Message from Mexico
I spent Valentine’s Day in a drenched Ensenada – a city about the size of Bradford right at the top left-hand side of Mexico, about an hour South of the border town of Tijuana. So I was 5500 miles from Alison, but it’s OK, she hid some chocolates in my bag.
The sun has shone brightly here on the Baha Peninsula but the rain has fallen too, lots of it – and when that happens the city comes to a standstill. At least the Brits here can cope with rain even if we struggle with leaves and snow back home.
I’m here (with Anthony and Chris Pollard) to visit Libby and Ivan Mungarro and to take part in a house-build with one of their favourite teams from Minnesota. Actually the team we joined built two houses in three days. Here are pictures of: just before we started (a concrete slab); during (walls but no roof); roof; and finally a front door. One housebuild took two days, one only a day. The caravan has been the family's home for several years - since they escaped sex traffickers who tried to abduct their daughter at their home town in Central Mexico.
I have some reservations about short-term missions like this but there is no denying the transformational beauty of watching a family as they move from a one room shack with no lock to a place of safety and protection from weather and intruders.
But you also have to watch a humbled father having to receive a huge gift of time, money and hard work from complete strangers because he has been unable to provide shelter for his wife and children. Wealthy people preoccupied with whether it’s steak or fish tonight looking at beautiful but poverty-stricken people trying to keep their wardrobe and dignity intact. It’s a complicated emotional experience but also a vivid sign of God’s blessing brought about by through the generosity of his followers.
Thank you to those of you who made a gift to this ministry: it was wonderful watching the children’s faces as they saw beds and bedding in their new homes – something they have never before experienced – and thinking that we had been able to contribute towards this delight. I was going to take a photo but it felt too intrusive, sorry!
The whole programme is an impressive operation based out of the YWAM base here in Ensenada. They build hundreds of houses every year and introduce thousands of people to a transformational experience as they serve some of the poorest of the poor. You probably know that Anthony and Jane Pollard (Libby’s parents) are part of a team which takes a bunch of teenagers from the North East every summer. You can be very proud of Libby, she (alongside Ivan) is held in high esteem here, works incredibly hard and is a highly competent leader and manager whilst raising two gorgeous girls. Ivan & Libby are both spiritually mature beyond their years and handling immense challenges with grace and aplomb.
I’ll share more about the work they are doing when I get back. Tonight we go to the church to take part in the Youth Service at which Ivan is leading worship and then we’ll visit one of the several services their church holds on Sunday.
Last Sunday a team from Leeds Vineyard went to Bradford Vineyard to help Ian and Hannah Ripping launch their Sunday morning brunch (Hannah is also Anthony and Jane’s daughter!). That went really well despite a very difficult run-up during the week. More news about that in due course too.
And then those of you at weekly worship on Sunday have a BIG TREAT because Alison will be teaching. Yay! She’s got a great message for you, “God’s Space, Our Space”. In the following weeks I’ll be revisiting issues raised in Genesis 1 & 2 about identity and sexuality.