Content in Canoas

12/30/21, Stephen, Tonyia with True Path Ministry, Pastor Rey and family, many from Iglesia Getsemani, Evangelist Ramiro, his son and wife headed to Canoas for our last day of Christmas giving.

We have been to Canoas many times but there is something special about going to this ranch and enjoying the simplicity of life (well maybe not the outhouse-it can be a challenge). We, as Americans, may think these people are poor because they do not have material things but it is quite the contrary. When you see the faces of these sweet people and you see and hear them worship, you know their life is full! A common question that we sometimes hear Pastor’s ask their congregation, is “are you content”. I believe in my heart the people in Canoas are content! They have Christ in their hearts!

We unload the blessing bags that contain food and household items and other gifts we have brought for Pastor Alfredo, wife Alicia and Francisco, wife Noehemi and family. Also from a generous donor, a new chainsaw with oil was given to Francisco. This will help him and his family not only to have wood to use for cooking but also he can cut and sale wood. They are always so grateful!

These 2 families proceed to invite us to come to their homes to eat. This is not a small thing as they live primarily off the land, plus we had a very large group that came with us. We split up into 2 group: one group to the Pastor’s house and one group to Francisco’s house.

Ramiro, family and few others from our group came with Steve and I to the Pastor’s house. Alicia had prepared refried beans, rice and homemade corn tortillas. Ramiro asked Pastor Alfredo how much it cost to buy a kilo of corn tortillas. Alfredo said he did not know because they do not buy tortillas. He raises the corn, Alicia grinds it and then prepares the tortillas. Ramiro went on to tell Alfredo that 1 kilo of tortillas in Galeana cost 20-25 pesos. This is very expensive. Tortillas are a staple at every meal. It is common in Mexico for the tortilla to be used as a spoon. Steve and I get the Americano pass, they give us a spoon to use with our meal.

Alfredo then proceeded to tell Ramiro that Alicia had been up since 5 AM grinding corn and preparing tortillas. I have to tell you, there is nothing like homemade corn tortillas. What a blessing to have her do this for us!

We all finished our meals, thanked our host and hostess and walked to the church. Lulu began with prayer and sang several songs before inviting others to come share. The Galeana group sang a song then Steve and I went up. I had Lulu read Matthew 20:25-28. It was emotional for me. We have been to Canoas many times. There is something special about these people, this place and church. They are our family in Christ!

I told them, the best I could in my broken Spanish, that we do not come just to bring them material things but it’s because we love them and Jesus loves them. That we continue to pray for them and know that God is with them!

Ramiro’s son, Josue, then got up to preach on Proverbs 19:17. Having pity on the poor, or helping the poor, is like giving directly to God. Not because God will reward us but because we love God and want to serve Him. As I listened to the sermon, it reminded me of several scriptures:  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:37-40. 

And Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Josue explained: We are all spiritually poor without Christ. Serving Christ requires ACTION. It was a spirit filled sermon with an on point message.

We gave our blessings to each other in the church, which is tradition at the end of the service. The kids lined up outside to receive their gifts, knitted Frisbees, gloves, knitted hats, and candy. The ladies also received knitted hats.

Side note: one boy was looking at a small bubble wand and dish, as his friends also looked on, they weren’t sure what it was or what it was to be used for. Steve reached down and showed them by pretending to have real bubbles, in unison all the kids went “ohhhhh”. Such a sweet moment where we forget these kids do not have access to TV, phones, internet or stores like the Dollar Tree.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to Galeana. We stopped in a small village just up the road, which we have done for years. We handed out stuffed animals, knitted hats, gloves, knitted frisbees and candy. They were excited to see and thankful!

What a joyous fun filled day to end our Christmas season giving, sharing the love of Jesus !

Proverbs 19:17 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

We could not do the work of Jesus without your love, prayers and financial support. Thank you!

Until Next Year! Gracia A Dios!

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Presents in Purisima

(Guest written by Jeanette, niece of Stephen and Tonyia)

We have just returned from our last day of Christmas gift giving in Purisima, Nuevo Leon.  This was my first time to visit this tiny village.  The church there is nestled near the edge of a canyon with a river at the bottom.  Lebardo is the pastor there, and tomorrow he celebrates his 67th birthday.  He, his wife, and three of his daughters were there to greet us when we arrived. 

Since church was not scheduled to start until noon, we had some time to spare and hiked down the canyon to the river at the base.  The water, rocks, and trees were beautiful and reminded me of where I grew up in the Texas Hill Country.

Church began at noon with LuLu leading the praise songs, and the Pastor Lebardo’s daughters getting all the ladies from the village to sing a special song for us visitors.  It was wonderful.  The group from Iglesia Getsemani also sang a special song for the church.  Then the children were dismissed, and we all went outside in front of the Pastor’s house to have children’s church.  The kids enjoyed the singing, craft, and the story of Christ’s birth.  One little girl was only 3 years old and sat and listened with the attention span of a much older child. 

Evangelist Ramiro was with us once again today and preached a sermon on Isaiah 60:1. Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  A reminder that we need the light of Jesus.  It helps us to be content.  Also remember that your soul reflects your mood to others, and your glory to God.  Always remember how God has blessed you, even in your difficult times.

After all this we handed out the gift boxes to the children and the handmade sock hats.  The families were also given donated blankets.  Most of the children today were very small and they were completely amazed by the bubbles, dolls, balls, yo-yos, and everything that was in the gift boxes. 

Being a part of the giving adventure this year has been such a blessing to me and all the members of True Path Ministry.  I realized that I started coming to do this in 2017, so next year will make 5 years.  I absolutely love doing this and cannot wait to come back.  It is now time to start working on Christmas 2022 and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Thank you to everyone in the U.S.A. that made this happen and Dios de bendiga…God Bless You!

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Jesus in Refugio

(December 21, 2021)

Guest written by Jeanette, niece of Stephen and Tonyia

I have been to Refugio many times.  The drive is a very difficult two hours on a dirt road that barely clings to the side of the mountain.  There is a thousand (or more) foot drop offs most of the way.  But, I am here to let you know that this is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.  The views are breathtaking.

We arrived to a smiling Pastor Seldonia and his wife.  While we setup a tarp and got our lesson ready for children’s church, Pastor Seldonia’s wife and her mother cooked us a wonderful lunch of tacos made with homemade corn tortillas.  Most of the congregation arrived on donkeys, prompting us to notice that the “church parking lot” in this instance was very different from what were used to back in Texas.  Church began with praise songs led by LuLu and soon the children were instructed to go with Ana to the children’s service. 

We had a smaller group of kids today, but they enjoyed the singing, dancing, and the lesson of Christ’s birth.  One child in particular stood out today, and his name was Jesus.  This young man was 10 years old.  He knew the words to every Christian song we sang and several more that even the teacher Ana did not know.  He also knew the story of Christ’s birth by heart.  I talked to his mother after services were over and asked if they spent a lot of time in church or if his father was a pastor.  His mother said that neither was the case.  That they lived more than an hour away (and walked to this church when they could attend), but that her son, Jesus, just really liked reading the bible and learning the Christian songs.  We told her that he was very intelligent and that we hope that someday Jesus might consider being a pastor.  His mom was very happy about that.

The adults were treated to a sermon from Pastor Rey.  He preached on 2 Corinthians 5:17. He expressed how we are made new when we are reborn in Christ.  Also, how as Christians we are to be seen differently.  When you have the Holy Spirit, Christ changes you, transforms you, makes you different so you can impart that to others.  This change needs to begin in your home so that you can then take it to others.

Finally, the small group of children were given gift boxes just like the ones we have distributed at the other villages.  They loved the contents!  We also had enough sock hats left that those were given out today as well.  We also brought blankets, sheets, and bath towels for the congregation today.  All were a huge hit.  I want to thank everyone again for all the donations. 

Every time I am given the opportunity to be part of this ministry, I am floored by the way God moves in these tiny villages.  It is such a privilege to meet these people and especially these children.  I am reminded how all we need is Christ.  Tomorrow we head out to Purisma.  So, until tomorrow, Dios de Bendiga…God Bless You.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

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God’s Love in La Presita

(Guest written by Jeanette, niece of Stephen and Tonyia)

Monday, December 20th, 2021

Today we (Stephen, Tonyia, Jim, Donna, Pastors Rey & LuLu, and about 12 more young members of Iglesia Getsemani) drove 1.5 hours into the high desert of Nuevo Leon to the very remote village of La Presita.  When we arrived, we were surrounded by herds of goats, cows, horses, and donkeys.  As the name connotes, the village is named for the small earthen dam that creates the village water supply.  In fact, the shepherds were bringing their herds down to water just after we arrived.

This entire area has been in a state of drought until yesterday when we were blessed with a good, soaking rain that helped to settle the dust and fill the watering holes.  The church in La Presita is well built and modern by comparison to Hidiondilla’s church.  The seats in the church were out of an old theatre of some sort, but were padded and very comfortable. 

We were greeted by the young pastor there named Eli and his wife.  Eli inherited his congregation from his late father and is working on growing his church.  As we waited for the congregation to arrive, the youth from Iglesia Getsemani went into the village and went door-to-door to let everyone know we had arrived. 

Shortly after, adults and children began arriving and joining into the bouncy praise songs that Pastor LuLu was singing.  After several songs, the children were allowed to go into Pastor Eli’s house and have children’s church.  Today the teacher, Ana, started by singing songs and then asking the children the question, “What is Christmas about?”  A young girl (about 6 years old) quickly raised her hand and said, “It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ.”  Such a simple answer that didn’t include gifts or Santa Claus! Ana then proceeded to tell them the story of the birth of Christ and have them memorize Luke 2:11.

While the children were in their church service, the adults were listening to Evangelist Ramiro talk about Isaiah 52:7, 10, and Isaiah 59:16.  Reminding us to seek God first and to lay up your treasures in heaven for your reward is great.  The work you do for the Lord here on earth adds to your reward in heaven.  Don’t just think for the moment, think about eternity.

Once church services were complete, we handed out gift boxes to the children.  They were overjoyed with the contents!  Simple things like bubbles and jump ropes are so very special to them.

Donna and Jim gave out additional gifts they brought from their bible study.  These were hand-made sock hats.  Everyone, including the tiny babies got a hat!  We also handed out donated blankets. All the adults and children made certain that they thanked us for all the gifts.  They were truly grateful.

Before departure, Pastor Eli and his family fed us wonderful chicken tacos.  Then we started the slow drive home over the very rough dirt road.  God granted us another wonderful day here!

Tomorrow we will journey many hours into the mountains to Refugio (one of my favorite places to visit here).  Thank you all again for all your donations to this ministry.  Until tomorrow, Dios de Bendiga…God Bless You.

How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of him who brings good news,
who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things,who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 (NKJV)

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Christmas Blessings at Iglesia Getsemani

Iglesia Getsemani and True Path Ministry are close partners in service to the Lord in Mexico. We plan to team up to deliver hundreds of gift to remote villages in the coming days. But, today (December 19th) it was the children of the church who received gifts in honor of the birth of Jesus. After uplifting music and a Bible-based sermon by visiting preacher Noel, the kids were called to the front. Texas visitors Jim, Donna and Jeanette handed each child a special gift. Smiles and laughter filled the sanctuary as they peaked inside their bags. It was a wonderful day as we shared the love of Christ with his children.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 118:1 (ESV)

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