Monday, December 30, 2013
I took my youth ministry seriously. I took my time to teach and challenge my kids seriously and indeed it paid off. For the most part my kids, hundreds of them, were into the Bible. They were believers, young believers, but believers indeed. Upon their conversion, each was given a Bible.
I wanted to protect them somehow from a growing heresy that has caught many of us "Bible believers". So I figured out a good object lesson that would shake them up.
Baptist churches seem to collect old abandoned Bibles and we had our share of old and beat-up Bibles in our library.
I took one of these old Bibles with me to our big Bible study on Wednesday nights. I started talking about the Word of God, the Bible, and mentioned that there were verses I didn't particularly like. Verses that made me uncomfortable. I turned in the bible to a verse I didn't particularly like, read the verse, and then tore the verse out of the Bible, crumpled it up and threw it on the floor. You could hear the kids gasp! I continued on reading hard verses, uncomfortable verses and tore them from the bible and threw them on the floor. The kids were silent! Von, their Pastor, desecrating God's Word! I asked the kids ... what's the difference? If we aren't going to obey certain verses or believe certain verses or do what the Word asks us to do? It's the same thing! Are we allowed to pick and choose what we want from God's Word? The kids picked up on that, they got the point. That lesson won't be forgotten.
Many of us aren't aware that we are doing just that ... and that is heresy.
The Bible must be one of three things! (1) A book of Jewish myths and stories, or (2) a book that contains truth but is not necessarily truth itself, or (3) a book that is truth.
If the Bible is a book that simply contains truth, then I am allowed to pick and choose what I want to believe. A dangerous virus ... a very subtle heresy!
Many Christians don't realize they are doing just that! Think it over.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
For more than a half century I've spent Christmas in Mexico. Visiting homes and barrios distributing gifts and generally ending the night at an orphanage. Some Christmas Eve's are wet and some dry, but all are dark and cold in this area of Tijuana.
Near the orphanage we were driving to, we stopped and spent some time with a poor family we knew, living on a hillside. Lorie and her eight kids were working on a big pot of pozole soup. The soup was cooking outside over a hot wooden fire. Pozole is uniquely Mexican (pork, hominy, and jalapeno peppers). In fact most family's throw a lot of extras. A bowl of pozole would be their Christmas Eve meal treat ... no gifts under the tree this year!
When the three of us arrived they quickly pulled out some old chairs and gave us each a desert of store bought cake with a mix of whip-cream and fruit. The pozole wouldn't be ready for an hour or two.
For a few minuets we became part of a poor family doing Christmas Eve the way the poor do.
Of course we left them happy with their unexpected gifts. Mom now had enough money to think a few meals ahead.
Friday, December 13, 2013
There are many ways to spell Christmas and many more ways to express this awesome occasion. God's love and light entered our world in the form of a humble baby; a baby born to start a revolution! The greatest gift man has ever been given yet this gift remains invisible to the majority of us. We recognize the occasion yet the reason for the occasion still eludes us.
To those of us who have caught the reason, Christmas is simply "Thank you Jesus time."
Children see Christmas so much differently than us adults. Children seem to express the joy and energy we once had, in a child you can see it and you can feel it. Raw joy!
We must never forget that Jesus entered the world poor to redeem the poor. We must not forget that the Gospel came first to the poor of this world!
Because I work in the Tijuana barrios I’m constantly reminded that the Gospel also came to those across the border locked in their darkness not by a fence ... but by ignorance and deception. They just don’t know!
Thanks for helping us bring the Gospel across the border in word and deed! Remember, eternal investments pay off big time! Keep us in your prayers and have a nice Christmas and New Years!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I always appreciate speaking to the people of LaRoca (The Rock) church in Tijuana. The church is located right where it should be, in Zone Norte; Tijuana's Red-Light district.
Last Sunday as I was leaving the Church service I saw Raul. I couldn't miss him, tall slender and rather handsome. Seeing him brought back memories from past years.
Carlos and I found a den of addicts floating in and out of a small group of trashy flop-houses down a small canyon along a smelly sewer like creek. Flop-houses they were, as the addicts would take a big hit they would flop there on the ground until they mellowed out a bit. We would bring them food and blankets. Among the group were Raul and his friends.
High above the set of shacks on the side of the canyon, was the drug dealer, he didn't particularly like us but he allowed us to come in if we didn't disturb the status quo.
Years later, upon Raul's conversion, we learned some disturbing news. Fortunately their plans went wrong.
Raul and a couple of his friends planned to kill us and take our money. Their weapons? Some golf clubs they had laying around.
This story serves as a reminder of the world and environment in which we work ... and how necessary your prayers of protection are.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
After our workdays in Mexico we have a rifa, that's a raffle in Spanish. Each of the kids have a number on their hand and they crowd around the back of my car waiting for the numbers to be called and hoping it will be their lucky number. Hortensia shakes the jar of numbers, then holding the jar high, hands the jar to a lady or girl standing among the crowd to pick out a number.
Every one is silent as the number is called.
You can tell the kid with the correct number on his hand because of his smile and he's pushing to the front. It's his show. Now what prize will he choose? Everyone, including the mothers, helping him by calling out what he should choose. Yesterday the number of ten year-old Carlos was called. Carlos and his brothers and sisters are from a very poor family.
Carlos was beaming as he stood looking over all the goodies. He spotted the soccer ball. Yep, it was the soccer ball he wanted. He had never had a soccer ball. As I handed the happy kid his soccer ball, I said "You can have this soccer ball OR FIVE DOLLARS ... which do you want?" Everyone started giving poor Carlos advice. The kids yelled "Soccer ball" the moms yelling "take the five dollars! He looked back at his mother and she was telling him take the money! Poor Carlos, he really wanted the ball! He looked at me, his ball, and the five-dollar bill ... smile gone, he looked up at me again and ever so slowly gave me the ball and took the five dollars and headed out of the crowd.
Well, what would you do in a situation like that? ... I called him back, and some of the kids brought him to the front again, He stood there looking rather puzzled. "Here Carlos" and I gave him the soccer ball too. For doing that I got a big smile and a special hug from a special kid, Carlos.
Monday, November 04, 2013
Years ago the King James Bible was pretty much the Bible of the Evangelicals ... then came a long parade of versions and translations. And for the most part, that was good, however we paid a price for this change. The price? A big drop in Bible verse memorizing. Today Bible memorizing is almost non existent. "Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalms 119:11) That was one of the verses we memorized.
Many of us old timers grew up with Scripture memorizing programs. The old King James may have it's flaws but one thing could be said of it, it became the heart of Scripture memorizing.
Speaking of memorizing, It's so easy to forget the message of Isaiah 55:11 ... "My Word shall not return to Me empty or void." God's Word needs to get back into the heart of man, memorizing verses it seems, does just that.
Caution! As Christians, especially as preachers, speakers and teachers, we must never forget that it is God's Word He has promised to honor not ours.
I may become an eloquent speaker indeed, uttering meaningless ... noise. Beautiful noise. (1 Corinthians 13:1) I may be paid well and in demand ... it seems noise of this type is addictive. God honors HIS Word.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Street kids grow up, at least most do. They become adults making a bare parasitic existence living as an addict on the wrong side of right. In many ways it would be easy to type them. With few exceptions they end up in one of four dead ends. Killed. Jail or prison. Rehabs; houses of rehabilitation or street beggars. These men and women will couple and breed creating more dysfunctional “families.”
Remember the vast majority of street kids are born of dysfunctional families.
In the eyes of many these people are social trash!
If I read my Scripture right, In the eyes of God the man pictured above is loved and redeemable! He has a value. He’s above and apart from the trash he’s embedded in. This man is the one Jesus loved and died for. Yet, he is lost and confused! Unloved.
Just suppose the man above came to your Church one Sunday morning, and just suppose he was seeking God. And let's just suppose he wanted to join you and attend the service.
How would the Believers in your church react to this worthless man reaching out to be loved?
Maybe we could rephrase the question. How Christian is your Church?
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Last night I went where I shouldn't have gone.
I searched out YouTube ... Subject: Street Kids ... I should have known better. I've worked with street-kids for a half a century, plenty of them, right here in Tijuana. I've watched them in other countries as well. Why look at more?
I looked at street kids in India. Street kids in Brazil. Street kids in the Philippines and Mexico City. These worthless little imps are everywhere. Millions of them in this world. They are like leeches or fleas on sick urban societies.
Cops hate them because they are little thieves causing trouble wherever they nest and they will become the criminals of tomorrow.
Most of these kids have run from a "home" of sorts, tired of the constant fighting and abuse inside their shelter, they run, sometimes toddle to the hell awaiting them in the streets, where they find their own kind and integrate .. worthless dirty little two legged rodent's invading the streets of big cities.
One by one the kids realize they are worthless and unwanted. Being unloved mixes them into a different human chemistry, indeed social misfits.
I remember visiting a city in Brazil and where I was staying, word came of a mass grave that was discovered near us. The bodies of eleven kids, with their arms wired together were laying in their grave, each kid had been shot in back of the head. Professional exterminators. Problem solved.
In that city there was an understanding of how to deal with problem kids in your neighborhood. Call a privet phone number ... negotiate a cash deal. Late at night a black van with a few off duty police would cruse the neighborhood and collect and dispose of the "problem" kids.
It grabs you.
Looking at little kids sucking on plastic bags with some rubber cement inside ... or a couple of sprays from a can of spray paint. Eyes that once were looking at you take on a glassy stare, eyelids slowly drop as they enter a peaceful, restful world. I've seen it and it hurts. A four year old or five year old huffing, hurts bad!
Why do I look at even more of what I've already seen? It builds frustration and anger in me that combine to develop an energy that drives me on, to do more.
God knows I can't do it all, but I'm going to go down trying!
Monday, October 07, 2013
I've heard the term used and I thought I knew what this weird relationship was, I've even used the term before. . . . . but I have to admit I've never had a love, hate experience with anyone or anything.
Well, until now.
Now, day by day I'm being enlightened and starting to understand this "Love Hate" thing.
The evening of Friday the 13th. (Sept.) I was married to this big long black brace! I'm married to a big thing! The marriage was performed while I was happily unconscious. When I regained my awareness I found this brace clutching my right leg. Little by little I'm started to develop a hate for this new addition to my life. It's a thing. It's lifeless. We can't co-exist but yet we have to.
I sense my marriage is crumbling pretty early!
They obviously planned for a long marriage because it's on to stay ... thanks to the Velcro factor. And if anything can hold this relationship together it's Velcro!
The truth is, I need my big black brace to stand up and to walk around stiff legged. I'm afraid to be without it ... it's begging to become a part of me, but how I hate it.
Oh boy, nothing worse; house arrest with a "lady" I love and can't get along without ... yet hate with a passion.
I'm stuck in my first love hate relationship!
Saturday, October 05, 2013
These two young boys and their mom have seen too much! A few days ago this little three-some found themselves in real need.
A sudden thing.
Mom and the two boys lived with their grandfather in his small house. It was evening when a drugged "malandro" (teen rogue) burst in their door. The two boys were on the couch watching TV when their grandfather came into the room with his shotgun. Words were exchanged, and grampa shot the malandro dead, right in the room. The young man was blasted dead, blood all over.
The two boys saw it all! They are still traumatized. The police came that night and put the grandfather in jail. After sorting it out the police released him to go home.
No one is living in the house now. Grandfather is on the run, disappeared.
Vengeance. The malandro's friends and family are looking for the old man. Tijuana justice will be done.
Mom and her two sons are in a bad way. That's why they have come to us for help. Please pray for these two boys.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Celia is thin, very poor, and looks older than she is, she has two boy's; The older one works at a small job and the younger helps her around as she is almost blind. Their little shack in which they live is perched right at the edge of a large deep sink-hole in a canyon barrio called Floho (Lazy)
Next big rain and where will they be?
Hortensia spotted her at the produce market standing in front of the tomatoes ... she was holding a couple of tomatoes close to her face so she could see their condition ... slowly rolling them over and checking them out.. Tomatoes cost pesos.
Her son saw Hortensia and said "Mom, here's Hortensia!"
Celia was so glad to see Hortensia, they hugged each other and did some small talk and Hortensia slipped her a little envelope with a five dollar bill inside. They continued talking and Celia slowly opened the envelope. She held the bill up close to her eyes and saw that it was $5 ... at that point she started to cry! "Five dollars she said ... and hugged Hortensia. "I didn't give you that to make you cry," Hortensia replied "... it's a gift from God!" Celia was so, so grateful!
Can any of us really understand what "poor" is?
Thursday, September 26, 2013
From time to time faces, along with their stories, appear from the past. This face, this smile is etched like braille in my heart. It was a cold winter afternoon in barrio Obrara, as eight-year-old Beto was returning from school, a speeding car traveling way to fast for the narrow street hit Beto, spinning him headlong into the road. In a matter of time they lifted the bloodied unconscious boy into the Red Cross ambulance and sped him to a small local hospital. His school buddies looking on.
The orphanage director called me and told me of the accident.
In the morning I drove across the border to the hospital. Beto, his head bandaged and still unconscious, was laying there in the cold room under a blanket all tubed up.
Every day I visited him. He remained unconscious with his I. V. and other tubes in his body.
Then, it started.
When I visited, I would find him with only his pajama bottoms on and his cover wadded up beside him. His body sort of bluish and shivering. I spoke to the nurses asking them to keep him covered.
In San Diego I called several hospitals asking them if they could find a bed for Beto. When I explained that he had been unconscious for several days, my answer was always no. Finally a more empathetic Doctor cut through my emotions with the bare truth. "Anyone comatose for more than four days has little chance of recovering his mind. If he comes here, he will simply fill a bed for many years ... we're sorry."
Again, I would cross over to visit little Beto, I couldn't believe he was just a vegetable. Again, I would find him without covers, his body cold and shivering. Again, I would beg the nurses to keep him covered.
I came to the conclusion; that's how you dealt with the comatose in Mexico. You let them get pneumonia and die of natural causes.
I didn't want to leave, but I had committed to a long weekend of speaking. I would have to leave him, and his nurses in God's hands.
When I returned to the hospital Tuesday morning I was prepared for the worst. I slowly walked down the hallway. Suddenly! Who should appear, wheeling himself around the corner in a little wheelchair, but Beto! When he saw me, his face lit up with a wide smile that I'll never forget! "Von! Von!! Brother Von!!!" He yelled as he sped toward me! "You're here!!!"
Little Beto defied all odds ... he made it!
Friday, September 20, 2013
Thursday began like any other day. It was to be one of my usual work-days, with 40 to 50 kids, and about 30 adults. It was to be a hot day so showers mixed with ice were on the menu. On the way I stopped into a 7-11 (In Mexico, OXXO) for three bags of ice, and a cup of coffee.
As I came out of the store with my coffee I stepped over the yellow marked curbing but seemed to catch my other foot in a yellow pipe below the curb.
I was now an 84 year old man, in the air falling to the asphalt below. All six feet of me. Nasty fall ... lost my coffee! Hit my head, injured my left-ankle, and really messed up my right knee tendon and quadruplex muscle. Almost like the accident I had in the Venezuelan jungle same week, twelve years before.
As I sat there on the asphalt holding my knee and thinking over the situation I realized this careless one-second incident was going to mean a temporary change in lifestyle starting immediately. Priorities rearranged. People affected.
Ernesto drove me across the border thirty miles north to Scripts Mercy hospital's Emergency unit. A couple of hefty men placed me on a stretcher and on in I went ... The pain was great, the pain shot was greater ... so I don't remember a lot of what went on. The pain killer keeps you happily stoned ... keeps, mind, soul, spirit ripped tendon and paining knee together. Hurting but happy!
The surgery would be the following night about 8pm. Going to be long night
I remember briefly meeting the cheerful O. R. doctors and personal. I remember the warm blanket they put on me. From then on things turned to an unconscious blur, a blur I had experienced many times before,
The extended two hour surgery, went well; they say. After sewing me up they placed a nice new heavy brace on my right leg, from my ankle to my upper thigh. Then they set to work making me a member by inserting more than eight different vinyl tubes in me. Being happily high I really didn't mind. In this carefree frame of mind they hauled me up to my new, technology sophisticated room. Many of you who know me, know how well I get along with technology. Imposing black machines that never sleep towering over me, with their little red, yellow and blue flickering lights uttering groans, buzzes and beeps at inappropriate times.
Because I couldn't walk I had to call a nurse to help me or watch me do anything, even swallow a pill. Day and night they would walk in and out of your life; if sleeping, ,wake you up, and check if you were sleeping and then if your heart was pumping.
Well, thanks to my Niece and her expertise on Hospital procedure, I'm home again ... beginning life as a brand new cripple. Lots of new stuff to re-learn from twelve years before.
I'm home free! ... thanks to the many of you who prayed me through this ... unpleasant venture. Conclusion, no surgery is pleasant at 84.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
While we are juggling so many dramas it was easy to forget that most of you don't know what happened to Francisco, the boy who fractured his skull. He had been promised dates for his delicate procedure but for each appointment the Doctors made, it seemed the Tijuana General Hospital couldn't find a bed for the boy. As you can imagine each cancellation was hard on Francisco.
Hortensia entered the picture, and in short time the hospital found a bed. Admittedly Francisco was scared when they wheeled him into surgery to fit his special plastic cap to his brain and attach it. A tricky, dangerous procedure; no matter how you want to define it. Would it fit right? Would his body reject the foreign object? Infection another very real potential.
He came out of the operation smiling!
His hair cut short and scalp lined with rows of staples. Hortensia made several special trips to Tijuana's General Hospital to comfort he and the family.
Praise the Lord the job is done and thanks to many of you the bill is paid. Now it's Francisco's responsibility to do his therapy so he can have full use of his right arm and leg.
Francisco and his family made a special point of telling us to thank all of you who prayed for them as they went through this tough time. They are a happy family indeed.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Hortensia and I have partnered together for more than twenty-years. She knows our world better than I simply because she was born at the Tijuana Dump, and educated in the U.S. But moved back to her roots and preferred to live among the poor. Somehow the needs find her, and we check them out.
Two days ago a brand new little baby girl was born in barrio Pedrigal and yesterday Hortensia was invited to meet the little baby. Father and mother, both just fourteen, proudly stood by as the big ta-do went on.
As the evening continued Hortensia took a walk up the dirt road to see how Maria and her boys were doing. Maria's ten-year-old twins, spotted her. They came running and hugged her happily, then walked her over to their little house. The boys were both holding sweaters which seemed odd at the time, as this is September and incredibly hot at that!
While talking to the mother, Hortensia said "I know it's been rough and I came over to offer you a little help." And she handed the lady twenty dollars.
What happened next was totally unexpected.
The lady broke into tears, and soon the boys were crying. "Hortensia," Maria said, "I just sent Roberto and Rolando out with two sweaters to see if they could sell them to any of the neighbors for two or three hundred pesos ($2.50) so we could buy some drinking water; we have no water! And maybe get some beans and tortillas. We have nothing! And you came and gave us this!"
As she left, one of the boys came up to her! "My daddy sent me, he's ashamed to ask. You know he's a drug addict," he says he needs a couple of dollars, if you can give him any ... Hortensia gave Roberto three dollars to take back to his father.
Hortensia and I were on the road again today ... buying food and yes even water for six different families.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Maybe it's because speaking has been so much a part of my life that I've really never considered it to be an integral part of my "Missionary" calling in Mexico. It took this photo (top) someone took at our last camp, to realize just how important communicating is to the missionary.
I studied the photo closely and then studied several other photos of kids listening. I don't get that perspective from the front.
Camps are great and so important to the kids we work with. Camp provides a few days in which we have our kids locked into a powerful pre-prayed environment. An environment in which God can work, while the enemy is hindered. Often I have the privilege of preaching and teaching at camps, speaking to adults and teens, even these little kids. Big groups, little groups, whatever. Rewarding indeed.
The kids above are mostly younger kids. A camp full of energetic little rascals going everywhere at once but when it comes time for God they will calm down and actually listen! Talk about miracles!
Look again, these kids, all of them, each of them are really listening. What I'm doing here is simply sowing seeds via an interesting talk.
I'll admit I do look a little weird. When I work with the kids at camp, I usually dress up in my Peruvian poncho and wear my hat from Bolivia, with a tiger tooth in the rim and I wear a Jaguar claw necklace; the kids like the exotic adventure spin.
Teens are still my favorite audience, I teach and interact with teens in Mexico on a regular bases in different orphanages; again the respect and attention these street kids give me is nothing but amazing. Ears that listen and hearts that are open are a great opportunity as well as responsibility.
In our Spectrum Letters through these years I haven't placed much emphasis on my teaching and preaching ministry ... the speaking end; however it's a very effective part of the ministry. For fifty years I have taught in Tijuana on a regular weekly bases. Teenagers jail, Camps, Orphanages, Retreats, Clubs, Discipleship and Leadership staff meetings. (With my faithful and excellent translator, Julian)
Saturday, August 24, 2013
As I stared at the two flat toads on the roadway. These two were different than the other flattened toads. It was true that they were all quite dead, but there was something different about these two. Such a sad ending of a wild romance. With a bit of forensics and a little imagination, I pieced together the story.
A tropical night in Kauai, what could be more romantic? They met each other, she blinked her eyes innocently and he blinked back. It seemed to start from there. The two toads fell deeply in love. She turned around and he jumped on, and off they hopped into a dark night of love. Two lovers hopping helter-skelter in the brush, nowhere to go but love. For some reason, only known to a toad, she decided to cross the road, and so they headed hopping happily onto the warm dark roadway. In their passionate embrace they hopped right into the path of an oncoming car.
Their love was to be short lived.
There was no squealing of brakes ... just a croak, two pops and a crunch and their love was cemented to the asphalt! Alas in a split second the two were made one in the flesh! Days later, I bent down and looked closely at them ... true, they were as flat as other toads on the road, but these two were different; they were still smiling!
What a night it must have been!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
I've had this short article for most of forty years and used it often to compare the extreme difference between the conduct and behavior of early Christians, (200A.D.) and those of us today. It's not only interesting to note the differences but where the differences exist. This article addresses the question; just how important is our testimony and public conduct?
"The following statement is attributed to Aristides, a second century worldly (non-Christian) philosopher. It is his comment and observation of Christians in his day (200 A.D).
They abstain from all impurity in the hope of the recompense that is to come in another world. As for their servants or handmaids or children they persuade them to become Christians by the love they have for them and when they have become so they call them, without distinction, brothers. They do not worship strange gods and they walk in all humility and kindness and falsehood is not found among them and they love one another. When they see the stranger they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as over a true brother. And there is among them a man that is poor and needy and if they have not an abundance of necessities they will fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with the necessary food.
They observe scrupulously the commandment of their Messiah. They live honestly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them they praise and laud Him and over their food and their drink they render Him thanks.
And if any righteous person of their number passes away from this world they rejoice and give thanks to God and they follow his body as though he were moving from one place to another. And when a child is born to any of them they praise God and if again it chance to die in its infancy they praise God mightily as for one who has passed through the world without sins. Such is the law of the Christians and such is their conduct.
Friday, August 09, 2013
I get tired of seeing these ragged dirty little urchins running around with beat-up shoes or barefoot. In poor Mexico shoes are a big expensive thing!
Hortensia and I devised a plan to have a few kids from a very poor Barrio get the chance to choose a pair of new shoos for themselves, and without their mothers telling them what to choose.
A lady was to collect a few needy children from Barrio Las Carretas and they were to meet us along the roadway.
So here she comes, an hour late, with about thirty kids! Now I had planned for what was good for my pocket-book and what my SUV would hold, about ten. Not thirty. I didn't have a bus and my pocket was not lined with Fort Knox gold.
I had planned to take them to a real shoe store in center city Tijuana.
First I had them all sit in a line along the curb, and each was to roll a special dice I made, with one red side. Roll red, and your in! After getting thirteen that rolled red, we were walking up the street when, Praise The Lord! We found a shoe store right there with a good selection of shoes, good prices and many were on sale! WOW!
Happy made the day!
The kids were having a blast trying on their new shoes, dirty feet and all. Many had a hard time making a selection.
The manager was happy too as he sold more shoes that day that he would the whole week!
And I was happy too ... it didn't cost me an arm and a leg!
Monday, August 05, 2013
It's hot as it should be in August, far from cold and gray December. Odd that this story should come to mind. It's a story, like many, that tends to stick in my mind... and heart.
It was getting cold as the sun left the muddy valley of lower Trinchi and we were still giving out toys to a small line of cold kids, some clad in short sleeve shirts and others barefooted. Little six year old Tonio was so happy with his pair of black shoes. We gave them to him as his Christmas gift from our bus full of blankets, toys and odds ‘n ends of clothing. Each child could choose only one gift, he chose a pair of nearly new shoes.. He quickly ran down the road and climbed up the tire steps to his house holding tightly to his pair of black shoes.
Two days later Tonio was crushed to death in a mudslide. No one heard a word..
His house was in a neighborhood located on the hillside of a muddy valley, Barrio Invasion is what they call it. Like many neighborhoods we serve, it consists of poor "invaders" or homesteaders. The poorest of these families often dig out a shelf on a hillside and put up a shelter accessible by steps of old embedded tires. It doesn't take much to trigger an avalanche of mud after several days of rain. Mud is quiet. Mud is heavy. Mud is deadly. His family escaped, Tonio was in a little hut near the house ... he didn't make it.
I remember there were only five at Tonio's funeral. The little boy lay in a small open particle board casket. The family was poor so the mortuary did very little to clean up the boy where he laid swollen and bruised. With him in his casket were the two little black shoes he loved so dearly.
That same morning a few miles away, ten year old Laura and her fifteen year old sister Erma were playing together in their small makeshift bedroom. Without warning, their lives were snuffed out by another mudslide. No one heard a word, the quiet death. Hortensia, two of their little girl friends, and I walked a muddy road and through the trashy area to the site. I lifted the yellow caution ribbon and walked closer to the mudslide. The soldiers had scattered the families clothing and thrown the furniture away in hope that they would not return there again to live. Any thing of value was stolen and they had nothing but their two dead daughters. I remember the Governor was there with the media and he expressed his condolences, but unfortunately the government hasn't the resources to be of much help. The little family can't go back ... They can't go forward. They call on us.
Thanks for enabling us to step in where people like these fall through the cracks of bureaucratic greed and incompetence. This family needed help not promises. Hortensia represented us to both families and we helped pay for their funerals and food. Do the poor respect us? What do you think? Our challenge is that the word gets around.
While little Tonio's pair of black shoes will never be worn, they will never be forgotten either.
Thanks to whoever donated them to us.
Missionaries are what we are and ministry is what we do. Doing the Word can be spelled in so many ways.
Monday, July 29, 2013
This afternoon as I was driving south to enter my world I began thinking of my past fifty plus years working with the very poor. One thing jumped at me; how unaware we are to the dangers we face as we work in these areas. And it's getting worse as hunger increases. I was driving rather nonchalantly into a night in barrio Pedrigal. The feral teens and young men surface at night. Many are high on drugs. It's actually a very dangerous environment for an old Gringo to drive into ... yet I've become so used to God's protection I've become complacent rather than thankful.
Late one afternoon I remember slowly driving down a narrow dirt road in barrio Pedrigal. I noticed on the embankment to my left about ten feet above me several guys looking at me, and then the number grew. I new I was trapped on this narrow road. I felt a slight chill. I had several hundred dollars on me, not a good situation. They came running down the embankment to the side of my car. I was scared until a couple of the guys at my window yelled "Von! Von!" "Do you remember us?" Now that was a relief. They were dirty and sweaty but smiling and maybe a little "high" on something. They said I gave them showers when they were kids and wondered if I had any chocolates ... I did.
On several of these occasions I realized God "has my back."
Complacent I should never be.
Another growing danger on the "Night Shift!" I'm almost 85 and still driving in Tijuana. The dark streets and wild drivers. Tijuana city is no place for an old driver. Nonchalant driving could kill me, or worse, others. In Mexico an accident is always the 'Americano's' fault! A major accident of any kind means jail time. I'm much more sensitive to this kind of danger than working the night shift in the barrios. I drive scared.
The many opportunities still exist for this old man.
Some may call me a fool, even irresponsible, but I believe I have God's blessing and calling. There is still a lot to be done and the laborers are few.
Before driving down to Mexico, I have a time of prayer for my safety.
To be honest what's keeping me going are the prayers of so many of you. THANK YOU!, THANK YOU! for keeping me in your prayers ... especially now as I'm doing more of the "night-shift!" Why nights? I have to meet my people in their world and at their time.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
As you recall weeks ago David went to Mexico city for a major operation by two specialist surgeons. We (You folks) paid for the flights.
While he was there the surgeon said he needed to be back for another operation, this time on his spine. David said to the doctor "I don't want any more operations." The surgeon replied " If you don't get this surgery, in a matter of time you will be crippled and lie in bed the rest of your life!"
That changed things!
David's mother forgot to tell us that and the date of the surgery in Mexico City. Suddenly they're to fly out to Mexico City this Friday! And of course they haven't the money.
This is the all too common irresponsibility that drives us up the wall working with these people. The poor simply don't think ahead. However this isn't David's fault, and the surgery is needed, It's free, but it means another flight to Mexico City, and quickly.
Thanks you for the many of you who are interested in David and pray for him. Thanks too for you that are willing to help him out.
The poor boy is caught between a rock and a hard place. He doesn't want to go, BUT if he doesn't go he will be crippled for life.
Friday David and his mother are on their way for Monday's surgery. Please pray for the boy and his surgeon.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I'm convinced little things count and I've thousands of Mexican children who agree. For over half a century now I've given a dollar in exchange of a child's little tooth. The little tooth that came out. The missing teeth that make that once in a lifetime tooth-less smile.
In America we have the "tooth fairy", in Mexico they have the "tooth mouse", but that mouse has always been really poor. So the kids save their teeth for me. Sometimes for a month! Waiting. Waiting. If I would have collected and kept the teeth given me I would have a barrel full.
Ever see a kid literally jump up and down when he got a US. Dollar? I have; lots of times.
I soon expanded my "dollar ministry" to giving a dollar to those kids who had a Birthday. The poor don't have Birthday parties like us ... and to those who got good grades at school! Last week lots of boys and girls showed me their grade papers and collected their reward! (Alas, for my dollar or two, they have to have good grades!) If a boy makes a handful of goals in a big soccer game, he will get a dollar or two reward!
Looking back, I would never have believed all the good that a little paper dollar could do. (Do you think a poor kid in Tijuana will ever forget the dollars he got?)
I always go down with a pocket full of dollar bills. And return with the joy of empty pockets!
As you who follow our ministry, and are a part of our ministry, know we give out big money too ... to families needing food, kids needing schooling, the sick needing medicine and Medical operations.
But the little ones need a dollars worth of attention and encouragement. And they get it from us!
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I played a surprise visit to David and his family yesterday. He lives in a high hilly four-wheel drive area of Grupo Mexico. My car is good for that. It was good to get to see David his mom and sisters.
Things have been Going well since his latest surgery in Mexico city. The surgeon changed the location of his catheter a little higher and closer to his bladder ... still, it's a deep insert into his abdomen. He showed me how he does it. Very carefully and a little painful. Thus it will be for life. (I was standing next to his bed; he sleeps on the floor.) That shouldn't be!
David's messed up back causes him to walk with a limp, he has been offered free therapy by the government, and was taking this therapy twice a week.
I found that they quit the therapy last week as the family simply couldn't keep paying the transportation cost; both mom and David traveling to the therapy location and back twice a week. I asked his mother what their transportation cost them each week, and she said about $20.
I asked David directly "Do you feel this therapy is actually helping you?" He said that it was really helping, and he told me what they do for his hour. Pretty impressive; hot packs, electrical treatment and regular physical therapy.
It's only right that we come in and help him keep up this free therapy ... isn't that the way you spell ministry?
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Last week I was hinting to my heavenly Father that my washing machine wasn't quite cutting it. It's quite old and can't seem to get up the spin it used to have, leaving me a load of half wet towels and clothing. So I have to do a second spin. Then they are ready for my dryer, which doesn't dry too well either.
I drove into the Tribo orphanage this hot afternoon and from the shade of the trees the kids came running across the hot dusty dirt to greet me. More hopping than running as the ground was hot!
Ben, the sub-director, mentioned how the kids had worked. I asked him to point out the ones that worked, and I gave each worker a dollar! Some jumped up and down with joy, a few were not too happy.
Thirty five dirty sweating boys ... bath day is tomorrow. Wash day is today!
I took a look at the side of the building where they were doing the washing. Ben explained that the washing machine they had wasn't washing properly and the spin dry cycle was really slow. So the kids were helping the washing along. (It was a ready made photo opt!)
The washing "machine" part was several kids in two tubs of soapy water and dirty clothing, stomping their feet. No grapes into wine here, just dirty clothing into, well ... slightly cleaner clothing. Others on the clothing wash-day were called to be spin-dryers! I might add that a few chocolate bars pushed the energy level up considerably!
The lines outside in the sun would serve as the Dryer. The electric bill is $300 per month! I might add that the clothing comes out a bit stiff but wearable.
I won't complain again about my washer and dryer.
By the way, would anyone be able to help get a new washer for the kids of the orphanage?
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Bolivia is a small landlocked country in South America. I have visited it often speaking to Missionaries and their children as well as local churches.
One year I was invited to speak to the graduates of a large Missionary kid School in the city of Cochabamba. The graduation was to be held in about the best hotel in this big city. Indeed a classy affair!
I still remember what I spoke on "Build a Good Foundation: The Wise and the Foolish Man."
After the ceremony, a rather charismatic young man met me at the door. It seemed that his daughter was in the graduating class and in good English he complimented me on the message. "Would you visit me in my home, he asked, I would like to talk with you?" I agreed and we set a day and time.
Later my missionary friends told me who the man was. "He’s running for president of Bolivia and is being predicted to be the winner." Banzar, the old president, has been there forever and the people want a change."
He and I met in the afternoon at his large and heavily guarded home. I had no idea what he wanted to talk about. He told me who he was and talked of his various plans for the country. Good plans; he seemed like an honest guy. Then he popped the question.
He asked me if I would join his team. Surprised? You bet! He said he liked my speaking style. I was a motivator, he liked that. Could he use me?
Of course this wasn’t realistic, and later I politely declined his offer. The start and finish of my very short political career.
As I look back at these little occasions, I’ve had a very interesting life! ... ahh! A presidential advisor!
Monday, June 03, 2013
Francisco and his mother met us yesterday. The major operation of placing a made to fit plastic cap over a portion of his brain where there is no bone was postponed for another several weeks. Some technical reason.
You could tell Francisco was uneasy about this.
Hortensia took advantage of his fear by reinforcing the Gospel Francisco had heard when he was younger. My comment was simple ... "As long as God has spared your life, he must have a special purpose for you!" I followed up by asking him, "Do you have a Bible?" The question made him uncomfortable, first he said yes and then he said no, then it sort of all came out. He was ashamed to admit that the accident had taken away his ability to read and write. "The letters to make words just don't come together right" he said.
We'll get him a Bible and his mother said she will read it to him.
"Hortensia." He said, "I've wanted so bad to write a note to you and Von, thanking you for all the help you've been ... but I can't think the letters for words and I was ashamed to ask someone else to write the note." And he gave us each a long hug before we left. (His mother has written a long thank you note.)
Francisco's a brave kid facing the unknown, he needs our prayers that this whole thing will work out to really change this boy's life. For the Glory of God.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
With women it's called menopause, but with us men its referred to as "Midlife Change" or "Midlife-Crises" and I've seen it happen. A man gets about middle age and decides he can d better, so he dumps his wife and kids, buys a new motorcycle and drives off into the sunset with his secretary.
Something like that.
Well, my midlife crises came a little late. Real late. In my 80's ... to be exact in my 84th year.
My late life crises is called retirement.
As I'm not really into being retired, I'm making a new start in ministry. Late I am, but new it will be. Wow! Retired. Flying on my own wings once again.
I'm no longer Spectrum and Spectrum is no longer me. This afternoon we made a clean amiable break. Spectrum was more than kind in giving me a package of my salary ($1,500 per month) as well as my medical insurance.
Now to continue in Ministry.
Happy as I am to have my salary taken care of, I now have to pull together some of my friends to provide me with prayer and ministry money to continue helping me support the poor and in many cases the desperate. Yesterday it was Spectrum's money, today it will be what money I can generate.
You can send your comments and checks (made out to DeAnza Community Church) to:
1043 Emma Drive.
Cardiff, CA 92001
If you don't need a tax exemption, simply write a check to:
1043 Emma Dr.
Cardiff, CA 92001
Or, you can donate though our new web site at http://ministry.pastorvon.com/
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I can't pass a gas station without my car urging me to go in for just a little more juice.
On one of my first trips to Brazil I noted two interesting things, first, was the fact that almost every vehicle I saw was a Volkswagen and second, all of them were rolling alcoholics!
Brazil has plenty of sugar cane and from this cane they make alcohol and a good portion of this alcohol goes to fueling their vehicles.
I was content to leave that to Brazil; I prefer the old fashion fossil-fuel. I might add I flew home on a fossil fueled plane.
I live in the bankrupt State of California where each summer they split our fuel with alcohol. You can smell it at the pump as you watch your numbers spin ever higher. The benefits of this summer mix are two. First, the price is higher for this mix, and second it gives you less mileage ... oh yes, and it's been proven that the summer fuel mix doesn't help the environment that much. So much for the mix. (Cheers for the corn farmers, they win.)
Drinking while driving is dangerous enough without driving a drinking car.
Like I said; its summer and my car has become an alcoholic and can hardly pass a gas station or even a bar without wanting to turn in ... for ... just a little more.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
As a youngster in California I lived near several beaches. I found the "board-walk" an interesting place. The board-walk at the beaches I lived near was a walkway of wooden boards above the sand. Each board laying side by side was about a half-inch from the next one.
Crawling under the board-walk wasn't hard and afforded a nice shady spot where a variety of small stuff would fall. There was always an interesting scattering of trash and on occasion, treasure. Under the board-walk were gum wrappers and chewed gum, candy, cigarette butts; anything less than a half an inch, gravity would claim and it would fall to the lowest level.
With the trash there would be the occasional penny, nickel or dime ... if it was a very lucky day.
The world in which I minister is indeed below the social board-walk. Yesterday was a day interacting with the lowest and most hurting social level. A day in which the only hope was the sunshine that came from far above the board walk.
The call was "von, can you get my son into an orphanage?"
I entered the small room and met the "family" of three. Mom, her boyfriend and tall slender Alex, her twelve year old son. Alex is quite honest about his past and that he's homosexual and a thief ... and has run away from two other orphanages. Abused since age eight there isn't much left for this twelve year old. The two want him out ... not only out of the bed all three sleep in, but out of the house (room.)
I watched the boy as they listed his failures. He sat quiet, and motionless, accepting the truthful abuse. Alex is on his way to becoming worthless trash working the lowest level of society.
As happy and carefree as the traffic above, is the lonely pain below. Alex has fallen through.
God sees Alex as treasure, society sees him as trash!
Orphanage? No orphanage will take a chance with a kid like Alex.
Please pray for us as we work this seemingly hopeless strata.
We care because He cares.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
At my age, I'm classed as a senior citizen, on Social Security, and of course, I'm on a limited income. So when the BIG day comes, my annual Birthday, I have to limit my spending. I have to be responsible.
What does a senior citizen really need to put together a real, yet conservative party of one?
A von Birthday kit ... and that's what I got!
I knew I needed a fire extinguisher and fortunately I had one in my garage. On an occasion such as this one needs to consider safety. Fire. Flame. You know!
Well, I thought it over and made a trip to the dollar store a few blocks away to make some responsible purchases. Now the dollar store is full of great and colorful Chinese bargains and indeed one is tempted.
Now what did I need?
A Birthday Cake! To be honest, a simple cup-cake would do, nothing large and of course a candle to symbolize the 84 plus years I've been around ... I couldn't find the old fashioned kind, so a survival candle will have to do. Lets face it, a candle is a candle. A large box of matches, as I have a little trouble getting a match to burn.
I picked up an inexpensive little silly birthday hat to liven up the party. An atmosphere thing.
Oh yeah, I got a card this year, thought I would include it in the photo!
Well, the party was going well until the burning candle fell down and lit the box of matches. Truthfully it was quite exciting for a short time ... At my age almost anything is exciting! I had to use the extinguisher, which pretty well blew the party away!
Hope it works out better next year ... if I'm still around.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Sunday I was slowly driving in Tijuana's Red-light district, which we call "The North Zone". (Zona Norte) I was to preach in a local Church called "The Rock" (La Roca) I love that Church and preach there about once a month.
I was about to make a right turn, when I noticed a policeman watching me. Oh! Oh! My seat belt! "Oh Lord help me!!" I quickly tried to buckle it, but he caught me, red lights and all ... he pulled me over! "You didn't have your seat-belt on did you?" (By then I had it on!) Well, I couldn't lie, after all I'm a Christian and to be preaching in about ten minutes. "No sir I replied." "You know that's against the law here," he said. "But officer I was traveling so slow ..." "He interrupted me." I'll have to give you a ticket." Looking sad and about to cry! "But Officer, I'm to be preaching at LaRoca Church over here, and I pointed; in about ten minutes, this will make me late." "Well, the Officer replied ... there is a Police station near the Church."
I sat, there defeated, looking old, sad, and pathetic.
The Officer broke the silence. "Maybe we can work things out..." Cheers! I was waiting for that statement. I said " How much will a thing like this cost me?" As I was saying this he slipped a small notebook on top of my instrument panel. I looked pained, "But officer I have only ten dollars on me." and I started reaching into my pocket.
I heard him say "Ten dollars? That won't make much of a breakfast."
Well, I thought I only had a ten ... BUT, NO ... it was a twenty!
"Oh Man! I said, it's a twenty. He smiled and replied. "That will make a much better breakfast" and he took the twenty! I looked at the twenty, and the smiling officer, and asked if he had change, he said no! (I really asked him that!) We left on good terms. I put the seat belt on for the next three blocks.
I was on time. The sermon was good ... even though it was delivered by an apprehended criminal who committed a serious crime.
I've worked in Mexico for half a century. I understand Mexico. Mexico is corrupt completely, from the top down to the cop on the street ... but it's sort of an honest corruption. I can work with it, I understand it.
Have a nice breakfast Officer, you've been working hard.
I happen to be a citizen of good clean Christian America. Where there is just as much corruption if not more, but it's an invisible and dishonest corruption. We paint our corruption over with a convenient Judio-Christian whitewash and pretend it doesn't exist.
I shouldn't blame our Cops ... as city employees, they do all they can to bring in lots and lots of revenue!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Dear Pastor von,
I'm heading out to work, so I'll be short.
Words cannot express the gratitude we feel as we are reminded of how you opened God's Word to us when we were young.
The excitement has never diminished, even though many years have passed.
Even this morning, one of our grandchildren said to me "Poppy, I want to have God in my heart." She folded her little hands and said "dear Jesus ... please come into my heart."
... It was so thrilling to have been there.
You are a very important link in the chain of Faith in our family.
God Bless you Pastor von, Rob and Carol Van Horn.
Early in life I made a decision to cancel out of the traditional life of marriage, kids and family and dedicate my life, and time, to God's work. I figured I could do this better being single. Looking back, I don't think I've made a mistake, even though at 83, I have no family as such, and in that sense, I look forward to a rather lonely future. Out-living many of my peers produces a strange sort of lonely feeling too. (Being this old is new to me.)
Letters and notes like this are a real encouragement, and remind me that I'm actually not alone; I'm indeed part of a larger family. A spiritual father to some, even grandfather to others. What a privilege to be "a link in a chain of faith" in a family's life. A sweet letter indeed.
Thanks Rob and Carol! You didn't just make my day, you made my whole week!
Thursday, April 18, 2013
A little update on our boy David and his mom way down in huge Mexico City. As you might remember David's surgery by a leading specialist would be free if we could get him to the Doctor's Hospital in Mexico City. We made it possible for David and his mother to fly down early so his doctor could make some last minute checks. David's mother was praying that his long six hour surgery would be finished successfully.
For three days after the major abdominal surgery, it was touch and go. He was hooked up to tubes, David developed a high fever and high-blood pressure ... and was in a lot of pain. His doctor works closely with him and will supervise some further work here in Tijuana.
We're all thankful now that David's doing better and is out of intensive care. He's in a different facility but is in constant contact with his doctor.
It will be a few more weeks and tests, until he will be able to return home. Thanks so much for your prayers ... oh, and little Maribel caught up with me this morning in Laguna. She pulled me down and gave me a big kiss, saying thank you ... and she walked to school. So I pass her kiss on to you who deserve it!
Friday, April 12, 2013
His family called on us to help and he was one of our Bible Clubbers.
You might remember reading my post "HEAD FIRST" last December 7th. Teenage Francisco crashed headfirst into a pole! The resulting damage crushed his skull, blinded his left eye and left him slightly crippled. His heart stopped twice as he was being operated on. So Francisco has been through a lot.
They are very poor and the bill for a plastic-cap to be placed over his brain was over a thousand dollars. The government will pay for his surgery. To finance this cap the family begged, scrounged and borrowed all they could from everyone they knew, and they were still short hundreds of dollars. We couldn't say no, so we put in the rest of the dollars to complete the bill.
It's been over a year now. It seems it was very difficult to locate the special plastic to create the cap. Now it's ready.
This afternoon his mother proudly handed me the payment receipt for the plastic-cap and said that the surgery date was set for May 15th. There are still more expenses so the family is selling candy Apples to get some extra money.
They are so grateful for our help which made it possible to get him this surgery and cap. (We're hoping the Candy Apples sell! )
When I asked how Francisco was feeling about his up-coming surgery. His mother was a little hesitant in her reply. "Francisco wants to cancel the surgery ... he's afraid!" Forming the plastic to his brain and placing it over his open brain is indeed a critical surgery. But the family says they will go ahead with the surgery.
His mother asks for our prayers.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
No, I don't believe in outreach ... and I never have. A few years ago outreach became a popular term ... it came blazing into the Church and before we knew it there were outreaches everywhere. It's still a popular activity ... It's still a popular term!
Back then it sounded so new, so good and so healthy and so out, rather than In!
It seems to me today's Church has always been an outreach Church; that is, the Church reaches out to bring people intoThe building, into the service, into the Believers activities.
"A bring 'em in Church" to teach them a "GO YE" Gospel? This is a paradox at best.
While outreach isn't altogether bad, it isn't altogether what the Lord's Church is all about.
Admittedly I'm using "outreach" in its literal sense; the act of reaching out from where we are to bring people to us; if that's what outreach is, the Church has been doing that for years. What's new about outreach?
As to myself, I'm more of a go-out person than a reach-out person.
Healthier by far is GOING to the need and minister, rather than ask the needy to come to you and be ministered to.
Healthier by far is taking the Gospel to those in darkness rather than pulling a few from their dark world into the light of our nice Church building to hear our preacher present the Gospel.
Be it the Gospel, or ministry ... the Church's calling is to SPREAD OUT rather than reach out. GO YE!
Thursday, April 04, 2013
It was Pizza night and I had just finished eating a slice of pizza at La Roca's small orphanage in Zona Norte, when Victor came over to me and thanked me for his glasses. He didn't have his glasses on at the time. His thanks threw me off guard. Glasses? Then I remembered; some weeks ago several of the kids in the orphanage needed glasses and Pepe, the Director, asked for our help. Victor, about eleven, was really happy because now he could see the blackboard in his school classroom. Hopefully grades will improve accordingly.
No one prompted him to thank me. It was sincere. It was spontaneous and, well, it was Victor, a cute little boy that appreciated his new glasses. Several of the kids now have their glasses. They look very intellectual, and well ... pretty cool!
Often I've mentioned that I get the thanks you deserve; not that I mind ... but so grateful for you who make it possible.
In the "little-things department" I might mention the five teeth Pepe gave me; each wrapped in a small piece of paper and closed with scotch tape. The younger kids save their teeth until I return because I give them a dollar for their tooth. (Mexico has a tooth-mouse ... but these days he's very poor!) Later that evening little Freddy came up to me with a big smile and handed me a very small bloody-tooth.
He finally got it out!
Monday, April 01, 2013
Do you ever wonder what happens to your old tires? Almost everywhere you look in my world you will see tires. I don't mean tires on cars but old tires from old cars. Well used American tires. In these barrios of the poor, tires may form the foundation of a house or tires placed on the roof that keep it from blowing away. Many tires create walls or fences.
The most difficult tires to negotiate are old tires that form stairs. Up and down the hillsides tire stairs become a common essential. Dusty in the summer and slippery in the winter.
When we go to visit a family, their shanty is often perched high on the side of a hill with a long line of tire stairs leading to the doorway. Of course when you go up, then you have to come back down and that's the hard part. (Click Photo Above)
Flexible stairs with no handrail is getting a little dangerous for this old man. Stairs like these look daunting when you're in the eighties ... thanks for your prayers for me.
Take another look at these stairs; imagine bringing a load of groceries or gallons of water up to your house, or worse, a heavy tank of propane.
Our ministry is going to the people rather than having them come to us, consequently these conditions become a norm to us. However meeting people where they are; meeting them in their homes we know the truth about what's going on in these houses and communities. We know where the needs are ... and how to direct your giving.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Things were falling apart in Jesus world. A year ago he had quit school to help his mother scavenge metal, cardboard and glass to eke out a living for his five brothers and sisters. The police are searching for his step-father and when caught, he'll be in for a long time.
Pedrigal, the boy's barrio, is as tough as they get. Jesus, 13, and his mother want him to get an education. They talked to me about getting Jesus into an orphanage. One less mouth to feed yet one less kid to help scrounge trash; In their lives a major decision.
I held him by his shoulders, looked him in the eye and asked, "Are you serious about this Jesus?" "Si Pastor von." "Jesus I want you and your mother to think on this a few days and I'll be back to take you to an orphanage, so you can check it out."
He gave me a big hug, which I wasn't expecting from a "cool" thirteen year old boy.
Yesterday we dropped by and he was ready to check the orphanage out. He got into the back seat of my car. I don't think he had ever been in a nice car like mine, he sure checked it all out. I gave him a pair of sunglasses so he could look cool.
Children of Promise Orphanage has a great collection of kids;
Julian and Jesus checked it all out.
"Lets go back so you and your mom can make this decision. Then let us know what you decide." We returned him to his downstairs shack, promising him that we'll be back in a couple of days for his decision.
If he goes, it will be the best decision for him;
For us it will mean more help for her and the other four kids as they struggle for food. Indeed life is a struggle for so many of our people.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
"Von, there's a family that wants you to visit them."
So we headed a few blocks down the road to see them. We walked carefully through the small front yard while Philip's mother, Alecia, held on to their Pit Bull guard dog. We filed into the open door to their small two-room shanty. Philip, a tall good looking sixteen year-old walked into the room along with Paul his thirteen year-old brother. They are not in school.
Alecia attends two of Spectrum's big food give-away days every month. She has to travel quite a distance for the few vegetables she gets. They are very poor. Her husband brings very little money home. Alecias trying to feed the family of eight a better diet. On the stove she had a small pot of vegetables cooking and some corn tortillas on the table.
The evening meal.
Her son Philip, as young as he is, is a serious diabetic! He has to have two insulin shots a day. Also he cannot hear .. it's been a year now without hearing.
Well, as we talked we found that the free insulin Philip was getting from the General Hospital was no longer available, and they had no money to buy more. I sat at the table holding the two empty bottles while trying to explain to Alecia what would happen if he doesn't get his shots on time ... disorientation; an insulin coma and death. I hope I scared her.
We left the family some money both for Philip's insulin and food for all.
In my travels I always ask the Lord to get the money to the right needs, and this was yesterdays answer.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I gave Brian a new plastic top! I haven't seen someone so happy in years! He actually jumped up and down in joy.
Just a little $1.20 plastic top!
Brian, his little sister and brother are road-workers ... that is, they have one shovel between them and they fill up chuck-holes in the long winding road that leads to barrio Ijido ... Lets face it, great potential ... the dirt road is nothing BUT chuck-holes. The little girl holds out a can hoping for someone to donate a few pesos.
They know my car and run out to meet me. I generally give them a chocolate bar and sometimes a dollar.
The whole family of seven, including mother, work in two different locations, filling holes and looking for donations. That's their work. That's their living. Indeed they are dirt poor.
I've met their mother and the kids. I've been to their small, rather stark house. One big bed. Roof leaks when it rains.
Brian is only 13. He's not in school, he has to work the road. Money comes hard. Mom's seven months pregnant and not able to work the road for a while.
So now it's up to Brian and his brother and sisters to keep the family in food. (Anyone want to help on food, shoes and schooling?)
Brian was bare-foot and wearing old torn and dirty pants.
But that top! That little top, made it all worth while.
Life is great when you're a kid ... and get a top!
Saturday, March 09, 2013
As much as we would like to re-live the past or even alter the past we can't. The past is locked by Divine decree. Every minute that passes forms into a fixed history. The past does not vanish it simply appears again as history.
As much as we would like to know the future, we can't; it too is locked tight. We can predict, but never know for sure.
We are forced to live in the now ... the moving present. The fluid in-between of past and future. The measured ticking of twenty-four hours is the sound of the simple span of now.
What I do now won't alter the past, but it will alter my future and can alter the greater future.
The future is always coming at its consistent, divinely measured speed; whether we like it or not.
I need the simple skill of seeing and taking the opportunities presented me to build the future I want.
Lord, I need your wisdom.