Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Smells of a Village Ministry Center (3 of 3)






Sights, Sounds and Smells of a Village Ministry Center
Part 3: Smells

San Vicente, the sprawling village of 3000... we’ve been working here for over a decade... quite interesting being here, your senses... uniquely filled...
 
Smells: to be fair, there is nothing as wonderful as Carne Asada meat over mesquite coals... definitely the yuck of pit toilets and doggie-stuff everywhere (3/4 of the homes only have a pit latrine)... smoke from the trash/garbage fires (municipal trash pickup isn’t dependable), everyone has a ‘burning can’, which smolders for hours (we regularly have to close all the windows in the middle of the night, regardless of the heat)... a rural village, walking by pig wallows and sheep stalls... with all the people draining water into the street, stagnant, yucky water filled with old soap and who-knows-what... walking by the houses, the ‘madre de la casa’ cooking dinner (usually something to smile about)... walking by the numerous food ‘puestos’ along the Highway, all cooking something (but we don’t eat there, famous for giving people severe ‘ED’, requires 3 days of Oral Rehydration and Pepto, possibly antibiotics... yeah, even the locals... how do these places stay open???)... oh, did you know that blowing dust has a smell?...

Hey, many of you have gone on mission outreaches to other places in the world... what say you? Email us!

Sounds of a Village Ministry Center (2 of 3)




Sights, Sounds and Smells of a Village Ministry Center

Part 2: Sounds

San Vicente, the sprawling village of 3000... we’ve been working here for over a decade... quite interesting being here, your senses... uniquely filled...

Sounds, oh the sounds: there IS the delightful sound of the old Catholic church-bell, ringing promptly at 0830 (not sure why)... but, that’s after the 0730 blasting Zumba music at the make-shift workout room, which can be heard all over the Village...dogs, dogs, dogs barking everywhere (half from their fenced yards, half the packs of street-roving free dogs), roosters crowing most of the night (thankfully, our neighbor gave her roosters away, quite the racket outside the bedroom window)... during the day, the blaring vehicle-mounted PA announcements, advertising vegetables, brooms, bottled water for drinking (a must!)... then the LP Gas trucks and their blaring sirens... there’s the tempting, soft bell-ringing of the roving ice-cream coolers and candy salesmen (my favorite: the hot churros, all cinnamon and sugar and melt-in-your-mouth, with champurrado, a hot corn-meal and chocolate drink)... Click! Grrr! Click! Grrr! The neighbors water-tank pumps going on-and-off (we opt to just fill our buckets when the water comes on, no water-tank)... Bbbrrrrrr go the semi’s on the Highway, down-shifting... goes along with the vehicles that have NO muffler, back-firing down the road...weekends, the Norteño Mexican music so loud from dusk to 3am, you can’t hold a conversation in the house... oh, yes, the sound of water trickling into our buckets as we fill them up at 2am, the stars keeping us company (they only turn on water to our part of town in the middle of the night, 2-3x/week)
 C
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Sights of a Village Ministry Center (1 of 3)


Sights, Sounds and Smells of a Village Ministry Center

Part 1: Sights

San Vicente, the sprawling village of 3000... we’ve been working here for over a decade... quite interesting being here, your senses... uniquely filled...

Sights...totally normal sights: horses trotting down the main cow-path dirt roads... pickup trucks filled with people in the back, flying down the road... roads in the center of the village clogged with make-shift booths (PVC pipe, blue tarps, plywood tables) on ‘Market Days’ (called Tianges)... dozens and dozens of dust-covered field workers walking home, 5-gallon buckets slung over their shoulders... nothing like a Baja Mexico sunset over the mountains, cactus in view... the vehicles klunking down the road, 30-40 yr old rusty hunks held together with duct tape, ‘chica-nada’ metal repairs, bondo-and-bailing wire... like last night, darkness (the city transformer blew, no power for about 10 hours)... clouds of dust, blowing right at you... every 3-4 months, there is a roving ‘kid’s carnival’ that comes to town, and we both cringe at the rickety-barely held-together rides they put up... driving north, you can see the ruins of the original San Vicente Mission, established in 1780... at night, when filling water buckets at 2am, the Screech Owl flying overhead (he buzzed me once, took me a few minutes to breathe again)... with a small, rural village, one beautiful sight: on a clear night, before the garbage fires, you can see the Milky Way overhead, and the orbital satellites criss-crossing the sky...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Missionary Psalm Canticle I

Missionary Psalm
Canticle I
A Song of Laments


  
Two things about serving the Lord
Three things about walking with You, O God

Life consists of seasons
Each with it’s own wonders
Each with it’s own challenges
Each with it’s own pain

My heart is tested severely
To see what is really there
Gold and silver endure fire
Everything else burns

The only safe place
In this storm, in the storm
is in the middle
of the Hand
of the Lord Almighty
the Maker of Heaven and Earth

Grab on, O my soul
Strength and Refuge are there
Grab on
Don’t let go.

Selah

O, praise the Lord!
Praise Him, my weary soul!
Praise Him in this and all seasons
In the season of many difficulties
In the place of trouble

You are good, O Lord
Your Love prevails
Your Mercies endure
Now and forever

You are good
You ARE good
You are GOOD

Trials and tribulations come, but look up!
The Creator God sees us to safely
Even when I have stumbled,
Your Hand breaks through and
Pulls me

We will walk through these walls
The sunrise of His Kingdom
on the other side
Shining in our eyes
The fresh wind of Your Kindness
Flowing over us

All who walk with You
Will be delivered
will be satisfied in Your Presence
now and forever-more


_____
crisbaj   Aug 2017

(pic credit: © 2017 crisbaj. Used with permission)



Sunday, May 7, 2017

Home-Made Pedialyte and Saving Kids Around The World


Home-Made Pedialyte and Saving Kids Around The World

 
Chris here. I still get tears in my eyes every time I look at the photos and story I’m about to share with you... It’s a bit long, so hang tight... It’s a tale of long-term missions, saving little kid’s from death, and the power of what we (the Lord + Lori + I + our supporting mission partners) are ‘doing out here’...

<> 
‘Child Survival Missions’... it’s an area of Christian health-care missions that focuses on outreach and education to prevent the un-necessary death of children birth-5 yrs of age in the Developing/Least-Developed regions of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports:
  • 5.9 million children under the age of 5 years died in 2015.
  • More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
  • Leading causes of death in children under 5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria. About 45% of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition.
Lori and I have been working in Child Survival Missions since 1991. One of our focus-areas has been reducing deaths and long-term health impact in children with diarrhoeal illnesses. WHO tells us, “Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing around 525 000 children every year” (WHO, 2017).

Over a quarter-century, we have developed a significant number of teaching strategies and educational tools to convey knowledge regarding prevention and treatment of diarrhea/dehydration, including the making of ‘home-made Pedialyte’ with water, salt, sugar and citrus fruit (available in the poorest of regions of the world). Last count, the materials we’ve ‘built’ have gone out to around 40 countries, in the hands of missionaries and health-care workers, all to save these precious little one’s from the Enemy Diarrhoea in a way that honors the Lord (check out Deut 23:12-14... God actually cares about preventing diarrhea!). This ‘ORT’ (ORT = Oral Rehydration Therapy’; that’s what home-made Pedialyte is called in the literature) has shown to save most of the kids from dying of dehydration from diarrhea (WHO, 2017).
<> 
Well, we can add the Philippines to the list of ‘where in the world’ these things have blessed people!

 
 
A good nursing colleague of mine, Brian De Guzman RN, was organizing a medical missions trip to his families’ area of origin, the Batanes Island region of the Philippines. He put out a call for supplies and support. Brian and I met, and he was excited to accept our ‘how-to’ guides and teaching tools to incorporate a teaching station for ORT into the elements of their trip.

 
One thing Lori and I have developed (me: theory, content... Lori: art and graphics) were ‘word-less’ guide-books for moms and kids to learn HOW to make ORT, together with a plan to have an actual hands-on station to make ORT right there. The ‘word-less’ aspect had scripted content that could be translated into any language. Brian really liked these health-ed tools and strategies, said he would have the team incorporate them into the outreach and translate them into the dialect of Tagalog spoken in the Batanes .

SO, imagine my JOY when Brian sent me the ‘we just got back from the Philippines’ email, and the pictures and stories about the hugely successful clinic outreaches that impacted over 250 people in the Batanes... including a school set-up for ORT education, the visuals all set-up, and the team enthusiastically teaching ORT hands-on skills!! Yeah! Save some kids!! (Tears of joy again...)








Thanks to Brian and his team for carrying the load and pulling all that together. My (biased) opinion is that the ORT education they conducted will probably become one of the longer-lasting legacies of their clinic outreach and blessed work in the rural health centers on Batanes Island!



To God be the glory! Dios Mamajes (Tagalog)!

Chris RN

References
Bajkiewicz, C. T..(1999). Drink of life: Oral rehydration therapy. Journal of Christian Nursing 16(4), 9-12.

World Health Organization:

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Getting to San Vicente... C'mon Along!


(sing along) Over the Mountains and Thru the Plateaus...
Getting to San Vicente

 
Hello, all!

We wanted to write a bit about our [crazy] monthly 4-hour trip to our San Vicente Ministry Center.

San Vicente (also Misión San Vicente Ferrer) is a farming village in Baja Norte, Mexico, 125 miles south of the USA-Mex border. A delegation of the Ensenada Municipality, there are about 4,000 inhabitants, with another 1000 people in the surrounding ejidos (farming divisions) and farming companies. San Vicente is nestled at the northern edge of the ‘San Quintin Valley’, one of Mexico’s biggest farming areas. Situated 50 miles south of Ensenada and 50 miles north of San Quintin, it sits right on the ‘Mexico 1’, also called the Baja Trans-peninsular highway, which starts at Tijuana (TJ) and ends in Los Cabos, which is the southern tip of the Baja peninsula.

For us, SV being on the highway is a huge plus. It means that we are able to travel on relatively stable roads that the Mexican government keeps up, since the ‘Mex 1’ is the commerce artery between TJ and the south. Note the ‘relatively stable’... rock slides, hillsides sliding into the ocean and heavily-driven roads that require on-going construction have meant some pretty wild driving. You see, when the government does road construction, they just divert you through an open field...

We’ve been working consistently in San Vicente for 11 years. Chris did a couple of weeks training Community Health Workers back in 1998 and in 2002 there, but a permanent, on-going ministry started in 2006. Our vehicles have been properly beaten up by Baja driving.

So, why does a 120-mile trip take 4-hours? Well, the Mex 1 crawls through three major Mexican cities (no expressway by-pass), and we have to go up-and-over four major mountain passes to get to San Vicente.



Our trip has ‘stages’:
<>through Mexican border customs, then through Tijuana to the ‘Mex 1’. On a good day, it’s just road-rally speed driving and dodging potholes. On a bad day, we get diverted through central TJ...
<>we pass by (or through, depending on the divert) Rosarito, a pay booth and onto the gorgeous coastal Mex 1 ‘cuota’. Right now, the road is intact, but since the south end of this section literally goes over the San Andreas fault line, it gets torn up real easy. For about 2 years, we had to divert through the desert, because a significant stretch fell into the ocean in 2014, and additional 35 miles/1 hour to the trip then. Either way, this involves going through an ear-popping mountain pass (#1)...
 


<>then through Ensenada, Mexico, a beautiful port city on the Pacific. Traffic can be snarled, but we get through, buy supplies and aim south on the ‘Mex 1’. By the way, the stop-offs for groceries are not counted in the trip time here... [confession time: our favorite taco stops are along the way here, and we usually grab a tasty and inexpensive lunch...]
<>then it’s the torturous drive through Maneadero, the city with the highest traffic accident numbers in Baja. Roads in severe dis-repair, aggressive drivers, numerous trucks and local vehicles that belch smoke as they try and get up to 15 miles an hour... torturous...
<>we break out of Maneadero, up and through the second mountain pass (#2), then down into the Santo Tomas valley. Numerous wineries in view of our drive...
<>then the really high mountain pass (#3), ears popping as we crawl up, weave around, crawl down, pin-turn after pin-turn and finally onto the plateau. This is white-knucle driving, with so many trucks trying to push through, and other trucks barely making 15 miles an hour on the climbs...
<>the plateau is weave-weave around some minor mountain peaks, and drivers are constantly trying to pass and make up time...
<>final, moderate-height mountain range (#4), and then... there it is! San Vicente comes into view, at the lip of the Valley.


San Vicente sits on a valley-plateau, about 16 Km inland from the Pacific coast, with a minor mountain range between it and the ocean to the west. There is a significant mountain range to the east, with peaks going into the 7,500-feet level. It’s basic climate is chaparral desert, but does get some coastal breezes in the evenings.

The fastest we have ever made the trip was 3 hours and 25 minutes. The longest was... wait for it... 8 hours and 15 minutes.

We arrive, un-load into the ministry center, and get our bearings. Drink lot’s of Oral Rehydration, the shift to desert dryness with altitude always hits us when we arrive.

The trip back requires the same route and amount of time... replay!

SO, thanks for listening to our travel-log... blessings!
chris

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

BEE-ing Missionaries... Always Something...






‘Bee-ing Missionaries’
…or, we are thinking of changing our ministry name to, ‘Always Something Mission’!

We arrived at our ‘ministry center’, looking forward to going in the front door un-inhibited, because we had our friend Julio carve out the heaved concrete that previously made it impossible to open the door. “Hey, we’ll be able to go in the front door”, we said… but wait! What’s this? Hundreds and hundreds of BEES buzzing around the door? Seems that a hive took up residence in the water crypt just steps from the front door! Ahhhhh!
“Always Something Mission!” we said. Plus, Lori has quite the Bee allergy, so she was hugging her Epi-Pen.
We prayed, and made some quick contacts in our circle in the Village, “Help! We be BEE’d!”
SO when you have a Bee problem, and cry out to the Lord, what does He do?? Sends an experienced Bee-keeper, of course! Mario and his wife Ali, (one of the Estrellas Ladies), came after dark (when you work with bees), and figured out the issue. Wow! Huge hive of Africanized bees had chosen a bad place to put up condos… once we got into the crypt, there were many ‘panels’ of hive and tens of thousands of bees! Try as we might to save and re-locate them, we had to drown them and clean them out (sadness here). Mario said that these bees in Baja are a poor fit, and would actually hurt the environment and a lot of people… (super-sadness here… million thanks to our Bee-good friends!).
SO, that’s another chapter of ‘Bee-ing Missionaries’… Time to buzz along…

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Looking Out Thru Metal Bars…



In 26 years of Mexico ministry, we have been majorly robbed 10 times. That does not count the small stuff disappearing, that means 10 times where we’ve been cleaned out. If you want to live or work in Mexico, be prepared to be robbed. You CAN spend the money and turn your buildings into lock-boxes and make it HARDER to break in… not impossible, but decreased break-ins. Clean-up of a break-in takes a long time, and the loss of things you need to live day-to-day can be difficult (as we can tell you…).
After two major 2016 San Vicente break-ins, we opted to have our local metal-working friend Julio build and install metal window-bars and security doors in our rented Ministry Center. Installation involved drilling into the concrete walls and lot’s of welding, which took days to clean up. However, we now have a ‘increased security’ building, which also increases the safety factor for long-term stays. Besides, looking out a window thru metal bars can help one identify with the Apostle Paul, a ‘prisoner of Christ’…!
We’re grateful to our American friends the Neely’s and their Eastlake Church home-group for pulling together a ‘robbery recovery’ care package, replacing so many day-to-day items… ¡Gracias!

Our friends tell us that if we’ve been regularly robbed, “well, that REALLY makes you a Mexican!”… the cost of cultural initiation is high…

crisbaj

Adore The Lord Blog... It's Alive!!



Adore The Lord Blog... It's Alive!!

(yes, you can find it AT    AdoreTheLord.blog   !!!)


Chris here. For me, the launch of the blog ADORE THE LORD is a dream come true.
Back in 2014, I heard the Lord speak as Lori and I were taking a dawn-patrol flight across the country. Everyone was sleeping on the plane except me. Lori was trying to grab a nap.
The Lord said to get paper and write down all the areas regarding Worship that had been percolating in my thoughts of late.
I had just spent the last few years training worship leaders in Mexico, worked with some major ‘worship-leader’ people on some projects (recordings, gatherings, plans), was playing in occasional bands and events, and had been majorly rooting around the Scriptures asking the question, “what is worship, REALLY?”
Between many of us involved in ‘modern worship’, there’s now an intense conversation about the “what’s next?” Please (say we), not just some cool new tune.
There’s some real apprehension among us worship-types: surely, something way different is coming… right?
The flight was bumpy, and I didn’t want to disturb my sleeping neighbors, so I looked in my backpack at my feet… ahhh! Didn’t pack any notebook on this trip. Wait! Here’s a few scraps of paper with some space…
By the time we landed, an entire entity had been born, scribbled around the edges and spaces, filling up every scrap. What is it? The spine of a book? A course curriculum? A devotional? Art project? Topic guide for a school of worship? A website?
I asked the Lord what to do with this ragamuffin parchment of ideas and incendiary thoughts…? He said organize, study, expand, pray, wait, angst, read broadly, study church history, pray, study root words, wait on Him, scour the Scriptures, refine… with all the fruits of the Spirit, Grace and Mercy.
Oh, yeah. I was to gouge out everything I thought I knew about worship and press into Him deep, then deeper, and then some.. new wine for old wine-skins!
Since 2014, this content has grown large.
Finally, Adore The Lord is a blog-web site, free of charge. Yep, we’re giving it away… on our dime. All you have to do is visit AdoreTheLord.blog, read away, comment and generate thoughtful discussion!
This Blog will wrestle with questions... What is worship and adoration of God? What do the Scriptures teach us, through teaching and example, about worship and adoration? What does that means individually and corporately?
Oh, yes... and the 'What’s Next?' questions, and about getting from 'where we are now' to the What's Next..
I suspect that What’s Next is going to be… well, ‘from Glory to Glory’… Glorious... radically different... 

Come join the conversation. Comment. Disagree. Agree. Discourse. Let’s sort all this together!
crisbaj