Monday, June 30, 2014

Snapshots from New Mexico

Being in New Mexico is a completely different experience than any other mission trip I've been on. The previous trips I've been on were in Guatemala and then local missions up in Pennsylvania. The main reason I would say New Mexico was so different was because they spoke English. I know that sounds funny, but the only other far off mission trip I've been on was in Guatemala and they speak Spanish there. The poverty and lack of food that lingers within the small town of Tohatchi will make you believe that you aren't even in the states anymore. The best way I could try and give you a visual for such a sad environment is by telling you about a few of my "snapshots". These snapshots are pictures I've taken with my mind and that lay heavy on my heart. So the first snapshot I am going to share with you is about Jennifer and her family. Jennifer is a woman that comes to Tohatchi Baptist Church and has five children that she raises with her boyfriend/husband. They live in a two room "home", if thats what you want to call it. When you walked into the home, you were in the living room/kitchen/dining room. The second room was the bedroom, where there was a queen size bed and a bunk bed. In the corner of the room there sat a bathtub and toilet. There was no wall around it, and they have no running water, so it was unusable. So you may ask, where did they go to the bathroom? Every time they had to go, they had to walk two houses down and use there neighbors outhouse. Could you imagine? Now you have a visual, but let me add to this visual. They had sheets and blankets hanging up all over the walls, why you ask? To keep the wind out because there were huge holes in the walls. If you know anything about New Mexico, you know its windy and when the wind kicks in the sand flies up. The whole living situation is completely ridiculous. Another reason that made their living situation so hard was the fact that Jennifer's daughter, Moriah, has spinabifida. Moriah can't feel her legs at all, so she lives the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Mariah is only 10. The icing on the cake is that Jennifer and her man don't have jobs. You put it all together and you have a very sad living situation. Seeing that home, you just want to tear it down and start from scratch; give them a brand new home and make Moriah's life a little easier. Unfortunately we can't do that, but our first team that came in from Waco, Texas came into Jennifer's home and gave her a fully functioning bathroom. These living situation seem to be fairly common in the area of Tohatchi.  

Another snapshot I have is a little boy that goes by the name of Turtle. Turtle is a little five year old boy who made my day. Our groups do VBS every night for the kids that live all around. They do a few events during VBS: Bible story, crafts, music,with dances to each song, recreation, and snack. During the dancing time, a lot of the kids don't want to participate. So I decided to get involved, I grabbed Turtle and we sat down on the floor together. I held onto his wrist and made him do the motions. Turtle started laughing and as time went on of me moving his arms around, he started to make the hand motions along with the arm movements. From then on Turtle was my friend and a good friend at that! The next day came around and all of the kids were doing there craft and were gradually transitioning to music. Once music started going, Turtle ran up to me and said "I want to dance with you!!!" So he grabs my hand and pulls me to where we had been sitting the day before. I looked at him and said, "I thought you wanted to dance." He looked at me with the biggest smile on his face and said, "I want to do it exactly like we did it yesterday." From then on, Turtle involved me with everything he was doing. 

The last snapshot I'm going to share is about the fire. The first few days of being in Tohatchi, we noticed over the mountain there was a deep black smoke rising up. A few days went by and the smoke seemed to be getting worse. There was no final word on what started this fire, but it was a wild fire. For almost a week the fire was 0% contained and they had over 100 workers on the fire, trying to stop it. A little into the week, we got a call from Aaron, the pastor of Tohatchi Baptist Church, saying that they were making the Navajo people evacuate and needed help. We sent a team of people from our group up the mountain to help as many people as they could. Since all of those people had to leave, they needed a place to stay. So they opened up a shelter in the high school up the street from the church. With shelters come tons of donations to help the people. Aaron asked if we would send a team over to help them organize the donations and make gift boxes for each family. I've heard so much about shelters and how they help people, but it's completely different to walk into one. You walk into the gym and there are lines of cots set up and boxes and boxes and boxes of donations. All the people that had to live there were just laying around and trying to keep themselves occupied. It was such a surreal experience, seeing these people that had just lost everything they have to a fire, having to start over, with nothing. That's an image that will forever remain in my mind and lay heavy on my heart. 

New Mexico impacted my life greatly and I thank God for allowing me to come on this trip and to experience New Mexico. God blessed me with new friendships and a growing passion for Christ. I am thankful for the work we did in New Mexico but also the work He did in all of our lives. I saw such a change in the groups between day one and departure day. Leaving New Mexico was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I pray that God will have my path cross the friendly faces I met in Tohatchi again.  

Emma Blake
Summer Intern 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Living Water in Us!


        Heads bowed and eyes wet with the tears from the weight of daily struggles, a room full of women and children echoes with the sound of prayers.  The day is full of singing and playing with children whose daily life is, at best, a struggle and for most, a journey of fear and suffering.  For a brief moment in their lives, a group of children replace sad looks and frowns with smiles and laughter as our team plays with them and shares the love of Christ.  As I watch this experience late in the day, as we are allowed to participate in a time of prayer and encouragement, I am reminded of the Samaritan woman.  The people we are sharing with are some of the poorest people in the western hemisphere. 

In the middle of this journey we call life, moments in time come that seem to stand still.  It is in these times that the Lord clarifies or emphasizes something unique to us in the moment.  This happened last week as we shared in a special time of worship and prayer for the women and children of Tabitha House in Guatemala City.  I was among a people that even the Guatemalan church has a hard time reaching out to with love and compassion.  Time seemed to pause when one of the mothers who had come for the service needed to leave with her child.  She politely got up from her seat and grabbed the hand of her child.  They began to make their way out of the room through the sea of children and team members holding on to the wandering children in the room.  

This young woman was not more than twenty-five years old.  She had a small glimmer of her former beauty slipping out from under her hat which was full of her long black hair.  The top layer of her clothes was covered in black and grey dirt and grime from the day.  Her feet almost as black as the thin rubber shoes she wore.  As she walked out of the room my world stood still for a moment and the Lord spoke clearly to me.  “This is the reason you are here."  In that moment my mind raced through the entire background of the Samaritan woman and her story of encountering Jesus.  I quickly processed the similarities that were possible with her life in that environment from my past experiences in the community.  And then as it usually is those divine encounters, God spoke a word to me that will drive me forward in my calling and my service to the Kingdom!


John writes of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, “Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” - John 4:14.  You and I have this living water on tap in our lives welling up inside us.  Many of us seem to have forgotten this power that is deep within us.  The Father has planned this entire experience in a way that will totally overwhelm us if we allow Him to work in us.  Jesus’ words in this passage speak of a continual supply of living water that will transform lives and heal hurts.  This living water will bring life and hope and salvation.  This living water that wells up must at some point come out as it builds and grows.  The purpose of a well is to supply many with the life giving necessity of water.  The purpose of your redeemed life is to be that source of living water for those who are thirsty and need a fresh cup of water.  It is in those moments of obedience that you and I will see the hand of God miraculously work in the life of the least of these! 

   Will you today ask the Father to position your life in such a way as to encounter someone today who needs some fresh water from the living water Himself?  Will you be His ambassador and share the hope of His living water with those who are searching desperately for it?  Will you sit down for a moment and allow the Lord to remind you of this source of LIFE itself that is in you and then ask Him to use you to reach the world and teach His Word to everyone you see?