International Ministries

Building Relationships in a Mexico Border Town

March 27, 2008 Article

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Our mission team has just returned from an incredible week of service in Mexico.  We worked with missionaries Ray & Adalia Schellinger at Deborah's House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.  During our week in Mexico, there were 6 women and 8 children being housed at Deborah's House.  These beautiful women welcomed us with open arms, graciously sharing their small rooms with the 9 women on our mission team.  (The 4 men on our team stayed in a small cabin on the grounds.)  These women worked every day preparing the most delicious Mexican meals for us.  Despite the language barrier, we shared much laughter, tears, and hugs during our time with them.
 
The city we stayed in is populated by over 2 million people, most of who live in poverty.  The city is dry and dusty, with little vegetation growing on the steep gray hillsides.  It was in that gray dust that we worked for most of the week, completing various projects on the grounds of Deborah's House.  Our labor included building a retaining wall to prevent a portion of the hillside from eroding, framing and pouring a concrete foundation for a new building on the grounds, and leveling and finishing a playground area for the children.  Our work was hot, dirty, dusty, and exhausting.  We mixed concrete, dug footers, tied rebar, framed a foundation, and poured and leveled concrete.  We raked, shoveled, and hauled stones and sand.  We hammered landscape ties together, painted swing sets and did minor repair jobs.  Each evening we were dirty, dusty, sunburned, sore, and tired.  But by the end of the week, a new playground stood where a barren courtyard had once been.  The foundation of a new building was beginning to take form on the grounds, promising a new facility to help even more women in the future.  And a new retaining wall protected the hillside from washing away.
 
But the most important part of our week was not in the walls we built, but in the relationships we built.  There were always children to laugh and play with, women to listen to and help, and hugs to share.  The women shared their stories of abuse beyond our imagination --- of beatings in the street, stab wounds and broken bones, verbal humiliation, and shattered lives.  We heard how these women bravely fled from their abusers, taking only their children and the clothes on their back, to find shelter and safety at Deborah's House. And, despite these horrible situations, their voices spoke with hope and trust in God as they looked forward to a future free of abuse for themselves and their children.  We saw God's healing in the lives of these women and children as they were reminded of His love and care for each of them.  Through counseling, job training, and lots of TLC offered at Deborah's House, these women and children will eventually be able to leave Deborah's House and to have a home and job to support their family.
 
We were privileged to worship in two different Mexican Baptist churches while we were there.  Although we couldn't understand most of the words of the sermons, we felt God's presence in each church as we sang, prayed, and worshiped together.  The pastors and members welcomed us warmly and we knew we were brothers and sisters in Christ's love.  We had opportunities to pray with some of the board members of Deborah's House, and to surround the residents of Deborah’s House in a circle of prayer.  We prayed for the ministry of Deborah's House and for Ray and Adalia in their work.  We reached out and prayed for the city, and for the people living in poverty and hopelessness.   Each time we prayed, God's love surrounded us as we overcame the language barrier to uphold these dear people and ministries with our prayers.
 
We also had opportunities during the week to immerse ourselves in the Mexican culture.  We enjoyed time at the beach and we bartered with merchants in the marketplace.  We visited the border where a high wall stands, guarded by helicopters and patrols, to keep our countries apart. We saw unusual animals at the zoo, and learned the history of Tijuana at a museum.  And we feasted on tacos, floutas, chicken mole, chiles rellenos, tortillas, fried lobster, and many other Mexican foods.
 
Thank you for allowing our mission team to be your missionaries in Mexico for the week!  This experience enabled each of us to see God at work in a culture that is so different from our own.  We have grown to love and appreciate the Mexican people, and to realize that, despite our differences, we are all part of God's big family.
 
Que dios te bendiga!  (May God bless you!)
 
The Mexico Mission Team
[Terry Lentz, Sherry Pues, Bud Russell, Carol Russell, Gaynor Sale, Jeff Twilley, and Adelle Welzel (FBC, Dover); Brenda Russell (Belmont Baptist, Broomall, PA); Barbara Schott (Fairfield Methodist, Burgess, VA);  Bill Kehler & Tawny McLoota (FBC Hollidaysburg, PA); John Spriggs & Laurie Thomas (Cape Island Baptist Church, Cape May, NJ).]
 
PS  Thanks to your generous donations, we delivered 46 towels, 27 sheet sets, 8 pillows, 5 blankets, 2 sleeping bags, and 2 suitcases full of clothing for the residents at Deborah's House.  Additional cash donations were also sent through ABC International Ministries to support this ministry.
 
(Article written by Carol Russell)
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