God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.

Sorry for the delay in the post.

We spent Easter at a church that some teenagers who volunteer with Back2Back attend. They met up with us at the hotel and we took the bus with them to church from there. Before the trip, we had originally planned on going to a very conservative church, but plans changed and God worked everything out for the best. The church we ended up attending was very alive and excited about the work God is doing in Mexico. They were extremely hospitable towards us and even prayed with us before we left. The worship was incredible; I’m talking people jumping up and down and simply finding true, genuine joy in worshipping the Lord. We all want to bring this style of worship back to Taylor now, but it may be a little much for what Americans tend to be comfortable with. After worship, some of our team helped out with Sunday school while some of us stayed for the Spanish church service. Those who volunteered to help out in the Sunday school were so encouraged to see teenagers leading the classes, who were so on fire for God and students who were so eager to learn more about who God is. One of our team members noted that in America, we tend to only let the “qualified” people (usually adults) teach Sunday school, but this church had teenagers leading the teaching. This made me think of how many “unqualified” or young people God has used to preach the gospel. As far as I know, the disciples were a bunch of teenagers. God used so many unqualified people. I came across a quote that talked about all the “unqualified” people God used in the Bible. To name a few: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Jacob was a liar, Jonah ran from God, Peter denied Christ, the disciples fell asleep while praying, the Samaritan woman was divorced, and more. I was really struck by how we do not need to have it all together in order for God to work through us. In fact, I believe one reason our team was so unified was because we all admitted that we did not have it all together and yet we all longed to love and serve Christ with everything we have. I do not know who the author is, but I came across a common quote that said, “God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” I think this was a great reminder; especially coming out of the trip, some of us may believe lies that God cannot use us. But, He already has and will continue to.

When we returned to Taylor, technically Tuesday morning, we hit the ground running. We arrived at Taylor at 2:15 am and had to go to class in the morning. So needless to say, the distraction of our busy lives is something we are all battling. Although our hearts are very sad as the trip has come to a close, our hearts are very blessed as we reflect back on our experience in Mexico. God answered so many prayers, brought us new realizations daily, brought us closer to Him, and brought us closer to each other. We had asked at the beginning of the trip if you all would pray for team unity and God certainly answered that prayer! We truly felt God at work in our team, as we were so vulnerable and real with each other. No one pretended to have it all together, while we also expressed a common longing to seek truth in the Lord. We cannot even express how much all of your prayers were appreciated.

Some things we learned:

-       The importance of putting others needs before our own

-       The incredible power of God

-       God’s love can reach beyond language barriers

-       The importance of being in community and what real, intentional community looks like (even beyond how much intentional community is stressed at Taylor)

-       The importance of being real with each other and sharing what God is doing in our lives

-       How blessed we are

-       What it really means to live for Christ (we met some incredible role models)

-       What it truly means to care for one another

Please continue to pray for:

-       strength as we adjust back to life at Taylor

-       keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus despite the business

-       us not to be discouraged

-       us to stay connected as a team, despite our separate schedules and busy lives

-       God to continue to work in the lives of the people we met in Mexico, both the Back2Back staff, their ministry partners, and the children we worked with

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Anecdotes for the Road

Our spring break trip to Grant County is over, but I thought I’d share some stories from our time in Marion and at St. Martin’s.

Basically, our mission on this trip was to hang out with people. It’s true that we also served food and hung up clothes, but at least for me, that was the real focus.

There was one guy I met, I don’t even know his name because I never got to sit down with him, but he was a real kidder! Whenever I gave him food he would always ask for just a little bit more in a joking tone. “Please!” he’d whine, putting a hand on his heart and pouting his lower lip. I’d put a little more until he finally was satisfied. One day I was serving strawberries, so when he came through the line I put a single berry on his plate. “Oh, come on, girl!” he cried petulantly. I raised my eyebrows and put one more. “Oh, really? Please, more!” Things continued like this until he had more than a normal serving of strawberries, but that was okay. It was hilarious!

On Friday as I ate my lunch, I sat with a little family I had noticed coming every day. The mother looked to be in her twenties and her two kids were seven and four. They were so adorable – they both had dark brown hair (the boy’s was curly and poofy) and dark eyes that seemed bottomless. I had barely sat down when they began talking to me. “Are you going to eat with us?” the girl asked. “Yes, is that okay?” I answered. “All right,” she said. Immediately she began chattering about her kitty that was blue but had red paws. They looked like mittens, but they weren’t because it was just the fur changing color, she explained to me. “Look, she’s on your lap!” the little girl exclaimed. “I think she likes you!” She grinned at me happily. “I like her too!” I said. It was incredible how she was so excited to talk to me, and didn’t even know my name!

Next the little boy came up to me. He smushed himself so close up to my chair that I could barely eat! I began crawling my hand up and down his back and head like a spider, and he giggled. He ran around the table as we continued playing like this, and he laughed and laughed! The next day when I saw the kids again, they were excited to see me too.

On Friday I went with a group of team members to a house nearby. Our plan was to help clean the house and we expected to be dealing with perhaps a packrat problem or very unclean conditions. The other group who did a home visit certainly faced that, but we faced something else. Before we could knock on the front door, it was opened by a bunch of kids, many that I recognized from serving lunch at St. Martin’s. When we entered the front room, there were so many kids running around and playing loudly, I started wondering how many lived in there! (It turned out there were seven kids, coming from two mothers, and living with the grandparents – a whole family tree in one house!) As I stood there, not sure what to do in the face of the pandemonium, one of the girls grabbed my hand. She was about eleven years old. We began talking and told each other our names. She seemed so happy just to have me there! As we began cleaning the house, she asked if she could help me. I was surprised by her offer, but let her scrub walls with me as her little brothers periodically came up and asked if they could help too. The girl’s grandfather walked by at one point and said, “What’d you tell her to get her to help you clean? She hasn’t done a minute of work in her life!” He walked away laughing, but it dawned on me then that these kids didn’t care if they had to clean, as long as they got to spend time with us. They were so hungry for love, for recognition, for a caring hand (Cassie just held one of the kids for hours, and he was perfectly content). I had been a little begrudging in coming before because I was already tired from a day at St. Martin’s, but after meeting the kids, I was so glad I had come.

We finished cleaning quickly (there really wasn’t that much to do in that house), and went outside with the kids. We played with them for two hours – piggyback races, regular races, snowball fights, swinging them around in the air – and they loved every minute of it. One of the little ones (he was about four), found a funnel and filled it with snow. He’d walk up giggling and swing it like a baseball bat, and the snow went flying out. This went on for probably an hour, and it was hilarious every time! We were sad to go, but we saw them again at St. Martin’s the next day, and they were so happy to see us!

These are just a few of the experiences we had, and they don’t come close to encompassing everything that happened at St. Martin’s. There are so many people I don’t have time to mention here, but they are just as important to us as the others.

It is so true that this trip changed us more than it changed anything in Marion. But that’s okay. My heart has been captured by these beautiful people, and I know there are many others in our group who plan to go back to St. Martin’s on Saturdays and keep up the connection. That’s the beautiful thing about this trip – it’s not really over, even though we’re back at Taylor.

                ~Melissa

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Remember with us…

Here are some specific prayer requests we would ask you to remember with us…

  • Friends at the halfway house
  • Thankfulness for James Lewis and his testimony of gratitude.
  • The high school guys who received Christ this week: Trevor, Marcello, Jordan, & Mason
  • Our friends from the halfway house who rededicated their lives to Christ, or gave their life to Jesus for the first time: Zeke and Lucky (Jennifer)
  • Joshua who is seeking peace and restoration
  • Red….for safety and for healing.
  • Larry that somehow he will beat his addictions and find some measure of peace.
  • Hailey and Cameron… that they would feel God’s reality in their lives.
  • Donny… That God would protect and provide for his band.
  • The people we encountered that were challenged and touched by what we had to share with them, but still remain living in their old ways.
  • All the Christians we were able to meet and spur on together in truth
  • Rest for our team as we adjust from this trip back into our busy school and work schedules
  • Wisdom as we share our experiences from this trip with others in order to encourage, edify, and challenge.
  • Safety as we drive the 1000+ miles home!
Posted in Daytona, General | Leave a comment

Easter

It’s Easter….and as we watch the sunrise, we are reminded that this is the day and the reason that brought us to Daytona. The opportunity and privilege of telling the people of Daytona that the world, while dark, is not hopeless. That the Son has risen. And with Him, hope and redemption has come.

Sunrise Service

Sunrise Service

As we pack up our three white vans and begin the long journey home, we leave behind some good friends along with some new brothers and sisters. We take with us a reminder that in the darkness, Christ love shines brightest. Pray with us that those who have come to know the savior will find fellowship and opportunities for discipleship. For those who are considering the message, they will not be able to rest until they make the decision to call out to the Lord. Remember our beautiful friends at Ocean View…and the homeless we’ve come to know and love. For protection, peace and the knowledge that they are loved and not forgotten by God. We will try to do one more post with more specific prayer requests that you (and we) can remember.

Posted in Daytona, General | Leave a comment

A little R&R

Sorry, I’ve been a little behind on the blogging. We’ve had some technical difficulties.

Thursday, we went to the beach with the children of a family that Back2Back works with. Even though these children live only about ten minutes from the beach, they rarely go. For some of them it had been months and for others it had been about an entire year since they had last been. It is not uncommon for children in the area to have never even seen the ocean. We were each assigned a child to take care of for the day at the beach. We splashed around in the waves, built sandcastles, caught fish, and buried each other in the sand.

It was a really neat experience to be able to go to the beach in Cancun during spring break to serve kids, instead of simply for a vacation. Some of our team members and their little buddies for the day really hit it off and we all dreaded returning them home.

After shopping at the market, we came back to the house and ate a delicious authentic Mexican meal. Following the meal, we had team time including worship, sharing about our fun experiences with the children, and discussing our plan for action after the trip.

We have absolutely loved the experiences we have had here and how we have grown together as a team. God has worked in so many amazing ways on this trip so far, breaking our hearts and teaching us to believe in His incredible power.

Friday, we returned to Rosie’s house to finish the wall we had begun earlier in the week. We played with some of the kids – painting, playing soccer, and just having a great time. We then bought some jewelry from Rosie that she had made. It was really neat to see that because of the jewelry we bought, she was able to pay for something she had needed money for. She has an incredible faith that God will provide.

After our time at Rosie’s, we packed up our stuff in the van and drove to the hotel as our time at Back2back came to a close. We are so thankful for the family that the staff at Back2Back became to us. They were truly a part of our team.

Today, we had a nice day off at the beach, which we spent with a few of the teenagers who volunteer with Back2back. They were incredibly hospitable, showing us our way around Cancun. As we were dropped off in the touristy area of Cancun, we experienced a bit of culture shock; it felt like a different world. It was heartbreaking to realize that the glitzy area of Cancun is just minutes away from the poverty stricken areas we had been ministering in. After a fun day at the beach, we went to a local mall to get a great deal on some Mexican food, including quesadillas and churros. When we returned to the hotel, we had a great debrief, reflection, and encouragement time. It was so nice to have a day to just get reenergized, reflect on what has happened on this trip, and prepare our hearts to return to Taylor.

Posted in General, Mexico | Tagged | Leave a comment

Surfs Up!

Today our team went to the beach. We were all able to relax and enjoy God’s creation.  The bus ride there took us through winding roads.  Far off in the distance we could see a group of mountains and an enormous volcano.  It seemed to follow us as we zoomed through the hills.  Cows, stray dogs, and other cars flew by in the blur of countryside that swept across the window.

We spent the afternoon riding waves and collecting sea shells. On the beach there were gazebos with hammocks. In short it was paradise. Words can’t describe how restful this was for the team.  Lunch found us in the shade eating lasagna shrimp, grilled fish and chicken, seasoned rice and all kinds of tropical drinks.  Later as the tide rolled in we attempted to play soccer on the sand.  We had more trouble keeping it from the waves than from the other team.

Our team had a great time of bonding today and we have a nickname for almost everyone.

Djamina – Young Djamizee

Celeste – Bobby

Julia – Jafavey

Bre – BB

David Lew – David the Hulk Lew

Casey – Pillowcase

Glen – Glenomie

Elizabeth – Drama mama

Kelsey – Galadriel

Jazmin – Sasquatch/Argentina

David Neel – Bandido

Julie – Jamocha

Anila – unknown/TBA

Abi – Abidrenaline

Crystal – the unbreakable crystal

Right now we’re practicing another skit for tomorrow’s service by Life House called the everything skit. We are all so excited for Easter tomorrow. Thank you for the prayers and support.  We’re so blessed by your donations! _MG_0078 _MG_0082 _MG_0100 _MG_0109

Anila and Djamina

Anila and Djamina

Grilled fish for lunch

Grilled fish for lunch

Glenomie

Glenomie

Smiles

Smiles

Casey

Casey

Sleeping David Neel

Sleeping David Neel

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Thinking about eating the fish head

Thinking about eating the fish head

Bre!

Bre!

Crystal and Jazmin

Crystal and Jazmin

Julia and Celeste sipping soda

Julia and Celeste sipping soda

Posted in El Salvador, General | Leave a comment

Good Friday

It’s Friday evening and we are finished with VBS and construction. As I said before our two construction sites consist of building a house and fixing up another. Today we put up two walls in the house we are fixing up. It was a hot day of mixing cement, heaving buckets of concrete, and stacking bricks, but we all cherished each moment of today knowing it was our last day of work.

Due to the wide age range of kids at VBS the bible lesson team had to come up with some new skits.  Surprisingly we managed not only to throw together three new bible stories, but we aslo found scripture memory verses to go with them. The crafts team did a great job of creating crafts that relate to the bible lesson.  After crafts the kids always come running into the church sanctuary wanting to show us and explain what they did. We ended up with about 40 to 50 kids, which was great.

Good Friday is a big day in El Salvador. After construction work today, a few of us were able to walk along the streets and look at the tapestries.  People decorate the streets with flowers and sand, paints, leaves and anything colorful.  Their creation tells the story of Christ’s work on this earth, and his death.  A large crowd of people mobbed the streets silently walking.  At the front they carried statues of Jesus, Mary, and other figures. It was a mournful but beautiful sight.

Fireworks burst in the distance like loud cannons in the night.  The people are celebrating. Our team sits out in the courtyard porch journaling.  We have really come together like a family.  For dinner today the Hawks took us up to a beautiful garden on a hill.  The picnic area gave a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. Here we ate and talked and had a good time of fellowship.  God has been so good to us throughout our week here. We are all excited for the next two days to celebrate Easter here.  Thank you for praying. IMG_2450

fun pictures after working  hard!

fun pictures after working hard

Here is the team that helped build the house

Here is the team that helped build the house

Bre's birthday crystal rock from the family

Bre’s birthday crystal rock from the family

Baby Stephen

Baby Stephen

Hungry Bre

Hungry Bre

Julia and Timmy carrying bread

Julia and Timmy carrying bread

Celeste Bre and Jazmin at the garden dinner .

Celeste Bre and Jazmin at the garden dinner .

Crystal and Kika

Crystal and Kika

Jazmin and little Johnny

Jazmin and little Johnny

Djamina and Casey sifting sand.

Djamina and Casey sifting sand.

Street tapestry for Good Friday

Street tapestry for Good Friday

David Lew and his boys

David Lew and his boys

David Neel and little Johnny

David Neel and little Johnny

Julia playing hand games

Julia playing hand games

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David Neel and Crystal doing cement.

David Neel and Crystal doing cement.

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Here is the team who helped fix up a house

Here is the team who helped fix up a house

worship with VBS

worship with VBS

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

Elizabeth and Gabby

Elizabeth and Gabby

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Playing soccer

Playing soccer

Singing with the kids

Singing with the kids

Casey and the baby

Casey and the baby

Jazmin and Wendy

Jazmin and Wendy

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Dinner in the garden

Dinner in the garden

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