Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lori's Back form San Vicente, God's Moving... 28 Feb

28 Feb Chris in Chula Vista...
OK, Lori just got back from a week in San Vicente, doing health ed in schools in the region... Great reports of good things down there... she will blog soon...

I'm very, very stoked... we spent our day with a newly-formed Latino church here in Chula Vista, deep roots from Mexico (and some old friends).
There have been numerous Latino churches that have blown in half lately here in the region, mainly from old-school leaders trying to hold tightly, control events, keep power within a tight circle of family and friends... bad stuff. So, here in greater San Diego-Tijuana, there have been no less than 4 major Latino churches that have split in the last year... and now there are 8... and a bunch of smaller churches doing the 'splits' as well...

So, WHY is this possibly a good thing?? Well, the old manipulation-control form of church government may be finally dying... RIP, I say! The churches that are emerging are wide-open, flexible, wanting to serve Jesus and people and NOT be all about power and manipulation and control... and growing like crazy... a new thing is taking it's first breaths and coming alive!

God IS doing a new thing... the old things are passing away, behold! New things... cool! your bro, Chris

Here's to these new Latino churches!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feasibility and frustrations... Chris 21 Feb

21 Feb Chris in Chula Vista
Hey, friends!

Sorry it's taken a week to write this blog report on the Ensenada trip... 'cuz it took a week to process.

Mission healthcare work means alot of 'feasibility' assessment before jumping in and setting things up... going to a site, meeting with the on-the-ground leader and seeing IF some type of healthcare ministry could open up in a church or location, and that it would have the potential to thrive.

First off, the BIG question is if the whole ministry is about a leader who finds people to 'do stuff for him', or is it a decentralized community of believers walking together and sharing life.

More often than not in Latino churches, it's one strong leader at the top of a pyramid.

So, at that point, the feasibility study usually means digging into the ethos of the leader... what are his/her fundamental end-points for what they are doing? Is it to build a big, central 'ministry', or is it to go out and care for the poor and go out and plant churches? Is it to create 'leadership visability', or is it a community serving Jesus together by reaching out to the needy? Is it something a group of people are willing to invest in, or is it just another avenue to create a 'gimme gimme' flow of resources from America to the leader?

So, unfortunately, the Ensenada 'church-based health care ministry' looks like a complete no-go at this point...

Well, Jesus said to carefully study the strength of the foundation before one builds... and avoid building on shifting sand...

Unfortunately, the disappointment hangs for a long time...

your brother, Chris

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Urban Health Missions in US and Mex 10Feb

10 Feb from Chris in Chula Vista CA

Well, dear friends, it's always an adventure serving the Lord in healthcare missions!

Lori returned safe from San Vicente (you've all heard about that!)... meanwhile, I've been 'in the kitchen, cooking up something new'...

Looks like my work in urban healthcare missions for the poor, marginalized and underserved is growing quickly. These last few weeks, I've been doing 'groundwork' for a new arm of healthcare outreach in the southern portion of San Diego known as City Heights, a location where over 88,000 people from 60 ethnic backgrounds compose one of the most depressed socio-economic regions of the State of California.

So between being 'over there' doing site-visits, being in meetings with ministry leaders involved there, meetings with University nursing faculty about a service-learning project there, lecturing at said University, and holding coffee meetings to pull together a coalition around a radical idea... nurse-run health care centers (versus traditional medical clinics)... well, the thing is quickly picking up momentum...

THEN, this weekend I am going to (urban) Ensenada Mexico to meet with a pastor and members of his church to form a Health Committee that will be the jumping point for healthcare outreach to thier church and surrounding colony. This trip will include some 'community assessment' work in finding out the existing health net in the region, as well as training the committee.

So, not one but TWO new urban healthcare mission projects being launched in 2010...

Pray, my friends, as these things come together, that JESUS will be lifted up, the Father's Kingdom will be furthered, the power of the Holy Spirit will be manifest, and many, many, MANY of the poor, disenfranchised and marginalized will be touched with the power of the Gospel being demonstrated to the poor (Luke 5).

your brother, Chris

Monday, February 8, 2010

Micro Enterprise Launched, Jan. 2010, by Lori in San Vicente, Mexico

Besides the morning and afternoon sewing classes this week, I've been working with two women to launch their own small business. It's been great to see these ladies get so excited about moving to a new sewing skill level. Yolanda (pictured) and Erica were highly motivated when I told them that I had an order for 50 lined tote bags with a window in the front for a photo. I had designed the bag and created patterns for them. Neither woman has a sewing machine. So, they would cut the fabric and lining while at home in the evening and then return during the day to sew the purses. Yolanda arrived one day to tell me that her husband had even prepared dinner the night before so that she could continue working. "You see", she explained, "My husband doesn't really know how to cook much, so we had breakfast for dinner as the only food he knows how to fix is eggs". "still, I was very blessed that he is supportive of me." Yolanda's husband is a farm worker who earns about 800 pesos a week, the equivalent of about $64 US dollars. Not much to support a family of four. By the end of the week, Yolanda had sewn 35 bags, and made enough to put some money aside toward her own sewing machine and some basic tools and still add some funds to the family coffer.

If you are interested in supporting these women in their new small business, let me know. These photo purses as well as other products will be available for purchase.

Schools not in session results in FULL sewing classes, about San Vicente, Mexico, Jan. 26th from Lori

There hasn't been school the last few days because of the rains and with families being housed at the schools. Actually, whenever more than a few sprinkles arrive in San Vicente, school is canceled or just a few teachers and students show up. Those of you reading this blog who live in rainy climates probably think this is riduculas. But, many of the dirt roads just become too muddy to traverse in the hilly terrain where water collects in the low laying areas.

The result of there being no school has resulted in a greater number of teenage students at the sewing class. Today, I had 11 for the morning class and 10 for the afternoon session. Projects for the week include wool scarfs, napkins, baskets, and lined tote bags. Several of the girls pictured decided to personalize their bags with hearts.

New ways to make money. about Jan.24th in San Vicente, Mexico

A half mile walk takes me to the river's edge where some unlikely entrepreneurs are earning about $25 US dollars to pull vehicles filled with anxious people across the subsiding river. More rains are predicted and some want to get to the other side before the storm hits. The south side of the bank has been greatly eroded, has a significant current and still is quite deep. I saw a SUV nearly get swept away as it entered the river trying to cross without assistance. It was scary to see the waves wash away the soil under it and see it continue to sink until the water was flowing over its hood and the SUV beginning to flow downstream. The tractor's operator quickly hooked up its chains and pulled the vehicle and driver to safety. Once on dry land, water poured out the doors of the SUV. Some people are just in toooo big of a hurry to get to the other side!

So far, we've been grateful to have electricity most of the time. It's been going out for a few hours at a time as they work to repair lines in the area. Still, the candles and matches are on hand and my flashlight has new batteries.

I've been making use of the time since my arrival to create samples and patterns for the upcoming week's sewing classes. Hope the electricity stays on so that the classes can happen. Today, we set up all the machines and the room in anticipation of a week filled with eager students.

Where there is a will, there is a way. News from Jan 23-25

Town's people gather at the site hoping that the bridge is stable enough for trucks to cross soon. Rains that created a flash flood in the early 1980's, took out the bridge and it was over 2 months before it was completed. News like that has us being careful of usage of our resources.

Wow! A disaster sure can bring all the local farms together. Semis filled with produce are stranded and they need to get their fruits and vegetables north. So, heavy equipement has been streaming in to back fill the eroded soil. For 3 days now, dump trucks have been moving soil from the adjoining hills into the river bed. It's pretty exciting seeing all the locals working together and not waiting till the goverment can send help.

We found out today that about 400 people are being housed at the local schools because of not being able to return to their homes because of flooded roads or their homes have been damaged. We were able to bless them with 72 pairs of socks, about 25 sweatshirts and T-shirts and lots of hats to help out. Glad we had some items that we immediately needed.

Going into Survival Mode from Lori

Thought you might like to know more about my time in San Vicente while the bridge was out. I arrived in SV with missionaries Dave and Lynne Johnson on Wed. Jan. 20th. When we passed over the bridge as we entered town, a small steam could be seen in the wash (seldom is there any water in it). The nightime hours brought a couple of inches of rain in town, however in the mountians east of town a more significant amount had fallen. The next morning, Pastor Jose knocked on the door to inform us that a large section of the road leading up to the bridge had been washed away in a flash flood and that we should fill the gas tank on the vehicle and get our drinking bottles filled. He also had heard that the road south of town has been washed away in sections, resulting in the SV community being cut off both north and south. The towns well had be damaged by the flood also.
So, we moved into survival mode:
Filling the 5 gal. drinking water bottles,
putting out the 5 gal. buckets under the eaves to catch rain water (used to wash dishes) and if need be, make into rainwater pure enough for drinking,
we began rationing the propane used for cooking (no one uses electric stoves as there are no 220 lines),
also rationing the water we had in the storage tank and using the caught rain water,
walking when needed to save the gas in the truck.

Within 24 hours of the roads being down, there was no drinking water, gas, or propane in SV and the grocery store shelves were bare. We were in good shape with food as we had gone shopping before returning to SV.

Years of living and working in Mexico helped me to automatically shift into survial mode, however, the most difficult thing was not being able to communicate with family and friends that we weren safe. You see, the phone lines were in the bridge and even cell phone were not working.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lori is BACK from Baja... the Mex Groundhog 2 Feb

02 Feb

OK, just trying to figure out a tie-in with Lori's return and Groundhog day.

Lori arrived from Baja Mexico this afternoon, totally fine and all the mud already scraped off. She is fine, and says the two weeks were quite productive and filled with some really great ministry. It also sounds like the 200 people who were 'washed out' of their work-camp housing... which is essentially nothing but concrete block 10 x 12 boxes... those folks are already back in their housing and cleaning out.

OK, thanks be to the LORD for His hand on everything, and thanks to all for their love and prayers and encouragement.

OK... that's taken care of.... what's next?

your bro, Chris