Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

Bringing Restoration: Reflections on Evidence of God’s Beauty in Nigeria, by Jessica Biondo, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 25, 2011

Last summer, Jessica Biondo and Ruby Moyer of the Back2Back Mexico staff traveled to Jos, Nigeria. While there, they served alongside our Back2Back Nigeria staff for several weeks.  Below, Jessica Biondo shares her reflections on the experience.

Try to image this scene with me. You are standing in a small, humble building. There are rocks piled on the tin roof so that it won’t blow off in the wind and the rain. The door stands open to let in the sunlight and the warm breeze. The entire room is bursting with the vibrant colors of patterned dresses and head wraps. Songs of jubilee and praise can be heard for miles around! The singing is joined with the beats of drums and everyone begins to clap their own rhythms, which blend together in perfect harmony. With sheer delight people begin dancing to the front of the room. Everyone is out of their seats, dancing, laughing, singing, worshiping God with all they have in them.

It is a church offering and it was unlike anything that I had ever seen before. It is a time of joy, singing, celebration and dancing. It is truly a sight to behold.

As I took in the scene around me, I looked to my right and saw Back2Back Nigeria staff, John and Corrie Guckenberger, and their kids singing in the native language of Hausa, worshipping the Lord with the people who have become their neighbors and friends. That moment was a very clear picture of what it means to present your life as an offering before the Lord. Just as my Nigerian brothers and sisters joyfully sacrificed the first fruits of their tomato crop on that Sunday, I saw Back2Back Nigeria staff daily give their lives as an offering to the Lord to bring His love and hope to the neglected and abandoned children of Jos, Nigeria.

As I reflect back on my time in Nigeria, I am reminded of my first glimpse of the country as the plane descended below the line of gray clouds. I was struck by the beauty that lay before me in the splashes of green vegetation amidst the sea of red dirt and rock. This first glimpse of the country stuck with me and came to represent a constant theme that was evident everywhere I looked.

It is a theme of beauty in the midst of hardship, joy in the midst of poverty, blessing in the midst of pain. It is the goodness and provision of the Lord shining through to bring hope to our broken world. It is this hope that I had the privilege of witnessing at the village church each Sunday. It is this hope that is evident in the lives of the people who offer their lives to fight for the cause of the orphan child. And it is this hope that will ultimately bring healing and restoration to children in Jos, Nigeria.

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Mexico Celebrates 200 Years of Independence, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 20, 2010

For weeks, the streets of Monterrey have shimmered red, white, and green as vendors have displayed their flags, t-shirts, streamers, and noisemakers on the sides of the roads.  Monterrey has been a bustle of activity with concerts, plays, and movies about the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence from Spain and the centennial celebration of the Mexican revolution.  September 15th, 2010 was quite a day in Mexico!

For Back2Back, our festivities started at Casa Hogar Douglas. Staff, children, caretakers, and two American mission groups gathered in the Douglas courtyard dressed in red, white, and green, ready for the ceremony and celebration! Several of the older children, dressed in uniform, marched the Mexican flag into the center of the courtyard for the anthem to be sung. Then Daniela, from Douglas, led the children in the student promise to the flag. Together as a community we sang the state of Nuevo Leon anthem and waited for the climax of it all, “El Grito”.

Traditionally, the 15th of September is referred to as “El Grito” (the cry).  Two hundred years ago in the village of Dolores (near Mexico City) on September 15th at 11:00pm a priest named Miguel Hidalgo gave the shout to the people to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence.  This started the 11 years of war with Spain for what is now the country of Mexico.

In Independence Day celebrations, traditionally the mayor or governor of the town will give the cry to the people just as Hidalgo did many years ago.  At Casa Hogar Douglas, one of our teens and a member of the Hope Education Program, Leo, who were dressed in traditional “charro” costume, gave the historic cry to the children, Back2Back staff, and group members participating with us. All around echoed the response to each phrase Leo spoke, “Viva Mexico, viva Mexico, viva Mexico!”

With excitement high, Casa Hogar Douglas director, Pastor Javiar, stood up and spoke about how as believers we are called “the city of God” and how the greatest independence we have is that of freedom and liberty that is found in Christ. Together as a community, we thanked God for the freedom and grace he has showered on us.

The rest of the evening was celebrated with a Mexican buffet and a carnival for the children! Little red, white, and green bodies were everywhere as they waited for their turn to play games, eat tacos, and win prizes!

Later that night, we put on a special event for our teenagers in the Hope Education Program. We celebrated their country’s heritage with them with a decorated palapa, virgin pina coladas, and the events in downtown Mexico City projected on the big screen.  Together at 11:00pm, we watched President Calderon give the grito shout from the Zocalo and the amazing festivities happening in Mexico City. We also had the fun of shooting off our own fireworks on campus! The teens loved it, as did the staff! We finished with salsa dancing into the night.

It was amazing to experience Mexico’s bicentennial here in the country and even more exciting to celebrate with the children and teens such an important part of their heritage. Viva Mexico!

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!

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

Viva Mexico!, by Jim Betscher

September 30, 2009

September 16 is the Mexican Independence Day. The holiday is actually celebrated more on the night before than on the 16th. It reminds me of New Years Eve compared to New Years Day. The tradition here is to have a party on the night of the 15th, and at midnight the president leads the whole country in a cheer. At the end of the cheer, the president says “Viva Mexico” and everyone else joins in with “Viva!”

This year, Back2Back helped plan a party, organized by the church at Casa Hogar Douglas. The eighty kids that live at this children’s home were so proud to open their home up to the public to host this party.

The children at Douglas Children's Home helped decorate for the party

The children at Douglas Children's Home helped decorate for the party

They planned and worked to decorate and then they entertained the guests for the evening. We had about one hundred guests who helped us celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day with the children.  I am so thankful that the kids had an opportunity to enjoy this evening. This is something that they might be doing as a family if they had an opportunity to live in a home with their parents. Living in a children’s home, many times they miss out on events like this. But events like this are so important because they are part of their Mexican heritage.

The children dressed up in costumes to celebrate

The children dressed up in costumes to celebrate

The staff from Back2Back helped with booths, similar to the type that you would see at a carnival.

Back2Back staff enjoyed the celebration

Back2Back staff enjoying the celebration

We catered a delicious Mexican buffet dinner and played games with prizes. The children even performed a short program with the Mexican pledge and national anthem.

The children recited the National Anthem

The children recited the Mexican Pledge and the National Anthem

Some of the youngest kids did a traditional Mexican dance for the crowd and JJ Lail from our staff led everyone in the “grito” or “shout”.

Needless to say, they were all tired at the end of the night but they were very content too. “Viva Mexico!!!”