Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Letters from the Heart, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

May 21, 2010

Every quarter, we translate letters written from child sponsors and deliver them to the children at the homes we serve.  Often, sponsors include a family photo or stickers, but what is most impactful to the children is the realization that their sponsor is thinking of them. The children are so touched by the encouraging words of their sponsors and treasure the letters, sweet reminders that they are loved.  Thank you to all the child sponsors who through your correspondence brighten the day of the children we serve!  Sponsors can expect to receive return letters from the children in their mailboxes in June!

Interested in signing up to sponsor a child at one of the children’s homes that Back2Back serves?  Call our US office at 513-754-0300 and ask to speak with Claire.

Twelve year old Eduardo, from El Retiro Juvenil Children's Home, reads a letter from his sponsor, Michael

Seven year old Odalis, from El Retiro Juvenil Children's Home, writes a letter to her sponsor from Apex Community Church

Josue, from Douglas Children's Home, writes a letter to his sponsors, Phil and Cindy

Twelve year old, Beatriz, from Douglas Children's Home, writes a letter to her sponsors

Cinco de Mayo Open House

May 13, 2010

Thanks to all those who came out to our Cinco de Mayo Hope Program Open House last week! The students and staff from the Hope Program enjoyed getting a chance to meet with you! Here are a few pictures from the evening.

Tune in to CNN, Sat at 8pm for Rescued, a story of orphan care in Haiti

May 7, 2010

Be sure to tune in to CNN this Saturday night (8pm EST) for Rescued, a documentary on how Christian missionaries are serving children in need in Haiti. The video was created by Discover the Journey, a non-profit that is a friend of Back2Back. View the trailer below.

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Shelter Child Sponsorship Program Expands, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

May 4, 2010

Eternal Joy Children’s Home (EJH) near Hyderabad, India was founded in 2008 by a Christian couple whose vision was to care for physically and mentally challenged children living in poverty. The home that began with six children has since grown to provide for up to twenty-five children ranging in age from two to twelve years. Several of the children have special needs, including Down Syndrome, polio and birth defects. Eternal Joy Home provides a loving family environment for these children, many of whom would otherwise be outcasts in Indian society. Thanks to the care of the directors of the home and Back2Back staff, these disadvantaged children are able to receive an education and pursue their dreams, securing a brighter future for themselves.

Last month, we expanded the Back2Back Shelter Child Sponsorship Program by launching the program in India, in order to give the children at EJH an opportunity to receive the benefit of sponsorship.  Through the program, sponsors can make a lasting difference in the life of a child at Eternal Joy Home. By contributing toward the expense of providing nutrition, housing, clothing, health care and educational opportunities, as well as spiritual training and personal development, child sponsors are helping a child to receive the resources they need to thrive and grow. Similar to the sponsorship program in Mexico, families will have the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with their child through update letters, prayers and even visits to their children’s home, should they choose to take part in a future Back2Back mission trip.

Aware of the success of the Shelter Program in Mexico, the Back2Back India Director was eager to launch the program in India.  She shares, “There are an estimated 35 million orphans in India.  The poverty is striking and the caste system puts these orphaned children at a severe disadvantage. We cannot care for all the needy children in India alone, but with your partnership, Back2Back can go deep with the children through the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program.  Sponsorship can make a tangible difference in the lives of the children at EJH, by providing care for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Meet Milagros, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 30, 2010

Through the generous support of a family in the US, Milagros is able to go to school. Milagros is a compassionate, intelligent, and confident teenager who lives in the Rio community, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves.

Her name means “Miracle” and often she is nothing shy of that! She was born deaf and grew up communicating with her self-made sign language. One of the things I love most about Milagros is her fearless ability to try. She will attempt over and over to communicate with me despite my sometimes baffled looks. Milagros is very determined. She knows what she wants and what she is capable of and sets out to do it. I like that in a person who would have an easy excuse to do nothing at all.

About a year or so ago a family came down on a Back2Back mission trip, met Milagros, and had a heart to help her. With their support, she was able to attend a school for the deaf where she learned sign language and some trade crafts. Not satisfied with just this education, Milagros approached us a few months ago with a flyer from a cosmetology school over in the next neighborhood. We met with the director of the school, who was eager to take on Milagros with her challenges. Milagros has now been enrolled in cosmetology school for several months. Just a few days ago, I had the privilege to go with a co-worker to Milagros’ school to see her in action. There, Back2Back staff member, Cathy Huffer, got a trim and Milagros gave her mom some new layers in her hair. It is nothing less than a miracle to see someone like Milagros, born with limitations and into an impoverished community, grow, thrive, and pursue what some would say is impossible.

Milagros in her class

Milagros putting layers in her mom's hair

Cathy Huffer getting her hair washed

Join us for a Hope Program Open House in Cincinnati!

April 28, 2010

Two Year Anniversary of the Rio Soup Kitchen, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 26, 2010

Recently, we celebrated the two year anniversary of our soup kitchen in the Rio, a shantytown community that Back2Back serves! It was a fantastic day filled with good food, fun, and fellowship. The comedor was packed out with people! We had worship, preaching, prayer time, children’s church, slide show, and a meal of yummy arrachera!

The comedor filled with faces as we worshiped the Lord and thanked Him for the ministry in that place over the past two years.  I mainly help out with the children’s ministry during soup kitchen Saturdays. Sticking with our theme of the fruit of the Spirit the children are doing an activity with a story that illustrates faith. We had over fifty kids come to the class. Usually we plan for about thirty.

The children did an activity involving a story about faith

Working on a craft about faith

Enjoying a meal together

After the preaching and children’s classes, we all gathered together for an arrachera meal. It was delicious! Arrachera is a special meat that has been marinated and then grilled. It is sooo good. It was so fun to provide this meal for these people as it is typically expensive and not affordable by many of the families we serve. We also gave out elotes! Elotes are corn on the cob that have been boiled and coated with chili and mayonnaise. It is a Mexican favorite and often is preferred as a dessert of sorts.

Our great grillers who worked for hours to prepare the meat for us to eat

Thanks to everyone who has helped support the soup kitchen financially and prayerfully over the past two years. God is moving and doing great things in that community. We are privileged to celebrate two years of ministry and thank all who have played a part. Blessings to you!

World Malaria Day

April 23, 2010

Nearly one million people die from malaria each year, mostly children younger than five years old. When insecticide-treated nets are used properly by three-quarters of the people in a community, malaria transmission is cut by 50%. It is estimated that less than 5% of children in sub-Saharan Africa currently sleep under any type of insecticide-treated net. Sunday, April 25 is World Malaria Day 2010, a day created to raise awareness and action in the fight against this preventable disease. To donate toward the purchase of mosquito nets for families served by Back2Back Nigeria, contact Claire at 513-754-0300 or donate at our website and designate “malaria nets” in the memo line.

Back2Back Flying Pig Team Dinner

April 19, 2010

Attention all Back2Back Flying Pig Team Runners and Fans: We will be having a team dinner this Thursday night at Skyline Chili in Landen, Ohio from 5-7 p.m. Come and enjoy fellowship and food and receive more race day information! Hope to see you there!

A Fishing We Will Go, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

April 16, 2010

Welcome to the beginning stages of the fish farms that are being brought to life at one of the children’s homes we work with here in Jos, Nigeria. OLA (Our Ladies of Apostles) has started some fish farms and they are also working on some chicken farms to help them create food and funds for their needs. Back2Back is choosing to come alongside them and help them whenever possible. Do you see some of the little fish in there? Cute huh? Cute enough to eat hopefully!

Something that encourages us as staff is when you see someone who is already in place move forward with an idea that will better their situation. Sister Fidelia is such a woman. She is in charge of the inner workings of this facility and she is doing a great job. She has innovative ideas and wants to see them come to fruition. Back2Back is super excited about seeing where some of her gaps and needs are and then filling them where we can. Below is Jason (the director of Back2Back Nigeria) with Sister Fidelia. The fish hatcheries are behind them.

Below is the beginning ground work for the chicken homes. I know I am getting some of these words wrong, so sorry if you know a lot about these things. My husband would be cringing right now. Either way, they are moving forward and we are coming alongside of them. We are grateful when God makes some paths easy for us to see. We know it is not always this convenient, but boy, when it is, we are ecstatic! We thank you Father for your good gifts!

Join the Back2Back Flying Pig Team!

April 14, 2010

It’s not too late to join the Back2Back Flying Pig Team to run the 5k,10k, half or full marathon on May 1st or 2nd. We would love to have you join our team!

You are Invited to the Back2Back Hope Program Open House in Cincinnati

April 12, 2010

Cincinnati Cinco de Mayo Cooking Show with Celebrity Chef and Hope Program Students!

March 31, 2010

Spaces are limited and reserved on a first come basis!

Heading to Haiti, by Todd Guckenberger, Back2Back Executive Director

March 19, 2010

When the earthquake happened in Haiti this past January, many of our Back2Back ministry supporters called and asked what we were planning on doing.  In the initial days as we prayed about how God might want us to mobilize and coordinate to respond to the need, we realized that Back2Back is not necessarily  a relief organization, but rather we are an organization about long-term development and the sustainability of the orphan.  This focus is one of our strengths.

However, statistics in Haiti are shocking: 90% housing loss in Port-au-Prince, 1 million homeless, a reported 380,000 orphans before the quake, over 2 million people have need for food, and as a result we have continued to pray about how God might use our strengths to help with the re-development  process in Haiti.   It also became clear to us that it makes no sense to “go it alone”.   Why would we not look to partner with an existing organization?  We feel that it makes sense to serve alongside a group who is already established in Haiti, standing back2back with to help them re- develop  (another one of our strengths).

Many times, I thought to myself, if a disaster were to hit Monterrey, Mexico  and mission organizations were pouring in starting new ministries that I would be asking the question, “We’ve been here 13 years, why not join us in what we are already doing?”.  That being said, I, along with Back2Back staff members, Brian Bertke and Chris Ramos, are taking an exploratory trip to Haiti April 5-9th.  We will be hosted by an established non-profit organization, Jesus in Haiti Ministries.  We are excited about how God might use the strengths of Back2Back to help in the rebuilding process.  Please pray that God leads us.

Giving Thanks, by Todd Guckenberger, Back2Back Executive Director

March 19, 2010

I have been bombarded with questions of safety for the sites we serve.  Many know that it has not been smooth sailing in India, Nigeria, and Mexico and the press does not make it any easier.   I do not have all the answers and the older I get the more and more I realize that there are no guarantees, so I can not promise safety. I can only promise that Back2Back stands by the orphan whether it is easy or difficult. In my lack of having the answers, I am certain that we must pray.  I am not ready to walk away.  I am not ready to let fear win.  I believe in the impact that we have on the orphan around the world, and Back2Back will be relentless no matter how we choose to serve.

Beth and I have been talking about an article by Steward Brisco that encourages people to give thanks in the midst of fear.  This practice works for my 11-year old daughter who can sometimes work herself up with worry.

Join with me in giving thanks for what God has done in the ministry areas in which He has lead us to serve.

Mexico:

Jesus, I give thanks for Your provision for the 500 orphans we serve in Mexico.  I give thanks that regardless of whether or not people go and serve that they will not be forgotten.  You know each of them and that You have counted each and every hair on their beautiful brown heads.  I give thanks that You will “defend their cause”.   I give thanks for restoration of the hearts of the children that we have ministered to over years.  I give thanks that there are men and women on our staff who build into the teens and children we serve.  We are seeing fruit after years of investment.  It is not overnight, but rather through thousands of hours of friction against what the enemy has stolen from them.  I give thanks that some of those teens are now leading Bible studies, raising the bar spiritually for their “brothers and sisters” in the Hope Houses in which they live.  I give thanks for how You have used individuals to support the ministry as child sponsors, offer physical labor, and financially sustain entire orphanages, projects, provide birthday and Christmas gifts.   I give thanks that we have hosted thousands of servants, who have always been safe.  I give thanks that You have always protected our staff, both nationals and Americans.  I give thanks that our staff would only want to be where God has called them.  I give thanks that You have raised them up.  I give thanks to You, Jesus, that You have led us to understand that “sustainability” is what we are about.  I give thanks that we are able to be a part of seeing children get an education and stand on their own, breaking the cycle of poverty.

Nigeria:

I give thanks that in Nigeria You have raised up great nationals and Americans to serve in Nigeria.  I give thanks that You have quadrupled our staff team in less than three years. I give thanks that You have called our team to be there to serve the community of the Rekuba tribe.  I give thanks that You will provide for the neglected abandoned and abused in Nigeria.   I give thanks for the friction we have encountered in our commitment to go “deep not wide”.  I give thanks that You have brought us to serve in the most densely populated nation in Africa. I give thanks that You have led us to be about community development.  I give thanks that You have clarified that there are times when we need to say “no”.  I give thanks that You have provided a large boost of capital to get started.  I give thanks that You are in control and that we do not have to live in fear.

India:

In India, I give thanks that You relentlessly love the orphan child. I give thanks that even in a society that labels the orphan as the least of these that the least of these will come to You and be protected by You.  I give thanks that You are providing free private education for the orphans at EJH hostel (children’s home).  I give thanks that You are not dependent on us to provide for the orphan in India, but still choose to use us.  I give thanks that You have provided money for food from donors who have never even been to India.  I give thanks to You for great stewardship of Your resources. I give thanks for Brent and Lisa who have stepped out to serve You.  I give thanks that You have brought us to a country that has more than 35 million orphans that You call by name.

In India at one of the children's homes Back2Back serves

Chicken Dinner for Families in Need, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria

March 17, 2010

This past fall, Back2Back sent out a Christmas gift catalog, in which people could sponsor “gifts” in various ways in different areas of ministry within Back2Back. India, Nigeria and Mexico were all represented and one of the opportunities was a chicken dinner for those in need in Nigeria.

We have two people here from Riverview Church, Ryan and Sara, and yesterday they were able to be a part of handing out some of the chicken dinners that were bought from this catalog. Now, probably people picture a nice cooked chicken with cooked rice and beans and presented on a table for dinner. That is not quite how these dinners get done here, especially in the village where refrigeration is not an option. Here are some pictures to show it all unfolded.
Every person who received a chicken dinner received, one live chicken, bouillon cubes, beans, rice and a liter of oil. All the makings of a delicious chicken dinner (for at least two maybe three meals). For this moment, we chose to take the meals to the village doctor because he is the one who cares for those in the village (and sometimes outside the village as well), the orphan and all those in need in the Kisayhip area. Not only were meals given, but the staff and Ryan and Sara prayed for each patient there, for wisdom for the doctor and healing for the patients. It was good and right to care for those who were at the moment in even more need. They were grateful for each gesture and gift given.

Below is the village doctor’s son, Moses (who is currently in school for medicine), with Ryan and John as afterward they all took him to a local pharmacy to purchase much needed medicine to better and further care for those who are under his dad’s supervision. We are so grateful to all who helped make “care for today, hope for tomorrow” happen in this little village in Jos, Nigeria.

Help Back2Back Fundraise by Running in the Flying Pig Race!, by Kate David

March 13, 2010

Just a reminder that the Cincinnati Flying Pig Race is 49 days away! We are so excited to have a Back2Back team this year and have Hope Program students and      Back2Back Mexico staff running the race with us. Remember, the relay teams, 10k  and 5k on May 1st count as part of the race as well.  So, come walk, run or cheer on the team! Make sure to check out the B2B flying pig website for more details about how to get involved and/or sponsor a runner : adoptapig@me.com. (Thanks to Kurt Kersey for creating the site!) Hope to see everyone on May 1st and 2nd!!

Ice Cream and Pizza Party, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

March 9, 2010

For Christmas, my parents gave all of sixteen of their grandchildren $30 USD. But, the gift itself was for them to see the joy in giving, so a letter was written to each of them about it and what they had to do was find a “cause” or a “need” other than their own life that could benefit from $15. They could keep the other $15 for themselves. After they gave their money to wherever they chose they then had to write a letter back to grandma and grandpa about where the money went, etc…

The grandkids with the grandparents

So, majority of my nieces and nephews proceeded, through time, to hand John and I $15 to go for an ice cream party for some children we work with. We were overwhelmed with the amount handed to us that there was enough for not only an ice cream party, but also a pizza party, as well.

Yesterday afternoon, we took twelve kids from a children’s home we work with (OLA) to a restaurant, called Summerland, for ice cream and pizza.

The children from OLA

When we arrived there, I started finding out from the children one by one as they were ordering ice cream, they had NEVER eaten ice cream before. NEVER!!! They had NEVER been to a restaurant before. And they had NEVER had pizza before. NEVER!

The manager who was running the ice cream parlor asked one of the girls who was 19 years old, if she liked ice cream, she said she didn’t know what it was and has never had it before. You should have seen the man’s face.  He was floored.  From that point on, he was giving double the portions for half the price. It was a blessed day.

A few of the children from OLA, with my son, Gus

Emilee had to show the kids how to hold the pizza (with your hands) because they didn’t know what to do with it. In the end, they behaved quite well in the restaurant and ate all their food (we also ordered Jollof rice, just in case our great idea was a bust. I think they liked having it as an option).

Afterwards, we took them to my kids’ school, Hillcrest, to play on the elementary playground. It was such a fun day. I hope it is one that is not quickly forgotten.

We are blessed for sure.  Gus, our son, said to me near the end of the day, “They really had never had ice cream before?!” I think my whole family was overwhelmed with our own blessings and was reminded of how good we have it, even if it can seem that we are sacrificing.

Off to a Good Start, by Back2Back India

March 5, 2010

Since late 2008, Back2Back has been serving orphan children in India. We recently had the opportunity to visit Hyderabad and see how things are going. It was a great trip.

Back2Back Executive Director, Todd Guckenberger, came along. He was able to see each of our ministry sites, meet the directors of those programs and interact with the children.

At Mercy Home Hostel, he was welcomed with a flower garland and the children lined up along the driveway, singing and dancing. That night, the children sang and danced for us again.

They performed traditional India dances set to music with Christian lyrics. Although the words are all in Telugu, the dance moves often demonstrate the love of Christ, breaking the bonds of oppression and showing compassion to others.

The children also recited scripture by memory, including several Psalms and entire Bible chapters.

Using an interpreter, Todd shared a message with the children reminding them that they are each a child of the most high God.

We brought our greetings as well, telling the children how much we missed them and encouraging them to do well in school and grow in Christ.

In the short time we were there, we were able to host a group from the UK who taught new songs, played fun games, provided craft activities and shared the story of Joseph with the children at Eternal Joy Home.

Although we are now living back in the US, our national staff in India has been overseeing the projects started by B2B India. We were happy to see that the children served by B2B were all doing well. Thanks to a generous ongoing donation, we are supplementing the food at the children’s homes to include eggs, milk and fruit. Because of their improved nutrition, we could definitely tell a difference in the health of the children. The girls’ bathroom is still clean and functioning well. Signs in English and Telugu remind them to participate in the care and upkeep of this renovated facility.

Three of the older students are now enrolled in a Bachelor of Education course that will certify them as teachers. Thank you to our donors who are helping to provide care for today and hope for tomorrow for the orphan children in India. Please continue to pray with us for the future of the B2B India ministry and the children we serve.

If you are interested in learning more about joining our staff team in India, please contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org.

God’s Story of Redemption, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Staff

March 3, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of speaking at Cincinnati’s Teen Challenge Ranch, where I shared about God’s promise to come after us and pursue a relationship with us, no matter who we are or what we have done.  At one point, I was so impressed by these promises, I lost my composure, and could sense the Spirit’s movement and comfort in the room.  Afterwards, I was deeply moved by the stories and comments I heard from the men and women who are spending the better part of a year there, dedicating themselves to the rebuilding of their lives and breaking their substance abuse addiction.  What courage they demonstrated to me!  I shared a meal with some of the staff after the chapel and we began dreaming about what it would be like for some of the graduates of the program to be able to come on a mission trip.  The obstacle we faced was how to finance such a dream!

Then, this Sunday I spoke at The Next Chapter Church in Southate, Kentucky. They take up, in addition to their regular tithes and offerings, a dollar offering, where they ask the members of their congregation to donate a dollar in a separate bucket to a local charity.  They asked me if I knew of some way they could donate to Back2Back in a way that would allow it to help here locally.  I immediately thought of Teen Challenge, and on that Sunday, we raised enough money to provide a mission trip scholarship for a Teen Challenge graduate to serve alongside us in Monterrey for a week!

I don’t know who it will be, but God does. He is writing a story for one of those men or women that includes a chapter ministering to orphans in Mexico.  I am so looking forward to meeting that person and seeing what that chapter stirs in their hearts.   He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and will easily sell a cow in Kentucky to send a redeemed heart in Cincinnati to minister to one of his children in Mexico.  What a God we serve!

Help from LifePoint Vineyard, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

March 1, 2010

A group of eighteen adults from LifePoint Vineyard came to serve with Back2Back in February. On Wednesday of that week, we headed to Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home we partner with, to work for the day. I had a list of projects planned for the group to work on ahead of time. But, when we arrived, the workers at the home told me that the septic line was clogged and sewage was backing up. When I was dividing up the job assignments for the day, I asked if a couple of the men could check out the problem and let me know what they thought we needed to do. Within the first hour, they discovered we had a big problem. About 200 feet of an 8″ sewer pipe was clogged and in some places crushed. I really thought this was a problem that might take weeks to fix. But these guys were determined to fix it that day.

They quickly came up with a plan that involved jack hammering concrete, cutting out old damaged PVC piping and replacing it with new. They gave me a list of parts that they would need, and we abandoned some of our initial projects to concentrate on this more important one. I sent Mauricio to purchase the new parts and we got busy jack hammering. As the afternoon went on, we could see that we might end up working into the night. These determined guys were unanimous in wanting to finish this project before they left.

As the sun was setting, and we were working by flashlight, many of the kids were beginning to go to sleep in their dorms. But just outside their window, they could hear eleven men fighting for their cause. These men weren’t angry or even upset. Instead they were laughing and joking about working in the dark.

The part that impressed me the most, was how safe these young kids felt as they went to sleep that night. Most nights, children in a casa hogar go to sleep feeling insecure. Sometimes, they may even have fear about something that is going on in their life. And for many kids in a children’s home, men have let them down the most. But on this night, the young kids at Casa Hogar Douglas, went to sleep knowing that eleven men were working with the joy of the Lord, in very unpleasant conditions, for their benefit. For at least one night, the men of Lifepoint Vineyard brought peace and security to the frightening world these kids live in. And they did it in a very simple way.

Join the Back2Back Flying Pig Marathon Team or Sponsor a Runner!

February 26, 2010

The Flying Pig Marathon is a city-wide race held annually in Cincinnati, Ohio.  This year, the race is scheduled for May 2, 2010 at 6:30 a.m. and this year, for the first time ever, Back2Back Ministries is organizing a team of runners to raise funds for the needs in our three ministry sites by asking people to sponsor, or “adopt” a runner!  To date, the team consists of Todd & Beth Guckenberger, Matt & Julie Cooper, Tim Couch, Kurt Kersey, and Antonio Garcia Espinosa.  Click here to find out how to join the team and become a Back2Back Pig!  Not a runner?  Sign-up to sponsor a runner here.

Update on the Jepsons, by Beth Guckenberger, B2B Staff

February 19, 2010

Todd and I had the privilege of spending this last weekend in San Francisco, as guests of former Back2Back executive director, Dain Jepson, and his wife Terry.  The Jepsons are serving on the church staff of Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, California and we were able to spend time with them in fellowship and ministry. I offered a class to the staff wives, we hosted a meeting for those interested in traveling to Monterrey this summer, and then I spoke at three church services on Sunday.

Janet Miclean, Peninsula Covenant Church Pastor to Student and Families, introduces Beth before she speaks to the congregation

Speaking at the Jepson's new church, Peninsula Covenant Church

It was sweet in many ways, for Todd and I to recognize that Dain and Terry have moved “home”, they are close to family and in the same area they met and married twenty-five years ago.

We continue to miss them at Back2Back, but see many opportunities in the future for our ministry lives to intertwine.

Showing God’s Love at the Rio – Valentine’s Day Outreach, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Staff

February 18, 2010

Valentine’s Day was a perfect time for one of our short-term mission groups to share God’s love to the kids and families at Meme’s Rio. Our group had fifteen kids in it ranging from seven to nineteen. They were great as we asked them to help us teach the 1 Corinthians 13 passage on love to about thirty-six kids at the soup kitchen. After we shared the verse, the kids teamed up to give six different dramas of what love is and what love is not. The kids were fascinated and really paid attention well.

Afterwards, they made valentines with homework to give away to someone special.

We served a delicious tostada meal and a group prayed against the spiritual warfare that is apparent there. The men helped put doors on the soup kitchen, while the kids played and played.

At the end,  we were getting ready to pray for Meme, one of our ministry partners, when Meme pointed out a girl who was sick and needed prayer. These kids laid hands on this girl and strong, passionate, sweet prayers went up around her. Prayers for healing, for increasing her faith, for protection and against fear.

What a full day to see God’s love in sharing His word, feeding the hungry, loving the people, working on the soup kitchen and blanketing the place in prayer. Now that is Biblical Love.

Join Back2Back at the annual Summit of the Orphan

February 15, 2010

Join Back2Back Ministries at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Eden Prarie, Minnesota April 29-30, 2010. The Summit is fast approaching! Like no other event nationwide, Summit has become the gathering point and training hub for Christians committed to adoption, foster care and global orphans.

Something for Everyone…Whether a newcomer to church orphan ministry or a veteran, Summit VI will help build vision, resources and practical know-how for effective ministries: Headline plenary speakers including John Piper, Tom Davis, Al Mohler, and other national leaders, as well as compelling voices from the global church. Music and personal sharing from Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, and special performances by Peder Eide and the Desparation Band.

– More than 50 workshops delivering nuts-and-bolts for adoption, foster care and global orphan programs – designed for both laymen and leadership.

– Orphan care resources for church ministries, as well as personal orphan care and adoption journeys.

– 5 Hague-credit breakout sessions.

– Networking with respected adoption, global orphan and foster care organizations

REGISTER NOW!

For more information, visit Christian Alliance for Orphans, Summit VI

For questions please email info@christianalliancefororphans.org

We need your help sharing this opportunity with your church community and others that share a calling to care for orphans.

HERE ARE 5 WAYS YOU CAN SHARE SUMMIT VI:

1. Put up this free poster in your church or ministry

2. Write a blog post or article for your church (or personal) website

3. Offer this bulletin insert to your church leadership

4. Share this email with a friend from another church

5. Personally invite 3 people to join you at Summit

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Bringing Light to the Issue of Orphan Care, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Staff

February 10, 2010

Todd and I just returned from the K-LOVE radio station’s annual Friends and Family Cruise on Premier Christian Cruises.  We were invited again this year to talk about orphan care on the cruise and join Family Christian Stores’ non-profit organization, the James Fund.  It was an amazing couple of days, as we heard fantastic Christian bands (David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, etc…), held seminars for the guests on orphan care and adoption, and raised thousands of dollars for one of our children’s homes, El Retiro Juvenil.   We met hundreds of people who have a heart for orphans and who are inviting them into their families and traveling to serve them in a way that evidences God’s pursuit of these children.

Like networking goes, we are hoping one door opens another and all the reasons why we were there last week we won’t totally see for some time.  We sure invited a lot of people to come visit one of our ministry sites.  We sent home papers explaining to all 2,600 passengers how they could continue to be involved financially with our ministry.   We fellowshipped with our partners in the James Fund in such a way that work didn’t seem so much like work at the end of the day…  isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  Colossians 1:10 says “As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.”  Join us in praying for the seeds we planted…

Steve Biondo, President of the James Fund, and I sharing about orphan care at a seminar

Take Flight, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 8, 2010

As you may know, the mission of Back2Back is to provide “Care for Today and Hope for Tomorrow” to the abandoned and neglected children of Monterrey, Mexico. When I write for this blog, I hope to give you tastes of what that looks like in our day-to-day activities. Every day is different depending on the needs of the various homes that we work with. However, one thing that remains constant is that we have about forty teens that live on our campus.

These teens grew up in the children’s homes that we work with, but at age fifteen they can no longer live in the homes. Due to this, many of the teens are back out on the streets and end up in the black market or prostitution because they believe that they have no other options. In order to put a stop to this cycle and provide hope for these young students, Back2Back started the Hope Program. When the students turn fifteen they are invited to come and live on our campus in one of the teen homes with house parents.

While they are here, Back2Back pays for them to complete high school and go to college to pursue the degree of their choice. They are given hope through education and opportunities for success, but more importantly, our constant prayer is that we are able to show them a greater hope. A hope that does not depend on circumstance, education or opportunity. A hope that is only found in Christ. It breaks my heart to think of the lives that many of these students have lived. They have suffered through constant abandonment, abuse, neglect, loneliness… and many more things that I cannot even imagine. Yet we know that we serve a God who can bring healing, redemption, identity and hope.

A few weekends ago, we took the teens to a youth conference of 400 students from all over Monterrey at one of the churches in the area. The theme of the event was “Alza el Vuelo”, which means “Take Flight”. It was a powerful weekend of worship and speaking. It also opened a lot of doors for great conversations with some of our teens who are really seeking right now. But the thing I am most excited to share is that one of the teens accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior!! Praise the Lord!!! My heart fills with such excitement as I see the things that God is doing on our campus. He is pursing the young people who most of the world had written off and cast aside. Yet he is pursing them, capturing their hearts and preparing them for mighty things in the future! What a loving God he is! He will not give up on them, and we must not either. Please pray for each precious teen on our campus. That each one will come to know Christ and experience joy, peace and hope!

Read more about the event from Back2Back staff member Hope Maglich here.

A few Back2Back staff members with some of the girls at the conference

During worship at the conference

Northwestern Mutual Kelley Financial Group Wins National Community Impact Award for Service with Back2Back

January 26, 2010

Cincinnati’s Kelley Financial Group, a network office of Northwestern Mutual, is the recipient of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation 2010 Community Impact Award for their ongoing support of Back2Back Ministries (B2B).  Northwestern’s employees and clients have funded and built a teen home on our campus for the Hope Education Program students.  The $50,000 award was given to Back2Back to use toward scholarships and educational expenses of the Back2Back Hope Program students.  Thank you to Northwestern Mutual for your continued commitment to joining with Back2Back Ministries by providing “care for today and hope for tomorrow” to children in need.

The Latest Update from Jos, Nigeria, by Corrie Guckenberger

January 25, 2010

We continue to receive lots of emails of people praying for us, the community and the city. Thank you so much.  We are confident that they are being heard.  Things have quieted down tremendously and we are learning that as quickly as conflict rises, it settles just as fast.  Yesterday as the curfew was lifted to a half day, our family walked in our neighborhood to our director’s home and everyone was out in the street, greeting each other and smiling and glad to be out again.  There was a strange feeling of community within our own little area.  We knew we were all coming out of the conflict okay and no harm was done.   People were genuinely kind and spirited.

I am aware that even though that is what we are experiencing that is not what the greater Jos area is experiencing.  Although the streets may be quiet, people are scrambling looking for their loved ones.  Their minds are trying to figure out why again did this happen.  Families are trying to piece together damage that may have been done to their area.  Hearts are concerned for where do we go from here.  Some families have been displaced from their homes, experienced injury and in a few instances, even faced loss of life. It is at this point, that the real work begins.   This is the time for ministry.  We have already heard of people coming to hand out blankets, water, mats and food.  We don’t want to miss out!  We have been hearing from the sites we serve, that as far as people know, no one has been harmed.  We praise God for that alone!  Continue to pray with us for wisdom and discernment and how best to use our time and resources.  The need is great and there is work to be done.

The pictures posted are of some of the common scenes that we are seeing within a mile of our home.  The one of the armed forced gentleman is Mr. Fire.  We talked with him and he is stationed at his post, two minutes away from our home.  He is a kind man who prays to our same Lord Jesus Christ and we are glad he is here keeping our streets safe.  The other is just a common road block.  These are currently all over the city of Jos for random check points for the comings and goings of all.  We are thankful for the measures being taken to assure the safety of the people.

New Soles for Tender Souls

January 21, 2010

Several months ago we shared how the Christian teen band, PureNRG served alongside us in Monterrey, Mexico.  Since then, they have continued to bless the children we serve in practical ways, such as through a recent fundraiser, New Soles for Tender Souls.  With the money that was raised through pre-purchases of their new album, The Real Thing, over 2,000 shoes were purchased for impoverished children in the Dominican Republic as well as orphans that Back2Back serves in Monterrey, Mexico.  A big thank you to PureNRG, Family Christian Stores and the James Fund!

Update on Situation in Nigeria, by Corrie Guckenberger, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

January 20, 2010

We have been getting lots of questions being asked of us about the crisis here in Jos, Nigeria. Here is what is going on around us personally and in the city.

First, our family is good and safe and so are the Munafos. We are grateful for the close proximity in which we live to them. (We live right behind them.) There is currently a 24-hour curfew in place that started yesterday and at this point, we don’t know how long it will last. (I am guessing for the next couple of days.) Usually after the initial 24-hour curfew, there will be in place a twelve hour curfew from 6pm to 6am.

On Sunday, there was a disagreement between a man and a hired worker on receiving pay. The worker did not receive his money; therefore, hired men to come and beat the other man up. All of that to say, is it led to other rivalry and havoc. There has been rumors (that I do believe at this moment) that men were brought in from the North to cause riots within our city. This is becoming more of a religious issue at this point. The Muslims are attacking and the Christians are defending. There have been deaths and injuries (we are receiving mixed reports on this at this time). It appears that a group of men made their way from central Jos toward the southern part of Jos (where we live) during the last few days. Yesterday morning is when it hit our specific area. We were never in danger (we live in locked/gated little neighborhood with security guards) but our neighbors down the street were. There was some burning of buildings and yelling going on. Right now, at 8:45am, it is quiet all around. At this point, no one in the Jos missionary community has been harmed. We are grateful.

Please know that as a ministry, we have plans in place for times of crisis that allow us to take the appropriate measures of safety for our staff and for any visitors that may be here. The greater Jos mission community also has a great communication pattern to communicate with all missionaries in the area that help us all be able to communicate in a way that is productive and helpful.

Please do pray for healing in this area. As we all know who live under Christ, that crisis can be such a tool for redemption. We believe, fully, that there is work to be done and we want to be ready in and out of season. The battle between Muslim/Christian has gone for generations and generations. We know this, and our heart is to not only be able to serve those who need serving in Christ (on both sides), but to protect the Fatherless who get caught in these crossfires. At the end of the day, there will be more orphans because of this crisis and we need wisdom and discernment on how to care for them.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and questions. I do hope this can help some of you better pray for us personally, for our ministry and for this area. God Bless.

Feeding Center Blessings, by Back2Back India

January 18, 2010

Recently, Back2Back India partnered with a Feeding Center to provide clean drinking water to poor children. The Feeding Center is run by a husband and wife who live near a slum in Hyderabad. During the day, some children attend school and receive a hot meal provided by the government. However, many of the children in the slum do not attend school during the day but instead work menial jobs or help care for younger children while their parents are working. So after they come home from their jobs, this couple opens their home to about 150 children to come have a meal and study.

Several days a week, the Feeding Center purchases drinking water pumped from large tanker trucks. They fill various vessels with the water and carry them from the street to the house.

When a group from our church visited the Feeding Center, they learned of the need for tanks to store the water in a clean and hygienic manner. Back2Back India committed to this project.  The day we went to install the tanks, we had several construction challenges. The plan was to stack pre-made concrete rings together as a base for the water tanks. However, as the video demonstrates, the quality of the concrete was not very good.

So, we went to plan B – cement blocks, arranged and mortared together. Our pastor, the director of the Feeding Center and several volunteers worked together to build the project. For several of the men, this was their first hands-on experience with a small construction project.

They caught on quickly and enjoyed working toward a goal. We worked hard all day, finishing by the light of cell phones. When we were done, there were two new water tanks and multiple faucets for the children to draw clean drinking water.

Shortly after the installation, we received this encouraging email message from the directors of the Feeding Center:

Dear sister and brother,

Greetings to you in the matchless name of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. We appreciate your hard work and dedication in donating the water tanks to our children in the center. They are really very helpful to the children. We don’t have to carry drums of water everyday. A big thank you to both of you and may God bless you.

We were very much encouraged seeing you working and doing things on your own, putting in the tanks. After seeing you, we are trying to do small repairs in our home without anybody’s help.

We would like to send some pictures of our center. We have conducted competitions for children on Children’s Day on 14 November. We gave them certificates and medals for the winners. It was an exciting moment for the kids.  We also had our Christmas eve on 22 December.  We gave kids yummy plum cake and the children enjoyed Christmas meal.

Once again, we thank you both for all the support you have done to our feeding center

Thank you

Help for Haiti

January 14, 2010

On Tuesday night, the strongest earthquake in more than 240 years struck ten miles southwest of Haiti’s capital, Port–au-Prince, destroying buildings and taking many lives. Millions of people are displaced on the streets, lacking shelter, basic necessities and facing the loss of loved ones.  Back2Back’s heart is pierced for the many children and families who are impacted by this tragedy.  Please join with us in praying for the people of Haiti.

Please also consider coming alongside us as we donate funds to relief organizations such as World Vision. World Vision and Back2Back have a common goal of meeting the orphan need. World Vision currently has 370 individuals working on the scene in Haiti. They have extensive experience in providing disaster relief and are committed to offering care for at least 10,000 people. Feel free to visit their website directly to donate funds (www.worldvision.com) or send a check to Back2Back with “Haitian Relief” in the memo and we will direct the funds to World Vision.  For more giving opportunities and a list of additional reputable organizations providing aid to Haiti, please visit the Christian Alliance for Orphans website.

If you are in the Cincinnati area and would like to partner locally, Matthew 25 Ministries is sending shipments of supplies to Haiti and are in need of volunteers to sort donations.  They are also collecting donations to help finance the expense of shipping the supplies to Haiti. Visit the Matthew 25 website for more details (www.m25m.org).

Thank you for partnering with us in our commitment to “provide care for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Source: AP Photo

Christmas in Galeana, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 11, 2010

On December 22, the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas had an opportunity to serve kids that had very little materially. One of the caregivers in the children’s home, is from a small mountain town about four hours from here, called Galeana. The people from this town are very poor when it comes to material possessions. When the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home that Back2Back serves, found out about these kids from the hometown of their caregiver, they wanted to share their blessings with them. They got a list of seventy-four kids from a church in Galeana and each one of them chose a toy of their own to wrap and give to the kids of this town.

Not all of the kids were able to make the four-hour trip to Galeana with us on December 22nd.  We took with us about fifteen kids and prepared a meal, worshiped together, had a pinata to open and passed out all of the gifts to the children.

 

Some of the children on a stop during our drive to Galeana

 

 

Enjoying a meal together with the families of Galeana

 

 

Worshiping with the families of Galeana

 

 

The children had fun playing with the pinata

 

 

Passing out gifts to the children

 

 

The children of Galeana were so blessed by the generosity of the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas. For many this gift was their only Christmas present.

 

I witnessed something that day in the faces of the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas. I’ve seen their faces on the receiving end many times, but it was a blessing to watch them as they had an opportunity to serve others in the same way that they have been served by American mission trip groups.

Back2Back India News Update

December 31, 2009

After completing their one-year commitment to serve in Hyderabad, India with Back2Back, Brent and Lisa are transitioning back to the US to fulfill obligations at their businesses in Ohio.  A national ministry partner will be managing the day-to-day operations of Back2Back India.

Brent and Lisa have seen incredible fruit from their time in India, as God has opened new doors for ministry at local children’s homes.  A few highlights from the year include:

  • Clean Water: We built a clean water system at an area feeding center that provides meals and free education to a local slum community.  The families and children that benefit from this center can now access clean drinking water.  Back2Back also provided them with storage capabilities for the water.
  • Children’s Home Renovations: We completed renovations at the MHH Children’s Home, including an overhaul of their dilapidated bathrooms and the construction of a new kitchen/dining hall.  The children had been eating outside on the ground, but will soon be enjoying their meals indoors.
  • Nutritional Assistance to Children’s Homes:  In addition to providing ongoing financial support for the children’s homes, we have also established a new nutrition program and developed opportunities for spiritual development for the children.  Thanks to the generosity of US donors, Back2Back will continue to support the children’s homes through regular food donations in 2010.
  • New Partnership: We have begun a partnership with EJH Children’s Home, as the directors of this home share Back2Back’s vision to show love and provide care to children in need.  This particular home cares for children with disabilities, a ministry that is desperately needed in India, a country where those that have a handicap are marginalized by society.

Although Brent and Lisa are returning to the US, they will still be heavily involved with the ministry in India, providing oversight and direction for current and future projects, ensuring that Back2Back India will continue to maintain a strong presence in Hyderabad.  They will also continue to serve with Back2Back as mission trip leaders and ministry advocates, traveling to India several times a year and offering ongoing support to the local Back2Back India staff.

Back2Back Ministries is grateful to Brent and Lisa for their service in India this past year and thankful for their continued partnership with us, as we pursue the heart of the orphan.

Brent and Lisa with children from EJH

If you are interested in learning more about joining our staff team in India, please contact Chris Ramos at ramos@back2backministries.org.

The Heart of Jesus, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 25, 2009

What a wonderful season Christmas is! I love that after thousands of years, the birth of Christ still brings healing, restoration and peace. People often talk about the “Spirit of Christmas” and in reality, the spirit of Christmas shows the heart of Christ and the things that he desires for us all year long.

The month of December has been a whirlwind of spreading Christmas cheer and showing Christ’s love on the precious kids that we serve. The month started off with the women’s group coming down with suitcases filled with presents, decorations, crafts and all things Christmas. Over the course of the week we have the privilege to visit each Casa Hogar that we work with and set up a tree and make ornaments and give each child their own Christmas gift! What a blessing it was to see the joy and excitement in the children’s faces as they opened up their gifts and worked together to decorate their trees.

I will never forget one sweet little boy, Santiago, opening up his present of a huge dog stuffed animal and coloring books and markers, but the thing he was most excited about was the small tube of travel toothpaste. When he saw the toothpaste his eyes got wide and he gasped and he held it like it was a priceless treasure. The rest of the day he carried that tube with him where ever he went. This made me really sit back and think about how much I take things for granted, especially around Christmas, when there is an abundance of blessings everywhere I look.

It requires a lot of Christmas cookies to feed 500 kids!

The presents are wrapped and ready to go!

Children from the children's homes were so excited to receive Christmas gifts!

Decorating the tree at the children's home

Danny loved my candycane ears! When I bent down to give him a hug he pulled them right off my head and tried to eat them! He thought they were real candycanes!

Christmas is truly a time of joy, generosity, peace and restoration. Praise the Lord for the hope that he provides for these children who have so little. I am honored to be able to love on them and help them understand the reason behind the gifts, crafts, cookies and parties.

I pray that you are resting in the hands of the One who came 2,000 years ago so that we could experience a love unlike any the world had ever known!

Merry Christmas!

Selene, Karely, and Shirley’s Quincenera, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico

December 14, 2009

As the three girls celebrating their quinceneras walked into the room, the words of Connie (a director at their children’s home, Manatial de Amor) rang in my ears.

“These three girls have been with us for a long time.  They grew up in this children’s home.  As I was praying today God reminded me that we all are daughter’s of the KING.  He wants us to know that.  In a very special way, God is showing that to these three girls tonight,” Cony shared.

Cony’s words are true for all of us.  And in a very tangible way God was showing these girls what they mean to Him.  This December we had another opportunity to provide a quincenera for three girls Back2Back serves at a local children’s home, girls who don’t have families to make this special event happen.

Shirley, Karely and Selene all have little to no family involvement.  Usually, we (Back2Back) are able to provide a dress, a few humble gifts, a few flowers and a meal for their children’s home and any family that can attend.  But, with the help of a group of women that came to serve with Back2Back, we provided a nice meal, cake and symbolic presents that are traditional for this special birthday signifying the maturing of a girl in Mexican culture.

Thanks to the women’s group, the quincenera was held in a warm reception room.  They all wore the gown of their dreams.  The girls received free hair styling and makeup by a relative of a Back2Back staff member and donations from folks through a Facebook and email petition allowed the girls to receive royal treatment.

Selene, Karely, and Shirley

Thursday night was in the low 50’s/high 40’s and rainy.   So, the room inside a Mexican buffet restaurant was a huge blessing.  Edgar, another Manatial de Amor director, gave the message and the woman’s group that was serving with us that week shared in the ceremony giving the symbolic gifts a girl receives (like a watch, bible, ring and pillow).  Dancing and dinner followed the ceremony to round out a perfect evening.

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

On behalf of these girls and the Back2Back staff, thank you to all those who gave to give them the night of their lives.

Learning English, by Back2Back India

December 7, 2009

India has twenty-two official languages and thousands of dialects. Hindi and English are national languages. In Andra Pradesh, the state where Back2Back India operates, the most common language is Telugu. A child in India first learns their local language then studies that language plus Hindi when they get to school. By 5th grade when they start English, the children are learning three languages! Some schools called English Medium schools, teach in English from kindergarten onwards which gives the children a better exposure to this world language.

The children at Eternal Joy Home, one of the children’s homes served by Back2Back India speak Telugu. When we met them about a year ago, they knew only a few English phrases. Some of the children were given the opportunity to study at an English medium school this year. Although it has been difficult for them to jump into this new language, they are happy to be at that school. They have also received encouragement from American and British friends who came to visit, brought books and educational games and spent time interacting with the children.

Over time, we have seen an improvement in the English skills of the children. They are getting good marks (grades) at school and several received awards recently.

In this video, one of the young girls who spoke no English earlier this year, now sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.

We thank God for the opportunities He provides for these children. Please pray with us for their continued studies and the hope that Back2Back India can help break the cycle of poverty through education.

Blankets for Rio III, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

December 2, 2009

Last week, during Thanksgiving, 15-year old Hope Bertke served in Monterrey, Mexico with Back2Back, alongside her parents and several other families.  Hope has been on several mission trips with Back2Back and is familiar with the communities that we minister to.  In the weeks leading up to her trip last week, Hope began to think of the families in one such village that we work with in Monterrey, a squatters’ village called Rio III. She wondered how the families there would survive the cold winter months in homes that have no insulation, heating and even sometimes electricity.  Her concern prompted her to take action by collecting money to purchase blankets for those in the community, since most families there have very limited blankets or bedding.

Hope’s goal was to raise $1,000 to purchase 100 blankets.  She began calling friends and family and spreading the word.  Her efforts paid off.  In just a few weeks, she had more than tripled her goal by raising $3,500 – enough to purchase a blanket for every family in Rio III!  Last week, Hope saw her dream realized.  She, along with the rest of her mission trip group, personally delivered a truck-full of blankets to hundreds of families in desperate need.

Reflecting on the experience, Hope said, “While giving out the blankets, the children had huge smiles on their faces.  They were so excited to get something new!  Although many of the kids weren’t big enough to carry their blankets, you could tell that they really appreciated them.  Many of the kids wrapped the blankets around themselves.  Many people don’t realize how cold it gets at night in Mexico.  When we were on our trip, it was getting down to 45 degrees at night and none of the makeshift homes have any heat.  We had just enough blankets for everyone who came to get one.  My original goal was 100 blankets, but God had bigger and better plans for the families in Rio III…we raised enough money for 350 blankets!”

Families began lining up early to receive a new blanket

Hope Bertke, helping to unload the 350 blankets that were purchased as a result of her fundraising efforts

These little boys were very excited to receive their blankets

Hope, helping to distribute the blankets

The Grouzard family (left) pictured with the Bertke family (right) helped by collecting money from friends and family in Chicago to purchase blankets.

Two girls walk home after receiving their blankets

Celebrating Thanksgiving at Rio I, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff

November 30, 2009

To me, Thanksgiving is about being with family and giving thanks. I was unable to be with family from the States and even my own family here in Monterrey because I was scheduled to work. In a way I was able to be with “family” as the people of the Rio (a squatter’s village that I serve with Back2Back) have become my second family.

Hope Maglich, another Back2Back staff member, had a great idea to celebrate our Thanksgiving with them by sharing a meal and doing an activity to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Sharing a meal from Pollo Loco with a few families at the Rio

I tried with my Spanish to explain about the first Thanksgiving and that in addition to joining together for a meal, the pilgrims and Native Americans also took time out to give thanks for all that God had given them.  Hope then asked everyone to participate in a Thanksgiving tree activity. Everyone was asked to take a leaf and write what they were thankful for.  I’d love to share a few with you.  One said, “I give you thanks for creating me.”

Another one read, “I give thanks to God for this life.”

As each leaf went on the tree, Meme, a local who partners with us in serving at the Rio, read them off.  With each leaf, I was reminded how big God is and how much He cares for us. Lord, I thank you for my family, the food you give us each day, for the sunsets and all the beauty in your creation. I think I need to make a Thanksgiving tree every day.

Meme and Hope leading the Thanksgiving activity