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*Sentences in blue correspond to pictures immediately following each report.


Friday, July 12
Vision tour started with a lot of drama with a phone call from Eric's dad at about 6 AM. They had forgotten to take Eric's passport from the bank safe so he could not come with us on the morning flight. He called Uncle Eugene, our travel agent who put Eric on standby for the next flight. Not knowing his status, we also do not know if we should wait at the Mexico City airport for Eric to arrive or whether Chris Rattay can be contacted and is able to arrange a ride for Eric when he finally gets there. So we are already learning at the start of tour that our God is sovereign and that He is in control. We also realize that we one body, and if one member hurts (like Eric), we all hurt.

Pastor Dan picked Mei and I up and swung by to pick up Jee Hyae and got to the airport around 6:45. A lot of families were there already, missing only Kaitlin, Elisabeth and Crystal so we got in the check in line. Halfway through, we were joined by the missing three. We got checked in, and both Donn and Dan prayed for us and Megan's family prepared a goody bag for each of us, snacks to sustain us while waiting and Kathy passed them out to us, thank you. After some picture taking, we proceeded to go through security. The line was slow so that by the time we all passed the screening, it was time to board the flight at 8:30.

We arrived safely with all our luggage and found out Eric was not able to catch the flight so he is going to standby to catch the red eye tonight and get in early in the morning. He will then catch the bus for Cuernavaca and someone will go from Taxco and meet him there to join up with us. Pray for Eric's adventure and safety as he travels by himself in a foreign country. Meanwhile, we boarded our chartered bus and after about two hours, we stopped after Cuernavaca for dinner then continued on to Taxco. The drive is very beautiful. Everything is so green and the hillside is lush with vegetation. God has indeed created a good place here. There is internet at the restaurant so we found out that Eric will not join us and probably not get here until next week. We met up with Chris Rattay, the senior Pastor Jesus of Red Familia Church, his son Omar, and Alfonso, a church Elder who speaks great English at the church and drove to where we are staying, a building called Martelas. This place is a former automobile dealership and the guys are staying at the ground floor while the girls, Mei and I are upstairs. There is one shower room with 6 stalls so we have to allocate when the guys can shower and the girls, but separate toilets adequate for our use. We have to get transported to the church proper, about 10 minutes away by car for meals and meetings. The accommodations are primitive by past Vision tour standards, but the fellowship even in our first meeting is warm. There is no internet here and only at the church, so do not expect regular updates. We finally got to bed about midnight.
 
 
Morning view of Taxco from Martelas

 
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Saturday, July 13
- We woke up after 7 so we could have a time of worship and devotions. Three church members then shuttled us to the
Red Familia Church where we ate a full breakfast of delicious fruit, scrambled eggs with ham, and bread, tea, coffee etc. Chris then gave us a good briefing on the local Mexican culture, how open and warm the people are here. We then spent about half an hour practicing how to listen to God. Then Chris gave us some basics on how to pray for healing and the Biblical reasons to pray for healing. Maggie and his kids, Josiah, Jaden, and Samantha joined us for lunch.

After lunch, most of the group went to visit the silver market for which Taxco is famous. Some of the kids bought some pieces, rings and such, which are very inexpensive. Then, there was time to walk up to the Zocalo to see the Santa Prisca Cathedral and to get a snack. At 7:30 pm we joined up with the youth meeting at Red Familia. There were about 30 enthusiastic young people there. Chris gave a short message in English challenging the youth to be bold for Jesus which a young man translated into Spanish. Then Vision sang "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus", "Jesus, Name Above All Names" in Spanish, and "Take Me to the Water". We ended praying for one another one-on-one, in Spanish by their youth and English by our group. We then had delicious tacos cooked on the spot. Fellowshipped with their young people during dinner and returned to catch up on our devotions and had a time of one-on-one confession of sins and sharing.

As we got ready for bed, it started to thunder and pour down rain in sheets. In a few minutes, the electricity went off so "lights out" became literal. Soon, we started to hear drips, as the roof had a few leaks. One was right near where I was sleeping so we had to find buckets to catch the rain before it started to soak the floor. The rain lasted until the early morning hours but the lights remained off even past 8 AM as I write this paragraph, so we could not do our morning devotions.

 
 
 

 
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Sunday, July 14 - We arrived at church at 9 for their first service and ate a quick snack before joining the service at the end of their worship time. Chris preached for 45 minutes and we sang "While We Are Living" in Spanish, "Holy God" and Jesus, Name Above All Names". Then we joined Chris and the pastors and church leaders to pray for whoever came up for prayer. We ended just as the second service began at 11. Again we did ministry time at the end after we sang following Chris' sermon. We then went to lunch at a pizza place owned by the husband of one of the church leaders. They invited us for pizza but we tipped them generously. We then walked to a nearby hotel, Jee Hyae treated us for drinks while we debriefed the ministry time. Here are some of the sharing:

  • Elisabeth prayed for a lady who started weeping and Elisabeth just continued to pray until she calmed down.
  • Jason prayed for a lady with a lot of fear and got an image of an infinity loop. Jee Hyae had an idea that this lady was holding on to her fear which matched up with Jason's image. Chris had an image of her dancing with Jesus.
  • Katie prayed for a man who said she had a word for him. Katie wasn't sure and just prayed for him. Then she prayed for an 18 year old girl who hugged her and she shook when prayed for.
  • Rachel prayed for two women in the first ministry time. When she finished she found that one of the women was crying. Rachel was moved for although the lady couldn't understand her, but she was moved anyways. She also found how much everyone wanted prayer.
  • Hannah and Chris prayed for a 20 year girl old blind from birth. Chris had been praying for this girl (Vero) for six weeks. Today, after prayer, she opened her eyes and was shocked and said she saw light! This girl is amazing. Before Chris and Hannah prayed, she first praised God that Jesus is the light of her life and it is enough for her if she never receives physical sight. When she saw light, she said it hurt her and asked that Chris and Hannah not pray more for her today for complete healing of her eyes. We look forward to seeing her next Sunday to see how her sight is by then.
  • Mei prayed for a middle aged lady for healing of her relationship with her husband. She cried. Mei and Elaine laid hands on a lady with pain In her knees and Mei heard a click. The lady said her pain was gone. Chris and Mei prayed for a limping young lady who hurt her knee playing volleyball. She flexed her knee and walked away healed.
  • Denise prayed for a lady who was so intense for God and then for a second lady. Both were touched by Denise' prayer.
  • Israel said seeing so many people wanting prayer even though they did not understand him blessed him.
  • Jeremy prayed for a mother brought up by her daughter. Jeremy placed his hands on her eyes, and then the daughter also came up for prayer. They left with tears.
  • Gentle prayed for an eight year old who just appreciated his prayer.
  • Crystal prayed for a lot of kids whose parents sought her out.
  • Tim enjoyed the experience and meeting new people.
  • Samantha said this was a new experience for her but it was good.
  • Meghan said it felt really good to pray for a baby whose mother asked her to bless her baby.
There were many more good stories. Praise God.

We returned to Red Familia for the evening service which begins at 7 PM. This is a new service and only about 20 people were here but we basically repeated what we did this morning. We returned to Martelas and ate a nice a dinner which Jee Hyae and Alfonso had bought for us at the local equivalent of Walmart, roast or fried chicken, corn tortilla, bread, yogurt, and lots of fruit, all for less than $50 in US currency (about $2 a person). Thankfully, the electricity had been restored around noon time.
 
 
 
 
 
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Monday, July 15 - Even though it rained last night, only a few drops of water came in and we had electricity, but we ran out of propane to heat the water so the last people to shower had the joy of being refreshed by the chill of the water. When the first group of us arrived at the church a little before 9 AM, we heard singing and found a group of about 20 church members praising and worshiping God as they started their week. It is amazing to see these brothers and sisters so in love with God and giving thanks at the start of the week. We joined them in group prayer and some left soon after greeting us. A few stayed on to dance and sing to the Lord and soon got all of us to join them in praising God. After breakfast, we caught up on yesterday's devotions and practiced up on skits. Meanwhile, Elaine and Marshall were driven by Alfonso to several ATM's to get enough cash to pay for the van rentals to drive us south to several small churches planted by Red Familia from Tuesday to Friday. The senior Pastor, Jesus, his wife, Elder Alfonso, Chris and his two sons, Josiah and Jaden will be going with us while Denise and Jee Hyae are staying with Chris' wife Maggie and Samantha and helping out with VBS at the Presbyterian Church. Denise and Jee Hyae are returning to LA Thursday while Connie, and hopefully, Eric are arriving an hour after they leave. Pray Eric can get his tickets confirmed.

Praise God everyone is healthy, the weather in Taxco is wonderfully cool and basically, there are no mosquitoes here. Actually, some have gotten mosquito bites, but only a few. We returned from the ATMs to church just in time to see the skits demonstrated. We then ate lunch and took an hour off to rest. We then did today's devotions and then spent an hour practicing our songs. We also had a chance for Denise and Jee Hyae to share what God has been teaching them and we prayed for them since we will not see them until we get back to LA after we leave tomorrow morning. We then spent some time to pray for the next three days' mission and ended the time with some spontaneous and awesome worship time as Natalie burst into songs of praise. We went downstairs to eat a light dinner and returned to our sleeping quarters to pack up and turn in early as we are leaving very early the next morning.

 

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Tuesday, July 16 - We woke early to pack since the vans we rented are coming at 7 AM. There is very limited luggage space. We are headed south in the direction of Acapulco and are not sure how readily we can access the internet so do not be alarmed if you do not get updates as regularly. We stopped for breakfast about 10 in Chilpancingo. We ate a scrumptious breakfast which took almost two hours (takes a long time for twenty some people to order and get each cooked to order) so we left about noon. After driving for another 3-1/2 hours, we finally arrived at Tetitlan, near Tecpan de Galeana where the church members cooked a scrumptious (4PM) lunch for us. It is very warm and humid here, nothing like Taxco. What was most amazing is the fruit here, bananas at lease three times bigger than what we see in LA and sweet mangos that rivals Cebu's best mangos. I have not been describing what we have been eating because they are quite different from the LA Mexican food and I don't know their names or how to describe their taste but that they are good. After supper, we sang "Majesty and Glory" to bless this church as we believe praise breaks demonic strongholds. At 5 PM, we divided into groups of three and joined up with their church members to canvas the neighborhood and invite them to the center of town for our meeting tonight, about a 15 minute walk from the church.

We started about 8 PM Mexico time (meaning many minutes after 8) with some of the local worship leaders singing to a large group gathered in the middle of the town. They parked several cars in the middle of the street effectively sealing the square from traffic. It was suppose to be a worship time but was more like solo performances with no one singing. Vision than sang "Take Me to the Water", "Ain't Got Time to Die", and "Jesus, Name Above All Names" and Katie, Natalie and Eugene sang "Restoration". Since we were outdoors and were not mike'd, only those in front heard us clearly. Chris than preached about the Kingdom of God coming down here and invited those who wanted to receive Jesus to come forward and those who wanted to experience healing for ailments to come (since in the Kingdom there is no illness). At least a hundred people came forward. Each Vision person must have prayed for at least 5 people (sometimes two or three of us prayed for one person). Ten year old Josiah and seven year old Jaden were invaluable as translators and even did a lot of praying themselves. Praise The Lord, many, many were healed and when we debrief tomorrow, we will note the more interesting stories. At about 11 PM we returned to the church for a late snack and went to our hosts' home for the evening.



 
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Wednesday, July 17
- Since we did not get to sleep until past midnight, we met at the church for breakfast at 10 AM. Mei and Marshall stayed with 7 girls, Hannah, Elisabeth, Megan, Sam, Rachel, Natalie and Kaitlin with a family with no children and the wife's mother and a cousin. They gave up their "master bedroom", just large enough to fit one king sized bed for us and a room with 5 beds, one king and a double for the seven girls. They have one bathroom, all tiled, and praise God, a toilet WITH toilet seats. Almost every where here, the toilets have no seat. For example, at Matelas, our quarters in Taxco, 3 of the 4 men's toilets have no seat but the 2 of the working toilets (3 total) in the girls bath have seats. Marshall wanted to donate 3 toilet sets personally to them but the hardware store only had two seats total, and one is the wrong size but at least functional so now the men's side has 3 functional toilets. After breakfast at church, we caught up and did yesterday's devotions on Joshua's trust in God. Then we talked about the meeting and ministry time last night after starting with a little worship.

  • Chris met a teenage girl who had pain that will move all over her body, and during the prayer, the pain was moving to her legs from her arm. The girl said she is not a Christian so Chris asked a lady from the church to pray for her to become a Christian. She also said she is a transsexual. The sister from church led her to Christ and when Chris prayed, she was completely healed wholly and asserted her womanhood.
  • A lady asked Hannah to pray for her legs and she was beaming after. She then brought a little boy with thigh pain and after, he was so happy. A bunch of kids came over and Tim, Gentle and Sam prayed for all these kids who were beaming afterward.
  • A bunch of us were praying for this older man with knee pain and we prayed and asked him how he was, and he said no. We prayed some more and the man said no. What he actually meant was no pain, not he was not healed. He was just praising God at the end.
  • A man said he saw Natalie coming to pray for him in a dream.
  • Elisabeth, Jaden and Marshall prayed for a boy, about ten years old, who had been bitten by a dog and couldn't see well in his left eye. After prayer, he said he saw double. After more prayer, he said it was now single. His dad who brought him was so happy.
  • We prayed for a pre-teen who said he fell and had a lot of chest pain that the doctor could not heal. After prayer, he said he was all well.
  • Meiring said every time she prays for someone's knees, she feels the knee move and gets healed.
  • When Jason prayed for people, he would get images that would be confirmed when he asked what the person wanted to be prayed for.
  • Eugene said he would get heat in his hands and feel so much joy he wanted to dance.
  • Rachel prayed for a lot of people who walked away praising God.
  • Israel wasn't sure what to do but prayed anyway and felt God was able to bless. Some of us prayed for a guy who hurt his back, and felt so peaceful that God healed.
Chris encouraged us to testify to what God did when we go home so God can be glorified at home too. Chris said last night, he felt like he was living the Bible. Everyone at the church have been praying for last night and are so thankful. We will be doing this at the same place tomorrow (Thursday) night. We also felt with all the children here, we wanted to do a VBS type program for the children tomorrow afternoon here at church. Chris talked to the church leaders and thy said they will support it and round up the kids. We took a break to work on our old puppet skit in Spanish and plan the VBS program, then did our devotion for today based on Saul's lack of trust in I Sam. 13. We then left for our venue for tonight.

Praise God there was internet at the home where we assembled to canvas the neighborhood so I was able to send out an update. I may not be able to send anything out until Friday but be assured things are going very well and we are witnesses to how God is working as you have read. Jee Hyae sends this update from Taxco:

"For the (Wed.) morning, Denise and I went to the VBS program at the Presbyterian church. The church said they didn't need extra help, so we stayed with Sami (Chris and Maggie's daughter) and her age group. We ended up helping out as it was a young group of kids of 20 and having extra adults for the child/adult ratio worked out. :) It was neat to see the parallels with the VBS program FECG does and they too have the youth help out. I was able to give them some bottles of bubbles I brought with me on the trip that they will be using tomorrow.

Afterward, Maggie took us to lunch at a local place she and the family go to for tacos and tortas. The early morning wake up and VBS must have been more tiring than I thought, as we ended up getting some rest, playing with Sami, and getting to know/catch up with Maggie for the afternoon.

Denise and I will do our devotions together later this evening and continue to pray for the rest of the team. All the while Maggie and Sami have been so hospitable opening up their home and feeding us yummy food."

Our venue tonight is in a covered basketball court with open air sides in the village of Villa Rotaria. We divided into 5 teams to invite the neighbors to come in this more upscale community (remember, some homes have Internet). They were generally less friendly but praise God, during the visits, 2 people prayed to accept Christ. There were a lot fewer people there tonight, perhaps 60 or so, and we felt a lot of oppression. It turns out this area is a lot darker and there is a Satanist here, but the church leaders prayed against it. Nevertheless, the response was still quite good after Vision sang 4 songs and did the chair skit and Elder Alfonso preached. Chris and Vision proceeded to pray for those asking for prayer with some being healed including a young boy whose ears were plugged with water and couldn't hear well. After Eugene, Andrew, Marshall and Elisabeth prayed for him, he said his ears were still plugged but Elisabeth persisted until his mother asked and he smiled and said he could now hear. But the most amazing healing of the night was a 40ish old man who had been mute from birth. After several of us prayed for him, he still could not speak. Marshall went to fetch Chris and still he could not talk. His mother explained that it was this man's wish to be able to praise God verbally. Over half of Vision including Rachel, Elisabeth, Crystal, Gentle, Tim, Jason, Josiah and more continued to persist in prayer. Then he softly whispered, "gracias, Señor", several times. The kids continued to pray and he started praising and thanking God louder as a smile came over him and his mother like we read in Matthew 15:30-31 (And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel). Jeremiah 24:27 prophesied that the mute shall speak as a sign that they may know that I am the Lord. We were privileged to witness that tonight. Thank God. Eugene, Katie and Natalie sang "Restoration" and Vision sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to close out the program since a lot of the audience remained after the prayer. We then returned to the church for a late snack of soft tacos and returned to our hosts' home a little earlier than last night to shower and sleep. Thank God for another amazing day of ministry.



 
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Thursday, July 18
- Forgot to mention where the other people are. Elaine, Katie and Crystal are staying with a family about 20 minutes away by car; the 7 guys, Jeremy, Jason, Eugene, Andrew, Tim, Israel, and Gentle are staying with a man around the corner from us; and Chris, Josiah and Jaden are staying with a family a few minutes from the church. We are well taken care of by these gracious folks. An example of their graciousness is the couple who gave up their master bedroom for us and sleeping on the concrete floor. How many of us in the US would give up their bed and sleep on the floor for some strangers? Incidentally, Pastor Jesus (his wife did not come with us) and Alfonso are staying at the house with the Internet we went to yesterday.

After breakfast and devotions where we meditated on Psalm 27, we went to the beach where we visited different people living there. One group prayed for a young man with schizophrenia, we sang and prayed for him and he said he felt better. He said he was already a Christian and thanked us. Megan shared that someone in the US said she would meet a man named Jose. At the beach, she met a 100 year old man named Jose. Megan and Kaitlin prayed for him and was holding his hand. He said he could feel God's power flowing through her hands as she held his. Mei prayed for a lady. It turns out she had problems hearing but Mei did not know this and the church ladies with Mei thought Mei was blowing in her ear. Nevertheless, her hearing cleared up after Mei's prayer. One of the church ladies said after we prayed or sang, the people we prayed for or sang to told her how much peace and joy they felt while we sang or prayed. The local Christians who went with us felt that this time, there was a lot less rejection and more acceptance. Our presence made it easier for them to talk and share. We returned to the church, ate lunch, took a siesta in the plastic chairs and shared about this morning's visit to the beach. We did not do the VBS we planned as it was too hot and used the time to debrief. We then surrounded the church members and prayed for them Korean style and they in turn prayed for us.

We then went down to the town square where we have our program, stopping on the way to invite people to come. When we started at 8, a few drops of rain began to fall and we prayed for the wind to blow the threatening dark clouds away. The drizzle brought a refreshing coolness but did not stop and kept a lot of people from coming. We sang "The Lord Is My Light", "I Have Decided", "Pues Si Vivimos", then did our Spanish version of the puppet skit. Since they had removed the keyboard by now because of the rain, we switched to our acapella pieces and sang "Casting Our Crowns", "Lay Up Your Treasures in Heaven", "Ain't Got Time to Die" and the heart skit, starring Andrew and Hannah who replaced our stars of the previous years, Eric and Nadia. One amusing coincidence is the rumble of real thunder happening just as we sang the phrase "a rumble of thunder" in the song "Casting Our Crowns". Pastor Jesus then preached and Chris and Vision prayed for those desiring prayer. Even though we had a small crowd, at least twenty people came forward for prayer which we did under the porches of the buildings behind where we sang. We have not debriefed this ministry time yet but it seems many who braved the rain were healed. We walked back to church, ate dinner and returned to our hosts homes to shower and sleep.


 
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Friday, July 19 - We leave Tetitlan today sad due the awesome ministry but also happy to go back to a cooler Taxco. Mosquitoes are much more active here and Hannah holds the unofficial record with more than 70 bites while Katie has the record for most swollen bites (on her ankle). We met for breakfast at 9:30 so we could do our devotions before leaving for Acapulco, more than an hour's drive down the coast. Our devotion is on the Luke account of Mary's annunciation. We discussed the ministry time last night a little. The rain brought refreshment and God brought those who needed to come so praying was easier. An older woman came who had one eye she said could not see and each time we prayed, she said she could see better. We prayed for two little kids' legs and one of started running around afterward. Almost everyone we prayed for felt better. Praise God.

We finally left after lots of picture taking and hugs at about noon, got to Acapulco at about 2 and ate lunch at one of their many seafood restaurants. We learned that Eric and Connie safely arrived in Taxco and we will meet up with in a couple of hours. The van dropped me off at Pastor Jesus' home so I can send this update while the rest goes back to Martelas. Then Alfonso picked me up, our pizza dinner, then Connie and Eric. Received an email after we got back to Taxco Friday night that Denise and Jee Hyae made it back safely to LA. Thank God for His protection and mercies.

 
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Saturday, July 20
– Got up early to start our devotions and meet Chris who delivered the breakfast at 9 AM made for us yesterday by Maggie, Eric and Connie. Jaden got sick and was up all night so Chris and Maggie barely got any sleep last night and Chris looked exhausted when he came. Meiring is also feeling extremely fatigued so she stayed back and did not go with us. We prayed for her as well as Chris. As a result we did not leave until 10 AM, an hour late. The drive to our venue, located close to Toluca in the State of Mexico should take about 3 hours but we needed to stop at the bank ATM and for pit stops so we finally arrived at about 2 PM, 2 hours late. Chris had a chance to get some sleep during the drive. The venue is unique, a large tent in the middle of a cornfield. This is a church that started only 2 months ago and has 20 new believers. When we pulled up two hours late, there were perhaps 40 adults and kids there and they were worshiping and the local pastor was preaching. We had lunch (they had food for everyone there) and started our service at 3 PM with the tent basically full and their worship team lead a couple of songs. We sang four songs and the sin chair skit so Chris picked it up and talked about how sin binds us with Alfonso translating. Half way through, the power went off, so Chris and Alfonso continued with no amplification. He asked for those who have not accepted Christ to come and about 10 people came. The local pastor explained the salvation plan to them while Chris asked for those who needed prayer for healing. We joined in to pray for these and we saw many healed. Marshall prayed for a young couple with a small toddler who asked for healing for a niece with head problems. We do not know if she got healed but Marshall learned that the young wife was not yet a believer (the husband speaks a little English but not the wife). She said she was not ready but Marshall prayed for her salvation and he started to weep as he felt how much God loves her. At the end of his prayer, she said she wanted to receive Christ. One of them ladies from Red Familia who went with us shared the salvation message with her. Crystal and Jason prayed for Marie who had neck and stomach problems, she shook and felt God healed her. Andrew had food poisoning and threw up after we sang during the preaching so he only prayed for one person, a little girl and she started to cry. Her mom said she was better. The group also prayed for Andrew who is much better. Gentle and a whole bunch of Vision members surrounded and prayed for a little old lady who had pain in her head and had one pupil very large and one very small. Each time we prayed for her, her small pupil enlarging a little more, and finally after several sessions, she said her headache was gone and her pupils were almost matched. Sometime in the middle of praying, the rain really came down and when we finished praying, we worshiped together as the electricity came back on. We then left about 5:30 and returned to Taxco arriving before 9 PM. We found Mei all re-energized and ate delicious hamburgers and finished our devotions and got ready for bed as tomorrow is a long day.

 
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Sunday, July 21
- This morning, we got up and found Andrew much better, but Hannah, Jason, Eugene, and Marshall had stomach problems and Tim felt sick. We prayed for them and we are sensing this may be spiritual warfare. Clearly, the enemy cannot be happy with all those getting saved, healed, and experiencing the kingdom of God coming here in Mexico, so these illnesses are annoyances sent to distract us. We all left to Red Familia for their 9 AM service. They had bread and bananas for us which we chomped down to join the end of their awesome worship time. We had a half hour and sang 4 songs (The Lord Is My Light; E'en So, Lord Jesus, Come; Lay Up Your Treasure; Pues Si Vivimos), shared testimonies from Eric, Crystal, Jeremy and Megan and did the Spanish puppet and chair skits before Chris brought his closing message (he is leaving in eight days to return to LA too). Chris prayed for Pastor Jesus who in turn prayed for Chris to end the service. Worship ran longer at the 11 AM service, so we only sang 3 songs (God Is So Good; Take Me to the Water; Jesus, Name Above All Names), 3 testimonies from Eugene, Rachel, and Hannah, the same two skits, and then Chris preached. Chris, Maggie, and Josiah prayed for Pastor Jesus and his wife but this time Pastor Jesus prayed for Vision too and called out Meghan to share her story of being prophesied and meeting Jose. Then he called out Marshall and Meiring and prayed for special blessings and anointing. We then walked over to the pizza restaurant we went to last Sunday to eat lunch at around 3 PM, took a local bus back to Martelas to rest up before tonight's service. Everyone with stomach problems seemed to be doing well and only Tim still seems sick after all the prayers but was able to sleep in. Meghan still has a tickle in her throat although we prayed for her. We returned to Red Familia for the 7 PM service.

Vero, the girl blind from birth who Chris prayed for last Sunday and saw light was at church in the morning. Last week when we saw her, we could see only the white of her eye. Today, we could see occasional flashes of her pupil so we believe God is continuing to heal her.

There were a few more people at the evening service than there were last week. We sang 4 songs (Majesty and Glory; Gather with the Saints; Good News, Chariot's a'Coming; and Jesus, Name Above All Names), Elisabeth, Jason, and Natalie shared their testimonies, and we did the heart and Spanish puppet skits. Chris preached from Mark 5:21-43 about how in the Kingdom, both important people and nobodies are equally important, and then we prayed for whoever came up, about 20 out of an audience of about 30. What is interesting is that when we first began to pray for healing, we were thrilled when anything happened. Now, we are expecting God to heal each time we pray, a confidence in God's goodness and presence and His desire to bring the Kingdom of God here. So in addition to the tears and healing, we also noted at least a couple of people falling flat on the ground as they were being prayed for, so overwhelmed by God's presence. Jason and Israel prayed for a man who was under a spirit of lust. After praying, the man was happy but Jason and Israel felt so tired. Elisabeth and Eugene prayed for a young lady with a swollen throat. The third time they prayed, she felt heat and the swelling went down. Crystal and several more of us prayed for an old lady with back pains and Crystal had her hand on her back. During prayer, Crystal felt the bones in her spine move. She also had some burden that required her to confess her sin which she did, and afterwards, she felt fine. After the service, we ate some seafood sandwiches some church member made for us and we returned to shower and sleep.

 
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Monday, July 22
- Our plan today is to take a day off after a week and a half of quite intensive ministry and go spelunking at one of Taxco's vacation highlights, the Caves of Cacahuamilpa. Tim is somewhat better from his cold but he and several people, including Elaine, Gentle, Eugene, Meghan, and Samantha have some minor stomach problems. We all went to Pastor Jesus's home for a wonderful breakfast of bacon and eggs, fruit, juice, coffee and tea. Then about 10:20, we left for the caves driven in the same two rental vans. We got there just in time to join the 11 AM cave tour. It took over two hours to walk the 4 kM route, but we had a chance to stop in the middle and sing 3 songs in a stage area where they have symphony concerts. A handful of visitors sat down to listen to us when we sang. There are several other attractions in this Mexican national park, including a zip line. It costs only a hundred pesos (about $8) for three rides so Marshall braved it by going first in a natural sitting position. Then he and Jason went on it in a flying position, and Eric went upside down. We returned to Pastor Jesus home by 3 PM for a delicious flap beef stew meal. After a short period of rest, we did our devotion on Peter walking on water and debriefed the Saturday tent ministry and the Sunday services. We also prayed for those not feeling well on our team. Tim looked a little better after having slept most of the afternoon.

Before we walked from the Pastor's home to the church to join their Elder's (at least church leaders) weekly dinner meeting at 7 (or is it 8? one is never sure of time in Mexico), we prayed for Stephen Pang (it was at 4:30 PM LA time). A couple brought their old mother there thinking the special healing service was going to be tonight (it is suppose to be Tuesday), so we surrounded her and Kaitlin asked her what she needed prayer for. She had problems hearing, a herniated disk on her spine, and leg pain. We prayed for her three times, seeing improvement each time. After the third round of prayers, she said she could hear, stood up and shook her leg and said the pain was gone. We then had a light dinner of Mexican food. At the start of dinner, a lady brought her son to Hannah and asked her to pray for this boy whose feet turned in and was flat. Hannah, Kaitlin and Natalie prayed for this boy and they could see his feet correct and an arch form on his feet. After the meal, Chris thanked the church for their support these last seven or eight months. He reminded all of us that following Jesus involves suffering. Marshall told the church the story of how God closed the door for us to go to Indonesia and opened the door to Taxco and how we were so blessed to be part of God's movement here in Mexico. We than sang "Holy Is He" and "Jesus, Name Above All Names" to the church leaders. Pastor Jesus then invited us to come back next year for a week; he has an idea to hold a three day tent meeting crusade in Taxco attracting one to two thousand people, spending two days in Tetitlan and a day in the cornfield tent. He said he would fast and pray about this and challenged us to do the same. We the returned to Martelas, to shower and sleep.

Here is Chris's prayer update report about the last two weeks:

Just got back from a healing service. It was very powerful. We saw many healings… Vero, the woman we have been praying for, for sight is now even closer. What I love about Vero is she is completely honest and humble, totally content with here life in Jesus but also hungry for healing. In the past month as I have been praying for her, she would say, "I don't feel anything", or, "still the same." Which is why last week was such a big deal when in shock she said that light was hurting her eyes for the first time.

Tonight, after 1 round of prayer, she felt the love of Jesus and was crying. After round 2, she, with some confusion, said there was a bunch of movement happening inside her head, behind her eyes. We both got excited as I had been praying for nerves and other things to be created. 3rd round, she felt intense heat through her whole body that brought her to great tears. The movement continued. After about 1 hour of prayer (I brought in other people to tag team, and get fresh faith), she knew she was done for the night. But the great news is that she, very excitedly, told me that she could see my face for the first time. Her eyes look better. She walked to the front of the church without any help (first time). She gave a wonderful testimony of Jesus' progressive healing of her eyes. The church went crazy, and ended the night as a group praying for her. Her mom was bawling with joy. Her 20 year old brother stopped drinking this week, which also gave them tears of joy. Jesus is really using Vero to change her family, and grow faith in the church. There were many new, non-Christians at the church tonight, as word and testimonies have spread throughout the city. I have been getting stopped in public and asked to come into homes to pray for family members. It has been incredible!

Even as we get ready to leave, the church here is just launching into a fresh season of expectation of the love and power of God. Many people have become Christian. A good team of people now feel empowered to pray for the sick. Vero's progress has come just a few days after seeing a man who has been mute since birth start talking and hearing! Many more stories and testimonies I could tell. I feel like the luckiest man on the earth right now. It is especially moving to see Jesus heal people who are so poor they can't get medicine. It is also amazing to see children healed - man does Jesus love children! One boy who saw double out of one eye because of a horrible dog bite, now sees perfectly. Another boy with flat feet and curved ankles that made it impossible to walk right, now is healed - the girl from Vision who was praying for him felt the curve form in his foot…

In the past 2 weeks, I have been working with Vision, the teenagers from FECA Glendale who are on a singing team. They have never prayed for healing before this trip, and now they have tons of testimonies and experiences (both the mute man and boy seeing double was a team experience - we all prayed in stages for them). I can't adequately describe how fast and intense their lives have been changed. They are so passionate for Jesus and so passionate to love people. It has been an honor to work with them - they, and their leaders are truly filled with the love of Jesus.

Just two weeks - Jesus truly loves to heal, holistically. Being his disciple means we are sent to be healers. In fact when Jesus commissioned his disciples, he didn't even say, "go and pray for the sick." He said, "Go and heal." He is a healer, of bodies, minds, and most importantly souls. Thus, we are healers. Let's never stop till we see more!

Thanks for the prayers for Vero - keep them coming!



 
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Tuesday, July 23
- We woke and found that both Kaitlin and Gentle are both running a fever, but Tim has recovered. Hannah has a light cold and she, Natalie, Jason, Rachel, and Eugene have stomach problems. We prayed for Kaitlin and Gentle and had them stay at Martelas to rest while the those reasonably healthy returned to the pastor's house for breakfast at 9. We are so grateful God brought Physician Assistant Connie here just at the right time to nurse all these sick people.

Apparently, different church members have volunteered to cook meals for us and serve them at the pastor's home. Houses here are built on the side of mountains, and so are multilevel. We meet in a lower unit which has kitchen, bath, two rooms and a large living/dining room which can accommodate 30-50 people for a meeting. The pastor lives in a two level unit above. We ate a delicious breakfast of ham and cheese wrapped around tortillas. We returned to Martelas after breakfast to do our devotions on Jacob (Gen. 32) and began to debrief our trip. Eric reminded us to pray the armor of God on ourselves as we prepare for our last ministry tonight. After devotions, we broke into a time of prayer and worship for over an hour. It was an anointed and sacred time together with The Lord.

We began by sharing what impressed us most on this trip. After about an hour, we also discussed Pastor Jesus' challenge to us about next year. We tossed several brainstorming ideas around. These included:

  • Joining their youth and have a Taxco Vision team here to sing with us and translate for us like Indonesia.
  • Forming a team with Epicentre Lincoln Heights and Chris' new church plant as well as adults from other FECA churches.
We then left for lunch at one of their church leader's home, Hector and Vicky. Praise God Kaitlin and Gentle are well enough to join us. Hector and Vicky have a beautiful home situated at the top of Mount Taxco with a lovely view of the countryside. They barbecued carne asada (pork, beef, chicken) with cactus/tomato/onion salad and lots of other accouterments for us. Pastor Jesus and his wife Olga along with other church members joined us.

After lunch, we celebrated Hector's birthday and sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You". Hector than brought us to visit his American neighbor, David and Fran. David had suffered a stroke when they visited their children in San Francisco. Only Natalie, Katie, Hannah, Eugene Mei and Marshall went. We sang "Restoration" and "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" and prayed for Dave. They are Orthodox Christians and we had opportunity to remind them how much Jesus loves them. They requested a recording of our singing and we promised to give them a CD which we had forgotten to bring here but left at Martelas. We rested here until about 6 PM when we went to Red Familia for the healing service, stopping to pick up two CD's to give Hector and his neighbor.

We got to the church around 6:30. It was almost empty but there were 4 babies and toddlers there with their mothers. They immediately asked those of us who were there to pray for the children, reminding us how much Jesus loves the little children. We realize that healing is only a manifestation of God's goodness and that it is all about bringing God glory and His using the miracles to bring sinners come to know Jesus as Lord and for believers to realize how much God loves them. At 7, there were maybe 20 people here, but by the time Chris started preaching, the room was almost filled with over 100 people not counting us. During ministry time, he asked all the youths to be prayed for one-on-one by Vision folks, about 30 youths. He asked us to pray for anointing of the Holy Spirit on these youths so they could heal others. As Vision prayed, Chris called for those who wanted prayer to come forward, so Vision and the young people from the church went to pray for the adults. Almost, if not every, young person saw healing as they prayed and they felt empowered to go pray. This just showed us how gracious God is in encouraging those stepping out in faith to see their prayers answered. Toward the end of the ministry time, Vision sang our two Spanish songs, but were persuaded to sing "Take Me to the Water" and finally, "Holy Is He". After almost everyone left, we then prayed for Chris who had been suffering a lot of pain in both arms between his elbow and wrist. He had been praying for healing for several weeks by many but the pausing persisted. Tonight, we all surrounded him and prayed for healing and he said it felt better but he still had some pain in his left arm, so we persisted and prayed some more. He said he felt fire flowing in his arm while we prayed and that the pain was gone! We then ate some pizza and returned to Martelas.
 
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Wednesday, July 24
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This morning, we again went to the pastor's home for breakfast. Thank God Tim and Gentle are doing well but Kaitlin is still not feeling all that good. Hannah has a cold but is better. The following have stomach problems: Meghan, Jason, Sam, Eugene, and Rachel, while Meghan and Jason have sore throats and Elaine feels a sore throat coming. Chris came for breakfast and we will return to Martelas to begin debriefing after we finish eating.

Chris came to Martelas to share with us and help debrief us. He first affirmed the group and our willingness to do whatever Jesus wanted us to do. The Lord honors those who are willing to sacrifice. He has seen lots of short term missions team and just so amazed how much God is doing in salvation and healing. He encouraged us to sit down with Pastors Donn and Dan and ask what we can do to help, especially the prayer ministry. Do prayer ministry every week, create an expectation. Persevere. Keep affirming others, especially those older in the church. Vision members need to wrestle with the theology of church. Healing does not need to be charismatic only. Church is making disciples. For Chris, it is bringing his emotions to Jesus. Too much head and not enough heart, especially in our personal time - more emotion with Jesus. Chris tries to spend an hour a day with God. It is a fight. Finally, trips like this reminds us that suffering is purposeful. Work hard to keep make the spirit of comfort from taking over your life. It is normal for Jesus to call his disciples into suffering. Christian character comes through suffering. Let Jesus lead. It is worth the pain.

We did our devotions from Daniel about the fiery furnace and then went to Red Familia for lunch and returned to Martelas to take a short nap and debrief the highlights of the tour for each of us. For some, it was the healing, others, the worship time, others God's faithfulness, quite diverse and yet beautiful in its totality of how God met us here. We ended the time thanking God and worshiping Him for about 20 minutes. 12 families of the youth here invited all 17 Vision kids to dinner in small groups. Elaine, Connie, Mei and I are inviting Chris and his 3 kids to dinner (Maggie had an appointment). Everybody came back between 10 and 10:30 in high spirits for being so loved by the people here. It began to rain heavily just after everyone got back and rained most of the night.

 
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Thursday, July 25 - Our last day here. The two weeks flew by incredibly fast. Breakfast is at 10 in the church so we started our devotions at about 8:30 on Elijah in I Kings 19. Everyone is better. Jason woke in the middle of the night and prayed when he heard noises outside but saw no one and felt God touch his stomach, then he fell asleep and woke up with his stomach well. We then went to the church to eat breakfast.

We essentially spent the whole day debriefing by discussing what we want to bring back to LA. Several talked about the need to spend more quiet time with The Lord, whether in personal praise and worship, reading the Bible, and/or prayer. Some mentioned the need to be more passionate in their worship; others want to share what they have witnessed here. Several shared the same theme of how this trip revived their spiritual lives and how they want to keep it up when they returned. Each person had at least two other who agreed to hold them accountable to their pledge by weekly checking up on how they are doing for the next 6 months. In between, the church members cooked us a great lunch and we walked to another members' home for dinner at 7 PM. We had sandwiches and then went to a 3 unit bed and breakfast managed by Oscar, one of the Red Familia church member. This place is lovely and stepping inside the gate is like stepping into another world of tranquility and beauty with a gorgeous view of the city. We had tea and coffee here then returned to Martelas to rest, our last night in Taxco.

 
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Friday, July 26
– We went to Pastor's home for breakfast at 9 AM. Chris and his family came to good bye. Alfonso repeated how blessed he was to have us here and how much our music brought peace and a sense of heaven. We returned to do our last group devotions, pack up, and clean up the place. While we were worshiping, several youths (Tony, Sebastian, Jumena, and the pastor's son, Omar) from the church delivered our lunch (sandwiches) to Martelas at 1 PM. Of course, Gustavo and Alfonso, who have driven us around all week were there too. We ate, boarded the bus before 2:30 and arrived at the airport by 5:30, almost 4 hours prior to departure. When we left Taxco, we sang "Majesty and Glory" to Victor, the bus guide who speaks English (the same person who escorted us from the airport to Taxco two weeks ago). He was deeply touched and his eyes were moist. He thanked us for singing to him. Most of us slept on the bus but before we arrived at the airport, we sang "Lay Up Your Treasure". He shared how his 14 year old younger daughter had cystic fibrosis. Marshall had a chance to share about how we prayed and saw many healed this last two weeks and we had a chance to pray for him and his daughter. Then Mei informed the rest of the group of this prayer need and everyone prayed for his daughter, Paula. Again Victor had tears in his eyes while we prayed. God is doing something so pray for him.

We checked in with no problems although Connie had difficulty finding her immigration card, but finally found it in her checked luggage. We went to the food court and had a good dinner, cleared security and all got on board easily. We touched down at LAX about 15 minutes early and the line was short through immigration so we all got out at about 12:30, shortly after midnight, and was met by many happy family members. Thank you, Lord.

 
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