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For Roberto, Every Day is Father’s Day

15 Jul

The home Roberto is fixing up for his children

On a hill overlooking Ensenada, Roberto is working to transform his makeshift workshop into a home for his three children.  They were supposed to vacate the house they are currently renting more than a week ago, but the workshop has no windows or doors, and the walls and roof have cracks that expose the kids to the elements.

The interior of the workshop

Disabled in a work related accident and abandoned by his wife and the mother of his children, Roberto is an example of perseverance and commitment.  Even with the available option of placing his children in the many orphanages in our city, Roberto readily expresses his deep love for his children and refuses to relinquish his role as their father, despite the overwhelming obstacles they face every day just to exist.

The reasons Roberto perseveres to seek a better life

Roberto has fallen through the cracks of our government system.  Because he is a single father, and not a single mother, he does not qualify for any of the aid programs.  His attempts to solicit help from the goverment to build a small room for his family have met with lots of paperwork and promises, but no results.  However, our friend, Mimi Montoya, receives Roberto’s children in the Day Care she operates, where they play, learn, eat meals and hear about the love of Jesus.  She introduced us to him and now we are sharing their need with others who will be able to show Jesus’ love in real and practical ways to help this family.

Juan from EOC considering Roberto's house as a potential project

Through sharing Roberto’s need, our home church, other ministries in the area, the family crisis center and even some government officials have shown interest in helping Roberto obtain what he needs and build a safe and  adequate shelter for his small family.  But there are still many bridges to cross.

The waiting continues for Roberto and his children

Meanwhile Roberto and his little family wait.  Please pray with us that the necessary pieces would come together soon and that God would provide a home for this loving father and his children.  If you are led in any way to help, please contact us and we will give you further information.

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Coffee with Friends–Chapter 3

12 Apr

Remember Jesús, the man whom David has visited to share coffee and conversation in his lean-to home on the shore of our Ensenada riverbed?  The last time David saw him it was to “rescue” him from the rising water after heavy rains. David (after falling into the water!) helped Jesús arrange some fallen trees to form a make-shift bridge so he could cross from where he lived to the other side of the arroyo.

A couple months had passed since that harrowing day and then this past Wednesday Jesús arrived to the feeding program.  After exchanging hugs and exclamations of how they had missed each other, Jesús invited David to coffee once again…only this time in a different location.

So David met Jesús that evening at the appointed time in front of a local church where he had attended a service.  Then they drove to the home where Jesus now lives.  After many years Jesús has reconciled with his sister who lives in Ensenada and she invited him to move in with her.  He is using his love and gift of landscaping to create a beautiful space in his sister’s yard, just as he did at his tarp-covered lean-to.

It has been just a few months since David first met Jesús and went to drink boiled river water recycled grounds coffee with a homeless man.  But in these months God has done a transformation in this man’s life.  You never know what God can do over a cup of café.

Is there anyone God is prodding you to share a cup with?  It could change their life…and probably yours too.

Coffee with Friends–Chapter 2

23 Jan

David’s voice breaks as he describes the reality of visiting the dwelling of a homeless man.  The impact of witnessing firsthand one individual’s battle to integrate beauty and civility in the midst of chaos and despair left a lasting impression. This contrast was perfectly exemplified by the cup of coffee David sipped as they conversed: boiled river water, mixed with coffee grounds from the dumpster of the local 7-11–served in a white porcelain tea cup.

The two hours went quickly as David listened to this man share his story.  His tone fluctuated between sadness, regret, anger, frustration, hope and longing.  As he concluded,  the significance of the moment became apparent to him as well and he asked a simple, yet sincere question: “Why did you come?”   “Because you invited me,” responded David.  “Also because I follow Jesus, and that implies doing what I think He would do if He were living my life–and I think Jesus would be right here drinking coffee with you.”

David’s answer seemed to satisfy his host as he reflected: “In the four years I have lived here, you are the first person who has ever come to visit me.”

This past Wednesday this man didn’t go to get the weekly meal with the other regulars.  But he did go to church Thursday evening–the church where our friends who began this feeding ministry attend.  He was bathed, neatly dressed and with his candy cart parked outside.  He stood up near the end of the service and testified that he’s been “clean” for two weeks and  knows God is doing something in his life.  The reason he didn’t show up the day before is that he wants to make enough money to buy his own food and support himself.

Our friends took him out for coffee after church.  Instead of scavenging the used grounds out of the trash outside, he was inside sharing a fresh cup of coffee with friends.  A simple, yet monumental transition.

The road to recovery is difficult and takes vast amounts of courage and divine intervention.  When you sip your morning coffee tomorrow, please say a prayer for a man who longs to break free from the choices and circumstances that have controlled his life for too many years.  Pray that he would be one of those who allows God to continue the good work He has begun in his life.

Please pray for the man who lives in the tent beside the arroyo.  And his name?…Jesús.

La Casa de Jesús

Coffee with Friends

14 Jan

David is getting together with two guys this morning for coffee.   Both men are entrepreneurs, developing their own food related businesses.  Both have hopes, dreams and goals, as well as challenges.   Both have opened their hearts to David to share about their lives.

For David, this is not unusual as he frequently meets with men and listens to, counsels and encourages them.  What is unique with the first appointment is the location.  This man’s home is a camping tent, secluded in the foliage of the arroyo just a few kilometers away from where he goes to get a hot meal on Wednesday afternoons.

 

David's first meeting place this morning

When they first met, just over a week ago, the man began to share with David that he is addicted to drugs, but trying to quit.  He recounted a particularly hard day recently when some of his buddies stopped by to offer him drugs, but he resisted. With pride he showed David his push cart from which he sells chocolates for a living, saying that some days he sells a lot and others not very much.  And then he invited David over for coffee.

What extravagant hospitality!  It’s not Cafe Tomas where David will be at his second appointment in an hour or so.  But it seems to me it is just the kind of place where Jesus liked to go when He was invited by a friend.

David's second meeting place, one of our favorite coffee shops - Cafe Tomas

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.

Leadership Breakfasts… meet Claudia

13 Dec

This is Claudia Agatón.  She has been attending our Leadership Breakfasts the first Thursday of every month.  We were able to pray for her in July three days before the local elections.  She was running for a state congressional seat representing a small political party…and she won!

Claudia Agatón

In this photo she testified before the leaders attending the September breakfast how much the pre-election prayer had strengthened her.  By the time the date for the elections neared, Claudia shared that she was exhausted from the campaign process and was feeling unsure that she could go on.  After the prayer she explained that she was filled with peace and her resolve was renewed.  She said that day she asked the Lord that His will be done and that if she was favored by Him to fill that role, that she would do the best job she could.

Claudia invited us to participate in her swearing in ceremony in October.  Here she is seated next to the Federal Congressman (left) who attended this unprecedented event—the first time a person from her party has been selected to hold this office.

Claudia with the Federal Congressman

Claudia’s new duties, prevented her from attending the November Leadership Breakfast, but she sent a greeting and asked that we continue to pray for her and thanking us for all the support.

When you remember her, please pray for Claudia and the tremendous responsibility that she now carries on her young shoulders and that she would continue to look to the Lord and to other believers for strength and support.

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