Thursday, October 27, 2016

Update from Mexico

My view as I write this blog - sunrise over the orphanage.
I'm writing this from Reynosa, Mexico where I'm leading a team of 6 men working together to help build a schoolhouse at the Benito Juarez Children's Home. We have an expert plumber (Doyle Parsons) who is roughing in the bathrooms, and an expert brick mason (Pastor Willie Smith) who is laying block on the west wing, just as he did on the east wing back in the summer. We also have an amazing support crew in Darrell Carter, Charles Humphries and Rich Waring. Everyone has been amazing, jumping in and helping, learning new skills and having a wonderful attitude in spite of the hard labor and the heat. What a blessing to be on Kingdom business with these men from three different churches but serving one God! 

The Benito Juarez Children's Home was founded in the late 1960's by Don & Opal Russell after seeing the desperate need of children living on the streets of Reynosa. It has served hundreds, if not thousands, of children over the years, providing them with safe and sanitary living conditions, healthy food, clothing, education and spiritual formation - all in the name of Jesus. Their son, Mark, is now the director, and the children's home continues the mission of drawing children to Jesus with a wonderful staff who are committed to the call and serve out of love, not for a huge paycheck (because there isn't one!).

I first met Don & Opal in 1984 when I attended King's Way Missionary Institute (of which Don was also a founding director). I visited the orphanage a few times while in school and occasionally in the 1990's with our youth group, but in 2003 Christian Challenge began intentionally engaging with the children's home, visiting at least a couple times a year with work crews and supporting them financially. I estimate that we have made well over 30 trips to help construct buildings, do maintenance, build a wall around the perimeter, and love on the kids! We've been coming so long that we've watched many of the children grow up, and even saw one of them come back as an adult with his wife to serve on staff. (Ricky and Esther Juarez are true heroes of mine!)

One of the buildings we helped build was a two-story structure that had two large classrooms upstairs and sleeping areas downstairs for visiting groups. A couple of years ago the Mexican agency that oversees education told the children's home that the building being used as a school was inadequate as they had to have a classroom for every grade. And it needed to be on the ground floor. In the picture on the right you can see the children assembled outside the current school early Monday morning, presenting the Mexican flag, saying their pledge and singing their national anthem. And to the left of the picture you can see the lower part of the block wall that will house the new school, with six classrooms, 4 bathrooms, a study hall, 2 offices and 4 storage closets as well as an elevated stage and an open covered area for presentations and inclement weather. Back in our June trip we laid block on the east wing and we're back now to lay block on the west wing, plumb the bathrooms and do some other miscellaneous work.

Here are a few pictures that describe the work better than words alone can...

Mixing concrete the old-fashioned way - with shovels! It's then loaded into
the tractor to be carried to the area where the floor is being poured.

L-R: Darrell Carter, Rich Waring, Willie Price, Charles Humphries.
Great crew!
Doyle Parsons, fearless plumber!
Charles and Willie laying block above him.
That's trusting your team!!!

Rich and I worked on casing in 9 doors and 6 windows.
So that's what's going on in my world. I hope you're having a great week ... and please remember the Benito Juarez Children's Home in your prayers. They are letting the children come to Jesus and expanding the Kingdom of God. And that's a good thing!!!
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