Luv Notes

I was too busy this past autumn to send out cards to friends and family, so I’ve decided to make them for Valentines Day. Here’s a sneak peek. Let me know if you want to order any.

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Role Models

When I was younger and we lived in the country, my family joined the organization495516514MSrJjo_ph ‘The Fresh Air Fund.’

The Fresh Air Fund creates a network between families in inner cities who want their children to spend the summers away from their urban metropolis(es) … yeah I know that’s probably not a word ;)

Anyways the idea … at least the idea my family had … was that in the summer, parents are working and the children and teens are out of school with no supervision – which for most kids means a higher chance of getting into trouble … so in short they are sent to stay in the country where there is nothing to do and families hopefully have one parent who stays at home.

I don’t really remember the first girl that stayed with us other than she took some of my stuff – but a couple years later, Natalie came to stay with us from New York (Queens) I think … but not the decent part of Queens … the government housing part that you see in movies. The reason I wanted to share this is because there are so many kinds who have no one to listen to them (underprivileged or not)!

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Natalie and the time she spent with our family. Now that I’m older and am able to reflect on the intricacies and social awkwardness of the situation, I – personally – can’t imagine sending my child away for the summer to live with a family I had never met, knew very little about, aside from a piece of paper, and probably had little in common with. Don’t get me wrong, the organization’s great and a lot of people where I live are host families and I think it’s a great idea … but it’s very one sided … you don’t really get to see their world or understand completely where they (the child) are coming from, but they get to know a lot about you, and some of the children come back year after year and become a sort of extended part of the family they stay with.

I guess though if I put myself in the shoes of the parent(s), grandparents, guardian, or older sibling(s) I can imagine living in a world where anything seemed better … where any opportunity to escape would feel like a miracle. Living in central PA, there are a lot of mountains, and I always grew up wondering what was on the other side (I still do … and sometimes I know … sometimes I don’t). Not being able to see a way out can create a kind of panic – just like being claustrophobic. I think maybe it’s the same as not having transportation and staring at planes or trains wondering who the passengers are, where they’re from, where they’re going.

All of us need an escape … not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. But imagine if you had no money to escape your world, you had no one to listen to you, everyone was constantly reminding you that you could never break out, if no one had ever told you about God or faith or potential!

These kids – whether they’re part of ‘The Fresh Air Fund’ or another organization, church, camp, or community – are living in a world that’s teaching them you have to use people to get ahead, that love is a lie, that money is God, that everyone lies, that even their parents will leave them … wouldn’t you want to break out?!

We as adults have an opportunity to make it up to the children, teens, and young adults who are the victims of the worst crisis our country has faced. Most of them have been affected by divorce, death, AIDs & HIV, sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol abuse, gang violence, unqualified teachers and outdated academic resources, and the list goes on and on. I know it sounds like there is no hope … but there is, and YOU are it!

Day after day I have watched students walk around campus with headphones blasting music drowning out the world, keeping their heads down because they’re afraid of interaction, gossiping about one another, skipping class, abusing alcohol, sex, friends, and not knowing that there’s a better life for them! So I have decided to take a stand and try to make a difference even if it’s just in one person’s life.

This year I’m trying to take a step back and understand where people are coming from more so than I have in the past (unfortunately). With my job, listening and even hearing what isn’t said is so important … sometimes crucial. So I guess the reason I’m writing this is because I signed up to participate in a program on campus called ‘Fast Start’. Fast Start teams up university staff, faculty, and upperclassmen with freshmen who are a minority (whatever that even means now). Anyways … the mentors met for training and were discussing what our roles were as mentors/role models, etc. It reminded me a little of doing ‘Boys and Girls Club’ during college or even ‘Big Brothers & Big Sisters’

I have yet to meet my mentee … but I look forward to learning about her dreams, aspirations, joy, sorrow, faith, language, friends, family, home, classes, professors, roommate(s), and whatever else she is willing to let me listen to!

If you have free time and know a child, teen, young adult who could use a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, open arms, or any other accurate (but cliched) description of a mentor … I challenge you to change a life!

I challenge you to help someone break out – so that someday they’ll be inspired to do the same! For more information on The Fresh Air Fund visit http://www.FreshAir.org

I leave you with the words which I can imagine every teen is thinking …

my empty room – crowded too soon look for the fire escape – picture myself running like hell – making my get away the walls are caving in with no warning this ship is sinking i gotta swim for it i’m running out of air

R:// break me out tonight i wanna see the sun rising anywhere but here

come with me, this could be the only chance we get, we gotta take it

don’t do it now we’ll never make it

lose this crowd, break me out

we’ll stare at our feet – sneak down the street some kind of secret race – they’ll carry on won’t notice we’re gone – so easily replaced the walls are caving in with no warning this ship is sinking i gotta swim for it i’m running out of air

the walls are caving in with no warning this ship is sinking i gotta swim for it i got a feeling we’re better off anyway i don’t care what they say

~ ‘Break Me Out’ by The Rescues

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modern-day martyrs

Though my last two posts may have digressed, I do actually remember what I had promised to write about.

Why is it that ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ have become dirty words? If the church is larger and we are able to spread the gospel to every corner of the earth, then why are we so scared to sacrifice? Have we forgotten that the apostles watched their friend and savior suffer and die – and although they may have hidden and cowered – when the Spirit fell upon them, they used their new-found courage to risk their lives and tell the world who this ‘man’ this son of God was and what He had done?!

Why do we no longer desire to risk our lives so that others may know God? Has God too become such a theoretical idea that we no longer can see past our video games, tv shows, i pods, and scientific studies to open our eyes to what is going on in the world?

We have been sent. We have a purpose. We are meant to change the world. We are meant … to stand in the face of destruction, and know that the battle has already been won!

There are still wars. There are still famines, plagues, diseases, sorrow, suffering, and pain … but there are also warriors and martyrs who fight these battles every day so that others may know LOVE.

We have become so accustomed to the news, the violence, the skepticism, and so on, that we are no longer phased by the fact that our world seems to have given in. But is this the truth? Is there nothing left to hope for? Is ‘HOPE’ just a tool used by politicians … or if we take the time to hear what the guy on the street corner is saying, will we be inspired to take off to the furthest corner of the globe and love those who have no one to show them compassion, forgiveness, justice, and hope – true hope of everlasting life?!

If there are martyrs still today, then how can we learn from them? How can we help those who help the world?

Well … since you asked … vomso_aug09_pakistanPrayerBands

‘Voice of the Martyrs’

http://www.persecution.com/public/aboutVOM.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51

is an interdenominational organization “dedicated to assisting the persecuted church worldwide.”

“VOM was founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned 14 years in Communist Romania for his faith in Christ. His wife, Sabina, was imprisoned for three years. In the 1960s, Richard, Sabina, and their son, Mihai, were ransomed out of Romania and came to the United States. Through their travels, the Wurmbrands spread the message of the atrocities that Christians face in restricted nations, while establishing a network of offices dedicated to assisting the persecuted church.”

The Voice of the Martyrs continues in this mission around the world today through the following main purposes:

  1. To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by providing Bibles, literature, radio broadcasts, medical assistance, and other forms of aid.
  2. To give relief to the families of Christian martyrs in these areas of the world.
  3. To equip local Christians to love and win to Christ their enemies who are opposed to the gospel in countries where believers are actively persecuted for their Christian witness.
  4. To undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and Christian witness in countries that have formerly suffered Communist oppression.
  5. To emphasize the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of atrocities committed against Christians and by remembering their courage and faith.

There are so many ways you and I can help … by clicking on the following link

https://www1.vombooks.com/qry/qe_sf_donatenow.taf?_id=A373551896&_function=donate

you can donate money which will be used to help Christians who live in countries where persecution is a prominent part of everyday life.

By signing up for their emails you will receive updates on their outreaches and news clips. Today’s email was an alert and request to have individuals/groups contribute to a fund for ‘Actions Packs’ that are sent to Christians living in Gojra, Pakistan.

On August 1st …  20,000 islamic extremists attacked the village. It took more than five hours for emergency personnel to reach the mob scene. By that time, eight Christians were dead, 100 Christian homes and one church building were burned. Christians had to use vegetable carts to transport dead and wounded family members to the hospital.

Each Action Pack provides much needed aid, including clothing, a towel, blanket and bar of soap. Inserted into each Action Pack is Christian literature that explains the love of Christ. Some of the Christians will keep all the items. Others will share them with Muslim friends or neighbors.

Around the world persecuted Christians tell us Action Packs are a reminder that they are NOT forgotten. They rejoice that their spiritual family in the United States has remembered and is praying for them.

Pakistani Christians hope these attacks can be a turning point. They are praying to God and asking their government to overturn unjust blasphemy laws that are often used as a pretext to attack Christians.

As the world continues to watch, I encourage you to make a donation of 7$ which will then be used to mail you  a specially-made vacuum seal bag, with a list of items printed on the outside. “Fill the bag with items on the list — either new or used but in good condition — and then send it back to VOM. We will make sure it is delivered to a persecuted Christian family in Pakistan.”

We are called to love one another and stand in solidarity to speak up when we see injustices being committed in the world … if you could help change someone’s life for 7$ wouldn’t you ask what more you could do?!

I pray that the rifts between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are mended .. that the world may know peace even for a moment – and I believe that there are small acts of kindness that can lead to miracles! It is our time to stand at the front lines of the battle so that those who have been there can know that there is hope!

Maximilian Kolbe ~ Pray for Us

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‘Journey to the Heart of God … finding GRACE’

Tonight as I ran around the house, and then campus busily preparing for Mass, Ijesus-man don’t think I stopped for a moment. I honestly hadn’t planned or organized anything other than the announcements and general intercessions.

Then – out of the blue – two students who have been light in a sea of darkness at the University, called asking why I wasn’t in the chapel setting up for Mass. Okay normally my students call me, and normally I would be in the chapel setting up, but I was running around getting the food for the welcome back party, and as a result getting a little stressed out.

When I got to the chapel there they were … taking the trays of food out of my hands and asking how they could help me. Alright you’re probably still not seeing any significance … but as I am laying here in bed writing and reflecting on the night, these two students and their acts of generosity were tiny miracles. They are not Catholic … were walking around campus … and thought they’d stop in and visit. Moments later a couple of the Catholic students showed up to help and in minutes the Chapel was prepared for Mass!

The readings, homily, and general intercessions tied perfectly together … which is expected, only I didn’t look at the readings when typing the general intercessions as I usually do, and Father called me about an hour before Mass still not positive what his homily would focus on.

The first reading spoke of Moses directing Israel to follow God’s laws and not those made by man.

“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, (…) Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say,

‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’

The second reading spoke of humility and the importance of planting seeds of truth and love in all we do – in our words, our actions, and in our presence.

“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only …”

The gospel reflected on the importance of purity and penance.

“When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders. (…)”

So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.
You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

Fr. began his homily by telling a story about a man who had ALS, and a few months before he passed away had written a letter to his wife.

The note said: ‘Love, Bob’

Although what it says is true and equally important, the powerful story behind this note began to unfold as Fr. articulately explained the effects of ALS. This disease cripples and paralyzes an individual’s body until they are no longer even able to breathe. So this man, who loved his wife so much and wanted to do something symbolic to show his love, spent over four hours writing the letters on the note with little dashes. This remarkable feat which would used to only take him seconds, required all his strength and focus.

Fr. also spoke about the readings and their relation to this story. He told the students that in Judaism cleansing of one’s house and body is very important – especially before meals and Sabbath, but that Christ challenged them just as He challenges us. Often we are too caught up in our appearance and don’t spend enough time reflecting on who we are on the inside, who we are as God’s children, what our gifts are, how we are meant to share those gifts, how we love, and how we are loved.

I needed to hear all of this!

This past year was the most challenging and difficult year of my life. I was so broken and drained and angry and hurt and lost and did not know how or even if I would continue the ministry. I was convinced that there was no way God wanted me here … I even questioned if God wanted a ministry on campus.

I spent the summer recuperating, and was/am still not ready for a year of ministry, but today God was using everyone and everything to encourage me to Journey to His heart!

I don’t know where God wants me … but I know that He is in control and that He wants me to find peace in Him.

That is something I have always struggled with and may never master, but after a crazy month, today was the first time in a long time I felt God pulling me up off my knees – giving me strength to go on.

As if this hadn’t been an amazing enough day, at the end of Mass I invited the students (of which there were nearly 60!) to stay after for food and drinks. Honestly we tried the same thing last year and hooked only two or three – so I wasn’t expecting much.

15! That’s right – 15 students came and talked to me, talked to Fr., ate, drank, laughed, asked questions, actually wrote down their contact info. If ever there was a miracle on campus … this would be one! They were engaged, excited, interested, and seeking …

It’s ironic that after months of trying as hard as possible to escape and move away, God has shown me that everything has a time and place.

I ask you to pray for my students, for me, for the University, and for the Diocese. I don’t know if this is where God wants me … I don’t know what will happen in the future – or even tomorrow – but today was His way of letting me know that He wants this ministry and that there are students seeking Him!

PS .. if you ever need someone to pray for you, I highly recommend ‘the Intercessors of the Lamb’ (in Montana maybe) 402-455-5262 … just tell them you have a prayer request and they will pray like crazy!

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quarter-life crisis!

ad_fillerI realize that I’ve only just started this project and have already fallen behind … but with students returning to campus, the last week has been completely overwhelming. Nonetheless, starting tomorrow (which is already today) I am going to work extra hard to add additional posts and catch up!

I have found myself pondering the reality of why there is not an organization that helps college grads and even seniors prepare for life post-grad.

I realize that individual universities are supposed to guide students and prepare them for life outside their hallowed halls … but the fact is, most don’t!

After they mail you that diploma – the next time you’ll hear from them will be a plea asking for money – I think they fail to realize that without a job one has no cash flow to provide a donation!

Though this may seem like a disconnect, things began to seem possible after seeing ‘Julie & Julia’ … I completely connected with Julie Powell’s character, and I have to admit she was part of my inspiration for starting to write again.

I loved that Julie was so real and brave and unafraid to show that she wasn’t perfect – that she struggled. If someday Julie and I were to meet, I would tell her how much I admire her for those qualities.

For those of you who have yet to read her book, or see the movie (or somehow have no idea what I’m talking about) Julie Powell worked for the Lower Manhattan Development Company as sort of a PR staff person whose job consisted of interacting and communicating with the Manhattan community and the families and individuals who were affected by 9/11.

At 29, Julie was trying to figure out how to create a more rewarding life for herself. Long story – short, she set a goal to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ over the course of one year, while writing about it in a blog just like this.

Just like she wanted to be a bridesmaid at Julia Child’s wedding in 1946, I would have wanted to be at her 30th birthday party in Queens. I would have asked her how she dealt with such a landmark year.

Even though my brain tells me that one day makes no difference … even though I know generations before me have lived to tell the tale of the day after their 25th birthday, I’m still trying to figure out how to change my life the way Julie Powell changed hers.

In 22 days I will have to deal with the daunting reality that I will officially be an adult (25). My parents told me the other day that I should buy life insurance … I think that made a little light go off in my mind. When I googled ‘turning 25′ the only subject that kept showing up had to do with rental cars and discounts … but then an article titled ‘the quarter life crisis’ popped up, and reading it reminded me that life is about what you make of it, and that it is as easy done as said – you just have to stay positive!

Toward the end of the movie, Julie is sitting in bed with her husband trying to figure out why Julia Child didn’t like the idea of her blog — and at first that ruined the film for me. (If you can’t tell already I like happy endings) But then, Julie’s husband tells her that Julia wasn’t the one who saved her .. that she was the one who saved herself. He tells her that the ‘Julia’ in Julie’s head was the one that counted. Julie could have given up then and there. But she didn’t – she chose to see the potential – the light – the possibility! Just as Julia was an inspiration for millions, you are now as well!

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‘prisms into their souls’

zana_group_shotThere are very few things in this busy world of ours which have the ability to break through the noise, stop us dead in our tracks, and make us re-evaluate our lives.

Born Into Brothels is a documentary I stumbled upon one night while walking through the video store, trying to alleviate the boredom of being home. I’ve always wanted to work in an orphanage, or some sort of program helping at risk children.

So of course I rented it!

What I didn’t expect was to have it change my life as well.

(Below is the bio of the film’s director, Zana Briski.)

ZANA BRISKI

http://www.zanabriski.com

Zana Briski was born in London, England. After earning a master’s degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Cambridge, she studied documentary photography at International Center of Photography in New York. In 1995 she made her first trip to India, producing a story on female infanticide. In 1997 she returned to India and began her project on the prostitutes of Calcutta’s red light district. She has won numerous awards and fellowships including George Soros’ Open Society Institute Fellowship, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the Howard Chapnick Grant for the Advancement of Photojournalism and first prize at the World Press Photo Foundation Competition. Since 2000 she has conducted a series of photographic workshops with children of prostitutes in Calcutta. The photographs produced by the children were auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York in 2001 and presented in Amnesty International’s 2003 calendar. In 2002 Zana and co-director Ross Kauffman were awarded grants from the Sundance Institute, the Jerome Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts for their film, Born into Brothels, a feature documentary about the children of Calcutta’s prostitutes. In 2002 Zana created Kids with Cameras, a non-profit organization to empower marginalized children through learning the art of photography.


As impressive as Zana and her partner ‘s background is, what truly captivated me was the courage and wisdom of the children in this film. Zana spent years working with the women before she realized the outrageous obstacles these children had to overcome just to survive.

In the red light districts and slums of Calcutta, like many other parts of the world, prostitution, drugs, and crime are a family business … a trade which children are expected to join as early as possible. The governments (like the government in India) make it as hard as possible for these children to receive education, health care, food, and most of all – JUSTICE.

For those of Briski’s students who were interested in leaving the red-light district and attending school, efforts were made over the course of months by several groups in Calcutta to have their forms and paperwork go through the system. In the film you see that no school will accept the children of brothel workers/ prostitutes … none except a small parochial school run by a sister whose Irish accent made you feel the children would be met at the door with some hot chocolate and a big hug!

For most, the stories have happy endings (pretty much) … but for few, Briski’s help could not stop the suffering from losing a parent, becoming a child bride, or being forced into a life of prostitution and abuse.

Too often we forget that not all children are cherished as they should be. Too often we do not do enough to make sure our children know they are loved. Too often we get caught up in our own world and forget that our duty is to make the lives of others better, to make the world a better – more loving place for this generation and those to come.

Sex slavery and sex trafficking are billion dollar industries which thrive because in many parts of the world, children are expendable .. they can be bought and sold, managed and controlled.

The children in Briski’s film were no different … their families planned to sell or marry them off at an early age – but most of them were rescued and given a chance at life thanks to Briski and her partners. Who knew that giving a few kids disposable cameras and sitting down with them to see what their lives were like, would result in the creation of one of the most touching monumental organizations today.

Kids With Cameras, based in Utah has continued the work they started in Calcutta by beginning programs “workshops” in Jerusalem, Cairo, and Haiti. In addition, Briski and the KWC plan to break ground on the development of ‘Hope House’ in Calcutta sometime over the next six months.

If all goes well, Hope House will be a home and school for the marginalized children who have long been neglected by their families, society, and government.

For more information please go to http://www.kids-with-cameras.org.

Photos, postcards, books, and the video can be purchased … you can financially support the construction of ‘hope house’ or even help donate towards the education of the children in KWC’s workshops.

To change laws about human trafficking and work to ensure an end to slavery please visit:

http://www.notforsalecampaign.org

http://www.endhumantrafficking.org

http://www.polarisproject.org

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Day 1 … Where Does a Miracle Begin?

IMG_2760Completely hidden and tucked away in los montan~as (the mountains) outside El Paso, Texas … sits a small compound vaguely resembling a tiny airport.

And although the watch tower has been designed to guide travelers and locals safely home, the building containing it is not an airport tower, but the tower above a chapel, library, and home. This building is part of The Lord’s Ranch and those of us who have arrived safely at ‘the Ranch’ can attest to the importance of Ezekiel House’s lighthouse-esque tower … especially after a long drive through the dark and barren desert.

In the early summer of 1964, Fr. Rick Thomas was assigned to be the director of El Paso’s  Our Lady’s Youth Center. The Youth Center was started to minister to the largely Latino community of downtown and neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Juarez – the largest third world border city – is home to approximately 2 million individuals, the majority of whom live in utter poverty, and many of whom are refugees and immigrants from countries throughout South America.

The mountains that surround El Paso and Juarez are a ‘passage way’ that thousands of travelers navigate each year attempting to escape despair and find hope in a land many of them have spent their lives staring at through barbed wire fences. El Paso and Juarez at times seem to blend together – the only thing distinguishing the two cities and two countries is the less than grand Rio Grande River.

But this story is not about immigration or violence along the border, it’s about a miracle … but more so, miracles which continue to happen every day.

* the following is an excerpt from Rene Laurentin’s book ‘Miracles in El Paso’ *

El Paso, Fall of 1972 – Fr. Richard Thomas was reading a passage from Luke’s gospel to a charismatic prayer group.

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. (Luke 14:12-14)

This is a call to us, concluded the group amidst prayer. Accordingly, they decided to share Christmas dinner with the poor of Juarez, on the other side of the Rio Grande. (…) the dinner took place as scheduled, on Christmas Day (…) The people who came numbered twice as many as their hosts were prepared to serve, 300 instead of 150. But still there was more than enough food. Everybody received a generous portion of choice ham. After dinner, there was a considerable amount of leftovers, and these were given to the people to take with them.

Since then, it is said, miracles have been happening in Juarez. Conversions are many and their effects are lasting.

*********************************************

I was born into the community that served this meal, and although I was not there to witness the multiplication of this feast … I have been blessed to witness the healing both physically and spiritually of many faithful individuals.

Our Lady’s Youth Center has moved into a newer and larger building, the Lord’s Ranch has hosted hundreds of groups … changed thousands of lives … and grown to include a radio station, chapel, and retreat center to house its many visitors.

The missionary families  - most of whom are based at the Ranch in Vado, NM – live off of the donations they receive from individuals from across the globe. They live in solidarity with the poor and take only two showers a week, eat simply and live even simpler. When the unforgiving Summer sun beats down on the millions of Mexican men, women, and children, members of the community endure the same exhaustion and fatigue.

But they do not simply live in solidarity – they fight and love in solidarity as well.

At least twice a week, vans leave the OLYC parking lot with doctors, lawyers, families, and students whose mission is to deliver food, vitamins, clean water, clothing … and most importantly LOVE … to impoverished neighborhoods throughout Ciudad Juarez. The teams and their potato sacks of supplies humbly enter the often crumbling homes and present these gifts with smiles, hugs, blessings, and for some of us.. with the help of translators. The visit is started with greetings and prayers, continues with music and sharing, and concluded with more prayers and promises of a soon return.

On days when supplies are not being delivered, various ministries including prison and hospital outreach are carried out under the guidance and direction of seasoned veterans.

If you’ve never wanted to see the inside of an American prison cell, you certainly do not want to see the inside of a Mexican prison cell … let alone a Mexican prison. The tension, anger, and fear in the air is often so thick – it is only broken after hours of prayer, ministry, and socializing. These men and women have probably have lives filled with pain, despair, and violence … but when they are treated as equals – as sisters and brothers – you can see their spirits slowly start to return.

I have seen miracles. I have seen cells of men yelling and threatening us .. only to be crying for forgiveness and compassion – asking to hear scripture or songs moments later.

I know what you’re thinking – ‘I can’t believe you’re falling for such an obvious act’ … but unless you have faced them, and seen the brokenness in their eyes turn to hope when you tell them they are loved – you cannot know how intensely pure these encounters .. these beginnings of miracles are!

If you ever have a free week – If you’ve ever thought about working in an orphanage, helping at a clinic, teaching at a daycare, building and painting a house, taking food to the hungry, or visiting the sick and imprisoned … then take this opportunity to visit Our Lady’s Youth Center and The Lord’s Ranch!

Book a ticket on SOUTHWEST Airlines, and learn that you are the beginning of a miracle!

Please Watch: http://www.youtube.com/profile_video_blog?user=ACAJYM

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