We are home! Yes, it is a week early but we are sitting around with our jaws dropped in awe of what God has done. There is SO much that has happened to us and in our hearts in the last 3 weeks and I have decided to give myself time to process and write about it as it comes. I want to savor each little way the God took us up on the "whatever project". I can safely say I had no idea that it would transform me so much.
SO back to being home...a few days after Christmas (which I will write about later) both Doug & I got the sense that we were suppose to head for home. We doubted this sense big time as we were having a ball and in one of the most beautiful places we could imagine. The kids were thriving and Parker actually told someone "I live in Mexico but we have another house in the forest somewhere else." I think the kids would have stayed forever. They have grown tremendously and we all have thrived on just being together without distractions.
Anyhow, sitting under our palm tree grove one night, we decided that God was telling us that we needed to head home. We felt like it was because we were supposed to come back next year. If we went home a week early it would ensure that we could do that. So with incredibly heavy hearts we walked down to the beach and under the stars prayed and told God that we would follow his will. As I am writing, our little house is surrounded wet drippy snow and our stuff is scattered everywhere but my heart is as light as can be because of what God did.
We started heading north and figured it would take about 4 days to get to the border. Driving is slow going with 3 kids under the age of six and Baja cows that sleep on the road at night meaning you can only drive during daytime hours. Amazingly, we woke up just as the sun was rising each day and as we were getting to a stopping point the kids were cheering about us driving moire (seriously this was at 6 or 7 hours of driving). I can honestly say that it bordered on the miraculous because this happened for 4 days!
Anyhow, we had one more stop on our "whatever project" plate and that was La Mision. We found out about La Mision from a friend who on his own accord, not knowing what we were praying for, emailed us about the place. He said that his parents serve there and that we might want to check it out. He also, on his own accord, got directions for us. We emailed La Mision but, same as with El Ranch Sordo Mudo, had not received a reply back. Everything in us doubted if we should even go. As we turned onto the dusty (fill your car with in thick layer of dirt if you open the window for just a second) road that we thought might be the right one, I kept telling Doug, "maybe we just shouldn't go, we could make the border in a few hours if we just kept going." Thankfully Doug kept going. We passed street after street of run down houses, fences made of cactus and mud, people with beautiful, weather-worn faces walking and came to La Mision.
The first thing you see when you turn into La Mision is a beautiful hand painted sign for Hogar de Los Ninos (home for children) which carries a picture of an older child holding a younger one in their arms. You could hear children giggling as they played in a bright green kids tent. When we went into the office Ravenna charged passes us, peeked her eyes above the large counter and said, " God has sent us to serve the children!" No an iota of fear or reservation in her...I have so much to learn from my children! We wound up getting a tour and honestly are dumbfounded by all that La Mision does. It is home to 60-75 children who all live in casas with house parents (10-13 kids per house) but it does so much more. Some of the children there are true orphans (no parents) and many are social orphans meaning that they have parents somewhere but for varying reasons (abuse, parents no able to care for them) they are at La Mision. So La Mision, over the years, has added different programs to help the community and to reach out and find these children who are being abandonded or abused. They have different program that go into the Ejidos (communities where the government has given people a 10x10 foot square of land to live on, no water toilet or electricity) to get to know the families, find out their needs, and to help to fill those needs in the name of Christ. They have a training hair salon where hair stylists come and teach the women how to do all of the skills necessary to get out of working in the fields for $10 a day and into working in a salon for much more. They have a whole medical program, three full-time US trained doctors, two fully equipped operating rooms and a community outreach program to teach people about health concerns. They have a portion of the program called "Betty's kids" where a woman name Betty works with special needs children. There is an experimental orchard where they are figuring out what other crops can be sustained in dusty Baja and so so much more. The kicker is that they are currently building a home for women who have come out of domestic violence situations or other environments that are damaging to them. The man who gave us the tour said, "we could use prayer because we know how to get these women out of their situations but we have no idea how to help them then"...before kids I worked with homeless women and their children for 8 years! They have many ongoing construction projects that need people who have experience...and DOug rebuilt houses for 5 years!
During the whole tour the children played at our feet, running around the playground, riding a skateboard, digging in the sand. AS we got ready to leave Doug asked how we could help them and that we were planning to come back to Baja next winter (remember the feeling like we were supposed to come back) and the man's response was, "Come and serve!" They invited us to come and do a 7-10 day stay with them...kids in tow! A family mission trip! We are SO excited to keep in contact and to come back next year!!!!
As we drove off we marvelled at the hand of God. What are the chances that we would just "come across" an orphanage that also was in the beginning stages of building a home for women, and would house us with our kids so that we could be a part of it???? And...that God would ahead of time prompt us to leave that exact amount of time open ahead of time.
So you can see why even though we have left those warm beckoning breezes of Baja to return to the soggy snow, our spirits are soaring!
**** There is so much more that God has done and I am excited to share it! WQe also have tons of pictures that we are going through right now so stay tuned!!!!