Cross of Glory Church MEXICO Short-term Mission Trip

Trip Dates:  April 8-15, 2017


Team Tabasco partnered in on what God is doing at Iglesia de Cristo es la Respuesta (Christ is the Answer Church) by participating
in kids and adult ministries, worship services, local outreach, radio ministry, construction work and serving at church plants.


Team Tabasco: Jeff, Heidi & Logan Anderson; Martha Abundis;
James Denaro; Fred Foulkes; Anne-Lie Green;  Pastor Edgar, Amy, Elias, & Ariana Hernandez; Rosa Medel Salinas & Elizabeth Zavala.

 

Photo Galleries Below
We will post photos from the team as we receive them. Please check back!
Click on each file gallery to scroll through larger photos.


Trip Reports:

Day 1 (Saturday)

Today was a great and blessed day. Traveling on a missions trip is always full of opportunities for God to shine and this was no exception.  Even through some typically stressful events there was a peace covering the whole trip.

We have already seen a number of answers to prayer and that gets us excited to see what God is going to do in Tabasco this week.

It started out prior to the trip with both Fred and Anne-Lie having some back pain which we prayed for a release from. The Lord answered and they are both on the trip and feeling good so far. Then on Thursday night there was some sickness hitting the Hernandez family...we prayed for them and the sickness was completely gone before the trip. We discussed this afterwards and said that it was such an obvious attack from the evil one...we were confident that the Lord wasn't going to let that hold them back.

Today on travel day we got to the airport with all of our bags and were starting to check in when we were stopped due to a spelling error on one of the names of the tickets where it didn't match completely with the passport. The first response was that there was nothing that we can do. But Anne-Lie's response to that was "I serve a God who is bigger than all of our problems and even though we don't see the solution right now I am confident that He will bring about a resolution."  As she went to the second level of support and we prayed she was back not 30 seconds later with a solution and she was checked in.

Getting through security and onto the first plane went really smoothly and we had plenty of time. But I was a little worried about our connecting flight in Houston. The past few years we have had to jump onto a train to get to a different terminal for our flight down to Mexico. This year we only had 50 minutes to do this and it didn't look like we would be able to get any food either. So I prayed that the time between flights would be increased. Again the Lord answered and He answered quickly. The pilot came over the loudspeaker and announced after we were in the air that the travel time looked good and that we would be arriving 30 ahead of schedule. On top of that, when I checked our arrival and departure gates they were in the same terminal!  We were able to sit and eat some supper and have some time to spare.

Then comes the always entertaining part.  Customs and immigration for the group when weare bringing down donations. At first glance you might think that our group was staying for 3 months with all of the gear and donations. But, there was one donation of a sound mixing board that we assumed would have issues. So, when I put it onto the conveyor belt, I wasn't too surprised to see the customs agent motion and point to the bag. They opened it up and were asking a lot of questions in Spanish. Thankfully Edgar and Elizabeth bailed me out and were talking to the agent. Even with the letter of donation for that item they wanted some original receipt...which is a little hard to come by with a 10 year old mixer that was donated to you. He went back into his office and was looking some stuff up. He said that he was going to have to charge us 16% of whatever the value was and was then going to try to find a value for it. When he was back in his office we were talking with the group ahead of us (which happened to be a missions group going to Chiapas) and we pulled one of the guys from their group and we prayed. The customs agent came back out while we were praying and waited for us to finish. Then he said that next time they want a receipt, but this time he was going to let us go through without paying anything!  Yet another answer to prayer.

Then we got out to the van to go to the church and our driver stepped out and it wasn't Oscar. This was a little disappointing because a few of us had been praying that our driver from last year would be our driver again. He had given his life to the Lord, but had not been engaged in the local church and we wanted to help get him reconnected. But, it turns out that Oscar was not available this week...but wouldn't you know it-Oscars dad works for the company and he was available...anyone want to guess what his name is...Oscar. There was more to the prayer with Oscar, that he would bring his family to the VBS as well, God is faithful and I am excited to see how he answers that.

Stay tuned, we are just getting started and God has already been working mightily. Please pray for a mighty strength from God that we can keep up with all that he is doing.

Glory a Dios

Day 2 (Sunday)

During the travel day yesterday we each took a spiritual gifts survey to do some introspection. This morning at breakfast we discussed the spiritual gifts that we thought we possessed. There were a few surprises for some of our team, but while the one who possessed the gift didn't see it as a strength the rest of the team could see it plainly.  Please pray that God would orchestrate the unique set of gifts for his use this week. Please pray for opportunities to discover new gifting areas that just haven't been exposed yet.

The morning church service was a fun time to reconnect with old friends and praise God. The children and the youth hosted the service, read the Bible passages and led the singing. We were able to sing "How Deep the Father's Love for us." And Edgar gave the morning message. Edgar has a gift for teaching and you can tell that he loves digging into the Word and sharing God's truths with others. He has a great way making the message personal and to get others to practically think through the different facets of a passage.

After another fabulous meal we took a siesta and tried to catch up on some sleep in preparation for the rest of this busy week.

In the evening we went to the tenth anniversary service.  This was a celebration of what God has blessed them with over the years. They had hired a band to come in and sing as part of the service. They played the guitars and sang very well and that added a lot of excitement to the service. When they were complimented on their playing they immediately turned the glory to God.  Jeff presented the sermon that evening and talked about the purposes of anniversaries in the Bible. Looking back at the pile of stones in Joshua and the establishment of the Passover in Exodus. The purpose is for us to remember the great things that God has done for us in the past to give us strengthened faith and hope for the future.

After the service they had a celebration meal  that they served the whole church. And then we were able to stay afterwards for an hour or so and chat with the attendees. Annie-Lie was able to pray with and encourage a teenage man with a prayer and a reminder that he is very special in God's eyes.

Tomorrow morning we will be meeting with the local volunteers for the VBS. We will be coordinating our plans and starting to prep for the first VBS session on Monday evening. Please pray for an awesome impact to these kids, that the Lord would be opening hearts to Him. Please pray for the leaders and teachers that the Good news of the Gospel will be preached clearly.

Day 3 (Monday)

Glory be to God. He is making all things new!  Such a relief in a broken world.

This morning started up with intercessory prayer to eliminate doubts of the future and to instill a peace of God and a purpose for life. There were team members that were up last night helping to talk through some issues. So, we were praying for a overflowing peace to come into that situation.

After breakfast we headed out to meet with the local volunteers from the church for the VBS. They brought us through the items that they had planned and we shared the pieces that we prepared for. It was good to get a lot of logistical things out of the way so that we could be prepared for that evening. Once that was complete we went back to the cake shop for lunch. Amy and Heidi got our bags all organized and split apart so that we could find the items that we needed for each day.

During this time we presented the vinyl signs that we had printed and brought down. These are signs that they plan to use in their stoplight ministry. They stand out on the street corners with signs to get people's attention.  While he was looking through each one he was very emotional and thankful. It is moments like these where it is easy to see his heart for evangelism. We also presented the sound mixer as well to replace the one that was stolen from them.

During the afternoon we had a little bit of a break and a few of us were playing a game with some people in our host homes. While we were playing they brought us some fresh coconut which was really good. Unfortunately they had also sprinkled some seasoning on it as well and James...who has a severe reaction to MSG which would take him out for a full day...had eaten some of it.  It typically impacts him the morning after he has eaten it. This momentary lapse seems like yet another obvious attack on the team. We prayed for James that he would be healed completely from this allergy and that he would be able to complete his mission on the trip without getting hindered. At the end of the day we also payed hands on him and prayed as a team. Because of God's amazing blessings and answers to prayers so far this trip I have hope for the future that He will indeed reach down and heal this sickness.

In the afternoon the main event started.  Praise God for a good start to the week with 80 children and adults showing up for the VBS. There have already been 6 new adults that have shown up to drop off their kids and the adults stayed to listen to Pastor Eliazar as he was teaching the adult class. 

AnneLie taught the story of the last supper.  It went really well she was very engaging as a story teller.  James and Edgar were the puppeteers today - the kids stay very engaged with the puppets. After that we split the kids up into different age groups and had them rotate through 3 stations. Games, crafts, and a going deeper. Edgar was leading the going deeper section.  Today they were talking about how the Lord washed the disciples feet. As part of this they were washing the kids feet. As each group came through they were tentative about having their feet washed. In one the groups their was a kid that was being made fun of because he had dirty feet. Elizabeth was the one washing his foot and she washed it well and then kissed his foot signify that it he was clean now. That gave him the confidence to lift his other foot to be washed...and what a beautiful picture of a humble servant. I am confident that the kids took notice and that it had an impact on them.

The craft was such a hit today that the adults and youth came over and joined in as well. The craft today was a hand towel that they decorated. It was to remind them of how Jesus washed the disciples feet...to remind them to be servants to others. 

The games went well and the kids enjoyed them. We did a three legged race and a human knot. It was quite fun to watch the three legged race backwards.  Logan and Elias liked playing frisbee with the kids.  Initially the games were hard because we didn't have a translator, but then Marellie showed up and was a huge help.

We ended the evening with a review of the night and its praises and then a prayer time for the team laying hands on James and also praying for others on the team as well.

After that we headed back to the cake shop for supper and then off to homes to get some sleep.

Tomorrow morning we are going to join then for the stoplight project and hopefully have a chance to witness to some people on the street. Please pray for a huge impact and for meaningful conversations from each team member with passers by. Pray that the good news of the Gospel will be declared and that there would be open hearts and new brothers and sisters added to the family. In addition please pray for a continued impact through VBS as we plant seeds in the fertile soil.

Update:
God is good!  God is great. More answered prayer. James is up today and feeling good. The Lord protected him for any ill effect from the MSG. Anne-Lie was able to sleep better and has woken up refreshed. God is at work. I am excited to see what he has in store for us today.

Day 4  (Tuesday)

We started our day eager to see how God would respond to our prayers from the night before when we asked The Lord to heal James and that he would not react to the MSG in the seasoning that he ate on the coconut yesterday afternoon! We were all so thankful to God when James came through the doors saying he was feeling good. Praise The Lord!!

After another wonderful breakfast prepared with such joy by our sisters here in Comalcalco, we headed out to take part in the "Project Stoplight" ministry. We met 15-20 brothers and sisters from the church we are partnering with here, Cristo Es La Respuesta, in the parking lot of a local shopping center.   There we gathered together and prepared to go over to a main intersection to share the message of the gospel with those driving by. We brought down eight vinyl signs with scripture and messages Pastor Eleazar had recommended like "Christ is the answer" and "Say no to Suicide, and Yes to life."

Different people took turns holding the signs on the side of the road and as soon as the stoplight turned red the 8 people with signs walked out in front of the traffic holding up the signs in a line for all to see. As soon as the stoplight was about to turn green they would run back to the side of the road and continue holding the signs for all to read as they drove by.   It was so encouraging for us to see how the youth who joined us from the church confidently held the signs and showed no shame of the gospel! Meanwhile, our group had prepared ahead of time our testimonies written into a gospel tract called "My Story"...and we were able to pass out roughly 240 gospel tracts to those in the cars that stopped at the traffic light as well as to pedestrians walking by. Praise God the gospel message was able to get into the hands of 240+ individuals...

Anne-Lie shared that she really enjoyed handing out her tracts and asking people if she could pray for them and then seeing how happy the people were to receive the prayer. Elizabeth had the opportunity to pray for a lady with back pain and the lady shared with her in tears that she had felt relief immediately after praying with her...Praise God for these answers to prayer.

After another afternoon rest we headed back for day 2 of VBS. We praise God that tonight's total attendance jumped to 105 people... Pastor Eleazar shared with us that he is thankful to God for an increase in volunteers who are willing to serve from the congregation and that they have been able to make adjustments to their VBS programming to reach the youth and adults who come as well...last night four children heard the gospel message and invited Jesus into their hearts! We are excited about these four lives changed by the gospel. We are also thankful for this local church body who can follow up with these children and families.

We discussed last night how we as a team can have more meaningful interaction with the youth and adults who are coming to VBS. Please pray with us that this will happen and lives will be impacted for eternity as a result!!

Day 5  (Wednesday)

Today was an amazing day!! We started off with some free time where we went down to Villamosa to a museum, which we found out was more of a zoo than it was a museum, but it did have historic carved sculptures throughout it. We lost Anne-Lie about half way through and ended up meeting up with her at the end.

At VBS we focused on the crucifixion and the tearing of the veil. Crafts were yarn crosses, going deeper was focused on candy behind a veil with only access through one person until the veil was torn and it gave access to all the sweet taste of salvation; the games were a blindfold game, where the kids had to learn to work together to line up from shortest to tallest without being able to see each other and without being able to talk to each other. And then we played a ball toss game.

At the end, when the kids were having snacks, we changed things up a bit to allow all the adults and older kids that came to VBS to have an opportunity to meet the Americans. Pastor Eleazar asked yesterday to try to incorporate something in so this could happen... we took a beach ball and wrote a ton of questions on them with a magic marker, from simple ones like 'what's your favorite color' to complex ones like 'name something God is doing in your life' and everyone sat on chairs out in the front of the church and we passed the ball back and forth- whoever caught the ball had to answer the question closest to their right thumb. Amy translated on the microphone as we went back and forth, and then we ended with an 'open mic' time so they could ask us anything they wanted. At one point an adult from VBS threw the ball to Marelli, and her question was 'what has God taught you this week'. This has been what Marelli has been struggling with this trip, and her answer was that God was showing her that she could do more than she realized she could. We are so happy for Marreli, God is working in her... overall it was nice to be able to converse with the church with the ball format, and we will give it a go tomorrow again...

At this point we would normally do a debriefing, but we had an opportunity to all go to a family who had asked us for prayer. The family heard that Americans were coming to help at the church, and asked if we could make time to pray over their six month old daughter Sophia, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and was told that she would most likely not survive. We all traveled to their house and met with the family. It was a room filled with tears as the family brought out the beautiful baby Sophia. Many laid hands on her, including Elizabeth and Marelli who were very touched, and we left it open for people to pray over her, and to encourage their family. Amy translated back and forth... afterwards we all went back to the cake shop for dinner. There after eating we were asked to pray by another couple from the church, Fabian and Fabióla, who were with us at Sophia's, and asked if we could pray over their 3 year old son Daniel, who was also with us. Daniel does not speak, and was diagnosed with a version of epilepsy, and potentially he has autism, but they are not sure yet. Fabian said that he and his wife's faith is being tested, as they are having a very hard time. So we all got in a circle around Daniel and Fabian and Fabiola and prayed for them just as we did for Sophia...

It was a great night for prayer and encouragement. This is what we are here for, to be movable, and open to going wherever the Lord calls us to go.

For tomorrow we ask prayer for us as we put on our skit for the first time at a Presbyterian conference being held at a ranch that we are going to in the morning. Pray for Anne-Lie that she finds rest tonight, pray for James for his stomach which is continuing to bother him.  Also, Fred is having issues with his acid reflex meds, his legs are swollen and the medication leaves his stomach vulnerable... so pray for his stomach...

Day 6  (Thursday)

This morning we went out to a ranch. We were guests of another church that was having a day retreat. We sang "Lord, I Need You." And then we presented a drama about being stuck in chains...and then Jesus sets us free. It went well this morning as our first presentation, except for one hiccup. We were using a cell phone to play the music through the speaker and got a text message from Justin in the middle of it saying "Glory a Dios."  So there was just a little pause in the music...next time we will use airplane mode. :)

Pastor Eleazar preached on the Lamb of God throughout the whole Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. He gave a salvation message and 5 or 6 people raised their hand to receive Christ as their savior. That was a sweet scene.

In the afternoon we were able to take a little siesta to recharge for the last evening of VBS. The kids were energetic and looking forward to it. At the beginning of each VBS session they honored the Christian flag, the Mexican flag and the Bible. Each had a script that was recited and then a song. The first three kids that came for the day were the three that got to walk through the door carrying the items and hold them up front. Some kids got to the church an hour ahead of time to wait in line so that they could do it.

Rosa gave the message tonight about the resurrection and Edgar was able to take the kids deeper and talk about our sins being forgiven in the power of God. We used rice paper to illustrate this. The kids would write a sin on the paper and then put it in a cup of water. Once the paper hits the water, it dissolves. One little girl was writing sins down on the paper and then said that she needed a bigger piece of paper because she ran out of room writing on the first one.

After the closing ceremony we were able to debrief with Pastor Eleazar and Omar about what went well and what could be improved. Both Omar and Edgar were excited to see how many local volunteers they had this year. In previous times when they have done VBS they have not had many volunteers and had to attempt to do it with just the two of them. But this year, they had many more who were willing to help.

Tomorrow as we look to the close of this week we will be focusing on the evening's Good Friday service...and saying goodbye to some old friends and some new ones.  Please pray that the drama will have an impact on those in attendance and please pray that we can encourage the believers here. 

Day 7  (Friday)

Friday morning we went to the Mayan ruins to do some shopping at a little vendor artisan fair. Pastor's niece was there selling chocolate so we loaded up on bags of cocoa and sweets.  We bought a few other handmade items. Then most of the group headed in to see the ruins, take a hike, take some pictures, and soak in a lot of sun. These ruins are the only ruins that were made from clay. They were made this way since access to stone was unavailable. The view from the top of the hill is quite incredible.  You are right at the edge of the city (the concrete jungle), but all that you can see is a jungle of trees. God's handiwork is awesome. On the way out we saw a relative of the iguana and then we also saw a bunch of wild monkeys hanging out in a tree.

The afternoon was spent packing and getting ready to go because we knew that it was going to be a late night and an early morning. 

At the evening Good Friday service we shared a song and also did the drama. Pastor Edgar shared a message on the hope that we have because of Jesus. We can have hope beyond the grave. 

At the end of the service Pastor Eliazar had our whole team stand in front and then told the history of our relationship with the church and how it started with Gisela being faithful and getting involved in our church when she was up here teaching for a year. After that the whole church came forward and wished us each an individual farewell. Hellos are fun, but goodbyes are tough. It was a great week joining with them for VBS and hopefully encouraging others to get involved in serving. 

After the service Pastor Eliazar and the deacons showed us around the grounds and talked through the future vision now that they have the land that they think that they need. They want to finish the children's building first and then add on the top story for the pastor to live there. Currently his family lives 45 min away. Long term plans would be to move the church building to the additional plot of land and the location of the existing worship center location would end up being a parking lot. 

After that we went out to eat with our entire group and a number of volunteers from Comalcalco. It is a great time to celebrate what God has done, but also sad knowing that the end of the week is near.  We exchanged a few gifts and a lot of hugs and then headed back to our host homes to get a few hours of sleep.

Right before bed I had checked with James to make sure that he had his Visa paper in his passport...and found out that he didn't have it. He had thrown it away. So I did a quick search online and did found that he was going to have to get to the airport and go to the immigration office and get a new one and pay a fee.

Travel Day Home

However when we got to the airport they said there was a different story...there was a worried look and the airline attendants face and they said that the immigration office was going to have to write some sort of letter and they only do that on Mon through Friday so he was going to have to stay until Monday. So Edgar and James went to the immigration office to start sorting things out while the rest of us started checking in. While they were over there Edgar prayed and just when he finished they could here us yelling for them....Elizabeth had found his slip in her passport!  No one can explain how it got there, we walked through all of the steps when we came into Mexico but it doesn't make any sense.  James was able to get through without any further incident. 

But travel days on missions trips are never dull. The fun continued with a small gate checked bag that was sitting all lonely on the tarmac. A nice employee helped us to retrieve it. Then as we were walking into the customs building an alarm sounded and giant doors shut across the hallway leaving half of the team on each side. With sirens blazing and a voice recording telling us to find the nearest exit because a fire was detected in the building. Thankfully we weren't too quick at following instructions and found that it was a false alarm. Heidi had decided to attempt to open up the doors and reunite the team and she just barely touched them and they opened up so we all slipped through so that we were all together.

Then at customs the printers jammed and a few of us had to head to a different line. Elizabeth and Marellie got pulled off into the interrogation room and so we were waiting and praying for them. It was a nice relief to see them coming down the escalators shortly thereafter. Now we are going to debrief on the week and look back on all of the amazing ways that God worked this week.