Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving week in Tijuana

This has been an exciting week in Tijuana. Although Thanksgiving is not an official holiday in Mexico, we celebrate it on the YWAM because there are a lot of Americans here. There is an amazing team here from a church in Washington that built a house at the beginning of the week, then cooked Thanksgiving dinner for all the staff on Thursday! What a blessing!

This week we are in week 9 of the School of Ministry Development I am taking here at the base. This week's topic was community development. Our speaker is named Giacamo and is the leader of the base in San Jose Costa Rica and the director of the School of Community Development there. He really challenged us in our ideas about community development, that it's not just about 'us' giving to 'them' but working together along the community to make a lasting impact for the families there. We had a day when our school went to colonia Antorcha, where we do the Walking Circle every week. We sat down and talked with the pastor and his wife and asked them questions about the colonia and the needs that he saw in that community. Turns out the needs we perceived they had were different than their 'felt needs', or the needs that people living in the community believe they translating for the pastor and his wife while learning about the colonia more in depth

The pastor explained how the need for security and medical treatment is very important right now, as they are somewhat isolated in the mountains and it would take a while for police or the Red Cross to arrive there if there was an incident. Also, although they have water pipes in the community that were recently installed by the government, there is no sewage system to take away the dirty water. These are just a few of the things we talked about, along with how he really appreciated the work of YWAM in the community to provide homes for the neediest families and education to the kids. I really admire this pastor, as he is also working as a missionary there and left his home and brought his family to this colonia to share the love of Jesus with them.
At the end of our time together, Giacamo (right) spoke some words of encouragement to Pastor Valenzuela (left) and amongst the tears, we all prayed for him.

That afternoon, I returned to the church to help translate for the pastor who was working with a DTS team to put a new roof on his church. We have a DTS visiting us from Australia and they worked helping out the pastor by putting up new beams, wood and tarps over the mud floor and wooden pews of his church. He was so grateful to have the help and encouraged by the hard work of these young people. The DTS students also got a cross-cultural experience - they slept on the floor of the church for the next 2 nights!

Wednesday night I had the privilege of translating for the service in Antorcha. The DTS students were going to be sharing and the pastor asked if I would translate for them and for his sermon. I really enjoyed being there and worshipping with them, with just a guitar, a keyboard, and a few tamborines, we sang praises to God together. In his sermon, Pastor Valenzuela taught on 1 Timothy 4:12, an excellent verse to encourage our young DTS students - Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. It was a cold night (the church only has 3 walls, with the street side open), but a good night. I felt very encouraged by the pastor welcoming me and the DTS team at is church. I believe that we will be able to more things together and that through this unity we will be more effective for Christ in that community.

translating in the colonia for the Wednesday night worship service

Thursday was thanksgiving!! I had to go to the airport in the morning to pick up a team in San Diego, so I got to call my family which was awesome. What was not awesome was that I got stopped at the border and had to go through customs so I ended up missing the Walking Circle. I got out to the colonia around 3, just as they were finishing up. Just in time for my kids to come running up to greet me as they left to go home. I took some time that afternoon visit one of the moms whose kids come to the Circle. We built them a house over a month ago, and the mom works almost every day and leaves the kids home, sometimes alone, sometimes with a neighbor. It was nice to reconnect with her on her off day, and she really opened up to us about being a single mom with 4 kids..I think she really appreciated us just sitting there listening to her aching heart and her tired stories.

I had invited the pastor and his family to the base for thanksgiving dinner so I brought them back from the colonia with me and we celebrated the thanksgiving feast together. I explained to them about thanksgiving, they didn't know about it before, but they were very excited to eat turkey because they were used to just eating puro pollo (just chicken). We all went around and said what we were thankful for, they said they were so happy to be able to share this meal with us and to spend time together and learn from each other. Last thanksgiving I was in Ensenada with my DTS and my best friend, and this thanksgiving I was with a new family I have here in Tijuana. I missed my family back home in Chicago, but I am very thankful that God has provided a new family for me to celebrate with here in Tijuana.

me, Raquel, Sandi, Pastor Valenzuela and Marina enjoying our turkey on thanksgiving together!

After dinner my crazy day continued with driving the family back to the colonia and then attending a birthday party for some of our kids in the Circle. Odalis turned 3 and her brother Geovanny turned 12. Cristina was throwing thema birthday party with balloons and music and cake and of course, tacos! Little Odalis was so beautiful in the princess dress her grandma bought for her. Even though I was the only white girl there, I hardly noticed, as I talked and ate cake with the moms and played games and danced with the kids into the night. Such a fun day of celebration!

Then, I woke up Friday morning with no voice - how was I every going to host and translate for a team on the build site?! I got sent back to bed and have been there every since. now its saturday night, and I came to update you, and am trapped in my office by the first downpour of rain I have experienced in my 5 months here. The rainy season is here I suppose!

1 comment:

Sam. said...

Oh Susie!
Your Thanksgiving sounds marvelous! I'm so encouraged by your and your work with Circulo Andante and the relationships you're forming there. I'm also a little jealous. I remember being the only white girl around, those were good times.
Also, I got a phone call from Dina a little while ago. It made my day. Give her a hug for me okay?