Mazatlán Update: An Almost Ruined Adventure

I simply can’t hold back from sharing the great news from Mazatlán! God works in ways that overwhelms me, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am so much more than humbled. This trip did not start out how I would have planned – not at all… But God’s redemptive power has turned it all around, ripping what could have been a pretty big failure, into a wonderful win. 

This is how we mix concrete in Mexico.... Escuinapa Fence Build 10/31,2016

This is how we mix concrete in Mexico.... Escuinapa Fence Build 10/31,2016

Miscommunications, a broken bone of a key team member and a couple of pretty dumb mistakes on my part could have totally ruined the trip – And I freely admit that at one point I was questioning whether God actually wanted me here in Mazatlán. A combination of a calamity of errors worked together by the evil one to create chaos, disenchantment and frustration for me have brought me to tears more than once on this build – but God’s purest love and blessing turned those tears of anger and self-doubt into tears of amazement, overwhelming joy and a wondrous awe of His power, grace and redemption.

Adam - the nieto (grandson) of Caesar, helps where he can - ALL DAY!

Adam - the nieto (grandson) of Caesar, helps where he can - ALL DAY!

This was the first trip where there was no team from the US – we were meeting a team from Tijuana and a couple who came down from Washington on their own to work on other projects were able to help us as well. I was a little nervous, because communication for this trip was not exactly what I had planned – We couldn’t seem to connect on things like the timing, material procurement, budget, etc. 

But I got on a plane last Saturday morning anyway to begin this journey of building 3 gardens for in some of the most impoverished areas around Mazatlan.  My first stop was Tijuana for one night to visit my granddaughter. Unfortunately, miscommunications and misunderstandings prevented me from seeing her. If you know me, you know how that could have a tendency to throw a wrench into every bit of my being – and it did… I was consumed by sadness that I didn’t get to see her…. But I tried to take encouragement from God’s word as I sat in my hotel waiting for the call I thought would come (letting me know when we could connect) but it never came, so got on the plane the following day and headed farther south.

Staying encouraged as we baby the truck on the highway - trying to make it back to Mazatlán.

Staying encouraged as we baby the truck on the highway - trying to make it back to Mazatlán.

Upon my arrival in Mazatlán, I was taken to the rental car agency – you see, I had decided to rent a car at the last minute that because Mike had broken his ankle and was unable to drive. He is typically the one to take our team where we need to go to do the work we need to do.  At the rental car agency, (a very reputable, international company of which I am a gold member) I was told that my prepayment was not enough – that I had to come up with not only $600 more for the rental, but also an additional $1,200 would be attached to my card as a deposit. After two hours of discussing this through my limited understanding and use of the Spanish language regardless of the evidence I presented them that I had paid for insurance and car rental already, I gave up in total frustration, and asked them to take me back to the airport so I could get a cab.

Once I got back to the airport, I was taken directly to a cab, I asked how much for a ride and I gave the driver the address where I was staying. His price seemed a little steep, ($40) but at this point, I was on the verge of tears, so I just agreed and got in.  The driver’s English was pretty good, so I vented a little to him about my rental car experience and he was quite empathic, even a little indignant about my treatment…So, I was thinking, “this guy is nice, understanding and encouraging – I’ll give him a good tip”.  I started digging into my wallet for the amount we agreed on plus a tip, while I was making sure he was following the google route to Mike and Gaby’s that I had on my phone. However, what I didn’t know was that at the airport there are procedures to follow for taxi drivers, and he didn’t not follow one of them. He should have sent me into the airport to get a slip – which would have sent me to the next driver in the queue, and likely would not have been him. That slip would have had so much information on it that I would come to need later in the evening –

We finally arrived at Mike and Gaby’s and I was so excited to finally be there; excited to see their girls and excited to get my mindset shifted and ready begin the work I was here to do…About an hour after my arrival, as we were chatting in the living room, Gaby noticed that the cab driver was back. He asked for me, so I went out and he handed me my wallet…. My heart about stopped while my mind went into a racing mode I could not follow.  As he was telling Gaby how it came to be in his possession, I was checking the pockets to make sure it still had the cash I had brought down for the trip and that my credit cards were not missing. It appeared ok, so I thanked him profusely and went up to my room. It was at this point that I realized that I didn’t have my phone either. Then I made a more thorough search of my wallet to find that most of the cash was taken, and only a few dollars were left inconspicuously rolled into a $100 bill – essentially tricking me.

I’m sure you can imagine the sinking feeling I had… Horrible, sinking feeling. Sick, really.

I am not afraid to tell you that at this point, I honestly thought the trip was over. I could only think through in my head all of the mistakes I had made and how I could have done this so differently. I could only think of how badly others would judge me – and not matter what they will. I was so afraid of the gossip and rumors that people would start spreading about Seeds of Grace due to my mistake and lack of judgement. I called my husband first. His encouragement helped me stay above the pit of despair I had started tumbling into.

That evening I put out an email to a few of the supporters whom I thought would want to help. I honestly and painfully recounted the details above and awaited their judgement…

In the meantime, I slept and arose early to go to Escuinapa to begin building a fence. Alejandro, my trusted friend and mentor here in Mexico came alongside me to help me for the week. Of course he chastised me for not allowing him to help me at the airport – he totally would have picked me up and would have been my personal escort and driver – I simply didn’t think of it.

During the next two days, Alejandro and the Escuinapa Feeding Center Lead, Caesar, worked hard to dig the holes to install 14 fence posts. Caesar’s wife, Dominga kept us nourished and hydrated. That two days, I was the only gringo, and as a result, my Spanish vocabulary increased dramatically… I started feeling some encouragement, seeing some progress – but I still didn’t know if we were going to be able to do all the things we wanted to during this trip. Then - Alejandro's truck broke down... Ugh! I am embarrassed to say that my faith of God's support of this trip was at an all-time low.

I checked my email nightly and noticed that people were beginning to respond to my email plea for help, and could tell that God was working – he always is, I know – but He was really working to encourage me…

By the third day here, my help arrived from Tijuana.  They would have been here Monday, but a miscommunication led them to believe that I would not be here until Tuesday evening – Anyway, they picked me up on Wednesday morning and we went to our other gardens to check on the systems there – to find that they were not doing nearly as well as we had expected.  We cleaned, adjusted, made lists of supplies and materials, went and purchased those supplies and materials and by the end of the day, we had one system completely up and running at Valle de Urias.

Melons at Valle de Urias

Melons at Valle de Urias

That evening I checked my email and found more people had faith that God’s work would not be thwarted by my mistakes or the evil one’s shenanigans… more donations had come in. I was starting to have so much more hope.

Thursday (WOW! Thursday’s already gone!) we were joined by a couple I know from Washington who were here for other reasons, and together with the Tijuana team, we competed the system at Genaro Estrada… Although it is much smaller than we had thought, it will begin producing food within the next 6 weeks.  The smaller size is a blessing though – and truly advantageous for Alejandro. He will be learning the system and this smaller size will make it much easier for him to make progress – less overwhelming.

The complete system at Genaro Estrada - Just waiting on the fish and plants - We'll come back on Saturday to finish.  Left to Right: Alejandro and his wife Laura, From Washington are Alicia and Kyle Brose, from Tijuana YWAM are Mauricio, Rachel, Allie and Jackie - then Me!

The complete system at Genaro Estrada - Just waiting on the fish and plants - We'll come back on Saturday to finish.  Left to Right: Alejandro and his wife Laura, From Washington are Alicia and Kyle Brose, from Tijuana YWAM are Mauricio, Rachel, Allie and Jackie - then Me!

Today our plan is to finish the fence at Escuinapa and get some trees and seeds in the ground there.  We have plenty of hands to do it, so we will be able to have finished two of the three new gardens we had hoped to complete while we were here. We could not do the third, due to the sheer amount of cleanup that would be required for the land – more industrial than our other locations.

But all in all, my guilt over the mistakes I made early on in the trip has been replaced by hope and gratitude.  God brought people together, many of which had never set eyes on each other before, some who had met years ago, through other random encounters and a few who are good friends. We quickly formed bonds that will last us our lifetime – I know this. I have seen God take what I thought was going to be hopeless failure because of my mistakes and cover it all with His loving Grace, then create a situation that can only be celebrated for His sake. Truly, I have never been more humbled. Truly, never more grateful.

We have more work to do here – A LOT more! And it will happen over the span of the next several years – and I know that the plans of God are bigger than anything satan can throw at us in his attempts to thwart those plans. I know that the harder satan tries to thwart the plans, the more we need to rejoice, because that is evidence in itself that we are making progress for the Glory of God. I know that with the help of several – because of God’s inspiration, this trip was indeed successful, and I know that God has shown me that no one does the mission alone!  

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world John 16:33
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
ather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and calamities; 2Corinthians 6:4