Saturday, May 30

Church Service "al fresco"

In January, a team came down from Southern California. Their main goal during their time here was to build a roof over the second story of the secondary building on the church campus.

The project turned out beautiful and the whole church was excited to imagine church services in this open, shaded area during the heat of summer. No one dreamed of how absolutely wonderful it would be!

The first wave of heat rolled in about a month ago and everyone in town pulled out their fans and dusted off the AC's. After a couple of weeks of sweating through Wednesday afternoon prayer meetings, the leadership decided to move the meetings to the "upper room". Last Sunday was our first Sunday morning service in the new location.

The breeze is fantastic and the view is spectacular. The added bonus is that anyone passing by is free to stop and fact, they don't have a lot of choice!

Ladies' Bible study met upstairs on Friday and the youth will be using it this evening.

What a blessing!!! A special thank you to CCRSM for their generous gift to CC Boca del Rio!!! Pastor Ricardo sends a special thanks to you guys!!!

Saturday, May 23

Mother's Day Tradtion

This is our 4th Mother's Day in Mexico. Wow! Time flies!!!

As we have each year, we ladies piled into our van and headed to the river for a "ladies' day out". This year's lunch was posole (a personal favorite!) and as usual we had a blast! Here are some photos of our day...

That's a serious pot of stew!!!

A special time of singing...

A time of teaching from the Word...

Prayer and fellowship...

Food, of course!

And of course time to just relax and have fun!

Yep. That's why I hate piñatas!!!

The water baloon toss!

We laughed and laughed and laughed...until we cried!!!

Here are the ladies of the a few! We managed to talk a few of the other moms from the village into coming along with us. A week or so later, Sister Virginia shared at Bible Study that her daughter, Myrna, had been really touched by her time with us. She hadn't really wanted to go, because she didn't think she'd have any fun -- and she didn't think she'd be accepted by the group because she's not a Christian. She was proven wrong on both counts!

Pray for these ladies and also pray that we would be able to reach out to other women of our village this summer. We're hoping to have a couple of women's "play days" in the next few months where we can invite more ladies from outside the church to participate.

Friday, May 22

Fun Fact Friday -- The Jumping Chollo Cactus

The Chollo Cactus

(also referred to as the dreaded jumping cactus)

Native to Southern Arizona, California and of course Mexico, this cactus is near and dear to our hearts. Like most cacti, the Chollo requires very little water to live. This makes it the ideal garden plant for dry arid climates. NOT!

I've seen gardens in Arizona with this rather pretty cactus, but my first thought is always, "Why?" My second thought is usually, "They must not have kids or dogs."

The jumping chollo cactus received its reputation because of the ease with which the cactus spines detach from the "mother plant". Unlike the porcupine, which throws its quills out, the chollo detaches a small section of itself which is covered with quills. When the unsuspecting victim saunters past, lightly brushing the cactus, the section detaches and the quills implant in the victim. If the victim happens to be a long-haired collie with a bushy tail, the quills tangle mercilessly in the hair and must be cut out. Any attempt by a human to remove them is met with extremely sore fingers...even if wearing leather gloves.

So, why did God create the obnoxious chollo cactus? Well, the cowboys here make a tea from the spiny sections which, reportedly, is good for the kidneys and for the urinary tract. I prefer Hibiscus, myself -- it's a lot less painful to harvest!!!

Mister Linky is having trouble this week, so if you want to participate in this week's Fun Fact Friday, simply leave a comment below and be sure to include the link to your post!

Hope you learned something new today!!!

Tuesday, May 19

River Baptism

Baptisms here are a really big deal! Our church was invited on Sunday to attend a baptism at our sister church in Compuertas, which is a small town near Los Mochis -- about an hour and a half away. Several believers had come forward to be baptized. Yeah!!!

Early Sunday morning, we piled people, chairs, ice chests and of course lots of food -- it was a picnic, afterall -- into our van, Pastor's station wagon and Braulio's car and headed for Calvary Chapel Compuertas.

Along the way, we were pulled over by a federal police officer. He just asked where we were from and where we were headed and then sent us on our way. We figured that he was making sure we weren't kidnapping American kids, since the van was full of Mexicans with a bunch of little white kids peeking out the back window. Ricardo and Braulio got a chuckle out of it. Anyway, we arrived at the church without further incident and then took off for the river which was a few miles north.

As we turned off the highway, we saw this mountain. It's hard to see in the picture, but it says, "Jesus te ama" -- Jesus loves you!

Here are some photos of our very full day...

Pastor Israel shared a message explaining the importance and significance of baptism.

The youth shared a skit depicting the things which stand in the way of our coming to Christ and His ability to overcome those things.

We took some time to pray for the 12 people who were to be baptized.

Pastor Israel talked a few moments with each person. While the baptisms were going on in the water, on the shore folks were singing and clapping.

This is Adrian. He's a phenomenal guitarist. Notice anything about his guitar? I didn't realize it until we got home and were talking about his amazing gift...the guitar's upside down. Adrian is left-handed and plays the guitar flipped over. And I was impressed before!

As soon as the baptism was over, the kids ran for the water. We had a huge group -- well over 100 people -- and pretty much had the river to ourselves most of the afternoon. We had grabbed the spot where an old rope swing dangled over the water. After we determined that there were no submerged rocks or logs and that the water was deep enough, the swing became the focal point of the kids' time.

Armida almost went off the rope swing. Just as she was about to jump, her foot slipped a bit and she said, "No puedo!"

Of course not everyone was really into the rope swing. Some people just splashed in the shallows, some played with the volleyball and everyone ate...a lot!

We headed home in the late afternoon -- tired and a bit sunburned, but praising God for a fantastic day and a great time of fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters from Compuertas!

Thursday, May 7

Fun Fact Friday -- the Bread Lady

In the early afternoon in Boca del Rio, just after school lets out, the relative calm of village life is broken by the squawk of a loud speaker...Hay pan! Pan calientito! Bien rico y sabroso!

Victoria, the bread lady, is ready for business!

Most of you reading this post have an oven in your kitchen. That's not such a common thing in this part of the world! A small village, the size of Boca del Rio, might only have half a dozen ladies who have gas stoves. Some families have crudely constructed brick ovens in their yards, but an indoor gas oven is very uncommon! The majority of the family's meals are prepared over fire in an outdoor kitchen or perhaps over a small, table-top gas burner.

Fresh bread is something people don't get everyday...unless some dear lady in the village like Victoria decides to make some to sell.

There are a couple of different varieties which are common. White bread is called pan de harina while whole wheat is called pan integral. The most popular bread in our area is called pan de mujer, which literally means "bread by women". This bread is fairly flat and usually has a filling of piloncillo, which is similar to brown sugar. Victoria also makes bread with cooked squash -- like pumpkin -- inside. Yummy!

Some afternoons, she makes empanadas, too! We compare empanadas to PopTarts, but waaaaay better!!! If you'd like to try to make empanadas at home, you can check out this recipe with instructions and photos, too!

Victoria's bread is a "must try" when you come down here! It was definitely a hit with our friends from California who were down last month!!!

Tuesday, May 5

Swine Flu in Sinaloa

First of all, let me say that...there isn't any. At last report, the flu H1N1 has been confirmed in 3 Mexican states, and Sinaloa is not one of them.

Our village, like every other village in Mexico, has been shut down for the past week and a half, but other than the usual coughs and colds, we are healthy. Schools were closed, church services cancelled, and our annual kids' day party was postponed. Bummer.

Lord willing, we'll be celebrating dia de los niños on Saturday. I'll post photos when we have them! Until then, do keep us in your prayers. The colds which have been circulating for the past month are bad enough. We certainly don't need a flu bug, too!

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Blanketing La Pitahaya with Love

A team from Southern California came down for spring break and brought with them a neat gift for the ladies of the nearby village of La Pitahaya (pronounced La pit AH ya). Inmates of a prison in the States had made a collection of quilts and blankets to give. We had a fantastic time giving them!

La Pitahaya is one of the villages we were able to bless with the Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes this past Christmas. It was very special to be able to bless the moms this time!
La Pitahaya by land
The village is situated right on the river at the end of a dirt trail which bumps across the salt flats. They have no water, no electricity, no stores, no church. Once they had a small one-room schoolhouse, but they have been unable to find a teacher willing to stay here, so all the children must walk to Boca del Rio (about 2 miles) to go to school.

La Pitahaya by sea

Fishing is the main -- and basically only -- industry. Doug's friend, Chabelo, rents his services as a guide to American and Canadian tourists and fishermen during the off-season.

We piled our family, Pastor Ricardo and his family, some youth from the church and the CCRSM team into the van and away we went.

Imelda -- mother of Norberto, one of our boys' friends

Fatima -- wife of Chabelo, a local fisherman

Villagers listened attentively while Ricardo shared about Jesus' love and sacrifice for them. He shared powerfully and we had a great time of prayer afterward.
The team took some time to pray over a baby who has been sick for the past month

As we were preparing to leave, a few of the women of the village said that they would like to start a weekly Bible class. We were excited about that, since this village has been very closed in the past.

A week later though, when the day arrived for the study, the town was quiet. No one was home. Karen said that even the dogs were hiding. So, we continue to love them. We continue to pray for them and we will continue to visit and build relationships.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples:

if you have love for one another.