Posts Tagged ‘Rio I’

A New Song, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 6, 2011

This spring, we have been teaching the children in the Rio about worship. It has been fantastic! A donor supplied us with money to purchase instruments for the children and thus the idea sprang into action. Our heart was to teach the kids not only how to worship the Lord but reasons we have to worship Him! When we truly know His character there is nothing left to do but worship.

My favorite day of our worship unit with the children was when we taught them about Miriam praising the Lord after he saved the Israelites from the Egyptians. Miriam took up her tambourine and praised the Lord with a new song!

Hope teaches the children about how Miriam praised God

After learning about Miriam, we decided as a class that we would write a new song to the Lord just a Miriam did. Back2Back staff member, Cheque, got out his guitar. I pulled out a dry erase board and we began to write a song of praise to the Lord, worshiping Him for the ways that he loves us. Cheque and I started out the song, but in no time the kids were shouting their ideas as well. It was the children who came up with most of the words and reasons why we praise the Lord.

Children from the Rio wrote the lyrics to the worship song

It was beautiful for me to hear these children, who live with very little, shouting out reasons they have to praise the Lord! Oh how true it is! Within twenty minutes our song was done, Cheque had a tune, and we all began to worship the Lord with a new song! We have now added this song to our collection and sing it each week.

“God saved us from the Egyptians

Let’s sing to the Lord

God loves us very much

Let’s sing to the Lord

God created us

God healed us

God protected and provided for us

Let’s sing to the Lord. ”

– Written by the children Back2Back serves in Rio 1

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Javier: Hungering for God’s Word, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

August 10, 2010

This is Javier.

Javier is ten years old.  He lives in the neighborhood that borders the Rio, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves. One day not to long ago, Javier was out playing in the street next to his house when someone came by and mentioned something to him about God’s Word. He went running inside and told his mom that he wanted to learn about God’s Word. From that day on, Javier has had an unquenchable hunger to know what God’s Word is.

Not long after, I and a group of Back2Back staff members were walking through the Rio community inviting families to come to the weekly soup kitchen meeting. I was talking to a woman named Tere who lives in nearly the last house in the community. Tere asked if we could walk a little further and invite a friend of hers to come to the soup kitchen.

“By all means!,” we responded.

Tere’s directions to her friend’s house were pretty vague.

She instructed us to, “Go up the hill into the community and find the house that is also a store and tell the people that Tere sent you.”

We followed her directions and by the grace of God found ourselves at the house she had described. We knocked on what appeared to be a store window.  A woman quickly answered.  We invited her and her family to join us at the soup kitchen for food and teaching. The woman looked a little surprised and with a smile asked if we would talk to her son. She called her son from the back room.  Javier emerged from the back room and we explained to him that every week at the soup kitchen, we host a children’s Sunday school class, where we teach about God’s word. With a grin a mile wide, Javier excitedly agreed to come that very day. About a half hour later Javier showed up at the soup kitchen with his mom. He had combed his hair, put on clean pants, tucked in his shirt, and was ready for his first day of Sunday School. This family has been coming to the soup kitchen nearly every week since and Javier’s hunger for God’s Word continues to grow!

A Lover of God Who Sometimes Ministers to the Poor, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 28, 2010

The title of this blog post is the title that I want over my life.  Recently, a few of us Back2Back staff women had an evening of prayer and worship. I was feeling disconnected from the Lord, burdened by the work I had to do, and overwhelmed by problems in the areas where I minister.  In the midst of one of the worship songs, I had the sudden feeling that the Lord was trying to speak to me.   I was overwhelmed with a sense of the Holy Spirit and in my heart I heard His kind voice say, “Your relationship with Me is more important than your ministry.”  Those words echoed off the walls of my heart.

He wants me, more than He wants my work for Him. He desires relationship with me more than He desires that I serve in the Rio, teach at Back2Back’s missionary kids school (SMCA), or organize prayer meetings. In the grand scheme, these things don’t matter. It is me (and you) that He finds most important.  He wants us to be lovers of Him first and foremost. He desires that we be defined by our relationship with Him first, then by whatever else it is we do.  That is the priority order. Him first.

I want to love God more! I want to be so consumed with His love for me that I am compelled to share it with others through my actions and words! Not to share His love from duty, but from the overflow of a vibrant relationship with Him.

Oh, Lord woo our hearts! Change our perspectives and our priorities. Show your Bride that you love her first. That You desire for her to be defined by Your love for her.

Who am I? I am my Beloved’s. What do I do? I love God…and occasionally minister to the poor.

Serving those in Need, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 26, 2010

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. ” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Recently, Back2Back staff, Back2Back partners, Meme and Maru, and some people from Meme’s Rio took a prepared meal to serve families in Rio 3, another impoverished community that suffered greatly during the recent storms from Hurricane Alex. It was quite the experience seeing one women and one man prepare a meal for 300 and travel across the city to serve it to a community they knew nothing about.

God was good to us as he lead us there safely.  We served 150 people and even spoke to a few families, as we viewed the destruction.

Preparing meals for the community

Serving meals to the families in Rio III

At Rio III, viewing the destruction from Hurricane Alex

I asked one family what it was like when the rains came. I asked if they were scared. One ladies answer was quick and confident, “No, I wasn’t scared, when you have Christ in your heart, you don’t need to fear.”

The other women spoke how the church/soup kitchen there (supported by Back2Back) was holding regular services and serving three meals a day. Meme, Benny, China, Perla and Beto were exchanging experiences of how the river wasn’t always a friend to them as well.

As I listened I remembered  a passage from the Bible, 2 Corinthians 1. Paul talks about how God gives us comfort so we could comfort others with the comfort we ourselves experienced from Him. The day was long and full of images I don’t want to forget. But these ladies and one man returned to their home full of the Joy that comes with serving the Lord and sharing in His comfort.


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.

Please Donate: Hurricane Alex Recovery Fund

July 5, 2010

The drive leading into the Back2Back Monterrey, Mexico campus

The bridge out of the Back2Back Monterrey campus on the south side of the property.

The result of 40” of rain in 36 hours last week has been devastating to our Monterrey, Mexico campus.  It has created additional burdens for the children’s homes, Cadareyta and the Rio areas that Back2Back serves. We are continuing to assess the damages and expect more will be uncovered in the days and weeks ahead.

Rio III suffered great devestation from Hurricane Alex

Back2Back staff has been providing regular meals for hundreds in the Rio III community, since it was devestated by Hurricane Alex

Words can never fully express our gratitude for the generosity of the many supporters who have faithfully joined with our ministry over the years to provide for the needs of the children and families we care for in Mexico, Nigeria and India.

Our current situation in Monterrey, Mexico is unique and your extraordinary help is needed.  A recovery fund has been established and we’re asking for your generosity in order to specifically provide for the substantial rebuilding that will take months to complete.

This fund will allow the accumulation of necessary financial resources and the greatest amount of flexibility in how and where we deploy, based on needs uncovered, weather, skilled worker availability, etc.

To donate online, please click on (or cut/paste into your web browser) the following link https://donations.back2backministries.org/ and indicate your donation for “Mexico Hurricane Relief.” Donations by checks payable to Back2Back Ministries should be sent to: Back2Back Ministries, P. O. Box 70, Mason, OH  45040.

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.

Thank you.

All donations are tax deductible. Contributions are solicited with the understanding that Back2Back Ministries has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.

It Can Be Bitter Cold in God’s Shelter, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 13, 2010

I just posted on my Facebook page (yeah, I do FB!) that it is “cold- not so much outside as inside.”  I just returned from visiting family and friends in Cincinnati where the temperature was in the teens with wind chills at who knows what, but at least in Cincinnati there was good heat inside.  A few minutes by the fireplace with a warm blanket wrapped around my legs and I was snug as a bug in a rug!  Not so here.  We have cinder block buildings and space heaters here and there.  And for someone like me, who always argues with his wife about wanting things cooler inside, I am always a bit surprised that it gets too cold inside our home even for me.

In seasons like this, my thoughts more often than not are about the people in Meme’s Rio or in the Cadereyta (two of the impoverished shanytowns that Back2Back works with).  My mind drifts to the 70% of the population of Mexico that live in poverty.  It considers that the majority of the world lives more like someone at Cadereyta than say someone living in the suburbs of Chicago or Cincinnati (where I grew up).   What do they do on nights like tonight when the temperature is supposed to get down around freezing?  How many blankets can they throw on to keep themselves warm throughout the night?  Do they ever feel snug as a bug in a rug?  Somehow, I doubt it.

The past two winters, I’ve been able to work at Cadereyta with a group of men from Columbus.  Each time we’ve gone, not only has it been cold but it has also been rainy, leaving the dirt roads nothing more than a sloppy mess.  Several times, just walking through the six-inch deep slop, my shoe has almost been pulled from my feet.  As we get on the bus and head to the Back2Back campus and relative warmth, the hour-long bus ride home is often more quiet as we think of the people I am leaving behind in the elements: the little kid with a runny nose and hacking cough or the grandmother who is nothing but skin and bones.  How will they fare over the night as the temperature drops even more?

I think in America we tend to think that because we have warm homes and comfy beds that we are experiencing the shelter of God.  So, if that is true, then what does that say about the people at Meme’s Rio?  Do they experience the shelter of God any less because they have a tin roof over their heads?  Or let’s turn it around.  If the person at Meme’s Rio that is fortunate enough to have a space heater (that runs off pirated electricity) is experiencing God’s shelter, does that mean that we experience it more because we have a thermostat we can set to a comfortable temperature?

I am coming to believe more and more that God’s shelter has little or nothing at all to do with this kind of thing.  I’m not so sure He cares how comfortable I am – He just promises to give me comfort through the Comforter.  I don’t think that God is pulling for me to have lots of money, but He is desperate that I would be rich in faith.

God does bless people materially.  We see that in the Scriptures, but not as much as some people may think or want.  What we see more is the promise that we will struggle and have trouble in this world.  God’s shelter comes to us regardless of where we live, or how we live (economically, comfortably, etc).  God’s shelter is ours because we believe in Him and follow Him and trust HIM- not what He may have given us.

Are we prepared to accept that God’s shelter may not keep us warm?  It may not help me purchase those extra Christmas presents for the kiddos.  It doesn’t mean that I can finally sell that heap of metal I’ve been driving and nursing along for three years and get a new car like the guy across the street.

But it does mean that as I stand on the side of the road because that bucket of bolts has finally died, I have the assurance of knowing that Someone is standing next to me.  It does mean that there may be fewer presents under the tree, but a deeper understanding of Christmas than ever before.  It does mean that there is peace in my heart as my bones shiver when the sun goes down, because the truth of the matter is that sometimes, it can be bitter cold in God’s Shelter.

A Rio Christmas, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico

December 21, 2009

Fifty rubber balls, eighteen yo-yos, twenty-six dolls, ten baby blankets, 400 tamales, and a partridge in a pear tree!!!  Last weekend, we hosted a Christmas party for the people in the Rio and I felt a little like the “true love” in the Twelve Days of Christmas! We were blessed with a generous donation to be able to bring Christmas to the children who live in the Rio community, an impoverished neighborhood that Back2Back serves.

Days before several of us staff when shopping to purchase gifts for the kids. Because new things are a rare treat for these kids, we really wanted to bless each and every person who came with something new for Christmas. I have never before bought three cart loads of rubber balls plus various other toys and games! Several of us staff spent days buying gifts, wrapping, organizing donations, prepping crafts, and cooking champorado (Mexican hot chocolate) for about 100 people in the Rio.

On Saturday we left bright and early loaded down with gifts, food, and extra hands to help out. We had our normal church service in the soup kitchen with worship and teaching. After the service we served the people hot tamales and champorado. Then the festivities began! On a typical Saturday we will have anywhere from eighteen to twenty-five kids. This day we had well over eighty kids and sixty adults!

We pulled the tables close together, called for attention, and shared the Christmas story. If any of you have ever worked with children, you know that lots of young kids together, excited for gifts and candy are not always the best listeners. As we began teaching, I prayed for focus. While gifts and piñatas are fun, the best part of Christmas is our Savior’s birth. We wanted this to be the focus of the celebration. I marveled at how quiet the soup kitchen became. All seventy pairs of eyes were focused on the speaker and the pictures she showed of the stable and the manger… these images not too far from the kids’ own dwellings. They were captivated by the story…. a little baby born into poverty, but with an eternal destiny. At the close of the lesson we shared with the kids the purpose of that baby born so long ago, and his love and purposes for each and every one of them… it was beautiful.

Then we decorated ornaments, ate candy canes, smashed two piñatas, and handed out gifts to each person. It was a great day, a great adventure, and a great time to show these people how much they are loved. While the fifty rubber balls, the eighteen yo-yos, and the 400 tamales brought many smiles, our prayer is that the real Gift of Jesus brought eternal joy to some hearts that day….that is what our True Love has truly given us.

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

Meme’s Soup Kitchen, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 23, 2009

Every Saturday morning, Meme, a partner of the ministry, hosts a soup kitchen for nearly fifty people at Rio I, many of whom are young children. The families from the community arrive around 12:30 and together we worship and praise the Lord for all He is doing. Most of the songs we sing without instruments but recently we have been worshiping with the help of a guitar! After worship, the adults listen to a Bible teaching while the kids are split up into age groups to have Sunday School-like classes. After this time of feeding on God’s word, we feed the people a delicious Mexican meal!

Wait for the Story, by Beth Guckenberger

August 10, 2009

Last Saturday, when the final week of summer short-term groups arrived, someone handed me a bank envelope of $800 and said it was a gift to the ministry to be used however it was needed.

I immediately pressed, “Would you like this spent on a teen in our program? At one of the Rio squatters’ villages?  For a children’s home?  A medical need?”

The donor responded, “I know it was to be this amount and there are no strings attached.”

When I hear that, I know there is a story coming.  There are instantly a dozen ways I could spend $800 well.  Needs abound in our organization; it’s the nature of what we do and who we serve.  But, I decided to wait on the Lord on this one, so I put the money in our safe, and just prayed for wisdom on how to use it.  Days passed and on Wednesday, I prayed, “God, I know you don’t work this way, but how cool if the donor could see this week where their money was spent.  Just tell me what need you raised this money for.”

Silence.

Later that evening, I was talking to Meme, who serves here with us in one of the squatter’s villages.  She was an orphan as a child and last year became a widow.  She ministers to the families of her community with a grace and resolve that is widely admired.  I finish our conversation and walk away.

“Beth! Come quick!” she yelled.  I turned around to her and gasped.  Her front two teeth had fallen out completely.  She sat there, devastated.

I learn that evening that she hasn’t ever received regular dental care and it had been years since she had her teeth professionally cleaned.  The next morning, I took her to a local dentist office and told them to temporarily fix the problem and then to call me with the estimate of how much it would cost to fix them permanently.  I knew that we would have to raise those funds for her.  An hour later I got a call from the dentist, who reviews with me the lengthy process and multiple other outstanding dental needs.

I responded, “She is a giver of good news to highly unreceptive people.  She needs to be able to open her mouth and speak the truth to them.  Tell me the damages… how much will all of that cost?”

The dentist paused, knowing I would have sticker shock.  “Eight-hundred dollars,” he said.

“No problem. Get started,” I answered with a smile. “Our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He sold some for her benefit last week…”

I knew the dentist didn’t understand my reference, but Meme sure did, as did the donor when we shared the story with him later that night. Respond to the prompting; pray when unsure; and then wait for the story.

Meme with her new teeth

Meme, after receiving dental care

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