Mission Trip Report - Matamoros, Mexico, 1/15/2006 to 5/15/2006 Adventures in Missions

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Matamoros, Mexico
First Year Missionary

Trip Dates:  1/15/2006 to 5/15/2006
Age Group:  College-aged young adults
Status: Completed
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   Reports for Matamoros Trip
On Leaving Matamoros 23

5/13/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

Our last week in Mexico has been spent relaxing and debriefing at South Padre Island. We got the opportunity to spend three days at the beach having lots of fun. We went dune jumping, had a water balloon fight on the beach, and a sand sculpting contest. But, more importantly, we were able to talk about things like what/who we will miss in Mexico, any regrets we might have, how we have changed, future goals etc. It was a wonderful time of fellowship as our group got to share some precious last minutes together.
Today is Saturday, and we leave Monday. This weekend is a normal “ministry” weekend, minus all the “spring cleaning” we are doing to prepare for leaving. Our group is very excited about spending the weekend as we always having—doing ministry and going to church. There will be a goodbye church service for us tomorrow night. There is no way to properly close out our updates, no way to express what leaving means or feels like to us. All we know is that God has changed us, God has touched us, and wherever we go after here, we will go in His name and in His power. When asked of our future plans we all have only one thing in common, if only to know Him more! Thanks for all the prayers and encouragements! God Bless!

Maury 22

5/5/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

If any of you can remeber the update we wrote on Enrique...who´s foot was really hurt back in October, and we prayed and it healed? Well, as we were walking around our colonia on Saturday we ran into him. His mother, Maury, has been working and has been moving houses a lot, so we really haven´t been able to spend much time with her during the past 8 months. She is also living with guy named Juan, so all five of her kids live with her ex husband. I knew we had to go visit her. Enrique showed us where her new house was. Myself, Jason, Amanda, and our Mexican student Nathanael, ended up talking to her for over 2 hours. She thought God was unforgiving and judgemental. She cried and told us she had done too many things for Him to be able to forgive her. We got to tell her that that is not true, that his love covers over a multitude of sins, and that that is a lie from the devil...that God can´t forgive you because you´ve done too many bad things. Her heart was definately being stirred...she also told us that she felt something weird in her core, something she hadn´t felt when a Jehovah´s Witness came to her house. She said, ´¨They didn´t talk to me like you talk to me, I didn´t feel God when they came!´ Please continue to pray for Maury...that she continues to feel the difference in the core of her being when she ponders Jesus and what He is offereing her.

The Beauty of Mexico 21

4/28/2006  By: Naomi, Skeltis

When I arrived in Mexico I wondered if I had really heard God’s voice telling me to come here. The place was so dirty and ugly. I peered through the bars out the window of my room and I saw what looked like a small mountain, actually it was the city dump. There was little grass and lots of dirt. It seemed everything was broken and trash was everywhere. The air was heavy with the smell of burning trash, sewage and animal waste. I sat on my bed and asked God if I really had to stay here.

My heart has changed since that first day in Mexico. The place is still ugly, dull, and smelly but I have realized God had a bigger plan. The reason God brought me here was not to admire the land but the people both Mexican and American. The people I have come in contact with are not perfect but they are willing to let God use them. When you come across people open to God you find that they have a special beauty within them. The beauty I found shining through people in Mexico was unexpected and stirring. I have been challenged to begin to try and seek out the beauty in everyone. God has taught me that even in the place I thought I could never see beauty there was beauty all around me.

Hannah's Trip 20

4/21/2006  By: Hannah, Sterling

This is an update from a last-semester FYM, Hannah Sterling, who came to visit us for over a week. It was wonderful to have her back in Matamoros and we know she enjoyed visiting us and they Mexicans she used to minister to!!!

As a last-semester FYM I had an opportunity to return to Matamoros for
10 days. One of the highlights of my trip was a planned ministry activity
I had prepared prior to arrival in Mexico. With my step mom’s help, we
“packaged” over 400 plastic Easter eggs with candy. I made plans to take
them to my favorite neighborhood from last year, Cabras Pintas. I
easily acquired some volunteers to ride out with me to help with the Easter egg hunt. Since I knew we would have the kids’ attention, I desired to use the time as an opportunity to share the Gospel and the reason why Christians celebrate this holiday. A slight disadvantage to the timing of my trip to Matamoros was that students were on a two-week break from school and many of the families had left for various
trips. So when we arrived Saturday morning for the Easter egg hunt,
there were not many children to be found. Before beginning, I prayed with our group that God would richly bless our ministry during this time and that He would receive all the glory. As we were about to begin with the handful of children (mostly grandchildren of Hilda, the Christian woman I’d been staying with) a group of boys showed up for soccer practice. Katie and I approached their coach because I wanted him to “loan” us his boys for half an hour. I told him of the Easter egg hunt and why we were there. He replied, “I’m a Christian, too,” and graciously offered his team’s time for our ministry. So I’d estimate we had about 30 kids or more by the end of the morning. Robby and Becky pitched in as Hilda blessed our group by presenting the Gospel message to the children in Spanish while Katie, Danielle and I tried to quickly hide the eggs. The morning was a sweet success. The children had a
great time searching for the treats. And hopefully seeds were planted
in the hearts of those young ones during our time of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross and the miraculous blessing of His Resurrection.

Fun Week 19

4/12/2006  By: VaNessa Grasso, FYM

We are half way through the fun week. It’s been a time of rest, fun and building up out team. At the beginning of the week we can out of projects tired and sacred of what Bob our base leader here in Mexico would do to us this week. But it has been wonderful.
Monday we all got up late and hung around did our own personal time to do what was needed. At 3:00 pm. we left for the beach. We got there and there and set up our tents and the fire. Bob and his wife cooked the best meal that I’ve ever had here in Mexico, we had stake, chich-cob-bobs, and ribs. What a dinner! After dinner we had worship and soon in the night we all went to sleep.
Tuesday we got up around 8am and ate some muffins and black coffee. Then a couple of us went doon diving in the high sand at the beach. I’ve never, in my whole life, doon diving. It was lots of fun just running and jumping in to the sand. After an hour of that we walked back toke down the camp and headed back to the church. All the girls got dressed and we had lunch. After we went to bowling in Brownsville Texas. Wow I was really bad at it, but I had so much fun losing. Katie Oswald had the highest score of bowling. We played three game and went home and had the night to ourselves.
Wednesday was so much fun but painful. We played paintball. This was my first time playing. I’ve never wanted to do it because someone told me it hurts. We played many games, girls agence boys, FYM agence leaders and the leaders won! Zach got hit in the face about 3 times. I only have six blue and reds on my body. I really enjoyed today’s plans. I guess you always have to try something once to get your own opinion. I like paintball not my favorite sport but fun to shot at people. I got the most person in the game with out getting shot at. My secret was stay in one place and be a sniper.
Tomorrow were going to the beach all day. We are going to go to South Padera beach. I am hopping to have time to just rest and have quite time with God (and tan)… I hope to swim in the Gulf cost, play some volleyball and have a good day.
Friday is unplanned yet!
I thank the Lord for this week that we can just come together and have fun with each other, I’ve been really tired and I know some of the people on this team is too.

FYM Mexico FUN Week 18

4/9/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

After four weeks of projects here in Matamoros and Saltillo the FYMs are still marveling and remembering after the things they saw God do through the short term projects they helped led. It has been a great time, but also a time of seperation as a team. This week will begin our 'fun week'. It's a time to relax and reconnect after weeks of seperation and work. We will be doing many wonderful activities such as camping, paintball, bowling, and going to the beach. Every person on our team is looking forward to this time to have fun and rest in God!!!

Daniel 17

4/9/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

The following story has given me much encouragement. Our whole FYM team was helping out with a project this past week at the Gateway. I was a translator, so I did a LOT of talking. On Tuesday I went with 2 groups to a bilingual school called CIMA. The principal is a Christian and she allowed us to present Jesus and other things to the students. I was in a 9th grade class. We broke up into small groups, and the American and Mexican highschoolers began to get to know each other. I was helping talk for 2 American boys. They shared the message of Jesus using the always popular "wordless book" bracelet. I could tell that the boys were a little old for this. I encouraged one of our kids to share his testimony. This is when I could see all the Mexican boys gaining intrest.

The testimony talked about the dramatic change in this kid's life before he knew Christ and after he knew Christ. One Mexican student, who I was sitting next to, was named Daniel. I could see a spark of interest in his eyes. At the end he said, "I really like that story". That is when we began to have a deep conversation. We talked about how Chrisitianity is unique because it's the only religion where we don't have to do anything to get to heaven, we can't, we're imperfect! Christianity acknowledges this and offers us a solution, we can stop trying to 'earn' salvation and just trust in Jesus. We talked about grace, about God's justice, and why exactly Jesus had to die. I talked about how God loves us, has a purpose for each of us, and wants to be our Father. Our conversation took many turns, and I could feel the Holy Spirit with me, because my words were not my own!

I could see Daniel's face transforming throughout our conversation. It was as if he was seeing for the first time. He did not even know that his name was a name or a book in the Bible! I got to share with him about Daniel and his faith in God. I told him the Daniel of the Bible wanted much of God, and this Daniel said, "I want him too!" I asked him if he wanted me to bring him a Bible when I came back on Thursday, and he said yes. I also introduced him to my friend Franco who was able to talk further with Daniel. He was so excited for us to come back.

When we got there Thursday we presented to him a Bible which both Franco and I had written a message on the inside cover. We showed him how to use it and and had marked some passages for him in John and in the book of Daniel. He asked if Franco would pray with him, because he wanted this God of Daniel! Praise the Lord that Daniel is now part of the Kingdom, and I am very excited to continue following up with him. Please pray for him when you think of him, or see his name!

The Women's Jail 16

3/26/2006  By: Deanna, Pierce

In the midst of laughter and smiles Yuri and I make eye contact. She says to me, “Deanna, my dad died about twenty days ago.” Shocked at both her words and the setting in which she shared, I was left speechless. Yuri has been in prison for two years, hasn’t seen her father in four and didn’t even get to go to his funeral. For the first time since December I got to return to the prison to visit my friends and I thought I was prepared to hear what has happened with them in the last three months. But no, I was dumbfounded.
Yuri and Lupe, cousins, have three children each and are not married. Both fell in love with Jesus since being in prison and both feel an extreme amount of guilt for leaving their children without their mothers. We talked through it a bit and I know they know God’s love for them but it’s tough for them with children as young as three and no Christian support from back home. Their families are broken up and they are troopers these women, but are also real humans and they hurt, bad.
So when I had the opportunity to go back to the prison again on Friday, I took it. Yuri, Lupe and I sat and reminisced, laughed, cried, talked…for three hours! It was amazing and we had so much fun. Their hearts are golden and I’ve missed their company. Praise God He’s definitely helping me out with the Spanish language and what a blessing these sweet friendships I have with these girls.
So this was a joyous time of reunion: I was almost knocked over by the hugs I received and overwhelmed by their beautiful smiling faces, but also hurting for the pain deep inside their hearts. I am their only visitor now and I’m leaving in May; plus I cannot give them everything they need. However I’d be lying if I said they don’t enjoy visitors. We serve a pretty amazing Lord! So please, feel free to lift up these women to Him!

Humbleness 15

3/17/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

This past week myself and a few other FYMers helped lead a spring break project at the Gateway (AIMs large base in Matamoros). It was a nice break from our "daily" life here in our colonia. That Gateway is in the county, so it's fresh air, many trees, and few houses. Our group of 80 was a mix of college and highschool students from a church in Austin, Texas. They were separated into 8 groups. They have been coming with AIM for 10 years--so they were very organized. Because of their organization, there was actually little for me and my fellow FYMs to do, or should I say less than we though we would do. We did less interpreting than I had anticipated becuase they had over 10 spanish speakers with them. Because I was over 21 I ended up driving a 15 passenger van all weekend (which totally helped me overcome my fear of crazy Mexican driving!)

God used the driving to humble me. He pulled me away from everything I thought I would do and everything I wanted to do....playing with kids, door to door, interpreting etc...and placed me a situation I didn't initally want to do. My first reaction to having to drive everyday and shuttle peopel between sites was a bad attitude, until I realized that ALL service is valuable to God. Why should I think of such a service ( a neccessary service to make the week run smoothly) as beneath me?! God's great and I had a lot of fun this week, especially through serving the kids and driving them where they needed to go.

Watching God Work in Las Granjas 14

3/15/2006  By: Danielle Contarino

I know VaNessa already talked about today, but it was a good enough day for two people to talk about. A few of us went to Los Granjas this morning after praying about it and feeling God leading us there. Thursday Brian, VaNessa, and I went to Los Granjas and talked with this little girl named Anna. She slammed her finger in the door and hadn’t been letting it heal. She had been biting it and it had gotten infected; we could tell it was causing her a lot of pain. Today when we went to Los Granjas we were able to bring some antibiotic ointment that VaNessa had brought. We gave the whole tube to Anna’s mother and showed her how to use it for Anna’s finger. We go to Los Granjas a lot so we will be able to keep checking on her.

We continued to walk around the colonia to pass out more medicine and to see if there was anything else we could do for anyone. We found a lady and some of her daughters who were trying to build a fence. They were having trouble digging the holes and placing the huge fence where it needed to be. Erik and Esteben were able build most of the fence for them. While they were helping with the fence Rachel, VaNessa and I went across the street to these girls’ house. They didn’t have any water left so we were able to buy them a big 5 gallon container of water. They were so happy!

At the end of our time there we were all so refreshed and felt so positive about the work God is doing through us for the people of Los Granjas. VaNessa’s favorite part of the day was helping a deaf boy with sign language. Erik’s favorite part of the day was getting to do some construction work. I think Rachel’s favorite part of the day was just getting to hang out with the all people. And my favorite part was when some of the girls were teaching me how to read in Spanish.

We were all praising God for the wonderful day He had given us and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.

Danielle Contarino

Learning From Others 13

3/15/2006  By: VaNessa Grasso

Today was a great Saturday morning. The sun was out the clouds were gone the birds were singing, nothing can go wrong. We meet in the class room with the CEMM students (Mexican Missionary Students). We prayed to see which coloina God wanted us to go to. I prayed and felt that I was being lead to go to Las Granjas. We split ourselves up into 3 groups and went to different colonias.

I had some medicine to pass out. There is this one girl whose finger was really infected bad that needed antibiotic we had. We also had pain pills, which went to the people that we thought that needed it the most or the people who would ask us if we had any had pain pills. We walked to this one lady’s house where she has nine kids. The team was talking with her about her house and her family. The two boys on the team helped build the fence for there house. Rachel and Danielle were playing with some of the girls from the neighborhood. I taught a boy Daniel who is deaf his sign language homework.

When I was younger I was trying to learn sign language. I think it’s a gift to know it. I know a little, to get by. What a great language to know now. Daniel was a great kid -he wouldn’t stop following me. I think it’s hard to have friends that don’t know what we need. For Daniel I know that God has something planned for him. A friend is a gift a gift from God, someone very special told that to me. Daniel really makes me think how having someone to talk your language means a lot. I praise God for Daniel that he can teach me something everyday.

BY VaNessa Grasso March 11, 2006

Precious Reunions 12

3/8/2006  By: Deanna, Pierce

The five-minute bus ride to Buena Vista is one of both excitement and anxiety. I set foot into the bumpy dirt road and start walking like I know what I’m doing, where I’m going, like when I walk into her house, I will suddenly be fluent in Spanish. I reach that familiar rickety chain-linked fence surrounding those two small shacks with confidence. She was outside and immediately she rose to come give me a kiss and a hug. In an instant I felt at ease, at rest, like I was home.
This is the house of Amelia, an old woman in her 80’s. Her son, his wife, and their kids also live here. Last semester we visited with Amelia time after time: we got to know a lot about her and my heart got to grow very big for her. But this was the first time I’d see her since I left in December. So we talked about how life has been these past months and it was a great time. For just one hour I was with her but what a blessing from the Lord to be back in her company and to be able to share so much with each other!
From Amelia’s I walk towards the place where perhaps my heart is captured most: to the homes of my little gang of about ten children! Greeted by the most precious hugs, kisses, handshakes and the most beautiful smiles, I melt. For an hour and a half we all played and laughed together. I could spend each and every day with them; in some ways I feel like they are my own children. It’s always hard saying goodbye to them, not knowing what they are going home to or what the rest of the week, or month will bring them. But I know it is not my responsibility to care after those children: I trust God will keep them and I am blessed to receive so much joy from their sweet spirits.
Leaving Buena Vista I was walking on cloud nine but God had yet another blessing for me. A man, whose name I don’t know and who cannot speak, came to give us a handshake goodbye. In all the time I’ve known him I’ve never seen him laugh or smile but I feel like in that handshake we spoke directly to his soul just like he did to ours. His face was brightly lit and he was laughing with us with so much joy! What an amazing time.
To top off this wonderful day out team went to a nearby park, and for an hour and a half, I got to play real, intense soccer. What could be better? I think my heart-beat was revived on this day!

Always Providing 11

2/27/2006  By: Katie Oswald

Many times before heading out to our colonia’s, I find myself wanting to lie down and take a nap. I begin doubting that we will do anything through the next few hours, doubting that anyone will want to talk with us, plus I don’t “feel” energized. After we pray as a group, the mood always improves, but… is God really going to do something today?

Well let me tell you, He has yet to not do something every day! This past Tuesday, we brought supplies to make earrings, but were unsure if we would find anyone interested. We arrived at Dora’s house, (a woman, not yet a christian, with cancer) and began chatting with her daughters. Soon, things were sprawled out on the table, and we were hanging out and laughing together. The night ended with a taco dinner together, and hopes that they’ll join us for our Thursday night Bible study.

On Thursday, we were waved over to a makeshift basketball court by six Mexican kids who we had met separately previously. They were all members of one church whose pastor we have met and hope to work with. For the next hour we played basketball, and later went to the pastor’s house were we sat, chatted, fellowshipped, and laughed! These are just a couple of instances of God’s provisions! God never ceases to provide opportunities for our group… if only I would learn to have faith

Earrings for Jesus 10

2/24/2006  By: Amanda Wyatt

“I’m about to walk into the house of a complete stranger, in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language.” This was going through my mind as I followed Elisabeth, a girl who’s about 4 years old, into her house. She had just made earrings with Kelsey and me and wanted me to come with her to meet her family.
I walked inside the small wood house to find 5 pairs of eyes fixed on me. “Hola,” I said nervously. Instantly, they welcomed me into their home as a friend, inviting me to sit down. One of their sons spoke a little bit of English so he tried to translate for me since I didn’t understand what they were saying.
Kelsey came over a few minutes later, which was a relief for me because she speaks Spanish. They asked why we hadn’t come by and invited them to church so we started talking about God. We ended up having a really good time with that family and were able to start a new relationship because I was willing to put aside my own fears and trust that God was guiding me to that family.

Looks Can Be Deceiving 9

2/20/2006  By: Zach Storey, FYM

Early on in the semester, Robby, Deanna, Cryssa, and I, a newly formed WOW team, settled ourselves next to a nearby shed for some listening prayer. Soon, we would be off to scope out neighborhoods to choose which one would be our sight for ministry. "Well, I got something about water, flowers, and the number three," Deanna informed us. To add to our random direction, Robby chimed in, "I saw a backwards nine . . ."

Later, we found ourselves wandering about what felt to me, in some small way, like a ghost town. Fairly empty, this colonia was more upper class, devoid of yards, and stood in contrast to the small houses, shacks, and amiable kids frolicking about their yards -- what we were used to. A conversation with three non-social kids made us feel like we were performing our quick-relationship, Mexico style ministry in America. We wondered at how to meet people with the large gates stuck in between us and many of the house entrances.

However, when we were walking, we joked about the flower arrangements in the house windows (or something I didn't really see) being confirmation because of our thus far negative experience. We slumped down on the curb, and Robby spoke up, "I didn't want to say this you guys, but the path we just took was a backwards nine." In Mario and Marta's house (the pastor of a church in the colonia and his wife), an assortment of flowered hats adorned the wall. Just before piling back into the van, I mentioned to Deanna the large water tower in the distance. At debrief later that week, Cryssa realized that this colonia was our third stop.

On one of our first ministry days, Marta informed us that, if I understood her correctly, she had been praying, and God told her in an audible voice that we were supposed to be in this colonia.

Looks turned out to be deceiving, and we've now befriended the friendliest group of kids I've met in Mexico, and have an awesome opportunity to start a children's ministry for Mario and Marta's small church. Thank God for what I believe turned out to be loads of confirmation!

Nalleli 8

2/20/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

This week was unique because I got to make new relationships with a few families here in my colonia. It is easy to just settle into visiting the people you know, so I was happy to make some new friends! One new friend has been on my mind since the day I met her, and you will see why!

Although people who tell you that the average age for marriage in Mexico is around 18-20 almost every lady I know here in my colonia got married around 14 or 15 years of age. I thought that was young, until I met Nalleli. I was making earrings with some little girls when she walked up to join us. I thought she was at least 16 years old, that is until I asked her and she told me she was only 12. I must have looked pretty shocked, because she said, "really, I am only 12". After she said that, her little cousin, said, "Yeah, and she's already married!" I thought I heard wrong until Nalleli confirmed that she was indeed married. She has been married for a year, and at the time of her marriage was 11 years old. Her husband is currently 18 years old. They have no children yet. I asked her if she thought marriage was what she thought it would be. She said no, it's different, and that she misses going to school. It broke my heart--even though she may look older she is only 12 years old!!!

As we were talking, her grandmother came out and began to ask me questions about Jesus and God. I could see that Nalleli was hanging on every word that I said. She has much intrest in God!!! She asked me to come visit her house soon, her husband works a lot and she is very lonely! Please pray for her this week!

World Race 7

2/10/2006  By: Erik, Ocskasy

At the end of last semester all the returning FYMs were presented with an opportunity to fly in a week early to meet the World Racers. When I heard of this, I jumped at the chance to come down and work with the three teams as they went through their training. I never could have foreseen the how that first week was going to change the rest of my semester.
I spent that first week training with the teams and working in a colonia (neighborhood) with the Red Team to do ministry. During the week some major strongholds in my life were destroyed and I began to realize what the freedom we have in Christ really means. By the end of the week they wanted me to go with them to South Mexico, even though it was not possible. So, the World Racers left, my fellow FYMs arrived, and the program began.
Two weeks into the program and Bob, the base leader, mentioned that he would be leading debrief in South Mexico for the World Race teams. He added that if I wanted I could go with him to meet back up with them. Again, I jumped at this opportunity and climbed into a mini van with 24 hours of driving ahead of us. To sum it up I had another amazing week with the World Racers. The only thing that changed this time is that we were in complete paradise.
Debrief happened at such places as the Mayan Ruins, Auga Azul, and at a Restaurant of one of the locals they met. All in all I had a great time worshiping the Lord and listening to all the ways he worked in only two weeks with the teams. Now being back with the FYMs I have a renewed passion to seek God in all that I do and I have a heart for the people of South Mexico.

Christian's Smile 6

2/10/2006  By: Robby, Jones

Serving at the children’s home is probably my favorite part of being here in Matamoros. Although it’s not technically an orphanage, its purpose is to take care of kids while their parents are in jail. When the children arrive, they often bring with them scars—both physical and emotional. Often their mothers were drug dealers or prostitutes, and their fathers were abusive or deadbeats.

At the children’s home, Christian has always been my favorite—my best buddy. He’s three years old and he has the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. When I first visited in the beginning of September, he seemed isolated and shy and he couldn’t say a word. But over the past five months, I’ve spent hours upon hours playing with him, feeding him, reading with him, holding him, and just loving him—wondering if his parents ever had.

Just yesterday I learned Christian’s story from Esther, the lady who runs the children‘s home. It turns out his that his parents had loved him and his brother very much, but because of a fight they were in jail for three years. They had no choice but to give the boys up. When I first arrived at the orphanage yesterday, I did what I always do. I went to find Christian. But, after a few minutes of searching, one of the boys explained to me that someone had taken him to visit his mother for a few days at the jail. I was worried, I’ll admit. But I learned from Esther that when he first arrived, his mother had commented about how he’s changed since the last time she had seen him, the way he smiles, the way he hugs her. Up until yesterday, I guess I never realized how much progress Christian has made, how far he has come, since the day I first saw him in September. I’m so proud of him, but mostly, I’m excited that God is answering my prayers—that he would bless Christian and that he would give him joy even when the things in life aren’t as perfect and bright as his smile.

Power of Prayer 5

2/6/2006  By: Brian Mulack

My internship is at the prison. We go twice a week to visit people, to pray for them
and to show them love. There is one man we met who lost both his legs in
prison due to diabetes and lack of medication. He is currently losing sight
in both of his eyes. The first time we met him, one of his friends asked if we
could buy him some medicine because he didn’t have any more. We told him
that none of us had money, but that we could pray—so we did. A week later
we came back to visit him and he told us how the day after we prayed with
him someone came and brought him the medicine he needed for his eyes and
diabetes. It was a direct answer to prayer.

The next time we visited we prayed with him again, for healing of his eyes and his other medical
problems. When we went back this week he told us how the day after we
prayed one of his friends got in contact with a radio station in Missouri.
They sent down a specialist to see him about his medical problems and
decided to give him surgery for his eyes and medication for him and other
people in the hospital wing of the prison…for free! I’ve never seen such
direct answers to prayer. We all sat together and thanked God for his
goodness. Praise God that prayer can break through language barriers!!!

The Dump 4

2/3/2006  By: Naomi Skeltes

Going to the dump last Saturday was an eye opening experience. As we were driving in, the thought going through my mind was; why would you be in this wretched place? The smell from just sitting in the car was enough to make you want to vomit. I looked across the field of trash and saw a haze of gassy smoke, birds and more trash. YUCK!
The people go to the dump to find things they can eat, use, or sell. When a trash truck arrives, 20-50 people swarm the load while it is getting dumped. It reminded me of the way ants swarm when you drop a piece of food onto the ground.
When we arrived into the dump we stopped the vans and got out. Everyone stared because they knew we did not belong there. We told them we were giving away hot cocoa and people flocked to the vans, not because they desperately wanted the cocoa, but mostly because they were curious about our purpose. They received us openly and many wanted to hug us, shake our hands and talk with us.
I knew it would be hard for me when I decided to go to the dump. But when that first person reached their filthy, trash covered hand out to me I realized how far I was from exhibiting God’s unconditional love. In my mind I thought of all the diseases, germs, and sickness on that hand. In my heart I tried to picture what if the roles were reversed and it was I reaching out my hand to get love? How would I want that person to respond? How do I want God to respond when I reach my filthy, trash-covered hands to Him?
Pushing everything I have ever learned about cleanliness aside I reached my hand to meet hers. After shaking her hand and kissing her cheek, (a customary Mexican greeting) I realized it really is not all about me. I began to see that God is not looking at the things I am looking at such as outward appearance He is looking at our hearts. God was showing me His unconditional love does not mean only loving those sitting on the pew next to you.

Seeing the Body of Christ in New Ways 3

1/31/2006  By: Cryssa Ravener, Danielle Contarino, VaNessa Grasso, FYM Team Members

Shortly after we arrived in Mexico, we attended the church Castillo del Rey. We were welcomed by the dancers who performed praise dances with tambourines during worship. It was fascinating to observe the service and to see how, even though the languages are different, we are able to come together to worship the same God. For us newcomers, we learned that when you greet a Mexican lady, it is polite to kiss cheek-to-cheek. When greeting a guy, it is a hand slap and then a fist to fist tap. The night ended with us realizing just how little we knew about Mexican culture and how we needed to study our Spanish!!!

The next morning, Mini Wheats and Cocoa Krispies awaited us in the kitchen. The new team members were pleasantly surprised by the small comfort of familiar foods. After breakfast, we gathered for debrief and worship followed by orientation. After some fuel, we were ready to start that sunny afternoon with some team building games!

We were broken up into three teams. Each team brainstormed on different strategies to accomplish the difficult challenges given to us. The first game was a hackey-sack competition where we tried to keep the beanbag from touching the ground. The next challenge was to blindfold one member of each team. This person had to listen to the voice of another team member and be led by that voice through an obstacle course. The last and most difficult challenge was to get five people and three cement blocks from point A to point B without anyone touching the ground!!!

Those team-building activities taught us how each individual has various contributions which will make our team function as one. This showed us how each Christian is a part of the body of Christ—and all are valued equally for their abilities. We are anticipating what God has in store for us and our team in the coming months!!!

God's Generosity 2

1/31/2006  By: Kelsey Manfredi

Christmas break was wonderful, and I arrived back in Matamoros surprised at how much this place has come to feel like home! I never thought I would miss the continual crowing of roosters throughout the night or the smell of burning trash--it only shows me the passion and love God has truly given me for the people of Matamoros. Our new team members are settling into life in Mexico as we, as a team, see what God has for us this semester.

The best part of being back is continuing to pursue relationships I made with people in the fall. This story is just a glimpse of how generous the Mexican people are. The other day, I was sitting and talking in my friend Guadalupe’s house. She was making tortillas and had invited me to eat some.

While kneading the dough, she asked me what some of my favorite foods were. I told her that I enjoyed the sausage and eggs that many Mexicans mix together and roll into tortillas. Immediately, before I could say anything, she turned to her son, Julio, and sent him to the store to buy sausage and eggs to cook for me! I realized that she did this because she really loves and values me, as a friend, and wants to care for me. In the same way that she offered what little money she had to care for me, I want to offer all that I have to God, even if I believe surrendering to Him will cost me too much.

I am learning every day, through these people, that God’s love does cover all. If we believe He actually does what the Bible says He does, then we need to live it, and pay whatever cost He asks of us!

Great First Day 1

1/10/2006  By: Dave Gross, FYM Camp Coordinator

Everyone arrived safe, one time and with all their luggage yesterday! Praise the Lord. We all arrived at our training site and had a great first night of worship, challenge and prayer. Seth Barnes challenged each of the participants as they get ready to embark on this 4 month journey. That followed with a great time of worship in which God moved many to just continue and share and pray together.

Today, the team came out to AIM's headquarters for training. They are all getting along very well together. The teams are starting to gel as they get to know the ones they'll be living with and ministering together with over the next few months.

Thanks for your prayers. May God continue to work in these students lives.

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 The Art of Listening Prayer - by Seth Barnes 
The Art of Listening Prayer
This interactive devotional is for the person who isn't satisfied with a dry faith. If you're dying to hear God's voice, the good news is that you can! Jesus is the door, and He has opened it up to you.

Don't Miss Out on Hearing God's Voice!
The Art of Listening Prayer