Preparing for Fun

Pete Beckman:  Wow.  We are only about 24 hrs away from the start of the trip.  Of course the real beginning for us started a couple months ago, when we heard EFCN was planning a trip down to Mexico to help at the school and children’s home of Emmanuel Ministries.  For our family (The Beckmans) it began with a series of dinner conversations with phrases such as “wouldn’t it be great if…” and “I’m sure we could help…”.  After several discussions, our kids (Paul and Emily) endured the “It’s time for a family decision” moment.  Yes, it was a bit like an old Brady Bunch episode, except we concluded our family meeting with a prayer.

So, here we are, scurrying around the house trying to get ready.  My wife Beth volunteered to organize a Wacky Olympics evening at the children’s home.  I’m not sure who suggested the adjective “Wacky”, but I think it originated from one of the adult team members who feared that in any real sporting event our participation would be unfair — not because of our skills, but because the 100+ kids would be laughing too hard to complete their events.  So we settled on games like the Javelin bendy-straw throw, so our soccer playing skills will remain un-photographed.

Olympic Supplies

Olympic Supplies

Anyway, for the last several weeks she has been asking fellow team members for goofy games, browsing the web, and buying fun game supplies at the discount stores.  It has been years since she has had the chance to shop for sidewalk chalk.  We plan on giving each of the kids a medal pinned to the end of a yellow ribbon.  Sadly, Naperville is now nearly ribbonless.  Beth bought out all the yellow and gold ribbon at 5 different stores, including Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and JoAnn Fabrics yesterday.  My contribution?  I intend to be wacky.  I have no doubt pictures will follow.

Oh, this blog?  How does it work?  While we are on the trip, we plan to write a couple posts each day, to let friends and family know what’s up.  So turn your browsers here and please feel free to post comments.  As we have time, we will read comments to the entire group (about 30 of us) and respond.  For the tech savvy, you can subscribe to this RSS feed (that means you will be automatically notified of any new posts to the blog).  To do that, click the little orange icon in the top right corner of this page.  Or, just check back to this page once or twice a day for updates.

If you have any fun game ideas, please post them in the comments section!  I plan on teaching the kids Poppity Pop Pop — A game that works in every language, and with every age.  It’s easier to describe with a video, so stay tuned.


Counting down… 2.. 1..

Ellen Wightman: Wow. It’s hard to believe that in 24 hours we will all be gathered at the airport.  And God willing, after that, we’ll be pulling into the Emmanuel Ministries driveway.  I have been looking forward to this trip ever since I head it was a possibility (as I’m sure the rest of the team was too), and now that it’s finally here I think I might burst with excitement.

With emails shooting back and forth between the team members, we are finally getting the last details intact before we leave.  Speaking on the Wightman’s behalf, I know we are still doing last minute packing and scrambling around the house to fill our suitcases.  It’s easy to worry about the details and wonder if you’ll have enough clothes to last you the week, but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s all in God’s hands and He’s ultimately in control.

A few things I’m personally excited about is our planned “theme nights” for the kids.  Our team decided to do an “Olympic Night” and “Water Night” with the kids.  I can’t wait to be there with the kids and interact with them.

We won’t only be helping with the kids, but also be working on electrical, computer cables, and of course anything other jobs Emmanuel Ministries requires of us.

My prayer is that we will all be a light and encouragement to the kids and staff at Emmanuel Ministries, as well as others on the team.  It would be easy to go to Juarez, go through the motions, and not have out hearts set on serving.  I’m looking forward to having a fun time, but most importantly to see how God can speak to me and use me during this week.

If you would please pray that our hearts would be set on Christ and that we are willing to do whatever God wants us to do while we’re away.
Also, if you could pray for safety, that would be appreciated.

In God’s loving grasp,

Ellen Wightman for the entire Naperville Mexico Team

Safe at Emmanuel Ministries

We have arrived safely. There is a stark difference between the two sides of the border. As we drove down dry aquaducts soldiers on trucks patrolled the streets. At the gates of the children’s home we were greeted by dozens of smiling, jumping, running kids. The are asking our names, sharing theirs, and trying out their English. The team is tired, but the kids faces have brought energy and excitement to all. I can tell it will be a fantastic week.

Meeting the Children

Kim Kurtzweil, Kelly Jozwiak, Tyler Hills: The flight was great! Crossing the border was a lot less exciting than we thought it would be. We didn’t have to get out of the bus, not as many military as we expected. When we got to Emmanuel Ministries the little boys immediately started helping us unload the luggage and they were all so excited to see us! As we pulled into Emmanuel Mnistries all the kids came running and were such great helps with unloading all of our luggage.

After we were all unloaded and had our short meeting with the Emmanuel staff, we headed back to the play area to play with the kids. All the kids had so much energy we all thought they would never go to bed. We were playing jump rope, soccer,and basketball for three hours.

All of the kids had way too much energy for that late at night. Apparently they all have more than one name, since every time you asked them, it was different! Their curfew was ten at night so we played with then until the very last second, and we were exhausted! Because of the time changes, it was ten o’clock here, but it was twelve ‘clock in our minds. Everyone slept quite well and woke up at 6:00 so now were sitting here in the kitchen waiting for breakfast and the town to come alive for Sunday morning church….

Hotdog Dinner

John benner: hey everyone, we made it to Juarez! The folks at Emmanuel Ministries are wonderful. Lots of smiles and joining in an impromptu soccer game in our first hour here. Kendra made friends with a little one who wanted to sit on her knee and watch a jump-roping game. This afternoon we had a cookout for everyone – hot dogs, chips, fruit juice, and Popsicles for 140! Hope you’re enjoying the pictures. God is doing wonderful things here. I’m honored to be a part of it.

Putting them to Bed

Sarah Robertson: I don’t even know where to begin with the experience I just had! Gale W., Tyler H., Jason, Paul and I had the “interesting” opportunity of putting the youngest boys to bed tonight. I was excited, because I honestly thought I’d just be reading a story and saying good night. Wow, I was way off!! We walked into the room, and Monica, the dorm mom, was already busy getting the boys ready for showers. She looked at us and without hesitation said, “Get all the boys undressed and throw them in the shower.” Ok, what?! Where’s the soap? How do you say shampoo in Spanish? Why is there a boy standing on top of a toilet? Sweaty socks, underwear, shirts and pants were EVERYWHERE, along with popsicle and pee spills. (Yes, one of the boys somehow peed on the floor.) At this point, we were beginning to understand why they start putting the boys to bed at 6:30!

All laughs and disgusting sights aside, the experience really taught me a lot. First of all, I don’t think I ever want to have a son. (Just kidding.) But really, I don’t think I truly understood the life of an orphan at Emmanuel until tonight. Usually it’s all fun and games and laughing, but I saw a different side tonight. I saw boys shivering after a shower because they had to wait for an already used towel, boys crying because they couldn’t find their pajamas, and some who just looked like they needed a great big hug. After spending over an hour getting them all ready for bed, Monica said a prayer which they all repeated. They prayed for the orphanage, the city, and the people who are hurting in the area. They also thanked God for bringing us, their new friends, to share God’s love. The prayer brought me to tears because it just seemed so sincere.

As we left the dorm, Gale and I discussed how sad it is that they’re just put to bed, no hugs, no kisses, no getting tucked in by Mommy or Daddy. We wanted to go back and give them each individual attention! Please pray that God meets their needs in every and any way possible. Please pray for the dorm moms (Monica works 7am-10:15pm every single day) to have the strength and patience to keep up with the kids. I’ll never forget this night!

A New Look on Life

Zach McKibbin: We have just got done with dinner on our first day
of work and this place changes your prospective no matter what.
For me it is that fact that you can look out the window in the
dining hall and see the lights from Texas, you can see America,
our home but feel like you are a million miles away. All we did
was cross a small river and then you are in a whole new world,
everything is different, even the food. I am not joking–you could
have the same brand of a product (like Coke Cola), but it will taste
totally different.

So like I said we have just got done with our
first day of work and it was a truly changing experience, and not
in the way that you may think. What I did was paint the girls beds
from this chipped black paint to this bright purple that just lit
up the room. And the whole time we were doing this all the girls
were watching us, not the TV that they had in their room but us,
and the whole time they were saying what I hope was that it looks
so cool. This whole trip has only started but my whole perspective
of Mexico and the way these kids have to live everyday makes me
feel home sick and thankful for what I have and wish they could
experience the same thing.

Dust in My Nose

Teegan Fiedler: Today we started our physical work. The main project that I worked on was “Yellow-washing” (think white washing – except yellow) a few of the walls here at the home. There were about 14 people who either scraped the old stuff up (so the paint would stick better) or applied the paint. I was mainly working with Ellen, Kendra and Emily on the court yard wall. We scraped the whole wall clean so it was ready for painting. One of the things that we ran into was the amount of dust that we created was intense! We all have wall dust in our noses now. Pete and Andy did a great job getting the internet working for the home (some of us were going into wwww – worldwidewebwithdrawal). Toward the end of the day we were out playing with the kids and one of the little boys asked me to go down the slide while he followed me down. He liked the way I went down the slide so much that we did it 30 more times! These kids definitely love having us here and need the attention and love we can give them. Here is a shout out to my sister Hannah: Happy Birthday Hannah – we all sung happy birthday and had brownies for you! (well ok….Dave was the only one who sung, but everyone did eat brownies for you!)

We are having a great time down here!

Precious Memories

Judy Kurtzweil: Today was eventful, productive, and full of “precious memories”. The morning started early with watching the entire group of school children in a weekly flag ceremony mandated by Mexican government. It was amazing to see how orderly and respectful 100 kids could be during the half hour production. We enjoyed a tour of the Emmanuel Ministry home and school and were reminded of the various ways that God continuously has blessed this ministry. The stories were uplifting of how many people have been moved to contribute both monetarily and physically. Grouting tiled floors, scraping and whitewashing outer stucco walls, building roof rafters, extending roof lines, updating electrical, and painting beds were just a few of the various activities our group performed around the facility. Even through all this physical labor, many opportunities were taken to love the children. The laughs, listening to them reading stories in Spanish, watching them tie their shoes, chasing bubbles, and applauding their tricks were some of the blessings we received. The hugs, the kisses and glowing smiles are the “precious memories” that will be engraved in some of our hearts for years to come.