Mexico Christmas Trip
By NMC - December 31, 2015
Posted in Partnerships, Stories from NMC
For most of us the Christmas season is a whirlwind. It’s a flurry of shopping and wrapping, of decorating and baking, of work parties and family gatherings. For 21 NMC attenders, this Christmas season had a unique element. On December 18, the Mexico Christmas Team boarded a plane headed to our global partners in the greater Juarez, Mexico area. These families served together as they joined hands with Lucio and Rosita Ontiveros and the pastors of Riveras, Jesús Caranza and El Millón churches. It’s an unusual way to spend the days leading up to Christmas, but for those on the team, it was five days well spent.
If you’ve heard anything about the Mexico Christmas trip, you know it is packed with activities and events. The trip began with a church service at El Millón soon after the team arrived on Friday. They kicked off Saturday by serving breakfast to kids who live near El Millón. The room was filled with chatter and laughter as dozens of kids enjoyed pancakes made by our team. Every two weeks, people from the church cook this breakfast and welcome the kids to a good meal.
During the afternoon, the team walked door to door and delivered bags filled with milk, salt, flour, oil, chocolate, rice and beans. Much like the food boxes in Gary, these bags of food are a way to meet felt needs and start a conversation. Not to mention, they communicate love and care in a way that only food can. Each bag costs $18 to fill. Those who received these bags earn somewhere between $6 and $8 per day. For them, buying these kinds of groceries all at once just isn’t possible. Our team was able to give a gift that provided both sustenance and peace of mind.
As evening approached, the team headed back to El Millón where they prepared dinner for all the leaders of the three churches. Over bowls of chili and plates of hot dogs and brats, the team talked with the church leaders and listened to their stories. They did their best to encourage the pastors, and in turn, they walked away encouraged after hearing stories of impact and on-going ministry in the greater Juarez area.
On Sunday, the team went to church at Riveras. Afterward they split up into groups and went into church members’ homes for lunch. As they sat around tables and were served by such generous people, they were able to slow down for a moment and be with people, hear their stories and listen to what it’s like for their family. For one group, they got to see sacrificial generosity in action when they learned that the husband of that family gets only one day off for Christmas. This year, he chose to take that particular Sunday off to serve a meal to his guests. As they ate with him, they were amazed and challenged by his generosity.
Sunday night and Monday included more distribution of food and candy bags. As teams passed out bags of candy Monday in the El Millón community, they asked if they could pray with each family. At one home, they were reminded how God works in hearts when one man accepted Jesus. They wrapped up their trip with a service at Jesús Caranza. On Tuesday they were out the door by 7 a.m.
Their trip included moments of peace and rest, but overall it was fast-paced and filled with service and new friendships as team members entered people’s homes and hearts. The family aspect of this trip was special for Dave and Sheila Kelty. It was a gift to watch their daughter experience missions for the first time. As a family, this trip gave them a special bond and shared experiences unlike anything they have experienced before.
As with any missions trip, there were hiccups and bumps along the way. The team was exhausted by the end, yet they were also thankful. In a time of year that can be self-focused, they were given opportunities to join hands with our partners. What greater gift than serving others in the name of Jesus.
How can you be praying for our partners in the greater Juarez area? Pray for Lucio and Rosita and all the pastors and leaders at Riveras, El Millón, and Jesús Caranza. Pray for strength and perseverance as churches operate with minimal resources. Pray for their communities as many people face poverty and all that comes with that.