Posts Tagged ‘Rio III’

Dresses of Hope, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

August 17, 2010

In the midst of the aftermath of Hurricane Alex, we have experienced some very heartwarming stories. I have told several people that I believe God is using this tragedy to bring people closer to Him. In the Rio III community that was hit hard with widespread destruction, we have witnessed several such stories.  As the area has become darker, it has given Christians an opportunity to shine brighter.

The first week we hosted groups after the storm, we hosted a group from Northview Christian Church in Indiana. A thirteen-year old girl named Danielle came with her mother on this group. Danielle spent months preparing to come by organizing dress sewing sessions. She and her friends made seventy-seven dresses, which they brought them with them. She had done this before in other areas but this was the first time she was able to bring them and give them away herself. What a blessing she was for seventy-seven young girls from Rio III that week! Some of these girls lost everything in the flood waters of Hurricane Alex!

Check out Danielle’s blog at http://www.dressesofhope.blogspot.com/ to view a video she made when we gave away the dresses.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Blankets for Rio III, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

December 2, 2009

Last week, during Thanksgiving, 15-year old Hope Bertke served in Monterrey, Mexico with Back2Back, alongside her parents and several other families.  Hope has been on several mission trips with Back2Back and is familiar with the communities that we minister to.  In the weeks leading up to her trip last week, Hope began to think of the families in one such village that we work with in Monterrey, a squatters’ village called Rio III. She wondered how the families there would survive the cold winter months in homes that have no insulation, heating and even sometimes electricity.  Her concern prompted her to take action by collecting money to purchase blankets for those in the community, since most families there have very limited blankets or bedding.

Hope’s goal was to raise $1,000 to purchase 100 blankets.  She began calling friends and family and spreading the word.  Her efforts paid off.  In just a few weeks, she had more than tripled her goal by raising $3,500 – enough to purchase a blanket for every family in Rio III!  Last week, Hope saw her dream realized.  She, along with the rest of her mission trip group, personally delivered a truck-full of blankets to hundreds of families in desperate need.

Reflecting on the experience, Hope said, “While giving out the blankets, the children had huge smiles on their faces.  They were so excited to get something new!  Although many of the kids weren’t big enough to carry their blankets, you could tell that they really appreciated them.  Many of the kids wrapped the blankets around themselves.  Many people don’t realize how cold it gets at night in Mexico.  When we were on our trip, it was getting down to 45 degrees at night and none of the makeshift homes have any heat.  We had just enough blankets for everyone who came to get one.  My original goal was 100 blankets, but God had bigger and better plans for the families in Rio III…we raised enough money for 350 blankets!”

Families began lining up early to receive a new blanket

Hope Bertke, helping to unload the 350 blankets that were purchased as a result of her fundraising efforts

These little boys were very excited to receive their blankets

Hope, helping to distribute the blankets

The Grouzard family (left) pictured with the Bertke family (right) helped by collecting money from friends and family in Chicago to purchase blankets.

Two girls walk home after receiving their blankets

Bringing Light to Darkness, by Jim Betscher

August 19, 2009

Many times when we take a group of Americans to serve at Rio III, an impoverished community in Monterrey, Mexico, I tell them that we are bringing Light to the Darkness. As soon as we get off the bus, we can see the darkness that is associated with sin. If we only look at the shanty community, we could be depressed by the conditions that the people live in. I know that unthinkable things happen to the children that live there. Many suffer from abuse and neglect at the hands of those who should love and care for them.

Children outside their home at Rio III

Children outside their home at Rio III - © DSL Images

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus says, “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought out in the open.” (Luke 8:16,17 NIV) We know that a light shines brightest in total darkness. We want to put the Light on a stand so that all can see it!

Realistically, I know that the hundreds of kids who live in Rio III may never own a car or eat three meals a day or live in a house like I do. But, I will feed them and clothe them and work to meet their needs of health care and shelter in the name of Christ.  By meeting these needs, I gain a platform to share with them the eternal salvation God offers them, through His son Jesus. My ultimate desire is that they will be able to spend eternity in a place that knows no pain or suffering.

Darkness, like the streets of Rio III can be pretty scary sometimes. But darkness always disappears when light confronts it. We simply want to be that Light!

Ribbons and Bows, by Claire Rogers

August 5, 2009

Last year, Casey Ochs attended the 7th grade at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. Her world studies’ teacher, Steve McCollum, leads a mission trip to Back2Back’s Monterrey, Mexico base every year.  During class, Casey saw a picture of a little girl that Steve had taken during an outreach to Rio III, a squatter’s village that Back2Back serves.  The little girl in the photograph had a chicken bone in her hair.  Steve explained to Casey that the bone was the only thing the girl’s mother had to put in her daughter’s hair.

Upon hearing that, Casey felt called to do something, so she took action, inviting the girls in her class, as well as her teachers, to bring in ribbon and barrettes to make hair pieces for the girls in Mexico.  She called her outreach “Ribbons & Bows.” Casey worked tirelessly collecting donations and hosting bow-making parties, where she and her friends assembled hundreds of hair pieces.  Last spring, over Easter break, Casey was able to see the fruit of her labors.  Steve McCollum led a group to Back2Back Mexico.  While there, Steve’s group traveled to the Rio with Back2Back staff members to hand-deliver beautiful new hair bows to the girls in the Rio.

God desires to use each of us, like Casey, to make a difference by responding to the call He has put on our heart –we must just be willing.  Casey’s story is a wonderful example of the impact we can make when we become attentive to the needs of others and respond with action.

The girls collected bows, ribbons and barrettes to assemble into beautiful hair pieces

The girls collected bows, ribbons and barrettes to assemble into beautiful hair pieces

Casey and her friends at a bow making party

Casey with her friends at a bow making party

A few of the finished products

A few of the finished products

Casey and her friends distributing bows to girls at the Rio

Distributing bows to girls at the Rio in Monterrey, Mexico