VOB News Dec. 2020 “Photo of the year”

As we reflect over this past year, and all that has gone on in the world, this photo stood out to us for many reasons. Wayne sees this dear elderly woman every week in Tijuana. She is always in the street just in front of her house, always standing with two brooms that are worn down to the last bristles. She sweeps little piles of street dust, dirt, leaves, and tree budding flowers that fall. She is always there and always doing the same. Wayne had noticed her along his route often but never stopped, to avoid alarming her.  But, earlier this past year, he stopped and gave her some bread and a little pastry. Though you can’t see her delightful smile behind the mask we provided her, she has the kindest face, and is so grateful to have Wayne stop now, each week. In attempting to talk with her, he discovered that she is not fully capable of mental faculties, whether due to aging, or something else. He has not yet been able to even determine her name.

Wayne maintains a safe distance, due to pandemic, thus sitting and visiting with her longer,  is not possible right now.  As best we can tell, she lives at the top of a narrow and steep, very old, concrete staircase. Many collected items, perhaps of significant importance to her, are stacked along the way, and into the entrance of her home.  To watch how carefully she comes down the last couple of steps, it is hard to imagine how she climbs up them. In ongoing effort to maintain safe distance, we don’t wish to burden her with a heavy load to carry up. This is often a struggle, when wondering how much more she might need. She seems healthy, and well groomed, and at times a neighbor will nod or smile as we drive off, so it would seem that she is watched over in her colonia. The red sweater in the photo and scarf around her neck, appeared in recent, cooler days, so she seems to be either provided for or able to look after herself. We also came to realize that the brooms, while equipping her in sweeping up the daily grime of a busy crowded street and dusty hillsides, also keep her steady on her feet, as she has difficulty walking. She always takes a brief rest on the stoop, when Wayne arrives, to see what delights may be in her specially packed food bag. 

This sweet woman, represents many around the world, whether impoverished, or among riches. Many of whom are likely isolated, at this time. Many are unable to communicate, not even with a simple smile or expression, veiled behind a mask. Some may even be forced to use whatever resources are on hand to stand steady. Perhaps some have little to do, but tend to unending tasks, so as to pass the time, each day. Those we may never even meet or know about whom we intercede for. Like the many among Native America Carol stands in the gap in worship and intercession for. Wayne is convinced that the Lord is very near this precious lady, as He is to many in these situations. We hope to encourage you that He IS near you in your current circumstances. But we also know that He asks us to be His hands and feet. If you are not already doing so, reach out to a neighbor. Check in on one another. Show kindness to a stranger whose name you might not even know. But know that the King will say to you:  

      “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”.    [Matthew 25:40]

Also keep in mind the Lord transcends space and time, so He is NOT bound by shutdowns and closures. Finding new ways to worship and intercede, and going back to something more simple, is a cool reminder of that fact!!  

Please know we are so grateful for the support we receive from each of you in prayer and provision. Neither is greater or lesser than the other! We know the many values of the Kingdom! Love Wayne & Carol

p.s. We are taking a short break from ministry over the holidays. Your prayers are needed and so appreciated for travel mercies, protection and health concerns as we care for our families at this time.

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: