Short-term adventures, summer 2023

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Mayra and I are taking a deep breath today, after being involved with a series of short-term experiences here, as well as a trip to a very rural (think dirt roads) part of Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-HA-Ka).

Our summer started June 10 with a group of 12 students and young adults from Leroy Community Chapel, near Cleveland OH. They were involved with a number of activities in a local high school, including conferences on sexual relations, eating disorders and anxiety/depression. Conferences were given from a Christian point of view, and although we could obviously not present the gospel in such a setting, the topics were eye-opening for may of the high schoolers, who received a realistic presentation of the risks and dangers of sex outside of marriage, as well as advice as to how to deal with other aspects of adolescent life.

Teaching a Biblical view of friendship and sexuality at a local high school

The Ohio team was also involved with several baking classes, where upwards of 15 women, all new to these activities, learned how to bake cookies and talk in about the gospel, and their relationship to God. An open gym throughout the week culminated in a volleyball tournament, with 10 teams competing. For the first time, we did a reading glasses donation with a very clear gospel presentation in the third church here, Palmas 1. What a great week!

A youth meeting with youth from the three Sendero de Vida churches, and the Leroy Chapel group

At the end of June, 9 of us, including our three summer interns Amanda, Andrew and Michael, drove 6 hours to Oaxaca City, then another 2-3 hours to a very rural part of Mexico, where small villages are reached by dirt roads that meander through dry agave fields and majestic mountains. Our guides were Gaspar and wife Estela, who have spent years of their lives ministering in these rural areas. They introduced us to Antonio and Reina, and their one-year-old son Samuel.

Donating clothing, school supplies and reading glasses in Santo Domingo, Oaxaca

It is difficult to overemphasize the challenges of reaching a village steeped in tradition and superstition. But little by little, the gospel is making inroads where Antonio and Reina are ministering. Our church here in Mexico City will very likely commit to supporting these pioneer missionaries. It was a privilege to share in a small way in what God is doing in Oaxaca. Our contribution there consisted of donating a bunch of clothing and school supplies that we took to Oaxaca in the back of the Astro van, and donating reading glasses in three different small towns.

Eating pozole after a long day of travel in San Pedro Amantlan, Oaxaca
Please pray for Antonio and Reina, as they share the gospel faithful in creative ways to a village without an evangelical church, in the face of opposition and persecution.

July began with a visit from the Smather family, who took advantage of our Come and See in 2023 week, sponsored by Liebenzell USA. Mission director Dr. Chris Matthews also was here for that first week in July. During this week, we taught English at a local elementary school, and visited Puebla, Cholula, and several ministries in Puebla; the Puebla Bible Seminary and the Puebla Christian School. Later, we returned to Mexico City and visited the Basilica of Guadalupe and the zócalo area.

The Smathers family and summer interns Andrew and Michael, with Mayra and me at a farm near Amecameca, State of Mexico
Liebenzell USA director Dr. Chris Matthews at the Sendero de Vida Palmas church, teaching on the Spanish Protestant Reformation

Mayra and Heather Smathers coordinated several baking classes in Violeta’s house…and it was a huge success! Between 15-18 neighbors showed up to learn how to bake cookies, and hear the gospel.

Making monster cookies, and sharing the gospel in a new neighborhood.

The same day the Smather family returned to Colorado, a group of 20 people, mostly highschoolers, visited us from Mount Calvary Church, in Elizabethtown PA. This was the seventh year that a group from Mt. Calvary has brought a short-term team to Ixtapaluca. This year, the highlights included several days in a local jr. hi school, an open gym with volleyball and basketball, a trip to Val´quirico and Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City, and a reading glasses donation event. At the basketball tournament on Thursday, where some 18 teams competed, a Mexican team wrestled first place from a young, ambitious U.S. team. Congrats to Sammy, Alan and Juan!

A view from nearby archeological site, the pyramid of Acozac, with Ixtapaluca in the background
Ava and Rod, enjoying a good Mexican meal
Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City.

Our summer is not over, though! Tomorrow, well, actually today (as it is after midnight) a group of 6 people visit us from Word of Life Chapel, and will be involved in some remodeling projects as well as baking classes in Jesús María. What a blessing it is to experience the family of God in different cultures!

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