Monday, August 31, 2015

First Day of School! (2015)

 Here we are, starting our fourth year of school! How crazy is that?! After dreaming of having our own space, our own dedicated school, that dream has come true! We started our first day of class today in the new school. It is looking so good! There are still some detail things that we will work on as we go, but today we had everything we needed and more to get started. I will be posting an actual in-depth tour of the school soon! 

After welcoming the kids to the new school, we started the morning as we usually do - with prayer and studying of God's Word.

After Bible, Nicole started with the next level of English lessons. The plan is to have these kids having full conversations in English by the end of the school year!  

Senor Austin
 After English comes math....

Very interesting lessons!
 And our traditional first-day-of-school pictures...
"Boys! SMILE!"

...and the teachers!
We are looking forward to another great year of school!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

These Kids Though...

 Every Sunday we go out on outreach right before Sunday school. We have a big speaker we mount on top of the car and a recording of a Sunday school song that blasts as we drive. It has become our trademark song - kids come running out of their houses as we drive through the streets handing out candy and invitations to church and Sunday school. 
Within the past couple of months, we've started picking up some new kids. They've come before on and off, but we've been making a concentrated effort to drive by and see them. They come out in droves, hands outstretched for candy. They are such a pitiful bunch - well below what I'd consider to be an "average" poverty level in Mexico. They can also be pretty blunt - give them one piece of candy and they will most likely respond with, "Give me one more!" You can't hold it against them though. They are just poor kids, never taught manners, and starving for any sort of attention. 
This is
The new development with this group is that their moms have started giving us permission to take them to Sunday school. This means that as we drive by on outreach, we stop and load them into the van. They always have something funny to say! The observations they make - it's like looking at the world through new eyes. 
This is Paulina!
Little Ana - This girl is tough. She got her fingers smashed in the car door and didn't say anything until Nicole turned around to tell her to get all the way in the car. She replied, "My hand is in the door!" After getting it out, she hopped right into the car, squeezed her eyes open and shut a few times, sniffed and that was it. No tears.
They hop in and start messing with the seatbelts, rolling down windows, pulling things out of compartments and cup holders. "What's this?" "Can I have this?" They over-exaggeratedly shiver and exclaim about the coooold air blowing out of the vents. After dropping them off one Sunday after Sunday school, one of the little girls insisted that I go around to the trunk because she'd found a piece of candy she wanted. It turned out to be a tube of colorful zip-ties.
In the back - Miguel, Tania, and Maria. Nicole and I in the front with Ana.

She knowwws how to pull on your heartstrings!
For being a first-time visitor, Ana got to choose a prize. She first chose a Hello Kitty purse, but after playing with it through-out Sunday school and her older cousin begging her to trade it out, she switched the purse for these glow in the dark glasses.
 I take them back home after Sunday school, and they are careful to make sure I have my purse and phone before leaving the church. They argue over who gets to carry what.

This is the look Ana gets on her face when she's begging for something. "Aaaandale!" (C'monnn!)
 I love this picture. It is a perfect example of what goes on during our drives. Pure craziness!

Playing with air conditioning vents, switching seats, fighting for the front I drive....  
Yes...I'm going to insist on seat belts from now on.

Please don't spill that ice cream :D
Right as I was going up to the piano to start Sunday school, this one lifted her arms up to me and whispered "Cargame!" (Hold me!) 
I sat her beside the sound system while I played, all the while she's hollering at me, "WHAT ARE THESE BUTTONS FOR??" I'm like, "Please don't touch...hahaha!"
In church she whispered to me "Right you are Tania's friend?" When I told her that yes, I was Tania's friend she got that look on her face of "See, I knew I was right." Haha! for the latest development. After Sunday school this past weekend, we loaded up in the van to take them back home.
Got one in a seatbelt back there! Score!
I pull up to their house and one says, "Where are you going now?" I said "Church..."
They reply, "We want to go with you!!" 
Okey dokey then!
I told them that they'd have to get permission from their parents so they ran in to ask. I figured I should verify this exchange and it'd also be a good chance to also invite their mom so I followed Paulina in. A lot of houses here do not have doors, just curtains so you have to yell "Tan, tan, tan!" in lieu of knocking. 
Their mom came to the door and I introduced myself. I told her that her kids wanted to go to church and invited her to accompany us. She said she was busy, and her kids had to bathe. This sent Paulina into that universal begging dance that consists of a lot of jumping up and down and rapid "Please, please, please, please, please!" 
Me: "I'll bring them right back afterwards!" 
Mom: *big sigh* "When will they be back?"
Me: *cringe* "In a couple of hours."
Mom: *deep breathe* "Ok."

As everyone piled back into the car, they got a talking-to. They are fascinated with the bathrooms at church - the liquid pump soap, running water, toilets that flush, the paper towel dispenser...
The bathroom is the first place they go when they arrive, and if we let them, there are numerous trips during Sunday school. I explained that we'd all use the restroom when we got to church, but there would be no trips after that. They'd have to be on their best behavior, no rough-housing, no acting up. They all agreed...while adjusting the air vents and wiggling around entirely too much. 

We sat towards the back of the church. I had to play and Nicole had to sing so we couldn't sit with them through the song service, but mom agreed to sit at one end of their row and Sis. Elvira sat at the other. After song service I went to sit in the middle of them. As I got to my seat, a bunch of them flocked to me and started in on a chorus of "She hit me, he called me that, tell her to blah blah blah...!!!" 

I felt a little bad for the people sitting behind us, but justified it with the fact that most of the people on the back row don't pay attention anyways. WHOOPS. 

The kids got antsy within the first few minutes of the preaching. One claimed that she was about to pee her pants, but when I started pulling things out of my purse, that took a backseat. 
I had not planned on having to keep a slew of little kids quiet in church, therefore did not have very interesting things in my purse. 
I hoped that my solar phone charger could act as an equivalent of Whit's Boredom Buster - the only difference being that the main entertaining thing about this block of plastic is that it has four tiny blue lights that flash when you press the button at the top. That's it.
It worked for a while, but soon everyone else wanted something out of my purse. They all got up at one point to crowd around and ask if they could have a turn playing with the solar charger. 
I'm pushing them back towards their chairs while gritting my teeth and whispering "GO SIT DOWNNNN!"
"What does this dooooo??"
My scarf became a great source of quiet entertainment..
"I'll trade you this solar charger for your calculator!"
  What I thought to be a brilliant idea - 
I personally would never wipe my face down with an *antibacterial* wipe, but these kids did. I figured if they could smash their fingers in the door and not cry, they probably wouldn't break out in hives over a measly wet wipe.

I had to stifle my laughter.
They took this to the extreme...Started out washing their arms and faces...

...Then moved on to their legs and even beneath their socks.
It was a bit of a circus!! These kids really need to learn how to whisper. They did do better than I thought they would - they weren't leaving and coming back in. They didn't get into any major fights. It could have been worse. However, next time we are going to sit on the very last row and I will be prepared with enough things to go around to keep them quiet and in their seats. I hadn't even planned on having to hand out "stuff". If there were just one or two, it wouldn't be a big deal and we could probably keep them under control, but with five kids...for at least half an hour....not happening. I think the goal is to get them used to being in church, used to the atmosphere, used to staying calm and quiet during the preaching. Then maybe we'll move on to actually paying attention.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Conference in Mexico City

 This past weekend was our summer conference. It was held in Mexico City at Pastor Isai's newly built church. We rented this bus to take us over to Mexico City. Friday afternoon it dropped by Tabernaculo de Victoria to pick us up then went over to Los Apostolicos de Puebla to pick up Elder Wakefield's people. 

Our chauffeur, Señor Sergio 

The men slept down in the church and us ladies slept upstairs. This part of the church was just barely finished before the conference so it is a bit bare, but it worked great! We were the first churches to get there so we got to pick the best spots - by a wall, and near an electrical outlet :)

We got all set up, our beds laid out all nice and comfy. There was just one thing missing. There were no mirrors anywhere. Now, I didn't want to make a big deal out of this - it's not like I haven't done my hair without a mirror before. And I didn't want to be the spoiled white girl demanding extra amenities. But good ole Abner. He understands these white girls. It was perfectly providential - as I was hedging around the fact that a mirror would be nice, we look to the side and there is a bucket of nails. He found a hammer and wha-laaaa!

There's my mirror hanging on the wall. Also, the ladies of the Mexico City church gave each of us a rose to welcome us to their church. It was so sweet! 
Also, Nicole's fingers. 

This little thing slept beside me during our stay. She was so sweet to sleep through each night for us! 

Bro. PJ White preached the first service

The place was so packed out by the time Nicole and I got off the platform that there were no seats. People were standing in the back and sitting on the stairs. 

We had an awesome first night in the altars. 

 From the first night, Jerameel was in the altars seeking the Holy Ghost.

Tia Hayde and Nicole accidentally matched. Leopard tops, green skirts.

The bathroom situation made for an interesting stay. The only two showers were upstairs where the ladies were staying. So we decided that the ladies would get up and get ready until 9am and after that, we'd leave and the men would go upstairs for their turn to shower. 
We had a lot of fun getting ready. There were no windows in the "window holes" (?) of the building so the street noises woke us up pretty early. We had so much fun visiting, talking, laughing, getting ready together and doing each other's hair.

So many times I've walked into pre-service prayer to find Bro. Mario getting a hold of God in the altar. Elissa is usually beside him in her stroller, or like in this picture - at his feet. She is blessed to have such a good daddy that teaches her how to pray.

Elder Wakefield preached the first day service on Saturday. He went right down the line preaching standards, saying it like it is! One thing after another, he'd hit on a touchy subject and a chorus of "Ayyy!" would come from the congregation. It was hilarious! Everyone was on the edge of their seats listening to the man of God, but he was definitely doing some holy stepping on of toes. It was the kind of uncomfortable that is GOOD!

After church we all went back upstairs to eat the lunch that the home church had prepared. These ladies know how to cook!
Little friends :)
Buying chocolate at the store across the street
 Bro. PJ White preached the night service on Saturday and again we had an awesome move of God.

I love watching Bro. Isai pray for his family. He does it with such a burden and such passion. His children and his nieces and nephews have a good example to look up to. They are blessed to have this man in their lives.
After church we were famished and the guys in our group seemed incapable of making a decision. I am still annoyed about this! Everything I suggested, they had a negative response to. Finally Nicole and I said "Ok, you know what? There are lights down the block. We are eating there." Here we are in the middle of this huge city, not knowing where anything is and these dodo brains from Mexico City were no help at all.
Nicole and Monse
The dear dodo brains
(as in the dodo bird)
 Eeeearly Sunday morning, around 3am, something quite funny happened. The cistern in the church overflowed and completely soaked all of the men sleeping on the floor. Everyone in the entire building woke up - the ladies were helping their husbands dry off, others were pulling blankets off of their own pallets to give to the sopping wet men. Those poor guys - the only ones that were saved were the ones sleeping by the altar. There's a message in that!! Always stay close to the is a place of SAFETY! 
After about an hour of cleanup, we all went back to sleep and woke up early the next morning, only to continue laughing about what had happened.
Sis. Julia - she is a case!

Nicole Ana Belen and Eliana
More fixing hair
The pastor's daughter and her cousin
Sunday morning was the dedication of the new church building. Pastor Isai started the service out.

There were pictures passed around of the building project throughout the years. 

Elder Wakefield called the men up that had helped build the church, showing them honor and thanking them for everything they had done. 

He then asked the ladies to stand that had helped work, sell and fund-raise to keep the building project going.

  Elder Wakefield also honored the late Pastor Mark Brewer of Evansville, Indiana. Without his help this building would not even exist. He gave a very generous offering to this church in Mexico and also helped spread the vision to other pastors in his area. He donated and helped raise the majority of the entire building fund. Thank you Pastor Brewer and Bethel Pentecostal Church!

After honoring the people that were instrumental in the building of the church, telling stories and reminiscing about things that had happened through this time, Elder Wakefield asked the builders to choose a pillar of the church to stand by.

 The principal ladies of the church were asked to place their hands on the altar, to pray for the souls that would repent of their sins there. 
The saints were asked to go to the edges of the church and place their hands on the walls.

Elder Wakefield asked the pastors to place their hands on the pulpit. He talked about how this pulpit was going to honor the Lord and preach truth. Not just any man was going to stand behind it, but men of God that believe in the Oneness of the Godhead, that believe in the Holy Ghost, in holiness and separation from the world. 

We were instructed by Elder Wakefield to shout "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!" seven times then begin to pray for the church. The power of God fell so strongly - it was an incredible service. So moving, so powerful. We are believing God for a great revival of souls in Mexico City!
After the dedication service we went right into the regular service. Pastor Isai and his church did the music.
Jabes is quite the drummer!
Bro. Mario preached the morning service

A young lady from Elder Wakefield's church got the Holy Ghost! Since I was on the piano right in front of her, I got to see the whole thing from start to finish. It was incredible! 

She decided to be baptized after getting the Holy Ghost. 
Her cousin also decided to be baptized!
 For the grand finale, our very own Pastor Curtis Wakefield preached! 
Pastor Isai translating for Dad ... hehe
"What Will Keep You From Being Saved?"
 We had another incredible time in the altar.
The young people praying for Jerameel
Praying for the young men
Bro. Gelacio got the Holy Ghost at our last conference - now he is working in the altars helping pray others through!
Pastor Isai, Sis. Elvira, and Los Apostolicos de Mexico - thank you for your hard work. Planning a conference is stressful enough, but you guys did it while in the middle of a building project. Thank you for getting up to make us breakfast each morning, thank you for preparing a clean place for us to stay. Thank you for making us feel so welcome! Les amamos mucho! 


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