Monday, June 04, 2007

Amor Ministries

I am about to head out on a week’s mission with the high school youth group from my church. It’s my fourth trip to Tijuana to build houses under the auspices of Amor Ministries and I am the mission organizer this year, with 49 youth and 11 adults going to build three houses in four day’s time. I look forward to a great week.

For any of you looking for a complete disconnect from your everyday life, whether as a church group, family or group of friends, and want to see an incredibly vibrant community living under what we might consider harsh conditions while doing some good there, I strongly recommend Amor Ministries.

I try to keep away from politics when dealing with the youth and am fairly successful in doing so. Frankly, showing, speaking and teaching the love of Jesus via Lutheran theology is the more important mission with the youth. While I certainly follow the theology of the reformed church I am a bit more progressive in my personal theology and I do make the distinction of teaching along the church lines rather than my own. As regards both further theological thinking and politics and youth - there is plenty of time to discuss deeper issues when they come back as college kids.

With the adults, and we are a mixed batch politically, I’ve found that it is best to speak of common ground in faith if we are separated strongly along political lines. At least one relationship has suffered because of our political differences and I regret that. A couple of others have flourished around the conversation that combines faith and politics with a variety of opinions in place, and I treasure them. For some, we just go and do what we do, sharing the joy in the moment, and haven’t talked much about faith and less about politics. We do have almost 50 high schoolers around us and they take tending!

A typical day with Amor in Tijuana is based at their private supplied campground outside of town. We wake up to prayers and breakfast, a morning devotional and are then off to the work sites which might be 45 minutes away in vans. Six or seven hours of hard work by the group with an Amor site leader gets it done, then back to camp and a solar shower, free time and games. Dinner and small group prayer are followed by campfire worship and then off to bed and a tomorrow much the same. I won’t speak much more that that here, but it is a blessed week, and highly recommended for all.

The people that I have met in Tijuana are wonderful in all regards. Always polite and friendly with a perhaps shy smile, always a “Buenos dias” and a “Vaya con Dios” to share. Always a clean shirt, combed hair, and a good attitude for the day ahead, even when coming out of a one room dirt floor home. They may be poor of money, but not of Spirit. They can be seen as a fine example of living life within the limits of the society they are in, making the most of family, friends and faith.

I was told that about 3000 people were working on houses with Amor over spring break. That equates to about 150 new homes. Summer will ramp up to about 2000 in camp per week. They come from as far away as Australia and Europe, and all across America. The Amor folk are geographically diverse too, and always a great pleasure to meet, full of faith and living a life they love. If you can, join them for a week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind words and I pray that your travels to San Diego are safe.

Alon Banks
Director of Development
Amor Ministries

6/05/2007 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope your trip goes well!

Katie G.
Marketing Guru - Amor

6/12/2007 3:23 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

And what a week it was! All went according to plan, but the plan may have been His rather than ours.

Parts of Tijuana are hilly, and the three sites we had were in very hilly areas. It could have been more difficult - a site next to ours, with a veteran adult work group, was at least twice as high up from the road as ours. Steps are randomly cut into dirt, and old tires support the hillside. It is awkward climbing, especially when it's six or eight of you trying to carry a wall up.

But NOBODY complained. Perseverance ruled the days, which were longer than expected, and dinner at dark became the norm. If pride is a sin call me guilty - I am proud of the youth and adult leaders I got to spend a week with. They got the job done, still sang joyfully at night, and kept their spirits high throughout the work day.

We gave the youth more authority in building, and I highly recommend that as a way to build their leadership and planning skills.

And the Amor staff, none of whom are the folks who left the appreciated comments above, were fabulous. When one site gets behind, they jump in and help out effectively. When there's a calm moment, they speak from the heart of matters big and small, and their smiles are infectious.

My thanks to Amor, and to God, for another great week with the extended church in Mexico.

6/17/2007 9:50 AM  

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