Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
you expanded its joy.
Oh, they're so glad in your presence!
Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
as surprising and sudden as Gideon's old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He'll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He'll rule from the historic David throne
over that promised kingdom.
He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing
and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will do all this.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On This Night so long ago

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed. Luke 2:8-18 The Message

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Requested List of Needs for HHI

Greetings to one and all and warm greetings to most of you with your first taste of winter!! Brrrrrr!

Recently, we had been asked to put together a list of needs, those items which we good use to get Hope House up and running now that we have a building.

Please find below just such a list. We are grateful to all who have been able to help and to everyone who has been praying for us and the work here in Mexico.

Hope House needs list:

1. Activate electricity at building:

a. $100 to pay off existing electric bill

b. Move electric pole after IFC (Mexican electric company) cuts wires

c. $100 reconnect fee

d. New meter box and breakers

2. Rewire existing breaker boxes and circuits

3. Sewing Machines

4. Sewing Machine and sewing accessories

a. thread, bobbins, machine needles, sewing needles, scissors, pins

5. Fabric

a. especially child print but all kinds

6. Tables and chairs for sewing, eating, etc.

7. Living room furniture

a. Sofas, end tables, lamps, coffee tables, area rugs, etc.

8. Refrigerator - only one at the house works

9. Freezer – chest or upright

10. Propane stove - the one at the house, aside from being electric, doesn't work

11. Microwave

12. Cooking utensils

a. Pots, pans, baking & casserole dishes, crock pots, spoons spatulas, etc.

13. Kitchen cabinets- There are only a couple of shelves on the walls in the kitchen. We need upper cabinets for storage.

14. Shelving for dry goods, clothing, etc.

15. Inside door for room

16. New green board for showers (2)

17. Install hot water tank (instant-on tank preferred) and inside connections

18. Tile showers and bathroom floors (2)

19. Window replacement

20.Perimeter walls built around property

With the acquisition of the building, our monthly expenses have increased and will continue as we seek to bring on additional staff and provide for the families in our care. We would ask you to prayfully consider investing in this work as the Lord might lead. Checks can be made out directly to Hope House International and mailed to our address.

We very much appreciate those of you who have been supporting us financially.

Hope House International has a tax-exempt status as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax deductible under section 170 of that Code.

Thank you all for your prayers and your kindness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clean Up Day at Hope House!

This past Saturday, November 17, 2007, we had a few folks for the Home Educators of Yuma homeschool support group (H.E.Y.) come across the border to help us with a general clean up at the new building. Special thanks to the Adler family - Jim, Allison, Tyler, Jonathan and David and also to Irene Heinz for all their help in sweeping and scrubbing, mopping and organizing!

We had sent out a call for help with cleaning supplies - buckets, mops, brooms, etc. - to the homeschool group, asking them to bring the supplies to Friday's day in the park. We were humbled and excited at the same time by the abundance with which the families responded. We received enough supplies to not only clean on Saturday but also to keep the house clean for weeks to come! Thank you, H.E.Y.!!!

Allison mopping the kitchen.

Irene scrubs the walls.

Jim worked with Joe to check out all the electrical connections, breakers boxes, etc.

Even the boys got involved!

And, of course, there was lunch!

Thanks again for all your help!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hope House has a home!

It has been 2 1/2 years of waiting on God, praying and planning for Hope House and we are now seeing the fruit! This week, we have been offered a house to use for Hope House. We also now have a civil association (that is like a corporation) that we can operate under here in Mexico.

Several weeks ago, we became aware that Centro Libertad (a men’s rehab center that we had worked with early on in our time here in Mexico) was no longer being run under their civil association since the director had just died (he was out in the streets doing drugs) and his wife had left and gone to Tijuana. Pati, who has been working with us to get Hope House established, is a board member for Centro Libertad and has given us free reign to use this civil association for not only Hope House, but also to bring Eliacim (men’s rehab center that Ricardo has been running) under it as well.

Joe also met with two pastors this week here in San Luis that God has been leading us to. Pastor Mariano and his wife Maria had this house that they used to have a feeding program in, but have since moved to different, more needy, area of the city. This house has been standing empty and they wanted it to be used for ministry. Maria’s desire was to see something just like Hope House and she is very excited about this. She has wanted to have sewing classes for women in that facility, but never was able to get that to happen. She even trained for a year in order to be able to teach sewing classes. They wired the ceiling of the main room with outlets where machines can be set up and plugged in. In the last couple of months, we have been investigating some different things about sewing classes, and a way to market the products, as being an avenue that God was leading us in as well. So they have generously offered the house to us for Hope House. They were hesitant because they felt they needed to get it ready before we took over, but we assured them that we would be happy to do the work needed to get it ready for habitation.

Joe also met with Pastor Sadoc Flores of Nuevas Generaciones, a church that we really like on the other side of San Luis. After sharing our vision with Pastor Sadoc, Joe found out that they have very much the same vision for helping women. They currently have a program to train women in sewing, as well as helping them body, soul and spirit. They do not have any facility for a live-in program, so he is very interested in participating in Hope House and working together to help the women in our city.

There is still much work to be done, both legally and physically, but we can see the beginnings now. There need to be changes to the constitution for Centro Libertad, but that is much less expensive and easier that starting from scratch (which is what we had been working on).

The house has one very large room to be used for dining and classes, a kitchen, two bathrooms, one bedroom and a storage room. And there are many projects to be done on the house before it can be livable. The very first of which is getting the electricity turned on. The electric box and pole need to be moved and replaced before the electric can be turned on. We also need to have walls built on both sides to secure the property. The bathrooms need shower stalls and a hot water tank. We need a stove and a refrigerator/freezer for the kitchen. The storage room needs a door and frame before it can be secured. There is tile for the bathrooms, but it needs to be laid. These are all small, specific projects that we need people and money to complete. If you have some time to spare this fall and would like to come and help us, just let us know.

We are hoping to be able to start having sewing classes in the building before the end of October (if we can get the electricity on). There are a number of ladies at La Sombra (Rich and Lori Barcelona’s church) that have begun to learn to sew and have been given sewing machines by a church in California, so we would like to continue to train them and specifically train them to produce something that is marketable to help provide income for them, as well as to eventually help support Hope House.

If there is a specific project that you would like to help with (either financially or physically), please let us know. We want as many of you to get involved as want to and you can really help Hope House come into reality in the next couple of months. We have several gals that would like to come and serve an internship here with us this winter, so we are looking forward to a very busy and productive winter, getting Hope House up and running, housing women and their children, as well as teen girls, helping them learn to live for Jesus and to be good mom’s and providers for their children.

Our hope is to establish an online company where we can sell items that the women/girls make in order to provide income for them, as well as Hope House. God has a lot of things in the works, and we are beginning to get glimpses of some of them. It is a very exciting time for us here in Mexico and we are also celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this month! So this October is turning out to be a hallmark in our lives and ministry.

Please let us know how you would like to be involved as we bring Hope House to fruition and begin to see the vision come into being. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to be personally involved in this exciting time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Update Summer 2007

Greetings from sunny, and I mean sunny, Mexico!
Much is in the works during the hot summer months here in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert.

Joe is continuing to gather all the information he needs in order to submit his application for an FM-3 Visa in Mexico which will help a great deal when we go to make final application for the civil association in Mexico.

Speaking of the civil association, you may or may not know that it is the Mexican equivalent on a corporation. Non-Mexicans are not permitted to own property in Mexico. Therefore, because we are not citizens of Mexico, any property that we would want to own must be either in some kind of trust or in the name of a corporation. This is why we want to establish the corporation. We have seen the difficulties that can arise if you try and get around these laws.

By the way, you really need an FM-3 visa just to rent a house!

There are many, many properties available all over town. If you remember, with the help of Rich Barcelona and a few local brothers, we investigated a property that consisted of a 4 bedroom house and 12 motel rooms. The owner was asking US$200,000 for all. However, we discovered that only 4 of the twelve motel rooms air conditioners worked. Five of the motel rooms had extensive water damage to the ceilings. The electrical for both the house and motel would need to be completely overhauled. The house a/c could not be tested because of the condition of the wiring. To top it off, the roof for the house would most likely need replaced. It just wasn’t worth it.

Another property was brought to our attention that has 13 3-room apartments and a 2 bedroom house, all situated around a center courtyard. It has been vacant for 3 years. As with anything that is vacant for more than a few months, everything has been gutted—no windows, no doors, no plumbing, no electrical wiring or even conduit! The ceilings would all have to come down as well. The good thing is that the walls are all in good shape. All the plumbing and electrical could be dropped down from the ceiling and then the ceilings insulated before the drywall is replaced. They are asking US$125,000 for the property.

It is amazing to me, the kind of price they are asking for property here. Not too far from here, there is a house for sale for US$380,000! Incredible! The owners of these properties will let them sit for years as well, refusing to lower the price. We continue to watch and wait. If we’ve learned anything during our stay in Mexico, it is to wait, to relax in the Lord’s presence and move when He moves!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Look Forward to 2007

When Joe took his first trip to Mexico in the summer of 1978, he was overwhelmed by the needs that he saw on the bus ride from McAllen, TX to Uruapan, Michoacan. We have just had several nights of below freezing temperatures. They say it is the coldest it has been in 16 years. Our kitchen has been around 58° each morning. Joe turns on the oven to take off the chill while the coffee is brewing. (Decaf only!) It could easily be overwhelming to think of how cold it must be for most of the Mexicans whose houses have no insulation. We cannot keep everybody warm, so we do what we can. Legacy Church and Pastor Erik Rangel in Yuma collected some blankets the first cold spell we had. Acts Community Church and Pastor John Bennett send down jackets, sweaters and more blankets. We took them over to Ricardo and the guys at “Eliacim”, a rehab center for men. They were much appreciated.

San Luis is a paradox. There are some places that receive many times over what they can actually use while there are other areas and peoples that go virtually unnoticed. There is great abundance and yet incredible need. It was in recognizing one of these needs that gave birth to the vision for Hope House – a place of hope and refuge for single moms and teen girls. As an example of the needs, I would like to introduce you to a few folks.

Patti, age 20 and Carla, age 16 are the daughters of crystal meth addicts. They have both developed a skin disorder that is very common in Mexico where their skin loses its pigmentation. They were examined by a doctor from Mexico City this fall and told that the cause of their physical aliment was emotional stress – the stress of living in a house with methamphetamine-addicted parents. The doctor told them to get out of the house. We would like to invite them to Hope House!

Lupita was 15 years old when she got pregnant by a married man who was in his forties. Both she and the father of now her two children want to serve the Lord and do what is right but that would mean going back home to her parents (she ran away from home, originally) and being separated from her children's father until he can divorce his former wife (he has children older that Lupita) and legitimately marry Lupita and raise these two children. We hope that we can establish Hope House quickly enough so that Lupita and her children can come stay with us, receiving the help and training she needs.

These stories are repeated dozens if not hundreds of times throughout the city.

The Lord recently opened the door for us to one of the few remaining and functioning women's rehab centers. They can house up to 30 women and have a special room just for young girls and those who come to the center while pregnant. This is a wide open and ripe harvest field. It is our hope that some of these women and girls will join us at Hope House after they are clean and sober so that we can introduce them to He who sets the captives free.

Each Friday, Joe is up and in the line to cross the border by 5:30am to be at a food bank in Yuma by 8:00am. He has been carrying food across for Ricardo and the guys at the center, another program that feeds 100 kids breakfast every morning and now for the women's rehab center. This food opened the door to the women's center. Recently, he was turned back at the border and told by the Mexican officials that he could only bring a little bread and a few canned goods across and only on Saturday. However, God provided a contact in the Human Rights Agency in Mexico who spoke with the Aduana (Customs) and now Joe can bring as much as he can carry! Praise God!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Look Back at 2006

Our adventures and travels of 2006 were the seeds planted for what it is that the Lord has planned for our 2007 – a litany of the miraculous and examples of God's grace.
  • We established a non-profit corporation in Arizona called “Hope House International.”

  • God supplied the funds through the quick sale of some land by Erica's great aunt Rachel McKinney and her generosity for the purchase of a 34 ft motor home.

  • Memphis, TN - 22 meetings in 14 days – renew friendships, relationships with pastors and churches.

  • Pittsburgh, PA from mid-June to end of September – much grace is evidenced as we work with Joe's Dad and Mom to send them out from the church they've been pastoring for 20 years. We had a chance to renew old friendships, establish some new ones and visit with family. Two trips to Bedford, PA and the family of God at Acts Community church, sharing and encouraging.

  • Myrtle Beach, SC – thanking God for the on going work with the Latino community and sharing with more old friends!

  • Orlando, FL – meeting up with Erica's Uncle John and Aunt Marty at Disney World where they present us with 4 2-day passes to all the Disney Parks. Thanks Nikki for your help with the camp site!

  • Memphis, TN - Four more weeks and the gracious hospitality of the Richard family – churches visited, communing with friends.

  • Back in Mexico by mid-November after 6 months on the road, 18 states visited and 8,000 miles traveled.

We cannot say thank you enough to the pastors and churches who opened their doors and hearts to us allowing us to share about Hope House and the challenge for the bride to be prepared! Also, a big thank you to friends and family who took us in or simply fellowshipped with us over a meal! Thanks to all for your kindness and generosity.