I realize that another 4 months has gone by since I last updated. I tend to get overwhelmed with everything that I'd like to share - about experiences and all I've been up to since my last update - that eventually I just give up trying. haha....
But I've received some reminders that people actually do WANT to know what's going on down here and in my life, and I am ridiculously thankful for all of the love and support and am going to just give a bit of a photo-update on some of the things that have been keeping me busy lately! :)
HOUSE BUILDING PROGRAM: As you may already know, we have a really rad program down here where visiting groups can come down, stay on site and build houses for families in our community. Since DJ & Lynette have been passing through various trials in their lives (keep them in your prayers!) I have been helping run this program, and since January of this year, we've had 7 houses built for families in our town!
While this is a huge responsibility, it has been an enormous blessing - Not only in watching the lives of these local families be blessed and touched in an incredible way, but also watching the visitors be transformed as they come down and live out the love of Christ in serving others. It's awesome to see relationships develop between the visiting groups and the families, and as a result, many of the local families have become Christians. I have made quite a few new friends in our community as well!
A group from Ohio/Kentucky building a house for a local family out of block
Jorge, Maricela and their 2 daughters received a new home this summer!
A DOFO group in front of a freshly-built house for a family in town. This group comes down for 2 weeks every summer and builds TWO homes while here!
ENGLISH CLASSES: In the beginning of this year, I began teaching free English classes twice a week for anyone wanting to learn in our community. They were originally meant for adults only, but I couldn't say no to the children who also wanted to learn English! We ended the first "semester" at the beginning of summer with about 15 students regularly attending, and I will soon be picking up with the classes again come September.
(If anyone has any pointers/resources for ESL classes, I could really use it! I've never done anything like this before and am just kinda feeling my way through. It's tough!)
Here I am teaching a class... We have them in our local church, an hour at a time, twice a week.
With 2 regular class attendees, Armando & Fernando
REHAB CENTER: As I've talked about before, I've always really had a heart for the Christian drug & alcohol rehabilitation centers in our community (we have 2 for men in our town) and try to help them out however/whenever possible. Last year, God lead me to a woman's rehab center in Tijuana, where I've been developing a relationship with the director, Maria, as well as consistently taking food, supplies and most importantly - the Word of God. I try to go once a week to give a Bible study, pray with the women, and just spend time talking with Maria. God has really challenged and blessed me through this ministry and I LOVE being able to be a small part of what He is doing in these homes!
Here's me with the director, Maria! I love her!
This is the outside of the home, in Tijuana. There are currently about 20 women living here.
VARIOUS OTHER MINISTRIES: Besides these regular things I've been involved with, we have a very busy schedule at the orphanage. As American volunteers, our primary responsibility is hosting visitors -both people just dropping by to see the place, and full on short-term missions trips, which are usually anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks in length. We love having visitors, so I, as always, just want to throw out there that you all are more than welcome to come see us - just let me know!
I've also been keeping busy with our local church! It is my second family and from baby showers to birthday parties to weddings to youth group to regular services, there is always something going on at church, and I can usually be found there if I'm not here at DOFO. :)
Here's my roommate, Lauren and I with out Mexican parents, and the local Pastors, Gustavo & Elizabeth Pacheco!
I am also currently in the process of planning a quincenera (HUGE traditional birthday party for a young girl on her 15th b-day) and helping to plan and set up a really great youth event that will be happening at a church in Ensenada on October 2nd! Youth from churches from Tijuana all the way to Ensenada and beyond will be invited and Lauren and I have been asked to teach as well as help advertise the event! Please join us in prayer for that!
SO - there is a taste of what's been keeping me busy lately. I promise to try and update more frequently from here on out. :) I love you all and would LOVE to hear from each of you! (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks again for all of the continued prayers and support!