If you would like to help financially support my work here in Mexico, please contact me, or make a secure donation via paypal! Thanks!

Friday, October 30, 2009

... ... ...

love is not a victory march - its a cold and its a broken hallelujah

Thursday, October 1, 2009

...buena vida...

It has been a long time. I want to try to put up a few smaller blogs that might encompass a large part of the last couple months.

So - one thing that has kept me pretty busy of late is helping to get the new dorm building at Buena Vida (the other orphanage in our town) ready for the kids to move in.

I've been talking things over with Norma, the new AWESOME American volunteer at Buena Vida, about all her decorating/fund raising/activity planning ideas for the orphanage and it has been exciting to be able to brain-storm with her. Multiple visiting groups have had a part in getting this dorm built and painted and tiled, etc. and it has been fun to see it come together. It is cool because with this new dorm, the orphanage will be able to care for more children, both boys and girls, and of all ages.

Well, last weekend I spent 2 entire days painting Bible Verses and decorative things on the freshly painted walls, as well as helping the girls get all their stuff moved over. The girls spent their first night in the new dorm Friday night and then Saturday we had a dedication service to pray over the new dorm building with some of our church family.

Pray for these kids and that their lives would be blessed by Norma and the new dorm building and that God would protect them all and provide for this orphanage always.

Here are some photos of the new dorm and also some of my painting project.

Hallway in the entrance to the dorm:

Me, in action:

My finished "textos":

Finished dorm:

Everyone who attended the dedication service:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

...We heart visitors...

The last few weeks have been full of non-stop groups, construction projects, craft projects, bonfires, beach/pool trips, etc. and it has been entirely exhausting and entirely wonderful at the same time. Here are a few pictures of groups and some of the things groups do while here...

They build houses for poor families in the community who need homes:

This house was for a single mother and her 4 kids who previously had been living in an old school bus.

Praying over a newly built house before handing over the keys to the family.

Groups do fun crafts and activities with the kids:

They make bottle rockets.

They play fun games.

They make yummy meals for the kids & staff.

It has been so good to have visitors here, both for the well-being of the orphanage, and for the sake of the kids!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

...a bed and a blender...

It often surprises me here how much poverty there is in an area soooooo close to one of the richest states in one of the richest countries in the world. I say it is a surprise, not because I forget that I am living and working in a very poor area, especially in a recession, but mainly because here, there is not often stark, immediately-slammed-in-your-face-at-first-sight poverty, and when you do find it hidden there, right under the surface, it kinda punches you in the stomach a little bit.

The thing is, Mexico (or at least, Baja California) is pretty good at hiding its poverty. No matter how poor a person is, they will almost always have their hair done nicely, wearing nice, clean clothing. Maybe I am a bit jaded after having done some work in Africa, where the immensity of the poverty is evident everywhere you turn, but still sometimes I forget where I am and about the poverty that surrounds me. I mean, we have Starbucks, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Applebees in the closest city to us - it is easy to forget the economic situation in which we live.

I recently had an experience where I was invited to someone's "Home" and was struck, to the point of tears, by the humility of their living situation. I justify putting "home" in quotations because it is indeed a family's home - where they live and sleep and eat - but it is also a place where no one should ever have to call home.

After allowing my eyes to adjust to the dusty darkness of the inside, I could see that this was a little worse than I had been expecting. We occasionally bring groups to do grocery dispenses in an area where migrant farm workers live in tiny shacks with their entire families. Even those homes did not prepare me for this 7x10 cold concrete shell, where the graffiti-covered cinder block walls enclosed nothing but a tiny propane cook stove and a piece of particle board lifted up on bricks to make a bed.

It had been my experience up until this point, that even in the humblest of living situations - like the nearby migrant camps - people still are able to find things like beds, fans, tables, lamps, etc... basic home necessities to make even a shack somewhat livable. But this particular place is home to a newly married young couple with a 9 month old daughter, who have no nearby family, and have been out of work for months. There is no water, no table, no bed, no bathroom and electricity borrowed from a neighbor via an extension cord, which sustains a lukewarm mini-fridge and bare light bulb hanging on a hook in the wall. And they pay $80 a month rent for this place!

The young mother, Olivia recently landed a cooking job at the orphanage where I live and work, and that is how they walked into my life. I have somewhat adopted this family and am attempting to help them in any way that I can - God has really placed them on my heart. My boss is fully supporting this endeavor however he can, but keeps asking what it is about family that has fully grabbed my heart and attention - when there are 50 people a day at least who ask us for help and food and clothing for their families. I think that what grabbed me was the fact that they did not ask. Olivia and I had been fast friends for a couple of weeks before I heard about her small family's situation from a mutual friend. And even when she invited me to her home to meet her baby, the humility in both Olivia and her husband Noe was touching. They've never asked for anything, and they are happy - together as a family, and that one of them has finally found some work in our town. Olivia told me "Tengo mi esposo, y mi familia, y tenomos salud y trabajo... todo esta bien..." Basically that she has her family and they are healthy and she is working - what more could she need?

I think this is what always strikes me - here and in Africa too - that some of the most content people I have ever met in my life are the ones who have nothing. There is not the luxury to gripe or complain here - and when you're at the bottom, every blessing is noticed and appreciated.

When I asked Olivia if she would mind if I found them some things to make their home more comfortable, she was already overwhelmed with appreciation. She said to me "Jay (no one here can say my full name) I would be perfectly happy if you could find us a bed and a blender - so that I can make salsa." A bed and a blender - all she needs to feel comfortable. My.Heart.Broke.

I have since found her a bed and clothing and food for all in the family, but am still looking for a blender, and dining room table, a crib for the baby, pots and pans, a lamp, etc. etc. etc... And maybe even a better living situation all together.

She has also started making appearances in our church services, which is awesome since the family are not Christians. I do not like to push my faith on people - to make them feel like I have in-your-face ulterior motives in provding what little help I can (I know many of you disagree on this - but I believe that God is big and will/can water any seed planted). But I want to always attempt to live out my faith and follow in the footsteps of Jesus - and hopefully seeds will be planted and people will see that. If people ask (and they almost always do) why we do what we do - why we would help people we barely even know - then I tell them, without holding back. And I always pray for the opportunity to do so.

So I tell you all this asking that you join me in this prayer. And also maybe hoping that some of you might want to help me in this endeavor. If anyone wants to donate or sponsor any of the items listed above, OR anything else to this family, let me know. I love you all! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

...noche de peliculas...

Tonight, Lauren and I headed over to the other orphanage in our town, Buena Vida, to have a movie night. There are about 15 girls there and many of them have been here at Door of Faith at one time or another, so we have good relationships with them all.

The last week or so has been ridiculously busy and non-stop so we were sooooo tired and almost canceled, but I'm always glad to spend time with these girls. There is one worker to the 15 of them and not a whole lot of room to play and have fun in. So it is good for them to have visitors and distractions whenever possible. Tonight was no exception.

Armed with Veggie Tales, chips and soda, we had a great time!

Friday, June 26, 2009

...dias muy tristes...

Sometimes our children leave. For one reason or another, they do not always stay here forever. Sometimes, they go back to their families, which is usually a very good and happy situation. Sometimes, for a plethora of different reasons, they get moved to other orphanages or centers. Regardless of the reasons, or where they are going, it is always a sad day for us. You become so attached to these children after living, playing, eating, loving with them everyday - it is never an easy situation.

Yesterday was one such day. We lost 2 of our little ones. They are going to live with their grandmother who loves them and will take very good care of them, so it is a dia muy feliz, but it is still a hard situation for those of us still here. :)

A few pictures of the little guys, Bryan and Isaac, that I will be missing a great deal!

Myself with 2 year old Isaac

The brothers hugging. Precious.

Typical Isaac

Gonna miss these guys! :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

...I do not want to forget...

It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song
You can’t believe it
You were always singing along
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can’t remember
You try to feel the beat

You spent half of your life trying to fall behind
You’re using your headphones to drown out your mind
It was so easy, and the words so sweet
You can’t remember
You try to move your feet

...and I hope I never forget...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

...estoy aqui...

Hi all! I am still here, although I just realized this morning that it's been almost an entire month since I last blogged.

I feel like there is not a whole lot to share about the last month that would interest you, and yet I feel like it was very busy and extremely emotionally exhausting.

Usually, I keep track of what's been going on simply by taking pictures of things I want to share with you. And then when it's time for an update, I will go through my recent photos and remember the events I wanted to blog about. But upon viewing the most recent photos on my camera, I realize there's not a whole lot to share.

A few highlights:
* Bonny The Best took me to TWO back to back concerts in LA - The Decemberists and Ben Folds. Both were AM.AZ.ING!
* Got to spend 5 days in Riverside with my family, as well as some close friends I've been missing a lot!
* Val came to visit from Portland!! For a few days and it was SO good to see her and spend time with her! And Sam and Theresa even got to come for a night! SO much fun!
* Got to go Quincenera dress shopping for Julieta, one of our special needs children who will have her 15th birthday party in July! (Her dress will be neon pink and blue! :) )

I am still trying to raise enough funds to be able to stay here until at least October (which would be an entire year of me being here). I would like to get the orphanage at least through the summertime, and have committed to staying as long as is financially possible. If you would like to help out with this, let me know, or donate via the paypal link on this page.

I will post a more complete update soon, including pictures! Love to all! Hope all is well!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

...enough with all the “big one” talk…

I hadn’t even been in Orange County for 5 minutes before I felt an earthquake. UGH.
“Fear Not” says the Lord… And this I know… Still, I am terrified of earthquakes…

“For I know the plans I have for you” says God, and STILL I am terrified of them. But I will trust in You, Lord, for You are with me.

And so I head to the center of all the recent quakes, Los Angeles, to spend not one, but TWO, concert nights with Bons. I am excited for The Decemberists and for Ben Folds, but nothing compares to my excitement of spending a couple days with my bestie.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

...tengo mucho sueño...

So this last week or so has been busy Busy BUSY! It began with Swine Flu taking over yet another part of our lives (even though there have been NO confirmed cases of it here in Baja) with the closing of ALL Mexican schools for 2 weeks, AND all of our kids being quarantined to the orphanage property for those 2 weeks.

Last Thursday was Mexico's Dia Del Niño (Day of the Child) and it was celebrated here with TWO complete days of fun and food and games! An AWESOME GROUP provided BBQs, Bounce Houses, a RAD DJ, toys and pools for the kids for both days. They also had little ultralight planes in which they took some of us staff up in over the beach! It was so much fun!

Lauren and I also managed to organize a late-night time for all of our staff to get to join in on the fun!! haha It was AWESOME FUN!

Me, obviously very excited to get this thing started!

One of our dorm moms, Lucy, decided to take me down with her:

Lauren and I racing down to the bottom - it got a little brutal at times. :)

The morning of the second day, we headed to the beach for our flying time with another great group who was involved, but had some time to chill out while the planes were being prepped:

We also got to take a quick walk on the beach, running into an unfortunate little whale who apparently couldn't make it back to the water. :(

FINALLY, the planes were ready to go, and we got all geared up!

And UP we went into the sky...

...And over the ocean!

We have also had to get creative in keeping the kids entertained as much as possible while they are out of school - someone donated a box of "Make & Bakes" - where you can make your own little stained glass windows in the oven with metal frames and colored beads. (I remember making these when I was little!) We had a blast!

Here is Emmanuel with his masterpiece - A race car:

aaaaand a few other random pictures:

Myself with Esther...

...and again with Lalo...

...Victor, self-taken...

...and Ramon!

While it was a loooooong week, it was a good one - especially full of fun for our kids!

In closing - this evening I went walking with some of our staff and older girls (they walk every night!) and we ran into a large Kingsnake. While these are not poisonous snakes, it is our policy to kill all snakes on our property in case we let one go and the kids start to think ALL snakes are OK. This one was no exception and I helped to kill him, although I was sad to do so... Here is the snake, and then me with him in his final headless state...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

...dear friends and family...

... I do not have Swine Flu. Nor does anyone I know, or anyone near me. In fact, according to my research, more people have gotten the flu in California than here in Baja California. Therefore, it is safer here - come visit me.

I do, however, appreciate your concern. Although - after having malaria, twice, I feel as if Swine Flu would be a walk in the park - I pray that I never get to find out for sure though.

Much Love!


Ps - Here is an awesome picture of a CUTE kid, Bryan!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

...mi lugar favorito...

So for the past couple of months, Lauren, Kristy & I have been utilizing the roof of my house as a tanning bed. :) It is the perfect place to lay out and catch some rays where no one can see you, or know that you're even there.

The past couple of days though, I've also been spending my quiet time and reading time up there, since it has gotten SO warm this week (yay!) and today I realized how extremely lucky and blessed I am to live in such a beee-ooo-ti-ful place! This is the view from my lawn chair on the roof - notice the sheep and horses, and the mountains looming in the background. :)

I also took some pictures of my little rooftop garden, which includes tomatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and all kinds of herbs!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

... ...

...the wanting does indeed come in waves...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

...Jesus is Awesome...

Happy Easter everyone! I hope it was blessed and full of love and fun!

I've been up since 4:30 this morning for our church's sunrise service, so I'm a'gonna keep this short, but it's been a GREAT weekend - Yesterday one of our older girls, Flor, had her Quincenera, and it was SO much fun! And man was she gorgeous. (I'll post pictures soon...)

Then today, we had the sunrise service, followed by breakfast, and then a couple hours later began an all day BBQ/baptism at some nearby swimming pools. It was good times for all! And sunburns for all the guerros. It was AWESOME to see so many people baptized.

We got home after dinnertime and had some Guitar Hero fun with a couple of the older boys, before Lauren and I headed out to La Fonda for some Snickers/chocolate cake and coffee... what a loooooong and busy weekend, and I loved every minute of it!

Some GH pictures for your viewing pleasure... It is always so much fun! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...no puedo dormir...

It's 1:30AM and I can't sleep. Not sure if it's the fact that it's actually warm tonight, and I've been used to freezing at night since I moved here, or the fact that there are birds and crickets still loudly vocalizing their approval of the warmth, OR the fact that I've had a lot on my plate this past week and have been STRESSED OUT - but here I am, wide awake.

But I have comfort in the following, and it has been the theme of my life for a while now... I hope you take comfort in it as well...

Luke 12:22-31 -

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Wow. WOW! Be anxious for nothing. Do not worry about ANYTHING. This is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. God has EVERY teency detail of our lives in His hands and He will take care of us. I am learning everyday what it truly means to seek His Kingdom FIRST, and while it has NOT been easy, it has been beautiful - seeing more and more of who He is each day. I pray the same for all of you.

I had pages and pages in my head when I started typing, but have been sitting here staring at the screen for quite some time now, so I think I will call it a night. But I love you and am praying for you!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Some of the best parts of my week...





Wednesday, March 25, 2009

...a day in the life...

So I missed keeping track of a few days - It has been a VERY busy week. Not to mention incredibly emotionally draining and relationally exhausting. :)

But I wanted to show you all what yesterday looked like, as it was as close to "typical" as we get when there are groups on site...

- Tuesday March 24 -

*6:30am-8:00am - Got ready for the day and talked with my roomie, Lauren, about what the day would look like for us and our 2 groups on site.
*8:00am - Met with the rest of the staff in the kitchen for morning coffee and staff meeting.
*9:00am - Went up to our Upper Campground to meet with our college age visiting group to go over their projects for the day.
*9:30am-12:00pm - Organized, oversaw and provided supplies for 60+ people from various groups doing various painting, cleaning and construction projects here on site. (This is one of the biggest parts of what we do here)
*12:00pm - Had lunch with the children.
*1:00pm - Lauren and I took 2 of our older girls to Ensenada for a Quinceñera dress fitting, and to buy shoes and jewelry to go with her dress.
*5:00pm - Again stopped at my favorite taco stand, El Trailero, on the way home from Ensenada for a yummy torta dinner. :)
*5:30pm - Stopped at a Military Checkpoint and for 15 minutes sat through the soldiers wanting to flirt and practice their English with us. They're harmless, and sometimes it's actually quite flattering and entertaining, but it is just another part of what we deal with day to day.
*6:00pm-8:30pm - Made it back in time to check on both groups in both campgrounds and join in a loooong campfire discussion with one group.
*9:00pm-10:00pm - Followed up on some scheduling/organizing emails with groups visiting in the next couple of weeks.
*10:30pm-ish - FINALLY got to bed. what a loooong day! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

...a day in the life...

- Tuesday 3/17 -

* 6:30am-8:00am - Woke up, ate breakfast, saw the kids off to school.
* 8:00am - Met the rest of the DOFO staff at the kitchen for coffee/daily staff meeting.
* 9:00am - 12:00pm - Worked clearing/tilling land for our garden and orchard and watered my garden!
* 12:30pm - Ate lunch with the Ninos!
* 1:15pm - Took my daily online Spanish lesson.
* 2:00pm - Left for Ensenada to take one of our older girls, Flor, for a fitting for her Quincenera dress! (Her big day is in April!)
* 5:00pm - After finishing with Flor's fitting, stopped by "El Trailero", the most amazing taco stand in Baja, for tacos and tortas.
* 6:00pm-8:30pm - Helped some of our oldest kids with finishing and printing their homework.

...a day in the life...

Hi! So people ask quite often what a typical day looks like for me here at Door of Faith. And seeing as how there really are no "typical" days here, and how no 2 days here are ever the same, I thought I'd start keeping track of a few so you get the idea. :)

- MONDAY 3/16 -

* 6:30am - Woke up.
* 7:30am - Went down to the school room to pray with the kids before they left for school (we do this every Monday morning) only to realize that today was a National holiday and there was no school.
* 8:00am - Met the rest of the DOFO staff for coffee down at the kitchen.
* 8:30am - Left for the US with another volunteer, Kristy, to run some errands in San Diego.
* 11:00am-4:00pm - Finally made it across the border after a 1.5 hour line and between our states-side storage unit, multiple stores, banking and money exchanging, ran a BUNCH of errands.
* 5:15pm - Made it back to the orphanage in time to meet & greet a newly arrived group who is building a house for a family in our town.
* 5:30pm - had dinner with the kids (i miss them after not seeing them all day!)
* 6:30pm-8:00pm - Had some of the older boys over to play Guitar Hero at my house! (Which is AWESOME to watch!)

Friday, February 27, 2009

... hard times...

As the economy fails and the violence in Mexico gains more US news coverage, our visiting groups and donations decrease.
We've been making cuts where we can, but some things - such as weekly food dispenses to the poor in our community - we feel are too important to cut unless we absolutely need to.
we have been very blessed. our children are never without food, clothing, education, etc. but we are afraid for the seemingly imminent and near future.

That said, it's been kinda cool to see the way people here are pulling together to make the dollars go as far as they can. from upping the amount of water we mix in our pine-sol and clorox, to our cooks coming up with ridiculously creative recipe ideas in order to use what food we already have (like the mashed potato/hot-dog tacos we had for dinner tonight). :)

Pray for us to be the best stewards we can be with what we are provided and to be able to provide for our 100+ children even as the world around us collapses.

Pray also for my own heart - and the increase in anxiety and fatigue that have been plaguing me for some time now. I am feeling particularly down this week, and would appreciate your prayers. Love you all!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

...amo mi vida....

There has been much to do around DOFO these last few weeks. January is almost gone and I can't believe it has gone so quickly! A few highlights...

** Ana's Quinceñera - All of our girls get a party for their 15th birthday, as is the Mexican tradition. The dress, the cake, the church service, the whole nine yards. I got to take her to a few of the dress fittings, so it was cool to be able to watch her enjoy the entire process! Que Bonita!


Ana with her escort, Gerardo:

Ana and I:

** I was able to sneak away for a few days and take a quick vacay in the OC, which was nice. It was great to see my besties.

Bonfire (of course):

At the movies with licorice straws:

Lunch with Andie (yay! she's back!):


** Andrew was finally able to come down for a visit and completely funded and planted the start of our new orchard(Thank you!) (I have been praying for an orchard since i got here!) It is my new favorite place, and I am in the process of planting vegetables there as well!!

The 8 baby trees (Oranges, limes, lemons and mangoes):

Besides that, it's just been LOTS of visiting groups, multiple projects, lots to coordinate. It's hard work, but it's a lot of fun. And with the Spring Break coming up, we're just getting started. :)

Oh - And my fave part - just hanging out with the niños!

Two of my faves, Marcos & Samy:


Abraham & I: