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Private and Personal - My Story from Mexico

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Hello Gracepoint Community!

My name is Megan and I am one of the Gracepointers that traveled down to Mexico this past July to work alongside One Life One Chance and the communities in San Quintin Mexico. You wouldn’t have necessarily noticed, but I was the only team member who opted out of speaking in front of the church. Public speaking is not a strength of mine and though I wouldn't consider myself a typically shy person, I would say I’m private.

When I was asked to write about my experience instead I nervously said yes.  While I probably wouldn’t have willingly volunteered, one thing I learned over the past two years is I can do hard things for the people I love...and I love the people in Mexico as well as the community at Gracepoint. So with a whole lot of prayer, surrendering and a little humor I am nervously putting up some of my Mexico story online...

This was my second year going down to Mexico with Gracepoint. My first year, I was still fairly new to the church and didn't know my team going down. I came back however forever changed. Joining the team for a second year in a row, I was looking forward to going down with familiar faces and some new team members. But mostly I was excited to see how God would work with us and through us.

Early in the year, I was debating whether or not I should be going on the trip for a second time. I had such an impactful first year there and found myself once again nervous about meeting new people and questioning how God would use me on this trip.

I had just started a new position at work which included a location change and had planned a lengthy personal trip over the summer. I wasn't sure if financially it was the best decision to go. Within days after putting these thoughts to prayer, someone at my gym asked me if I would house sit for a few weeks for them. in exchange, they would pay the fees for my mission trip in full. I was once again reminded and in awe of the power of prayer as well as what happens when I surrender to God. Oh yeah and also...I was heading to Mexico!

The Mission trip came quickly after making the commitment to go and soon the team was heading down together. One of my favorite memories about both trips is seeing how each person on the Gracepoint team thrives. Both years have been made up of people from all walks of life.  I feel truly blessed to get those special moments on mission with each of them.

On the first trip, women on the team were inspired to "host" a women's night, to encourage the women specifically in the neighbourhood we were serving.  It maybe sounds risky, but Kim Savage and I walked around the area with a handful of local women inviting them to our event.

One of them walking with us was the Pastor's wife. In her care was their three-year-old grandson Cristiano.

We spent that afternoon early in our trip with Cristiano. After that a pretty special friendship was formed for the rest of our time and even once back, he had captured my heart.

Heading down this year, I knew we'd be in a different community so my chances of seeing Cristiano again were slim. I did not want to get my hopes up but a part of me knew my hopes were already up. When we went to visit the family from last year, I knew I had to be bold once again and ask the one person I thought would get me to see Cristiano. Rod Melnyk knows how important the connections with people in Mexico are and I am so thankful for his passion and leadership.

After telling Rod I knew Cristiano's house was near the church, he walked down with me looking for Cristiano. When we were invited in to the Pastor's house, we had no translator with us and as we tried to communicate our "dropping in."  I nervously l looked around for any sign of Cristiano. Just as my hope in seeing him was fading I looked outside and there he was walking with his mother. I quickly left the house (probably quite abruptly) and cautiously starting making my way towards him. It's amazing to say, but when this now four-year-old boy saw me, he, without any caution, came running towards me and instantly the joy we had in each other’s presence was back. Cristiano will always be special to me, possibly because he was a big part of my first trip to Mexico but I think God put him in my life for a reason and he will remain in my prayers. 

Being in Mexico a second year also gave me the opportunity to pour more into the women's ministry down there. In 2015 the family who we did the house build for was primarily women. One thing I noticed when spending time with these ladies was many of them did not have much sense of worth. Long story short, we decided to throw together a women's night where we read scripture, prayed and enjoyed each other's company. When going down again, I knew I was not the only one on the team who wanted to spend time making the women feel special.

Wendy Stone came up with the theme "Beloved" and I knew this year was going to be great. The women on our team went down prepared. We made up "love lifts" packages for each of the ladies in the community. Included in these packages were handmade bracelets that said Beloved on one side and Amato on the other (Beloved in Spanish).

Our prayer for the women of Mexico was (and is) for them to know that they are valued, capable and so beloved by our heavenly Father. The evening this year was amazing. We opened in prayer, read scripture, painted nails and sewed dresses. I cut women's hair as well (although I am not a hairdresser!)... but at one point in the night after I cut one women's hair and Tracy Baker painted her nails, she then went to our translator Amanda and told her she felt like a brand new women. I was struck that these small acts of service meant so much to this woman. Once again I am reminded how important time spent with others is.

My favorite part about our women's ministry in Mexico was at the beginning of the evening. Most of the ladies are shy, reserved and seem pretty intimidated by us, but by the end of the night we are laughing together, embracing and praying together. Yes, I love to form relationships with the women in Mexico but what I really love is seeing their relationships between each other grow.

The community that we had the pleasure to spend time with is a perfect example of what loving your neighbor really means. Spending time with these ladies in Mexico not only created bonds for them but also for the ladies of Gracepoint. I realize that I don't have to be this outgoing person to belong to a community, I just have to be willing.  

Mexico will always hold a place in my heart. I am so thankful that One Life One Chance provides these opportunities for churches to go down and serve. I think it is such a great example for all communities. I have so many beautiful stories that I hold near to me about Mexico. I was able to see others grow and be a part of their own experiences too. That is something I never thought I would value as much as I do. Going into my first trip two years ago I had no idea how greatly I would be impacted. At the risk of being the only one rising their hand, I confess that I seek comfort more than I like to think.  I have learned that it is hard to grow your faith inside your comfort zone. Serving is a powerful thing, and isn't it such a blessing that God gave each of us this ability no matter where you are and what you do?

 “The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” – Mike Stachura

Posted by Megan Alexander with

Ukraine was the Dessert!

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Ev pictured with Max, one of the first trade school students to come through the program and currently studying at Providence College in Manitoba to prepare for ministry in Ukraine.

Once in a while, you get to keep company and spend time with someone who inspires, spurs on and sparks a flame in you.  Last week, I had one of those mornings.  I had the privilege to share stories with an incredible woman of God – faithful with the small and big things in her life… here is a short excerpt from my time together with Ev Wiens - as she shares about her upcoming plans to travel back to Ukraine for three months next January.

Kim Savage (KS): I understand you are planning to go back to Ukraine – the ministry you and your husband John started several years ago.

Ev Wiens (EW): Yes! Much of me going back is to reconnect with the elder team who stepped up and led the ministry after John passed away in 2014.  To be an encouragement to them and to see how things are going over there. To serve where I can for a short time.

KS: What do you hope to be doing while in Ukraine?

EW:  There is so much to experience when I go back.  The ministry has grown so much and changed in the last couple years and I am eager to see so many friends at New Hope church – to reconnect and support them.  Two vans go to the war zone almost every week to take food, supplies, Bibles and share the hope in Christ to several areas. They are in the process of planting two new churches in the war zone.   I also want to see what is happening at the trade school in the village about 45 minutes away from Zaporizhye and see how New Hope Centre is working with traumatized children from the war zone as well as with young, struggling families.

KS: It sounds like the ministry continues to flourish and grow.  What would you say is the core value your ministry in Ukraine was and is?

EW: When we went over all those years ago, we just wanted to serve where there were needs. And there were a lot of needs.  We didn’t know what that would look like.  In time, God revealed that a big part of our work would be to care for orphans – orphans that were aging out of a system with no education or work skills, orphans who didn’t know how to be part of or have a healthy family, orphans who needed hope and a future. To go back next January will be such a privilege – I can’t wait to see how this work has expanded and the see the new things they are doing. There are kids we worked with who are now serving in the ministry or go to New Hope church.

KS: Last question, if you had to sum up your time in Ukraine, how would you?

EW: Well, that’s hard.  I think I would say that if life in ministry was a meal then Ukraine was the dessert. It illustrates how special and important our time was there.

There is so much that could be written about this time with Ev and her upcoming plans to go to Ukraine.  Barely the “coles notes” have been relayed in this blog.   Take time to connect with her personally.  She has so much to share and your life will be [much] richer for it!

with Anya (left) and Victoria (right). Two ministry leaders serving with Ev in the Ukraine.

Ev & John Wiens are retired Gracepoint pastors who were called by God to start a church and school called New Hope Center located in Zaporizhye, Ukraine in 2007. They have a deep heart for missions and have followed God as He purposes their entire life. John passed away a couple years ago, Ev continues to be involved in the ministry they started and provide support and encouragement to the ministry’s leadership.

Posted by Ev Wiens with