada women’s retreat where twenty four women attended, nine for the first time.  We studied the book The Battlefield of the Mind and the impact in the women’s lives was astounding.  We were privileged to see God’s spirit work in their hearts and lives before our eyes!  Growth, change, fruit!

Women from the US and Mexico sharing the Ensenada retreat

At the end of last year we felt that maybe our time for having a home church had reached its conclusion.  However, God has brought three new families in the last couple of months—and for one of the families it is their first church experience.   How exciting to see them learn, discover and grow!

Part of the family from the Home Church

Now spring is in the air. We expect there is a lot more to come!!

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