Thursday, October 22, 2009

Proverbs 17:6 in Real Life

Several weeks ago our family had a wonderful day off together! Victor had just returned from a 9 day crusade to the state of Michoacan here in Mexico and was beginning to prepare for a two week trip to the U.S. to begin promoting the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center project. (Lord willing he and the Marshall family will arrive back home at Refuge Ranch tomorrow.) Besides wanting to enjoy time with Victor while we could, my (Julie's) parents were visiting, which always provides a wonderful excuse for an extra outing!

Our picnic in the park

So, we packed up our swimming gear and picnic supplies and headed to a natural waterpark about 45 minutes from Refuge Ranch. It is a beautiful place called "The Forest"! It is a private park centered around a rushing stream with huge trees with exposed roots and rocks along its shore. This stream, and other natural springs, feed the swimming pools in the park. In fact, Moctezuma, one of the Aztec emperors centuries ago, would visit this location to bathe in the springs with his Aztec leaders.

Julie exploring with Daniel and Ana

We had a wonderful day exploring the stream's edge, a small (OK a VERY small) pyramid structure left over from centuries ago, and several natural springs. We enjoyed delicious grilled hamburgers and watermelon, finding pretty pebbles in the stream bed and swimming in several pools....and going down the water slides!

Grandpa and Grandma at the top of the water slide!

Grandpa and Grandma at the bottom of the water slide!

Mind you, the week after these two pictures were taken my father turned 59! That's almost 60 years old, folks! Go Dad and Mom! Seriously, I cannot thank the Lord enough for my parents and I decided to make that thanksgiving public for three reasons: 1) that you may praise the Lord with me for His many wonderful gifts 2) to inspire children to be grateful for their parents 3) for parents to be inspired to be an inspiration to their children and continuing fighting the good fight

Mom visits Mexico four times a year! Dad comes down twice a year because he continues serving full-time as senior pastor at Mayfair Plymouth Congregational Christian Church in Toledo, OH. They are constantly saving money for plane tickets (and for all the extra little gifts they bring us on those trips)!

The time, money and energy that they invest in coming to spend time with us is simply an outward expression of the way that they have fully embraced the call that the Lord has placed on my life and made it a part of their call, as my parents.

Obeying the Lord and following His will for my life would be so much more difficult without my parents' support and participation. Ever since I was a teenager they have fully and obediently supported me in following God's call for my life and I am so grateful for that - beyond what words can express.

The summer that I was 17 years old, Dad and Mom allowed me to come to Mexico to volunteer at Mission Mazahua for four weeks. This was before the time of internet and Mission Mazahua did not even have a phone line. So, at the age of 17, they put me on a plane in Toledo, OH, trusting that I would get to Mexico and back to Toledo okay because there was no way that we could communicate for that entire month! Of course, as a confident 17 year old I saw no problem in that arrangement - until I became a parent! I then asked Mom why they ever let me do such a thing! Without hesitation she responded: "Julie, I don't want to get to heaven and find out all that the Lord had prepared for you and discover that I was a stumbling block to all of that." Wow!

Dad and Mom have done an incredible job of opening their hearts and lives to their 13 grandchildren (11 mine and my brother's two beautiful children). People have asked them, as well as us, if they really love all the kids the same, as their grandchildren, even those who are not biological grandchildren. They respond the same as we do: Before you actually meet the child it is hard to imagine you will love him or her like the rest. But, as soon as he or she is in your presence, in your home and in your arms, you just love, love and love!

Ministry can be tough at times, but it is so much easier with their love, support and encouragement! Besides supporting our ministry, I am so proud of them for the ministries that they continue to carry out in their own arenas of life - Dad as a pastor, writer and photographer; Mom as a Bible study leader and encourager!

I am even more proud of their private lives! I know that I can call home any day of the week at 6 a.m. and find Dad reading his Bible; at 7 a.m. and he will be on a prayer walk; and a little later in the morning call back and Mom will be studying her Bible and then spending her own time in prayer and worship once Dad is at work. It has been that way for as far back as I can remember!

But, they don't just read and study the Word, they truly live it out! I laugh now as I hear Dad's sermons as an adult because they are the same things that he and Mom taught both my brother and I through their words and actions while we were growing up! I have never heard Dad say something from the pulpit that he has not lived out at home. It is a wonderful privilege to count my mother as literally my best friend. I can share anything with her and know that she will listen to me, love me unconditionally and, if she does choose to share any advice, I know it will be based on God's truth. I can now have a great relationship with my parents as an adult child because of all the hard work, time and effort that they put into raising us when we were children and teenagers.

So many times we talk about parents being proud of their children, but Proverbs 17: 6 lends a new twist to that!

"Children's children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children."

How awesome as a child to be proud of your parents, contrary to so many adult children who are bitter towards their parents, embarassed by their parents, disappointed in their parents, etc. Parents of young children and teenagers, are you living in such a way that your children can one day be proud of you? Parents of adult children - it is never too late to start living in such a way that would make the Lord, and our children, proud!

Why does the verse say "children's children are a crown to the aged?" Who are "children's children"? They are the grandchildren! Why are they a crown to the aged? I believe it is because if a grandparent sees their grandchild living in a right way, that means that that child's parent has done a good job of raising him or her. Who is the grandchild's parent? The grandparent's child! If their child does a good job raising his or her children, that means that the parent was also raised well by the grandparents!

Let's see if this makes more sense with some real names! As my Dad and Mom visit our family, if they are pleased with the way that Angie, Diana, Martita, Martha, Fidel, Josiah, Jocelin, Caleb, Ruth, Ana and Daniel are living, that means that Victor and I, by the grace of God, are doing a decent job raising them, which means that our parents probably did something right in raising us - so the grandchildren are the grandparents' prize for having raised their own children in a God-fearing way!

So, may my children be a crown for my parents, their prize after so many years of consistently loving, disciplining and raising my brother and I. And, may I one day be the pride of my children for having run the good race set before me in a way that honors the Lord.

I know that my parents are a source of pride for me! Thanks, Dad and Mom!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marshall Family on the Way to Mexico

We are so excited! The Marshall family is on their way to Mexico! Praise, praise, praise God! Wow! Who could imagine? Besides the Marshall family, we are excited because Dr. Escamilla and Victor are on their way back with the Marshall family after spending over a week promoting the new Yahweh Rapha Medical Center project. (You will hear more about that later!)

Mark and Lucy Marshall first came to Refuge Ranch as part of a work team with Shiloh Christian Church, Logansport, IN, in Febuary 2004. It was the first work team we hosted at Refuge Ranch! In fact, we didn't even live here yet! The team helped finish the home we currently live in. During, and after, that trip the Lord began to move in a special way in both Mark and Lucy's lives. Mark felt called to go back to school and study for full-time ministry. After four years of school, Mark graduated this past December!

Then, in June 2006, Mark and Lucy returned to Refuge Ranch with another work team from Shiloh Christian Church, but this time with their chidlren, Aaron and Joanna. Shortly after that trip, we got a phone call from the Marshall family sharing with us the call that the Lord had placed on their hearts to join us as part of the full-time ministry staff here at Refuge Ranch! Wow!

Since then, the Lord has confirmed time and time again in each of their lives, and in ours, that this His perfect will for all involved! We admire Mark and Lucy, Aaron (15 yrs. old) and Joanna (13 yrs. old) so much!

They are leaving their lifelong church, family, employments, friends, activities, home (continue to pray that their house will sell soon), culture, language and food to obey God's call on each of their lives! We know that He will only prove more and more real and faithful as each day goes by!

Please pray for their safe trip as they spend the next five days on the road. Pray that the time in the car may be a time of sweet fellowship and anticipation of all that is to come! Follow the maps below to keep track of the Marshall Family, Victor and Dr. Escamilla!

Day 1: Red line: Royal Center, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri

Day 2: Yellow line: St. Louis, Missiouri to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Day 3: Green line: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to San Antonio, Texas

Day 4: Orange line: San Antonio, Texas to Matehuala or San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Day 5: San Luis Potosi to Refuge Ranch - Home at Last!

These maps kind of look like those maps of Paul's missionary journeys in the back of your Bible, huh?

With love and great anticipation,

Julie Zaragoza

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yahweh Rapha Medical Center Promotional Team

We are in the midst of exciting times! (All times are exciting when you are walking with the Lord because you never know quite what to expect, other than you know that He goes with you!)

Victor is in the United States right now with several other Fishers of Men volunteers promoting our latest endeavor - the building of the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center. In Hebrew Yahweh Rapha means "the Lord your healer", which sums up Fishers of Men's vision and mission for the medical center. Yahweh Rapha Medical Center will be a hospital and medical school complex that will seek to meet the needs of those in Mexico who do not have access to government nor private medical care. Quality care will be given in a respectful way, seeking to share the love and hope found in Jesus Christ through the way in which the staff treats the patients with love and excellence. The goal of Yahweh Rapha Medical Center is not only to meet the physical needs of those most in need, but also to meet their spiritual needs by sharing with them the Good News of Jesus Christ.

An architectural rendering of the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center
to be built to the southeast of Mexico City

The medical school will seek to train up medical missionaries with both medical and theological training to then go out to the neediest communities throughout the country and establish satellite clinics to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those communities. The satellite clinics will then be able to send their most difficult cases to the central hospital located just outside of Mexico City.

Victor has been gone for nearly a week now, visiting several churches, foundations and The Toledo Hospital sharing the vision that the Lord has given Fishers of Men for the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center. Victor travelled with the Mexican architect who has volunteered his services for this project and has already drawn up the initial plans. The architect has already returned to Mexico, but Victor continues in the U.S. with Dr. Escamilla and Dr. Gisela. Dr. Escamila is a retired military colonel from the Mexican army and physician who volunteers on all of the Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades, as well as volunteering as the medical director for the hospital project. Dr. Gisela is another volunteer physician on the crusades who grew up in the United States and is serving as Victor's translator during his visit.

Dr. Escamilla, Victor and Dr. Gisela on their visit to The Toledo Hospital
to promote the new Yahweh Rapha Medical Center project

We are excited about the new contacts that the Lord is providing through this visit and new opportunities to share about what the Lord is doing here in Mexico in and through Fishers of Men.

While we continue construction here at Refuge Ranch in order to continue expanding the ministry to children here, we have felt led to undertake the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center project with full confidence in our Lord's ability to provide for the needs of each ministry. It has been exciting to witness individuals get excited about crusades and the hospital project who have felt little attraction to Refuge Ranch and vice versa. Hence, we are the body of Christ, each with his and her own passions, interests and abilities, but together carrying out the Lord's work here on earth.

The other exciting aspect of Victor's visit to the U.S. is that he will be travelling back to Mexico by highway with the Marshall family from Indiana as they move to Refuge Ranch to obey the Lord's call on their lives to become full-time staff members! While the ministries of Fishers of Men are unique and distinct in their own ways, it is always exciting to see they ways in which they all mesh into one. For example, most of our children at Refuge Ranch have come through the Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades. Victor is now in the U.S. promoting the Yahweh Rapha Medical Center, but will be returning to Mexico with new staff members for Refuge Ranch. The new medical center will provide a place in which our children here at Refuge Ranch can receive medical treatment. The medical school will provide a place for those children at Refuge Ranch who want to go into the medical fields to study and serve the Lord. How exciting!

Thank you for being a part of this through your prayers, giving and active participation!

We continue to covet your prayers for:
  • Victor, Dr. Escamilla and Dr. Gisela as they finish up their promotional tour

  • for save travels for Victor, Dr. Escamilla and the Marshall family as they travel to Mexico beginning next Monday, October 19

  • for continued grace for Julie, kids and the staff of Refuge Ranch as they carry on life without Victor for these two weeks

Let's live for Him with reckless abandon!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Latest EMMC

Victor returned last Saturday from the latest Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade. This trip took the volunteer crusade team to the state of Michoacan, northwest of Mexico City. This state is most famous as housing the Monarch butterfly sanctuary where, every winter, all the monarch butterflies from North America congregate.

However, the crusade took place in an indigenous village, Janitzio, located on an island in the middle of a large lake! This required the team actually moving all the medical equipment by boat to the crusade worksite!

The view from the island

The view of the island from the lake

The local believers were so grateful to have the Fishers of Men crusade team present that they lent their traditional garb (quite expensive outfits) to the women on the crusade team for a day. This was even more special because we were honored by the presence of a U.S. volunteer on this crusade, Emy Bridge.

The crusade volunteers in traditional indigenous clothing of the region

Emy has been a dear friend of Fishers of Men since the very beginning and has been to Refuge Ranch on numerous occasions. However, this was her first Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and gained a whole new perspective on Mexican culture, the needs here and Fishers of Men's ministry.

Witchcraft runs rampant in Mexico and is a widely accepted practice, even by government and religous leaders. The villages visited by Fishers of Men during this crusade are well-known for their witchcraft practices. While the Fishers of Men team bathes each crusade in prayer and spends time in daily devotions together, this particular crusade provided opportunities for greater spiritual battles and warfare, driving the team to more fervent prayer, Bible reading and worship. As a direct result of their increased dependence on the Lord for His deliverance, a "bumper crop" was harvested of people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior! 517 individuals prayed to make Jesus the Lord of their lives! Some of these included entire families! The local missionary, a seminary student, covets your prayers and she now seeks to disciple and teach these new believers, as well as looking for other believers to aid her in this great adventure!

As always, we give God all the honor and glory for giving the opportunity to serve and for moving in people's hearts and lives. We also thank you for your prayers and financial support that make this ministry possible!