Sunday, August 29, 2010

Additional Photos and Followup Thoughts

Newly painted dining hall at Casa Hogar Douglas really adds to the improved atmosphere!

Newly painted slide with mural on the sides for kids to enjoy.

We are concentrating our efforts to improve education for our primary students

Newly remodeed living room area for the oldest boys dorm. Painted in colors of the Monterrey soccer team which is the reigning national champion!
I just wanted to add another thought to my previous post. It came to me as I was praying the other day that the works of God are more like cooking a fine meal than warming something in the microwave. If we want a snack or something to eat quickly we use the microwave. But if we want to eat a good meal, we might have to wait hours for it to cook slowly. I believe that many times the works of God are more like a delicious dinner that is cooked very slowly but tastes so much better than something warmed quickly in a microwave. We need to be patient while God does His work in His timing and not expect Him to do His work in a microwave! The end result is so much better and always worth the wait!

Friday, August 27, 2010

God Changing Things in Casa Hogar Douglas

We see God moving in so many ways here. But in Casa Hogar Douglas, we have seen many changes this past year, that we know are from Him! It really started almost 2 years ago, when many of our staff felt called to go to this children's home and pray on a weekly basis. It wasn't long before we started to see God moving. I remember that one of the things that I prayed for 2 years ago was that this home would be known as the most spiritual home we work with. Today, I believe I can see that day coming closer than ever before.
The point I would like to make about this change is that I believe it has been God doing the changing. It isn't Back2Back or any one person or persons that are taking the credit. But, God has used many people along the way to bring change. They have each one done their part to be God's hands and feet as He has been transforming this place.
We still have a lot of work to do. But God has brought a lot of people to this place to do specific things in the transformation process. I believe He will continue to bless these children and this home as He completes this work. One important part that I want to share with those of you that read this blog is this. Those of you who have prayed or given money financially in any way, have been a huge part of the changes that have taken place. Those of you who are Shelter sponsors of kids from Douglas have enabled us to provide a higher quality of care for these kids.
God isn't finished doing His work in this home yet! I firmly believe that the best days of Casa Hogar Douglas are yet to come. And, I believe that one day in the not so far off future, this children's home will be one of the most spiritual places we serve!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Heavy Heart Thoughts

The girls in the picture above are sisters. They are 5 and 3 years old. Their mom brought them, along with their 1 year old baby sister, to Casa Hogar Douglas yesterday. She wants to drop them off at the children's home because she thinks she cannot take care of them. I'm not sure that they even realize yet what is about to happen to them. 
Betty talked to their mom and took down all of their information. She sent them back home and told them that we would be in contact with them. The truth is that they will likely be the newest residents of this children's home in a few days. I have witnessed scenes like this one numerous times in the last few years. Betty has been the person who has "interviewed" the moms and "admitted" the unwanted children into Casa Hogar Douglas, for 2 years now.
These young girls' story is all too familiar. Mom has lived with their father for several years, but not been married. Now that he has left them, she has no education, job or money. The only relative that is willing to help her is her sister and she doesn't have room for all of them. So, the children are dropped off at the children's home, while mom "rebuilds" her life.
It's times like this that my heart is heavy. So many thoughts and questions fill my mind sometimes. I really never dreamed that this period of my life would be spent in a battlefield. I think I always invisioned a more peaceful way that I would be spending these years. But really, I couldn't be happier doing anything else! God knows exactly what I need and always provides. And, I know that God will provide for not only these young girls, but for all the other children in all the other parts of the world that Back2Back serves in. He has promised to do so in His Word! (Matt. 19:14)
I really want to take a moment to thank all of you that lift us up in prayer, support us financially or have come to personally serve alongside of us. As difficult as some of these situations are, I believe their is joy in knowing we are the ones God is using to demonstrate His Love for these children! All of you who support us in so many ways are being used by God also. (James 1:27) 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hope After a Hurricane

I firmly believe that God is using a hurricane to advance His Kingdom in Rio 3. Let me tell you how. Before the storm hit, when we would take a walk through the neighborhood, we would always keep our distance from men who might be outside their homes. Many of them would be drinking and would heckle us as we walked with an American group, near their homes. I remember this happening during a visit to Rio 3, the day the storm came. In the 5 weeks that have followed Hurricane Alex, we have served thousands of meals, passed out tons of clothing, shoveled mud from many houses and walked dozens of times through the neighborhood. Not once, since the hurricane, have we been mocked by anyone there.
When I was sharing this observation with Olga the other day, she added, "I know Jim! As a matter of fact, the other day, when a person from the government was talking to me in a strong way, (yes, the government has come to help, but they also tell us what we are doing wrong like no hairnets for food servers and no tile floor in our public restrooms) a lady who has never been a part of the church before, stood up for me. She said, 'Hey you can't talk to Olga that way!' This woman is new to the church and she was defending me!" Many of the men have also helped volunteering to unload food and clothing when we bring them.
I would like to share another story that Olga shared with us on Friday. She said that the long hours without rest have been hard and the other night she went outside alone just to talk with God. There was a little girl named LuLu that went outside with her. LuLu said, "I love you, Hermana." (what Christian women are called here...literally translated 'sister') Olga responded, "I love you too, LuLu." But this time the little girl said "No! Look at me! I love you!" Olga told us that she felt like God was using this little girl to speak His words of encouragement to her. It was like God was saying "Look at me!" He was affirming all that she was doing and encouraging her to be steadfast.
We believe there are many other stories like these where we can see the Kingdom of God advancing in Rio 3 during these days. We believe all of the work that hundreds have helped us with in the last 2 years, has been to prepare for this time. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to Rio 3 in any way. There is real Hope after the hurricane, because of what you have done! God bless everyone of you!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Impact Beyond Mexico

The longer I live here, the more I realize that it is God who is transforming lives. We are all just blessed to be witnesses to God's work! God isn't just moving in the lives' of the kids we serve here. I'm also blessed to witness God's work in the lives of the people who come to serve with us. I have been blessed to witness this many times in many ways. I would like to share with you an email we received from friends in Columbus, Ohio. I think the email says it all...

Jim and Betty,
I just wanted to tell you both how you and the rest of the folks at B2B Mexico have an impact beyond your work in Monterrey.  After our family visited in the summer, we returned home to our everyday lives.  As a family we knew God had shown us a picture of what it meant to share our lives with other people and to care for His children.  The two of you consistently show that love of Christ to the children of Douglas and the families of Rio 3.  It was truly inspiring and made me want to move to Monterrey.  However, after much prayer and consultation, I truly believe God was moving us in another direction.  We contacted a Christian foster care agency and started a long path towards becoming foster parents for kids requiring some level of therapeutic care.  
So, here it is today and we have now added a 13 year-old boy to our family.  He has been with us for a week.  We don't know how long he will be with us, probably a year or longer.  He has never really been to church and doesn't know anything about Jesus.  His mom is struggling mightily with the recent death of her husband and the demons of alcohol.  She too needs to learn of the love of Jesus and we pray to have a relationship with her that might facilitate her coming to be introduced to Him.
I share all this to simply say thank you.  Your obedience to God has been an incredible example for my family, one that hopefully will impact the eternal lives of this boy and his mom.  I continue to read your blog to keep up on things.   
Please share with all down there.  I miss all of you and look forward to returning in January.  My wife and the girls will be there in November and I am jealous of them.   
Our prayers are with all of you.  We think of you very fondly.
In His love,