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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Ali Ballet Recital

Ali had a ballet recital this past Friday in the Main Theater of La Paz! It was a shear joy to see the smile on her face dancing in front of a full audience and fulfilling perhaps a dream of every little girl…dancing ballet in a princess dress. Ali has been attending a classical ballet school for the past 6 months and is the youngest in her class by a year. She goes twice a week for two hours and worked especially hard this past month on these dances. Its been quite a lot for a six year old…and all in her second language! She did such a great job and we are very proud of her! You can watch her two dances here. The first is a more “modern” ballet style dance entitled Jellyfish and the second is a more “classical” ballet dance entitled Princesses.

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Paddle Boarding with Kids Club Leaders

We recently took the kid club leaders out for their monthly activity. This month we went paddle boarding down on the malecon. It was a blast to spend time with the leaders teaching them to use the board as well as improving their swim strokes…of course you know we couldn’t resist throwing out a few pointers. We may have also had to swim out and rescue a few kids who were being blown out by the strong afternoon winds! It has been incredible to watch as these kids have stepped up in leading. Last week, kids led everything from the teaching time, the games, and songs. The only thing we had to come prepared with was the craft. It has also been amazing to watch as some of those in our community of faith have taken ownership as well. One women recently bought an igloo to be able to bring water to the group…this is no small task as she took the time and money to go out and purchase a new one all on her own. It is a blessing to see the kids club continue to grow in the leadership capacity and influence of the leaders. If you think about it please pray for our leaders as they continue to step up and take ownership in the kids club. Pray for us so we can be wise leaders who continue to seek to empower and equip this generation to reach their own. Here are a few pics of our paddle board outing.










































PS. Sorry for the long length of time without a post. We got swamped down in a heavy work load during May and then took time to rest before our summer months. We are learning to establish healthy boundaries and taking time off from posting is one of the boundaries that helps us to establish health in our lives.  We look forward to sharing more stories soon.

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New Challenge Course

I (Pete) am pretty pumped because we recently finished a new challenge course at the ranch in time to run kids from the Easter camps through the course. It was a great experience for them and for me. For them…it was something they have never done before (literally) and for me…it was my first time running groups through a challenge course in Spanish! The course still needs a few touches and we have plans for more elements to come but enjoy this virtual tour of the challenge course with pics of students going through the course.

Categories: Ranch, Recreational therapy, Youth Ministry | Leave a comment

Youth Ministry, Mexico City, and Lucha Libre

A shot of the bookstore during the conference.

A shot of the bookstore during the conference.

I (Pete) recently got back from a great visit to Mexico City to participate in the National Youth Specialties Mexico Conference. It was a great experience and I wanted to quickly share some of the highlights of the trip.

A shot of May during the workshop.

A shot of May during the workshop.

First, the workshop on developing a spiritually transformative environment for your camps and retreats went really. Before the workshop I was wondering who would really come and as the time for the workshop to start passed it was only myself and my co-worker in the hallway. I looked to him and said, “Well at least we will have two people!” …but this is Mexico…and in good fashion…we quickly over 60 people in attendance.  We made a number of contacts, people were engaged, and a highlight for me was watching my coworker be able to answer questions about camping ministry even though he has no “formal” training. He knows thing he doesn’t know he knows simply by being part of our community. It was cool watching this light bulb go off in his mind.

Other quick highlights were that I got to talk with Mark Matlock, the current head of YS in the US, for about an hour. I had attended a number of his events as a youth pastor and some of his other

A shot of me and Mark Matlock.

A shot of me and Mark Matlock.

trainings, and it was fun to connect with a familiar face and chat-up the nature of youth ministry. I was also able to meet 5 potential interns who are looking to come to the ranch this summer. It is exciting to see the ministry of the ranch extend beyond the city of La Paz into the interior mainland. These kids are excited to come to the ranch and participate in our internship program. If they all come we will have a Venezuelan, a Colombian, 2 Mexicans, and a Mexican kid who was adopted by US parents who now pastor the oldest English speaking Church in Mexico (141 years old)….talk about cross-cultural…as we will throw these kids into the mix of kids from the US as well as kids here from La Paz.

And last but not least. The conference shared the same expo building as a Lucha Libre event! I got to watch my very first lucha libre match, which was definitely a cultural experience.

Lucha Libre!!!

Lucha Libre!!!

Categories: Youth Ministry | 1 Comment

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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Youth Specialties Conference Mexico!

EJ Conference

Check out one of the “taller” speakers!

I (Pete) am flying out today to Mexico City to participate in the “Cumbre Nacional de Lideres de Jovenes” or the National Convention of Youth Leaders of Mexico. It’s going to be a great time as I will be able to connect up with an old friend and co-worker Scott Hill. I will also be meeting with 5 interns who live in Mexico City and who will be joining us this summer in our intership program. It will be a good time to meet them and their families personally. May, one of our Ranch staff, will also be coming with me and participating in the conference and meeting our new interns.  …BUT here is the real kicker….check out the picture and see if you can recognize one of the workshop speakers…that’s right I have the opportunity to present a workshop at the conference…and I’ll be giving the workshop in Spanish!  The theme is “Developing a spiritually transformative environment for your camps and retreats.” I am excited about this opportunity to share about something I am passionate about and for the ability to be able to do it Spanish. It has been a long-hard road in learning Spanish and I have much, much more to go but it is nice to feel confident enough (with quite a bit of preparation!) to be able to give a workshop. If you think about it pray for May and myself this weekend as we connect with youth workers all across Mexico as we seek to grow in our capacities as youth workers.

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Learning Rocket Science

20140120_175749TEAM recently asked Emily to write a blog post on community development for one of TEAM’s main blogs. We thought you might like to read what she wrote. The post is entitled Learning Rocket Science and is an edited version of something Emily wrote awhile back that caught they eye of those up in the main office. We as a community and a mission agency are seeking best practices in regards to community development and the post is a reflection on the struggles that we face in our community development efforts. Enjoy!

Here is the link to her post on the TEAM Blog. CLICK HERE


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Cinemascopes at May’s house.

We spent time with May, one of our coworkers and member of our community of faith, this past Saturday at his house. May had invited his neighbor’s kids to come over and spend time with our girls and play. It was a beautiful time as we played games, ate a little snack, and shared a small bit out of God’s word from a children’s activity book which May chose. Here are some pictures of our time and the fun which we had.

Cactus garden

Cactus garden. Careful not to touch…as our girls found out!

Workbook and activity with the kids.

Workbook and activity with the kids.

Neighbor boys.

Neighbor boys.

A little "futbol" action.

A little “futbol” action.

Parachute time.

Parachute time.

The kid's loved it.

The kid’s loved it.

And so did May. He brought the chute himself from the Ranch to use.

And so did May! He brought the chute himself from the Ranch to use.

May sharing a bit out of God's word.

May sharing a bit out of God’s word.

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