Thursday, April 29, 2010

The past couple days I've been working on a little video collage of
some of the pictures taken during the medical missions crusades
in Mexico. My hope is that it will give you a little picture of what
this amazing ministry is doing so that you can pray for them if
God prompts you to.
Their blog, by the way, is here.
Also, I'm really hoping to work with Ashleigh to organize a few
friends from around here to accompany us on another crusade
trip in the future so... maybe it will give you a hankering' to join
us! These two crusades were pretty small; normally there are
more medical workers, plus evangelism activities aimed
specifically for children each afternoon. Still, it was an amazing
time and I think the most amazing part of it was that Jesus was
being preached to people who have never heard the true story of
man's sin and God's plan for redemption. Friends, I wish I had
the time to type some of the stories of men coming to Christ
through these crusades! My passion for sharing the Good News
with those who have never heard was re-ignited and that, I know,
was the best result of my time away. Thanks be to God for that.
Life is too short to live it without a deep passion and a dogmatic
And I know I use the word "amazing" a lot, and maybe I
should check out a thesaurus for a few more adjectives to add
to my repertoire but really, this time "amazing" really does
describe it.

(I suggest you right click on the video and hit
"watch on YouTube", because my blog format is cutting off part
of the picture.)

(That's sort of annoying.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oh and speaking of dogs,

This is kind of random, but I keep on forgetting to mention something that I think is very funny. On the flight from Cleveland to Dallas a few weeks ago, a dog threw up on me! All over my skirt and my jacket too.
I'm glad to say that my response was very sanctified. (I didn't have much of a choice since I had just been talking about Jesus to Queasy's owner.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Of Dogs and Men

We were in a remote Mexican village. I can't remember or pronounce the name of it. Early in the day we set up our medical supplies and opened our doors to the long line of patiently waiting villagers: a tiny elderly woman with a blanket-shawl wrapped around her shoulders and long, white braids hanging to her waist; a young mother with nursing infant slung around her chest in a shawl and two or three little ones hanging on her skirts and peering around her legs; several 20-something men staring at us cynically beneath their cream cowboy hats; an old man led by his daughter; a mother and her young children who had walked for 2 hours over the mountain to receive medical treatment. The crusade was in full swing quickly, and the buzz of the hair clippers from the beautician melded with the Spanish murmer of consulting doctors and the vibration of the dentists' drill. To one side of the room two evangelists sat with an eager family who, as they waited for their prescriptions to be filled, heard the gospel of Jesus Christ as they never had before. I stood taking down weights and blood pressures; scratching them on an information sheet to be given to the gynecologist or general practitioners.
Suddenly, a shrieking howl erupted from across the room. A small stray dog, one of many, had found his way to our little crusade and had been quietly wending his way through the crowd, tail between his legs, eyes downcast, hardly daring to look up into a human face but hoping, do doubt, to find a few crumbs where all these people had gathered. Finding none, he still stayed in the crowd: cowering in a corner, hiding behind a chair, crouching under a table. The poor thing had been spotted by a mischievous boy, who cornered it and refused to free it. Other boys joined the sport and, when they saw that the little dog was more terrified than hostile, they grew bolder and began to kick it. First in the ribs, then in the backside... then right in the face. Each dull thud of their shoes against the thin animal's bones made me gasp. The animal yelped in terror at first, then simply cringed and tried to huddle in a quiet little ball; hoping that his subservience would satisfy the boys and make them tire of the sport. Again and a gain they kicked him and though I expected the little dog to lunge at them, he never did. People in the crowd looked with mild amusement at the boys and their toy, but no one tried to stop them. I looked away, eventually, because I knew I wouldn't be able to watch without interfering and we had been told not to draw attention to ourselves as Americans. Finally the little dog stumbled on visibly shaking legs to a safe chair to hide behind; the chair of the evangelist sharing the gospel with a few villagers... and there he huddled until he fell asleep.
I was furious; I mean literally, shaking with indignation. Knowing that this was not my culture and I was already looked on with suspicion, I didn't say a word or lift a finger to stop the boys. But in my heart I was disgusted by their vicious teasing of an animal that was obviously gentle and helpless; weak and half-starved already. Oh I know that America is full of animal rights activists who will imprison a man for killing a kitten and spend thousands of dollars to save a beached whale. And part of me wondered if my anger was because I come from such an extreme culture where animals are placed almost on a pedestal with humans. But no; though I'm a self-professed animal lover, I don't give them a higher importance than they deserve. An animal is an animal, and man is a man. But hasn't God given men the charge of caring for and keeping the world, including the animals? And though not every stray in Mexico can (or should) find a home and be fed and cared for, don't the harmless, gentle ones at least deserve to be left alone in their miserable existence?
Another villager came to my table to have her blood pressure taken and her weight read. She smiled at me shyly and I realized that my lips were still pinched and my eyes were still angry. Consciously, I smiled broadly at her and tried a few of my Spanish phrases as I sat her down, put the cuff around her arm and began to pump. I studied her tiny frame and her calloused hands, her smooth brown skin and gentle dark eyes, and the filthy sandled feet that had probably walked for miles to receive medical care. Soon, she would probably hear the gospel for the first time. Suddenly a story seemed to pop into my mind; a story of Jesus from Luke 13:

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

My eyesight was broadened as I thought of Jesus' analogy. Jesus' perspective, always so eternal. Mine, always so temporal. Oh, the compassion in His heart for the wounded woman in Israel! You can FEEL it in this story. A thirsty donkey that can not reach water insights pity from a good owner... how much more does a woman who can not access medical care or, even MORE, any woman or man who has no access to the freeing power of the gospel of Jesus!? Daily, God looks down at this fallen world and sees men and women tormented by Satan just for the sport of it. Satan makes their lives miserable and causes them to choose destructive lifestyles and paths that lead to ruin and torment on earth and in eternity. Just like those little boys, harming the dog for sport, Satan delights in destroying lives and damning souls for the sport of it. The sight of a mistreated animal aroused such indignation and anger in me? Suddenly, my eyes were opened and I saw the broader picture of what Jesus must feel when He sees the enemy tormenting His creation; treating His beautiful children like some toy to be destroyed for the sport of it. I multiplied my anger by thousandths and realized that the wrath of God towards sin must burn as fiercely as hell.
I lifted eyes to gaze at the people around me whose access to the gospel has been so restricted, and my heart bled with compassion for them... like sheep having no shepherd. Like a wounded dog tormented by the village boys. Like a thirsty beast of burden that cannot untie itself to find a drink.
When will our perspective become God's? Will we see the masses of humanity starving for the Bread of Life, thirsting for the Living Water, and shake ourselves from our apathy long enough to do something about it? Will we let our hearts burn with compassion as God's does? Will I burn with the same anger towards sin and Satan, tormenting souls and ruining lives, that I did towards the little village boys, tormenting and hurting a little dog? Will I give my life to see men free from the power of sin, glorifying God with their healed hearts and lives? The harvest is SO RIPE! Men are dying daily without ever having heard of the freedom and love of Jesus: what are YOU, what am I planning to do about it? What are we giving our lives for? When it's all said and done, how will the plans we are creating for ourselves matter in GOD'S EYES? What will we have to show for this brief instant, this great privilege of life that God has given us on earth?

The next morning, I saved a little bit of my corn tortilla from breakfast, and threw it to the little dog when I had a chance; when no one was looking. To me he was a symbol and my perspective had been broadened and deepened from the drama the day before. I prayed that just as the dog had a little nourishment from me that morning, the people would be fed with the living food that would nourish their souls.

Open my eyes, Jesus, to see as you see.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pictures from Refuge Ranch

I still haven't figured out how I'm going to share about the medical missions crusades and which pictures I'm going to pick, but I wanted to upload a few pics from around the ranch before Ashleigh and I leave tomorrow.

This is a beautiful, bustling place and I love it here. Kids are everywhere but it seems to flow pretty smoothly with the help of the cook Rosa and Magda, who also lives here to assist with the daily ins-and-outs of the ranch. Each of the children are so precious and I have loved, LOVED finally getting to know them after Ashleigh has told me about them for two years.

The crusade was a lot of work and ministering, but back here at the ranch it's slower paced for me and I've felt almost guilty with how leisurely it's been. But it's been nice. It's been REALLY restful, and such a welcome change of pace from the past few months. Er... year. I wander around playing with the kids, bugging Ashleigh while she's trying to pack, exploring the ranch, swinging from a hammock under a lime tree, petting the kittens, reading my Bible from a sunny porch overlooking a valley and the mountains beyond... hard life, this. I think I could fall for it.

In short, I suppose I've been blessed and cursed with the ability to fall in love with every new and different place I stay. The only reason it's a curse is because... well... ya have to leave, eventually. Thirteen days just wasn't quite long enough to be in Mexico but, how very grateful I am for every moment, every person I met, every Spanish word I learned, every new food I tasted (okay well no need to be melodramatic. Almost every new food I tasted...), and every moment of learning new and fascinating things about this culture. I'm pretty sure I'll be back. And maybe next time Ashleigh and I will be bringing some of you with us on a crusade!? :)

So here are some pics!

PastorsTacos: really, really, really delicious.

A quick word about the stray dogs in Mexico. First, there are WAY too many of them. It's rediculous. But, be that as it may, you should not disparage a person (me, for instance,) who has a soft spot for a random starving canine and chooses to feed it some of her leftovers at the sidewalk restaurant. It wasn't HER choice to be born in a spayless-neuterless country now, was it? Look at that face. And remember.... I made that animal's day with my leftover tortilla and my sweet talkin'. Seriously though, this is a sad place for an animal lover to visit because all of the starving strays really do break your heart. Supposedly 7 dogs for every person here.

Today we all took a picnic lunch to a hacienda. The old ruins of a Spanish castle from before the Mexican revolution. It was SO awesome! So beautiful! We played hide-and-seek in the ruins. And I made up a story about Rosalita, the beautiful daughter of the Spanish castle lord, and her forbidden love for Antonio, one of the Mexican slaves on the estate.

This was the entrance to Rosalita's room.

(...And I thought there was a never ending load of laundry at Carlee's house!?)

Diana reading to a few of the little guys

Joce` and I swimming! Joce` is a precious little gal who lived with her mom (Victor's sister) here at the ranch until her mom died suddenly last year. Victor and Julie have adopted her as their daughter.

Chicken fight! (...Angie and I won but I'm not rubbing that in or anything.)

Beatiful Martita!!

Victor insisted that Ashleigh teach him how to make granola before she leaves, because everyone loves it so much. :) I'm praying for Ashleigh and the dear people here as she leaves. Tomorrow is going to be a very emotional day for everyone. They'll feel lost without her for a while, and I'm sure vice-versa is true too.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

back from crusade

*happy sigh!*
We returned yesteday aftenoon tanned, cuctus-scratched, filthy, ...And with very precious memories from the week filling our hearts. I'll try to post some pictures here soon. I don't have time for a very detailed post, but I do want to thank those of you who prayed for us. It was a beautiful, amazing time. I am very blessed to have had the chance to go deep into the heart of Mexico and assist such amazing people as the crusade staff. People who never before knew that Jesus came to deliver and befriend them now KNOW and BELIEVE!!! Praise God, what a calling to be embassadors of such a precious treasure as the gospel! Once you've gotten a taste of what it is to be part of the ministry of preaching the good news you never want to stop.

More to come....asta luega!

Post Script: Several of you thoughtful friends and family have asked if I'm going to marry a Mexican. Seeing as there were only two men who took any active interest and one was 10 years younger (yikes!) and another was 20 years older (YIKES!) ....I think I can safely answer "no". :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

I leave with the FoM (Fishers of Men) team early tomorrow, to go to an area of Mexico about 6 hrs. away that has been very closed to the gospel for a long time. Supposedly they've even run missionaries out of town. A christian worker there has worked extensively over the years, living the exact way they do and softening hearts through her friendship. She's been building trust so that this day could come when we're able to enter and bring the gospel with medical care. We're praying that God would help us to shine HIS love and care for these dear people, and that He would keep us from doing anything that might be culturally offensive or misconstrued. Especially for Ashleigh and I being Americans, there's not a lot of trust so we hope to try and blend in as much as possible so we're not a distraction or hindrance at all. That means keeping cameras and ipods from sight, not wearing excess jewelry, not being overtly "gringo" or shrinking from any of the culture that might seem different to us.
We'll get back Sunday afternoon. I'm excited about this trip! Please, say a prayer for the people we'll be in contact with, if you think about it. I can't express how deeply I long to somehow, though I'm so completely limited by so many barriers, show them a glimpse of the Savior who lives in me. He's not the God of the rich or the God of the Americans. He's the Savior of the world and I hope that the team will be able to express that to those who have been resistant to Him in the past.
Five days with no beds, showers, or elecricity... honestly, I'm kinda looking forward to really roughing it for once in my life, :)
Thanks guys. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making cow intestine soup today for the crusade staff *

Mexico: wooohoooo I'm lovin' it! I keep looking around and breathing "Jesus, I'm here! ...Thank You so much." Cultures are amazing because the diversity of each nation displays God's creativity in such beautiful ways. Even a nation as close to America as this is, the cultural differences are huge. Becuase I'm in rural Mexico rather than in a more modern city, I can hardly believe how "quaint" everything is and I keep making a gringo of myself, snapping pictures of cactus fields and squealing over things that make Asheligh roll her eyes. I can't help it... I'm in Mexico and that is very, very cool. (Being a tourist is not cool. But, oh well: you're only here for the first time once.)

This was my first view of Refuge Ranch. It is up on a mountain, and across from it is the majestic smoking volcano, PoPo.

The markets are wonderful and I think I could wander around them all day without growing tired of it. Today I tasted some mole` from a street vendor. It is some sort of a dark chocolate paste saturated in chile powder. My mouth ignited and I'm almost positive that smoke began to pour from my ears. The vendors laughed and offered me some more while I emphatically stated in my pitiful Spanish, "Me no gusta picante`!!!" ("I don't like spicy!")

Here we are: Ashleigh and Dani in Mexico. Fer real!

Refuge Ranch is home to Julie and Victor Zaragoza (below) and their 12 children. 3 are biological, and the rest are adopted. Victor is a former Mexican gang member and Julie is a pastor's daughter from Indiana. God brought them together to create this amazing home for their children and to bring the gospel to many different parts of Mexico through their medical crusades.

I love meeting the children that Ashleigh has told me so much about. They are beautiful, as you can see. Some of the cutest kids I've ever met, in fact. :) Not speaking the language, I do a lot of watching... and I'm captivated by their dark eyes and adorable little voices prattling in Spanish. God has brought each of them to the Ranch from different circumstances; many of them absolutely horrific. I'll introduce you to a few of them:

Josiah and I


Angie holding Anna and Daniel

Ruth (the little blondie who can't speak English, lol!) and Joce`


On Tuesday we are leaving for 5 days with the crusade team. We'll be conducting a crusade in a rural are; I'm not sure what the name of the town is. Thanks for prayers! I've been wondering... how can I showcase Jesus to people whose language I cannot speak? Three ways have come to mind: servanthood, smiling, and learning to say "God bless you" or "Jesus loves you" in their language. Maybe as the week rolls on, He'll show me more ways.

*(I'm kidding. It was cheesecake. But supposedly they do eat cow intestine soup.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter and Other Hoppenings

Generally, I like pictures better than words. So before I leave I wanted to upload some pictures of the past few weeks. It's not every auntie who has the cutest nieces and nephews in the world, so I think I should take advantage of my little corner of blogdom to showcase them a bit. :)

Thanks for your prayers for the Hobbs!!

Every year I like to try to find a Passion Play to attend during Easter week. This year Amanda and Kayla came along! The church did an amazing production.

I love this picture with Shaina! How does the diva know to strike a whimsical pose with her hand on her cheek at that age?? :)

We celebrated the end of Carlee's radiation a few weeks ago. What a happy day!

Carlee and I visited our dear "Aunt" Norma with Shaina, and enjoyed a Sunday afternoon tea. I hope I'm an Aunt Norma when I grow up. (Whenever that happens...)
Nathaniel was here for the past two weeks! The kids were so happy to have Daddy back and Carlee didn't seem to mind either. :) We took a family day and went to the Creation Museum. Here Nathaniel and I are showing off our pearly whites in a black-light tunnel at the museum. :)

Kate kinda liked the Garden of Eden display. :)

Even a ferocious dinosaur couldn't wipe the grin off our jolly fellow!

I'm going to Mexico!

Friday afternoon, I'll be hugging Ashleigh Weis in the Mexico City airport. How very good God has been to me, by giving me the desire of my heart. I've wanted to visit Ash ever since she moved to Mexico two years ago. She's coming back to the States at the end of this month, and her parents are kindly paying my airfare (wow) so I can go down to join her on a last medical crusade and then help her pack up and come back to Ohio. Weis Parents, you are incredible. How could I ever thank you!? I'll try to take good care of your little girl! :)

I'd appreciate the prayers of you, friends and family, as I leave the States. It's a short trip, but I'm excited about it. I've kinda had the itch for international travel lately so maybe this will tide me over for a while. :)

Ashleigh works with a ministry called Fishers of Men. She has given the past two years of her life, serving the Lord in Mexico, and leaving the land and the people she's come to love is so hard for her. I want to be a blessing and support to her as she packs up, says goodbye, and no doubt sobs her eyes out on el avion home.

I'm excited to be going on a medical/evangelistic crusade in a rural area of Mexico. For some pictures and a description of a crusade similar to the one I'll be helping with, please click here. It makes me excited about what God is allowing me to go and be a part of in Mexico! I'd love to have your prayers while I'm away.
  • Prayers for safety
  • Prayers that I will glorify God in every way possible and shine His love even though I can't speak the language
  • Prayers that I will be a huge blessing to Ashleigh
  • Prayers that God will keep tarantulas far away from me
  • And prayers that God will use this trip to teach me and mold me.
Gracias and adios!

ps- Before I go, I'm hoping to post some pictures of what we've been doing around here. So those of you who are interested in Hobbit happenings, stay tuned and I'll upload some photographs of the world's most adorable children.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

This is the time of year that I try to read through at least one Gospel and meditate on the life of Christ. I've enjoyed Luke this past week. I wish I had something profound to say regarding Easter, but I really don't. However, this verse in Luke stunned me. I'm sure I've read it before, but it never processed, I guess, because I keep coming back to it in amazement after reading it a few days ago:
Luke 12:37
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.
will serve us?
I can't wrap my mind around it. I can't comprehend the humility of my Savior. He longs to serve us. And, really,as I think about this concept, it's what He's been doing to me ever since I was born. He serves me by drawing me to Him, by teaching me and reproving me and showing His love in a myriad of ways. Daily I am served by Jesus. Daily He "washes my feet" as it were, and cleanses me from the grime of flesh and world that clings to me.
How do I daily serve Him back? This season I'm asking Him to show me ways to do it. I delight in being the willing slave of Jesus. I love Him so much.