Thursday, August 9, 2012

Update #2 The days of VBS with PIB San Juan

Before I get started.

Here is an update from Aaron Sutton on the Psalm 67 blog that was actually typed while in Texas about half way through the week. 

Also I have tried to make a time line that you can see on the left to give you some context (and hopefully help me remember everything as well)

Primera Iglesia Bautista San Juan, First Church Baptist San Juan, shortened to PIB San Juan or sometimes Primera San Juan. This was the church that our group was put in contact with through the leadership at Cristo el Rey, the church we have been working with from the beginning of our time in Texas up to this point. 

It will be good for you to know that in all probability we are not looking at working with this church, Primera San Juan, on just a one time bases. It is also very interesting to note that it may be God's providential plan for us to become more involved here in the future. The reason I say this is that Cristo el Rey, who for so long has been struggling with the lack of a pastor and with such a small core of members, now has a pastor. And they have decided to make him more than just temporary pastor, I believe. AND the message that we heard last Sunday at Cristo el Rey completely blew me and Aaron away. Taking us much by surprise. I am very glad that both me and Aaron were able to be present. I had tears in my eyes after just the review portion as I realized I was hearing Christ exalting, powerful, EXPOSITIONAL preaching on Ephesians chapter 2 (Efesios 2:4-10 5a Parte) is the message the week before the one we heard), the sixth message in a series of sermons on Ephesians. 

I may be able to get back to that and explain more of how encouraging that message was but for now know that it is very interesting that the same trip that a Biblical pastor comes to one church we are introduced to a new church in need. One that while it appears to have a more stable membership core is both without a pastor AND without a church building. Their former building that they shared with the Anglo Baptist church in San Juan was condemned by the government so now they are meeting in a members home in the city of Donna. It seems strange to us to have a Primera San Juan meeting in a different city than it's name but maybe that just points out our need to realize that the body of Christ is not in anyway constrained to certain building structure, or city, or culture. 

This again was our theme for Vacation Bible school (as we call it). We used material from Desiring God ministries. Sunday was the first day. We gathered kids and invited people each evening around 6:00pm or so, tiempo latino (we ran late almost every night). It was a similar format to what we have done before with three groups. We always seem to start with four groups, older/younger boys and older/younger girls, but we end up with three because the girls join groups (this actually helps though). Daniel and I did the games with the kids, Sarah Weber did the crafts, Gennie and Kim tackled the challenge of teaching and leading the very young kids, Rick Clausel taught the lessons, and Aaron Sutton taught the adults. 

I think the two biggest blessings from the VBS time (feels a little strange calling it VBS when it involves adults and families) were with these last two of the team. While each of us did our part to encourage the kids to learn their Bible verses and each of us took time to pray with the kids during our time with them, whether that was in games or whatever, it was REALLY encouraging to see Rick teaching those boys and girls about our God who ALWAYS wins. While each of us outside had our times of chasing down runaways and corralling kids together and spending 15 minutes just trying to get the kids quiet enough to pray with them (I know my temper got way to close to blowing at times), Rick was able to teach them while they listened to stories about how God utterly defeated Kings and Armies, false gods and idols, Satan and death itself, AND how he's coming back again one day to complete his final victory. 

While I'm sure Rick can tell you stories of his own struggles with teaching the kids, it was very precious to look in the window and see the kids sitting and listening, and then when they came out to games and crafts being able to ask them and hear from them what they learned about God, and how he ALWAYS wins. "DIOS SIEMPRE GANA" is something they should not forget for a long time, hopefully never.

Another encouraging thing was Aaron's Bible studies with the adults. For me at first it meant that I couldn't hand over misbehaving kids to Aaron for him to handle, but by the end of the VBS it meant that God had moved in more ways than I could see. Three people made professions of repentance from sin and a turning to God that included tears of sorrow and joy. PRAISE GOD! and pray for them that God would use this church to faithfully lead and disciple these new believers. From what I understand several of the adults that came were simply parents who's kids had been invited and who had been invited as well to come and learn about God and the Bible. 

Through our time there we made many friends some of which grew close in such a short time. We were able to work along side the members there in a stronger way than we've been able to in the past. We even drove around with some of them speculating on what building might be good for a future meeting place, and how we can work together to reach the surrounding villages in Donna and Alamo with the gospel. 

Please pray that God would bless the seeds that were planted in the kids at Primera San Juan. 
Please pray for the church body that God would take care of them and bless them and keep them focused on serving him first and on reaching the neighbors with the gospel as they help those in need.
Please pray for us and our future involvement with Primera San Juan that God would direct our steps (that can sometimes be a little blind on our part, but our God sees all!)

Thank you for your prayers!!!  Dios te Bendiga!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

First post on Psalm 67 Mission trip

Lots to post and no time to type


Actually its probably just that I've not made time to. Its been three weeks now of camp at Bates Creek and VBS/mission trip here in Texas and I am getting somewhat tired of feeling tired, but I want to try to update and get back on track.

I am going to post out of order a little bit I think. I will save the Bates Creek camp photos and stories for later and skip to the team in Texas up dates for now.

The Team to Texas this time consists of Aaron Sutton, Sarah Weber, Kim Lee, Gennie Jackson, Rick Clausel, Daniel Noah and me.
We did VBS Sunday (July 29th) through Wednesday (August 1st) with Primera Bautista San Juan (First Baptist San Juan) which is a church we made new contact with in the area. They are actually meeting in Donna (one town east of San Juan) because their building was condemned by the government.
It is Saturday now. We've been very busy during our time since Wednesday and I will fill you in on some of the details (I have a list of items to mention).
First though I wanted to mention some of the details of the trip as a whole. We have been very blessed in many ways. In many ways this trip and VBS has gone smoother and has been more organized than before. With the VBS we had help from the church members every day allowing Aaron to teach an adults class every day evening that we did VBS (we had VBS from 6:30-9:00pm). We have been very blessed by both the members of the church Primera San Juan and by all of our family in Christ here. One of our struggles this trip has been financial. With not having Rachel Sutton here to fix us good food to keep us going the girls came into this trip with the mindset that they were going to be fixing all the meals for the group. Well the Lord had other plans for us. We have been so blessed that I don't think we've bought or made a single breakfast for ourselves and so much of our other meals have been provided for each day. It has become a joke almost for our group "Well of course you can invite us to breakfast! We've not had to make a single breakfast yet for ourselves. Why should we start now?" lol!
That's what happened this morning. We were invited back to have breakfast with some of the members of Primera San Juan we've grown close to. We wanted to spend some more time together before we left for the north tomorrow.

OK there's more to tell of the blessing, but also I want to share some of the struggles of this trip. For me.
Also there are many needs we've run into with the families here. But God is good!

Right now though I need to go pick up the team at the border. They should be crossing back into the USA in a few momentos.
I need to share a prayer request when I get back to this. I no longer have my camera or my passport in my possession. The probability of getting them back at this point is very slim to none. But God can take care of that as well. Hasta luego...

... Ok, so we are back from the border now. We are all the way home now actually. In Missouri. Our trip back went well. Now I am trying to get back into routine while at the same time finishing thing that need to be done from the trip.

Instead of trying to make one long post about everything though. I am going to try making shorter posts. Remember I have no camera or pictures from this trip so I am going to try and be a little more descriptive (pray for me!). Where others from the team have written or have posted pictures about the trip I will point these out to you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Small birthday party at the Solis house. Lesley is 9 years old! Nueve aƱos!

Peter is also a year older (didn't catch how many years he has yet). 
It was an awesome evening with the Solis family at their house. They had a BBQ and invited Mario's whole family to come. It was really cool. It was the first time Mario's mom came with us to visit. At first she wasn't feeling well enough to come (Mario has a new baby sister on the way) but by the evening she decided to come. 
There were also neighbors who stopped in to visit and eat plus! Enrique and Lesley's older brother and sister got to come visit from San Juan. Jr and Mary. They stayed the night and also got to come to church with us the next day. The birthday party was on Saturday by the way. 
There was lots of fun, some games, and the food was GOOD! I don't think I've ever had guacamole that good before. There were also two bouts of water wars included in the party featuring the brand new water guns that the three boys earned for helping clean up the camp after all the other campers had gone home (the guns are pretty sweet. Mario's is a battery powered automatic!)

Good food! 
Angela's personal coke stash
This is Mary and Tesarita! Tesarita is Enrique's youngest sister and I think Mary is his oldest sister.

Some of my good friends (picture taken by Mario)

Jr, Erique's big brother holding Tesarita. This is the first time I've gotten to
meet Jr. (Juan I think is his name but he goes by Jr.)
Picture by Jorge

Pablo (also Juan)

Cake is Good! 
Even when on your face!

anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what their talking about. lol!

And Now! For your further entertainment!

Picture by Mario (I think)

Picture by Jorge (I think

The dominoes game being caught in the crossfire of the water war

The Solis' dog "Daisy" and their neighbor Angie

Giving the coke some bunny ears. lol!

Little Peter. It his birthday celebration too. 

You've already seen some of the pictures taken by Mario and Jorge. Here are a few more as well as one taken by America.

Picture by either Mario or Jorge

Picture taken by America
This is Mario's mom
Picture taken by Mario

Picture taken by Mario

And so concludes a great time at the Solis house. I am afraid that my own time here in Mission is going to be gone before I know it. It already feels like it is gone. I took Enrique's brother and sister back to San Juan after church on Sunday and Enrique went with them to spend the week so I won't get to see him again before I leave on Thursday. But pray that I make good use of my time left here, without rushing, without wasting.

Camp Endure 2012 in the Rio Grande Valley

It is late and I am actually very tired so I will probably have to finish this tomorrow. Today is Saturday night at the end of a long and awesome week at youth camp at the Valley Baptist Retreat center.

Lots of awesome stuff happened including Mario, Jorge, and Enrique getting to come! Pray for them that some of the truth that they heard at camp will sink in and truly transform their lives.

There is pretty much no way I can give a complete report right here right now. There is not the time or energy, but I have to get it done because the end of the trip is very close for me and there is other stuff to report on and I really need your guys' prayers that I can stay strong physically and spiritually.

Nightly wrestling matches in the boys room
Needless to say there were tons of kids at the camp. Ranging in age from 11yrs to college age. I got to stay in one of the boys rooms watching over them. For all except one night I was the only adult. For the most part it was awesome and I'm glad I made the decision to move next door to the camp instead of staying at the house (though it did feel weird packing my bags to move across the parking lot).

I got to teach breakout sessions (small group Bible studies) each morning and lead in small group discussion about the sermon each night. I am afraid that I need to learn some more skills in using activity and example to help keep the kids' minds engaged. All I knew to do was teach the Bible and ask questions. But still I was glad to have the opportunity and I hope that some of what was taught stuck with them.

Basketball, 6:00am, last day of camp... HARD CORE! lol
I was glad for every minute that I got to spend with these kids. Everything from Basketball at 6:00am on the last day to wresting matches in the room at night to holding down the picnic tables with some guys to make sure they don't escape (inside joke about the bench sitters ;-) it was well worth it to me and I think that all the kids felt the same way.

..., Juan (Pancho), ..., Philipe, Eric, Julio
One of the most awesome things about the camp was that so many of these kids had never been to church or to any kind of camp like this before. In fact many of them really didn't have a choice about coming and didn't really want to be there in the first place. BUT by the end of the week NO ONE was ready for it to end. Whether the kids had come with a friend from church, or was dropped off by a parent or grandparent, or was brought with a Community Transformation Center group, or they only spoke Spanish and I had to either learn or get a translator...  We had all become friends together.

Juan Contreras
The other awesome thing is that the Gospel WAS PREACHED here. They Gospel was taught and presented. As with most things like this there are some things that I disagreed with, but I was happy and grateful for those there giving their time in the teaching and preaching and worshiping or our God and savior Jesus Christ.

There is lots of good stuff that is in my head right now that was taught but if I try to get it out it will probably be all jumbled up. So I am going to try and finish this post tomorrow afternoon...
The worship team led by Gabriel de la Garza

...Ok this is actually Monday morning. Going to finish this up.
Pastor Juan Contreras brought the word each night. The theme of the camp was ENDURE coming from the verse
"13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
I Corinthians 10:13
The first night he talked about Common temptation. Temptation comes to everyone in this world. The second night was Withstanding temptation. The third night was "Live Out Endure". Basically how we live out the Gospel and how we live out a life committed to Christ. The last night was "My Story" where he shared his life story, how he came to Christ and has been changed by him.

Each night after the sermon message we would break up into groups to discuss and ask questions. There were many kids who at the end of the message would go forward to commit their lives to Christ or to confess a felt calling to "live out" their life to Christ in a certain way. I would sometimes try to bring this home to them in the discussions and I would try to talk about and have them think about what is for real.

I think for me one of the biggest things Pastor Juan said that stuck out to me was in his life story message. Near the beginning he quoted Frances Chan saying "The only point of life is that life points to Jesus". Then near the end of his story as he was wrapping up Juan said (paraphrasing).. My life has a point now, it has worth, it is worth telling and sharing with others BECAUSE it points to Jesus...
For some reason this stuck with me in the moment very clearly. Partially I know because that is one of the main reasons that I was drawn to Jesus Christ in my conversion. The realization that nothing I did on this earth would have any real meaning or lasting value apart from Christ.

Ok I will close up this post with a few of the best pictures and the most fun times from the weeks. You can also see all the pictures on Facebook.

Lozt Zouls in concert at the camp. A Christian rap group (brothers I think). 

I was very impressed and they were VERY good. I wasn't sure what to expect
from Mexican rappers at first. lol. They are from Mission Texas and all the
kids were engaged it the concert. And thats saying something because at least half
of the kids I talked to before the concert weren't really looking forward to it.

Mario's mom checking up on him and Jorge after the first day.

"Ministry activities" can mean painting tables, and here are at least two who
were paying good attention to detail. 

 Mud Fight!!! Oh yeah!

I was munching on the word early one morning and along came some little bunnies to munch on a few leaves in the prayer garden.