Thursday, June 26, 2008

Venezuela Ventures


Recently I traveled to Venezuela to give a seminar on Children's CHE. After arriving in Caracas, I traveled to Maracay and then inland
to San Fernando de Apure with José Luis and Tania Villega, who lead the CHE ministries in Venezuela. Venezuela is well known for its gracious hospitality. We worked in rustic conditions, but they treated me like a queen! (Except, perhaps, for the sopa de mondongo, which was made from tripe, the stomach of a cow.)

Emanuel Church already has a strong children's ministry. They are currently working with cell groups of children in about 35 or more communities. But they want to become more involved in the communities, working with the children but also reaching out to their families and their neighbors. Children's CHE, like traditional community health evangelism with adults, is an integral ministry, with a mixture of health training and Bible teaching, as well as training in practical skills.

With children (and during our Children's CHE seminar), most of the training is done through games and stories. So we enjoyed the seminar. (Did you know that a paper airplane contest is a good way to teach about planning?)

The "final exam" came on Monday, when the children lead a church service, complete with music, a praise time, and even a 5 year old preacher! But this one was different. We did Bible storying, with the children acting out the drama of David and Goliath. And then they divided into small groups. Each group of children used a soda bottle to demonstrate a health skill--giving ORS to a "diarrhea doll", using sunlight to purify water with SODIS, and a dramatic demonstration of the
danger of smoking.

Thank God for the enthusiasm of both the children and the participants in the Children's CHE seminar! Pray that they will carry through, working with the children to explore their communities, learn practical skills leading to better health, and carry out projects that will improve their communities. Even more, pray that the children will become faithful followers of Christ, and that their faith (and their health skills) will spread to their families and neighbors.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ampliación Paraíso

Janet Hernandez and her family recently moved to Ampliación Paraíso, a new community high in the hills above Zihuatanejo. Just getting there is a challenge--it is a steep hike up from the highway. The families recently built their wooden homes and they have electricity but no running water. (Some pump water up through a hose from a stream far below.) The families are working together to improve their water supply and to make other community improvements.

Janet meets with a group of about 20 children every Saturday afternoon. They meet behind her house and act out and discuss Bible stories. They are also learning a series of health lessons, starting with how to care for your teeth. Mostly, they thrive on the attention.

Janet has also had a Bible study with adults from this community. We are thinking of starting a community health evangelism ministry here.

A group of children from Spa Christian School in Ballston Spa, New York, collected money to buy books for the children of Zihuatanejo. They sent a collection of books in English and Spanish to us. Many of the Zihua children have never owned a book, so they are eager to read them. Many they take one home each week, and trade it in for a new one the following week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Off to Oaxaca

This is all new to me, so let's start with the basics. According to Wikipedia, "A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video."


Janet Hernandez, Mandy Riley and I recently traveled to Oaxaca. We traveled by overnight bus to Mexico City, took a taxi across the city, and then took another long but beautiful bus ride to the city of Oaxaca.

We held a training seminar, or TOT I (Training of Trainers I) with a group of people from the mountains of Oaxaca, the valley area near the city of Oaxaca, Puebla, the state of Mexico, and Zihuatanejo. The seminar was to give them training for Community Health Evangelism (or CHE) ministries, as they work to see their communities transformed by Christ.

One of their challenges was to draw their community as it is now and their vision for the community changes they would like to see take place within 5 years.

We also visited the valley community of Lomas de San Juan, where they are doing CHE ministries with both children and adults.

Before leaving Oaxaca, we stopped to see one of the biggest (and oldest) trees in the world. El arbol de Tule has a circumference of 178 feet and weighs more than 500 tons. It is thought to be 2000 years old.

Jody's Journeys