Friday, November 29, 2013

Final Impressions from Tijuana

Here it is the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm realizing that I've never finished the blog updates from our recent trip to Tijuana! So, rather than giving you a minute-by-minute report, I've decided to give you overall impressions of the various kinds of things we did for the rest of our time there.

Since Dave and I were there nearly a week before Pastor Steve Peterson and Brad arrive d, we had opportunity to meet with nearly all the pastors we know in Tijuana. We attended several cell groups of pastors and leaders where we've gone for a number of years now, and it was wonderful to see many that haven't connected with us for a couple of years. These meetings
Breakfast after a Cell Group
always include a time of praise and worship, a time of sharing, and just time to catch up with each other. You might wonder how that happens when most of them don't speak English, and we don't have much Spanish -- Dave can say, "Hola!", and "Muy Rico!" (referring to how good the food is!). I can do a little better, but not much! Generally there is someone in the crowd, in addition to Pastor Jesus, who is

bilingual, so that helps a lot. What we found this time, though, is that most people don't find it necessary to communicate in complete sentences. A word or two can easily communicate a question or an answer! Isn't language amazing?
Pastora Marita and one of her leaders

Every "gathering" is followed by a meal of some kind -- rice, beans, tortillas, tacos, enchiladas....  It's interesting to note what a significant role fellowship around food plays in the culture. These meals are not "planned events", but rather are a regular part of the building of relationships and sharing life and ministry together. There is much we could learn here.
We had opportunity once again to meet with the Directors and Staff at Emmanuel orphanage. Eduardo and Ana are doing well, although facing many challenges to provide food, clothing, shelter, and some semblance of "family" for a houseful of kids. It's always a blessing to be able to meet with and encourage the staff who care for these kids.

Pastor Fernando 
Monday evening, we were privileged to attend a worship service with Pastor Fernando's church back in Rosarito. Many of you will remember that we stayed in this community two years ago, and began making connections with some of the pastors there. These were further strengthened this time as we were able to spend significant time talking about the future plans of the Ministerial Alliance there. Just FYI, we have been asked to try to come back in late February or early March to help them with developing prayerwalking plans for a number of the churches, and to assist them in some strategic planning for spiritual growth in that city.

Gerardo & Rosa and their kids
Many of you might also remember that Pastor Jesus' wife, Rosa, has had many health issues over the past several years that have prevented her involvement with many ministry activities. She was feeling much better and was able to be with us at a number of the meetings and events. Three different times, they hosted groups of people in their home where we could meet with several pastoral couple at one time and just spend the evening eating, laughing, and sharing with one another. These times were extremely important to deepening our friendships with these wonderful people. Again, there is always someone who knows a little English, and I can understand much more of their Spanish than I used to be able to. So, communication in these situations was not so difficult as you might think! Sometimes we laughed until we nearly fell off our chairs. As a sideline, one of the great joys in these ministry trips has been to watch their babies grow into children, and then into college students and amazing young adults. We've been privileged to share birthdays and anniversaries, graduations, and births of grandbabies with these couples. 
The conversations we had, the places we shared, the meal times and prayer times and worship times we shared together would be impossible to write -- and impossibly long for you to read. Suffice it to say that this was one of the most fruitful trips we've done. The Step Up To Life workshop was hugely effective, the Fresh Start training successfully built on the last time, relationships were strengthened, and seeds were planted for a trip in the Spring.

Thank-you so much for sharing in this ministry with us. We truly appreciate the many prayers that go up for us constantly, and especially when we make one of these trips, as well as your regular financial support that allows us to continue doing this. In many ways, you travel with us when we go! And, we are excited to report to you that we received all but about $200 to cover the expenses for this trip! May God multiply that back to you many times over!
If you're interested in checking out any of these churches or pastors on Facebook, let us know, and we can send you links to their FB pages!

Trusting you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Dave and Sheryl

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