Marquez de Leon

And He Dwelt Among Us

We recently made a video for our sending church at home for their advent season which highlights some of the work of the Ranch. Hope you enjoy this little Christmas video. Spanish and English versions available!

 

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Moments and Mercy

 

At times it seems to us that life is moving so quickly that we can barely catch our breath, and then when we have a chance to sit and reflect, there are so many little moments that were such blessings to us that we don’t want to forget them. And the sum of all of these little moments is actually a big thing! We are fully aware that we should probably slow down more often and appreciate how God is working. And in the meantime, we wanted to share some with you…

At the very beginning of the summer, we had a short term team with us, and they helped us do a promo week for summer camp during our kids’ club ministries. The team was leading a number of things, and I (Emily) was helping them include our kids’ club leaders and translating a lot. In the midst of helping the team and making sure everything was working together, during one of the nights at kids’ club, we didn’t pray. We always pray, but I honestly didn’t even notice that we hadn’t this particular night. We finished up the club, played some sports with the kids, I sent the short term team on their way, and I was getting ready to leave when 2 of my regular attendees came running up to me. “Teacher, teacher,” they said, “we forgot to pray!” The girls were very upset. I asked them if I could pray for them right then and there, and so they gave me some requests, and we prayed together. They left in peace, and so did I.

God is for real, and He is present and waiting for us to talk to Him, to share His love, and to believe in Him; to slow down and pray; to slow down and remember and rejoice in His faithfulness.  I’ve been listening to an old Caedmon’s Call CD in the car lately as I drive to the Ranch or to the colonias for ministry…and I am usually crying out to God for grace and love and strength to continue…I long ago reached the end of myself, and God’s mercy is what is  left, and He is completely sufficient. This song is an encouragement to me, and I hope to you as well as you continue in God’s will for your lives.

Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue
Thy free grace alone from the first to the last
Hath won my affection and bound my soul fast

Without Thy sweet mercy, I could not live here
Sin would reduce me to utter despair
But through Thy free goodness, my spirit’s revived
And He that first made me still keeps me alive

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart
Which wonders to feel it’s own hardness depart
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I’ve found

(Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah)

Great father of mercies, Thy goodness I own
In the covenant love, Thy crucified son
All praise to the spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine
All praise to the spirit, whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine

 Caedmons Call – Thy Mercy Lyrics

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Theme Song from First Week of Summer Camp

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Favorite Moments

I (Emily) have been absent for a while from internet land.  Sometimes, I find myself in moods where I don’t know what to share.  There is too much…and I feel overwhelmed often.  And then I am jumbled up.  But in the past few weeks, at the end of each week, I have been reflecting on my favorite moment of the week.  And I try to pay attention.  So, I thought I’d share something that made me smile last week.

In kid’s club (which is going WELL, by the way…I’ll maybe figure out a way to condense all of that into an update soon), we are going through the Bible, focusing on what each story teaches us about God as we go.  So, each week we review together.  The kids have gotten good at telling me that God keeps His promises!  I love it.  We emphasized that characteristic about God when we studied the flood, and, more specifically, the rainbow afterwards and then moving into God’s promise to Abraham.

Well, fast forward a few days to horse ministry (also going WELL…I am learning so much from Cher Gatto and others who have been doing this ministry faithfully for so many years)…and some of the kids who come to kid’s club every week also come to horse ministry every week.  Last Friday we actually had a cloudy day here!  It was AMAZING.  I loved it.  It didn’t rain, but toward the end of horse ministry, a rainbow appeared in the sky!  I didn’t notice it at first, but some kids did…and they yelled to me as I was working in the arena with a horse and child…”Emily…a rainbow…because God keeps His promises!”  That made my whole week worth it.

Sometimes it’s the little things!

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Rain

20130909_182710It’s raining here tonight.  This afternoon my kids jumped in puddles, and tonight I’m tucking them into warm, dry beds.  Pete and I are about to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

But not very far from our home are the homes of many friends who will be tucking their kids into wet beds and praying for protection from the storm tonight.

Join with us in prayer; for protection for our friends from the storm tonight and a lasting hope and peace for all our tomorrows…peace that transcends all understanding and all circumstances because it flows from Jesus.  Join with us in prayer tonight, that we will all be able to creatively and diligently continue in the good works God has planned out for us in Mexico and for you wherever you may be.

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Las Colonias

We work in the colonias on the outskirts of La Paz, which are only a short 5 miles away from the ranch. We haven’t shared much about these colonias outside of the fact that we work there but with the encouragement of a friend we wanted to give you a small picture of what life is like in these colonias.

The colonias are the closest part of the city to the ranch and a major focal point for the ranch’s ministries and the location of the ranch’s church plant. It is a noble place, as locals call it here, where many dwellings do not have electricity or running water from the city. Most people rely on water cisterns being filled by traveling water trucks which come by every other week or so and if you don’t have electricity you use candles or flashlights if you can afford batteries. Some people in our church read their Bibles at night by candlelight. It is a noble place as many people work an assortment of jobs to make ends meet. They work as tradesmen, street performers, taco venders, store clerks, maids, repairmen, and various other miscellaneous jobs to support their families. They are hard working people.  Some  people “buscar” or look for the trash and leftovers from the city alongside the roads or wherever they can get it so that they can sell it for scrap or reuse it in the home . Some even work in the trash dump where they have a chance to sort through the entire city’s garbage looking for food, things to recycle for money, or whatever else they can repair and reuse. One of our friends in the colonias says those who work in the trash dump have a good job as they are able to choose first from the city’s supply of leftovers and have a wide variety of things to choose from. It is a noble place and there are a lot of hardships and vices to be overcome, but it is first and foremost a noble place where God is at work and where God’s Kingdom is breaking forth on earth as it is in heaven. It’s an honor to work alongside Him and His people in these noble colonias.

Here are some pictures of the places we work….

The colonias on the outskirts of La Paz near the ranch. A view looking toward the city near the ranch.

The colonias on the outskirts of La Paz near the ranch. A view looking toward the city near the ranch.

A view of the colonias from the surrounding hills.

A view of the colonias from the surrounding hills.

A local soccer field.

A local soccer field.

A local store front we frequent.

A local store front we frequent.

Local park and view of where our community of faith meets on Sundays. We meet outside near the blue house.

Local park and view of where our community of faith meets on Sundays. We meet under the tree near the blue house.

First street outside the local DIF building where we do alot of work.

First street outside the local DIF building where we do alot of work.

The local DIF building where we host ESL classes and run many of our summer day programs. We have an excellent partnership with the local government.

The local DIF building where we host ESL classes, assist in medical clinics, and run many of our summer day programs. We have an excellent partnership with the local government.

Some typical local houses.

Some typical local houses.

Many houses use whatever material they can find to construct their property.

Many houses use whatever material they can find to construct their property.

Inside a local house.

Inside a local house.

Many people raise various animals to supplement their food or to sell.

Many people raise various animals to supplement their food or to sell.

There are many dogs both strays and pets throughout the colonias.

There are many dogs both strays and pets throughout the colonias.

Visiting with some of our friends in their small store they recently started.

Visiting with some of our friends in their small store they recently started.

Enjoying a homemade icee on a hot day with friends.

Enjoying a homemade icee on a hot day with friends.

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Letters to God

One of the verses our girls have been learning is Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  They have learned a song to memorize this verse, only Ava sings it differently and always says, “do not forget them” (instead of “forbid”).  I think it works, though.  At least it reminds me to pray for the children that come to our programs.  We are called to disciple children as well as adults!  Pete and I are currently teaching Sunday school on Sunday mornings, and last week, a new student came to class.  He is five years old, and we had the most precious conversation.  Our class is going through the Bible, using a children’s story Bible, and we were discussing the Fall, and how we all have made bad decisions and need God’s forgiveness.  We talked about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, and how He wants to live with us and help us know God and follow him.  Our new student looks at me and says, “How can I tell God I want Jesus to be with me? Can I send Him a letter? How do I do that?”  I told him we can pray to God, and that prayer just means that we can talk to God wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, whenever we want!  This little boy was so excited that he could just talk to God and that God wanted to listen to him.  He asked Jesus to live with him forever.  And when I saw this little boy next, he told me he’s been praying.  And when we prayed before a meal that we were sharing together, he told me that praying means we’re talking to God and that it’s good to tell God thank you.  I am so thankful to learn with and from the littlest followers of Jesus.  Their faith is an example for all of us.

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Disappearing Walls

Children's time at Sunday morning gathering.

Children’s time at Sunday morning gathering.

We have an amazing team of co-workers here in La Paz, both Mexican and American.  A few months ago, a Bible study was started in Marquez de Leon, and we now all meet together on Sunday mornings to worship God, learn more about Jesus, and enjoy one another’s company and encouragement.  It’s a joy to be a part of this community of people!

We also have a lot of short term teams from the US who will sometimes join us for a week at a time.  We want to be considerate of all those involved in our Bible studies, and so a few days ago, Pete and Pete Gatto took several of the guys in the study out for coffee to talk to them about whether or not they enjoy having the short term teams join in the Sunday morning study or if it’s overwhelming or distracting.  The Peter’s’ were not expecting the answer they received.

One of our Mexican brothers shared that he loves hearing the testimonies of those on the teams; that he loves singing with them; that he enjoys hearing what they are studying at their churches with the realization that we are all studying many similar passages of Scripture.  Our brother feels that a short term team’s presence on Sunday morning is a unifying presence.  He said there’s a wall in the north that prevents us from knowing each other, but that in the body of Christ, there is no wall.  When we share and learn together in humility and in love, the divisions between us disappear, and we are all blessed.

We agree with our friend and brother, and we feel the blessing it is to be able to worship with a person who shares a different culture, a different language, a different perspective.  Our understanding of God grows bigger when we are able to learn from one another.  The teams that have joined us have come with an attitude of learning and of love, and they are willing to listen.  We appreciate their attitudes, and we hope that we can consistently have the same attitude.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:27-28

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A Brief Update!

We have had an incredibly busy month! It’s been full of new work, some travel, and lots of learning, as always. In a nutshell, here’s some things we’ve been up to in the last month. Pictures will follow once I get organized enough to download them to the computer from our various devices! Stories will also be coming; they are in my head, but getting them into the blog has been on the back burner. These weeks have been so busy we haven’t had much time to pause and record. 🙂

1. Started ESL classes at the community center in Marquez de Leon.
2. Traveled to Tijuana/San Diego to take care of a car permit issue and pick up a second car for work! God blessed us with an amazing trip and an amazing ministry that helps find cars for those working in ministry!
3. Hosted, planned, helped lead 4 short term trips.
4. Began planning for 3 different Easter camps that we will help facilitate for Mexican churches at the Ranch in the next 3 weeks!
5. Solidified some job descriptions/roles for our team at the Ranch.
6. Started leading a children’s Sunday school in Marquez de Leon.
7. Continuing to get to know our neighbors through playdates, dinners, walks on the Malecon together!
8. Learning to live without the guarantee of running water for the past 2 weeks. (We should be back in business in the next day or 2…our landlord is installing a cistern for us!).

As I said, I will post pictures soon! We have gotten very busy and I am working toward getting caught up in our correspondence, this blog, and emails. Thanks for your patience and prayers for us and for your willingness to stay in touch with us!

Categories: Family, Marquez de Leon, Mission | 2 Comments

Faces in the desert…a photo blog post

These are photos of just a few of the kids the ranch has the honor of serving… the kids of Marquez de Leon.

These photos were taken by Josh Porter,  a high school student, who attended our trip this past June.



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