VOB News July 2020 “Looking back then and now”

A partnering missions organization recently asked, to highlight in their newsletter, who we are and what we do particularly in Mexico. We thought we would share it with you:

I (Wayne) spent 8 years serving in an administrative pastoral role in a local San Diego church. Also one of my roles, was to lead the youth group. Several times we took the youth to Tijuana Mexico to do some simple building refurbishing chores and maybe create some fun time for the children there. A few years later while working for another ministry in Kansas City Missouri we were leading a missions trip in the Philippines. As I worked with the very poor there I was stunned by their amazing outlook on life.

I bought myself one of those scrap rugs in the Philippines. I step out of bed everyday onto it to remember my “deal” with the Lord!

We were worshiping the Lord in the poorest area I had ever been yet the folks behaved as though they were the richest ever. It reminded me of my few times in Tijuana in the earlier years. I realized that we had lived 20 minutes from a third world while living in our little San Diego apartment working in the church office. We had been contemplating returning to San Diego. That day, while worshiping in the Philippines with the richest of the richest in spirit, among the poor, I made a deal with the Lord (while standing on a little rug by the door, handmade of scraps to wipe the dust off your feet). If He helped Carol and I navigate back to San Diego, I would serve the poor in the nearby third world of Tijuana, Mexico.

He did and I did!  13 years later, we have taken incredible full truck loads of food across the border 2-3 times regularly a week. We have made connections and relationships with brothers and sisters, and churches, that are invaluable to us, as they know their communities, and know where the greatest needs are. And better yet, they desire the Lord be glorified and lifted among all people. Tijuana is an important place to be. There are amazing people who work harder than most I have known. Limited by resources, and overlooked by their government, the people of TJ make the most out of what they have.  We are so privileged and honored to be a part of making what they have, more substantial. Our greatest desire, is to work with the locals, and help them help their communities, keeping ourselves in the background of service as often as possible. We deliver food to a great number of people and facilities, children and elderly homes, infirmaries, rehabs, and many colonia’s, both rural and urban, where the folks provide best they can for their families on limited budgets. These days, in this recent world pandemic, Tijuana is affected no less, if not more. No stimulus checks. No government aid. And yet many people have been forced out of work, due to the health scare closing many businesses. We had learned years ago that many of our Mexican partners do not have savings or long term financial plans. They live day to day, week to week, on minimal pay. They do not store a lot of food, as they buy what they need to feed their families on a day to day basis. Often I am asked, “isn’t the donated food near date and shouldn’t it be cooked and consumed soon?” It is always easy to reply, ‘no worries, these folks will put this on their family dinner table tonight,’ because it is today’s provision. 

Throughout this pandemic, food donations have ebbed and flowed. We are grateful for every call we receive, and any amount of provision versus, it going to waste. Prayers are greatly appreciated in seeing that those connections continue to be made. Many businesses are stressed with the hardships of the changes in normalcy, this pandemic has brought on. But, we believe there is a great abundant blessing to all who make the effort, to not over ook the needy. Thank you for praying that the needs of the poor, will remain visible, and continue to be met!

DID YOU KNOW?

When I was a child (Carol), my mom and dad took my sister and I on vacation every summer.  On two occasions, we went to see “Unto These Hills” in Cherokee, NC.  The play dramatizes the Cherokee nation, and the lead up and removal of the people on the Trail of Tears.  I remember, as both a small child, and a young teen, being deeply moved by this story, and wanting the Cherokee people to fight back, and not leave. I was so sad that they were forced away from their homeland.  I look back on this, as the spark to the fire that GOD has put inside of me, to see the First Nations people of North America, come to know that Lord.  I really cannot explain it.  I just know this fire is deep in my heart, and I am thankful to be able to serve thru worship & prayer, people of all nations.

Covid19 update:  our ministry trip to the Cheyenne River reservation, in South Dakota, like so many things, has been put on hold for the time being.  Some of the reservations in SD, have been put on lockdown, or in a phase of lockdown that does not allow visitors on the reservation.  Pine Ridge, and Cheyenne River are among these.  The hardships the Native people face, when dealing with the virus, is heavy.  There are few to no hospitals on the reservations, and even the one hospital available on a reservation, will only have 6 or 7 intensive care beds.  When everything is shut down, goods have trouble getting in & out to an already isolated population.  Please pray with us, that the Lord will turn what the enemy means for evil, into good.

 

You can see the published highlight, on VOB, from our missions partner Circle of Concern here:

VOB News February 2016 “Urgent prayer needed…”

If you follow us on social media, or get our intercessory texts when crossing the border each time, you are already informed as to what has been going on these past few weeks.  Thank you for praying. If you are just now becoming informed, we could use your added concert of prayers.

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Wayne & Greg

To give you some background, we have to declare our loads with Mexican Customs (Aduanas), when crossing into Mexico. We have paperwork given to us by one of the orphanages we serve, that gives us the special permission to bring donated food.  On that paperwork, is a description of what we are carrying in our truck load. Up until recently, that was just a general idea of what the load consisted of (i.e. bags of bread, boxes of pastries or cooked food, etc.) 

Every so often the Aduana Administrator changes, where the old one moves on to another port, and a new one comes. We have always had challenging transitions with these changes, as our favor and rapport must be rebuilt each time. Often, some of the agents are still around between transitions, which helps. Right now, the latest change brought a very difficult new administrator. He is all about the money, and not really interested in those bringing in donations, without expecting to pay for it. For years now, we’ve paid anywhere from $7-$15  for a truck load of food, each time we cross. Normally, for things other than donations, fees are calculated at 16% of the value of what one is transporting across the border.

Just over 3 weeks ago, we packed and loaded my partners truck like every other day, as we prepared to cross the border with a large load of food. On this particular night we had food supplements which had been donated at the last minute, and did not make it on our paperwork. Ordinarily, this would not be a real problem, and especially not with the favor we have had from crossing for so many years (I/Wayne for nearly 9 years,–Greg almost 20).  But upon arrival to customs, this new boss was walking around, and he ordered the agent checking our truck, to scrutinize what we had declared, compared to what was on the truck. And because the supplements were not listed, he seized our load, and impounded my partners truck. Our paperwork clearance was temporarily suspended.  And it has been a downhill battle ever since.

The next time we attempted to cross, after learning that our paperwork was cleared again, we were informed that the Aduana’s office had stopped ALL donations from coming in until further notice. They decided to reorganize how they allow donations to be brought in. Gabriel and I were left with 2 loaded trucks that night. We knew as soon as we were returned to the US, that we needed to get that food into Mexico, as it was going to be a long time, before we would have an opportunity to get another load in. We drove both trucks one hour east, to another border crossing in Tecate.  This port is usually a bit more laid back, although very difficult to get to, with winding roads and mountain climbs. But it is easier to cross things through.  We were allowed to cross, but for a very hefty price. We were charged 16% of the perceived value of the food. (as I mentioned earlier) This handed us a $284.00 fee for 2 trucks.  As soon as the agent told me how much it would cost, I was reminded of a special offering from a group of supporters who pray for us regularly and collect an offering. The note with the check said, “our folks dug deep this month to help with the recent border problems”. I knew that offering was for this moment. We were grateful to get that load in. It has been the last one up to now. We would not be able to pay that much, as often as we normally cross.

Meanwhile we still have food to collect 7 days a week, and we don’t want to lose those connections. So we have actively discovered places throughout San Diego, where we can deliver the food. This hasn’t been that easy, as these other places are not equipped for the masses of food we collect. Remember we recently told you that we move 20,000 pounds of food a week. Our hearts grieve for those no longer receiving the food.

The latest is this: We still wait for the ban to be lifted. We are still waiting to get Greg’s truck back. He was also charged with several fines. That, plus the truck impound fee will tower into the thousands of dollars. Greg has been consulting with a lawyer in Mexico, as well as getting the help of individuals who work in politics, and other philanthropic endeavors, who believe in what we do. We have a press conference scheduled and the possibility of a march with hundreds of people making their opinions known about this injustice. The people of Tijuana are tired of being oppressed by their government. It is as difficult for them as it is for us, to understand why people would be prevented from helping those in need!  Thank you for praying!!

Love Wayne & Carol