Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Galeana

                                             Passing out gifts
                                             Some of the kids we served
                                              The pinata
                                              View from the place we served
On December 22, the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas had an opportunity to serve kids that had very little materially. One of the caregivers in the children's home, is from a small mountain town about 4 hours from here, called Galeana. The people from this town are very poor when it comes to material possessions. When the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas found out about these kids from the home town of their caregiver, they wanted to share their blessings with them. They got a list of 74 kids from a church in Galeana and each one of them chose a toy of their excess to wrap and give to the kids of this town.
Not all of the kids were able to make the 4 hour trip to Galeana with us on Dec. 22. But we took with us about 15 kids and prepared a meal, worshipped together, had a pinata to open and passed out all of the gifts for the children. I witnessed something that day in the faces of the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas. I've seen their faces on the receiving end many times, but it was a blessing to watch them as they had an opportunity to serve others in a way that they have been served by American groups.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Aidan & Mayte

When I first started serving here with Back2Back Ministries, in January of 2001, I met a young girl named Mayte, who lived at Casa Hogar Douglas. By the time that I had moved here, in January of 2007, Mayte was a troubled 18 year old heading for big problems. In May of 2008, she gave birth to a son, Aidan. A few months before Aidan's birth, his father was killed on a motorcycle. We tried to counsel Mayte to consider giving Aidan up for adoption. She decided to keep him.
A couple of weeks ago, we found out that Mayte was pregnant again. The baby is due in February. This time, Mayte will give birth while she is in prison. Her life has been pretty much one bad decision after another. The police have her locked up because they want her to tell them where her drug dealing boyfriend is. If she tells, the drug cartel would probably kill her. We would like you to pray for this family. Mayte has indicated that she knows she needs to give this newborn up for adoption. Please pray that she follows through with this. This is also causing Mayte to reconsider her decision to keep Aidan. She has temporarily given up custody of him to our staff. 
He has been with us for over a week now. He is a very cute little boy that we are all enjoying very much. But, I also worry for the future of Aidan. I want him and all the other kids that we serve here to know the love of Jesus and the love of a real family.  Most of the kids that we work with in children's homes are like Aidan. Many families here do not want their kids or cannot care for their kids but they will not give them up for adoption. This is why there are many kids growing up in pain filled lives where they never experience what love is like.
I want to pray for Aidan's mom Mayte also. Her childhood of pain has turned into a life of brokenness as a young adult. I pray that she would still have time to realize that Jesus loves her enough to die for her. I pray for Aidan and the baby to be born in February that they would know more love as a child than their mother did. It is for this reason we are here. Thank you for all you do to support us. We couldn't be here without your support!

                                                  Mayte as a young girl
            Aidan eating in our house

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas comes to Casa Hogar Douglas

This past week, a group of 25 ladies came to serve with us for a week. Every year, these ladies come to help us prepare for Christmas in all of the children's homes that we serve. They buy and decorate Christmas trees, bake cookies, sing Christmas caroles and purchase gifts for all the kids we serve. It is really a huge task for 1 week, but they do a marvelous job! Above are pictures of a few of the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas receiving their gifts. Any of you ladies that would like to be a part of this group next Christmas, need to check with Chelsie in our home office. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Your life is your testimony

The picture above is a picture of a family we love very much. Tom and Karen Woelk, and their kids Andrea and Alex, were here serving with us a couple of weeks ago. Karen is a cancer survivor. She first had a tumor the size of an orange removed from her head, over 16 years ago. Since that time, she has had 2 other major operations and this past summer suffered a stroke. Karen has rewritten her testimony several times during the last few years. She carries it with her in her Bible and is always willing to share it.
While they were here serving over Thanksgiving, we asked Karen to come to Rio 3 and share her testimony with the women there. Many of these women have in the past, and are presently suffering many types of trials in their lives. We always like to encourage them with scripture and testimonies. Often, some of the women are distracted and talking to each other when we share with them. As Karen shared her testimony, we noticed that the crowd was larger than usual and they all were paying close attention to what she was saying.
Karen told me in the bus on the way to Rio 3 that she knows God allowed her to go through all of this so that she could be a witness to others. Her life has changed a lot in 15 years. Before her first surgery, her and Tom both had very promising careers at Proctor & Gamble. They had a large house, 3 cars and a boat. But in the last 15 years, Karen has been able to share her testimony of God's faithfulness through many difficult times in their lives. She knows that God has had her suffer these things so that she can be a testimony to others.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving in Rio 3

This year, we had the opportunity to do something special to give thanks on Thanksgiving. We had a group of families visiting with us over Thanksgiving and we wanted to share the greatest thing that we are thankful for, the love of Christ, with the people of Rio 3. One of the girls, who came to serve with her family, was a fifteen year old high school girl named Hope Bertke. Hope had been here before and as she thought about how she wanted to share this love, she decided to raise money to buy blankets. Her goal was 100 blankets that the group would give away while they were at Rio 3. She asked some of her friends to help and by the time that her group got here they had collected enough money to purchase 350 blankets!
Hope's story is one of faithfulness. I told the rest of the group, before we passed out the blankets, don't ever think that you can't do something big for God. If David had thought that, he never would have defeated Goliath. If Noah listened to all the people who called him a fool for building an ark in the desert, he wouldn't have saved his family. God rewards our faithfulness to be obedient. I'm glad that Hope was not discouraged because she was young. She did not look at the obstacle but rather she took "shelter in the Most High." 
It has been almost record cold here this past week. The lows have been around the freezing mark all week. Many of the homes in Rio 3 are shacks built out of trash. They have dirt floors, they are drafty and many have no electric. But, I'm sure that there are 350 kids that are thankful for the faithfulness of a 15 year old girl from Cincinnati. Hope set out to try and provide for 100 kids. God blessed her faithfulness by being a blessing to 3-1/2 times that many.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Please check out this link to a friend's blog!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Song Brings Peace to Thoughts of Injustice

This past week, I've been feeling a heavy load, as I've dealt with injustices that I've witnessed, in the lives of the children we serve. The truth is that sometimes I am so close to so many awful things that are hard to witness. The hardest things that I deal with are when children are taken advantage of, or used, or abused by the ones that should be protecting them. I guess it is something like what a soldier experiences when he goes to war. The difference is that I know the battle has already been won when Christ overcame the grave!

I don't get a chance to hear a lot of American Christian music lately, but I really have taken comfort in the words of this Chris Tomlin song. He is singing of a day to come, that we are all living for. I especially like the bridge in the middle of the song. It is taken from John's words in Revelation 5, as he describes thousands of angels singing "Worthy is the Lamb." When I listen to this song, I am reminded that one day Jesus will right all the injustices of this world. I know that many of you can feel the weight of injustice at times in your lives as well. I hope this song brings peace to you as well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In The Shelter of The Most High

How much money do you think it would take each month to raise 70 kids? Do you think you could do it for $1,800 per month? Without the help of Back2Back Ministries, that is what Casa Hogar Douglas would be forced to do. That includes food, electric, gas,vehicle maintenance, insurance, workers' salaries, school fees and uniforms. 
One of the ways that we are serving this children's home, is by seeking additional monthly support. We are doing this through our Shelter Child Sponsorship program. When you support a child for $100 per month, your money goes to help meet the overhead costs of the home. We currently have 21 of the 70 kids at Casa Hogar Douglas being sponsored under our Shelter Program. This is a huge blessing to this home. We are able to give them an extra $2,100 each month through the sponsors' help. 
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to deliver the money for October to them. The Director, Wyman, showed me the electric bill that was on his desk for almost $1,000 that he would now be able to pay. He also told me they would be able to pay for school uniforms for some of the kids that needed them. These are things that get put off when the money is tight. Most of the 9 full-time workers were waiting in the office to receive their monthly pay. They were glad to see me that morning too.
Raising 70 kids on $3,900 per month isn't easy, but it is double what they would receive without our help. Our goal is to one day have all the children, in all our children's homes, covered under our Shelter program.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Best Gift is the One Given Away

      Some of the books we purchased

     Inside the New Library at Douglas

We recently received a donation to purchase new books for Casa Hogar Douglas. I'd like to share with you a little of the story behind the donation.
Emily Taylor is a 14 year-old student at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. After participating in a mission trip here, earlier this year, she wanted to stay involved in the lives of the children she met in Monterrey. One of the needs that Emily noticed when she read with the kids in the children's home, was the need they had to read better. As she thought about this, she had the desire to purchase books for their library. Once she knew what she wanted to do to stay involved with the children in Monterrey, she thought about how she could make this possible.
Emily decided that instead of asking for gifts for her birthday, she would ask people to give her money, that she could use to buy books for orphans. She collected $700! We used the money to purchase Christian books for all ages at a local Christian bookstore, here in Monterrey. The store gave us a 25% discount on our purchase so we were able to purchase $1,000 worth of Christian books with the money that Emily collected. 
Before we put the books on the shelves, we prayed for them. We gave thanks for the 14 year old girl who had a God sized dream to stay involved, from over 1500 miles away. And we prayed that these books would help bring a 'Hope for Tomorrow' that these kids did not have before.
Thank you Emily...and Happy Belated Birthday!    You are Loved! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2 Day Kitchen Remodel

                  The Kitchen "Before"

                    The Kitchen "After"

Along with Mauricio, Rodolfo and Matt, I recently helped my friend Greg do a "makeover" on the kitchen in the Manatiel de Amor Girls' Home. This children's home is home to 12 girls. At Back2Back, we serve in 9 children's homes in the Monterrey area. These homes each have a B2B staff person who is responsible for our involvement with the children's home. While my primary responsibility is with Casa Hogar Douglas, I sometimes help the other staff in the homes that they have primary responsibility for. Greg is the captain of Casa Hogar Manatiel de Amor.
The kitchen was in very bad shape as you can tell by the "before" pictures. We completed the "makeover" in just 2 days. Actually, it was a lot of fun to work together with these great guys! I told Greg afterwards that I believe a kitchen can make a huge difference in a children's home. I think you'll agree with me that the "after" is a big improvement!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Being the One God Uses to Answer a Prayer

Last week, Mauricio and I were working at Casa Hogar Douglas. We were working on a list of "honey do" projects for the caregivers there in the children's home. I always like getting things accomplished on this list because it helps make life a little easier for these ladies who live with and care for these children 24/7. I usually do things like fix lights or plumbing problems or repair doors or  broken furniture. This day, Mauricio was hooking up a clothes washer in the older girls' dorm for their care giver, LuLu. The water hookup was not right on the washer. Each time she used it she had to carry water up from the first floor in buckets to fill it. In addition, there was no electric outlet near the washer so she had to use a very long extension cord to make it run. He hooked a direct water line to the washer and installed an electrical outlet near it. All she had to do was put the laundry in and turn it on to use it.
As we finished up that day, Mauricio told me that LuLu shared with him how she had been praying for some time that this work would be done. He said to me, "I love knowing that God is using me to answer someone's prayer!" I had never thought about it that way before, but he was right. When we submit to God's calling for our lives, many times God uses us as an answer to someone else's prayer. I know that many of you have been used by God to be an answer to my prayers. As I have prayed for God to provide for our financial support, many of you have been the one that God has used to answer my prayers. That is why it is important to be obedient in the calling that God has for our lives. We may just be God's answer to someone else's prayer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Rio Child Compared to a Casa Hogar Child

You've heard me talk about the impoverished community that we serve in that we call Rio3. You also have heard me talk a lot about Casa Hogar Douglas, the children's home that Betty & I serve in the most. 
At first glance, it might seem that the life of a child living at Rio3 is much worse than the child living in a children's home. Most of the homes in Rio3 have dirt floors, no permanent electric, running water or adequate roof. Most of the families live on less than $10 per day. That is compared to the child in the children's home who is able to eat 3 meals a day, take a shower with hot running water, enjoy the benefit of electricity at the flip of a switch, rest in a palapa we built and sleep in a bed that is protected from the rain and cold. That is the impression at first glance. 
A more extensive comparison would reveal that most times the heart of the child living in the children's home has been crushed and broken many times in his young life, by those who should love him most. I have witnessed 6 year olds who have not had a relative come and visit them for months. Sometimes, even when a relative does visit, they try to justify the family's lack of involvement by telling the child they have no job or money. Or, they might say that they work all the time and don't have time to visit the abandoned child. I'm not sure which is best for the child...receiving a visitor who makes them feal guilty or not receiving any visitors at all. In either case, there is a great deal of hurt, rejection, pain and suffering that is behind the face of every child that lives in a children's home.
Don't misunderstand me. The child living in Rio3 suffers too. When you grow up not having money for shoes, clothes or even food, it is a difficult life. Sometimes a parent is involved in drugs or illegal activity and the child is abused or exploited. The summers here in Monterrey can see temps as high as 115 degrees and the winters can be a bone chilling 40 degrees and raining. When your house is made out of trash and has little or no roof, it is difficult to ever feel comfortable. On a recent medical trip to Rio3, we discovered a 6 year old girl who could not see out of one eye. The doctors think that she has experienced some type of nerve damage that may be irreparable. All they could do for her was pray. That is just one example of how the poor suffer. In summary, a life lived in poverty, is painful and difficult too.
Betty and I feel called to serve the brokenhearted and abandoned children in Rio3, as well as those who live in the children's home of Casa Hogar Douglas. Both places have great needs. The needs are different many times, but the answer is always found in Jesus. He is the one who can heal broken hearts and provide all of the necessities of life.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Faithful Friends

    Recent Photo of Don, Bryon & Roger

I've said many times that we could not be serving here without the faithful support of so many of you. We give thanks often for those of you who lift us up in prayer and give of your financial resources to support our work. All of our expenses of insurance, salary, visas and taxes are paid from our support account with Back2Back. We are always humbled by your generosity.
As I approach my 3 year anniversary of serving in Mexico, I want to recognize 3 faithful friends. I've known Don, Bryon and Roger for many years. We went to church together, were in the same Bible School class and were members of a men's small group. The 3 of them are still meeting every Wednesday morning, at Bob Evans, for fellowship and breakfast. When I was first preparing to move to Mexico, these dear friends stood beside me and said "We'll support you Jim!" For 3 years now, they have been faithfully supporting our ministry here in Monterrey.
Many times, those of us who serve on a mission field, receive all of the attention. But the truth is, none of the things we write about, or are blessed to do, would be possible without those of you who support us. Don, Bryon and Roger are 3 of many faithful friends who have come alongside of us as we "serve orphans and widows in their distress" according to words of James, the half-brother of Jesus, in James 1:27. We are here in Mexico and you are in the USA, but TOGETHER we are making a difference in the lives of hundreds of abandoned children. Like the words to the song, "Thank you", I pray that one day, on the other side of eternity, you are able to meet Lupita, Cesario, Louis, Paty, Pancho and hundreds more that you have helped in their "distress." There in the presence of our Heavenly Father, who relentlessly loves all of us, maybe they can thank you personally. Until that day, I will thank you for them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Painting Inside the Church Building of Rio3

Many thanks go out to Dave Schreier & also Lifepoint Vineyard Church for purchasing the paint to paint the interior of the church building at Rio3. Last week a group from Batesville Vineyard Church was here and helped us get the painting done. What a difference painted walls make! I have always said that this church was a Lighthouse in a dark community. Now the building feels warmer and brighter. It is so amazing to see what God is doing there as He reaches out to these desperate children. They are able to witness and experience God's love through the many people we bring to serve there. Many of the children wanted to help us paint. On behalf of them, I want to give thanks to all who partner with us in ministry.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Footwashing & Shoe Giveaway at Rio3

This past week, we had a footwashing and shoe giveaway for over 200 kids at Rio3. The Christian teen group, PureNRG, had a promotion with Family Christian Stores on the sale of their newest CD. A portion of the sale of this CD was used to buy new shoes for poor children all over the world. We were blessed to have these 3 teenagers come to Rio3 to personally wash the kids feet and put their new shoes on! Some kids came barefoot and went home with a new pair of shoes. It was awesome to see the smiles on the kids faces as they received their new shoes.
Jordan, Caroline and Carolyn of the group PureNRG are between 14 & 16 years old. They served the kids at Rio3 with a real servant's heart as they washed feet for over 2 hours on their knees. You can see more picures on our Rio 3 Facebook page.
Thank you Family Christian Stores and PureNRG.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Faith of a hurt child

The lives of the kids, that live in the children's homes that we serve, are filled with pain. Their lives are filled with bad memories of their families and void of love many times. In all the work that we do, we want the kids to experience love and to know that God loves them perfectly. I love it when a child has an opportunity to exercise his young faith in God and realize that God always loves them. Recently, 9 year old Louis, from Casa Hogar Douglas, had this opportunity.
Javier, the head care giver at the children's home, has been going to each dormitory at bedtime and praying with the kids. A few weeks ago, he was in the young boys dorm, and he asked if they had any requests. Louis, who is the oldest of 4 kids in his family that live at Douglas, said that he wanted to pray that a relative would come and visit them on Sunday. It had been weeks since anyone had come on visitation day. Some of the other kids laughed and said "No one is coming!" But, Javier asked Louis "Do you believe if we pray that someone will come they will come?" Louis answered "YES I DO!" They prayed together and that next Sunday their mom came to visit them.
I remember the day that Louis and his 2 younger brothers and his sister were dropped off by their mom at the children's home. I remember because I had teers in my eyes but none of them were crying as their mom left. I know that their lives have probably always been full of sadness, heartache and pain. One of the hardest parts of our work is witnessing the pain that so many of these kids carry. But I am also lifted up each time I can witness God's faithfulness in their lives a well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Yesterday, I was at Casa Hogar Douglas, talking to the head caregiver, Javier. He shared with me an event that happened the day before. That morning, in school, one of the older boys from the children's home was bullying one of the younger ones. Javier told me that when they returned home, he talked to the older boy and told him that he now was going to have an opportunity to seek public forgiveness for his actions. That same day, in the dining hall before they ate their meal, this young man got up in front of everyone, and asked the younger boy to forgive him. The younger boy said that he would as the entire dining hall burst into applause. Javier later asked both of these boys how they felt. Both of them said "Good!" A very simple act. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Independence Day Party in Casa Hogar Douglas

We had a Mexican buffet for dinner

JJ from our staff did the "grito" or "shout" that is customary

The kids formed a color guard for the national anthem

Some of the kids did a traditional dance

Betty & I dressed up in traditional clothing by the Mexican flag

Sept. 16 is the Mexican Independence Day. The tradition here is to have a party on the night of the 15 and at midnight the president leads the whole country in a cheer. The end of the cheer is when the president says "Viva Mexico" and everyone else joins in with "Viva!"
This year, we had a party, organized by the church in Casa Hogar Douglas. The 60 kids that live at this children's home were so proud to open their home up to the public and host this party. They planned and worked to decorate and entertain people for the evening. We had about 100 guests who helped us celebrate Mexico's Independence Day with the children. I am so thankful that the kids had an opportunity to enjoy this evening. This is something that they might be doing if they had an opportunity to live in a home with their parents. Living in a children's home, many times they miss out on events like this that are part of their Mexican heritage. Needless to say, they were all tired at the end of the night but they were very content too. "Viva Mexico!!!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Opportunity To Share in Texas

This past week, Betty and I had the opportunity to share with a church in Texas about our work in Monterrey. We traveled to Brownsville, Texas on Saturday and we were able to speak in front of 1,000 people on Sunday morning. It was a great time of fellowship with the people there. We invited them to send a group to Monterrey to serve with us next year. Most of the congregation speak Spanish fluently.
Ten years ago, Betty lived across the border from Brownsville in Matamoros. Her pastor there was Pedro Medina. He is now the pastor of this church in Brownsville. For those of you that know Betty, you know that she is a prayer warrior. She developed this habit from Pedro. He teaches his congregation of the power of prayer. Seven, yes I said 7 DAYS EVERY WEEK, they have prayer in their building at 6AM. It lasts for 1-1/2 hours every day! Their congregation has experienced many great blessings. I believe one reason God has blessed them so much is because they love to pray. There really is nothing more that God wants from us but to have a relationship with Him. 

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Worship Team of The Church at Casa Hogar Douglas

I wanted to introduce you to the group of young people that we have to lead worship at the church at Casa Hogar Douglas. If you have visited the church, you may have seen them, but not been introduced to them. We have been blessed in so many ways since we have started regular church services every week. God has given us the very best, in everything that He has blessed us with.  The worship team is no exception to that. Betty and I have come to love these young people that God has brought into our lives. They are all an asset to our ministry and we give thanks for them. I want you to meet them.
Beto is our Worship Pastor and director of our worship team. He has an incredible voice. When you hear him sing, you think I could listen to him all day. He is extremely talented and can play the drums and sax as well. He told me when I first met him that his parents dedicated him as a baby to do God's work and he has felt called to serve God as an adult. He has even preached a few times. Beto just married Ruth in July in the newly remodeled chapel. He works for Lincoln Welders during the week. We are excited to see how God will use Beto & Ruth together this year.

Priscila is Betty's oldest daughter. She works for an exporter and goes to school studying communications. Pris loves to sing, like all of Betty's kids. Whether she is in the house, the car, a soccer game or in church you will probably find her singing. She has a great voice and Betty and I are proud of her.

Diego is our piano player and may be our most talented overall musician. He teaches music and is very easygoing. Nothing ever seems to bother Diego. He helped me a lot when we were purchasing the sound equipment. Diego is like many of the others in that he just loves the Lord. He is very humble and always has a kind word for everyone.

Aissa & Shaida are Betty's nieces and are 15 & 16 years old. They have been serving with us since the beginning. They both love serving the Lord by singing and we are blessed to have them as part of our team. Many of the little girls from the children's home love to "hang with them."

Carlos plays guitar and lives in Guadalupe with his wife Scarlett and their baby. He works on computers for his day job and also gives music lessons on the side. He brings the guitar "to life" when he plays it. I believe he could also be a comedian if he wanted to. Carlos is a fun person to be around.

We were blessed to have Ely with us for a few months this year. She is a bundle of energy and the kids love her. We call her 'Shakira for Jesus' after the popular Latin singer. Ely was the first one to lead us in the worship song "Te Doy Gloria." I believe that one day God will call her to be a worship leader in a big church. When that day comes, we will be able to say "she first led worship for us at Casa Hogar Douglas." This school year, Ely is studying in Argentina. We will miss her while she is gone but Diego and her in love, so we hope to see her again.

Anna has been one of our singers since we first started. She and her brother Jonathan were going to school here in Monterrey. Jonathan played the drums for us for a while but I don't have a picture of him. They're just good, nice young people that love to serve the Lord. They both are currently living in Texas, but we stay in touch with them through Facebook.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reflections - Greater Things are still to come

I'll admit that when I first thought about writing this entry, I wanted to just share some reflective thoughts I have had lately. I'll also admit that sometimes those thoughts can be negative. You see, sometimes I am a little down. Everyday I see kids that are hurting. I live in a place where it is hard to see justice. Sometimes the simplest of tasks can take half a day to accomplish. I miss my family back in Ohio. And sometimes, I can even ask myself "Is it all really worth it?" When I weigh the answer to this question, I can always answer "yes!" 
Today, as I prepared to write this entry, I received the following link to this YouTube Video:

It is a promotional video that was made by one of our ministry partners. The James Fund is the non-profit ministry of Family Christian Stores. They have been huge partners with us since 2005. I consider Steve Biondo, the president of The James Fund, who does a lot of the speaking in this video, my friend. When I watched the video, I found myself coming alive. I found myself saying "yes!" It was then that I realized that while sometimes I am discouraged, God always has a way of revealing to me why it is all worth it.
As partners with us in this ministry, I hope you can view this video and be lifted up as I was. I know that you too can be discouraged from time to time and even wonder if it is all worth it. Please watch the video. I want you to be energized in knowing that many Christians all over the world are united with us.  Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your financial support. Thank you for coming and serving alongside of us. We are so thankful for your lives. We pray God's blessing on you as you have been a blessing to us!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kevin & Poncho

This is a photo of Poncho who lives at Casa Hogar Douglas with a group member who was here this July. While he was serving with us, Kevin Baker developed a special bond with Poncho. Kevin was so impressed with Poncho's work ethic as he helped the group with their work project, that he purchased a cordless drill for him before they left. Poncho is the oldest of 5 kids in his family and they all live at Casa Hogar Douglas. He really is a great young man and is very helpful with the workers in the home. He also is very willing to help me with whatever he can as well. Often times, Poncho does not get much attention from the groups that come to serve. He is older and most of the time the younger kids get the American's attention. I'm so thankful for Kevin's act of love for Poncho. I know that it touched Poncho's heart. He had tears in his eyes when this picture was taken. It may have been the kindest thing that a man has ever done for him.
Thank you Kevin! You showed Christ's love for Poncho in a very practical way that week.
P.S... Kevin decided to sponsor one of the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas in our Shelter Kid Sponsor Program. Guess which kid he is sponsoring.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An email from a teenage girl

The following is an email message that I received from a young teenager who was here on a trip this summer. I think she learned a lot about the heart of our Heavenly Father for the orphan child. I asked her if I could share her email on my blog and she said yes. Here it is....

I am a teenage girl who has always felt that for all of my days I will glorify God. I used to think that I would be talking to the hearts of hurting teens...before I realized I have little patience for those between 12 and 18. For the past year I felt that God was calling me to the mission field overseas. I never had a second thought about going to Mexico. I fell in love with a young girl in Mexico by means of a picture that had been taken from the February trip LPV took. I was determined that God wanted me to meet her, to talk to her.  However, the day my dad lost his job, I considered not going on account of finances. Then God provided.  I continued to believe that this little girl was bringing me to Mexico. Although I said I had no expectations, I fully expected to meet her. Four months later and thousands of prayers for this little girl, I went to Monterrey. I learned the day after I arrived that 1) our group was not going to visit the home of this little girl and 2) she was not at her home. My heart broke into a million pieces, or what felt like it, anyway. I didn't even know this little girl's name and I was bawling from heartache, feeling that this child was not safe at "home" and angry that I felt so much pain for a girl I didn't know. Angry that I seriously believed a little girl brought me to Mexico. I allowed God to break my heart, though. I learned that God used that little girl to show me His heart. He allowed my heart to break so i could feel, on a miniscule scale, the pain He feels for His children. Except, He knows every single one of His children by name. I needed to hang onto that one child and feel the pain for that ONE child because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have seen the bigger picture. The statistic of orphans did not break my heart, it is a number. But for that one child, my heart shattered. God knew this. His love is far beyond my 
human heart. How much patience and care must He have to allow me to feel for the heart of an orhan so that I may recieve the other children with a heart broken for the right reasons?  I will tell you now, I did not meet this girl. Looking back, though, I did. I met this girl in the 10 year old that stole my heart, the 8 year olds that left their handprints on my shirt after painting, the young child I fed at Casa Hogar Douglas,  and every child I came in contact with. The broken heart is the only way to reach and reach out to the human heart. God takes a broken heart and mends it and connects it to others and even allows a heart to break so that it may break for what breaks His. If the cry of my heart is to break with the things that make God's heart break, that means some pain, but so much joy. Joy in the eyes of an orhpan accepting Christ into her heart. Joy in the hug of an orphan-a person, a friend.  Thank you, Mr. Jim, for letting God break your heart for the heart of the orphans. I don't have much, but I offer God my life, and to you and B2B, my prayers. I cannot promise  the needed $5200 for meals in Rio 3. I cannot promise a fiesta to raise this money or that I will be an intern next summer, but I offer this all to God, and can promise you that His ways are perfect everytime. I can promise that God's timing, while not mine, is perfect. And darkness does not hide light - is not darkness measured by light? May you be a light. thank you. -Lauren Ellis

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Leadership Conference Held at CHD Church

We just finished our first Leadership Conference at the church at Casa Hogar Douglas. The conference was 2 hours each day on Thursday and Friday. It was primarily for the caregivers and other interested adults that wanted to come. The speaker was a woman named Adriana Garza who is the wife of the senior pastor of a large church here in Monterrey. She shared with us that God does not have limits of what He is capable of doing. She encouraged all of us to think and dream BIG in what we want God to do in our lives. She shared examples from scripture, as well as personal examples, of how God has done great things in the past. This was especially encouraging for the caregivers. Many of them have served the children of this children's home for years. They do not have much money and they are seldom recognized for their sacrificial services for these children.
One of the messages, that we want to share with the caregivers and the children, is that their is hope in a life that is lived for Christ Jesus. I know that there are victorious days to come in the lives of these workers and children. God has much more planned for them than a life filled with oppression. The church continues to be a fountain of hope in Christ for them.

Project Completed at Casa Hogar Douglas

If you were a member of one of our groups this summer working at Casa Hogar Douglas, you may have helped with this project. We worked all summer on renovating the area outside the laundry room there. We installed a new security fence, to protect people from falling into the storm sewer and installed 6 new clothes line poles, poured a new concrete slab to keep the area clean and built a roof over part of the area. There were so many American groups that helped dig holes, stretch chain link fence, paint, mix & pour concrete and build the roof structure. I wanted to share a photo of the finished project for all those people that helped in so many ways. 
Doing the laundry everyday, for 75 kids, is a huge job. Because of the cost of gas, they do not use dryers. The clean safe area to hang the clothes to dry outside will be very useful for the workers to use. There will even be an area, under the roof, to dry clothes when it is raining. I would like to give a huge "Thank You" to all that helped with this project this summer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good times at Casa Hogar Douglas

Pictures above of cleaned up campus

Javier preaching in church

We have some great news about what God is doing in Casa Hogar Douglas. About a year ago, some of the Back2Back staff began praying in and over the campus of Casa Hogar Douglas. It is the children's home that we have worked with the longest and is also the largest home we work with as it is the home of about 75 children. A lot of our staff felt the need to pray for a spiritual revival to happen there. I know that many of you who have come here to serve have prayed for the same thing when you went home. I also believe that the church that we were able to rebuild and restore has been part of God's answer to those prayers. But, I've said many times this year that God isn't finished yet. I firmly believe that we are witnesses to a multi-level revival that God is sweeping through this campus! I don't believe I am exaggerating at all, when I say that you can feel the presence of God working when you come into the children's home today.

In addition to the restoration of the church, there are other things happening as well. One of the biggest changes recently is that Javier has assumed the role of Point Person or Head Care Giver. Javier is a pastor and teacher. He has lived near the home for 25 years now. His history with the children's home goes way back. He taught in the Bible School that is connected to the home until October of last year. That is about the time that our staff began to earnestly pray for the kids at the children's home. He told me that he felt God had something different planned for his life and that is why he resigned. He didn't even know that people were praying for the revival of the home at the time that God was telling him that He had something different in the future for Javier. The last few weeks, Javier and his wife have led the kids in prayer each night. There is also time of Bible study each day and we have been working to clean the campus. We also have been trimming trees & cutting the grass. The kids are taking pride in their home. All of these things have added to a more joyful atmosphere at Casa Hogar Douglas. Please continue to pray as revival continues.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I have been learning a lot about prayer lately. You see my wife Betty is a prayer warrior. In fact, she really doesn't think she is praying until she is down on her knees in prayer. She does this often. She has for most of her adult life. Sometimes she comes to me and says, "Jim, we have to be praying more!" I usually think, what do you mean? You are always praying! But, I don't say it. Betty has many testimonies of how God has provided for her and protected her in the past. She accredits this to prayer.

I'm reminded often here that this place that I'm living is not always as safe as my home was in the states. I know that Satan is directing the lives of many here because they have given in to his temptations. Evil and darkness can be seen without going too far. But that is what makes this place such a ministry field. And, in the middle of all of this is where we can find God working! We need not be afraid because God will protect and provide for us. We DO need to be in contact with Him through prayer however.

I would like to share with you a devotional someone recently sent to me in regards to this:

Prayer Comes First        Did you expect any less 
The king said to me, "What do you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king…
Nehemiah 2:4-5

When Reverend William Gale was principal of Brainerd Indian School in Hot Springs, South Dakota, the furnace had to be replaced in the girls' dorm. Knowing the girls were cold, Gale made this a matter of earnest prayer. He grew so burdened that he prayed into the night; and between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., he took a pencil and square, went to the girls' dorm, and marked out a rectangular area. He asked God for a furnace to fit the hole. The next day he told his carpenters to saw and frame the space. They suggested he wait until a furnace was found, but finally did as he requested. Later that morning, a man drove up in a pickup truck containing a gas furnace he wanted to donate to the school. Taking it to the dorm, they were amazed to find it fit perfectly into the hole. *

Just as Nehemiah prayed before answering the king and just as Reverend Gale prayed in expectation of God's provision, we should begin every task for the Lord Jesus with prayer. He has an answer to fit every need.

There are three secrets to the success of our work: prayer, prayer, and more prayer.
Billy Graham

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clean Water Project in Rio 3

Clean Water is Available for Everyone!

We finished building a water filtration system at Rio 3. It is a system that filters the water using carbon ceramic filters. The water is placed into the first tank that has ten of these filters installed on the bottom of the tank. The water passes through these filters and is collected in copper tubing and directed into the second holding tank. This tank holds all of the filtered water.
The last week of July, we had an American group with us as we passed out 40 - 10 liter bottles of water in the community. Most of these homes have no running water, sewer or electric. The homes have dirt floors and sometimes only cardboard for roofs. We instructed the people on the importance of drinking clean water and told them that they can return to the church to refill their bottles for free. We are excited about how we can share God's love for these people in this practical way.