Kendra Benner: Morning: As I sit here at the dining table while munching on my bacon, I look around and see many interesting things. I see Kim chastising Ritch for not finishing eating his giant pancake; I see Alyssa S. deep in thought while doodling on her devotion notebook; I see Dave, slightly stressed, trying to organize everything; and I see a beautiful landscape of jagged hills and small houses. This, I must say, is quite calm compared to our previous day. There is nothing like serving hot dogs and condiments to 100 ravenous children! Earlier that day, we had water games for all the kids. By the grace of God, it was a definite success! It was awesome seeing some of the adults get more into it than the kids. Once we finished the activities, everyone got candy. A word of advice: If you ever go to Mexico and want to make fast friends with any of the children, bring Swedish fish.

Evening: Today was a definite adventure! This morning, Sarah, Enrique, Tyler, Beth, Dad, and I did a craft with the first and second graders. We made sun catchers, where the kids could paint the plastic and then when it dries, hang it in the window and the sun shines through all the colors. Our first session…wow. Lots of chaos. Paint splatters, flying plastic, and lots of screaming “Yo quiero!” Luckily, we regrouped for the next round. Second session…much better! The second graders were much calmer. At times we actually had to say, “It’s okay if you use more paint!” Must give props to Enrique though. The kids really appreciated a fluent speaker riling them up for the activity. This was followed by my dad introducing himself as Maria. (No worries, it was soon cleared up that his name is “Juan”.) But to everyone back home, all of us truly appreciate your support, prayers, and blog comments. Every morning and evening, Pete reads through the comments and they’re always met with laughs and smiles. Please keep praying and reading, you guys really a part of this journey as much as we are. Good night!


Olympic Glory

Eric Triassi: Howdy ya’ll it be Eric. Today we hosted the 2009 Spring Olympic games. One thing I might say about “the games” is that they were “eventful”. We set up four different events, and I really have no idea about three of these but I can put light on the one event I have a slight idea about, the obstacle course. Put simply, the kids were to form into two lines; that was the first obstacle. Once that got tackled, I was designated to attempt an explanation of the rules of the course, which I will state for you now:
Equipo uno, corre por aqui, meten aqui, aqui, y aqui. Corren por aqui y toquen esa naranjara cosa. Regresan por aqui otra vez. Corren aqui y meten aqui, aqui, aqui, y levantan aca. Toquen esa naranja cosa, y saltan por aqui, entienden?
(More or less, run through here, touch the orange thing, go back, run through here, here, and here, climb up here, touch that orange thing, jump down here.)
‘Twas chaotic, but I’m fairly sure that Pete and Jim would have it no other way, I know I wouldn’t.
P.S: Mexico won gold in all events.

Walls… and Walls…

Roger and Gale:  Thanks to all of you who are reading this blog and praying faithfully for us.  We feel your prayers!!!!  Roger’s day began after breakfast.  He, Frank, and Scott worked on wiring a new laundry room for the home.  They successfully completed everything today and will turn the power on tomorrow.  The drywall will begin and hopefully the appliances will be in place by the end of the week.
Gale was all over the place today.  I did kitchen and bathroom duty after breakfast.  Then I was set to scraping a wall by my boss, Teegan.  As others joined me we finished a long wall and another wall, and another wall, and another wall. Then we began painting (white/yellow washing).  My team which had John Benner as team leader, both Tylers, and Paul finished more than Dave expected of us.  Shout out for us!    We then did a quick shower before joining everyone at the playground for our Olympic Theme Night.  Before our festivities began, we gave each child a t-shirt.  Emmanuel Ministries has never had for their staff or children t-shirts with an Emmanuel logo.  Everyone was so excited.  See the photo!  The olympics were great and it fun to watch the kids!  The kids loved the obstacle course, the discus (paper plate throwing), bean bag catapult (try it over your head lying on your back) and many more games.  They loved the candy and their medals which said Champions for Jesus.  Tonight as we were putting kids to bed, they hated taking off their medals.

Tonight Ellen, Khalia, Samantha and I had the privilege of putting girls to bed.  No one from our group had been able to do that yet because they start their bedtime routine at 6:30.  Do you think it would be different from the boys?  Well….the room moms gave us the shampoo, soap, and sent us to the bano.  Eight or so little girls in the shower and the shower over flowing and the water pouring out into the hall, Gale frantically plunging.  Again I think if you look up the definition of chaos in the dictionary you would find a picture of bedtime/bathtime at Emmanuel.  Samantha and Ellen took turns reading Clic, Clac, Muu with a constant chorus of “a ver.”  We are getting more comfortable with the kids which meant hugs and kisses all around.

It has been a wonderful experience serving Christ here. Last night, Khalia curled up next to me and asked, “How can we leave?”  We will all be very sad to leave here.  Our family is already talking about coming back.  Sean, Alice, and Tyler, can you say, “Christmas?”

Didn’t Quite Sound Like A Song To Me

This is a conversation between Ellen and Sarah.  Leah would be part of this conversation but she is sleeping…probably having nightmares.
Ellen:  So, first, we took all of the music bells, sticks, and shakers to the kids house.  We waited in the living room for a while until I finally thought it might be a good idea to get some help and ask “where are we supposed to be?” — I believe what came out was “Donde musica?”  Well…that didn’t go anywhere.  We finally found out we were supposed to be in the ballet studio.  We were given a set of keys, but none of them were worked.  Not even the principal could find it out for several minutes.  When we eventually figured it out, all the kids (30 3-6yr. olds) stormed through the room and went straight for the closet, which was full of things I’m sure they weren’t supposed to touch – a large stick/pole thing, star wands, and hula hoops.  Leah (the music leader) started to pass out shakers to the kids.  They were supposed to shake them to the music, like she was doing, but instead they thought it would be fun to stick them down their shirts and throw them against the floor.  We tried to take them away, but that also concluded in a game of tag.  Since the shakers didn’t work, maybe some bells on sticks would do the trick to calm them down…um…yeah…no.  The bells were made into swords, hammers, and body parts.

Sarah:  I willingly (ok, I might be lying) joined the mass chaos when Megan came running to get me while I was painting to say the girls needed help with translating. On my way to the dance room, I refreshed my memory with how to say drums in Spanish and thought I’d be good to go. I opened up the door to the dance room, and immediately saw Ellen with a look of complete horror and terror in her eyes. My first instinct was to slam the door and run away, but Ellen’s helpless look made me face the music.  Leah told me to tell the kids to sit down in a circle and listen, but I thought it’d be best to first get the magic wands and big stick thing out of the boys’ hands.  After getting the sticks back, I simply looked around the room, took a deep breath, and uhhh….tried to prevent complete mayhem. It didn’t work.  My musical experience was not at all musical, and I’m just glad we made it out alive…although Kelly was missing a shoe for a while after.
Reason #2 (on this trip) I don’t want boys.
Obviously this was a very stressful experience for us, but it was easy to see that the kids really enjoyed it – did we mention there was candy at the end?

Honestly though, it’s been fun to see how much the kids enjoy our presence here at Emmanuel Ministries.

More Musical Melodies with Ellen and Sarah tomorrow!

Painting Purple Bunk Beds

Holly Shermer and Gail Spradley: Well today we completed our 3 day project of painting 22 bunk beds for the girls floor. When we began we never imagined the flexibility it would require but we can now say we are experts at painting metal bunk beds with lots and lots of curly cues. As we began the project of the  black beds the girls excitedly asked us what the color would be. When we showed them the color “purple passion” a buzz went throughout the dorm as one girl proudly displayed the paint chip color.

We became the afternoon entertainment—Emmanuel Ministries version of HGTV.
As we worked in each girls room we saw the pride and importance each girl took in their special treasures. Pictures, crafts and momentos were carefully placed in their room.
What a blessing to be able to do this small task for these girls and see it bring them such joy. We leave in two days but we pray God’s hands on these precious girls that will be sleeping in these beds.  We pray they will know Jesus better and understand His love for them more deeply.

Showing up for God

John Benner: I have often heard the expression that ‘90% of life is showing up, standing up and speaking up’ As this was my first mission trip, I really didn’t know what this trip would mean beyond the ‘showing up’ part. However, my heart was open and I decided to leave the rest in  God’s hands. What I have found are many opportunities to ‘stand up’ (by volunteering), and  help ‘speaking up’ in ways I never anticipated. Let me tell you about three experiences.

  1. I led a team of children competing in our Wacky Olympics. Four older boys and a younger girl were on my team. As we ran around to our different events, I needed help telling everyone where we needed to go and keeping everyone together in all the excitement. Somehow, the younger girl picked up on this. She figured out what needed to happen in spite of my very, very basic Spanish. She told the older boys where we were going and brought everyone back together at several points. Without her help, I wouldn’t have gotten there.
  2. I saw the children (girls and boys) liked to jump rope. As I walked up to join in, I relied on lots of smiles, pointing and a liberal dose of ‘I don’t understand’ in Spanish to make my way through. We got the rope going and I started to count in Spanish how many times they jumped. As it turned out, only knowing the numbers up to 20 was all I needed. And, one of the children started counting in English. At the end, we all had a great time counting, laughing, and perfecting our jump roping technique.
  3. Last night I helped get a group of the younger boys ready for bed. It would be impossible to fully describe getting 20 boys showered in 30 minutes. Whirlwind comes to mind. I was in charge of shampoo and handing them a small sponge soaked with soap. I finally figured out near the end that the incredibly efficient room mother meant ‘leave the shower’ rather than ‘wash up more’. I probably put a lot of extra soap and shampoo on those precious boys. When we finished, I felt like I helped in at least a small way.

And what do these three experiences have in common? I have learned in an irrefutable, first hand way (I can be pretty stubborn) that if I show up and have my heart in the right place, God will help me with the  ‘standing up’ and ‘speaking up’ in unexpected, amazing ways.

Recipe for the Yellow Goop

Eric Triassi, Scott McKibbin: So, we shall start out with a 55 gallon barrel that has dried Yellow Goop caked along the inside and outside. After twenty minutes of pounding and scraping this barrel, our new found friend, Cesar, helped us in our quest to achieve the first patch of “Yellow Goop.” The next step; to take the freshly beaten barrel to the local ravine to be cleansed with a hose. Despues, we took it to the area where all the materials were. 30-35 gallons of water later, he started to pour in “GAN,” and all the surrounding children yelled “GAN” and skedaddled. Scott and I looked at each other and probably both thought the same thing, this stuff is not good to be inhaling right now. Cesar also added to the drum a pint size bag of powdered detergent, to add the mustard color to the “Yellow Goop” in progress. Cesar grabbed a 5 gallon bucket of industrial strength glue, the kind that you don’t find in the Elmer’s bottles.  As we stirred this mustard-looking paint concoction, Cesar took another bag of “GAN” and dumped it in, along with more mustard detergent. Cesar commandeered the stick and tested the thickness. A man of few words, he decided to get a Del Monte Small White Corn can and tested out the paint. The result was a failure so we went back to the bucket and more “GAN” and glue and yellow detergent was added. This whole batch of mustard colored paint cost about $15. Cesar made another the next day without Scott and I, we were called to perform other tasks. The mystery “Yellow Goop” is now no longer a mystery, as I have successfully revealed it to you successfully. It’s a long boring process to make that could possibly be pretty bad for your health if you breathe in the “GAN”, but it’s cheap and God isn’t going to let anything happen that he hasn’t already planned out. Scott and I are still alive, for all you concerned readers at home.

The Tremendous Roof

Josh: Today… Today was a new “high” day. Paul B. and I were on the tremendous roof. It was fun and sometimes scary. Very scary. Mostly the roof was somewhat enclosed because of multiple additions by groups just like us. But the 30 foot ladder was all open, all of it. So Paul and I were hanging network cable, for all the geeks reading this it’s CAT 5 cable. Anyway on the ladder parts I fed wire through the zip tie that Ritch and I hung 2 days ago. But the ladder was not the best. I would be perfectly fine if the 30 mph wind hadn’t started every time I tried going up. But it was fun lots of fun. So when I wasn’t on the ladder Paul and I were on the roofs running the wire. It wasn’t scary then but the ladder was not fun. By the way Paul does not always like heights, so sometimes he had to take some deep breaths before he would go up and down a lot but it worked out. Any way I don’t have any pictures because of well my mommy might be a little worried. I seriously can’t wait until tomorrow morning when we go on the mountain walk. The mountain walk is when our group are going up the mountain a couple miles away, with the big cross on top. I think it will be fun, and don’t worry I’ll bring the camera. Anyway if any of you are wondering how close we are to the border, every day and night we can easily see the lights of the border and can see downtown El Paso. Its really cool, but I can just think how all the children looking out at America and just wishing or thinking. Well I hope all is going well back in Amer-eeeee-kkka.


Andy Shermer : Needless to say I am a fan of the television show Heroes, but this week I got to spend a week with 37 real Heroes. None of them can read minds, have super healing ability or can fly.  However everyone put their talents to work or learned new skills this week. Some painted, some mixed cement, some built roofs, some ran children’s activities, some ran cabling, some installed electrical circuits and even one went shopping (Dave).

What really matters is that we all took our time to spend time with the kids of Emmanuel Ministries.  I would like to point out my three biggest Heroes this week. First is Tyler Hills, he is a man of very few words. His deeds speak much louder.  Tyler volunteered every night to help put the 3-7 year old boys to bed, a task truly reserved for the saints. My second Hero is Megan Spradley, who was able to instantly befriend any of the Emmanuel kids she met. My third Hero is Josh Simonson who after a long  day of hard work, spent a long night of playing soccer with the kids. Maybe I was wrong maybe we do all have Superhero abilities.

I No Longer Like the Color Yellow

Emily: With a little bit of pressure from various people I have, yes, given in and decided to post something.. although I don’t even know where to start. This week has truly been some of the most fun and meaningful moments for me this year. As I slapped more of the beloved yellow paint[ish] ‘goop’ onto the new laundry room wall with dried out hands from days of constantly being coated in chemicals, I thought about how there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be.  I’m always excited to do some hard work, but while showing the kids God’s incredible love, I feel like I am getting just as much in return. Getting to know a few of the kids and their unique personalities has been one of my favorite experiences. So much so, that as we rested our hands on the kid’s shoulders at the end of the church service tonight and prayed for them, I’ll admit I was brought to tears. The thought that we have made an impact on these kids in such a short time combined with the knowledge that we have less than a day left to spend with many of them is hard for me to handle.
Alright, well its time for bed, but a couple things: 1) we sang some Hillsong songs [yes in spanish ha] in church and I hear them being played through the speakers around Emmanuel and its just so cool to see all the kids praising God and it helps me see that through all our differences, there is still so much in common. 2) I broke down and played a little soccer one night with some of the younger kids and they basically creamed me hah. 3) For those of you who know my dad, some of the kids asked him if he knew Scooby-Doo, and after he responded with an enthusiastic ‘yes,’ they pointed at him and shouted ‘Shaggy!’ My dad concluded that they definitely know their cartoons haha. 4) Thank you so much everyone for your prayers! I know it means a lot to me, and im sure it’s the same for the entire group.

Ellen's Paint Accident, Tripping up the Stairs

Ellen's Paint Accident, Tripping up the Stairs