Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Back2Back Ministries!

November 23, 2011

Two orphaned children in Mexico benefit from a nutritious snack thanks to the support of friends of the ministry.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Back2Back Ministries!

We truly cannot praise God enough for the ways in which He has blessed and provided for our ministry this year. These successes would not be possible without your commitment to partner with us. As we look toward the future, we are excited about how God is working through Back2Back Ministries and thankful for your willingness to come alongside our work.  Please know that you are a part of our Back2Back family and we truly appreciate your love and support of the orphan child. Please keep the children we serve in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

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Thankfulness, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 23, 2010

I remember as a child sitting around the Thanksgiving table with my family and all of us taking a turn to say what we were thankful for. The common things mentioned were family, friends, warm house, clothes, and it never failed that someone was thankful for turkey! We always mentioned the things that we had and gave thanks for those things. In my mind I would compare myself with someone who didn’t have the possessions or positions I did, and sincerely thank God that He had chosen to give those things to me.

After working closely with the people in the Rio, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves, my thoughts on giving thanks have changed a bit. It is easy to look at poverty and feel sympathy, pity, and guilt about what we have and what they don’t.  However, have we ever thought that poverty could be a thing to give thanks for in and of itself?

Poverty is defined as “the state of one with insufficient resources” (Merriam-Webster). It is the knowledge that you can’t take care of yourself and your family on your own. With poverty come dependence and humility and the deep realization that you need help, that you can’t satisfy your own needs. Many times we look on poverty through our self-sufficient lenses and are disgusted by it. However isn’t humility and dependence on God to satisfy our needs exactly what our Father in Heaven desires of us?

Often, when we have all the material possessions we need the thing we lack is dependence on God. We are able in many ways to provide for our own needs. We don’t really need Him. When we have too much we are tempted to disown the Lord, forget about Him and say “Who is the Lord?” (Proverbs 30:9).

In Matthew 5,  Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ‘Blessed’ is a word that means so much more than happiness. It means a spiritual joy and well-being.  Oh how much eternal joy a person has whose spirit is dependent on God and humbled before Him!

Recently, I was talking to a Mexican friend who experienced a severe time of financial need before coming to serve with Back2Back. His told me stories of walking four miles to get to school because he couldn’t pay for a bus ticket and about how he and his sisters would go to bed early at night because it helped them forget about the pain in their gnawing stomachs.

“That time was hard,” he said, “But I wouldn’t trade what I learned for anything. During those years I saw the Lord’s provision for me in ways I never could have dreamed.”

He then went on to tell story after story of the miraculous ways his Father in heaven provided him with food, clothing, school supplies, etc. Stories of people calling and inviting him and his sisters to eat the day they ran out of food, others dropping by with bags of groceries right when they weren’t sure what they would have for dinner, stories of finding the materials he needed for school laying on the side of the road. As a result of his poverty, the man’s faith in God is unlike any I have seen.

The Kingdom of God is about the least being the greatest, the last being first, and the weak being strong so that ultimately the Lord is glorified. We can praise God for weakness, humility, and poverty when it causes us to be dependent on Him and when it builds in us a testimony of His faithfulness.

Are there ways in which you can thank God for poverty this Thanksgiving?

Thank You for Your Support!

July 15, 2010

Thank you for your support and prayers in the aftermath of Hurricane Alex.  A few thoughts from Back2Back Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger . . .

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

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Back2Back Ministries!

November 25, 2009

As Thanksgiving approaches, we cannot help but celebrate the many ways in which God has been faithful and blessed Back2Back Ministries. We would like to take this opportunity to share just a few highlights from 2009 for which we’re thankful!

In Mexico: As a result of the Back2Back Hope Education Program, six children who we met when the ministry first began have now graduated from college, forever breaking the cycle of generational poverty in their families.

Junior, one of the six Back2Back Hope Program students who graduated from college this year (pictured with B2B Directors, Todd & Beth Guckenberger)

In Nigeria: We have expanded our full-time staff to include John and Corrie Guckenberger and Will and Theresa Reed. Through the generous land donation of Self-Sustaining Enterprises, we are beginning to develop a permanent Back2Back campus with staff and group housing. We are also launching the Hope Education Program in Nigeria and building an education center on this land, allowing us to provide more opportunities to the children that we serve.

Will & Theresa Reed will soon be joining the Back2Back Nigeria team

John & Corrie Guckenberger joined the Back2Back Nigeria staff this year

In India: 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.

A few of the children from EJH

In the U.S. Office: We have increased our staff in the US, allowing us to expand and improve our communications and have a greater impact in meeting the need of orphans. We also have begun a child sponsorship program, the Back2Back Shelter Program, which enables us to better meet the physical, spiritual and educational needs of the children we serve.

Beatriz

Beatriz, the first child to receive a sponsor through our new child sponsorship program

We truly cannot praise God enough for the ways in which He has blessed and provided for our ministry this year. These successes would not be possible without your commitment to partner with us. As we look toward the future, we are excited about how God is working through Back2Back Ministries.  Please know that you are a part of our Back2Back family and we truly appreciate your love and support of the orphan child.

Please keep the children we serve in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

What are you thankful for? Reflections from a child at El Limon Children’s Home.

November 23, 2009

El Limon Children’s Home is five hours south of the Back2Back Mexico campus in Monterrey.  Since 2000, Back2Back has partnered with El Limon by helping to provide resources for the children, meeting their needs through service teams and ongoing care.  At a recent anniversary event to celebrate the faithful service of the directors of El Limon Children’s Home, several of the children from the home read letters to them, as a tribute to express their love and gratitude.  The common theme among the children’s letters was one of thankfulness for the way God had provided for them by placing Fernando and Yadira, the directors of the home, in their lives.  This heartwarming moment caused us to reflect on the things that we’re thankful for, but it also acted as a powerful reminder of the way in which God is faithfully caring for the children we serve.  In honor of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to share one particular child’s speech with you:

Real Parents, by Alejandra

A real mom and a real dad are not those who give you money to buy Sabritas (chips).  They are someone who give you advice when you have problems and help you when you are in need and if you are in trouble they will help you and pray for you because they are good parents.

Mom, Yadira, Dad Fernando and Mom, Nancy, are some of the best parents I’ve had in my life because God gave them to me and He has a plan for my life.  Thank God I’ve been set free and I´m happy.  So, thank you Lord for giving me such beautiful parents who know how to care for me and do not leave me in hard times and pay attention to me when I tell them I need to talk.  So, I want to tell them they are the best parents I’ve had in my life.

Thank you Lord for taking care of me and loving me so much.  Thank you mom and dad – I love you.

A student from Horizon Community Church plays with a child at El Limon

Some of the children from El Limon pose for a picture with students from Horizon Community Church

A few children at El Limon playing with Back2Back mission trip guests from North Cincinnati Community Church

Weary in Doing Good, by Matt Cooper, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 30, 2009

If you have children then what I’m about to tell you will not come as a surprise.  Parenting is many times a thankless job. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we love our kids and we know that ultimately we are not only serving them but also the Lord, and that we should not parent with the motivation or expectation that our children will be grateful for the hours, the sweat and the tears that we pour over them – but sometimes you just wish they would express some small form of a “thank you”. As parents to six children of our own, and house parents to eight teenage boys here in the Hope Program, we have the special pleasure of seeing this lovely “thankless” spirit day in and day out….multiplied by fourteen!

So…more true confessions:  Sometimes this “spirit of thanklessness” (I believe I just made up that word!) can make a parent lose steam. It can make one wonder why they spend their life cooking, cleaning, reminding people to do their chores, making sure people are getting to bed on time, and up on time, and that they’ve finished their homework. Sometimes it starts to get old. The good news is that God is great at taking over when we reach what sometimes feels like the end of ourselves. Julie and I want to brag on the Lord that He’s doing a great work in us in this season of our life. I think that in some ways we had reached the end of ourselves. The wonderful news is that He is making all things new – including bringing renewed focus and vision, renewed passion and love towards our boys, and even what you might describe as personal revival in our relationship with him.

In the midst of all that God is doing he recently gave my wife specific encouragement with regard to her role as a mother to 14. In Galatians 6:9 we are reminded, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It sounds like such a simple command – but yet if we are trying to “do good” out of our own strength it can become so very difficult. Praise God that the very motivation to “do good” is from him, and that ultimately all the good we do is for him or for his glory as we serve those around us. And so it is with that renewed vigor that Julie and I are tackling each day, and each task as we press on to serve and love those who God has called us to minister to.

A few days ago we were cleaning out the closets and came across some things that have not been used in awhile. We got out some puzzles as we figured they could be good family activities for all ages. Just as we suspected, our young children and our boys have loved them. They have been taking turns throughout the day, and late into the evenings putting them together all over our kitchen table. It’s been very fun to watch. The other thing we got out of the closet were some refrigerator magnets of the alphabet. We plastered them all over the front of our fridge and assumed that at least our two youngest could entertain themselves. Much to our amazement nearly the whole household has gotten use out of them, making designs, writing the names of people in our family, and practicing spelling words – both in English and Spanish.

The other night Julie and I returned home later after being out and encountered a very special message that some of the boys had created for us. There on the fridge, spelled out in letter magnets was the following, “We love you mom and dad – thank you – by your boys”.

Our hearts were touched indeed. What a special thank you! So simple, yet so profound. It meant the world to us because as parents you long to hear it or see it in any form. But more than being just a message of thanks from our boys it was an encouragement from the Lord, “Do not tire of doing good.” I’m not sure he could have made it any clearer. Thank you Lord. May you continue to give us even more love to love, and more desire to serve those around us.

10.30.09 - Weary in Doing Good

Food for a Day, by Matt Cooper

June 9, 2009

If you have a family you likely know the reality of living on a budget.  You know how much you spend on utilities, on gasoline, and how much you’ll spend on groceries for the month.  But have you ever figured out how much money it takes to feed yourself or each of your children for one day?

Here in Back2Back’s Hope Program, we too of course live on a budget.  As teen home parents of the James House my wife, Julie, and I have the challenging job of feeding eight teenage boys.  With the budget we’re allotted each month, we can spend about $4 (US) a day on each of our boys for their food.  If you have teenage boys…you know THEY CAN EAT, and you know that $4 suddenly doesn’t sound like very much money.  Our boys like to eat, and they like to eat a lot, but with as much as they enjoy eating, it certainly does not mean that they are always grateful for what we have to eat, nor do they always appreciate the value of what it is they’re consuming.

Recently, after a series of days filled with what I felt to be insensitive comments about what there was to eat and drink in the house, and after a general disrespect for some of our kitchen rules I decided it was time for a lesson.

So, just before bedtime I set all eight boys down for a few quick comments about respect for authority, and gratefulness for what we have – and then I handed them each $4.  I explained that they could use any of their personal money they wanted, but that for the next 24 hours this was all we were contributing towards their food.  I graciously gave them the option of eating at school, at local street vendors, at 7-Eleven, or wherever they pleased – but if they wanted to eat the food in our house they would have to “buy it” from us.  The looks on their faces were priceless – they all immediately “got it”.  I almost think I could have stopped the lesson right there, and had them hand their money back in…but I think they would have missed a large part of the lesson.  The next 24 hours were no doubt long for them as they had to think about budgeting, and stretching their $4 to make it last all the way through dinner – but I honestly think the larger lesson was on gratefulness and appreciation.  A lesson I hope and pray they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Marcos with his $4 for the day

Marcos with his $4 for the day