Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tales of Mexico

I've been in Mexico for well over a month now, and it’s been quite the adventure.  I’ve gone to youth group, ran to the store, and gone on a Crusade to the state of Puebla.  While I’ve shared many of my stories in previous posts on Mexico, I haven’t shared all of them.  Today, I’d like to let you in on a few of my more memorable times here.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the Tales of Mexico.
The first thing in my book of adventures is one of my favorite events here.  It comes with a story, as it should.  So, during dinner I was having a conversation with Josiah, one of my Mexico siblings near my age.  He discovered that I couldn’t drive stick shift, so he immediately told our Crusade director Adrian.  Needless to say, after dinner I found myself sitting on the side of the road with Adrian, Josiah, and a couple of others in our little red Focus.  I’ve tried to drive my brother’s Mustang back in the States before to no avail, so I was nervous to inevitably spend half an hour grinding the clutch with several of my Mexico siblings watching on.  It was actually surprisingly easy!  I was able to drive it all the way back to the Ranch, even crossing over speedbumps.  I’m now convinced the Mustang is cursed.
The first Sunday of July was a special one for our church.  Once a year, the entire church holds the service at a Balneario, a large pool place that we rent out for a service as well as 30+ baptisms.  We got there early to set up and spent the day worshipping and watching the baptisms before diving into the pools for a few hours.  It was a fantastic day swimming and laughing, playing games and just floating.  I may have gotten a little overconfident in my tanning abilities and neglected to put sunscreen on until about 3:30, so long story short, the next week was a bit painful for my neck and shoulders.
Many of my afternoons and evenings here are spent playing soccer or various board games.  By various, I mean Risk and Monopoly, nothing else.  They’re great games though, so I don’t mind.  While I have yet to conquer the world even once in Risk, I do quite well in Monopoly.  Perhaps I’d be a good businessman?
As often as I can, I like to go down to the field and play soccer with the kids.  I’m an American competing against Mexicans, so I’m not the star player, but I think I’ve improved a bit.  Fidel has been helping me train footwork and kicking accuracy.  Hopefully, I won’t be completely unprepared for the soccer season I’ll be launching into upon my return to the States.
In my over a month spent in Mexico, I’ve gone to many different events and activities with my Mexican family.  Often, we’ll find ourselves out late in the evening after spending the day at church, shopping, or, on one occasion, the movies.  In the midst of these long evenings, I’ve found my favorite place.  Call me crazy, but my current perfect situation is laying in the back row of a fifteen-passenger van, hands behind my head and feet kicked out in front of me, preferably with an earbud in my ear.
A bit different than the typical beach or quiet house scene, isn’t it?  While many crave those moments, I’ve found that God has given me this crazy passion for adventure and trying new things recently.  It’s quite strange when I consider my usually cautious, planner personality.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There’s just nothing like having no plans and doing something crazy, totally dependent on God to see you through whatever ridiculous adventure He’s got you embarking on next.  It’s a beautiful (albeit occasionally terrifying) thing to be in the hands of the Living God.  I think I’ll be writing in the distant future about that topic.
There’s no safety net.  That’s been my favorite phrase as of late.  It means I’m totally dependent on my Jesus to see me through whatever He’s gotten me in to, and if He doesn’t come through for me I’m sunk.  I’m no longer the one in control.  As much as I love to be in control, I’ve learned that it’s much better when the timeless God who created the universe and everything in it to be holding the reigns than for a human with seventeen years of experience to attempt to.
So there you have it, some of my favorite experiences in Mexico.  I hope you enjoyed getting another little glimpse into my life here.  I know I’ve said it before but you’re just going to have to put up with hearing it again.  I’ve had such an amazing time here.  Every day has been a unique experience, and many of them have been filled with exciting adventures.  Although I’ve only got a few weeks remaining, I look forward to the adventures that are to come

Monday, July 8, 2019

Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades (EMMC's)

by: Darrel Current (summer missionary, Fishers of Men Board member and communications volunteer)
A little over a week ago, I went on an adventure.  Not some dragon-slaying, wizards and knights adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.  I went on a Medical Crusade.  I posted updates on Facebook every day, so if you’re interested to see what I specifically did, you can check those stories out here.  In this post, though, I want to take you through what Crusades actually are and what they look like.  Let’s get started, shall we?

Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades, or EMMCs, are humanitarian aid excursions through Fishers of Men that take place once a month.  We travel with a team of primarily Mexican medical professionals and volunteers to different towns in Mexico to give free aid in every field from general medical to dentistry to massages.  The Crusade from this month included general medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, haircuts, massages, and a clown act for the kids.  In addition, each and every patient is presented the Gospel and given the opportunity to converse with one of our staff.  Our goal is to help both the physical and spiritual needs of the people we’re serving.
We always go on Crusades to cities where we have a local church contact to ensure that any new converts have a community of believers to connect with.  We don’t want to just go somewhere, convert a bunch of believers, then run off to the next town leaving them no way to grow in their faith or a community to encourage them.  This also gives us a contact through which to gain access to a building from which to provide our services (usually the church itself or their property) and houses where our volunteers can stay at night.  To those in the States, it may seem strange for us to just show up in a town and stay with random strangers for a few nights, but that’s how it works here in Mexico.  Why pay extra money to house our often 20+ volunteers in a hotel when we know a church full of people willing and able to take us in?  Besides, it’s nice to have a contact to talk to in the evenings to get to know the area and state of things.
The typical Crusade goes from Monday to Saturday, although some are only until Friday, start on Tuesday, or are a shorter period of time.  It all depends on logistics and the specific needs of that community.  The day before a Crusade is spent packing all the totes and equipment, all well organized by Adrian (Crusade Director) to make it a relatively quick process.  Crusade members will begin arriving that day, and the Ranch rearranges itself to fit more people on its beds and couches.  Only youth Crusade members stay at the actual house on the Ranch, as that is the private home of the kids and we like to respect that.  Many stay in Adrian’s house or the apartment area my room is in on spare mattresses or couches.
Early the next morning (last time was 6 am), we load our personal luggage on the top of the van roof, lashed securely with rope.  A quick breakfast is followed by prayer and goodbyes to the people staying at the Ranch.  We then head off to wherever the Crusade location will be.
After we arrive, we usually have a meal and begin setting up.  Since we have a well-organized system, we’re able to unload and set up fairly quickly and begin taking in patients.  The amount of people we’re able to see in a day varies greatly depending on how many come, when we begin service, and what personnel we have.  Typically, it’s anywhere between 50 and 200.
The Crusades are a well-oiled machine.  Each of our volunteers are cheerful servers and excellent workers.  Each area is sent patients from the welcome desk, where volunteers discern basic information and what each person is here for.  They’re then directed to the appropriate area by one of our volunteers.  The majority of the Crusade members are medical professionals or students working under them, but the few untrained (medically speaking) members such as myself still have plenty of roles to fill. There’s the welcome desk, loading and unloading work, and finally, cleaning the dentistry tools.
On Crusade, we typically work until 6 pm each day, or longer in some instances.  The time after is reserved for dinner, a little relaxation at our host home or exploring the town, showers, and finally, sleep.  We’re all exhausted by the end of the day, so even someone like me who takes forever to fall asleep is passed out after a few minutes.
Each Crusade is a different experience.  We go to different towns, meet new people, make new friends, and help different people.  I hope you’ve enjoyed a general overview of the work we do!  Feel free to comment with any questions you may have and I’ll make sure to answer them as soon as I can.  In the meantime, keep serving wherever you are, whether that’s Mexico or middle-of-nowhere Indiana.