Posts Tagged ‘Cancun’

Building Spiritual Bridges, by Erick & Julie Mowery, Back2Back Cancun Staff

August 7, 2012

This week, we presented our new VBS called “Sky,” to three families, at Casa Hogar San Jose and at the CAT. The theme for the Vacation Bible School is based on Mark 10:27:  Todo es posible con Dios — Everything is possible with God. For many of these kids, this is perhaps a new truth and a very important message. We continue to build bridges with the kids and the staff at the CAT (government shelter for abused and neglected children), as God continues to show favor on this relationship. We will be doing VBS all summer with the teams that come to serve for our ministry partners.

Back2Back staff share spiritual truths through a VBS program at orphanages in Cancun

VBS crafttime

It was a great week in which we built relationships with kids, ministry partners, staff and one another. As our Back2Back staff reflected this morning on the week past and the week ahead, we were amazed at God’s blessings and favor on the work Back2Back is doing.

 

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With God All Things are Possible, by Andrew Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

June 23, 2012

WOW! That’s how I need to start this post.  Please read on and you will understand why.

We are not posting pictures with this post, and while we realize that this certainly makes the posts harder to read and interact with, in some cases we do not have a choice as the children that we are writing about in this post come from dangerous situations and need to be protected.  As a result, we are not permitted to share their photos, nor is it in their best interest to do so. We ask for your understanding as we continue to try to share with you their lives and what the Lord is doing here in Cancún.

After a week of vacation, the first day back to work was a Wednesday. Wednesdays are very special because it is usually the day that we go visit the kids at CAT (a shelter for children in dangerous situations). CAT is a government program and for that reason they are not very open to the gospel.

This summer we started VBS in all our ministry sites and we had a hard time thinking about how we were going to do it at  CAT without being able to talk about God. The main idea for the VBS is that “Everything is Possible with God” (not easy to do without the word God). So Mau and Lizy, the captains from CAT, decided that it was time to have a conversation with director of the CAT about  this.

So Wednesday came and I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard that some changes had been made but I wasn’t sure what they were referring to.

I was in charge of the games and my heart jumped with excitement when I found out that the doors had been open for the name of God to be said with freedom! I had freedom to tell these kids about the wonderful plan that God had for their lives, freedom to tell them that no matter their circumstances they could trust in God!

And that wasn’t the best part. We finish the VBS singing the songs that we learned that day, after I tell you what happened you will understand why I had to start this post with the word WOW.

These precious kids went from not knowing who God is to singing to Him the song called “OUR GOD.” If you have never heard this song before please listen to it. So the next day we had a field trip with the kids and guess what one of them said in his conversation with someone else… “With God everything is possible!” They are getting to know their Heavenly Father! It is amazing what God can do in one week!

I remember that our first month in Cancun I posted a prayer request about CAT. That the doors would be open to the Gospel, and they have been opened wide!

Thank you for partnering with us and making this possible.

The Real Impact of Child Sponsorship, by Andrew Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

June 4, 2012

Who hasn’t heard or seen the promotions for sponsoring a child through global non-profit organizations?

We have two girls with one of them and I know tons of friends and family that sponsor kids through these programs.

So why am I writing about this?

Because of a little party we had this week at Casa Hogar San Jose, a home that Back2Back serves in Cancun, Mexico.

During one of our visits to San Jose this week, Anna and I were able to read letters to the kids from their sponsors and help them decorate and write letters back to them.

The joy and excitement of the kids was transparently over the top.

It got me thinking about and studying their behavior and reactions to the letters, to the words written by their sponsors, and about everything that these kids are able to do because of the sacrifice that their sponsor is making every month.

There were two moments when it really struck me. The first was when Jorge (9), was hunched over the table completely zoned into reading the letter from his sponsor. The other was when Sandi (14) was reading a portion of her letter out loud an laughing with Jimena (12).

These two unique moments brought a clarity to my mind about the value of this precious communication and attention to these kids lives. The reality and strength of the bonds formed through personal letter writing and personal connection of having met their sponsors.

And that is where, I believe, the first of the two major differences lies with Back2Back’s child sponsorship program. While the major organizations have a roughly 90/10 split of sponsors who have never met their children, Back2Back’s is just the opposite.

The value of this personal connection is undeniable in the eyes of these kids. We are a unique and blessed ministry to be able to have so many children know their sponsors personally and be able to maintain that close relationship that was formed when their sponsors came on a short term trip with Back2Back and met them for the first time.

The second major difference, in my opinion, is the constant oversight of direct children’s homes captains and a team of ministry personnel focused on how to utilize each dollar of sponsorship donation to the utmost for the benefit of the whole child through Back2Back’s Child Development Model that is focused on the Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Social and Educational aspects of their life.

Because of Back2Back’s tireless commitment to transparency and devotion to learning more about how to go deep with each child, the sponsors know that their sacrifice is truly making a difference in every aspect of their sponsored child’s life.

We just wanted to take the time to thank those who are Back2Back Child Sponsors and especially for those of the kids at Casa Hogar San Jose in Cancun. Your investment in these children is a daily reminder of our perfect Heavenly Father’s love and provision for those that He holds most dear. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus and for being the difference for one of the 163,000,000 orphans in the world today.

Please enjoy this video of our letter writing party this week at Casa Hogar San Jose on the north side of Cancun.

Bringing the Joy of Reading to Children in Cancun, by Julie Mowery, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

May 24, 2012

This month we rolled out MERC…our Mobile Education Resource Center.  We are so excited to see the kids participating in this program and are slowly building our library of books through contributions and gifts. We would also like to add other resources to the program, including educational games, manipulatives and laptops. Laptops would allow us to use educational software as another teaching tool, and to teach the kids computer skills.

Jorge (9) from Casa Hogar San Jose practices reading aloud.

Years and years of taking Eliza and Nick to the library and checking out tons of books is paying off in really neat ways.  Lending libraries are very rare in Mexico, and we do not have any in this area. We’ve been collecting books for the past few months and I really didn’t know how the kids would respond, but they love it!

Beti (9) was so excited about the new books that she couldn’t
decide which she wanted to check out.

In addition to allowing them to check out 2-3 books at a time, we also have read-aloud times, both one-on-one and in a large group. In addition to helping the kids learn to read and learn to enjoy good stories, it’s also a great time for teams to interact with the kids on a more personal level.

A mission trip participant reads to Beti

Sandy (14) is reading Loco Amor (Crazy Love) by Fancis Chan.

We are very excited about adding more resources to the MERC to expand the program. If you are interested in helping build our library, please contact the Back2Back home office.

 

Progress in Tres Reyes, by Anna Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

May 18, 2012

Tres Reyes (Three Kings) is a community in the Cancun, Mexico area that we always look for different ways to support and get to know the people that we serve. Every time we go to server there, God opens our eyes to the needs that we sometimes can take for granted.

We have hosted doctors and had free medical clinics for the community to be able to receive medical care and the medicine they needed home.

We are helping finish the construction of the second story at pastor Victor’s church for the community to have a shaded area  to gather and worship God as well as benches for them to sit.

One of the most resent projects that we have done at Tres Reyes that impacted the community in a great way was the Church Sale. This project was inspired by a little boy that came to one of our clinics. His shoes were ripping apart and he had a hard time walking. The roads in Tres Reyes are not paved and the dirt and rocks were hurting his feet. I looked around and many of the people that came to the clinic were in the same situation.

I thought to myself (Anna) “Next time we come to Tres Reyes we need to bring some shoes and clothes.” I didn’t want to only give hand outs, I wanted people to take exactly what they really needed, and that’s when my wonderful days of garage sale-ing came in handy.

So during the next week I gathered all the shoes and clothes and toys that I could find in the Back2Back donations room. I was so excited but at the same time very nervous because I didn’t know if anyone was going to come. But of course I should know by now with all my past experiences, that God was going to make everything work out according to His plan and that’s exactly what happened.

We got everything set up and the people started showing up. There was a point when it was hard to keep up with all the people but the Family Christian Stores mission team with their experience in retailing were life-savers. The prices were very affordable, between 5 and 15 pesos for everything from shoes to clothes, and the kids were able to take a free toy if their parents had purchased something.

Everyone looked happy and the best part was that they took pride in being able to purchase something themselves. All proceeds from the sale went to Pastor Victor’s church to allow them to offer emergency medical care to those in his congregation if they needed it.

 

God’s Way is the Better Way, by Andrew & Anna Conrad, Back2Back Cancun, Mexico Staff

April 30, 2012

As humans, we learned to rely mostly on ourselves and our planning. During this time of training we are learning that no matter how much we plan, we have to remain open to throwing our ideas out the window for God’s plan.

A few weeks ago,  a group from Grand Rapids, Michigan was serving with our Back2Back Cancun staff and during this particular day, nothing was going the way that we had anticipated.

We were doing a concrete project that, according to our plan, wasn’t getting finished since we didn’t have enough man power. God’s better outcome: We finished in record time! No explanation, but with fewer people and less that were able to do the physical exertion, somehow we managed (through God’s miraculous help) to do it quicker than ever.

This was my first time translating for a medical clinic and I didn’t know what to expect. We went around the community   telling people to come over around noon. We didn’t find many people outside or at home and it seemed like the clinic was having a slow paced day. God’s better outcome: We saw 28 people. Most of them went home with the medicine that they needed to get better. I had a great time getting experience in the medical arena. The doctor was patient and kind with me and the people that we saw. The people of Tres Reyes benefited greatly from this medical service.

Usually when we visit this particular community called Tres Reyes (Three Kings), we finish the day of work with a prayer walk. God’s better idea: We finished praying for pastor Victor and his family (We partner with his church as a main contact in this community) and another family that helped us finish the project. It was a time of blessing and healing.

It is amazing to see God’s hands in and on everything we do. Every time He takes control, everything turns out perfect.

David’s Journey, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun

January 27, 2012

David

Last December I wrote about a boy named David. Fifteen, no desire to work, or study, or follow rules…and you can guess where that got him. David had a lot of things going on – both inside and out. He has lived at the children’s home since before he could walk. The only family he has ever known is his older brother, and the directors of that home. For lots of reasons, it is no wonder that his life might look a little messy, yet even in the midst of all that, God was giving me just a glimpse of the potential that was inside this boy. I knew that God had a lot more up his sleeve for this young man.

What I didn’t know, but could have guessed is that life would get worse for David before it got better. I did have a few chances to hang out with David in the winter and spring. We invited him to join in with us a couple different days when we had visiting missions teams, and he came along as a volunteer for the day. He was pleasant, helpful, fairly quiet. One morning I grabbed him and sat down beside him while the visiting team was having their quiet time and I read Psalm 139 to him. I told him it was one of my favorite places to re-visit in the scriptures, and how I loved how full it was of truths about God…how He knit us together in our mothers wombs, how He knows us, how He is always with us…and the list goes on.
David was pretty quiet that morning. He grinned at me. Sort of chuckled to himself and said, “I don’t really believe all of that”. “You know what,” I told him, “It’s O.K. – God loves that you can even be honest and say that aloud. He (God) really is all of those things…all of those things are true of him, and He will show you. I know He will.”
About a month later David left the children’s home He lived the next six or seven months on his own, in a tiny cave-of-a-room with a mattress in it. He hit some real lows. And somewhere in the lowest of low places I think David started to believe that there just might be something to “this God” and what this God had for his life.

As the months went by we knew little of David. But thanks to the modern wonder that facebook is to all of us, from time to time I was able to shoot him a message, and let him know we were praying…but that was about it. But rarely would I hear anything back. And then, all of a sudden, in mid to late November David initiated chatting with me via Facebook one evening.

“I want out,” he said.
“Out of what,” I asked?
“Out of my life. I don’t want to live like this anymore, I want out,” he said.
“Let’s figure out when we can get together,” I replied. I suggested he meet us Sunday morning, come to church with us, and we can spend the afternoon together, but Sunday came and went. We didn’t hear anything from him, and then, well then we got busy with a visiting group of 20-some women here from Ohio bringing Christmas cheer to Cancun.
So, Wednesday, November 30th rolls around. It had been a long day. It was about 11:30 p.m. We had just begun to drift off to sleep when the security from our neighborhood called to say there was a teenage boy at the gate looking for me.
“It’s David,” I exclaimed to Julie.
“Well, have him come in and sleep on the couch and we can talk more tomorrow,” says my compassionate wife, Julie.
And so I walked to the gate, and escorted him to our house. I got the feeling he was already planning on staying as he immediately took off his shoes and socks.
“What do you need – what can I do for you?,” I asked him.
“I want to change. I want to be different. I want to go back to school. I don’t want my life to go on the way it is,” he replied.
“We can help you find a place to live, and we can help you get back in school, and we can help you get pointed in the right direction, but you have to understand that what you need more than anything right now is God. Do you understand that? Can you see that?,” I asked.
“Yes, I know. And I’m ready,” replied David.

In the morning I remember waking up and thinking. Yep, it’s true, it’s not a dream. David showed up at our house last night, and he’s sleeping on the couch. Why now God? We have 20-some women here for the rest of the week, don’t I have enough going on right now? How will I have the time necessary to devote to him today. Silly me, I should have known that God already had that all figured out.

As God’s schedule would have it, that morning had been carved out for the women to have their quiet times with the Lord, and their small groups at a local beach before we headed out to serve for the day.
So, arriving at the beach, David and I plopped down in the sand next to each other, and I began to talk. We talked more about where he’d just come from, and what he wanted to happen, and then I told him very clearly: “You already told me that you know you need God. It is time to decided where you stand with this. It is time to confront any doubts and any questions. Today is the day of salvation. It is time to make a decision. This is not about dipping your toes in the water, and dabbling into a little bit of who God is, and who Jesus is for you – this is about throwing your whole self into the ocean of God, David. Today is the day, are you ready?”
And David said, “Yes. Yes, I’m ready.”
Right there, and right then David and I prayed together, and he gave his life over to Jesus. It was one of those surreal moments, witnessing God do what He does, and yet being right there in the midst of the whole thing – what a gift. Our Cancun staff team, as well as the other visiting staff from Ohio and Monterrey then gathered around David, and spent the next moments bathing him in prayer, praying for his protection, praying for what is to follow – and entrusting the days that are to come into the hands of God.

Betty, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun Staff

October 14, 2011

This beautiful little girl is Betty. She is nine years old, and is one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet. She is the oldest of three sister who came to live at Casa Hogar San Jose almost a year ago now.

In December of last year, shortly after her arrival, we met a family from Michigan who happened to be in Cancun on vacation – and it just so happened that this family wanted to get to know Back2Back, and see what we were up to in this corner of the world. We picked them up from their hotel and spent a few hours together. Together we spent some time at Casa Hogar San Jose, and they met Betty. That morning God made a special connection between Betty and the family’s young daughter.

Their family decided to sponsor Betty through Back2Back’s Shelter Child Sponsorship Program and then in return we help facilitate on-going communication through letters between Betty and the family. During our trip to the midwest in August, we were able to get together with this family in Michigan who have not only become advocates for the ministry, but friends of our family as well. At the end of our visit their young daughter gave us a little tiny purse with a note attached and asked if we could take it to Betty when we got back to Cancun.

Below is Betty displaying what was inside the purse: a locket with a picture of her and her long-distance friend from Michigan. What a special gift for a very special girl. We love seeing Betty smile. We love the way God connects His people, the ways He cares for the orphan, and for the ways He lavishes His love upon children like Betty.

Lola, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Monterrey, Mexico Staff

August 5, 2011

Lola had lived at the government children’s home for close to a year before I met her. She had been removed from her home as a teenager due to abuse from her mother. Now Lola is 17. Despite her background, she smiles and laughs and engages with others.

While I was at Back2Back’s site in Cancun, we took Lola and others from her children’s home to the beach for a fieldtrip! These kids are not able to get out much, so for them a trip to the beach was quite the adventure.  While we were smearing sun block on one another at the beach I fell into an amazing conversation with Lola and don’t know if I will ever be quite the same…

A beach field trip is a rare treat for this children's home in Cancun

While we slathered on the SPF 30, Lola began to tell me that the director of the children’s home was thinking of placing her once again with her mom. When I asked how she felt about that she told me that she was nervous. After suffering abuse at the hands of her mother, she didn’t have much confidence that it wouldn’t happen again.
“However,” she told me, “I know that wherever I am God will never leave me. He is always with me.” I looked at Lola a bit surprised. She was not living in a Christian facility, how did she know this?
“Wow!” I said, “You are absolutely right. The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you, but how do you know that? Have you been to church before?”
“No,” she answered, slathering the sun block on her shoulders, “I’ve never been to church.” Lola glanced around as though making sure no one would overhear.  “You see,” she said, “I have dreams.”
I stopped rubbing in the sun block on my nose. My curiosity was immediately peaked. What did she mean by ‘dreams’?
“When I go to sleep at night I dream about God,” she told me. “I know that He is my Father, that He loves me. I know that He created me and that He loves me more than anything else He created.”
“You are so right on,” I said, so surprised by all she was saying that a large glob of sun block dropped from my hand to the sand. “Has anyone ever told you about the Lord?”
“No, nobody ever has.”
Shocked, I put the sun block bottle down altogether. I asked if Lola she had ever dreamt about a man named Jesus Christ.
“Oh yes,” she said, filled with joy. “I know that He died for me and because He died I am alive. He lives in me.”
Really shocked this time at how Sunday-school-perfect her answers sounded, I asked again, “Are you sure no one has ever told you this?”
“No,” she said. “I have dreams.”
“Okay Lord,” I prayed. “I’m going to stop doubting now. Why couldn’t you speak to Lola with dreams?”
For some reason, my limited brain only allowed space for this sort of thing to happen with unreached tribes in Africa, but here He was showing Himself in a very personal way to His beloved in a children’s home in Cancun. We talked all through the salvation story. Lola tracked with me the whole time, agreeing with what I was saying like she had known it all her life.
“The story doesn’t stop here,” I said, “There is someone called the Holy Spirit who had come to help us. Have you ever had dreams about the Holy Spirit?”
“Oh yes!” replied Lola with joy in her voice, “not long ago I was laying down in my bed in the dorm at the children’s home. It was night and we had a fan blowing in our room. I felt the breeze blow around me and it felt like huge arms that were embracing me. Then I saw a white dove and I heard a voice that said, ‘I am the Holy Spirit. I want you to invite me to live in you and be your guide. You need to listen to my voice and follow me. Don’t follow any other voice. I am your guide.’”
I stood there dumbfounded on the beach, in awe of Jesus! He had spoken every part of who He was to Lola. He had revealed Himself to her without anyone else in the middle. This abused teenage girl had an authentic relationship with Jesus and was being led by the Holy Spirit because Jesus cared that much about her. He cares for the orphan and loves them so much more than we do. He revealed everything to this girl and I was there simply to confirm that it was God. I felt my Spirit struck with the revelation that He does not need me at all… but that He has graciously invited me in be a part of His story.
Lola and I spent some time praying together on the beach. I prayed for her continued growth in the Lord and boldness to share Him with the other girls in her dorm. I asked if she had a Bible and she said no I explained that the Bible was an additional way for her to learn about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and offered to get one for her. I don’t think I have ever seen someone so excited! She was literally jumping up in down in the sand and hugging me.
“You would do that?” she said. “I would love a Bible!” Arrangements were made the next day to purchase one for her.
This was my highlight of the two weeks I spent serving at the Back2Back site in Cancun! God is so big! He is so good! He is fully capable. He takes care of His own.
UPDATE:
Below is a photo of Lola with her new Bible from Back2Back.  She is eager to begin to learn more about her Heavenly Father through study of his Word.

Lola is eager to begin learning more about God through her new Bible

Working with “the Beautiful”, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun Staff

July 29, 2011

With each visiting missions team over the summer we had the privledge of partnered with Pastor Victor in his ministry out in Tres Reyes. The name of Vicotor’s church is “La Hermosa”, which means Beautiful – and for us it has been the beginning of a beautiful friendship with the pastor, with his church, and with the neighborhood.

Over the course of the summer we were able to tear out the hold floor, to back-fill the necessary areas, to pour a new concrete floor, to assist with resources for a temporary roof, and to help begin a new bathroom at the church. Each week we were there we also had a chance to visit with neighbors and invite kids back for the church’s children’s program. When we invited kids back we had a chance to do songs, games, some skits, and provide them with an afternoon meal.
What I think I loved most about the summer was getting to see more of pastor Victor’s heart and passion for the Lord, and for the lost of Tres Reyes. I loved seeing that God encouraged him through the support, and through the relationship. And I love that God is smiling upon this little place called Beautiful!

Standing Back2Back with Nationals, by Matt & Julie Cooper, Back2Back Cancun

May 27, 2011

Through a series of God-events, we have met a pastor by the name of Victor.

Pastor Victor

Pastor Victor has a small church in a neighborhood named Tres Reyes. Tres Reyes is the same neighborhood where we have been helping Noehmi’s family build a house.

Victor has a desire to reach the people Tres Reyes for Christ. He has a desire to see the Kingdome of God grow. He has a desire to begin to feed children in the neighborhood but he needs someone to stand in the gap with him.

We believe that God has led us to Pastor Victor for this season. God has opened a door – and once again we’re walking through it.

With the visiting missions teams we will have over the next couple of months we are going to be helping Pastor Victor with some projects on his church, and assisting him in outreach to the children and families that live in this extremely poor neighborhood. We look forward to working together as we feed the hungry, love the needy, and bring hope to the hopeless!

A Back2Back staff member surveys the property with Pastor Victor

The Privilege of an Education, by Matt & Julie Cooper

May 16, 2011

Chave (Isabel), Mari and Sofia sitting in their classroom at school

The privilege of going to school seems like a given, especially to attend kindergarten. But what if you can’t afford to send your child to kindergarten? For the kindergarten age children who live at Casa Hogar San Jose, they have to pay $10 USD a week to attend school. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply it by four children, and all of the weeks they attend school, it starts to add up!

Mari, Chave, Sofia and Alexa are four little girls from Casa Hogar San Jose who are all in kindergarten. Thanks to some individuals who gave money at Christmastime through the Back2Back Christmas Catalog, and through families who are sponsoring children through Back2Back’s Shelter Program we were able to cover the majority of this bill for these four girls this year.

Last week, I accompanied the director of the home to the school to make a payment because they had gotten behind a few weeks. When I suggested we just go ahead and pay what they would owe for the rest of this school year the director was speechless. She was both overjoyed, and overwhelmed. Thank you to those of you who have given! Thank you for making it possible to bless this children’s home in this way, and thank you for blessing four little girls, whose education is one of the most important things we can give them.

A Sponsor for Sofia, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

April 13, 2011

Sofia

Five year-old Sofia, who lives at San Jose Children’s Home, an orphanage that Back2Back Cancun serves, is now benefiting from child sponsorship. Sofia, an imaginative girl, loves to draw. She recently created this masterpiece for her sponsor in Pennsylvania.

Interested in sponsoring a child like Sofia, from one of the orphanages that Back2Back serves? Contact Claire Rogers at Back2Back’s US Office at claire@back2backministries.org

Poorest of the Poor, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Cancun Staff

April 8, 2011

A few weeks ago we were introduced to a family. The social worker from the DIF (Child & Family Services) here in Cancun said she wanted us to meet a family, and wondered if there was anything we could do for them, as they were in a very rough situation.

Fifteen year-old Noehmi, is lower functioning, perhaps mildly mentally challenged. A few months back Noehmi had a baby, and has been receiving some services through the teenage mom program that we’ve been serving back to back with here. Noehmi lives with her younger sister, who is in sixth grade, and her 17 year-old brother, who is no longer in school. These three teenagers live with their elderly grandparents.

The grandfather is not in good health. Their mother has passed away. And their father, who had always supported the entire family has recently been sentenced to prison. The father’s old employer leant a room to the family to stay in.

When the social worker took us out to see the family, we met them in this tiny back room of a house with a tin roof that was caving in over their heads.

“Every time it rains all of our things get drenched,” they explained.

They family had been making payments on a plot of land, but the income from her grandma selling tamales, and the 17 year-old washing car windows at intersections had been barely enough to feed the family, let alone have anything left to make payments on their land, or to build a home.

“So, do you think there is something Back2Back can do for this family?,” asked the social worker.

For a moment, we sat in silence, and I felt overwhelmed, helpless, wondering what I could do to really make any difference. It all seemed so urgent. Yet, I felt like I had no resources at my fingertips, no solutions to offer. And then God brought something to my mind.

Several weeks earlier, a friend of ours on Back2Back staff in Monterrey shared that someone had given her some money and asked her to use it when she came across a situation of the “Poorest of the Poor”. Our friend had shared with us that she praying about where to use the money in Monterrey, but felt that God might equally want to use the money in Cancun, and that we to should be praying and should let her know if we came up with a need.

I was convinced that this was it, this money was given for Noehmi’s family. I contacted our friend and learned that the money was still available. The social worker contacted the land owner of a plot of land the family had making payments on, and permission was given to begin working on construction of a new home for the family – somewhere they could call their own.

I could not have been more excited for the way God put the pieces together and for the way we’re going to have a chance to bless this family in a very, very real way.

Noehmi with her daughter, Miriam

Noehmi's sister, Blanca, making tamales with their grandmother

Jamie: God Heals the Most Hurt Heart, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 3, 2011

This is the story of a blind boy I met in Cancun. For his protection he will be referred to as Jamie in this entry.

Jamie is 17 and has been blind since the day he was born. He is tall with a chubby face and black curly hair. I ran into Jaime on a tour of the orphanage during my first day in Cancun. He was alone in his dorm room talking with Mau a fellow B2B staff member when I first laid eyes on him.  The compassion that gripped my heart when I first saw him is hard to describe. All I know is that with one glimpse I felt like I saw into the depths of his pain and sorrow and knew that he was so hurt. I left the dorm room without saying a word to Jamie and began another conversation with two teenage girls right outside the door.

Virginia looked very mature for her age and at first I was unsure of whether she was a worker or a teen at the home.  When I asked her she said she was living at the home and then proceeded to tell me how much she hated being in the children’s home and how much she wanted to leave. Her friend next to her chimed in that she too didn’t like being there, but admitted that it was better than her home with her family. I was shocked at the openness of these girls in our first conversation and at the same time my heart was overwhelmed with the hurt gushing forth from them. The word, “lastimada” kept running through my head… “Hurt. So hurt. These girls are so hurt.”  I felt urged to bring something positive into the conversation. I looked at Virginia and told her that I wasn’t sure why God had her at that children’s home, but that that I knew that He had a purpose for her life and that we could praise God that she was in a safe place. In two days I would realize how prophetic those words actually were… (See post on Virginia)

Mau left Jaime’s dorm room just as I was finishing my conversation with Virginia and began to fill me in on the details of Jamie’s life. Jamie had arrived at the home about a week earlier. He had been battered and bruised by his father. His story revealed that he had grown up familiar with such abuse from his dad. His real mom died when he was little and his step mother stepped into the picture.  About a week earlier Jamie’s stepmother had too much of him and his needs. She loaded blind Jamie up on a bus, paid a ticket to who knows where, and said she never wanted to see him again. Jamie arrived in the middle of Cancun, hours from his home, knowing no one, and seeing nothing. Government officials picked him up and took him to the children’s home where we met him a few days later.

My heart broke as Mau told me Jamie’s story. Jamie said that he had heard about Mau from the other boys at the home and wondered if Mau would take him out to talk and hang out as he had with the others. He also asked Mau if he would find him some music.

“I’m bored,” Jamie commented, “music makes me relax.”

Jamie

At the end of the conversation Mau felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to give Jamie a hug. As he pulled away Jamie calmly told Mau that that was the first hug he can ever remember receiving. … As Mau told me this story, I cried.

Both Mau and I wept in the courtyard of the children’s home, as God let us feel the pain and hurt in these lives. God began speaking to me that while I cover up my heart and numb it from the pain in this world and the pain that I see in the Rio every week, His heart is never numb. His heart feels every hurt. His heart cries with every child. He feels every pain and it hurts his heart to the core. The compassion of the Lord is amazing. I went to bed that night with these things still on my heart and mind.

Two days later our team of ladies returned to this same children’s home to throw a Christmas party. Part of the festivities included a skit put on by our team. At this particular children’s home we are not able to openly share the gospel, so in a metaphorical way we portrayed Christ conquering evil in the world. At one point in the skit “the evil” was whispering lies in the ear of a child. Things like, “no one loves you,” “you are stupid,” “they are laughing at you.”  During this part of the skit Jamie leaned over to a fellow staff member and said, “I’ve heard those things before. I hear those lies every day.” When I heard this I knew that I wanted to pray for Jamie.

After the skit, I sat down next to Jamie with some other ladies from our team and began to talk with him. Another lady also felt the urge to pray so we asked Jamie if we could. He readily agreed. About halfway through our prayer Jamie started grabbing at his chest.

“My heart hurts. My heart hurts,” he repeated.

We clarified that it was a spiritual pain that he was feeling. We finished praying and I went to find Mau. I knew in my spirit that today was the day of salvation for Jamie. I have never been so sure of something in my life! I found Mau and told him that he needed to explain the gospel to Jamie. Jamie was so ready, but my Spanish couldn’t do it justice and Mau is the one who is going to be there long term with Jamie. After the activities of the Christmas party calmed down a bit, Mau went over and sat next to Jamie. I knew that he was sharing the gospel with Jamie, so I began to pray. The next thing I know Jamie is crying and hugging Mau. He prayed that day and met Jesus as his Savior and the Healer of his heart!

Later, I gave Jamie a hug to welcome him into the family.  He told me that when we had prayed earlier he had felt so much peace, but that now he felt so happy.

“This is the best day of my life!” said an excited Jamie, “I will never forget this day as long as I live.”

I know that I too will never forget this day. Praise Jesus who is able to heal the most hurt of hearts. Nothing is impossible for God! Please continue to keep Jamie in your prayers. Pray for this growth in Christ and for his physical sight to be restored! Amen!

 

Virginia – God Heals the Hardest Heart, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 31, 2011

This is a post about a teen whose story impacted my life while I was in Cancun. For her security she will be referred to as Virginia in this entry.

Virginia looks to be about twice her actual age. I met her on the first day that I met Jamie. I have never really understood what a face of stone looked like until I met Virginia. Her face was beautiful, but ice cold, her jaw set in a clench like I have never seen before, her eyes icy.  It was clear that she took out her pain in sarcasm and in disgust of those around her. Even with the hard shell it was apparent that this was a very hurt young lady.

Virginia with her friends

In the first conversation I had with Virginia she made it very clear that she hated her life and hated the children’s home she was temporarily staying at. All I could think was how hurt she must be.

Two days after I first met Virginia our team of ladies returned to the children’s home to host a Christmas party. When we entered the home, my good friend and fellow staff member, Priscila, was encouraged to go up and talk with Virginia.

“You have got to be kidding,” was Priscila’s reply. “Look at her, she wants nothing to do with us, let alone me! ”

However, the Holy Spirit kept prompting Priscila until she went over to introduce herself to Virginia. Priscila found out that Virginia was fifteen years old.

“My fifteenth year was very impacting,” Pris shared. “That year God placed many Christians in my life who spoke to me about Jesus. It was when I was fifteen that I had an experience with God and I have never been the same.”

Virginia stared at Priscila in surprise.

“That is weird that you say that,” she said. “Just last night someone told me that I needed to have an experience with God.”

Virginia then went on to share about how the night before her mom had come to get her and bring her home. When Virginia arrived home she began arguing with her mom, started uncontrollably freaking out, and tried to commit suicide. At this point her mom got scared and called the police to come and take Virginia back to the children’s home.

As Virginia and the police officer were sitting in the squad car outside the children’s home, the officer turned to Virginia and said, “Virginia, have you not had an encounter with God? You need to have an experience with God.”

Virginia was startled that now Priscila was also talking with her about having an encounter with God.

Priscila came up to me after this conversation with Virginia and told me what happened. As Pris was talking, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God wanted Virginia to experience Himself that day. I told Priscila that she needed to go back and share the truth of the Gospel with Virginia. Today was the day of her salvation, I was sure of it.

A little later Pris found Virginia and asked if they could finish their conversation. I saw them sit down on a stone wall and begin to talk. I knew that Priscila was sharing the gospel with Virginia, so I began to pray. Virginia was sitting very straight with a face of stone as Pris began to share.  I kept praying that the Lord would break through. That he would soften her heart so she could hear and receive what Pris was sharing. Suddenly as I was watching, and it was as if the stone mask on Virginia’s face began to crack and slide off. I have never physically seen such a change happen in a person. One moment she was sitting erect hard as stone, the next second she had tears streaming down her cheeks and a wide smile spreading across her face. That day Virginia’s name was written in the Lamb’s book of Life.  With tears streaming down her face, Virginia was laughing and smiling. Her countenance was completely changed! I went up to her and gave her a huge hug. I told her I knew that God had a plan and purpose for her life and for her being at that home.

She hugged me back and through her tears said, “I feel so happy!”

It was apparent the moment Christ entered Virginia that she was completely changed. She had an experience with God that had been prophesied to her the night before. She was a new creation! Virginia was supposed to leave the children’s home that night to go back with her mom. God was so purposeful and strategic in his timing of things! There is not a doubt in my mind that He divinely ordained the events of that day to bring Virginia into his kingdom. Through this I saw that God can heal and soften the hardest of hearts.  Please keep Virginia in your prayers.  Her family has been involved with drugs in Cancun which can get pretty serious. Pray for her protection and for her continued growth in Christ. Praise Jesus for this salvation!

Cure for the Blues, by Julie Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 5, 2010

During a recent visit to Casa Hogar Esperanza we arrived to find six-year old Paola home sick for the day with the chicken pox. No sickness is fun of course, but there is something extra miserable about chicken pox. You don’t feel good, you’re itchy, you’re not allowed to scratch the million places that are itchy, and you have to remain in lock-down so that you don’t spread your lovely breakout to others. So, needless to say, poor Paola was not in the best of spirits. When we left and pulled away from the children’s home, I knew that we needed to do something special for this poor girl to let her know just how much she was loved.

Upon arriving home I had a chance to talk with my daughters about her and discussed what we might be able to do for her to cheer her up. We decided that the best prescription for Paola was a new teddy bear. So I enlisted the help of my girls, and we were off to go shopping. My girls were a great help. They had a lot of insight and little girl wisdom into what would be the perfect one. It had to be just the right size, easy to hug, the perfect softness, and of course the perfect color too. It was quite the endeavor, but we finally found just the right one!

The next morning Matt and I were able to go back to Casa Hogar Esperanza and deliver the bear to Paola. It instantly brought a smile to her face as she embraced her new bear. We hope that the bear can be a reminder to sweet Paola not just that our family cares about her, but much more – that she has a heavenly Father who loves her, and who will never leave her side.

Paola

 

Waiting for our Return, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 7, 2010

Months ago, before Back2Back’s  first trip to explore the possibility of expanding into Cancun, I dreamed of meeting a young boy in Cancun. I’m not sure that I could describe much detail from the dream, other than the fact that I remember entering a children’s home and being greeted by ONE boy, a boy who was very happy to see me, and a boy that was very hungry for my attention.

During our first scouting trip here in March, we visited a home just outside of Cancun. It is a very humble children’s home run by Catholic nuns. The home has eleven children in their care, ten of which are girls, and just one boy, Jorgito.

Matt with Jorgito

During our visit in March, we spent the afternoon visiting with the caretakers, sharing some donations with them, and interacting with the children. I spent a good chunk of time coloring and playing frisbee with Jorgito. He was extremely hungry for attention. He stuck to me like glue that afternoon. As we left, and I thought back to my dream it began to click that perhaps Jorgito was the boy from my dream. It wasn’t as if they had the same face or anything, but rather, it was what the boy in my dream represented. He represented the obvious need, and he represented that we would be well received.

So now we fast forward almost six months and it’s late August.  Julie and I, along with the other Back2Back Cancun Staff, Mauricio and Lizy, went back to visit the home. We pulled in, and one of the first people to come running to see who we were was Jorgito, of course. Keep in mind it’s been almost six months, but immediately he greets me with a big smile and says to me, “You’re Mateo! I remember you!”

I couldn’t get over it. I had spent all but a couple of hours with the boy, SIX months ago, and it was as if he had been waiting for me to come back. When we walked further onto their property I ran into one of the nuns working at the children’s home, the same one who had received us in March. She too immediately remembered us. She said, “You’re Matt, from Back2Back. We’ve been waiting and wondering, but I just figured you weren’t coming back at this point.”

Excitedly I was able to explain that now we will be living in Cancun full-time, and that we want to serve them in any way that we can. I really could barely get over the fact that not only the caretaker, but also this small boy very clearly remembered us and had been waiting for our return. In a prophetic sense, this spoke volumes to me. Their very expectancy told me that we are needed here. It was a great moment of confirmation from the Lord that we are exactly where He wants us, that His timing is perfect, and that He indeed plans to use us for his glory in this place – especially in lives like that of Jorgito, and many more just like him.

New Back2Back Site in Cancun, by Julie Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 24, 2010

This fall, Back2Back will be expanding, by opening a second site in Mexico, specifically in Cancun.  Staff will help in the fight against human rights violations against children and provide “care for today, hope for tomorrow” to orphans in need.  Below, Julie Cooper, who will be heading up this site with her husband, Matt, explains how the idea began:

My husband, Matt, with two siblings from San Jose Children's Home in Cancun, during a visit to the area in March.

I want to share with you a little bit of the story behind us going to Cancun. This won’t cover every angle but mostly that which involves us personally. In the fall of 2008, one of our SMCA (the school on campus) teachers held a fundraiser to help an organization that works in areas where human rights are being violated. I was interested to learn more about this organization so I visited their web site to see what kind of work they were involved in. I was struck by an article about the great need in Cancun and how poor and street children are at incredible risk there. It just kind of became a burden to me. I thought a lot about the kids and their needs and began to wonder if Back2Back could maybe someday be “back to back” with the work that was going on in this city.

Later in the fall of 2009, Back2Back decided that it was time to branch out and begin work in another Mexican city. By this time, I had shared with pretty much everyone what I had read about Cancun.  However, back in the US office while researching options, our team was unable to find even a word about Cancun on this organization’s web site. Apparently, they don’t even work there! Whatever it was that I read over a year ago, was clearly God’s way of bringing this area of Mexico to our attention. Many associate Cancun with beaches and hotels – not with the thousands of children in need. Some are living in children’s home but many, many more are at home unsupervised while mom is gone twelve hours a day trying to earn a living working in one of the hotels. Older kids often turn to the streets.  Below is first-hand insight into the situation in Cancun, as reported by Chris Hawley,  of Republic Mexico City Bureau:

Cancun is a place of brilliant turquoise waters and cool white sand, tropical breezes and icy margaritas, glittering hotels and immaculate streets. That’s the Cancun seen by some 4.6 million visitors a year, making this tiny island one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, a major source of cash for Mexico and the model for new resorts from Tunisia to Thailand.

But there’s another Cancun just beyond Kilometer Zero, the place on Kukulcan Avenue where the vaunted Hotel Zone ends. And things are not so idyllic there. It’s a city of 500,000 struggling with the social ills of a frontier boomtown: crime and poverty, drugs and gangs, political unrest . . . It’s a place of gritty “superblocks” where hotel workers live in cinder-block houses, and of even poorer areas where squatters build shanties out of scrap wood and old advertising banners.

“If the tourists knew where we live, they’d understand what Cancun is really like,” said María Eternidad Jiménez Orinano, standing in the door of her scrap-metal home in the Tekach neighborhood.

Back2Back will work to meet the needs of the children in the area and offer opportunities for short-term mission teams to partner with us as we serve.

God has worked in His own time and I am encouraged by that as I think about the obstacles that still stand in our way. I’m going to write about it in my journal right now, so that next year I can look back again at our faithful God who supplies all of our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus and see how He was again faithful!