Friday, August 11, 2017

Guadalajara 2017

Thirty-five beautiful girls, age 6 to 17.   Twenty precious boys, age 3 to 17.  These ninos all live in Guadalajara, Mexico at an orphanage called Emanuel Foundation.  My church has been involved in this orphanage for about 15 years.  Our youth group goes every summer.  Our new youth director, Chris, asked me several months ago if I would think about going along.  I went with some teams 15-20 years ago - we went to Tijuana with the YWAM program - I think I went 4 or 5 times.  At first I didn't think I wanted to go, but then God convicted me with a couple different things.  I said yes.  I am so glad I did!
Our group plus the ninos!
We stay right on campus at the orphanage.  It is run by Hilario and Melanie, who just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.  They have huge hearts for these homeless kids.  Hilario also has a huge heart for prison ministry because he himself was in prison many years ago  He became a Christian in prison and now works hard bringing the gospel to several prisons.

The first several days we stayed at the orphanage and basically hung out with the kids.  We ate with them, played with them, ran a VBS a couple of days for them and entertained them.  We joined them at their church services each Sunday.  Hilario also has a weekly service for the neighboring community and then hands out food to these people.  That was a pretty cool evening!  We also spent one evening downtown and handed out food to some homeless people.  We performed our dramas there and a few of our kids gave their testimonies.  We visited three prisons and did the same format - our dramas and a couple of kids giving their testimonies.  No pictures since we couldn't bring our cameras in, but we had some great experiences in those prisons.   Several different evenings, some of the older ninos gave us their testimonies.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear what some of those precious children have endured.   They were so brave, and now they can say they have hope in Jesus Christ.

Performing a drama at church service
The beach after the Chapala prison
 We also did a few work projects around the campus  My group of five girls painted some brick walls.  A group painted a mural, and other groups did miscellaneous repairs.

Feeding the ninos "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."  Matthew 10:42
We got to take part in a pinata birthday and a quinceanera for a girl who turned 15.  That was so much fun!  So much dancing!!
Pinata party
Pastor Chris crowning her!
Our two translators were Miguel and Salomen.  They are nephews of Melanie, who runs the orphanage.  They live in a different city, but every year for the past 5 years they come while Sonlight is at the orphanage.  This week would not have been the same without these two young men.  They have such a strong love for Jesus, a love for this orphanage, and a love for the Sonlight community.  We will miss these two so so much.

LOVE these two!
It's hard to put into words my feelings after this trip.  It was difficult - no doubt about that.  We had only cold water.  Twice the girls dorm had NO water for a day.  We had clogged toilets.  SO MANY MOSQUITOES.   We needed lots of patience to deal with "Hilario time."  When he would say we were leaving at 9, that ended up being 9:30 or 10.  He kept changing the schedule - every day.  So many unknowns.  But our kids were troopers.  I never heard ANY complaints from these teenagers.  They were so great spending time with the ninos - just loving on them.  Our team got along the entire trip - no drama!!!  Some awesome moments:  the worship at one of the men's prison with a handful of Christian prisoners.  A couple of women prisoners who were crying after our presentation.  The joy in the nino's faces the entire 10 days - all the tears and hugs when we had to say good bye.  There were so many great memories.   These teens were the hands and feet of Jesus!!

I came home to the news that Kris and Hannah had had to put Les' dog Hank down.  I feel so bad that they had to do that themselves, and yet I am relieved that I wasn't there.  Hank had moved to Kris and Hannah's when Les was sick because he got too stressed out over everything going on here.  Hank was so good with baby Dallas, and my two grandsons.  So patient with them!  Dallas told me Tuesday night that Hank was with Jesus and "Pa", in heaven.  You will be missed, Hank!
Final resting place

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