I am writing this blog post from the lobby of a hotel in Chihuahua City. The Lord has led my cousin, Nieves, and I on yet another unexpected journey. It feels like, over the past two weeks, that the Lord has completely turned my world upside down...for the GOOD. It’s as if I am experiencing what true Christianity really means. God is showing me, through daily life, trials and hardships, and other people here in Mexico, what His word and His heart’s desire is all about. At the same time, it was no coincidence that two people this week, my dad and lovely wife, both encouraged me, to blog and share some of these stories with you all. Maybe that’s why the Lord has me, us, in this “waiting” period. Seems like I’ve been so focused on the orphanage stuff that I have been missing out on other things that the Lord has been wanting to speak to me and teach me. There is a brother, from the church, named Pancho who has been battling throat cancer for the past 3 years. It has been a long, grueling and expensive battle. I still can’t wrap my brain around how things work here in Mexico. I guess having lived in the states all my life, you take for granted the unbelievable blessings and opportunities we have. It is hard to believe what you have to go through and do...to try to get care and hopefully save your life.
Pancho has been waiting 3 months to have surgery, in an attempt to remove cancer from his throat, tongue and any other infected area. He has made dozens of the 2 hour trips, from Bachiniva to Chihuahua City, to receive care and preparation for his surgery. Can you imagine trying to scrap, save or borrow, enough money to catch a bus to hopefully make it on time to your appointment? Or how about standing on the side of the road, hoping to catch a ride with someone, because you missed your bus or couldn’t afford it this time?
When Nieves told me, Sunday night, that Pancho’s surgery had been scheduled for Tuesday morning...I knew we needed to go. I couldn’t let him and his family take another bus ride to try to get there. Nieves and I picked up Pancho and his wife early Monday morning. We also picked up another 6 people, who were in need of getting to Chihuahua. They had heard Pancho was getting a ride and asked if it were possible to get one as well. They were in need to get to the hospital to see their nephew who had been in a horrific explosion accident, leaving most of his body with 2nd degree burns. One thing I’ve learned, is that when you are making a trip to another town, be open to taking whomever is in need...because that’s just what you do. That’s why when your driving down the road, you see cars, trucks, horses, etc...loaded with people, giving them a lift somewhere.
I noticed a woman, who was weeping and hugging Pancho. It was his mother...saying goodbye to her son...not sure what the outcome would be. As Pancho climbed into the van, he told me he couldn’t tell his mom what he was about to endure. She wouldn’t be able to handle the gruesome details, so he left it at he was getting surgery.
As I said, the main cancer is in Pancho’s throat...which means in order to get to it, they have to remove half of his jaw and lower face. Their hope and desire would be that the cancer is only in the throat...and that they will be able to reattach his jaw with a metal plate. However, if it has spread, then they will remove the infected bones, tongue...and his face will be left forever marred. Maybe with hundreds of thousands of dollars you could have reconstructive surgery...but obviously that is not an option here in Mexico. Pancho didn’t have the money to buy the 5,000 peso ($450) metal plate, that may or may not be used. So he borrowed money from a few individuals in Bachinva. When he went to purchase the plate, he asked if they might lower the price, based on the circumstances. The response was, “this is not a charity organization...its a business.”
After about 2 hours of waiting in an extremely overcrowded hospital, we left. Pancho told us that they were going to have to cancel the surgery because the hospital didn’t have his complete portfolio. It was in the cancer center, right next door, yet it was closed because of a holiday. Imagine, after 3 months of waiting, being told you can’t have the surgery, because of their errors. As we were walking, Pancho stopped two nurses and asked them what could be done. Praise the Lord, they said he could pick up his portfolio in the morning, before his surgery.
By that time we were all hungry. Pancho’s wife, Loya, wanted to just eat at the hospital and avoid any hassle. I said, no way to that...we need to eat a good hearty meal, so we went for pizza. I don’t think Pancho minded as he downed a chicken burger, fries as well as some pizza. It seemed as if Pancho was the happiest one there at the lunch table. Can you imagine, having lunch, wondering if it will be the last meal you eat, without assistance? At one point during lunch, with a smile on his face and mouth full of food, Pancho said, “I’m going to enjoy this...this might be my last meal I can eat by myself...without help!”
We drove back to the hospital, had a sweet time of prayer with Pancho, his wife, and sister-in-law, and then said our goodbyes. That was it. As we drove away, tears fell from my eyes, both of sadness and thankfulness, for what God was allowing me to be a part of.
So now, we are waiting...waiting to hear the outcome of the surgery. Praying and hoping that all goes well. They didn’t give us a time frame. All the doctor said is, “I like to take my time to make sure things are done right.” Grateful for that. Before we head back to Bachiniva, we are hoping to be able to see Pancho after the surgery. If not, then at least his wife and sister-in-law, one more time, to pray with them and encourage them some more.
Pancho enjoying lunch...
Pancho and his wife Loya...
I read this in my devotions recently and the Lord is using it in a powerful way...
“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs...” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).
Saints, how many times, has the Lord given us opportunities to open our hands WIDE...and WILLINGLY give to those in need. I know that their aren’t just people in need here in Mexico. They are everywhere. Maybe your neighbors, a co-worker, the homeless person on the side of the road, a family member or stranger you’ve never met. How about the barista who hands you your Starbucks cup every morning? If we would only PRAY, and ASK the Lord to reveal the “need” to us...get ready...because He will. And if you let it...it will rock your world as well.
The need down here in Mexico, especially Bachiniva is huge. Money is scarce, jobs are vanishing and people are hungry. And the wonderful thing is, is that we have the opportunity to help AND be blessed. The passage goes on to tell us the promise and reward for opening our hands wide...
“You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I COMMAND you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:10-11).
I know this post has been the longest one yet...but I hope and pray you are encouraged as I am. If the Lord is stirring on your heart and you are interested in helping meet some of the need down here, please let me know.
Two of the specific needs are regarding our soup kitchen and food baskets. Every week we feed anywhere from 50-70 men, women and children after bible study. It takes about $50 to feed everyone per week. Currently we have a church that supports one week every month. As for the other 3 or 4 weeks, we trust the Lord to provide in a variety of ways. If you would like to help support the soup kitchen one time, or once a month, please contact me and let me know. We also are able to put together food baskets and deliver them to different houses and people throughout the community. It takes about $10 to put together a good, hearty, food basket that will bless a family. If you would like to donate one, please let me know as well.
I am hankful for all of you who not only read but pray and support the work down here. Your prayers are such an encouragement and I look forward to continue to share with you all that God does!