Mexico, May 2014, Soccer

Most mornings in Mexico we visited drug and alcohol rehab centers. In the afternoons we visited parks.

 
You couldn’t do it in America, but in Mexico we went around to announce a soccer tournament, and each evening a crowd turned up.
We went to several different fields of grass, concrete, and dust, sometimes chalking lines for boundaries and sometimes dragging a stick.
 
While the men headed up the soccer games, the ladies played with the children and shared Bible stories. We drew on their faces, turned cartwheels, played hillbilly golf, and washers.
Several of the women, me included, were much impressed and moved by the great need that the children showed for love and affection. They flocked to us and hung on us, sometimes hanging on to our t-shirts as we walked. Wherever we went, they came like magnets.
 
Even though we couldn’t communicate very well, we had fun. Several of the women shared Bible stories with the kids and I gave my testimony to a group of wide-eyed children. I had a captive audience as they heard how I had been rebellious to my parents and hateful toward God. But now they could obvious see that I am happy because I have given up sin, and I gave the gospel as clearly as I could. I also noticed while I talked through the translator that a man was standing nearby and listening carefully. May God bless him!
 
During one soccer tournament a group of young men were dancing to the Virgin Mary. It was heartbreaking to see. Not only is it hard to see worship to a false god when our God is so worthy of all the praise, but I saw young men who depended on this dancing for their salvation. They were very coordinated and disciplined. They danced hard and intensely. And they danced for quite some time.
Interestingly enough, we visited a rehab center later that week where they danced before The Lord. They played music and jumped and clapped for joy. Immediately I compared it to the dancing in the park. In the park they had each moved in time, the steps perfectly memorized, but at this rehab center the dancing was more spontaneous than anything. And what stood out to me most was the joy of the men at the rehab center. Tremendous joy and thanksgiving, not working to get God’s favor, but rejoicing to have it. And most importantly, this dancing was in honor of the One True God.
I know we don’t dance as a regular part of our worship service in America — but maybe we should!
Back to the soccer games, at each soccer tournament the men took time to gather the young men around and challenge them with the gospel. There was no strategy to make an emotional experience. There was no aim to record great numbers. It was the straightforward simple gospel, and then we challenged the men to commit their lives to Christ.
The last soccer tournament we held, Wednesday night, the bleachers were filled with young men spoking pot. No attempt to hide it, no nervousness or shyness, just out there in the open together. During the break, Russ humbly and seriously addressed them about it, and though some were high and laughing, others listened seriously. Please pray for those young men, that these words will have a lasting impression on them. At the tournaments we gave out tracks and booklets and Bibles, and the children eagerly received them and promised to read them.
So for all of the soccer players, spectators, children, parents, and teeter-totter partners, please pray for their salvation. Pray that God may change the hearts of the people to Him and that the work that we have done will not be in vain. Please pray that the words we have said will not fade into the darkness but be a light to destroy it.
Ellie

 All photos taken by Billy and Sarah Jackson

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Mexico, May 30th 2014

The trip has flown by, but lasting impressions have been made.

Monday morning the team visited our first rehab center. Pastor Candido has been faithfully active in ministering to these men and teaching them to play instruments and several of them performed for us. How incredible! That men who once were addicted to drugs are now singing God’s praise!

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We had a time of testimony and several of the men there shared their stories of how they had been at the bottom of the bottom and God had rescued them.

As they shared and as we sang together, it was rather amazing how our hearts and spirits connected in beautiful oneness. Truly we have brothers and sisters we never knew about! God works in mysterious ways, and often, we will never hear of all He has done.

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As Stephanie Weber shared, in the song Santo, Santo, Santo or in English Holy, Holy, Holy we sing about being around the throne. Singing that with the Mexicans is a special blessing. It’s a small taste of heaven, where every tribe and tongue and nation will gather around to praise our God.

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At each rehab center we visited we left a bookshelf and a few books. As we are able to visit again in the future, we will add to the library a few books at a time.

Thursday we were able to visit the first rehab center again. We gathered in a large circle to sing hymns together, and again we had a time of testimony.

Then we played games together. Indeed, this if family!!!! The games were great fun, and if I may say here, I won the Ultimate Trashcan game.

What I would really like to impress on you, is that you have brothers and sisters in Christ in Mexico. We heard stories about destroyed marriages, destroyed families, living in abandoned houses, young teenagers on drugs, and lives ruined by addiction. Rehab center after rehab center, relapse after relapse, until God saves them and changes their lives. Through Christ we are overcomers. While the world says, “once an addict, always an addict” the Bible says, “the truth will set you free.” Many of these men want to be pastors and help \ QQple who are in the same situation they were in. And most of the directors of the rehab centers were once addicts themselves.

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Please remember your family in Mexico and in other parts of the world.

America is so small and contained as far as we see it, but God is so big and beyond all that we imagine. And He is working in Mexico, among the men who had no hope before Jesus. Pray for these men, pray for their growth, and pray for the lost.

Ellie

Mexico, May 26th 2014

If I left Mexico right now I would already be full of God’s goodness and have so much to tell.

Our journey down was truly blessed. Though the forecast showed  storms on both sides of our route, our path was all clear blue skies.

Friday morning we stopped by an indigenous coffee shop and when we talked with the owners we discovered that they were Christians! We prayed with them and they gave us a few Spanish/English Bibles to take with us. We were both very blessed, and these are just a couple of the blessing from the road trip. The fellowship and singing were very great and encouraging.

Linda and Carl who own a used book store and coffee shop

Friday afternoon we arrived at the church and had a family reunion. The hardest part of documenting this trip is trying to describe the atmosphere. Unless you have been here, it’s hard to understand that this is home away from home. People whom I can barely communicate with are truly my family in Christ. Even though I can’t understand Spanish, we greeted each other with hugs and kisses and large smiles, which are universally understood. We love each other because Christ loves us.

Ismael and Mark

After we arrived and unpacked, some folks went shopping and the rest walked through town and invited people to the Medical Clinic, which we ran Saturday.

My favorite memory of Friday was as I was walking, preparing my sparse Spanish for my next encounter, I saw a face light up. A couple moments later and my little amiga was hugging me around the waist. I was so pleased that she remembered me! Not only remembered me, but remembered me enough to run up and give me a hug. It made my day!

Berta and Angie, two of my good friends

Saturday we got up early and after a great time of devotion we set up the Medical Clinic.

We must have been good at inviting people, though I wouldn’t have guessed it while handing out the flyers.

While people waited in line to see “Dr. Stephanie,” I invited the kids to get their face painted and color fuzzy posters. We also played with water balloons, and just water in general. All morning I ran back and forth. (It was hard not to, I have having so much fun.) Draw on this kid, hug this one, ask for this name, throw a balloon at this one, play hide and seek with this one, play volleyball with this one, and from several I learned the words for “up” “down” “here” “there” and of course my colors. It was a good day!

Somehow these kids got me to kneel so they could take turns popping water balloons over my head. Then they wanted me to lie down and literally pinned me there. I had to wrestle my way out and then run around the field to get away.

After lunch, where I learned the Spanish word for “potato” “meat” and “rice” we went to the green area to play soccer. A crowd of young men were already gathered around and warming up for the big tournament. Not only are these guys super athletic and fast, they would sacrifice their neck to get the ball. So with some fast moving Mexicans and some Gringos thrown in, we had a good time. I didn’t sit and watch the whole time, I played a miniature game with the younger kids and a couple older ones who joined in.

He plays some good soccer, and John also helps us teach young people

The Gringo Ninja Goalie, “Shaggy”

Russo

Mark, the other Ninja goalie

We also gathered the kids around in a circle and Sarah told the story of the Prodigal Son and Ismael translated.

Before the very last game of the tournament, we fathered the young people around and gave them the gospel and prayed over them. Then after the last game, we awarded prizes to the winning teams.

I am constantly convicted by the people I am working with. They serve without complaining and volunteer without being asked. They take the initiative to say hello, and they love without condition.

Like I said at the beginning, I have been so blessed through it all, and I can’t wait for more. I think my eyes glow when I think about the rest of the week.

And if I keep learning Spanish this quickly, I’ll be Mexican in no time!

Signing off from Tamalipas Mexico,
Ellie

 

Departing for Mexico

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I leave for Mexico at 5:30am today. I’m terribly excited. My suitcase, travel bag, and tupperware bowl are stuffed with clothes, gifts, books, and snacks. I probably ought to be a little more nervous than I am, but I can’t help just smiling and smiling. I feel almost unkind for smiling so, but I can’t help it, so just forgive me.

Our team has acquired two more team members. First, Mrs. Weber, my sister-in-law’s mother. With her help, we will be running a medical clinic one day and helping as many as we can. And the second new member is our wittle-itty-bitty Jackson. Yes, if you didn’t know by now, I’m going to be an aunt. That’s another reason for great excitement.

While we are gone, I’m not sure of the internet access I will have, so though I will be writing in the mornings as consistently as I can, I don’t know how often I will be able to post here, and on the Psalm 67 blog. But keep in touch with the Facebook page, because it is the most likely to be updated throughout the trip.

 

An elder of my church said something interesting the other week. He said that when he is tempted to sin, he has assigned himself with a person to pray for, in no way connected to the sin. When tempted to anger he prays for one person, when tempted to discontentment he prays for another and so on. It is a way to resist the devil. If every time he tempts you, you begin praying, well, maybe that is part of making the devil flee. And it really is a good practice, because if we could assign a different person to every single sin, then I for one would be praying constantly, which is Biblical.

So could I pray for you, and will you pray for me? At the top of the screen, there is a page called “Prayer Requests” with a form where you can give me your prayer requests. Or, even better, comment so that others can pray as well.

 

 

With love,
Ellie

Update on Life, April Edition

April hasn’t been a terribly busy month in the way of events, but it has been in the way of spiritual battles.

April was Camp Nanowrimo month, but sadly, I didn’t compete for more than a few days before I felt it best to quit Nanowrimo this time. And honestly, I feel like I’ve conquered an idol. When November comes, I’ll do it with spirit and gusto, but not with all my heart, nor all my time. 🙂

God has been dealing with me in the way of pet sins, small ones that we think don’t matter but have lasted a long time. Things like attitude adjustment and habit breaking. Sometimes breaking away from those sins can be very painful. I hold on to them and grow more and more depressed, knowing that I will only grow more so, but still stomping my foot like a two-year-old, unwilling to admit that I’m wrong. I still don’t understand how I can be so lenient about some things, and so stubborn about my own comfort. It is painful, but at the end of each struggle is grace and peace.

A funny thing happened after I wrote those two blog posts, Our Fallen World and In the World but Not of the World. I wrote those in perfect conscience, but afterward realized that I wasn’t applying a lot of the truths I had just written about. God has been placing messages in my life to show me where I am holding on the world and where I need to let go.

I’ve been reminded of God’s goodness through some passages of scripture. Psalm 103, being one. Also Psalm 73, Job 42:1-6, Daniel 2:17-23, and Acts 2. (I also heard and have been meditating on this sermon by one of our pastors.)

I recently fell upon an old hymn that not many know, but you’ve got to love.

Matthew Smith has rewritten the melody, which I like more than the original. Go memorize the song. It’s short, simple, and so true!

I’ve also noticed that my blog seems to have become a big love proponent. Every post seems to have the same central message, “Love.” I want some diversity as much as any of you, but I’ve had a recent insight on love that I want to share. It’s good! And it’s short.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is self.

I have had that in mind recently. If only we could love each other perfectly! If we could put aside our own interests to love each other with pure and unhindered love, then our joy in Christ could be full, and we could truly change this world. As for me, I am very self-centered instead of being God centered. I enjoy my own comfort and pleasure too much, but with God’s grace I hope I am getting better.

So that’s inward life right now, and God is always faithful.

The Mexico Mission Trip is coming together!
Last time Psalm 67 had a team there, they visited several Christian Rehab centers. They heard amazing testimonies from the people down there, ex-cartel members and lifelong drug addicts who had come to these centers and heard the gospel. Now they want to be pastors! However they have little resources for studying the Bible, and when our team leader suggested the idea of building a theological library for them, they had an enthusiastic response, even including tears. Several rehab centers asked if we could help put together libraries for them. So that’s what we will be doing on this trip! As far as our funds let us, we will be building shelves with the people there, and giving them books to help them study the Bible. Right now we are raising funds. If you feel led to give, you can visit the blog and donate. Or you can mail:

Psalm 67 Missions Network
3671 Telegraph Rd
Arnold, MO 63010

I’m very excited about the team I’ll be going with. Please pray for them by name:
Sarah and Billy Jackson
Gennie Jackson
Myself
Aaron Sutton
Russ Sanders
Mark Akins
Savannah Weber
Barbara Fudge
John Parker

I’m excited about the church we’ll be partnering with and the ministry we’ll be doing! It’s hard to believe the trip is less than a month away.

As far as reading goes, I have quite a few that I’ve been picking up every day to read.

  • Pentecost Today, a Biblical understanding of revival
  • The Universe Nextdoor, a basic worldview catalog
  • Writing Great Books for Young Adults, not a book for young adults, a book for writing books for young adults. I’ve read it before. Nothing special, I just had an inkling to review it.
  • The Thief, I’ve read it for the fourth or fifth time, and now I’m trying to find out how Megan Whalen Turner writes books so well. I have learned some things, but I also learned that she’s married to a professor. No way! No wonder….
  • The Dangerous Duty of Delight, a wonderful little book, derived from the book “Desiring God,” by John Piper
  • The Brotherband Chronicles, book 2, which is just pleasure reading. I finished all of the Ranger’s Apprentice and moved on the the Brotherband series, which I like more.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s been lovely. Read it if you haven’t.

I’ve umpired my first game of the season! And compared to the other two games that went on that evening, mine was a piece of cake. I think this season will be much better than last. ;D (Btw, I did end up writing a poem for my test, but it wasn’t nearly as cool because it had real references and made sense.)

And that’s just about my month summed up. I’m sure I’ve left out something, but this post is already too long.

So on to May!

May looks like a lot of fun! 😉 Just you wait.
Ellie

 

Edit: I know what I forgot to mention! Grace Camp Meeting at the beginning of the month! I might make a separate post to show a few pictures and share some notes. But if you want to listen to the sermons, go here. They’re all good!

An Exciting Adventure In Sight

My upcoming clap-my-hands event is—get ready—MEXICO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mexico-flag-2I’ve applied and was accepted for another trip to Tamalipas Mexico, to the same church I went before—and can you believe it, I’m even more excited this time! (Which says a lot!)

During my first dive into Mexico, I was able to see the depths of potential, but I didn’t reach them. Specifically in two areas:

First, I didn’t volunteer myself like I might have, had I been in my comfort zone. I wasn’t looking for opportunities to step into the awkward to do some good. And I saw opportunities slip by me and I didn’t seize them. I know a second mission trip isn’t going to break me of my comfort-zone-barrier, but I’m going to put forward a better effort.

Second, I came home with the enormous task of “I must write absolutely everything front to back, and right now!” I failed, obviously. Few articles were written about the amazing experience I had and the inspiring people I met. I credit that mainly to the weight I gave myself. The enormity scared me out of it and it never got done for fear of having it done wrong. Later I did write some of it out in my journal so that I would always have it, but it never got out to the church that prayed and supported me through the mission trip. Again, it won’t be perfect this time, but I’m making it a particular goal to write these things out, and to begin while I’m there. During the last mission trip that Psalm 67 Missions Network made I heard many, “It was incredible.”s and “I’ve never seen anything like it.”s, but I didn’t hear a lot about what “it” was. I want to write that for you. I only have my skills, but I’ll stretch me as tight as I know how to document this trip.

Once more, I plead for your prayers. Exiting my comfort zone is not my strength, neither is discipline or patience. But my strength is loving people, and I want to put that into full use on this mission trip, even when loving looks and feels silly.

The trip is between May 22nd and June 1st, and until then I will be raising support, both prayer support, and financial support. I will also be working in improve my Spanish, as hopeless as that seems.

Like I said, I’m incredibly excited. We expect the Lord to do amazing things through this trip.

If you feel led to support me financially, you actually can online now, by going to my profile: https://psalm67.managedmissions.com/mytrip/elliejackson4 But I want your prayers even more than that. Prayers that God will give me a godly attitude and skillful hands.

 

In Christ,
Ellie