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3 Ways to Celebrate #GivingTuesday

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This #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to the generosity of giving, we want to remind you how much your support matters.

It matters to people like Julio. If you’ve been to Reynosa, you know Julio better as “Chuky.” He’s a prankster who has become a beloved member of our community. And he is the first of our foreman apprentices, a program we started this year to teach construction skills.

chuky2000s

When Julio was 14, his mom Leonor applied for a house through Faith Ministry. Unable to work for the house herself, she asked Julio to work on their family’s behalf. He hadn’t been to school since he was in kindergarten, and he didn’t have a job. He didn’t want to come and work with us, but his mom convinced him.

He’s been there ever since, and now he doesn’t want to leave,” says Leonor. That was over 16 years ago.

Around the same time Julio began working with us, he started getting seizures. With the help of support from friends like you, we were able to connect Julio with a specialist and provide the funds for his medication. That support was crucial for him and an enormous blessing to his family.

As he threw himself into the work, he began bonding with American teams (click here to see an especially moving video testimony of that bond) and was mentored by our foremen, Ezequiel, Angel and Lupe.

Julio has grown up at Faith Ministry; he has matured from a teenage boy to a bright, hardworking young man. He has made our mission teams’ experiences better (and block rows straighter), and he is now pioneering a program we started that will dramatically change his future employment prospects and better help him use and apply the gifts God gave him.

Stories like Julio’s are made possible because of your support. But he is not alone. There are many more families that count on Faith Ministry’s programs every day.

This is why your support matters.

chukyfam

Here are 3 easy ways to celebrate #GivingTuesday:

1. Make a one-time donation

Donate online here or mail a check (payable to Faith Ministry) to PO Box 756, McAllen, TX, 78505.

2. Sign up for monthly giving

Monthly gifts are essential to the work we do, and it’s super easy! Sign up here.

3. Give Christmas gifts that make a difference

Want to give your loved ones meaningful gifts this year? Give them gifts that make a difference through our Alternative Giving Program. Shop online here!

Posted in Reflections

One Student at a Time: Raul

Raul1Raul was like any other nine-year-old boy. He liked playing soccer and hanging out with friends, and he had a pet cat. He had good grades and a big smile. Like many families in the colonias of Reynosa, his family struggled to make ends meet. The burden of paying for school uniforms, supplies, books, shoes, bus fare, and food for not only him, but his three siblings as well, was too much. So, Raul and his parents filled out an application to join our scholarship program. He was matched with a woman from North Carolina named Renie.

He continued on to graduate from elementary school and entered junior high (secundaria), an important milestone for the students in our community. He finished junior high and enrolled in high school (preparatoria), another big step. Many of his classmates, like so many others in the colonias, dropped out after junior high, or even elementary school. These students dropped out not because of an unwillingness to learn, but because their families needed them to work instead or because they just couldn’t afford the costs of schooling anymore.

Raul2

Renie in North Carolina kept supporting Raul as he continued to advance to the next grade level, . She visited with him and his family and friends whenever she was in Reynosa, and they sent photos back and forth to each other throughout the years. She watched him grow from a young boy into a handsome teenager, and she watched as he achieved his biggest milestone yet: graduating from high school and enrolling in college to study business and marketing.

The financial support Renie provided Raul over the years helped to relieve the heavy burden of increasing schooling costs for his family, but more importantly, she provided constant encouragement and faith that he would succeed. Raul knew that his friend Renie in North Carolina believed in him, and that is a powerful thing for a child to know.

Last month, Raul graduated third in his class from Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, and he accepted a job as a marketing coordinator. About his experience in the scholarship program, he said, “I give thanks to God because He put in my path a very special person named Renie.”

Raul3

Renie, who spent the past eleven years sponsoring Raul in school, could not be any prouder. She said, “I had no doubt that Raul would grow up to be a difference and to make a difference. My heart explodes with joy!”

Are you interested in sponsoring a child like Raul in school? Click here to learn how.

Posted in Reflections

Meeting Others’ Needs and Our Own

Originally posted at http://www.myersparkumc.org/mission-mexico-meeting-others-needs-and-our-own

In August of 2015 I created a spreadsheet of twenty two internships that I would apply to over the next few months. Many thought it was far too early to be planning for the next summer considering the ninety degree temperatures hadn’t even begun to subside, but as one resume-building summer had come to a close I knew I must start preparing for the next. That’s what I do. I plan, I work, and I achieve. So when I accepted the prestigious internship of my dreams in December of 2015 for the upcoming summer, I was filled with satisfaction. I had reached my goal. I had locked down, what I believed to be, one of the most important steps in my career path. That job was the most important thing I could be doing with my summer.

But God soon did what he always does: take the plan you’ve so artfully crafted and throw it to the wind. My plans, my important plans, came crashing down. I would not be spending the summer across the world with a prestigious internship, one that was sure to hand me a ticket into the competitive job market post-grad. I would not be updating my LinkedIn profile. I would not be creating change in the world. I would return home to live with my parents in search of a part-time job to pass the time.

As I stood in the midst of the rubble from my shattered plans, I signed up for my fourth trip to Reynosa, Mexico. And in all honesty I paid that deposit just so that I’d have a week out of Charlotte; a week out of sitting at home lamenting over my foregone success. I boarded the plane, I crossed the border, and I went to sleep sweating in the heat of the Mexican night.

Before I knew it, and without even trying, I fell back in love with a place I once called home. A place full of joy and jokes and songs and friendship. A place where language is unimportant but laughter is. The only place on Earth where heat, labor, and exhaustion cannot get you down.

Ask anyone who has been to Reynosa and they’ll all say the same thing: They do not need us there to build the house. If anything, we slow down the skilled Mexican foremen. We dump over wheelbarrows, we misalign the cinder blocks, and we drop cement buckets. However they need us to come. They need us to be God’s symbol of love and commitment to the overlooked in the world. They need us to show up, to sing, to eat, to pray, to play and to love. But more than they need us to come, we need to go. We need to face the harsh reality of inequality. We need to listen to the stories of the unheard. We need to be uncomfortable with our privilege, and we need to be disappointed by our priorities.

It’s impossible to return from Reynosa and not be humbled. It’s impossible to drive through Myers Park and not think of the family of seven living in the one room house you just built. It’s impossible to think about what unpaid internship you’re going after next when your friends south of the border are eating only one meal a day.

I look back on my hubris in December 2015, and thank God that I have been brought back down to Earth. I thank God for helping me to realize that there is no job more important than passing cinder blocks; that there is no meal more delicious than homemade tamales; that there is no song more beautiful than Este es el Dia; and that there is no one more important than my brothers and sisters in Reynosa.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

-Matthew 25:40

Written by Anna Weddington of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina

Posted in Reflections

July News: Relationships built & the love of Jesus shared!

Building Relationships

This month, a new team of college students from the University of Texas came down to work with us, and a team from Charlotte, NC, who had already been once this year, came back for another week! What stood out the most during this month were the relationships that were formed and renewed here in Mexico. Whether it was laying blocks together, planting new seeds in the garden, or singing “Unidos, Unidos” side by side, the significance of these relationships was clear. As we always say, building a house is an excellent excuse for us to be in community with one another. The most important thing that teams bring is the opportunity to live life together, if only for a week, and to share the love they have for Christ and for their friends here in Mexico.

If you or someone you know is looking for a unique and special missions opportunity, let us know! Our schedule for 2017 is filling up quick, so if you or someone you know is interested in bringing a team and forming those unforgettable relationships, get in touch! Check out our mission work group schedule to find a week that works for your team, and email Colleen for more information or to reserve your team’s week!

Vacation Bible School

For a lot of kids, summertime at church means Vacation Bible School, and here in Mexico, it’s no different! Last week, our church in Miguel Alemán held VBS for around 60 kids. They made crafts, played games and learned that they were each uniquely created by God; the theme was “Hecho a Mano,” or “Handmade,” from Ephesians 2:10. This week, our church in Naranjito is hosting VBS for about 25 kids with a theme of “Linaje Real,” or “Royal Lineage,” from 1 Peter 2:9. Next week, a mission work group visiting us from North Carolina will be hosting a VBS for the kids in the community, and the following week, our church in Reynosa will be holding another one. The kids in our community are blessed by the youth and adults who care deeply about them and make these events possible!

A House for a Family in Need

The Cerda Estrada family is in desperate need of a home in Miguel Alemán. This family of seven – José Guadalupe and his wife Maria de Jesús, their son José, their daughter Anayeli and son-in-law Alan, and their two grandchildren, Valeria and Bayron – have been waiting years for a home, and you can help make it possible! Help us build them a home by contributing to our 40 Casa Challenge today. You can give online at faithministry.org/give or send a check to PO Box 756, McAllen, TX 78505 (be sure to include “40 Casa Challenge” in the memo). Click here to learn more about our goal of building 40 houses this year and how you can help!

Indianapolis, Here We Come!

In just a couple weeks, David and Colleen will be heading to Indianapolis to visit with several of our partner churches there, as well as meet new friends who want to learn more about what we do here on the border. If you live in the area, come see us! And if you don’t, follow along on Facebook and Instagram!

Prayer Requests

We believe in the power of prayer, so please join us in praying for:

  • Benigno, or Benny, one of our foremen in Miguel Alemán, who is dealing with health issues and whose wife is currently battling health problems as well. Pray for guidance, peace and patience for Benny and his wife and their family.
  • Ezequiel, one of our foremen in Reynosa, who recently had surgery on his second eye. Continue praying for his healing and overall health, as he recovers from this second operation.
  • Javier, one of our interns from the Berea Bible School in Monterrey who has been helping us in Miguel Alemán, is graduating this week. We are so thankful for the help and support that he and Francisco, our other intern, have provided. Pray for Javier as he celebrates this achievement and embarks on a new journey.
  • Many colonias in Reynosa have been without water for a significant amount of time this summer, a situation made even worse by the intense heat here in Mexico. Pray for the safety of the families here as the hot summer weather continues.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Romans 12:12

Thank You!

Thank you for everything you do to support Faith Ministry! We appreciate your donations, your prayers, and your dedication to the ministry.

If you would like to get more involved with Faith Ministry, get in touch!

CALL:
956-631-3567 (Monday – Friday, 9AM to 5PM)

EMAIL:
David Rodriguez (Executive Director, david@faithministry.org)
Colleen Cook (Communications Coordinator, colleen@faithministry.org)
Deantin Guerra (Founder/Emeritus Director, northside1@sbcglobal.net)

ONLINE:
https://faithministry.org

Posted in News

Letters in the Sand / Letras en la Arena

Alexis

The buckets need to be filled.

The wheel barrows need to be dumped.

The blocks need to be stacked.

The mezcla needs to be mixed.

The walls need to go up.

And here I sit . . . on the dusty arid land, being careful to avoid the bits of thrown away “stuffs” of others.

Across from me, sits a lovely wide-eyed 6 year old with a smile that never ceases. We sit just outside of the ring of organized chaos that is building a home for his aunt, uncle, and two cousins. But we could just as easily be miles away, as we are so intent on what we are doing, we cannot be distracted.

Even though neither of us speaks the other’s language, we understand each other.

He brought to our little party what looked like a wooden chair spindle that he had found sticking out of a concrete block. I show him how to write in the arena with the ‘pencil’. I write out the letters of my name one at a time, K-r-i-s-t-i-n, as he attempts to sound them out. He then takes his turn with our shared pencil and writes the letters of his name, upside down, so they are right reading to me, A-l-e-x-i-s, with a precision and accuracy that I have never mastered.

I had taken a respite from the filling and dumping and stacking and mixing to draw letters in the sand.

We adjourn our meeting in the sand and reconvene in the 2 square feet of shade along the concrete block wall. I removed my earrings as Alexis watched. He moved his face within inches of mine. He stood perfectly still, while staring at my ears. I had no idea what he was doing or thinking. He finally broke his gaze and walked over toward his abuela. He returned with a small metal tin, which I thought he found in one of the many trash piles around, and handed it to me. I wasn’t able to remove the lid so he returned to his grandmother for her assistance. He walked back to me with the seriousness of someone much older. He then very deliberately took a small fingerful of the salve contained in the tin and smoothed it on each of the holes in my earlobes with the gentleness of butterfly wings. He cared for me.

What a gift I had received for just taking time to write letters in the sand.

Now I am home and day-in and day-out . . .

The clothes need to be washed.

The rugs need to be vacuumed.

The meals need to be cooked.

Although the filling, dumping, stacking, mixing, washing, vacuuming, and cooking are so very important, it is the connecting with each other that rewards the soul beyond measure.

I hope I can remember to take a moment every now and then to again draw letters in the sand.

Written by Kristin Dinwiddie of Cove Presbyterian Church in Covesville, Virginia.

Posted in Reflections