Posts Tagged ‘Monterrey’

Shaken to the Core, by James Bush, Mexico Mission Trip Participant

April 1, 2011

My recent trip to Monterrey, Mexico has messed with me in the deepest way possible.

Majestic.  Beautiful.  Powerful. I was overwhelmed.  It was Sunday morning at Casa Hogar Douglas, an orphanage, in Monterrey. The aforementioned orphanage would have appeared empty to the passerby if it weren’t for the noise coming from a little building atop the hill there. Inside that building, sixty-eight orphans together with fifty other adults were worshipping God in multiple languages. I was holding a little baby girl. She was an orphan. What broke my heart about that moment was that she was so into worship. Here was a child rejected by her parents worshipping God with all of her might. I knew in that moment that I have often taken God for granted. This little child was demonstrating what it means to really worship the living, active and loving God.

There came a point in the service where we were singing “How Great is Our God” in both Spanish and English and it struck me. God is sovereign over all things. It gave me chills to consider how the God of the universe who spoke and there was…that same God also knows the hairs on every orphan’s head as well as mine. Tears formed in my eyes as I considered the day when I would stand next to those orphans around the throne of God, on the sea of glass and worship with all creatures on, under and above the earth in one loud voice proclaiming, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and honor and glory and praise forever and ever!!!”

This trip to Mexico has shaken my faith to the foundation in the best way possible. May I always approach God with the same passion, love and fervency as those orphans.

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Alex Update, by Beth Guckenberger, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 22, 2010

Thank you for your immediate response to our pressing repair and relief needs here in Monterrey, as a result of Hurricane Alex.  As a staff, we have been praying that we would be available in the aftermath of the storm to meet people’s emotional and physical needs.

Thank you for joining us as:
1. We have begun repairs to the Back2Back campus.  We are repairing both existing water damage (to the roads, dorms, walls, etc…), as well as reinforcing existing systems (water drainage, septic systems) so that in the event that we were to have a similar tragedy in the future, our systems would be better able to handle it.



2. We have been providing daily meals to families in Rio 3, an impoverished community that we serve. We have been coming alongside ministry partners in the area, such as Olga and her family, as they have been meeting the needs of the estimated 1,000 homeless individuals in the Rio. This has required both financial and human resources. The rebuilding will be continuing for a while, but with your help, we have been able to offer food, medicine, water and building supplies.

Families line up to receive a meal

A child from the Rio enjoying her lunch

3. In the other Rio communities that we serve (Cadereyta and Meme’s Rio), we have provided meals, clean water, cleaning crews, encouragement and help as they clean out their homes.  The jobs of many in the communities have been impacted by the rain (they collect or recycle garbage for example).  As a result, many have experienced weeks without employment. The staff has been attentive to those needs and grateful for your contributions.

Back2Back staff member, Jim Betscher, shows families in the Rio how to purify their water using Pur water filtration packets

A family receives a food package from Back2Back staff

Connecting with a woman from the Rio during the clothing giveaway

A woman receives a new outfit at a Back2Back clothing giveaway

Clean-up crews salvage damaged items from homes flooded during the hurricane

Hurricane clean-up crews help a family in the Rio pull their car out of the mud

4. Our children’s homes have all been visited by staff and summer groups and most of the clean-up is completed.  The majority of them experienced little physical damage, just water damage and the inconvenience of clean-up.  We have found ourselves continually grateful for God’s protection during the storm.

The hurricane and its effects are still talked about daily in the city.  You can’t drive anywhere without seeing the effect on roads and bridges.  We have been praying and are mindful of our responsibility to speak truth and use this experience to strengthen our own faith, our understanding of the Lord and our relationships with those we serve. Thank you for continually giving us the tools we need to reach out to the community.

You are invited . . .

July 22, 2010

Back2Back Ministries Hurricane Alex Prayer Service

WHEN: Thursday, July 22nd – 7:00 – 8:30

WHERE: Vineyard Community Church Chapel

11340 Century Circle East
Cincinnati, OH 45246-3316

As you may know, Monterrey, Mexico was hit hard by 40 inches of rain as a result of Hurricane Alex two weeks ago.  The Back2Back Mexico campus sustained fairly significant damage.  The Rio communities (squatters villages) where Back2Back serves also suffered greatly.  Flooding from this storm has presented significant challenges in the communities and children’s homes where we serve.

We want to invite those in Greater Cincinnati to gather in support of Back2Back.  The evening will consist of:

- a time of praise and worship

- some pictures and information on the impact of the storm on Back2Back

- a time of prayer for the overall ministry of Back2Back and for some very specific prayer requests directly from the staff in Monterrey

- a video update and (and internet access in Monterrey permitting)  a Live Video Skype call directly with Back2Back Mexico staff

Lemonade and Bracelets: Help for Hurricane Alex Relief

July 19, 2010

Abby, and her best friend, Annika love making friendship bracelets.  Yesterday, they decided to use their hobby to help a greater cause.  They hosted a bracelet and lemonade stand in front of their neighborhood pool to benefit Back2Back hurricane relief efforts in Monterrey, Mexico.  Excited about the opportunity to help victims of Hurricane Alex, Abby’s younger sisters, Grace & Rachel, jumped in, helping at the lemonade stand, and even buying some bracelets for themselves.  Later, Grace, Rachel, and Abby’s brother, Luke, also donated money they had already set-aside to tithe.  In the end, Abby & Annika also contributed their babysitting money, bringing the total amount raised to $100!

Back2Back thanks all those, like Abby and Annika, who give of their time and resources to enable us to continue to provide “care for today and hope for tomorrow” to orphans in need around the world!

Top Left (clockwise): Abby, Luke, Annika, Grace, and Rachel

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 . . .

Hurricane Alex Clean-up Efforts Continue

July 13, 2010

Thank you to the hurricane response team from Riverview Church and Lifepoint Vineyard that partnered with us in clean-up efforts last week!  Below are a few photos from time spent serving in Rio III, an impoverished community that was hit hard by flooding from Hurricane Alex in early July.

To see more photos from Rio III, view the entire photo album on Facebook.  Photos from the team’s time serving in Meme’s Rio, can be viewed here.

All photos courtesy of Kevin Judy.

Cristina: A Picture of Servanthood, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 12, 2010

Cristina caught me at an intense moment. I was frustrated and worn out by the needs of the people. Everyone needs something. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is looking to you to solve their problems. It was one of those days at the Rio where I felt like I had nothing more to give and yet people were still coming with their problems, financial crises, and needs.  Needless to say I was frustrated and worn out. At this moment, Cristina caught my arm and pulled me aside. Cristina is a women who lives in an impoverished community just outside the Rio area where Back2Back serves. She has several kids and you can tell by just looking at her that she does not have many resources available to her. (You can also tell by just looking at her that she has a very real relationship with Christ!) Cristina volunteers her time and talent helping to cook at the soup kitchen nearly every week.

“Hope,” Cristina said, “I just wanted to tell you that I have been looking through my things and my kids things and have put together several bags of clothing that we really don’t need. I was wondering if you could come by my house in your car and pick up the bags and take them to the people in Rio III.” (Rio III is a very impoverished community that was nearly wiped out during Hurricane Alex.)

Little was left of Rio III after flooding from Hurricane Alex

I was astonished! I looked at her and asked, “Are you sure? You don’t need these things?”

“No, Hope,” Cristina replied, “I know there are people that need these things more than I do.”

I gave her a hug and tried to keep back my tears. In my year of consistently serving in the Rio this is the first time I have seen anyone offer or desire to give away some of their own things to someone else. Poverty can be an ugly thing when it gets to the core of people and makes them believe that they always need more, can never have enough, and couldn’t possibly give anything away. I was so encouraged by Cristina’s heart to give freely of her own possessions to those who “needed it more than she did.” After a frustrating afternoon, this was like a cool drink to my soul! I’m praying blessings on Cristina as she blesses others.

Additional Hurricane Alex Update

July 2, 2010

In our efforts to keep families of Back2Back trip members updated, we wanted to provide the latest information on the storm that has reached Monterrey, Mexico.

Teams from Peninsula Covenant, North Cincinnati and Northstar Vineyard are all safely on their way home today. The remaining team from Four Corners/Siemer are safe and will be traveling home tomorrow afternoon. Interns are being re-booked and will be arriving home as early as Sunday.

We are so very grateful to each of our team members, staff and families who have endured an amazing amount of water and the inconveniences that resulted.  We are grateful to all of our supporters and the friends and the families of those members who have been praying since this storm took hold of Monterrey almost two days ago.  Most of all we are grateful to God who has kept our groups, staff and families safe.

As we learn more about the children, the caregivers and families we care for in and around Monterrey, we will do our best to update our website and blog. Please continue to pray for their safety and protection, as well as for our staff and families who live in Monterrey.

The financial impact of this storm on the children’s homes, the squatters’ villages, and our own facilities will be significant. As you feel led, we will be grateful for any additional donations, no matter how small.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

a street by the Back2Back campus

Latest Hurricane Alex Update

July 2, 2010

In our efforts to keep families of Back2Back trip members updated, we wanted to provide the latest information on the storm that has reached Monterrey, Mexico.

First and most importantly, all teams, staff and our families in Monterrey are safe.

Because of the heavy rainfall, areas of Monterrey have experienced flooding and the Mexican authorities have closed travel on some key roadways except for police and emergency vehicles. Consequently we are unable to transport the teams scheduled to depart today to the airport in Monterrey.  The flooding is also requiring us to cancel the groups that were scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

We are attempting to reach the airlines and working with our travel agent to assist in finding alternative flights for departures as early as possible, which at this point we believe will be tomorrow (Saturday).

Remember – all teams, staff and our families in Monterrey are safe.

We will continue to update our website and blog as often as important new information becomes available.

Please continue to pray for the details that may need to come together as a result of the rains and flight delays.

Hurricane Alex Update

June 30, 2010

In our efforts to keep families of Back2Back trip members updated, we wanted to provide the latest information on the storm that is working its way toward Monterrey, Mexico.

  • First, it is important to note that all of our families and teams are safe, and there is no reason to believe we will be in any danger. We may get a little wet, but between the weather forecast and our specific location in the mountains, we are not concerned.  Still, we are taking some precautions to prepare.
  • The blog and website are the best way to get the most current information. I will be communicating with the home office to update the Back2Back website and blog if there are any changes here in Monterrey.   We will update it when and if there are any changes. We are in constant communication with our US office team.
  • Each trip coordinator will be contacting their home church to also give an update on the situation.

The current situation, as we understand it:

1.  The storm crossed over Monterrey starting on Wednesday, June 30 at 11pm.

2.  The forecast predicts the high winds will only be 23 mph.

3.  The teams are very safe here at our facility.

4.  The Back2Back campus has three generators (in case the power goes out) to ensure the electric pump works, providing us access to water and electricity for our kitchen.

5.  We are checking the airline schedules regularly.  If there are any cancellations, we will work to assist with rescheduling the mission trip guests as quickly as possible.  It will be helpful for us, if you contact the airlines directly to check on any family member’s flight status.

6.  The ministry sites we work with are also preparing with extra water and resources.  In the squatters villages, specifically, we are providing resources to help with relief from water damage.  We are providing extra water, tarps, and flashlights.

Please pray for the details that may need to come together as a result of the rains and flight delays.

Blessings on a Page, by Mandy Lail, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 19, 2010

This week we had a group of college age students visit the Back2Back campus in Monterrey.  Besides having a great week serving in the children’s homes and Rio areas, this group took a particular interest in our students living here on campus, the students of the Hope Education Program.  Just today I was handed envelopes for all five boys living in my home through this program.  These envelopes were filled with journal entries/letters written by group members for my boys.  They are blessings on a page.

The transition from living in a children’s home to life on the Back2Back campus is a big one for most of our students.  One of the things many of them miss is all the fun they had with our American groups who visit!  They miss the cookouts, field trips and all the attention and love given by mission trip team members.  Some still interact with groups, but many are busy with school and work while groups are here.  Sometimes they feel a little left out.  But not this week.  This week this group went out of its way to love on our students. And while the students aren’t little any more, the attention, love, and relationship still brings a big impact.  It helps them to remember that they are loved and loveable.

For me, the best part was an hour on the couch translating the letters for one of my boys; great letters, letters in English, simple letters full of love and truth.  These letters opened the door for a great conversation with my foster son about some important spiritual truths, about who he is in Jesus and how God ‘s love for him is so deep that He will use anything and everything to get to him. Even letters from a college student he’s never met, written in a language he doesn’t really understand.  That’s how far our God will go to pursue us…with blessings on a page.

A few of the letters

My Time in Monterrey, by Andy Reider, Back2Back Mission Trip Participant

March 24, 2010

While it’s been a few days since I left Monterrey, there’s still a lot to say about my time there. I stayed at Back2Back, an organization that helps resource and facilitate orphanages in Mexico (and in Nigeria too!). It’s a beautiful area, nestled in a valley of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The people there have amazing hearts for kids, and it was really a joy to be around people that give so much of themselves.

Pulling into the gates of Casa Hogar Douglas was a huge relief. The cold, wet, confusing, and stressful ride into Monterrey left me exhausted, but I was immediately thrust into the middle of some more chaos-except this was the kind of fantastic chaos… A pizza party for sixty orphans. It would be difficult to describe the noise, excitement and general din associated with that many kids in a small room eating Domino’s. (Yes, there’s Domino’s in Mexico. Subways too…kind of disappointing, really…but I digress.)

The next day was spent at Rio III, the nickname for an area on the outskirts of Monterrey. Apparently the land bordering rivers is owned by the government, and the poor have claimed it as their own, setting up shanty towns. Trash literally fills the streets, and at times the smell is overwhelming. You can see where those few that are fortunate enough to have electricity have stolen it via makeshift cables off of the main electrical poles. Homes are built of unpainted cinderblock and whatever else happens to be laying around.

But as ugly and awful a place as it was, the people were incredible. The kids were some of the most sweet, and energetic little people you could ever hope to meet. Even living in a place that to me looked like hell, they wore smiles that were bigger than the tears in their jeans or the stains on their shirts.

We spent the day handing out food, groceries, and clothes. It was really an incredible opportunity to spend time one on one with some amazing kids.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible opportunity to meet people who live in a world that is so completely different from mine in most every way. Even as I was experiencing it, I wasn’t sure it was real. It felt like I was living out someone else’s memory or watching someone else’s home movie. So much so that I asked a friend to take this picture. So I could remember that I was there, and that this experience belonged to me, and no one else.

At the Rio

More photos from the trip can be viewed at here.

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!

The Washing, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 7, 2010

When I need moments of peace and quiet without the constant yelling of “Kathy” that goes on in my house, I head to a park here in Monterrey.  This particular park has a creek that runs through it.  The creek is never really full so it is easy to park my sling chair in part of the creek bed and just listen to the water running by.  One day I was sitting there just listening and watching the water.  There was this big rock that was half way in the water and half way out.  The top was very dark and dirty and the part under the water (the water was clear) was a completely different color.  The under water part was many shades lighter and much cleaner.  I could feel God wanting to teach me something with this observation and I heard that quiet voice in my mind say, “Look at that rock.  That is how the washing of the Word works on your heart.  It is slow and constant.  It is not necessarily painful but consistent.  It will, over time, change you.  But you have to allow the Word to work and you have to spend time reading it to get the benefit.”  So as I sat and looked at that rock I let this settle in my heart.  I want my life to look different.  I want to be bright and clean in my spirit.  So it is up to me to spend time in the Word and to allow God to wash me clean.  I am so grateful that God is willing to do this.

Back to School, by Caroline Burns

August 24, 2009

School is starting up again for the children in the homes we serve here in Monterrey.  With the start of school, comes back to school shopping and new school supply lists.  For a director of a children’s home, this can be a difficult time financially.  Not only are they trying to make ends meet as kids return from summer break, but in addition, many new kids are dropped off for the first time and directors face the enormous expense of purchasing school supplies for fifty to eighty kids all at once.   I have the privilege of overseeing all of Back2Back Mexico’s donations.  Midway through our summer season, I sent a few emails out requesting school supplies in anticipation for the heavy donation needs during this back to school rush for the children’s homes.   My faith was encouraged when visiting short-term mission groups brought several hundred spiral notebooks along with other necessary school supplies items just four days after sending the request.  And I’m pleased to report that after communicating with each children’s home director for their needs, spending almost all of this past week in our donation room organizing the deliveries, and driving around Monterrey like some sort of children’s home Santa to deliver everything – everyone’s needs were met in full.

I love working with our donations because I love to see God provide for the orphan child.  Several of the homes we serve have God’s Promises to the orphan child as found in the Bible printed on the walls throughout the home and their dorm rooms.  This week, I’ve been fascinated to see Deuteronomy 10:18 which says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing,” come to life right before my eyes.   I’m convinced this week more than ever of how passionate God loves the orphan child.  There is something just angelically holy about each one of these precious children – the King of Kings loves them.

In English, "God promises to give you food and clothing."

A promise to orphans from scripture is painted on the wall to remind the children of God's provision. In English it states, "God promises to give you food and clothing."

"God promises to help you," a reminder painted on the wall at one of the children's home.

"God promises to help you," a beautiful reminder for the children.

During meal times, the children are reminded of another one of God's promises to orphans found in scripture: God promises to be your Father.

During meal times, the children are reminded of another one of God's promises to orphans found in the Bible: God promises to be your Father.

Redemption, by Cathy Huffer

July 13, 2009

There’s a field on the other side of the street in Rio I.   For the most part, it’s been vacant.  The only sign of life has been the layer of weeds sprouting up.  After the rainy season the ground covering becomes so thick that sexual predators have been known to hide there to prey on children.  The recent hot weather has caused the weeds to become dry and brittle, making them much easier to pull.

A short-term mission team from Cincinnati came up with the idea of converting the land into a soccer field complete with goals.  The group and the local children worked hard side-by-side to clear the field.  After finishing the project, the day ended with a rousing soccer match.  The celebration of their efforts was the culmination of a day of difficult work.  As I watched, I was reminded of the verse at the end of Joshua’s story found in Genesis 50:20.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  While some people had used this field for evil, God will now use it for good.  Praise God for the many ways He chooses to work to display His redemptive power.

The mission team pulling weeds as they prepare the land to be converted to a soccer field

The mission team pulling weeds as they prepare the land to be converted to a soccer field

Excited for his first game on the new soccer field

Excited for his first game on the new soccer field

Two neighborhood boys admiring the new soccer net

Two neighborhood boys admiring the new soccer net

Father’s Day with the Fatherless, by Matt Cooper

June 26, 2009

This past Sunday morning, I accompanied a visiting team from Cincinnati to Casa Hogar Douglas in the morning for church.  This is the seventh Father’s Day that I have lived here in Mexico, but for some reason it really began to dawn on me throughout the morning what a depressing day this must be for the children we serve.  How sad must it be to acknowledge a day separated out to celebrate fathers for a child who doesn’t live with their father, for a child who most likely can’t remember the last time they saw him, or for a child who quite possibly never had the chance to known him at all?

So we arrived at the Casa Hogar and I pointed the group in the direction of the chapel.  As I began walking up the hill towards the chapel I was almost holding my breath.  I could not help but wonder if Father’s Day would even be mentioned, if it would be the proverbial elephant in the room, or if we would just go about our business serving them as if it were any old day of the year?

We filled the seats in and around the children from Douglas and the worship leader began with his normal Sunday greetings.  Shortly after saying “Good morning” he popped the question that I had feared he might.  I literally felt myself hold my breath as he asked, “Who knows what today is?”  Of course they likely knew the answer to the question, but I couldn’t help but wonder what must be going through the minds of the seventy abandoned children that filled the chapel that morning.

Were they feeling sad?  Was some part of them angry? Did they feel like that got ripped off in the Dad Department?  How could they begin to wrap their minds around something that I as an adult barely understand myself?  What exactly is there to celebrate on Father’s Day when you don’t have a dad?

Then the unexpected happened as the worship leader instructed those seventy children to look around them, to locate a dad in the room, and to go and give them a big hug.  I couldn’t believe what I began to witness.  On tip toes and with wide eyes the children began to look around, and then they dispersed themselves throughout the crowd.  All of a sudden it wasn’t about them, or what they were missing out on so to speak, but it was about them wanting to bless someone else in the room.  And let me tell you – I was blessed that morning.  As more than half a dozen kids made their way to the corner where I was standing.  One by one they embraced me, and wished me a Happy Father’s Day – and the same thing was happening to other dads all across the congregation.

What an amazing Father’s Day it was.  I’m not sure why I should be surprised – it is just like God, really.  He used a room full of fatherless children to bless a handful of Fathers in a way that none of us will soon forget.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

Two Boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

Two boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

Where in the world are we?

June 3, 2009

Back2Back Ministries serves in four areas:

Monterrey, Mexico

Jos, Nigeria

Hyderabad, India

Mason, Ohio (the Back2Back home offices)


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