Creating our Family Mission Statement

Family Mission StatementMy family is taking part on Amor’s Advent daily devotional to prepare for Christmas.

The first disruption for 24 Days of Disrupt was to “Create your Family Mission Statement.” ‪

It was weird at first, but after watching the videos on the blog, it became a lot less intimidating.

We used the family rules poster we have for ideas; lingo from the ‪7 habits that Mia has been learning at school, and took turns answering questions about what is important for us. We put it all together in a beautiful sentence that little D created.

We also added and defined some values that are important for us.

It reads:

“We will serve God through life’s journey with humor, compassion, love and respect for one another.”

Respect: Listening, seeking to understand, caring and serving one another.
Humor: Laugh at ourselves, see life with optimism add jokes and fun.
Compassion: Think of others and reach to those who are hurting.
Adventure: Seek experiences, try new things and don’t be afraid to fail.
Affection: Kind words, hugs, snuggles, and besos.
Family: Time together.

We hope this will continue helping us create a family culture that will help us guide us in the same direction during the holidays and on years to come.

Tomorrow, the Lion Chase #5k and #virtualrun for Casa de Amor

Lion Chase 5KWe’ve been working really hard for Amor’s third annual 5k race. I can’t wait. I’m so excited for it. It will be also the first time we do a #virtualrace so of course I’ll be really busy this weekend. Taking, sharing and curating pictures from all social media outlets. We hope that with each year, we get more people behind both the Lion Chase event here in San Diego, and all over the world virtually.

In the meantime, thank you for your support, prayers and Come. Run. Hope. www.amor.org/lc2014

“You are an Apostle”… Who, Me?

IMG_3832

Tents of Go Inc, a group of short term missionaries at Rancho Camp, Amor Ministries

“Why Amor?”

“Huh?”

“Yes, why… Amor?”

“Well, Amor means love,”

“Wrong…”

“Huh?”

“Are you or not an apostle? It’s Amor because your job is to show the love of Jesus.”

That was an exchange I had the other day with an agent at the San Ysidro border as he was reviewing my documents and read the logo of Amor on the side of the truck.

The border, it’s an interesting place. Sometimes you wait a long time, only to be hammered with a ton of questions, secondary inspections, and the occasional agent who gives you a hard time. Sometimes the crossing is quick and painless… so I’ve heard, mine are never quite like that. But I digress…

I was shocked at his boldness, a little bit offended by his tone, which was a bit patronizing (OK, here is where I recognize to you that I’ve always struggled with authority), and intrigued by the timeliness of this questioning.

“An apostle? Who? Me?” I thought.

Seconds before we reached the window I had been sharing “my testimony” Christian speak for the narrative of the moment you chose to abandon who you think you are, to the truth in the offering of salvation — letting Jesus into your heart. My experience was radical, but my transformation didn’t finish at that moment. It only meant that at the end of the pursuit, it was my turn to follow.

“Am I an apostle?” Well, recently I’ve been calling myself a missionary to explain what I do at Amor,  despite the fact that I don’t live in a foreign land… well sort of…

“Jesus calls us to a continuous life of service. Therefore, we choose to serve with love… one family at a time.” Source

I’m a missionary because I was sent to Amor, and on weekly basis I’m sent to Mexico to work, to speak, to know, to learn with families and pastors in the region. Because I’m in a mission to help bring development in the communities alongside people who seek to bring social justice .  And yes… to show the love of Jesus.

“But an apostle?”

I found this definition in Google,

The word apostle is derived from the Greek apostolos, meaning “one who is sent.” A modern-day apostle would typically function as a church planter—one who is sent out by the body of Christ to spread the gospel and establish new communities of believers.

But I don’t have a special background, training, knowledge, for this mission. All I have is my experience, my story, and the passion I have from what God has done in my heart.

In 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul says :”For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all — yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Perhaps there is more to this calling than writing and letting people know about helping the needy.  In this calling I’m showing what amazing God I serve; The One who died for me and rose again to remind us that He has overcome to offer a relationship. The only response:  it’s love.

“Did you learn something today?” he said.

“Yes sir” I replied.

And he handed my documents back.

Fait, Love and Marriage

Pastor Oscar lives with his family in Tecate

Pastor Oscar lives with his family in Tecate

Fait, Love and Marriage

Some families in my journey stick with me in a profound way. The story of Pastor Oscar and Alicia exemplifies my passion for Amor. See, when I started in Amor, all I knew was that Amor built homes for the poor in Mexico and other places (South Africa and the San Carlos Apache Reservation) which is an incredibly courageous cause on its own. Then I found out that the vision the founders were given extended beyond that and included the Utopia of a world where spiritual physical poverty could be eradicated. It is a dream that I’ve grown to believe myself to be possible. Never before in history of humanity the possibility has been within reach. We got the resources we could have never dream of. The problem might appear to be a giant, but like Gayla Cooper says in her book Disrupted, “[David] looked at Goliath and believed, This giant is so big, I can’t miss!” The problem of poverty can seem overwhelming at times but no matter how big, we can’t miss. Whatever we do makes a difference!

However,  when I ground everything we do in regular basis, it is the lives affected every day by Amor as a movement that make it so important for the lives of all of us who work here.  Love, faith and growth. I hope you enjoy the story of Pastor Oscar and his courageous wife Alicia. 

Busy at Work or Busybody

I don’t like to excuse myself, Dad always used to tell me “In this life there are two kinds of people, people who give results and people who give excuses, the first ones don’t need excuses.”

So I won’t, although in my title I kinda did 😉

I really wanted to share a couple of things I’ve been working with my team at Amor.

The first one is a video of what it means for a family to participate on a mission trip building homes for those in greatest need.

Aug 2013 Three Day from Amor Ministries on Vimeo.

And the second thing I want to share is a super creative campaign that we’ve envisioned to get a new server for Amor. Yes like you read it, a new server. Not the most exciting thing to rally for, but at Amor like at many organizations of our size a server is in many ways the heart of the operations. We are in the business of building homes for those in need, to bring hope and give incredible mission experiences to those who join us and everything happens thanks in part to Mr. Server.

“Let’s retire Mr. Server” is the first campaign I’ve created of it’s kind. You know I’m not good at asking for money (Not fully funded yet, but God willing I will by the end of this year :)) Yet, it has been fun to create this character.

Basically we only have two weeks to raise the funds our “IT guy” has deemed indispensable to have a performing server and not have any more blackouts…#ITproblems… And tell me about it, poor guy had to cut short his paternity leave to respond to a couple of emergencies with the poor old guy.

Watch it and let me know what you think.

Mr Server Retirement from Amor Ministries on Vimeo.

The website for the campaign is

http://www.crowdrise.com/retireAmorserver

Broken Hearted

thedoctor

Unpacking what I see on the field is the most difficult thing of what I do at Amor. While it is not the first time I’ve seen poverty it still gets me. Not the kind of poverty in which people simply can’t afford “nice things” but the kind that submerges them in despair and hopelessness. The kind of poverty that has experienced all kinds of horrors. The kind of poverty that is the result and the cause of the way they live. The kind that nearly has killed all the faith. The kind where you can’t help to question where is God in all of this. God forgive me, I thought I knew, but I had no idea and I know your heart is heavy for your people.

When I talk to our families, I usually get the feeling their stories had been waiting to be told.  Sometimes a question can lead to a confession, a secret of the soul, a pain so big that tears my heart.

Yesterday was particularly difficult for me, among the people I met was a woman victim of sexual abuse by her grandfather, a former gang member with death on the eyes and a tattoo that confirmed it, a group of children abandoned all day by their parents, who are aware of just how poor they are, a child hurting by the divorce of her parents, a single teen mother who wishes she could’ve been a doctor and the guy at the border who lost his limbs in a factory accident.

By the time I reached the border my head was trying to make sense of it all. In every story, there was hope, and I was excited that at least in some way Amor had played a part. Yet, it felt like it was a burden I did not want to carry. What purpose will my writing have? What do I say? How do I say it? I’m so small God, and the problems so huge.

God called me to each one of those families. Picked at random I arrive to an appointment ready for me by the creator of the Universe. My calling is to be a witness to their suffering. Suffering I thought I knew, I’ve seen before, I’ve read before,  but really I can’t  wrap my head around. Because I can’t understand it I haven’t stopped crying.

Yesterday I had company. I’ve described how scary is to ride some of the roads in certain neighborhoods, so I asked someone to go with me and drive me around since I’m a newbie. I’m not sure how much she got out of the stories; we really didn’t talk about them. While we were moving from family to family we were more distracted on how to get from point A to point B without ending on a ditch.

At every home, I’m biting my tongue not to ask the question in my heart, should I ask? Should I ask what’s behind the burnt scars in her hand? Should I ask about his dad? And even when I don’t ask, as I put away my camera, and made them laugh with my silly antics, their eyes will tell me everything. Sometimes, is a please-don’t-leave just yet, sometimes a thank you, every time a kind of strength I know I don’t possess. At that moment all I can offer in return is prayer. Their faces will hunt me long into the night. I could never do it alone. Thank you God for showing me through, thank you for showing me what breaks your heart, thank you for my calling even if I don’t know the outcome.  Thank you.

Living the Forrest Gumpy Life

Yesterday was my first day on my own negotiating the streets of Tijuana, with only a hiking GPS and my instincts to direct me to which path to take.

I knew the day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. My mission yesterday was to gather information about  the families that Casa de Amor sponsors. Like my past visits to TJ, I expected to go with a chaperone/driver. But my ride to Tijuana had meetings all day, so I decided it was time to go on my own. After all how hard could’ve been right? I mean, I know how to drive (in a straight line); I had a GPS (the old hiking kind); and I could ask for directions without a language barrier (following those directions a little bit more tricky).

It took me 45 minutes to find the first home in one of the most challenging neighborhoods in Tijuana (unfortunately I’ve been told there are worse ones). The worst part was figuring out if what laid before me was an attempt of a dirt road, or a path created by surface runoff. I’m not a very confident driver, but when I saw a truck making it through the treacherous road, I had to trust that it was intended for driving and that all I needed was to follow the way the other driver had taken.

photo (1)

 

The experience got me thinking of how life is a bigger version of those 45 minutes (I had a lot of time to think on my two hour border wait on the way back to the States).

In life, we don’t always know what’s around the corner or like an even more cliché yet fabulous metaphor: “Life is Box of Chocolates. You Never Know What You are Going to Get,” Forrest Gump’s Mom.

Life might require course corrections, backing ups and turn arounds. Some times we get ourselves in trouble for not asking for directions or because you can’t remember if you were told whether you needed to turn right or turn left at the second tree whose leaves were facing North, or did they say South, or was it the fifth tree?. (Maybe facetious, but if you’ve been given directions in Mexico you know what I’m talking about)

Sometimes we have to deal with the blind spots, broken AC, and bad radio reception… Ok, the last two are not really metaphorical and really a little bit of a complaint of yesterday’s experience. But seriously, we have to double check the blind spots in our lives otherwise we might run over someone if we are only focusing on where we are going and not where we are.

And some times you just have to go for it. Of course it helps to find those with the experience to mentor you, in order to follow their tracks so to speak to reduce uncertainty and risk. Yet nothing is guaranteed and no one is going to make it across the ravine for you.

Of course I could’ve gotten stuck in a hole and more than once I thanked God that it wasn’t raining season, that would definately could’ve make it worse.

Our journeys in life are often times delayed by difficulty designed to make us desist in our journey (I considered re-routing to the next home in my list in an easier neighborhood or to come another day). But when you got a clear mission. In my case yesterday was to get at least five interviews. The farther you go the harder it is to quit, and in some cases even if you try there is no going back.

And even if no one would’ve been home at the time, at least I would’ve known how to get there next time.