After months of prayer, planning and provisioning, YWAM Home Build and Door of Faith Orphanage Mission Teams set off to change the world in late October. Their departures, punctuated by laughter and anticipation, began as vehicles arrived at VMC to be packed and repacked by bustling people with burgeoning supplies. A prayer of gratitude blesses their work to God's purpose, and then, they were off - winding their way to Tijuana on Mexico's border.
Tragically, Tijuana has become a convergence of drug cartels, weapons, prostitution and more. YWAM Missionary Gieza Nino says, "People are so blinded from God and so hurt...[to work here] one must have a heart for the oppressed." Time passes backwards as you cross through the outskirts of Tijuana. There is no fresh water, ground holes serve as out-houses, money and food are scarce and safety is a constant concern. To this devastation, our two mission teams were called. Though they traveled the same roads, they would be serving in two very different ways.
On Saturday morning, our 18-member YWAM Home Build Team arrived at a concrete slab that had been poured in anticipation of their arrival. Beside it, the supplies needed to transform this slab into a home were waiting. Also waiting was the Cornejo-Arenas family of six who would be receiving the new home. After prayer and greetings, the team set to work. Their goal by sundown was to raise the outside walls and top them with a roof. Our team, assisted by family members, neighbors and interpreters, divided the work into painting, roofing and framing. By the end of the day, the goal was achieved, and windows and doors were hung, and electrical wiring had begun as well. By Sunday, the roof had shingles, and light shined through the curtained windows. A gleaming stove was placed in the new kitchen, a dining room table sat ready for an inaugural meal and for the first time, every family member had a place to sleep. Funds, raised by donations, allowed the family an awe-inspiring trip to the market (pictured above), where Momma picked out pots and pans and opted for more food instead of a refrigerator. Father wanted razors, and the kids each received a jacket, a toy and nail polish.
Two days of love and hard labor overcame language and cultural differences to bond teammates and families under God. Sunday night, before the family entered the newly decorated home, the occasion was dedicated to God and the Cornejo-Arenas family. During an emotional prayer circle, the front door key was passed from each to the other while words of gratitude and hope were spoken. When the key, at last, laid in Papa's palm, his joy, relief and thanksgiving were palpable, and tears blessed the night.
Meanwhile, our second Mission Team based themselves out of Door of Faith Orphanage in La Mision, Mexico. Approximately 70 miles south of Tijuana, La Mision is so small it is often referred to by its mile marker, "K-44." And, it is so poor, the orphanage serves as the area's sole revenue.
Upon arrival, our 30-member DOFO Team began the first of its multi-pronged Mission - distributing dispensas (or dispensations) of food and gifts throughout the impoverished hamlet. Often graciously invited into dilapidated homes, the team was profoundly moved that, no matter how wretched the conditions, those living inside would request food and prayers for others in greater need than themselves. After all the provisions were apportioned and night fell, the team gathered in grateful shares and worship.
The next day, our team drove two hours south to Pequenos Gigantes (Little Giants) Orphanage. Lacking the mission notoriety of Door of Faith Orphanage, Gigantes' need for water, food and funds is dire. In addition, the government has mandated that a wall surround the orphanage to separate it from the community. With prayer and humility, our DOFO Team laid the foundation for the cement-block fence and helped stucco and paint walls. The Pastor mistakenly believed Mexican Daylight Savings time had begun. Encouraged, our team didn't rush, but continued to commune, as the final hour ticked away. However, Daylight Savings had not kicked in, and this was the night of the Pizza Party Carnival! Imagine our team's surprise as they, the hosts, arrived late to their own party at DOFO back in La Mision!
Kicking into over-drive, these super-heroes served up pizza, games, camaraderie and sweet memories at lightning speed to the children and staff at DOFO (pictured below), and topped off the night with songs and praise.
On the second full day, while half the team returned to Pequenos Gigantes to stucco and paint another wall, the other half served at the Tijuana Breakfast Club. The Tijuana Breakfast Club provides hot meals and God's Word to those living in the destitution of the old Tijuana Dump. As they served, many remarked on the sense of joy that emerges from people despite their lowly circumstances. Beverly Barclay, DOFO Team Lead, noted, "There is a new level of appreciation for where our lives are...and how we have been blessed to bless others..." And once again the night fell upon tired, happy souls in song and praise.
Did VMC Youth With A Mission and Door of Faith Orphanage Mission Teams change the world? They did for the Cornejo-Arenas family who now thrive in a respectable home. They did for the children and staff of two orphanages whose needs were met with grace and light. They did for those served hot meals in the shadows of a dump. The worlds of the team members themselves were changed, as their hearts were softened and blessed. And the world was also changed for Ventura Missionary Church, whose prayers and donations strengthened God's outreach.
Paul wrote, "It is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:13. These teams are back, and through God's Love, they changed the world. This is faith that works!