Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A New Season

The VBS that we had end of July had the greatest number of children participating during the week and the greatest number of parents attending the finale on Sunday afternoon with their children.  During the finale, Abraham offered the parents ten Bible classes in their home if they wished.  A few families agreed that they wanted the classes, but so far we have only been able to schedule visits with one family.

sisters working on their comparisons of Jacob and Esau
Abish loves playing with the kids
coloring Jacob and Esau
The family that we began Bible studies with has six young children and another child who is actually the uncle of the six.  Abraham holds Bible class with the parents, one grandmother, and sometimes some adult uncles while I teach Bible stories to the kids, including our two.  It can be very chaotic, since the kids are used to running around, wrestling, climbing everything, and in general expending their exuberant energy all over the place.  

However, for now we offer small prizes for the children who listen attentively and do their review craft.  That works, and hopefully soon I can stop with the prizes and still have the kids´ attention.

This is a season of transition, because we have not had any children coming for tutoring.  The three who studied with us for a few months entered school and no longer come.  Also, we have had very low attendance in the Huellas de Cristo kids´ club on Sunday afternoons, including some Sundays with no kids.  We decided to create a short interview and go to the homes of various children who used to attend Huellas de Cristo.  In the interview, we will ask the parents if they saw benefit for their children when they came on Sundays.  We will then ask if the parents want us to continue studies in their homes.

In two houses where Abraham has on-going Bible studies with adults, I will be starting Bible studies similar to those I do with the six kids.  We are adjusting our outreach to taking the Gospel to others´ homes rather than having people come to our house.  Please pray that this adjustment will be effective in spreading light in this dark place.

Pray for our safety and health.  Abish has continued in a pattern of being healthy for a few days and then contracting various colds and coughs, some with fevers.  Looking online at the symptoms he had a few months ago, I think he had strep twice, although the doctor did not give us a name for the illness.  He received effective treatment and recovered, but then came down with a cold that lasted for awhile.  Thank God that he has been healthy since Thursday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

VBS Huejotzingo 2015

prep work - drawing faces for one day´s snack
There is no doubt that having two young children makes planning and running the VBS
more challenging.  How was their experience of the VBS?  Well...mixed.  The days before the VBS week are typically laced with preparation, but this year was a little different, because we had other activities also going on Saturday and Sunday.  The actual days of VBS are almost entirely devoted to all things VBS. However, we did our level best to also spend time focused only on our kids so that they wouldn´t hear, "I can´t play with you because I have to finish ..."  They both did really well with the complete disruption of their schedule and the difficulty of sharing their parents with 40 + other children.  However, we could see the struggle it was for Abish, even though he mostly enjoyed having the other kids around.  During the hours of VBS, he almost constantly wanted to be with me or Abraham, often
Entertaining herself while I explain a craft
asking to be held.  He didn't want to do any of the crafts, but entered enthusiastically into the singing.  Leilani patiently put up with kids jiggling her feet and hands and sticking their faces in hers.  She was very popular.  She also held up well without good naps, because she doesn't go to sleep well or stay asleep when there is activity (she wants to be part of all that's going on).
With one of the church volunteers
a young participant with Lani

wanting to be with Mommy - while I write the day's verse

Leilani helping register kids
He loves games
Abish often chose to hang out with her - she's only a few months younger
the songs were always fun

Modeling Daddy's Abraham beard

Helping Grandpa fill the piƱata for the finale Sunday 
A big helper rinsing lunch dishes

Too tired to hold out
Singing at the finale - he had been very clingy all day
So the VBS was a mixed bag for the two of them, but it did seem to be mostly a positive experience  We do so appreciate your prayers for all of us.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Pictures from the VBS Graduation

Today was the VBS graduation day. Several parents joined their children in singing, praying, and hearing about the weeks' lessons.

Of course, we also threw a party. The Spiderman pinata was huge--it held about 25 pounds of candy--and much sturdier than we thought. We probably didn't need the men on the roof keeping it moving, as it turned out to be nearly indestructible.

Praise and worship

The pinata held about 25 pounds of candy 

No tree to hang it from? No problem.

The moment everyone has been waiting for

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Final Day of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS

Guest blogger Pastor Ken Greenlee

The 2015 Teach Us to Pray, Huejotzingo, Mexico VBS is in the books, except for the Sunday graduation service.  We had a total of 51 registrants, a number of whom were kids who had not participated in any of our events before.  Many moms brought their kids each day to the sign-in.  We hope to see a number of parents at the closing ceremonies Sunday afternoon.  The kids recite all of the memory verses they learned during the week and Abraham gives a summary message regarding what the children learned during the week.  We also serve light refreshments, which everyone always appreciates.

One of the most moving things for me yesterday was at the end of the last lesson when the writer of Hebrews completed his story about how Abraham was a man of great faith.  He had spoken about Jesus being the ultimate source and object of true faith.  He then led all of the kids in a prayer in which they acknowledged that they had a personal faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  Very touching to see their heads bowed, eyes closed, hands folded as they expressed this simple measure of faith.

While the volunteers were cleaning up, I was already transferring pictures from the day to my computer so I could post them to FaceBook and finish the PowerPoint for Sunday.  I completed that by about 7:30 p.m.  Then we went to a neighbor’s house for coffee.  This couple were volunteers during the week.  When I was here in 2013 they had also volunteered.  At that time they were expecting their first child, who is now a two-year old boy.  The husband had some things he wanted to ask me.

We wound up talking until almost midnight.  Some of the men he works with are Catholic.  They have a lot of beliefs that are not consistent with an evangelical understanding of Scripture and he wanted to know how to respond to some of the questions they ask or comments they make during various discussions of faith.  As I’ve mentioned previously, the Catholicism in this area of Mexico is not Christianity, but rather a gross twisting and misunderstanding of the Bible combined with former pagan practices that were prevalent in this location centuries past (syncretism).

We had a good discussion of how Catholicism elevates tradition to the level of Scripture and how various things came into their belief system over time, especially as concerns Mary.  The Virgin of Guadalupe (a perversion of the Biblical, historical Mary) is worshiped as a virtual goddess here in the area around Huejotzingo.  She is the one people rely upon for their salvation and the one to whom they pray.  She is the supreme deity, not Jesus or God the Father.  Then there is the archangel, Michael, who is second in their pantheon.

We talked about how all he can do is present the truth of the Bible as he talks to his co-workers.  We have to rely upon the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and ears so they can receive the truth God offers.  God alone draws men to Himself.  And He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a true faith in God, as we pray the kids at our VBS and in our various classes throughout the year are doing.

On another note, Rachel and Abraham took my grandson to the doctor after VBS was over.  He does not have any sign of infection.  His throat is fine, his lungs are clear.  Thanks be to God for answered prayer.  He needs to drink more liquids.  This is a boy who would rather play than do almost anything else.  He is high energy.  His mom has to side track him while he runs by to get him to eat or drink anything.  We had chocolate cake last evening with our coffee.  He loves chocolate cake!  He ate about two bites before running off to play with toys.  As he rode by on a small car, Rachel would catch him and make him drink some of his yogurt drink.  She didn’t even attempt to tempt him back to his cake.  He ate that when we got home around midnight.

Thanks for your prayers for Rachel and Abraham and their kids as they continue their work here in this part of God’s creation.

Appreciate your prayers for my last few days here.  We have some more shopping to do today for Sunday.  Then we will visit the plot of land we purchased at the end of last year where we will build our new TUtP center, hopefully starting soon as funds are available.  We have final preparations for the VBS graduation.  We plan to travel on Monday to a town that is about 2 hours away by bus.  The folks there make a wide variety of Christmas ornaments that are the source of income for the entire community.

The author of Hebrews writing about Abraham's faith

The final day's verse

Behind the scenes prep

A crossword based on all 5 days' stories

A scroll with the pictures from all the days on it

The author of Hebrews talks about Abraham's faith


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 4 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS

Guest Blogger Pastor Ken Greenlee

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the last day of our 2015 Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS.  It looks like we will have directly affected the lives of around 50 individual kids.  We have had an attendance of around 40 each day, but some kids don’t come back every day and some new kids join each day.  This has been a very fruitful time of ministry impacting the lives of these children and their parents.

I help prepare handouts or whatever needs done to get things ready each day.  I’m the chief photographer, I set up the multimedia equipment each day and I handle most of the publicity.  I’ve been preparing the PowerPoint we will use at the graduation ceremony on Sunday when some of the parents of the kids come to watch their kids perform.  Rachel and Abraham will also use the PowerPoint to show at Dios es Amor, their home church that has done so much to support their ministry over the years.

Yesterday the batteries in my camera died just at the end of the day.  Off to the market to buy a new set of batteries.  Started taking pictures and shooting videos first thing this morning, only to have the new batteries fail at around 2 p.m.  I grabbed the camera I brought with me this trip for Rachel and Abraham and started using it, only to have the batteries run dry on it after about 3 minutes.  Fortunately I got most of the day covered.

Off early this evening to buy another three sets of batteries at a local store.  I trust I will get all the pictures I need tomorrow and Sunday without further difficulty, but don’t want to take any chances, hence the spares.  I thought batteries had a shelf life of some 12-15 years.  Wonder how long the ones I bought yesterday had been in inventory?

Please be in prayer for a great finale to our VBS tomorrow.  This has been a lot of effort to put on, especially on the part of Rachel and Abraham who have stayed up as late as 2 a.m. each day getting things together for the next day.  It is worth the effort to watch these kids enjoy themselves and learn about God and His love and faithfulness.

Now an old man, Abraham tells his story to the children.
God promised Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars
Photographer, blogger, and Power Point Maker

For snack, Rachel and Abraham cut Stars out of 22 large cucumbers to represent the number of descendants God promised Abraham.

The kids used star stickers to show the stars in the sky representing God's promise to Abraham.
Thanks and Blessings!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 3 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS

Guest Writer Pastor Ken Greenlee

We discovered early this morning that the schools were registering students today.  That usually does not happen until August.  There were long lines in front of the schools as parents and kids waited their turn to complete the process.  Every student must register each year.  These are the same kids who should be coming to our VBS.  We didn’t know how that would affect attendance.  We need not have been concerned.  We had 38 kids, only 3 fewer than yesterday, and some of those who came were new.

It was another great day with a lot of fun games, food, memory verses and the story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac.  He was a man of great faith who obeyed God without question.  The kids enjoyed the tale, as Rachel played the part of Rebecca talking about what Isaac had told her regarding what happened that day.  He was tied down on the wood and his father raised a knife to take his life when suddenly God called out and stopped the process, providing a ram as an offering instead.

I’ve always wondered what Isaac thought about all that happened that day.  Must have been quite traumatic.  What conversations he and Abraham must have had in the weeks and months afterwards, until Isaac finally understood what was in his father’s mind at the time.  Abraham knew God could raise Isaac from the dead, since God had promised it would be through Isaac that the promises would be fulfilled.

My grandson continues in perfect health, though he mentioned to his mom that he had seen something evil yesterday.  We prayed with him this morning after his mother and father explained that if anything like that appears to him again, he has the ability to tell it to go away in the Name of Jesus.  Another lesson in faith.

I’m beginning to assemble a PowerPoint presentation we will use during the graduation ceremony.  Rachel and Abraham will also show it at Dios es Amor, the church they are affiliated with here in Mexico.  Some of the volunteers that are coming each day are from that congregation, though there are two neighbors and volunteers from other churches who are helping as well.

Appreciate your prayers for ongoing health and stamina as we go into the 4th day tomorrow.

And the relay race is run!

Adding fleece to the ram. God provided a ram in Isaac's place.

Thank God for volunteers!

Thanks and Blessings!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day 2 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS

Guest Writer Ken Greenlee

Our second day of VBS started very early. My grandson had a very high fever and a lot of pain in his side, so my daughter woke me up at 7 a.m. to pray for him. We anointed him with oil and did an hour of soaking prayer. By 8 a.m. his temperature was normal and he was soundly and peacefully asleep. He remained in excellent health all day with no further meds or doctor visit required.

We had 41 youngsters at our second day of VBS. Some of the kids were ones who had never been to the TUtP center before. That’s just awesome. I mentioned yesterday that several moms brought their kids to registration. This is great, as it shows both trust and interest in what Rachel and Abraham are doing here in Huejotzingo, Mexico. They have lived here for 4 years, but working in the area together for 7 years. Before they were married, Abraham had been working for another 5 years. We have purchased land to build a new center to take the place of the property we now rent. Hope to begin building sometime soon, depending upon funding.

Just like yesterday, the kids had a fantastic time playing games, eating, singing, listening to Bible stories and memorizing the Bible verse of the day. So many of the kids we work with come from difficult situations at home. They really enjoy the one-on-one contact with loving, concerned, safe adults who so obviously care for them.

Craft time

Hula hoop racing

The adult volunteers join the fun

Frozen treats


Storytime with Lot and Sarah

Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 1 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS

Guest writer Ken Greenlee Day 1 of the Huejotzingo, Mexico, Teach Us to Pray VBS is in the books. It was a great day. We had 31 kids, which for day 1 is the best ever. Usually the attendance builds, with some kids not returning but with more new ones coming each day than those that don’t return. We have 13 helpers, some from the neighborhood and some from Dios Es Amor, the church Rachel and Abraham are affiliated with. The church also provides equipment and some funds. I was interested to see how many mothers brought their kids to register. Most often the kids come by themselves. I think the interest of the parents is an encouragement. They know Rachel and Abraham and greet them as their kids get their name tags and are assigned to their age group for various activities. And a number of parents came to the closing ceremonies as well.

The snack: The lamb is made of a giant marshmallow with a gummy blackberry for a head

Lining up to register

Racing through the hoops

Lot tells his story

Saturday, July 11, 2015


I can count on my fingers, it seems, the number of days this year when no one in our family has been ill.  None of the illness, so far, has been particularly bad, but it feels like we´ve had a steady stream of coughs, colds, and unidentified fevers.  It all started on New Year´s Eve with Abish throwing up a few times.  On Jan.1, he was droopy and nauseated, so we took him to the doctor, and he started
a throat and mouth infection
antibiotics.  As I write, he is recovering from a throat infection, complete with open sores.  For that, he had to suffer through three shots, because the doctor said many of the throat infections are resistant to a variety of antibiotics.  Although the shots are over, he still has to take an expectorant and swish baking soda water around his mouth several times daily.

Leilani hasn´t escaped illness either.  After recovering in June, with the help of ampicilin, from a month-long cough, last night, for no apparent reason, she came down with a fever.  We gave her medicine to bring her temperature down, and during the night, she seemed better.  In the morning she had a fever again, but after more paracetamol, she has been mostly okay all day.  We´re keeping an eye on her to see if her immune system can handle the infection or if she will need antibiotics yet again.

Abraham and the kids have had different colds, too.

Please pray for us.  Pray for health, and pray for protection from curses.  Huejotzingo is steeped in witch craft,and there are quite a few people who are not happy we´re teaching the Gospel here.  We don´t know for sure if anyone has tried to put a curse on us, but it is a strong possibility.  Pray too as we prepare for our VBS which is July 20 - 24, with the closing July 26.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Growing Up and Learning

running, running, Abish is always running

listening to the Bible story
Two posts ago, I talked about how our two babies are growing so fast.  Now our little guy is not little at all!  He turned three at the beginning of this month and he continues to amaze with all that he is learning as he grows.  He absolutely loves reading, and can now recognize the letter "A" although we never specifically taught it to him.  He also knows most of the colors in both English and Spanish and can count from 1 to 10 pretty well in the two languages.  He bursts with energy and only has two volumes - loud or louder.
blowing out the candle
We celebrated his birthday the Sunday before the actual date so that other kids could participate, too.  Everyone had a good time with simple games, a Bible story, and then sugar chocolate cake (decorated with a Spiderman face) and soda.  Abish enjoyed himself thoroughly.

Of course Leilani is also changing every day.  Her energy level is on par with Abish´s, and she chases after him in her walker or bounces enthusiastically in the jumper.  We have to keep a close eye on her when she´s on the bed, because she rolls all over the place.  Soon she´ll be crawling.

Speaking of learning, not all that long ago, five children begin attending tutoring at our house four days a week.  The girls are sisters, and the boys are their nephews, although they are about the same age.  None of them attend school, although three of them went for a short while some years ago.  The two oldest have a rudimentary understanding of reading, addition, and subtraction and work very hard at learning more.  They ask me for more work,
certificate for finishing book 1
more homework, and are so pleased when they can read through two paragraphs in the Mas Luz book that I use for their classes.  The younger boy (8 years old) can´t read

yet, but he likes the leveled readers that have pictures with one or two words.  He can do a bit of addition, although he is only just learning the names of numbers past eight.  The six and seven year old girls are at zero.  They have no academic knowledge at all, so my job at present is to try to teach them how to learn.  The youngest didn´t come to tutoring at all last week.

Aside from academics, we also teach Bible stories to the kids.  Abraham uses The Action Bible´s pictures as he tells the story in Spanish.  He follows the story with comprehension questions and then with prayer.

The situation in both families is difficult.  The fathers are completely out of the picture, and the mothers are alcoholic. The seven year old girl´s face is paralyzed on one side from a dog bite years ago, and there is a baby sister whose knees are backwards.  Please pray for us to be light to the families and for God´s intervention in their lives.