|Posted on May 4, 2009 at 9:38 PM||comments (2)|
HOLA MIS AMIGOS EN CRISTO,
I bring you greetings from the seminary in Villahermosa and everyone here wishes each of you special blessings from our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I arrived in Villahermosa around 10 pm local time on Tuesday evening, April 21st. I was greeted by Abimael, the seminary administrator and two students from the seminary.
Wednesday involved meetings and trips to the store. I met with the board of trustees of the seminary and also had a short meeting with the President of the Synod, Samuel Olean. In the afternoon I met with Marco Bocanegra, the architect and engineer that is going to provide supervision of the medical clinic project. Mr. Bocanegra brought detailed plans for the clinic including designs for the exterior that have the same design as the other buildings on campus.
48 loads of dirt had been delivered to the site of the clinic. It will be to the rear of the library and next to one of the central lakes on campus. Footings will need to be dug 2 feet below grade and concrete poured prior to the spreading of the dirt to build up the pad.
The grounds of the seminary are very dry as they have not had rain in a couple of months. The lakes are very low and they have sprinklers running each morning and evening to try and keep the grass from completely dying. A very unusual site as when I was here in October the lakes were over flowing.
The advantage of the dry weather is that it gives the seminary opportunities to make landscaping changes that are not available during the rainy season. A new lake is be dug at the rear of the property and will incorporate part of the garden area. After completion this lake will serve as a water source for the garden. It is also being designed to handle excess water from run off at the rear area of campus.
The garden is in full operation with various vegetables and fruits being grown. Watering is required each day to prevent the plants from dying from drought. Cucumbers, radishes, melons, watermelons, tomatoes, yucca, squash, cilatro, and beans are currently being raised in the garden area.
Today I meet with the Synod officers and the construction committee to make final decisions on the clinic and a number of other issues concerning the seminary and the help that is being provided by the US churches.
The weather although hot is a welcome change from the cold temperatures in NC. The sweat glands are getting a good workout.
Will try and write again later in the weekend.
Bendiciones en al fe, Eduardo
|Posted on November 18, 2008 at 1:31 PM||comments (14)|
VILLAHERMOSA 2008 JOURNAL
Prepared by Dale Hollar
We left RDU Airport at 2:40 p.m., arriving ontime in Houston. On the first leg of the trip, I sat with an Hispanic man who was returning to his family in Aquas Calientes, Mexico for the first time in a year. I practiced my espanol on him and he can understand me reasonably well. He works for a construction crane company based in Charlotte and has been working on projects in Durham and Virginia Beach. He will stay in Mexico for a year and return to the US. He says he would earn $12 a day in Mexico and makes $14-16 an hour in the US. I can do that math. Our plane leaves Houston ontime, arrives ontime in Villahermosa. On this leg of the trip, I sit next to an American from Texas who is returning to Mexico. He is the captain of a seismology boat working for a contractor to Pemex. He spends three months on the boat looking for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and then returns to the US for a month. I ask if he speaks Spanish and he says no. I ask if that is a problem and he says it can be, but he has a system worked out with his crew which is mostly Mexican and Phillipino. We arrive in Villahermosa at about 8:30 p.m. and cannot see the city except the lights. It is hot and humid (typical), and clearly has rained earlier in the day. Huascar de la Cruz, seminary president, and Lorena Valesquez, our guide, meet us at the airport. It is great to see them. After getting through customs, Pastor Ryan Rassmussen leads us in a group prayer. I ride with Huascar. He has just returned from teaching a class in Chiapas and has a live chicken in a cardboard box in the van. A woman in Chiapas gave him the chicken which he is taking to his wife Fulvia to prepare for a meal. We arrive at the seminary and get settled in. A light meal of fruit is ready for us?prepared by Fulvia. We are tired and collapse in bed, but I have trouble sleeping. I think it is the excitement of the travel and new surroundings.
Morning services at Monte de Sion (Mount Zion) church, which is the church where Lorena works as youth director. Service is rather contemporary with much lively music and much more informal than we are used to. Pastor Ryan is asked to preach the sermon at the last minute. I had warned him this was likely to happen and he is prepared. He does a great job preaching about the unity of the family of God. A small boy walks up to the altar table during the sermon and runs a toy truck across the table. No one seems to think this is unusual. Ryan says he did not even notice. Lunch at the church. Dr. Jim Gentry talks with a man who lost his sight 4 years ago and will come to see him later in the week. Visit in the afternoon to Parque La Venta in downtown Villahermosa to see the giant stone Olmec heads and zoo animals. After dinner at the seminary, we go to a children?s choir concert at the New Jerusalen church in downtown Villahermosa. This is a large, well established congregation which is sort of the ?mother church? in Villahermosa. The sanctuary, seating 1000 or more, is packed. Several children?s choirs from other churches put on an excellent program. At the end, the massed choir of almost 100 children sing several pieces.
Our first work day. The medical team sets up at the Luz y Verdad (Light and Truth) church located near the seminary. They find the facilities are more than adequate with each doctor having a separate room. They see about 60 patients. Carol Bilbro and Michelle Rassmussen help with the children who are accompanying their parents to go to the doctors. The ?excellent painters? start to work on the wall at the entrance of the seminary and other projects. After seeing how good the painted wall looks, we decide the metal entrance gate needs painting. Russ Stephenson, Santiago (maintenance man) and I set off for Home Depot to get more paint and supplies. This is an adventure?driving through the streets of Villahermosa and trying to communicate with the store clerks in Spanish?but we get it done. We also go to Walmart and are definitely underdressed in our painting clothes. Walmart is nicer than any Walmart I have seen in the US (you could eat off the floor) and the customers look especially prosperous.
In the evening we enjoy dinner and fellowship with the seminary students. We are treated to a musical program highlighted by a student combo featuring a number of unusual instruments. They are great and very lively.
After so much worry before the trip about rain and flooding, this was our only rainy day of the week. The ?excellent painters? prepare the front gate of the seminary for painting, but are forced to work on other projects under cover due to the rains that begin at mid-morning and continue most of the day. The medical team goes to the Rios de Aqua Viva (Rivers of Living Water) church in Gaviotas (Seagulls),a poor section of Villahermosa, and see a large number of patients. Jim Gentry continues to seeing eye patients at the Luz y Verdad Church near the seminary.
The Rios Church has a special place in my heart because it was the first church that White Memorial worked at in Villahermosa in 1992. I was on that trip led by Connie Hudson and felt especially welcomed by the congregation then. Last year the church was badly flooded and many church members had their homes flooded?losing most of their possessions in the process. White Memorial provided support in the aftermath of the flooding, including buying the church a new electronic organ to replace the one damaged in the flood. Tonight we renew our connection with a dinner and service at the Rios church. This is one of the true highlights of the week for me. The church goes all out?offering us steak tacos for dinner and warm words during the service. Pastor Ryan preaches the sermon?talking about the preeminence of the family of God. Carol Bilbro plays the organ that we donated and we all join in singing hymns that we know in Spanish and English. With Lorena as interpreter, I tell the congregation how special they are to us. I recount feeling apprehensive because we knew so little about Villahermosa in 1992, but being so welcomed by them. I say that we could sense their strong Christian community at that time. I tell them that we thought we were helping them build a wall for their church, but we were really building a relationship that has lasted 16 years and we hope will last many more years. Two young children (boy and girl) sit next to me who are about the cutest little ones I have ever seen. I am the ?candy man? giving out treats after the service and am mobbed by kids. We receive a tour of the work being done on the church. They are building a new sanctuary on top of the existing building. So far the wall is about half built. They hope to finish the wall in December and then work on a roof. We say good-bye to old friends, including Neher and his wife who I met in 1992. It was a wonderful evening.
An all day trip to the Mayan ruins at Palenque?located about two hours south of Villahermosa in the neighboring state of Chiapas. Once we get out of the city, the trip takes us through miles and miles of rolling pasture land with thousands of cows and cabelleros on horses on either side of the road. We arrive at Palenque in the foothills of Chiapas about 11:00 a.m. We get ourselves organized and hire a guide to take us through the ruins. I have been to Palenque three time on earlier trips, but it is still amazing. Stone pyramid temples, palaces and courtyards on the side of a small mountain range abutting a jungle rain forest. Our guide takes us into the forest and explains some of the vegetation. After touring the ruins for several hours, we walk down the mountain through the jungle on a well-maintained path, past several magnificent waterfalls and back to the museum. After seeing the artifacts in the museum, we go to the town of Palenque for some shopping and dinner. We eat at a nice open-air restaurant with Mexican fare on the town square. There is a salsa band playing in the square. Day of the Dead booths (spooky and strange) are around the square. We get back to the seminary late (around 9 p.m.)
The painters resume work on the entrance gate and make a lot of progress. It is a bigger project than we think because of all the surfaces on the gate. Hard to avoid missing spots. The medical team sees patients at the Cristo la Luz del Mundo (Christ Light of the World) church in Gaviotas, a poor section of the city. Tonight we go to dinner and services at that church. Pastor Ryan again preaches. Carol plays the organ. Our group and the congregation together sing ?Holy, Holy, Holy? in English and Spanish. Afterward the minister gives us a tour of the church. The church is not using the main sanctuary now because it is being used to store furniture belonging to church members and community residents. The sanctuary is elevated, so people have brought their best furnishings there to try to keep them safe from flooding. People are fearful of losing their possessions like happened during the devastating 2007 floods in this area. The church will keep the furniture there until about November 20 when the danger of flooding has subsided. It is a good metaphor for the church as sanctuary during times of trial.
The painters finish our work. The entrance gate and wall look great, if I do say so. The medical team sees patients at Monte Horeb (Mount Horeb) church, a small mission congregation in Gaviotas. Ryan and Bill Watson meet with presbytery officials in the afternoon to discuss partnering with a congregation when they bring a group down in spring 2009.
Tonight we have a farewell dinner at El Matador, a popular and lively restaurant in downtown Villahermosa. There are at least 25 of us?12 Americanos and the rest our Mexican hosts and families. Food is excellent?a wide variety of Mexican specialties. We thank our hosts and make some presentations to them.
We leave for the airport at 5:15 a.m. after a group prayer led by Huascar. Before going through security, we say our goodbyes to our hosts and board the Continental flight to Houston. As we look down on the city of Villahermosa and surrounding countryside, it looks like we are taking off from the middle of a lake. Water completely surrounds the airport for miles. The remainder of the trip is basically uneventful. No problems with customs in Houston. David Clark leads a final devotion at the Houston airport. Devotion centers on the diverse contributions everyone made during the week. Arrive at RDU a few minutes early. Tired and glad to be back in the US of A, but exhilarated by our experience in Villahermosa. I think everyone brings back excellent memories of the different culture and the strong Christian community in Villahermosa.
|Posted on November 18, 2008 at 10:24 AM||comments (0)|
Villahermosa Mission Trip Journal
October 25-November 1, 12 mission travelers went to Villahermosa, Mexico, to perform maintenance work at the Sureste Seminary, offering medical clinics and work with children. Participants included Dale Hollar and Meghan Price, trip leaders; Carol and Bob Bilbro, Paul Chandler, David Clark, Jim Gentry, Joyce McClure, and Russ Stephenson, and from First Presbyterian Church, Goldsboro ? Michelle and Ryan Rasmussen and Bill Watson.
Saturday, October 25
We arrive in a hot and humid Villahermosa at 8:30 p.m. Huascar de la Cruz, seminary president, and Lorena Valesquez, our guide, meet us at the airport. After customs, Ryan Rassmussen leads us in prayer. Huascar has just returned from teaching a class in Chiapas and has a live chicken in a cardboard box, which will become a meal at the Seminary. We are tired, but I have trouble sleeping. I think it is the excitement of the travel and new surroundings. ? Dale Hollar
Sunday, October 26
We attend services at Monte de Sion (Mount Zion) church, where Lorena works as youth director. The service is contemporary with lively music. Pastor Ryan is asked to preach the sermon at the last minute. I had warned him this might happen, and he is prepared. He preaches about the unity of the family of God. We have lunch at the church. Dr. Jim Gentry talks with a man who lost his sight four years ago and will come to see him later in the week. We visit Parque La Venta in downtown Villahermosa to see the giant stone Olmec heads and zoo animals. After dinner at the seminary, we go to a children?s choir concert at the New Jerusalem church in downtown Villahermosa. ? Dale Hollar
Monday, October 27
A medical team of three physicians; Bob Bilbro, David Clark, and Jim Gentry; an aspiring medical student, Paul Chandler; and I, a registered nurse, was scheduled to staff a medical clinic in a suburban church. Carol Bilbro and Michelle Rasmussen planned games and music for children of patients attending the clinic. Dale Hollar, Meghan Price and Russ Stephenson, Ryan Rasmussen and Bill Watson were to repaint the seminary entrance wall.
Michelle and I are early risers so we walked and then helped the kitchen staff prepare a breakfast of fruit and tortillas. We left for the church by van around 8:30 a.m. and were set up to receive patients by 9:30. Lorena Velazquez, our amazing guide, had arranged for four interpreters as no members of the medical team spoke fluent Spanish. Patients were mainly church members, and many brought the entire family to be seen.. Approximately 50-60 patients were seen by late afternoon when we closed for the day.
We joined the seminary students for supper and a program of music by the seminary male band. Their instruments included various unusual strings, flutes and drums; and their music was a rhythmic, instrumental and vocal offering of praise. They would be a hit at ?Hot Dish and Hope?! Later I led a devotion and discussion of the cultural differences and similarities and how our mutual love of God bridges any differences. ? Joyce McClure
Tuesday, October 28
After breakfast Dale and I headed to Huascar's home to finish painting (black water-proof paint) the window guards. Later Huascar, Carol and I visited a first grade class at a nearby school. We found children running around, playing, laughing and dancing to music. In the center of the school was a concrete courtyard, which seemed to serve as their play area. The classrooms surrounded and were open to the courtyard.
During our time with the children we sang songs (using the electronic keyboard that was donated by a church member), paraded around the room with instruments, and made pictures using fuzzy pompoms. Carol and I were exhausted after working with the children. It's amazing how much energy goes into speaking another language and not being able to instruct a classroom full of energetic first graders.
Back at the seminary Carol, Russ and I worked on a large flower bed near the entrance. With Russ' gardening expertise (thanks to his wife) we constructed a perfect flower bed arranging the flowers in triangles (great job Russ!)! ? Meghan Price
Wednesday, October 29
Today the group had an all-day trip to the Mayan ruins at Palenque?located about two hours south of Villahermosa in the state of Chiapas. The trip takes us through miles of pasture land with thousands of cows and cabelleros on horses on either side of the road. . Stone pyramid temples, palaces and courtyards on the side of a small mountain range abutt a jungle rain forest. After touring the ruins for several hours, we walk down the mountain through the jungle on a well-maintained path, past several magnificent waterfalls and back to the museum. We go to the town of Palenque for shopping and dinner at an open-air Mexican restaurant. There is a salsa band playing in the square. Day of the Dead booths (spooky and strange) are around the square. ? Dale Hollar
Thursday, October 30
After breakfast with the seminarians, our medical team traveled by van to Cristo la Luz de Mundo Church (which means Christ is the Light of the World). During the 40-minute journey, it was easy to see the poverty in the inner city of Villahermosa. The parishioners are happy to see us and help us set up our rudimentary clinic. Word has spread about the clinic, and we work steadily all day. We see patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory infections, and numerous cases of fungal problems resulting from the flood of 2007 that displaced more than million people.
It is said that on trips like this we always receive more than we give. That was the case for me. I came with lofty aspirations of helping the people of Villahermosa by delivering medical care. While that was certainly achieved, what I took from the trip was far greater and likely to be more lasting.
There was something in the patients? eyes that suggested a quiet joy in this journey we call life -- something I think we often miss in our lives. I came away from Villahermosa with an enhanced sense of gratitude: not for material things but for health, relationships, and the chance to go on a trip like this. My prayer is that with God's grace we can continue to support and even expand our medical mission in Villahermosa.
Psalm 107, 8-9 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his un-failing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
-- David Clark
All of the patients with visual concerns were seen in the class room building of the Presbyterian church where the Huascar and his family attend. A total of 61 patients were seen in four days, with 15 evaluated on the Thursday There were four patients that were referred for more diagnostic testing and possible surgery. The referrals were possible through the efforts of Dr Clark, Huascar, and me as we were able to meet with Director of the ER hospital, Dr. Luis A. Ojeda Jimenez.
Our evening church service was in one of the smaller Presbyterian churches downtown. Ryan delivered the sermon, and Lorena translated it into Spanish. Our group sang two songs in English, and while we were singing Holy, Holy, Holy the congregation sang in Spanish,(a true binding together in love). We returned to the seminary, reviewed our day, and had devotions. -- Jim Gentry
A day in the life of an "expert" painter on the mission trip to Villahermosa....
* 6:30 a.m.: Shower and shave. We hope for water, even hot water. Status changes hourly.
* Breakfast: Fresh fruit, juice, and something Mexican; however, my stomach prefers a bowl of cereal.
* Find Santiago (the painters' contact... "El Heffe"), pick up paint, brushes, ladders, etc.
* Paint "the Gate.?
* Enjoy a day of bonding with the painters and Santiago.
* Shower and clean up with hot water after Santiago makes an adjustment.
* Attend church and enjoy a meal prepared by church members. They give so much of their limited budgets. We did not speak the same language, but it was obvious the church members were our brothers and sisters in Christ.
* Return to the seminary for devotions.
Another day of serving the Lord ended. -- Bill Watson
Friday, October 31
The painters in our group completed the front iron gate, and cleaned the entrance. Michelle and I went with the doctors and interpreters to a small mission church, probably the most poverty-stricken area of our week. Because there was only one large concrete room, the doctors set up in three corners, hanging sheets for private exams, with Joyce doing intake and Paul managing our Pharmacia..
Thirty children ranging in age from six months to 11 years came to be entertained! We sat on the curb to read Spanish stories and enjoy blowing bubbles. We played Que Hora Es and punch balloon games, trying our best to spread God?s love to these tender little ones, while smiling parents watched.
Women from the church served us lunch -- a whole fried fish with homemade salsa and soft drinks. I?ll never forget the ?lady in red? who thanked us for coming and asked that we pray for their small mission to grow. The most poignant moment was when young Hannia, age 7, came to me with tears in her eyes saying over and over ?Tengo hambre!? (I?m hungry!) I took her to the lady in red who took her hand, saying ?Of course, Hannia. I understand. Come with me.?
Later at the seminary, I met with a music professor to explain and demonstrate the electronic keyboard, which we brought as a gift. He was grateful, saying they would use the keyboard for programs and meetings and because of the battery capability, they would take the keyboard in the community when the Seminary Choir was giving concerts.
It was soon time to gather materials for our last after school time with the seminary children. Michelle, Meghan and I enjoyed reading, doing crafts, and singing our favorite songs from the week: Buenas Dias, L?Arana Pequinita, Los Pollitos. We ran outside for a game of Que Hora Es and our last circle prayer time. We gave everyone toothbrushes and toothpaste as we whispered Adios, Dios le bendiga!
At our final dinner at El Matador new friendships were celebrated with gift-giving, speeches, photos and laughter. We returned to the seminary exhausted but feeling a sense of humble accomplishment. God surrounded us with energy and purpose each day, and we felt deep gratitude for this opportunity to share our faith in His goodness and grace. --
Carol and Bob Bilbro
Saturday, November 1
We leave for the airport at 5:15 a.m. after prayer led by Huascar. As we look down on Villahermosa, it seems we are taking off from the middle of a lake. Water surrounds the airport for miles. David Clark leads a final devotion at the Houston airport centered on the diverse contributions by the group members. I think everyone brings back excellent memories of the different culture and the strong Christian community in Mexico. ?
|Posted on October 22, 2008 at 10:57 AM||comments (0)|
Tabasco Mexico Flood Update MARCH 2008
I bring you greetings from your brothers and sisters in Christ in the state of Tabasco in southern Mexico. I returned from a recent trip to this area to follow up on flood relief efforts in this region and visit The Sureste Seminary in Villahermosa.
Things were in the most part, back to normal. You can still see the effects of the flooding. For example, the roads have a lot of pot holes. Some of you may say that is not unusual in Villahermosa, and that is true, but the roads were in worse shape than before the flooding. Some debris was seen, however, most of the major refuse had been removed. New levees and retaining walls were everywhere, particularly along the road to the airport and also the three rivers that run through the city.
I was there with Dr. Robert Weingartner, Director of the Outreach Foundation USA. We were able to meet with leaders of the churches in the area and also some flood relief organizations. One area particularly hard hit during the flooding was the community of Las Gaviotas. (This is the area where the first White Memorial work group visited in 1992). White Memorial has continued its relationship with this community over the years. We were able to visit five churches in this community. Each church had been cleaned, walls sealed and repainted. New curtains had been purchased and installed. Other items purchased were tables and chairs, small electronic keyboards, microphone, ladders, pumps, guitars, new water tanks, new sound systems, new pulpits, and kitchen supplies and equipment.
Dr. Weingartner and I had a meeting with the elders of these churches to determne some of their other church needs of the churches and those members of their congregations. They provided us a list of items, for which the Outreach Foundation has sent an additional $6,500 USD to fund. These items include bags of cement, cement blocks, sand, gravel, loads of fill dirt, metal sheets for roofing, 5 gallon buckets of paint, and electrical wiring supplies.
In addition to Las Gaviotas, other communities that received funding included, Bosques de Saloya, El Cedro, Buena Vista, and the Island Church ?La Isla?.
A total of $50,000 USD was received by the Outreach Foundation for the flood relief. This funding came from a number of churches and friends in the U.S. The White Memorial congregation contributed approximately $22,000 USD.
On my trip to Villahermosa in late November and early December, we focused on immediate help for those affected by the floods. Of the 473,000 homes registered in the Villahermosa area, 373,000 were affected by the flooding. Relief help included purchasing and distributing food, water, and cleaning supplies. During December help was given directly to 495 families with this type of assistance.
With the help of PCUSA, Samaritan?s Purse, The Red Cross, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and other relief organizations, 24 shelters were set up and housed 65,000 people in and around the state of Tabasco. The Federal Government of Mexico provided $1,000 USD to each family affected by the flooding and stoves and mattresses were given to those affected families by different relief organizations.
The seminary played two vital roles in flood relief assistance. 1.) The seminary campus became a distribution center for flood relief supplies. The chapel was used to package and distribute food and other supplies. Several tractor trailer loads of supplies were delivered to the campus. 2.) People came to the seminary for assistance immediately after the flooding, with some buildings on campus used to shelter people displaced from their homes.
The seminary is becoming well known in not only this region, but throughout Latin America. We are very grateful to everyone who helped in any way and particularly by giving monetary assistance to our Christian friends in the state of Tabasco.
Bendiciones, John Edward Jennings
|Posted on September 20, 2008 at 9:16 PM||comments (9)|
|Posted on September 20, 2008 at 8:51 PM||comments (0)|
Friday Evening November 30,2007
I bring you Greetings from our brothers and sisters in Christ in the state of Tabasco. We have spent two days visiting different areas in the state that have been affected by the flooding. Some areas are fine and look like nothing has happened. Other areas look like a ?War Zone? In those areas affected; there is only limited activity because of the government restrictions, no water, and no electricity.
? One of the hardest hit areas was ?Las Gaviotas?. The destruction was total in a large part of this section of the city. Water in some areas was as high as three feet on the second level of the homes and buildings. There is still water in the streets and houses. Debris is everywhere. We visited this area yesterday and again today. It was late in the day yesterday and most people had left their homes and returned to shelters for the night. Those that were staying, were in long lines, some two to three blocks in length waiting to receive food, supplies, and cleaning items. Some people appeared to have been in line for hours. There are a number of humanitian organizations working in different areas of service. The government and state agencies are everywhere. We went to the church Rios de Agua Vida, however, no on was at the church. We also visited the homes of several friends in the area. )Andres,Niger, Latricia, Romerio, and several other members of this church). One neighbor told us that these families were staying in another church shelter in another part of town. We went to this church called Monte Zion and was able to visit with these families. It was an emotional time for us. It was so good to see them again, but also sad to see our friends in this situation. The amazing thing is that although they have lost everything, they were still smiling and handling the problems very well. They had plenty to eat at this shelter. We provided some funding for these families to purchase cleaning supplies as they were returning to their homes on Monday to start cleaning.
? Today we spent the entire afternoon in this community. We visited the Church, la Luz de Mundo today. This is the largest Church in the community. It is a two story church and the second level was not affected. They still have about 40 families staying in the second level. The first level was totally destroyed up to the ceiling. On this level in the rear was the home of the Pastor, Rev. Rene Mazariego. His home was totally destroyed with all his possessions. Some members of the church were working today, stripping out sheet rock that was used in the partitions in this area. Also, the stucco on all the interior walls, including the paint was peeling off. It has to be completely stripped. Then the walls have to be disinfected and then repainted. We went and purchased 110 gallons of paint. This was to be used by this church, and two other churches in the area. One, Rios de Agua Vida, and one in another community, but under the control of La Luz de Mundo Church. We also purchased a water pressure machine to use in helping to strip the walls and assist in the cleanup. Other items purchased were items for beds, mattresses, and cleaning supplies. We also provided some help to those members that were working at the church today for their homes.
? I am returning back to this morning,. (Friday) We started out the day very early going first to the Presbyterian Shelter at the old seminary. There are still about 80 families at this shelter. The shelter is being run very well and is well equipped. I took a number of photos of the distribution area in this shelter. Cleaning supplies were being delivered to areas affected by the flood that are unable to get to this shelter. We met with Rev. Temoc Angulo, the President of the Presbytery for the Villahermosa area and the one most affected by the floods. We talked at length with him about how we could help and also to review with him how the money was spent that had been sent here earlier. He suggested that the best way to help was to provide funding to help in purchasing items lost in homes in the areas around these churches. They are purchasing kitchen utensils, and other items for the kitchen, clothing, sheets and items for beds, mattresses, and supplies for cleaning the homes with the $8,000 USD that has already been sent to this area from the Outreach Foundation. We spent about $4,500 today purchasing paint and other supplies. One short comment about Pastor Temoc. He lost everything in his home. While he was out helping other people to get to safety, he neglected his home. When he returned the water was already 6 feet in his home. He lost all of his books and library that he had accumulated over the years. He was in the process of writing the history of the church in Mexico, a project he has been involved with for years. He had some books and manuscripts that dated back to 1495. Now everything is gone. This really seemed to depress him.
? It is very difficult to describe the needs and destruction in the area. We are doing the best we can to help as many people as possible. After leaving there we went to visit Lorena Velazquez at the Franklin Graham Crusade offices. Lorena is working with this crusade and Samaritan Purse organization that handles disaster relief. We met with the director of the disaster relief. He had just arrived last week from Peru handling disasters in that area. They are very efficient and well organized to handle the relief efforts here in certain areas of providing food and clean up teams. They are already working in Las Gaviotas area.
? Tomorrow we are planning to visit the island church called ?La Isla?. According to Pastor Rene, this island was totally under water and everyone had to be evacuated. We are unsure what we will find there. We plan to carry food and cleaning supply kits with us and then determine other needs after visiting. On Sunday we will be in Cardenas, Monday back to Gaviotas and then to a community called Buena Vista. I forgot to mention that we also visited the Bosques de Saloya area and visited with some families that we had already provided some financial support in the past two weeks.
? There will be a need for work groups to help in clean up. The government thinks that it will be January or February before many of the areas can be returned to the point where this type of work can be accomplished. We talked to a number of people that stated they had fish in their homes. Some as big as 2 feet in length. At this point, still financial assistance is still urgently needed. Basic needs like mattresses, bedding supplies, and particularly paint and painting supplies, and cleaning materials will be needed.
? And one last comment this evening. We had two small earthquake tremors here yesterday. Also, the land slide in the mountains just below one of the dams is be cleared. When that is opened they fear another flooding in this area. They are frantically filling sand bags along the sides of the roads and this fear is also limiting people from returning to their homes.
? Please keep everyone here in your prayers as we ask for guidance to assist in the best way possible.
Tu amigo en Cristo, Eduardo
|Posted on September 20, 2008 at 8:33 PM||comments (12)|
Mission in Partnership/Misi?n en Alianza
Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de M?xico & Presbyterian Church (USA)
Tuesday Oct 7
Arrivals from U.S & M?xico/Llegadas de EE.UU. y M?xico
4:00 pm Registration/Inscripci?n
8:00 ? 9:00 pm Devotional & Words of Welcome (Sa?l Feria & seminary); Get-acquainted Activities & Announcements/Devocional & Palabras de Bienvenida de la INPM y el Seminario; Actividades para Avisos:
1...Discuss agenda and goals of the meeting/Dialogar sobre la agenda y anotar asuntos y temas importantes
2... Map activity/Din?mica del mapa (US & M?xico maps; string exercise)
Wednesday/Mi?rcoles Oct 8
8:30 Devotional/Devocional: Theme/Tema: ?? (Mexican partner from Presbiterio del Golfo de M?xico)
9:00 ? 11:00 Plenary/Plenaria: Sharing time by partnerships/Tiempo de compartir por las alianzas)
11:00 ? 11:15 Break/Receso
11:15 ? 12:30 Presentation on MoviPres/Presentaci?n sobre MoviPres (Eleazar Mendoza Ram?rez)
12:30 ? 1:30 Lunch & rest/Almuerzo y siesta
2:00 ? 3:00 Panel discussion by partnerships that have worked together on new church development/Di?logo en forma de panel sobre las alianzas que han trabajado conjunto en plantear nuevas obras
3:00 ? 3:15 Break/Receso
3:15 ? 5:00 Discussion in small groups about new church development/Pl?ticas en grupos peque?os sobre desarrollo de nuevas iglesias
6:30 ? 7:30 Supper/Cena: Evening/Atardecer: Informal time for displays, power point presentations, photos, etc./Tiempo informal para compartir presentaciones
Thursday/Jueves Oct 9
7:30 ? 8:30 Breakfast/Desayuno
8:30 ? 9:00 Devotional/Devocional
9:00 ? 9:15 Plenary/Plenaria: Announcements/Avisos
9:15 ? 10:15 The Bible League: Project Phillip/La Liga B?blica: Proyecto Felipe
10:15 ? 10:30 Break/Receso
10:30 ? 12:30 Small Groups: meet in partnerships; discuss and note ?best practices? in your partnership/Grupos peque?os: trabajan en grupos de alianzas; dialogan y anoten ?mejores practicas? dentro de su alianza
12:30 ? 2:00 Lunch & rest/Almuerzo y siesta
2:00 ? 6:00 pm Work Project in flood-stricken area, to be determined by Emergency Operations Committee of Tabasco Synod/Proyecto de servicio social en la zona de desastre, dirigido por el Comit? de Operaciones de Emergencia del S?nodo de Tabasco
6:30 ? 7:30 pm Supper/Cena
7:30 Closing Worship & Communion/Culto de Clausura y Comuni?n
Friday/Viernes October 10
Partnerships are free to plan a visit with your counterparts in the country./Las alianzas pueden programar una visita con los compa?eros mexicanos.
|Posted on September 20, 2008 at 8:30 PM||comments (23)|
Good morning and blessings from M?xico in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here are some updates that may interest you related to PC(USA) World Mission personnel serving in M?xico:
Que Dios les bendiga,
Dave & Susan Thomas, Mission Co-Workers
Regional Liaison with M?xico
|Posted on September 20, 2008 at 8:18 PM||comments (3)|
I bring you greetings from the seminary in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. I was at the seminary from the 7th to 14th of February. It was great to visit our friends again at the seminary and the state of Tabasco. President Huascar de la Cruz, the staff and students at the seminary continue to be grateful for your support and prayers. See the attached report for additional information and details on how to access updated photos of the seminary.
The following are some of the activities that have happened at the seminary over the past 6 months.
? A group from White Memorial Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, NC visited the seminary in November 2006. A medical team was part of this group seeing approximately 200 patients in 3 ? days of clinics. Other members of the group worked on construction of the new 4-plex building in front of the women?s dormitory.
? The Gulf Synod was split into three Synods. The churches in Tabasco formed a new Synod, called the Tabasco Synod and encompasses only the state of Tabasco.
? A new President was elected to the Tabasco Synod at the annual meeting in November 2006. Also, many other changes occurred at this meeting: a new construction committee was installed and a new administrator for the seminary was named.
? Dr. Gerald Nyenhuis was the keynote speaker at a retreat at the seminary in November 2006.
? Ludgero Bonilla, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and William Green from Costa Rica visited the seminary and gave programs to the students on the renewal of liturgy in December 2006.
? Dr. Roger Smalling from Miami International Seminary in Florida lectured the students on the Theology of Prosperity in January 2007.
? President Huascar de la Cruz visited the San Pablo Seminary in Merida, teaching a course on Theology of the Gospels and Acts in late January 2007.
? President Huascar de la Cruz attended a conference for the Presidents of the seven seminaries in the country of Mexico. Officers from PCUSA and WARC attended including Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of PCUSA. At the conclusion of this meeting, Huascar de la Cruz was selected to participate in a world conference at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in June 2007.
? I visited the seminary in early February, along with Clarence Shepherd from Lufkin, Texas. We were there to meet with the new committees and plan construction activities for 2007.
? An intergenerational work group from White Memorial Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, NC visited the seminary the first week in April 2007.
? Huascar de la Cruz attended Haggai Institute in Hawaii for additional training during the month of April 2007.
? Professor Natalie Carley has been elected by the seminary board to teach at the seminary. She has already started her teaching at the seminary in the area of Christian Education.
? Francelia Chavez Rodriguez completed her first year of studies at Westminister Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and has returned to Mexico for the summer,
As you can see, the seminary, President Huascar de la Cruz, and the staff at the seminary continue to be very busy. The seminary now has international exposure. Attached are some additional details about the seminary and my trip to Villahermosa in February 2007. We all remain grateful to God for his leadership at the seminary and also for Huascar providing leadership at the seminary. Please continue to pray for the seminary.
Blessings in Christ, John Edward (Ed) Jennings