Things have been busy here!
The kid’s are about to have their spring break and Dulce and I are working on her American visa. Since we started working on it, we have been asked to drive a van to the U.S border to escort a family down here to Aguascalientes. This family (Jessie and Faith Beckett), from the U.S (Columbus Ohio) will be living here full time! They are bringing their five children that will continue to be home schooled here. You know that times are changing when a family moves from the U.S to Mexico and feels as though that it is a better place for their children to be raised. Their mission above all is to work with the children as they live in the new boy´s dorm.
I had my mother and brother (Taylor) come and visit. We took some vacation time a little early this year as they were in town. We went down south to the Yucatan peninsula. My mother offered to pay for hotels, which helped us make the difficult decision to go. After my brother left, my mother stayed for another two weeks. So, she was here for three weeks in total. She did a lot of work on getting tile surfaces ready to be grouted, and then we grouted two dorm rooms together. My Cousin, Aunt and her mother (my cousin´s grandmother) came to work as well (just after my brother left). Long story short, Grandma Olga slipped on a freshly mopped floor and broke her arm and hip! So we all scrambled around for a week getting her in and out of the hospital as we learned together how to deal with the insurance side of things. My Aunt stayed with her mother for an extra few weeks as she recovered. In the end the insurance company sent a nurse from Montreal to assist them in getting home with the wheel chair and all.
Just as they were leaving, Brian, the founder of Children of Hope, came down from Canada with his wife Betty (who is Mexican), to lead a group that went to Esperanza Para Ti orphanage in Queretaro. Just before the group arrived, they received a message that the Canadian Government was going to see Betty and their two daughter’s case to become Canadian citizens. The only problem was that the date with the judge was before the mission’s trip in Mexico would end. So, Dulce and I went to Queretaro and lead that group for their final 5 days. This group from Sothern Manitoba got all kinds of jobs done: built, welded up a metal utility shed with a thick cement pad, poured cement pads for the animals in the barn, framed the beams and roof to extend the main entrance for the house (to give it an entrance with a door, as it does not have a front door, it is just open), paved curbs and then placed paving stones between them to form a side walk around (approximately) a quarter of the house, modified/welded the roof and door way over the top of the stairway that leads to the girl´s bed rooms on the second floor so that people do not have to lower their head as they walk through, and they replaced the bad pluming at the bottom of an old water tank. They took the kids to the water slides (one girl had never even heard of water slides before), had a pizza night and then donated the left over money to an older girl’s (Michelle´s) private school tuition, as she had just registered for high school in a good private school in our final days there, and needed the money to secure her place and start classes. Monthly tuition for Michelle and other youth have been provided for by Canadians through Children of Hope to give them a better education that will be recognized by universities that can open doors for these kids as young adults. Here is a link to the Children Of hope website and blog about this group: http://childrenofhope.info/southern-manitoba-march-2013/
All during these last few months, Dulce and I have been taking the youth from Duce Refugio out for walks in the wilderness and bible studies, normally boys and girls on different days. With a few of the outings we tried to get a little more creative by playing games with them. We had a couple of scavenger hunts. The first one we did downtown with the girls, after one of our bible studies. They had to find random things, in some cases ask the public for help. One street vender even lent the girls a piece of his merchandise. For the second scavenger hunt, we took the all the youth (boys and girls) to a forest along a river (Sabinal Park). We centered the game around bible verses. For example: there was a narrow gate that they were told to look for and look up the bible verse “enter through the narrow gate”. Then, they wrote a few sentences explaining how the place they found themselves in related to the bible verse. One clue was a stone wall that began at a wide tree, and the clue to find it was “The tree that brought division” .The verse was where Adam and Eve ate from the tree. We had 18 kids and divided them into three groups. We divided the park into three zones. Each group had to take a photo at each clue (I will include some of the photos). In the end, we all gathered on the trunk of a huge tree for a bible study that had to do with the word being a lamp to our feet and relating it to how the word guided them through the game (how even at times, they became frustrated and argued amongst themselves (every group had a moment like this) and one group almost gave up! Most of them managed to get wet (even though they weren’t supposed to), so they all had fun. We graded the kids on creativity and effort in dealing with the scripture and taking photos. The next weekend we had a movie night with pop and chips. First and second place in the game got special snacks.
So, things have been fun, and the kids are enjoying our time together. They always ask when the next study is (as it is not always at the same time due to different activities going on around here), so I take that as a good sign. Even though some of them may be waiting for the outing more than the study, the idea is to have studies with discussion (something they don’t get in their devotions and church service) along with Christian fellowship that is done in an enjoyable way so that they don’t simply relate time in the bible as a daily, religious obligation…but something that is done alongside relationships, fun, something that is part of life, something that enriches life. I am clear that we do not simply go to the bible to make our lives better (I am clarifying what I mean by “enriches our lives”), because struggles will always be waiting for us too. The bible does not take them away, but guides us through them (that was part of the point of the game). The bible (God, Jesus) is not something we add on to our lives to make them better (like pop Christianity likes to teach, and believe me that is a common teaching here too). The word of God guides in life, in every area, and without it we will face much harsher consequences than simply: “not fulfilling our dreams”. “Fulfilling our dreams” or “having a better life” is often the carrot on the stick offered to the public so that they will seek God, as if he is the “dream fulfiller”. As if we are on our own throne, and God is an add on to complete our lives, simply make us better. We have to be clear: without holding onto Jesus like a life preserver in the middle of the Atlantic for salvation, without giving ear to the word of God with an open heart and following it with every step: we will be guided by our own hearts off the path set before us and then straight down to death and ruin: most likely in this life and surly in the one to come. “Guided by our own hearts off the path set before us and then straight down to death and ruin” was the point of our last study of the text of Proverbs 7.
I have been tiling and grouting in the orphanage and at home too, as Dulce and I found some wooden style tiles on sale. So we are tiling our kitchen. That has kept me busy with my free time. Spending hours curled up on a cement floor at the orphanage, and then at home can be a lot more painful than you might think.
Please pray that Dulce may get her visa: it would be a ten year one that would allow us to travel through the U.S, visit her family there and mine in Canada. Pray for our health please, I have been doing good but Dulce normally has some health problems here and there.
Thank you to all of you that remember we are down here. We are always encouraged by your help as you have offered it in various ways by supporting us here, when we come home to visit and through your faithfulness. May God bless you!
Aaron and Dulce Toews.
P.S Some of the photos have a description in their title, but most have been described in this Newsletter.