Thursday, December 01, 2016

2016 South Mexico Trip Wrapup

Hi all!

This is going to be a quick wrapup of last week's trip to south Mexico, with a few food pictures thrown in for good measure! In last week's blog entry, written on Thursday, Thanksgiving, I sent you Thanksgiving greetings with an update up until that point. We enjoyed a wonderful meal of some amazing tacos prepared by Pedro and Coqui's son, Oscar, who had owned and operated a taco stand for awhile when he was in college. He cooked some AMAZING "tacos de arrachera" and we also had an absolutely divine "tres leches" (three milks) cake that was so sweet and moist that my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Here are a few pics...

L-R: Faith, Joy, Norma, Hope, Oscar
Thursday was a much needed day of rest for us, especially after all the complications we had getting down. One of the really cool things that happened on Thursday is Pedro brought me a picture he had taken in 1997 when Lori and I and our three daughters had driven in my dad's van down to Coatzacoalcos to visit the church. The picture was of our three girls and his two children NINETEEN YEARS AGO! It was a precious moment of remembering our connection - and marveling at what God has done in our lives!

On Friday we visited in a few homes and then got ready for the "Volunteers Service" that night where I shared some tips on ministering in teams, and then we had a "pot luck" or "convivencia" where everyone brings enough for them and a couple more and it's all shared. Here are a few pictures of the tables...

Did I mention we ate good? All week long!!!

On Saturday we had more fellowship with families, and Hope spent a good part of the day with one family in particular, giving me time to prepare my message for Sunday. That night she spoke to the youth and there were about 50-60 in attendance. She did an amazing job of sharing from John 15 about abiding in the Vine, the word abiding in you, and abiding in God's love. Several young people made commitments for the Lord. And then they all received a great surprise! Pedro had contracted a hot-dog vendor to come serve everyone hot-dogs, and we had ANOTHER fellowship time! Hope was right at home in the middle of the youth. They fell in love with her and she fell in love with them. I'm so proud of her and the calling of God on her life!

Saturday night she actually spent the night with Dr. Cesar's family and they've invited her to come back and spend part of next summer with them. She's praying about that!

Sunday morning we had another delicious breakfast with yet another family and then it was off to church for morning worship. All the volunteers gather at 10:00AM for prayer and praise and then at 10:30 dismiss for their service position and worship started at 11:00AM. I was able to give a live greeting to Christian Challenge at 10:30, before Nick Spurgeon preached on Passionately Pursuing Christ. He did a great job!

Back at Agua Viva we had another amazing worship service! I wish you could experience their worship - it is so moving and the people give themselves over complete to worship God! Here's just a little taste...

Then it was time for me to minister. I was very humbled by Pedro's introduction as he spoke of my influence on his life and also said that in his 29 years of marriage, 27 years of being a Christian and 20+ years of being in ministry he had never heard a message on marriage like I shared on Tuesday. What's funny is I was so wiped out from the trip that I barely remember what I preached - something about Marriage Killers and Marriage Healers. So it was definitely the Lord who brought that message home! Sunday I ministered on "The Secret of Intimate Fellowship with Christ" and had a wonderful response! Many came forward to renew their walk with God and several gave their lives to Jesus. It was another powerful service, and a great way to wrap up a wonderful week! (I snapped a quick photo of the congregation as I was starting to minister - the youth and children are in other parts of the campus, leaving the auditorium for the adults.)

After service we drove back to the airport and ate lunch close by, flew to Mexico City where we spent the night and flew to Atlanta and then Alexandria, arriving around 5:00PM on Monday. I was a little concerned about potential for bad weather and the tornado watch but we had a very uneventful flight into Alexandria, and I even snagged a picture of Hope with the pilot to commemorate her first ever plane rides (six altogether counting going down and coming back).

I couldn't have asked for a better travel and ministry partner than Hope. She is such a delight, so flexible, so positive and so accommodating! I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to spend some valuable daddy-daughter time and create some precious memories. God's got great things in store for that young lady!

Pedro Chulin
Leóncio Capitán
I'm also so grateful for the connection we have with Pedro, Coqui, Leóncio, Norma, Oscar and the entire ministry team at Agua Viva in Las Choapas. Sometimes people ask about the "International" part of Christian Challenge, and they truly are fruit of our ministry in south Mexico. Please do keep them in your prayers as the economic situation in Mexico is becoming dire due to the privatization of Pemex and the falling oil prices which have combined to leave thousands without work. There has also been a significant increase of crime and violence, including kidnappings for ransom, partly from the desperate financial situation but most from the drug cartels fighting for power and territory. These are dangerous times to be ministering in south Mexico and we pray a hedge of protection over them! Here are a couple of pictures of Pedro and Leóncio, his son-in-law and associate pastor, to help you remember to pray for them!

Pedro and Coqui Chulín, some of my favorite people in the whole world!
To wrap this up, as I mentioned earlier, we ate some WONDERFUL food all week long! Each meal is prepared by a different family in the church, and they all give their BEST! Here are just a few pictures of the amazing meals that were prepared for us this past week. But be careful, it might make you want to go to Mexico with me! ;)

Mojarra frita

Huevos Motuleños

Empanadas, Garnachas and fried bananas!

Pellizcadas w/avocado!

A closeup of the Pellizcadas

Pork Birria - oh my!!!

Empanadas, Picadas and Fried Bananas!!!

Pedro and Coqui with a platter of Pellizcadas

Hope learning how to make Pellizcadas.

The finished product! (Note the pinched edges.)

The table is spread by Antonio & Family!

Huevos Motuleños, Huevos Mexicanos, Fried Bananas,
Fresh-squeezed lemonade, Mountain-grown coffee,
Homemade salsa .... it can't get much better than this!

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