DAY THREE AND FOUR – June 28-29.
Yesterday during our Vacation Bible School activity, we created a traveling photo booth and took over 100 pictures of the local children and their parents. They were so excited today when we helped them to make and decorate their own personal picture frames: “Jesus ama a Pedro “– this was the most challenging activity of the week, as we had to match every photo up with each child, then learn to spell their name for the frame. This photo may be the first photo they’ve ever seen of themselves. This became the most popular activity of the week.
At the work site, six sets of goggles, two wheel barrels, two pick axes, four shovels, several iron chisels, 20-foot wire forms and rebar, a couple lizards and some large beetles were the props used on our 3300 square foot “stage” lit by a very hot sun and virtually no shade. Nevertheless, our new friend, Eunico, directed Wong-Hughes-Schuman and our students as they dug ditches, mixed and poured concrete to finish the foundation walls ahead of schedule.
Down at the VBS site, in addition to the photo activity, games and fun abounded as more songs were sung about Jesus’ love and the final drama unfolded, with Adam and Eve becoming separated from God and Jesus coming to save all mankind from sin.
Today was our fourth and final day to spend with our new friends near Mario’s church in Progresso. We took more pictures of all the children and parents we were able to minister to and as we packed up to head for the work zone, many of us felt a little sense of loss and sadness as several of our students made some significant connections and bonded with these ninos since we arrived on Tuesday.
Some fun “facts and firsts”:
- Every day the ninos rapidly consumed all of the food that we made for them.
- Mrs. Harper made the largest batch of guacamole she’s ever made with limited resources – and it turned out great!
- Mr. Andrews drove his first bus-load of students through the cobble-stone streets of PVR where stop signs and signals are rare and compliance is optional – and everyone made it safely back to the hotel!
- Some students saw their first palm tree, peeled and ate their first mango, swam in the ocean, rode their first plane-ride and tasted ceviche for the very first time on this trip.
Tomorrow we walk down to the community center for a worship service and we will do some shopping and a little beach time afterwards. Then, on Sunday evening , we have all been invited to 15-year-old Lilly’s “Quincienera” which will definitely be a cultural first for everyone.
Please continue to pray for safety and praise God with us that the rain here has held off at the optimal times, allowing us to work and play as planned with little adjustments to our agenda. Continue to pray that we will be able to continue doing the work that God has in store for us these final two days here in PVR.
This morning we were greeted by an awesome sunrise , and the clouds and rain remained yesterday’s news. It made for a hot work day in Progresso, but no one got any major sun-burn nor were there any major injuries. Thank you, again, for your continued prayers and support.
The work crew pulled ahead, taking advantage of our ten hard-working students and led by Kent Hughes and Kenny Wong. The 3300 square foot foundation now has all the rebar reinforcements and frame-work established so tomorrow cement can be mixed and poured. Praise God, they are a day ahead of schedule!
The VBS crew set up shop under two perfectly-placed shade trees which served as the center for the mobile kitchen, craft table and drama/game location. Today’s theme was about David and Goliath, and how God faithfully helped David conquer the giant with three stones. The children sang several songs about God’s love and also played soccer, hung out at a brick wall and really enjoyed the giant, colorful 24-foot parachute game. In addition to the crafts, games, VBS stories and songs, we had the privilege of serving lunch to over 100 children, parents and a few stray dogs.
We asked our student leaders to share their thoughts and pictures with you, so you can hear how God is working in their hearts. Here’s what some of them have to say:
“Today a girl came to me and called me her “Amiga” or in other words her friend and even though we didn’t really have anything to talk about because of the language barrier she asked me if I wanted a bracelet as a gift. I didn’t understand what she meant at first but then she put the bracelet on my wrist. In return I gave her one of my bracelets. It was just really cool to see that people with so little can still give wholeheartedly” – Hannah Meyle
“Working with the children in Puerto Vallarta was cool because when i first walked on the vbs site a little girl came up to me. all i said was “feigo” and pointing to the sky to say it was hot out. this little girl took my hand and lead me through the whole vbs all day. it was really cool that she attached to me for really no reason at all, all i said was “feigo”, and she wouldnt leave my side. it just shows that languages cant keep people apart”. – Liz Naatz
“When Emily was painting nails for the Mexican girls it made me realize how little it takes to put a smile on their faces. Also, this experience here has made me realize how powerful prayer is.” – Elizabeth Daanen
“Playing with the kids and communicating in spite of the language barrier has showed me God’s power while it puts me out of my comfort zone.” – Mike Kenney
“Through the worship songs at the community center, I have seen that there’s more in store for me and there are things that I can work on. I’m learning that God’s love is endless.” – Madison Harris
“Even though the people here have lesser than I do, I can see that they value family and love more than they value material things.” – Matt Terwilliger
“The only difference between space and my stomach, is that space is empty. Seriously, the people here really express themselves and they are so thankful for everything they have.” – Noah Barbel
“I never realized how good serving the children here felt. The smiles on their faces brought so much joy to me.” – Stephen Guevara
“Rendering physical aid and giving spiritual aid at the same time was an encouragement not only to myself but to the others (local kids) who were injured [Nurse Karen had her first injury to tend to today when a nina cut her foot playing soccer with no shoes on] – Karen Harper
“When sitting on the bus, one cheek on the seat!” – Caroline Drayer and Ashley Palese
After our twelve hour trek from the East Campus parking lot to our hotel, Casa Anita, downtown PVR, our adventure has kicked off to a great start! Thank you all for your prayers. The travel here went off without a hitch. Our student leaders are here, working side-by-side with other churches from Evanston and Virginia.
Day One – We settled into the hotel, which is comfortably nestled up two sides of a steep hill overlooking the city and the beach, which is several minutes’ walk away. The guys are staying in 3 rooms on one side of the hill and the girls are in 4 rooms on the other side of the hill. Our home base for the eventing meals and group time is in a community center which is only a few minutes’ walk down the hill around a busy intersection and through some old cobblestone streets. Keep praying for safety as we make this walk daily.
Day Two – After our breakfast and morning devotions, we were bussed from Casa Anita to our worksite across town and approximately 40 minutes away. Mario, our host and local pastor here, told us that Puerto Vallarta is made up of approximately 400 neighborhoods. His church is located in the Progresso neighborhood where several dirt roads, vintage volkswagon beetles and uniformed school children work and play and the dogs and chickens compete with the busy urban traffic.
When we exited the busses, we first had a short meeting at Mario’s church, planted seven years ago in the middle of the city under a large tree. Today there is a park and a new building that serves as a beacon of light for the community. A few short blocks away we found our worksite: another church building foundation 3300 square feet. The work crew chisled out several foundation posts today to tie in the new foundation walls which we will be pouring concrete for, later in the week.
In addition to the steel chisels, hammers, safety goggles, etc. we also fed 75 children and a dozen of their parents at the adjacent basketball court. It was there that we set up our make-shift shelter, PA system and drama center next to the traveling kitchen.
This morning, we prayed asking God to hold off the rain and he answered our prayers. As soon as we put the tarp away and packed up all the food, the rain came.
We are a little sweaty and wet, but so grateful that God has brought us here. Tonight we heard a message about the Love of God from Luke 15, and we learned that we cannot earn his love, we don’t deserve it, but like the prodigal son, we must turn around, and receive God’s love in order to be able to give it.
Many testimonies were shared tonight about tangible ways our students felt God’s love in the arms of the ninos.
Here are a few pictures of what we experienced on our first work day today.