Pan de Vida February newsletter

It has been a busy start to 2015 for Pan de Vida. We have hosted three teams since January from different parts of Canada.
From January 2 – 14, we hosted three couples from Manitoba who helped build some cabinets, fix cars and weld some roof structures. On January 21st, Pan de Vida hosted a team of nineteen people from Manitoba. Some have been down before, but there were new faces in the group as well. The team had a great time interacting with the children through different afternoon events with the girls and boys. They also managed to finish some major projects like laying 341 square meters (about 1100 square feet) of paving block in front of the new boys’ dorm. They poured the back patio area behind the boys’ dorm kitchen, painted Ginger and Kike’s new apartment, installed a 12 by 6 meter roof for the animal shelter, as well as other welding and painting projects. The team went to help for a day at the Esperanza para Ti orphanage, visit the Casa Otomi ministry in Amealco, and went to the town of Guanajuato for a weekend break.









From February 13 – 23, Pan de Vida hosted a Children of Hope team comprised of seven people from Ontario, a couple from Alberta and a couple from British Columbia for a total of thirteen with Brian and Bety Heppner as the leaders. The team was busy with painting the bleachers of the football/soccer field, pouring curbs for the paving block, painting steel beams, welding a roof behind the boys’ kitchen patio, fixing the playground and fixing cars. The team went to visit the Casa Otomi in Amealco, a soup kitchen outreach that Children of Hope supports. The team also made hamburgers for all the children as part of their goodbye party. A big thank-you to all the team members for their hard work in their time of service at Pan de Vida.









Pan de Vida welcomed Herman Aikema from my home church in Langley, British Columbia. He stayed for two weeks to help with different carpentry projects around the property. It is always surprising to see the list of projects that people give me when I tell them that a carpenter is coming!

Did you know?

Over the past couple of years a number of Pan de Vida youth have been involved in local soccer teams and camps. One of these youth is now involved in try-outs for the below seventeen age group for the Gallos Blancos (White Roosters) soccer club in Queretaro. This club plays on the national scene in Mexico, so it is no small feat to get to this stage. We are really proud of Borre and wish him the best in these tryouts, and above all hope he’ll be a Christian witness to the other players he plays with.

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Speaking of sports, the American football pre-season for the Bufelos Dorados (Golden Buffalos) is just starting up again at Pan de Vida. There are three different groups playing this year: the medium- aged boys, the girls’ team, and a youth boys’ team. We give thanks to Alfonso Venegas and his coaching staff who all volunteer their time to help train these children! A number of team members come from outside the orphanage. Pan de Vida has one great advantage and that is it has its own field to practice and host games on. This field isn’t a dirt field like most in Mexico but rather a field with GREEN grass. Due to the irrigation improvements implemented last year, this field has stayed green all year long. This might not sound like a big feat to some, but in Mexico this is a big deal! It costs a lot of money to keep a field green all year due to the water costs, but Pan de Vida uses recycled water for its irrigation system, so it is all free other than the gasoline to run the pumps!

A big thank-you to all those helping with the Hope for Children thrift store that opened its doors on February 10th in downtown Langley, BC. May God use this opportunity for His glory and honour. Check out their facebook page at: Hope for Children Thrift Store, or better yet, visit them yourselves if you are in the neighbourhood.

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Prayer Requests:

• Please pray for the thrift store that the Lord will continue to provide the donations and the staffing needed to keep the store running at full capacity.
• Please pray for protection from the frustrations of the Devil in the work of the Lord that is going on at the orphanages in Mexico. These frustrations comes in different forms, but it is all the same in the end, and as sinful human beings we need God’s help all the more.

Pan de Vida update: 15th birthday, Children of Hope conference, Winkler Men of Hope team, and new boys’ dorm updated

On October 27th, two girls from Pan de Vida celebrated their 15th birthday. This is an important milestone for Mexican girls and is celebrated with lots of fan fare! There was a special ceremony prepared for the girls as well as a great meal for everyone afterwards. Many people came to be a part of the event and to share this special time with the girls. A big thank-you goes to all those who helped with buying all the special items to make this event so special for the girls. DSCN4336 DSCN4371 DSCN4382 DSCN4393 DSCN4411 DSCN4505 DSCN4496 DSCN4509 DSCN4639 On October 28 to 30, Children of Hope hosted its yearly leadership conference for its missionaries in the state and city of San Luis Potosi. Pastor Eduardo Paulin, director of the Otomi House, led the conference on the topic, “The necessary ministry of the Holy Spirit”. There were three sessions over two days. It was a great time of spiritual up-building for all involved.   DSCN4747 DSCN4713 DSCN4709 DSCN4707 DSCN4675 DSCN4789   On November 15th, the Men of Hope team from Winkler, Manitoba visited Pan de Vida. This team of 15 men were busy completing some different projects in the new boys’ dorm. A kitchen was made for the directors, window projections for 31 of the 40 windows were welded together, some clothes cabinets were started, and some tile was laid in the different patios around the Pan de Vida property. Most of the vehicles were also checked by two mechanics on the team. The Men of Hope team had the opportunity to visit the Esperanza para Ti orphanage to pour a 80-square-meter concrete pad for a new pig pen. The team also visited the Otomi house in the mountains close to Queretaro to seal and paint the building, install a new sign and give breakfast and donations to the children. DSCF0004 DSCF0017 DSCF0059 DSCF0060 DSCF0066 DSCF0070 DSCF0074 DSCF0086 DSCF0094 DSCF0100 DSCF0109 DSCN5722 DSCN6003 DSCN6022 DSCN6028 DSCN6038 DSCN6588 DSCN6593 DSCN6654 DSCN6658 DSCN6686   The Pan de Vida orphanage was blessed with a new boys’ dorm. This project was started in July of this year and the projected end date is December 7th. A lubricant company from Switzerland called Sika provided three-quarters of the funding, and a Mexican bank called Banamex provided the remainder. At times there are 23 construction workers building this facility. There are three parts to the facility: a dorm for young and medium-aged boys’ dorm as well as the director’s house in one part; an adolescent boys’ dorm in another part; and the last section is a big kitchen /dining room and TV room. There are plans to build a second storey in the not-so-distant-future, funding permitting. DSCN7287 DSCN7288 DSCN7289 DSCN7301 DSCN7291 DSCN7296 DSCN7294 DSCN7300 DSCN7302 DSCN7307 DSCN7308 DSCN7313 DSCN7316                                            

July Team 2013

We had a team of 14 people head down to Queretaro from the 5th to the 15th of July. We arrived on a Friday and first thing Saturday morning we were off to the Casa Otomi for a great day connecting with many children and even a little time for clowning around. Lots of great things happening and we are seeing many lives being changed. This place is up in mountains a good hour out of the city of Queretaro.

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We were able to be involved in a number of work projects at two of the children’s homes of Pan de Vida (bread of life) and Esperanza para Ti (hope for you) which involved welding, painting, digging and always some concrete work. Of course always time for getting to know the children.


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We were also able able to be part of the inauguration of the new boy’s dorm at Dulce Refugio (sweet refuge) which was very special for the whole team. These buildings are beautiful inside and out.















We even were able to catch the final football game for the Bufalos which is the Pan de Vida mixed football team. Great game that ended tied so they went to sudden death overtime very exciting finish. And a couple of shots just hanging out with the kids. Thanks so much for this team that took of their time and resources to be part of these children’s lives.


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Women’s mission’s trip April 12-22, 2013

I thank each one of you who partnered with the team praying and helping with financial support. God’s will was accomplished.
The Lord gave me the opportunity to go on a women’s Mission’s trip in April. I prayed before the trip, so that I would be ready to be stretched by him. It wasn’t my first or second trip, I have been in various and every time I realize that the Lord has taught me something. This time I was able to experience His teaching before the trip, for the first time I sowed some bags that the team was taking for the girls at the orphanage. Also before the trip the Lord taught me how to drive a 15 passenger van. To be honest sowing and driving a big van hasn’t been my gifting but I know that the Lord works through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The team held a conference for the teen girls called “New Creation in Christ” 2 Corinthians 5:17, where some of the girls committed their purity to the Lord. It was amazing to see those girls very comforted and feel pure and new, with so much courage and hope in Christ.
During the trip I was taught many new things. I experienced the love of God in a new way and I wasn’t expecting to have such a close relationship with teen girls. I’m thankful for that.
The volunteers at the orphanage one more time taught me how to serve whole hearted, without hesitation. One of the teens taught me what forgiveness means when she asked prayer for her family and said that even though they don’t love me, I want them to be saved.
The Lord called on one of the teens and she became a Christian and other girl re-committed her life to the Lord.
The team was able to accomplish painting, sowing, clean up a storage room, host a volunteers tea to be grateful for their commitment to the orphanage and to the Lord, took the girls to buy undergarments that properly fit them, outreaches to the Otomi Community (Otomi House), Esperanza para ti orphanage (Hope for you), spent a wonderful evening of fellowship with the girls that live on the transition house; praying, sharing testimonies and worshiping our Lord. The team also was able to purchase kitchen supplies, Sunday School supplies, Fans for the hot season, water dispenser, boys undergarments, supported financially for the Youth summer camp.
On my way home the Lord gave me instructions to make amends with some very dear people, as well as He showed me how I can be a better wife for my husband.
I thank the Lord for the privilege to go in this mission. He didn’t need me, but He gave me the opportunity to be part of this team.
I encourage you to be part of a team: women’s team, men’s team, mixed team, doesn’t matter your age, skills or finances, because the Lord provides and uses us all.

SWAP (Sports With A Purpose) visit to Dulce Refugio as well as the visit to Pan de Vida and Esperanza para Ti

From May 17th to 21st, Bruno de Jesus  (yes that is Bruno’s last name) and Kevin Walter from Indiana, USA came to Dulce Refugio on a scouting mission to look into the possibility of bringing their soccer team of 8, 9 and 10 years old’s to Mexico for a soccer tournament with local soccer clubs as well as to serve in the orphanage. Bruno is from Brazil and came to the USA on a soccer scholarship. He had some contacts with the Necaxa soccer club from Aguascalientes so we visited their sports complex to talk to the managers and see what could get worked out. They had a very successful trip and Dulce Refugio hopes to host their team in August of 2014.

Having a meeting with Marce about the plans for the trip.


Each major soccer club in Mexico has its own training school from where they get some of their professional players. Aguascalientes has three of these school, Necaxa, Chivas and Cruz Azul. We visited the Chivas and Necaxa clubs to see if the kids under their training would want to play a team from the USA. It was pretty cool to see the facilities these soccer (football) clubs have set up. It only costs about $400 pesos a month to train in their schools with professional coaches.

The Chivas club….

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The Necaxa club….a little bit nicer then the Chivas club since it is their home State! They start training kids at 2 and 3 years of age! We didn’t meet any of the professional players since they were on holidays.



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This pass weekend, Ana and I (Jeremy) went to visit the Pan de Vida orphanage. The big news from there is that the building of the new boys’ dorm has begun. The cost of this project will be mostly covered by the Sika lubricant company from Switzerland. The first phase of the project will hopefully be completed by the end of the 2013, which will include a dormitory and kitchen/dinning room. Currently the machines are leveling and compacting the foundation for the buildings.

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Here are some more pictures of the grand stands built by Sika….

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We visited the Esperanza para Ti orphanage as well. Our three boys loved all the animals, especially Samuel who for him everything was so new.

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The last team helped with finishing the front entrance to the main building. It was sure nice to see the windows installed so less dust and flies can get into the dinning room. New railings have been installed as well as a better doorway, some new walkways, a storage shed and laundry area.


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Aaron Toews update April 2013

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:

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.

Southern Ontario Team February 2013

Sorry for the late posting. We had a team of 12 people from Southern Ontario serving at our orphanages in Queretaro. They were able to accomplish numerous projects with painting, concrete work, building shelving units as well as connect with the children. Thanks so much team for your support and willingness to serve in central Mexico we hope to see you back next year. We have been so blessed with the team we receive each year from Southern Ontario.

Men of Hope Team January 2013

The Men of Hope team (15 men)returned after a very successful trip to Queretaro. They stayed at Pan de Vida and were able to accomplish many projects but most importantly they connected with the children of Pan de Vida. They were able to minister to the Otomi an indigenous group up in the mountains about an hour and a half away from the orphanage. Also they spent a day at Esperanza para Ti another orphanage and worked there for a day and bonded with the children. Also they spent some time at the boys and girls transition houses to do some repairs. Children of Hope is so thankful to these men and the families they left behind to help out at these ministries. Their servant attitudes and lots of energy they did some amazing things. We thank God for each of them. I have included a few pictures highlighting projects and activities.

Esperanza para Ti changes

Esperanza para Ti just hosted a team from Abbotsford so we wanted to show you the work that was accomplished. They made a big difference to the property there.

The new dental clinic!! A dentist donated all the equipment and will be donating his time to help the children! Wow that is generous! Thanks so much! The orphanage harvested over 980 kilos of beans this year along with a pile of corn. Milking the cow. They get about 25 liters of milk a day and make cheese with it. Kelloggs just donated lots of boxes of cereal so the kids will be set for a while. Two older girls are in charge of the milking.