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The trip started out with a four-fold purpose:
- Assist some local pastors in their work in the ministry.
- Encourage local congregations to reach out to their native Mexican neighbors.
- Visit people who received cassettes on the previous trip to Valle de la Trinidad which took place two weeks before.
- Distribute tapes to people in Valle de la Trinidad that didn't receive any two weeks before.
A small group formed (just the three of us at right) to accomplish this task in the small agricultural village known as Valle de la Trinidad ("Valle" for short) a couple hours to the northeast of Ensenada, Mexico.
My original plans were to go to the Valle and spend Friday and Saturday with the team doing the ministry work. Then I would spend Sunday through Wednesday in Ensenada since my friends from that town have been begging me to visit them for a couple months now.
In the Valle we found some good ministry opportunities. We were able to spend some time with the pastor of an Assemblies of God church there. I believe it was the only evangelical church in that town. There was a Catholic church there too.
We went to a camp in which we had distributed cassettes the previous week in order to visit people and answer any questions they had. As we walked along we came across a group of guys (maybe 7 or 8 of them) and they were just hanging out and talking. We began to ask them if they liked the tapes and if they had heard that message (of the Cross) before and if they understood it. They said they hadn't heard it before and understood it a little bit.
Seizing the opportunity, I said in Spanish, "Well, it's like this..." And so I layed out the basic message of the Gospel, covering such things as our sin, God's sinlessness, heaven, hell, the sacrifice required for sin in the OT, and the fact that Jesus was the last lamb to be sacrificed.
They were all ears and began to participate when we started saying that the difference between Christianity and the other religions was that we believe in a God who did not stay dead. One guy piped up, "Oh yeah, like those Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses, right?" (He thought they were the "other religions" I was talking about.) From there we gave a little instruction on denominations vs. religion and encouraged them to base their truth on the Word of God -- the Bible. Each of our team contributed to the conversation in their own way and after two hours we had 4 or 5 guys who expressed a desire to leave their lives of sin and believe in Christ (See picture here).
We helped them with their prayer, suggesting a topic ("Tell God about your sin...Ask Him to forgive you for it all...etc") God knows their hearts, but I just rejoice that I got the opportunity to speak the truth. My favorite part was being able to say "Jesús es el Señor de señores!" (Jesus is the Lord of lords!)
Originally, the time in Ensenada was set aside for me to visit my friends who so eagerly wanted to speak with me in person. But as a wandering missionary, Jose Manuel ran out of things to do. So I invited him to come with me. It was then that the adventure began.
Arriving in Ensenada with no place to sleep that night, we went to the grand opening of the new church building which belonged to the church I had attended five years ago. The missionaries I worked with five years ago (Real Life Ministries) offered to let us stay at their house. We accepted.
The next few days were filled with friend visits and ministry opportunities. We actually stayed on in Ensenada for four extra days because of the opportunities there. While my friends were at work or were busy, Jose Manuel and I would go to the camps and little colonies of homes and even to the Bufadora (a natural geyser and big tourist attraction near Ensenada) and distribute cassette tapes to the indigenous peoples. (Jose is shown here delivering a cassette to a Nahuatl speaker on a rooftop).
Philip, my co-worker at GR, sent with me a highspeed duplicator, a set of Mexico masters, two boxes of blank tapes and labels (see picture) to give to someone who would be dedicated to tape distribution in the Valle. We found no such person so we used the distribution tools ourselves. For our power source I used the handy little one-outlet DC/AC power inverter that my Dad had bought me for Christmas. It couldn't have been any better. Any bigger and it would not have fit into my glove compartment. Any smaller and...well...they don't make them any smaller.
As another part of the ministry, we visited a camp where we had done a distribution and showing of the "Jesus" video a couple months ago on the Viscaino trip. There we were able to speak with a few people about their lives and got to share the Gospel message again with a family. I helped the guy in the picture here bit while he was building a sand sifter for the construction of his house addition.
During trip we were able to use up a whole box of 60-minute tapes (that's 100 tapes) and a few 30-minute tapes. The last one I actually made while waiting in line at the border on the way out of Mexico. The lady and her daughter spoke Mixteco from Huajuapan de Leon. I learned some of her dialect back in February so I asked her how she was, invited her to come see the "Jesus" video and proclaimed to her that "Ba'a Dzo'o Dios!" (God is good!) ...all in her own dialect. Of course, there was no "Jesus" video going to be playing any time soon that I knew of, but that's what I knew how to say.
"Homeless" in Ensenada, again...
After several days of comfortable living at the Hollenbeck's house, the Friday came when Dennis and Debbie had to take their daughter, Cassie (all RLM missionaries), to the USA to start college. This meant we had to leave our home of luxury and return back to our homeless state in which we arrived. At the right, we are eating mango and bread for breakfast in a grocery store parking lot.
Actually, it's not fair to say that we were completely homeless. Although Dennis and the gang did leave, they generously offered us the ministry site camper trailer to stay in. They even said we could stay in their home if we really wanted to. Besides this, we had two other invitations that we refused on Sunday that were probably still valid to us if we needed a place to stay. We more like "chose" to be homeless for half of a day, just to say that we were homeless. We had a good time joking about getting "kicked out" of the missionary's home, and how they had "run us off." We couldn't even say, "now we're living on the STREETS" with a straight face. The laughter could simply not be contained. Soon, however, the laughter ended when some elderly friends of mine allowed us to stay in their home for the last two nights of our stay in Ensenada.
Overall, it was an excellent trip. We were able to accomplish much ministry by distributing tapes to not so easily reached colonies and camps, by visiting people who had received cassettes previously, encouraging them to put their faith and trust in God's Word, and by counseling some of my friends in Ensenada with the Word.