Howdy again! Dear parents and friends, thank you for trusting these amazing kids to Kayla and me. We have all grown so close through the love of God in prayer and ministry, cooking and cleaning, incredible conversations, and trust.

God at work: We did an hour of prayer a few nights ago for the Church of Acts kids, though it only felt like 15 minutes. The Spirit was moving as I heard and felt our kids praying. I could really feel the presence of God in the room and it pumped me up! We also did a small service at our place of residence and had 20-25 of the C.o.A. kids over (cooking for 35 people and still having left-overs, que un milagro!). I got to share one of my testimonies of God in my life and let the C.o.A. kids know that I had more in common with them than they thought. Once again the Spirit moved because afterwards we started praying for each other and a kid accepted Jesus and walls were broken down and hearts were opened up and sins were confessed and prayed for. We’ve also had a lot of time of prayer for each other that we then see the effects of.  A few nights ago I shared another testimony of what God has done in me at local church we had yet to visit. The main topic of it was divorce and I know that after giving it that a couple has been moved to seek out restoration in their relationship. God has also lead me to scripture that He desires me to pass on to my kids for maturation. It’s so exciting seeing them read and memorize the Word. The kids are so anxious to pray for and love on the kids from C.o.A and are also ready to make more of an impact in the rest of the community through spreading the Gospel.

I also feel God bringing me more into manhood in leading these kids and staying grounded, not cutting corners but listening to the Spirit, and pursuing righteousness and purity. I am trying to communicate better for Kayla and pass information along sooner, but in being down here we usually go a day at a time with our scheduling. Thus far I have really enjoyed doing the budgeting and moving numbers around. It’s neat to see that after counting up the change and checking with receipts that everything keeps matching up to the penny. It’s been gratifying in cooking for the kids this week and having meals come together (Kayla will be cooking next week). And finally, I was able to practice some nursing skills on a woman from another group a few days ago. I eventually prayed for both the physical and the spiritual breakdowns of our human body and it reaffirmed my desire to finish my RN and do the Lord’s work with it.

1 Paragraph: You and God

2 Paragraph: You and Ministry

Sara Beth Abbey – God has been working on my heart most strongly through testimonies. We each have amazing stories to tell, and the depths God has pulled some of our own from are incredible. The inspiration found behind each testimony encourages our team and those around us as we hear first-hand of the destructive ways of the world and the power of our God to redeem broken hearts. God is a God of second chances! I’ve been challenged to not put God in a box and live with low expectations, but rather to recognize that Christ is alive and on the move. The Lord does great things through those willing to surrender everything, and our team members and the people here are living examples or God’s grace and power to redeem the darkest hearts from despair. Hallelujah!

Our team has spent a large portion of our time with the youth from the Church of Acts (or Iglesia de Los Hechos). We’ve spent hours in a loud, un-airconditioned gym each day playing soccer, braiding hair, and just spending time with the kids and teenagers there. Our eyes are being opened daily to the pain and struggle hidden so well behind masks. It’s far too easy to believe that they are just loud boys, flirty girls, reserved teens, or average Joes, but behind each smile there is an unbelievable story. Last night we had the youth over at the church we’re staying in to have dinner, a small service, and time away from their everyday routine. It started out loud and crazy (the usual) as they quickly consumed our food and explored our rooms, but the Lord moved in great ways after the service as people opened up about what was really going on in their lives. Two fun, rambunctious sisters I have been able to spend time with the past two weeks finally broke down in the hall as they told me that their soon-to-be 18 year old sister was taken into Mexico against her will about a month ago, and that their family still has no idea how or where she is. My heart broke for them as we cried and prayed together. There is so much brokeness and darkness here, and being able to love and hold and encourage and pray with these youth is incredible. Walls are being broken down every day, and I cannot wait to see what all the Lord has in store for us over these remaining weeks.

Victoria Yang – The most significant way that I have seen God work is through the lives of the children and youth that we have been interacting with daily. Through personal interactions and testimonies from my teammates, I have seen hearts slowly being transformed and opening up. One of the greatest impacts is seeing the youth from the Church of Acts embracing prayer, diving into the Word, and seeing them open up their hearts. Though spiritual warfare is prevelant (and especially on a personal note), I have seen God break chains and open doors. A tragedy occured a few days ago yet God has used that to turn the youth’s hearts’ affections towards Him (a phrase famously used by Mark) through prayer, encouragement, and comfort.

In regards to ministry, we have been interacting with children of all ages daily. We have been in different areas of the Rio Grande Valley doing VBS and it has been a joy to be able to serve the children through simple child-play and laughter. I must admit that I haven’t had as a strong of a bond with the children that my teammates have because I continue to allow my flaws to weigh me down, but it has gotten better. One of the most important things that I have learned is that the Lord can and will use anyone to further His Kingdom (and we should just go out and serve rather than being taught how to serve the Lord), but we all play widely different yet integral parts in this process – whether it be through music, child-play, laughter, or the ability to deliver a convicting message. As for me, I am not sure what my purpose is for this mission trip, but I continue to rely on God for strength and boldness to be able to serve Him in the capacity that He has called me to. However, indeed I see lives transformed and surrendered to the Father, and hearts being opened (whether during church services, youth rallies, VBS, or just simply being able to get to know the children).

Bethanie Hall – I have definitely seen God work through me and the people around me since I have been here. One way God has worked through me is being able to trust Him. When I first got here I wasn’t sure if it was the place I was supposed to be or God was calling me too. This was mostly because of the things I had to sacrafice to come here. But through a lot of prayer I learned that I had to trust Him when He said it was the place for me. Although I wasn’t sure then if it was right, I see now that it was.

For the past two weeks we have been working with some youth from a church called the Church of Acts. These youth are growing up in such darkness and pain that I don’t know how they get through it without God. It amazes me how God can give these youth the strength to smile each day when they are in so much pain. That to me is so encouraging and makes me trust God so much more. Each day when we go to hang out with these youth it brightens up my day. They are always so happy that they have someone else besides each other to hang out with. I have realized that we are a light that they only see for a couple of hours each day because when they step through the doors of their homes it is complete darkness. I feel so blessed and honored that God has called me here to these people because I can not only light up their lives but they light mine up also. The story is only to be continued with each new week we have here.

Emily Herrin – Just as I said in the last blog, I have no clue where to start. During the short time that we have already been here, God has taught me so much through both the kids and quiet time with Him. I am realizing even more everyday how much I love being on the mission field, because there is something about living simply, always being in the present moment, and only paying attention to what really matters in life with no distractions. Here I feel like I can really focus on what I am here to do, which is to be the hands and feet of Christ in order to spread His love.

The kids from the Church of Acts have blessed my life. Spending hours and hours every day with the kids have allowed me to really get to know who they are inside and out. I have had my heart broken more times than I can count from hearing about what these precious kids have to face at home. There are so many struggles that they have to deal with that kids their age should not even know about, such as parents separating or going to jail, siblings getting involved in gangs and drugs, and them having to be the role model and parent in their home even at the age of 9. In all of this darkness all they need is love and that’s what we are here for. In the midst of everything they have going on they still manage to hide it under a smiling face, but then break down and cry in our arms when they need truth and love spoken into their life. Being able to be here for whatever they need is such an awesome feeling, and I can only thank God for what He has done in both the team and the kids around us!

Nolan Ray – God has been working on me in huge ways during this trip. I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life as a whole: my past and who I am today. God has answered a lot of my questions concerning my past and how today I stand before Him a new creation in Christ Jesus. I have become so much more content with who I am and with what I am doing. I feel like I am able to see God more for who He really is, and less for what people and churches make him out to be. I have been so encouraged to get in the Word more and soak it up. I feel a new closeness to God, and I am excited about how He is using me and how He will continue to use and refine me.

I can honestly say that interacting with the kids here has changed my life. They are so full of energy and they seem so joyful. However once I actually sit down and talk with them, they open up and I see just how difficult there lives are. Most of there stories include a dad who is not present in there lives, drugs, sex, and gangs. It has been a privilage to be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus- to be able to show these kids, whether they are two or twenty, the love of Christ. I love that we are here long enough to really build meaningful relationships so that these kids will continue to open up as we continue to love them and minister to them. I am blown away by how God has used me, and I am excited to continue to let Him use me.

Ben Harkins – God has continued to reveal Himself to me through many different things. We practiced listening prayer: we each asked God what His favorite thing about us is as individuals. After listening for a while my mind was flooded with things. The assignment was one thing though. I wrote down passion. The next day we swapped cards with an anonymous person and we asked God what His favorite thing about that person was without whoes card we had and what they wrote. God put ‘surrender’ in my head so I wrote it on the back of the card I had (later finding out it was Emily’s). It lined up perfectly with what God had told Emily about herself. When I got my card back it didn’t say what I had listed, but it did say one of the stronger thoughts in my head- my strong faith in God’s love that I would give anything for. That blew me away. My faith increased ten-fold that night. God really does speak.

A big part of ministry has been with the Church Of Acts kids, but most of the blogs talk about that so I’ll highlight another part our ministry. We have been doing VBS’s constantly. Different churches have been coming in for a week at a time and doing ministry. They have been running the VBS’s so we have been able to put all our effort into playing with the kids without the stress of running the VBS. I love playing with the kids so much. Yesterday, a boy named Michael latched on to me. I could tell he watched my every move. When I did the motions to the songs, he did the motions. When I paid close attention to the Bible story, so did he. It really humbled me that I can be such an influence on a kid. I love being able to be used by God as an out-pouring of His love.

Anthony Young– I have been able to have one on one time with God over the past two weeks, and he has revealed the real me to me. God has been working on my heart while I’ve been working on my faith and powers in God. Being on this trip/ mission I have been able to really seek God in all aspects, practicing my faith on and off the field. Being here and doing what I’ve been doing I have really found my calling in the kingdom of God. I know God has a plan for me just as the Bible says in Jeramiah 29:11. And I pray that God works on my loved ones hearts back at home on anything needed worked on.

I have delt with kids for a long time and it has been an awesome experience here in Texico. Most of all the kids seek parenting and love and lots of other thing they dont get from there homes, and for me to be the one being used as a substitute in there lives is humbling to my heart. I give God all the credit for everything I have done and am going to do here. The kids are awesome and every morning I pray to God to give me the strength to deal with them everyday. We have done lots of vbs’s with the kids and they open up to us so we can pray for them. Our ministry on my team has been very strong and we all work together to get jobs done. I love my team and thank God for molding all of us here and it couldnt be any better.

Taylor Euliss – Throughout this trip, God’s been working on my heart in some shocking ways. I’ve always been able to “talk” to God through prayer and worship, but this trip has really taught me how valuable quiet time with God can be, to the point that talking to God has become much more conversational. I find myself choosing quiet time with God over playing guitar in the sanctuary or talking with fellow team-members, which I find so striking – that was not the case a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also really been hit in some powerful ways through the testimonies that people have given, telling how God has worked in their life. I’ve always felt that my testimony is so weak, but talking with these kids and sharing my story has really shown me that God has touched my life in bigger ways than I had thought. It’s really amazing!

I’ve been working with kids for most of my life – whether it be VBS, babysitting, or Sunday School – but never have I been so impacted by a group of kids in so short a time. The kids from La Iglesia de los Hechos (The Church of Acts) have truly changed my life – from the little three-year-olds who just want to be picked up and spun around, to the teenagers who love to just sit down and talk about life, problems, God, and most anything else. As our friendships and trusts have grown with one another, we’re able to share more and more – it’s just incredible (I’m telling you – these kids get deep!) Often times, though, it feels as though we’re doing little more than just forming friendships with them and having fun, but as this week has progressed, I’ve seen such a change in some of these kids – to the point that a kid who just started coming to The Church of Acts just gave his life to Christ last night. That really hit it home for me – it was then that I realized, not only how much of an impact that these kids had had on us, but how much of an impact that we are having on these kids. In the words of Mark Van, “IT’S BLOWIN’ MY MIND!”

Brendan Funk- Hello Everyone! Everything is going so well, this trip is really an amazing growing experience for my relationship with God. I began this trip quite skeptical about everything. However, through just these two weeks I have really grown closer to God in ways that I never thought possible. I have realized how fantastic it can really be to talk to God, and the power of relationships. I have fallen in love with Christ and it is absolutely fantastic. The relationship I have always yearned for is coming closer and closer within my grasp, and it truly excites me.

Our ministry is nothing like what I expected it to be, but that just shows me how fantastic it is! We have been mainly working with kids from The Church of Acts, which is about a 30 minute drive from where we are staying. Through seeing them every day we have really bonded with all of them, and they are amazing. Another part of our ministry which has really shocked me is music, coming from never playing guitar or singing in front of people to now being thrown into leading worship with Ben, Taylor, and Sara Beth. It is an exciting opportunity and I truly enjoy it. The way you see God move in all of these people really is amazing when they are singing, and it makes me smile. This trip has been more than I expected, less than I expected, and not what I expected at all. What I’m trying to say is that, well, it defies explanation.

Alec Marquette- In the past two weeks I think its safe to say I’ve grown more in my relationship with Christ than in any other point of time in my life. I’ve had a thirst for the Word that cannot be quenched, I have physically felt the prescence of the Holy Spirit, and have seen it changing the lives of the kids who should be on the streets. Just now as I am writing this in Starbucks I witnessed the Spirit act through Mark, who ended up praying for one of the employees. It blows my mind, and motivates me to constantly seek His presence. Ephesians 1:13-14 says the Spirit that was promised is a deposit guarenteeing our inheritance. It’s encouraging to have assurance that this team is walking on the straight and narrow.

It’s crazy to see these kids we’re working with choose to be so radically different from the world that surrounds them. The other day I was talking to a group of like 5 kids about Romans 12, but by the end of the conversation they had taught me more than I could have ever taught them. This is not to say that there is no work to be done here. Many are still lost and trying to fill the rejection in their hearts with the life on the streets, but God has started a chain reaction in this community that is just waiting to explode. Romans 15 has given me a better understanding of what i’m doing here and how i need to act. I’m not saying these kids are weak, but I think we are here to build up those who have Christ in their hearts, and to tell the good news to those who are still lost. Please pray for the Spirit to continue to move in this place, that it may give us wisdom of what to do and revelation of how we should do it.

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