Monday, November 29, 2010

November Thanks

Hello All!

Last week we brought about 200 pairs of shoes to needy families, and although all the shoes found new homes, not all the little feet found shoes to protect them.
However, the children never seem to be too sad, but just ask when we are coming back!
Thanks to many of you, we will be returning just before Christmas with not only more shoes, but some small toys, and items of clothing, that have been donated.
We thank the Lord so much for you, and your prayers and partnership, in the mission of putting shoes on the children of Isla Mujeres one foot at a time.
We were greatly helped on one of our “drops” by our new friends from North Carolina, Ron and Christine Harlacker, and Zoey, Joey, and Alex from the island. The many hands made the shopping, transport, and delivery so much easier! THANK YOU!
When the Lord first led us into this ministry, we would drive into certain Colonia’s on the island, and not see hardly any shoes on the children’s feet. Now, two years later, we find more children with shoes than not! We are more likely to be replacing an old worn out pair, than giving a child their first pair. It is so rewarding to see and we wish you would share in this season of thankfulness with us. There are many diseases and dangers in the environment here, which a simple pair of shoes can offer protection from.
We just celebrated Thanksgiving with some other “foreigners” and are happy to report that we actually got turkey and cranberries! It was DELECTABLE!
However, as thankful as we were for the feast, we are more than ever thankful for the Lord’s grace, and the peace that he supplies. We are thankful for you! Without you, we would not be able to go and to give. Without you we would not have the prayers to cover us and help us with discerning what other needs are to be met. Without you, there would be fewer Bibles in the hands of the hungry, fewer concrete floors to replace dirt, fewer roofs that don’t leak, fewer homes with light, fewer smiles.
So, from us to you, again thank you! Thank you for loving the Lord, and extending your hands to the poor. It is a constant testimony to us that this world is not your home, but that you are seeking a world that is yet to unfold.
Happy Thanksgiving, and may,
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.”
Num. 6:24-26

All glory to Him and love to all,

Greg and Natalie

Prayer Requests:
• More shoes for Christmas distribution
• Wisdom and discernment as to where we should distribute the gifts
• That during the Christmas Holiday we would truly communicate why we
do what we do and that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would be magnified
and glorified through it all
• John 1:4 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thankful for the body

We are back from our trip to Oregon and thankful for the body of Christ that supports us here on Isla Mujeres. Our main purpose for the trip was to help move Greg's mother from her home into a retirement community. This allows her to be closer to his two brothers and her grandson,and she does not have to maintain the homestead. She is settled and happy, and we are back on the island with the gifts folks back home lavished upon for the people here. We continue to see the importance of the body of Christ world wide. It is a body that needs to keep reaching out and serving one another no matter the title they worship under. As the Bible says in Ephesians 4:4-6, "There is one body, one Spirit". We need to do all we can to preserve that unity. We met with folks whom we had worshiped with when we were living in Oregon and since then, they have gone different ways and fellowship at different churches. However, when we were gathered together in a home, they loved each other, gave gifts for the Island as if they were still in the same fellowship together. What a wonderful act of love and serving it was for us to experience. The multitude of heavenly hosts are rejoicing in your act of love towards us. Muchas gracias to all. The Bibles that were given went to Pastor Armin so that he can continue to reach the youth here as well as keep ministering to the prisoners around the area. He has an outreach ministry for several prisons in the state of Quintana Roo as his heart is drawn to the men inside those concrete walls. Please pray for him as he goes into unknown territories to preach the word. Please pray that he would see the harvest from his faithfulness. As you can see by the photos in his church, he has a small meeting place but he believes God's word. Jesus said, "When two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also."

We also have many pairs of shoes, toys, games, and a suitcase full of beautiful girl clothes that our 10 year old 2nd cousin donated. She had the choice of taking them in to sell on consignment or giving to the kids here and she did not even waver. Thanks Calli for your act of love and kindness. These are the examples of support and love that keep us moving ahead with this little ministry, and those who receive from it are overwhelmed by the thought that strangers keep giving in the capacity that they see. We are quick to point out that we are just the deliverers of the goods and that our loving friends back home and abroad are the true heroes. We say thanks a ton from here on Isla.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Touching Families for His Kingdom

As most of you back in the United States are starting to see the change in the weather, we are experiencing a change in the flow of tourists. Our weather does not change all that much compared to yours, so we see the changes in other areas. It has been in the high 80's-low 90's during the days and COOLING OFF to the low 80's at night. Today it is 73 but expected to reach 91. What a change for us, 73 to start the day, are you kidding me? We know it will not last for long but we rejoice in the Lord for the wonderful morning to enjoy.

The Island is seeing the big swing in tourist as September through November is dead time here. With this season upon us, the locals are hopeful that they were able to put away enough to live on until Thanksgiving or even Christmas. It was not a strong season for them here compared to the years past so we hear and see the effects around the Island in greater numbers. The Lord provided through our faithful supporters enough to help a couple of the families we know in a simple but profound way. One of the families is a single mom with 4 children and she makes a living making and selling jewelry on the beach. She starts her day by making sure those kids are taken care of first, the daily chores around the home, and then after the kids return from school, she goes out around 3pm to try and sell her goods. Anyone who has visited the Island has seen that by 3 pm, the day trippers are loading back up and headed back to Can Cun. She misses the bulk of the visitors each day but her first priority are her kids and we admire her for that. She shared with us a few weeks ago that her oldest child was the only one going to school this term since she did not have enough to buy the supplies required for the other 3. Prayer request went out, God answered it and we were blessed to be able to go and buy all the supplies for her 4 children and they started school with the rest of the Island kids. Simple acts of love that are impacting families for the rest of their lives. Thank you Jesus.

The other family we got to love on through you has been a long process but so rewarding. From a "Purpose Driven Life" book to begin with, to new roofing and a cement floor in the house, Benito and family are so grateful to God for the love shown them by you. We have watched this house transform into a home full of joy and contentment from your gifts of love. Benito searches for a steady income on the Island to meet their daily needs as the little day jobs keep finding him and he keeps trusting in Jesus to meet these needs. Such a testimony of ones faith which is always good to see as a reminder for us as to where everything comes from in the first place. We were able to bless their oldest son Angel with school supplies as well to start the year. The photos tell the story, such joy in little things. Paper, pencils, pens, calculator, erasers, glue sticks, compass, and a chance to better their future by attending school another term. Thanks for the support as well share with you some of the adventures we get to take because of your love and support. Until next time, we keep our fixed on the Lord as He leads us along the road of life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Special Blessing For A Special Family

Greetings from Isla Mujeres. We are still charging ahead with the task that has been put before us here on the Island which is seeking out kids and fitting them with shoes. The hardest part of this ministry is knowing that by the time enough support comes in, almost all of them once again need a new pair. The elements here on Isla take their toll yet God is faithful in bringing us enough to keep blessing the kids in special ways.

This post is about a very special family that we have known for over 2 years. They have from the start allowed us to use their home as a base for handing out the shoes in Guadalapana. Even on short notice, they graciously welcome us in and serve us over and over. With the funds that came in this month, we prayed about what to do with it and the Lord showed us it was time to bless this one family in a special way. After a week or two of trying to get connected with them we finally got to take the family down to the local Zapataria and let the kids get some special shoes. When we say special, it means that they got to pick out a pair they can wear to school and for special events. They love getting dressed up for occasions and the Zapatos we hand out on the normal basis don't complete the fancy outfits. We told them the store was theirs and to get whatever they wanted. As we shared in a previous post, the shoes you see on the tables is it. No other sizes or styles, so hopefully on that day they have a pair that you both like and in your size. This did not happen for either of them but no problem, we have the catalogs and can have them here by Thursday. The whole family had a good time finding styles that the kids and parents thought would best fill the months ahead and we got them ordered. We are so grateful for another chance to impact a family with Gods love and to send two kids back to school with smiles on their faces.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

This past Saturday a very dear family to us left the Island. Victor, his wife Anna and 3 kids left Isla Mujeres to return to his home state of Veracruz. Victor was the first Taxi driver that we connected with over 2 1/2 years ago. It started with a few words of English back then on our rides to town. Today, Victor is teaching English to his kids and his younger brother who has come to the Island to try and better his life as well. Victor left because the tourists visiting Isla have slowed way down and hopefully they return at the end of November. We do not know what the future holds for any of us and Natalie and I may never see them again. With this in mind, we lift them up to our Heavenly father that does know the future and we trust in Him for the outcome. We are so grateful to Victor for allowing us into his family during the time we had together. We pray for their return in November so we can continue our relationship with him and his family. Birthday parties, dinners at local restaurants, serving our guests when they arrive, he always has a smile and kind word. It is a gentle reminder to us why we are here. "ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE." We also get to plant seeds and love on those God brings to us during the time we have. May this update find you planting seeds and loving on those that you greet today because today is all we have.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Family Affair

Our son and niece came to visit for a couple of weeks and had the opportunity to join us in our ministry. It was a very special day for us with the kids, as everyone got a pair and we even had some left over. That was a first for us. I should say every kid that showed up for shoes got blessed. The best we can estimate, without going in and counting, is that there are around 250 homes in Guadalapana. We have no way of knowing how many kids are there but we do know that every pair of shoes that are handed out are appreciated. To be able to have them all leave with shoes and not see a sad face walk away was so rewarding for us. One of our friends, who came to help as well said, "Greg, I sat here and watched God multiply your shoes right before my eyes." Praise the Lord! A second blessing was that our little friend from Bend, Oregon decided that she did not want any gifts for her birthday but wanted everyone to donate towards shoes for the kids here. Reece and her family came down for three weeks in January to lend a hand and she saw a need. Way to go Reece, we sure love you. We continue to build relationships with families and see God move in hearts on the Island. People turning to Christ, prayers being answered, and smiles put on the faces of the kids. Thanks everyone for simply giving as we continue to share His love and do His work.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Another chance to love the kids

We went to Karen's home on Wednesday to celebrate her 4th birthday. We had a great time with her family and relatives as we laughed, sang, and enjoyed the great food we had gathered around the Island. We made several laps on the Moto to find everything, and we arrived on time,(remember we are in Mexico so "On Time" takes on a whole new meaning.) As the 6 adults and 6 kids sat around in the little 10x10 kitchen/living room area, everyone wanted to be in front of the fan, so musical chairs were in order throughout the night. Karen has a great love for her pinatas so this year we decided not to attack it with a big stick as memories from last years party danced in our minds. Fun, fellowship and love were shared by all as we took delight in blessing this special little girl that God connected us with 2 1/2 years ago. God keeps providing so many opportunities for us as we walk by faith and simply love on those before us. The Temp. is rising and the tourists are dropping so please continue to pray for us as we are faced with so many choices for ministry on the Island. Love is the greatest of gift all and it does not cost us anything but time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Gift of Giving

Simply giving. The Jersey Girls came to simply give. They gave time, they gave shoes, they gave precious little gifts, they gave smiles, they simply gave. They gave from their hearts. They gave to God's precious little ones, and some of His precious big ones! They gave to us encouragement, and a helping hand. They gave us a reminder that, "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,..." James 1:17
Their giving was a reminder that all we have is given to us by our loving Father, and is ours only as we open our hands and let Him give to others through us. These are ours because only what is given back to Him can be taken to heaven when we go. All the stuff we call "mine" on earth will surely pass away, but on that final day, when we step out of time into eternity, the gifts we gave will be found again in His eternal treasure store.
Thank you all for the gifts you have given, we are blessed beyond measure to pass them on for you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lending a hand where we can

We were blessed a few weeks ago with a family that came to Isla Mujeres and joined us in the shoe ministry. After handing out the many shoes they bought and brought with them, God opened up another opportunity for them to touch a family in Guadalupana. We were talking with the host family, who allow us to use their home as a base to distribute the shoes, when the family that had joined us went looking for their son who had wandered down the road. He was visiting with a man we have come to know, and grown to love dearly. His name is Benito. Benito is growing in his faith and reading through the "Purpose Driven Life" book we gave him. We all gathered in front of his home and he made a request to us for prayer that God would provide for him a new roof. He said he didn't want money, but that He learned from reading his Bible we should make our requests for prayer known to each other. He wanted us to pray for a new roof because his children get wet when it rains in the house! We said we would pray and visited for awhile longer.
A few days later, I sent a thank you note to the family that met Benito while out blessing the locals with shoes, along with a few photos of their adventure. Shortly thereafter, I received an e-mail from them stating that they had prayed about Benito's request and felt led to help out. Benito said that he would need 8 sheets of metal at 8 feet long to repair the part that leaked the worst and that the little drips were no problem. They just rearrange the home when it rains and put buckets under them. Our friends in the States were obedient to the amount the Lord had laid on their hearts and we gathered up Benito to go order him some roofing. To his surprise we ordered him 12 sheets of the 15 foot ones. This will re-roof his entire home!
As we were heading home, after ordering the roofing, Benito said to us, "Take a photo of these". He held out some shells he had found at work that day, and after the photo, he handed them to us as his way of loving us back "UNCONDITIONALLY". He gave all that he had to offer us and that was a lot. Through shoes for the children, God allowed us to be a part of touching this entire family in the community we reach out to. We continue to see the Scripture come to life as folks in the body of Christ come and serve in "LOVE". Shoes... Books... Bibles... Roofs... whatever it may be, without "LOVE" it is empty, but with love, the gospel is fulfilled. We know that if we are not living the gospel we will have no power to share it. Thank you for giving the greatest gift of all to these wonderful people of Isla Mujeres, "UNCONDITIONAL LOVE".

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hanging out with the sisters

Sunday was an exciting day for us. We met Sandra and Monica down on the beach for an afternoon of fellowship. Sandra was the first girl Natalie got to start meeting with downtown to teach her English. Her sister Monica followed in her footsteps after we got Sandra enrolled at the English school with classes. They have learned very quickly so this was a special day for us. We played volleyball and then watched the sunset as we talked in English. They wanted to know how to use certain words in the past, present, and future tense. That filled up 2-3 hours with laughter and learning about each others language. We discovered that you should not use the word "Silly" describing someone in the Spanish dialogue. There are things that do not work in their culture that we use on an everyday basis. It makes us stop and think about what we are about say which should be a good rule of thumb in any language or conversation. Am I going to build this person up, encourage them? A thought for us to ponder today as we move forward with our relationships on Isla Mujeres.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our mission on Isla Mujeres

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Because Of You Gods Love Shines Through

Every day is a gift, and we are so thankful for the ways God shows us how to share it. Some wonderful new friends came to the island from the U.S. and donated shoes, and their time, to help rescue little feet from the glass and rusty metal dangers of the neighborhood! Thank you so much for giving! Your presence lingers long after your departure!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

All in the family

Greetings once again from the land of sand and sun. The weather has turned for us... we believe and it feels like the warm season is starting to take hold. The winter has been a chilly for the locals of Isla Mujeres but they faried well and survived it with smiles as always. Greg's mother and our son Ryan came for a visit and what a blessing itwas to spend time with them. We took them around and they helped us distribute shoes in some of our favorite places. To see their hearts moved by the hand of God as they shared in the ministry God has given us here was a blessing beyond measure. Mom reconnected with many of the vendors that she got to know during her first trip here a year or so ago. They all remembered her and as usual, blessed her far beyond anything she was expecting. They lavished her with many items from the goods they sell here but would take no money for it. They kept telling her, "For Gregorio's mama, gratis". We had to keep reminding her that the right thing to do is simply receive it and to thank them. We keep being reminded of how Jesus loved people and the Epistles emphasis the fact that love is the greatest gift of all. We get hung up on the other facets of life and have to be reminded that love is the basis of everything pertaining to life. Our son was refreshed during his break from another term of college and we were blessed by his freshness in the way he views life. Thanks Mama Snider and son for coming down and loving on us in such a marvelous way. We are heading into Easter Weekend where we are to meet up with a family for the service and then go buy shoes with them. Another blessing from God for a family that we have never met, yet through the moving of the Holy Spirit, found us and want to lend a hand. We are excited as we keep pressing forward for His glory here on the Island and seeing His will being manifested before us and we walk in obedience. May your Easter be one of reflection as to why Jesus went to the cross and how the love of God keeps being poured out on His children each and every day. blessing from the little rock in the Caribbean of Isla Mujeres.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Smile Says It All

"And He called a child to Himself...." Matthew 18:2

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blessings in the little things

We had the pleasure of spending time with our dear friends Brian and Joyce from Truckee California the other day. They came by and spent 41 hours with us on their way to Belize to see the missionaries they support there. As we took them around the Island to introduce them and show what the Lord has us doing for His Kingdom, we went into Guadalapana, the small community of families we spend most of our time at. We wanted to take some progress photos of where the fire was a couple of weeks ago that destroyed 19 homes. As we strolled through the area, as normal, we drew a crowd of the kids running around filling their day with adventure and laughter. We stopped and laughed with them as they showed us their newest inventions. Pieces of PVC pipe with balloons on one end to shoot rocks out of. They let us give it a shot, :) and hit everything we aimed at. They never stop amazing us with what they can do with the things laying around the Island. The biggest blessings was as our group said goodbye to the 8 or 9 kids with us was something we both noticed and it sure touched our hearts. We looked at each other as we made our way down the jungle trail and asked if we had noticed anything about the group. Being liked minded that we are since 30 years of marriage and seeking the Lord first in our lives does that, we had both been blessed with the fact that all 9 of them had shoes on their feet. This was the first time we have gotten to experience that sight since we have started putting shoes on the feet of the children of the Island. It is because of the faithful giving folks keep sending our way that we are starting to see fruit from our trips up and down the lanes here. They seem to want to save them for special trips downtown or gatherings they attend but we keep telling them to put them on and get with it. We know that this was a special sight and that every kid will not be protected from the elements of the Island with shoes, yet God gave us this special blessing to encourage us that we are or should I say, you are making a difference in the lives of the kids here as they know that we hand them out in the name of Jesus. We can't thank you enough and we have a hope that comes from above that another pair will be handed out with love and another life will be blessed as we continue to march on day by day here with these beautiful people of Isla Mujeres.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

Shoes keep getting put on the feet of the little ones here on Isla Mujeres and relationships keep growing, as you continue to share in the ministry we are a part of. We had visitors that came to buy and build a playground station but when they arrived, God changed our direction and they bought 60+ blankets for the families of the Island. What a treat for them as it has been a cold winter for us. We know that it sounds silly to call the weather in the Caribbean cold, compared to the winter you have been having, yet low 60's- sleeping in a hammock in shorts and a tee shirt- no blanket- 80% humidity, it becomes cold very fast… especially in tar paper shacks. Blankets, shoes, literature, no matter what the means we have to reach this community for His Kingdom, we seek out the truth in the Scripture, to fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that His name may be glorified.

They other day we rode down the street on the Moto, Greg, as usual, looking for trouble ahead (as most of the cars here have no brake lights or lights at all for that matter) and Natalie looking at the feet of the children and praying for opportunity to minister. Natalie gave the command to turn around as she spotted a kids flip flop laying on the sidewalk. Greg asked why and Natalie let him know that she saw the foot that it belonged to further back in the arms of a mother walking down the road. We gathered the goods and pursued them around the corner. As we reached them, the other flipflop fell off with mother not knowing she had lost both shoes! She was so thankful for our kindness and Greg was so blessed to have been exposed to what Natalie really does on the back of the Moto as we go about the days here. Little things done, so that His name may be glorified.

Our main outreach, area here on Isla, is the community of Guadalapana. It is a shanty town of about 250 families huddled together in their tar paper shacks. We completed a large outreach there last Thursday with the Perkey family from Oregon and were blessed in many ways. Then we found out on Saturday morning that a fire had broken out Friday night destroying 20 homes. In the rubble, we stood praising God for no injuries or deaths, yet saddened to see these families with nothing. We bought shovels and rakes, rolled up our sleeves,(figure of speech of course since we were all in tee shirts) and helped them remove the ashes. With the Perkey’s help, we also purchased hammocks, blankets, clothing, shoes, and toiletries to help meet the most immediate needs. It did not take them long to clean up the mess since tar paper and wooden poles burn pretty clean. We were amazed at how God put us in this particular spot at the perfect time as Natalie spotted some files of melted plastic about ready to go into the trash bag. She retrieved them and saw that they were photo albums. We asked Cynthia if we could take them home and try to save some photos. We spent yesterday prying open the pages and were able to save all the photos except about 10. Wedding photos, birth of their twin girls, birthday parties, etc. You know, their whole family history and the most treasured thing they owned. Handing her the new photo album, and a few other things we had gathered around the casa to bless them with, was so humbling as we sat and watched Cynthia with some of her friends pour over the photos with joyful tears and laughter. She has invited us over for dinner as soon as their new dwelling is up and secure. It almost has a roof on it and then we pray for material for the walls. We are continually humbled to observed the love they show by simply putting up another set of hooks for an extra hammock, breaking bread together when they hardly have enough to go around for their own families, and how they invite us into their homes and hearts. Another connection made by the grace of God.

We keep pressing on for His glory each step of the way as He leads us day by day. Our hearts long that everything we do will glorify His name. The photos attached are from the outreach and then what it looked like 2 days later. They keep moving forward with smiles on their faces even in the midst of tragedy. We see people living out scripture before us even if they don't realize it. "Gods mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient" Do we truly trust in His unfailing love even when disaster strikes us? Do we truly get up every morning and rejoice in the Lord for ALL things that might come our way? Do truly do all things as unto the Lord so that His name might be glorified?
Do we trust Him to bring beauty from the ashes?

We continue to learn so much about life on this Island from the beautiful people here as we interact with them on a daily basis. We continue to see the importance of the words to "Be still and know that I am God", in the midst of our busy world. Love has no boundaries and ours keep expanding as He leads us each day to new relationships and ministry.

We can't express the love we have for all of you warriors that are fighting the good fight on our behalf. Blessings from Isla Mujeres as we fix our eyes on the Creator of all.

Seeking and serving in Mexico:

Greg and Natalie