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We were directing short-term mission trips in Baja Mexico from June through August. The trips were from one week to ten days each. Different groups from Canada and the USA would come.. We at GR call this the "STEP" Project, which stands for Short-Term Evangelism Programs. Groups of young and old come on a mission trip and help us diagnose languages and distribute cassettes to the Bible-less tribes. This will be the first of many stories we may publish to show the provision of God and many absolute miracles. They could have been some of Joy Ridderhof's stories about how God made a way where there was no way.
There could be a conflict In scheduling, the pastor said.
We were traveling over a thousand miles down to the southern Baja. We had been preparing for this trip for over six months. However, we were exhausted because we had two groups before this group we were to met in La Paz. A pastor had emailed the day before we left that there could be a conflict in scheduling. (He was going to help facilitate the group with housing and a cook and some discipleship training.) The group was from a Christian school in Ohio and was flying to meet us there in La Paz.
1100 miles in an old car in Mexico
We had originally spoken to our director, Colin Stott, about not going all the way to La Paz. The roads are quite dangerous and our old 1989 Suburban has seen a lot better days and spent a few years in Mexico on roads that are washboard. When you are in the desert and blow a tire you could spend days there if indeed you are ever found. It's not like you can call Triple "A". Colin persisted and we agreed. He usually is right, but we won't let him know that so he won't get the big head.
We only had two days to get to La Paz. It's a twenty-three hour trip of driving by daylight hours only because in the Baja donkeys, burrows, cows and horses are free range. The animals are not fenced in and they come to the side to eat the grass and cross the road to get the grass on the other side. Believe me there are no streetlights out there.
The mountain roads are narrow and dangerous and animals in the road at night could definitely throw your car over a cliff with no guardrails. The shoulder of the road has such a high berm that one mistake and you're gone.
The pastor suggested a camp ground so we traveled on.
A pastor in La Paz, Mexico who was to facilitate our group with housing had emailed and told us that he could not house us. But he did suggest a camp ground and a contact so we traveled on.
We had two language helpers with us from Culican (on the Mexican mainland) and their mother (Candy) was to meet us in La Paz. She was taking a ferry boat over to La Paz to be a part of the team. Also our ten-year-old daughter Samantha was with us. The temperatures soared to 113 degrees. We were miserable. But we pressed on through hundreds of miles of nothing but huge rock boulders and cactus.
We will rejoice in all things.
We were singing and praying that maybe this campground could give us shelter. Steva had been vomiting and had severe fever blisters break out on her face from her nose to her chin, from too much heat and sun. We felt the prayers of the people. We pressed on till late in the night. Driving for two days, we arrived at the camp ground and met with the lady and THERE WAS NO ROOM AT THE INN.
We heard the word's of Joy saying, " Rejoice in all circumstances" so that's what we did.
The next day was Sunday, and we were to meet the group on Monday at 8 PM. We decided to visit several churches. Surely we could sleep in a church. Although after all of the time in the car with the heat, we were discouraged.
In two different churches that did not have a missionary heart, we sat praying. They had other plans, and said, "There are no indigenous here, check out Constitution (3 hours away). When we left we almost cried. THIS MISSION WAS DESTINED TO FAIL WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF GOD.
Even if the churches had not heard of the indigenous nearby, we knew they were there, and we rode around for hours until we found the poorest of the poor-looking neighborhoods. We begin to knock on doors and ask, "Are there any indigenous here or where are they?" And they told us to go closer to the mountain where there was a village there called El Cardonal. We followed their instructions and our hearts rejoiced. We found the forgotten people groups. We all started singing and hugging each other for we knew that God's Word would not return void and that we were supposed to be here in spite of all the difficulties we had getting here and having nowhere to stay. We knew the Father would see us through this seemingly impossible mission trip.
Three men praying
We went to the ferry boat dock and picked up Candy and told her the situation. We all huddled together and prayed. We began to ask people on the street, "Do you know where there is a Christian church?" After several hours and four different people's directions, we found a church at almost midnight. There were three men praying inside the church. We stood outside -- all six of us -- looking in and praying too. The pastor came to the door and ask us to come in, so we did.
The Pastor said, "I have called a lady from this church. She says you can spend the night at her house and maybe she can find a place for your group to rent tomorrow. He lead us to a big house with coconut trees in the yard. It looked like a mansion. The lady's name is Lucero, she came out into the yard in her robe and ushered us in. We told her our problem, and she showed us our rooms and said, "We will talk in the morning."
God and God alone made a perfect provision for us.
The next morning we awoke and Lucero had fixed us all breakfast. She was in her third year of Bible school. She said her husband normally would never allow strangers in the house, which is very understandable. The pastor did not even know us. She prayed during the night if it would be God's will that the whole group -- sixteen in all -- could stay there in the house, the man would come up with the idea himself. And this morning he said to her, "I think the whole group could stay here." She couldn't believe it and we could hardly believe it. God and God alone made the plan so much better than we could have ever planned or dreamed of. So we all rejoiced and begin to set up barracks in the huge house. There was much to do and food to be bought and much equipment to be set up and checked.
Lucero along with her husband Jose and son Ivan led us to a village where they had built a church four months ago. We all begin to scream, for in the heart of the indigenous village El Cardonal, Jose & Lucero built a church exactly where we knocked on doors and found the indigenous people two days prior to meeting them. This church was a sister church to the one that introduced us to Lucero in the first place. God was unfolding His plan and it was perfect. Ivan, a very special son of Lucero and Jose, loved the diagnostic process and joined in to help.
Jose, (Lucero's husband) a man with a big heart for the things and people of God cooked a great meal for us of shrimp and fish tacos. While Lucero fried the fish, she begin to tell us of her calling to the indigenous people. After the church building was up, she prayed for the Lord to send someone to paint this place ... and that is what our group did, along with all the other ministry of going door-to-door diagnosing and distribution of recordings.
We went into migrant camps in La Paz that were so heavily guarded, they said No at least nine times, but Nelly, one of our Mexican helpers, never gave up and finally they said Yes to us diagnosing languages and distributing cassettes. The camp guards instructed us, "No preaching of the Gospel or public displays at all in the streets." This was a camp of 2,500-3,300 with a big trucking company inside the gates.
Ours was the first American group allowed in this camp. MANY RECEIVED CHRIST THAT NIGHT IN THE MIDST OF BROKENESS, POVERTY, ABUSE, NEGLECT, HOPELESSNESS, LICE INFESTION. JESUS CHRIST CAME TO DWELL IN THE HEARTS OF THESE PRESCIOUS BIBLE-LESS PEOPLE.
God intervened every "STEP" of the way.
More happened on this trip than we can write here and it was one of the most successful trips we have ever taken -- definitely the most memorable one witnessing of God's provision!
Until the next time we thank you for all of your prayer support and remember God will not take you where He will not keep you.
Daryl, Steva & Samantha McCuiston