Oaxaca - Day 3

Well, I’ve learned more about Chickens than I’d ever thought I know! Thanks to Kerry Johnson, our Communityfor missionary to Oaxaca! I meant to do a video blog while there to talk about it, but we were so busy I never got around to doing it.

Kerry & Mauri work with indigenous people in Oaxaca up in the mountains. There, a lot of people have no means for income and typically no running water or electricity…or so they think! Until they get a visit from Kerry Johnson!

Kerry & Mauri do several types of projects with the people. The projects aren’t the priority, the relationship is…but the project provides the avenue to build the relationship. Some of his projects include building greenhouses, providing light by using and installing solar panels, water projects (you can read about one in my earlier blog) and animal husbandry projects. I want to share about our 3rd day in Oaxaca and our animal husbandry project. Animal husbandry is the science of breeding, feeding, and tending to domestic animals, esp. farm animals. Our project was chickens!! (I was a little excited)

I have to start this by telling you that about a week or so before we left to come to Oaxaca, Kerry emailed to tell us he had a shipment coming by FedEx to Aaron’s house (one of our associate pastors). He asked for us to pick up and bring them with us to Oaxaca. He never said what it was, but mentioned that it would be life changing for the people up in the villages. I told Aaron that I’d come by to pick them up on the day we left. Little did I know it would be egg incubators and electronic egg turners…ha! I’m sure it was a funny site going through the scanners at the airport and through customs.

So on Day 3 they picked us up to head up the mountain for our project, but first we had to stop at the egg place to get some eggs. The guys went in and came out with like 40 something eggs for us to take up the mountain. Now, let me explain the road up this mountain. It’s very winding and about a 2 hour drive…and a very BUMPY drive at that! So we had to hold the eggs up in the air to keep them from getting broken, several different ones of us took turns being the mother “hen,” so to speak.

there was some discussion on who held the chicken eggs the longest!

Once we got to the village, we were greeted by the sweet, sweet people. We took the egg incubator, the eggs and a solar panel up the hill. While there, Kerry installed a solar panel and wired them a light bulb into their house and it also powered the egg incubator and the egg turners.

installing the solar panel on the roof

these children were watching them so intently!

Here’s where chicken education comes in. Now I might not have all this completely correct because it had to go through translation to get to me (and it’s been a few weeks) but here’s some information you might find handy if you ever want to raise your own chickens.

1. When loading the eggs into the egg turners you put the small portion of the egg in first and the larger rounded portion of the egg up. BECAUSE (this is cool) it’s better to have the bigger portion up because there is an air pocket in the top of the egg where the chicken breathes and as the egg turns, the bigger side of the egg gives the chicken more breathing room. (Isn’t that crazy! Who knew!)
2. Chicken egg shells are porous so air comes into and out of the egg so the chicken can breathe in the air pocket.
3. Chicken eggs have to be turned manually every 4-5 hours. Or you can use electronic egg turners (which we brought with us to put in the incubators).
4. Chickens hatch in about 21 days and with incubators and electronic turners, they typically yield about an 80% survival rate.
5. To know if an egg has fertilized, you will start to see lines sort of like veins in the egg shell.

here they are right side up in the incubator!
There’s probably more, but I forget. What’s cool is that in about 21 days these people will have close to 30 something chickens. They can use them to eat, to reproduce more eggs and more chickens, sell them for income, share with their village friends to continue building relationships, and much more! Kerry & Mauri are big on sharing. They will remove a project if a person is not sharing it. They tell them to give away to people who are really struggling.

This particular village was having some hard times with a neighboring village…for some reason there was some animosity between them in the past. So when Kerry began talking with the village about sharing, a lady brought this other village up and Kerry explained to them that they should take the first step in repairing that relationship by giving them some chickens from this bunch when they hatch. Kerry also shared this heart wrenching personal story with them about helping your fellow man. I will not share it here, because I know it’s very personal to Kerry; but I can say that it had a profound impact on the people of this village as he shared from his heart. I saw grown men crying and all the people in the room appear to be very touched by what he was sharing.

While the project installation was going on, the women of the village cooked us a big meal. It was an honor to allow them to serve us that way. I know it was a huge sacrifice to feed us and a very special time for us to share in a meal with them.

This village of people had a very sweet spirit about them. It was a lot of fun to interact with the children and the ladies of the village.

In particular it was really nice for me to see the men of the village show a lot of affection (hugs) to their children. I’ve traveled a lot all over the world and this was a rare site for me and it touched me to see it so prevalent in this village.

There was also a little baby in the village that had Down syndrome. We were told that she wouldn’t make it too much longer, but she was just precious and it was touching to see the entire village just love on this little one and how much “light” she brought to everyone as the loved her. When we asked her name, they told us that they all just called her Sweetheart.

On the way down the mountain we stopped by a village where Kerry had worked previously in building a greenhouse. This particular greenhouse housed tomatoes. The lady said they get tomatoes off these vines 8 months out of the year. I am sure this project is life changing in how it provides income for the entire village.

I am so thankful for people like Kerry & Mauri Johnson who not only give their lives loving on people who live differently from them, but also for the creativity and knowledge that God has given them to serve people. Say a prayer today for them, and it’s my hope that every time you have an egg or a tomato, that you’d be reminded of them and that you would say a prayer for them personally and for their work.


Oaxaca - Day 2

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to this. I like to process through things and have plenty of time to put it all together…so now, hopefully I’m back on track. If you missed Day 1, please check out the blog below or by clicking here.

On our second day in Oaxaca, we went to church where our missionaries Kerry & Mauri attend. Their pastor, Marceleno, travels with them to do the work in the villages. I want to spend this post talking about him.

sorry his eyes are closed

I am so impressed with Marceleno (I hope I’m spelling his name right). By the time Sunday services had come, we had already spent a full day with him working in a village. I had not had much time to interact with him because he spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish and we were working in a village the entire day.

The morning of the first day, Kerry and Mauri told us that before they picked us up for our day up the mountain that he’d been up for several hours helping a member of his own community with an issue. I didn’t think much about it then…but while sitting in church the next day, during his message (because I couldn’t understand), it gave me time to really think about him. By nature, I am an observer/processor. I can watch people for awhile, how they interact with others, and feel like I know them as well as if I’d spent hours in conversation with them. So on this Sunday, I was thinking about Marceleno, and God showed me a lot about his leadership as a pastor, but more so about his character and heart.

Not only is he pastoring a church, but he’s up in the wee hours of the morning on a weekday helping a member of his own community, AND he’s also spending the majority of his time up in villages with people who could NEVER, EVER attend his church. He is passionate about it! This told me a lot about him. It told me that it’s not about getting numbers into his own church (those village people would never be able to attend his church) but it’s totally about building relationship with people to either have the opportunity to share Christ with them, or to just follow God’s command to help the poor.

This man spends his life serving the community around him, but more of it with people who would never be a “number” in his church. That’s proof to me that his heart is pure and his priorities are straight about what is important to God. It’s not about how many people we can get into our own church, but how many people we can get into God’s kingdom. And it’s about doing what God asks us to do as Christ followers: “…whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31

There’s this phrase David Shook uses (our Communityfor Director) ….Kingdom Business, we call it kb for short. I like that phrase! Thank you for letting me share a minute about just one of many people who are changing the world doing God’s kingdom business. Pray for him today!


Church is Fun!

Ok, I promise I am planning to put up more posts about my trip to Oaxaca soon, but while you wait I thought I'd share some fun stuff with you. This weekend we just finished up a marriage series at COF. We ended it with a mass renewal of vows ceremony where couples could renew their vows if they wanted. It was alot of fun! After each service we had wedding cake (some birthday cake...hehe...Teri!!) and punch in the lobby.

Anyway, Donald came up with the idea that we should have tuxedo shirts made for the band/worship leaders and production team...hahaha! We looked soooo silly! But it was fun!!


After services on Sunday our staff team had lunch at Donald's house with our band. We had a great time. If you want to see a little of what we did...check it out on Donald's blog by clicking here. Yes we can be a silly bunch, but I truly love these guys!!


Oaxaca - Day 1

We are having a wonderful time in Oaxaca! On Saturday, we took off up the mountain for a 2 hour drive to go visit a village. We came to the house of a lady where we were going to give her water. Kerry (our missionary) was putting together 2 tanks and a submersible pump to pump the water from the river down below up the hill to a tank near her house. In return for this service, this lady was to share it with her whole village.

Most of the work was pretty heavy duty, so Kaye and I, and Mauri (our missionary) got to hang out with the mom and her daughter Maria. Maria was about 8 years old and very smart. I love the fact that you can go to a country and not know the language and still be able to communicate. Sure, there were times that I wished I could speak with her. But it was so fun to be able to communicate with her all day non-verbally.

Maria doesn't go to school. There were no 'neighborhood kids' around. She spends the day by herself all day with her mom doing chores. I felt for her as I thought about the fact that she doesn't really have anyone else to play with. I know she doesn't know any different, but it's difficult to see a child and not see them playing with others. Her life certainly is very different from the world we know.

Maria loves flowers. We spent the day with her going up and down a big hill collecting bouquets of flowers. She was precious as she explained to us in Spanish what each flower was.

After a while, we came back up to the house and Maria asked me to write in English on a pad of paper and she would copy me. I wrote all types of things on her paper. She wrote the alphabet in English twice and then I began to write sentences and let her copy them. I wondered if some day she'd be able to speak English, so just in case, I wrote her sentences like, "Maria you are very special." "Maria, God loves you," etc. I think it would be pretty cool if in a few years she could remember the white girl who visited her and be able to read those messages from me in English. My prayer is that someday she would be able to attend school. They say she cannot attend because of her vision, but it's probably about school fee's and uniforms.

At the end of the day we loaded the truck and stood in a circle and Kerry asked how we could pray for them. I couldn't understand very much because it was all in Spanish, but at times Mauri would translate for me. Their only means of survival is the corn they grow on the mountain, and this year has been tough for them because the soil isn't fertile and they had too much rain this year, so they had no crop. They are having a pretty bad year. They also asked us to pray for their other two children who are struggling with different things in their family.

I sat there as I watched our missionary, Kerry; share from deep within his heart. I was touched as he had tears streaming down his cheeks as he explained how big God was and how God cares for them. I watched as the older brother in the family tried to hide his tears as Kerry talked. It was very touching. Kerry and Mauri are doing a wonderful job here with the people of Oaxaca, and their love for them is very evident in everything they do. We are lucky to have them on board with us at Community of Faith. And I am lucky to be here to witness their wonderful work.

Right now I am waiting on them to come pick us up to take us to church, so I'm excited. More later!