We left Donna at 4:30 this morning after saying goodbye to the Benners and praying for protection. The 4 of us girls, along with Frankie and Aaron stayed up all night.
The water had been shut off for hours because of a pipe that had been busted by electricians working down the road. With no water we had a huge pile of dishes to do and limited sources of cleaning. Right after the bathrooms upstairs were cleaned the water came back on at around 11:30. We headed downstairs after a bit to do the dishes, which took us till 1am to finish. First off, it took so long because there were so many dishes. Secondly, we had a few towel fights and Mexican vs. American wars with random dishes. We had such a fun time.
Once we got everything cleaned up we attempted to finish packing, which took us till about 3am. We packed up the trailer by 4, said a sad goodbye to Frankie, and hit the road.
It wasn't too long before we were sleeping, especially for those of us who stayed up all night.
It's now 5pm and we're almost to Fouke, Arkansas. The Lord has truly blessed us on this trip! We've had no breakdowns or popped tires even though we're carrying 340 bags of oranges! That's not including the grapefruit we're carrying and all the extra baggage we brought (from our shopping).
Will continue as journey goes on...
The 14 & 1/2 drive yesterday wore us out but we were SO glad to have a full nights rest.
We left Fouke at 8:30 this morning. We're not completely sure what our route will be since hearing reports of ice and snow in Little Rock and Lexington and maybe a few places in between. The problem we had last night was that the windshield wipers worked off and on, which made it difficult for the driver during the dark and rainy night.
We're hoping to make it to Lexington by tonight.
Well, we made it into Lexington at 2ish on Wednesday. I slept till about 10, then headed home. I was so grateful for the Lord's protection as I drove home. I was very tired and had a very hard time seeing the roads the last hour of my drive, since it was dark and very difficult for me to see the lines of the road.
I ran into bad blizzard conditions in Fort Wayne but once I got onto 69 North it was fine.
Made it safely into Goshen at 6:55 pm, just in time to pull into the church for Bible study.
I'm really hoping that I will be able to head back down to the Valley for the Princess Conference. This trip may not be considered an actual missions trip but I believe that any work that further proclaims the Gospel is mission work. I would not give it up for anything.
The original plan was to leave early Friday morning but when reports from Texarkana and other areas between here and home showed bad weather and dangerous roads out driver chose to wait it out.
I got up early to say goodbye to Julie Martin and to get stuff done until we were called out to leave to get some lunch. Bro. Mike Flowers lent us his Suburban to use for going shopping and going out to eat. We were so grateful for it since the only vehicle we have is the motor home and it's not really available to take everywhere we want to go.
We ate at Rudy's, then went to several shops. It was so much fun and relaxing in a weird way.
I believe the Lord has His hand in keeping us here longer so that the driver can get rest, as well as the rest of us. And also that I'd be able to fellowship and spend more time with family since I hardly ever get to see them.
My cousin's wedding was on Saturday so I got to attend, along with 4 of my friends from KY. It was so funny going to the first Mexican wedding I've ever attended with 4 white girls, the only ones that were there. They had fun though and loved meeting some of my family.
My Uncle Rolando has been such a blessing and help to me on this trip. He took me out several times and let me use their car for the weekend. Loved being able to be independent again and go out whenever I need to run an errand.
On Sunday, I joined Tio Caesar and his church for morning service. It was a new experience but enjoyed it. Afterwards, I had lunch with Tio Rolando, his family, and my cousin Abigail at Luby's, an awesome Cafeteria Restaurant, where I ate way too much! They're bound to send me home fat!
I stayed in Donna for the evening service, which was a good time of singing and testimonies and got to talk to Bro. Flowers about going into Mexico when I fly down for the Princess Conference next month. So excited about the chance to return so soon!
The young and unmarried in our group stayed up all night ,after playing Pit, to clean and pack. We had a fun time with our new Mexican friend, Frankie, who's been hanging out with us the last few days. It's hard saying goodbye to this place and the people. It's been a wonderful experience!
This is the last day of the Convention, which makes me so sad. I love being around such great workers and servants of God. We have missionaries here from all over and I could just sit all day listening to their testimonies and stories.
Bro. James Martin preached on "What fruit can I bear?". A powerful message that spoke straight to my heart. God used him mightily to show me how I've been placing more confidence in my abilities to accomplish His work than I do in His anointing. The Martin family has always been an inspiration to me and I will surely miss them after this week!
My uncle picked me up after service to take me to hang out with family till the evening service. He treated me to lunch at Panda Express, then we went to my aunt's "burglar bars" shop, where I saw 2 more of my aunt's, my grandma, and 2 li'l cousins. Afterwards, we went to Grandma's house where I saw at least a dozen more family members! Couldn't get to see all of them but we might actually be staying longer now cuz of a bad ice storm hitting Texarkana.
Got back in time to get ready for the last service. There was a group of girls from a boarding school in Edinburgh so they had an interpreter (Pastor Benner) for the sermon, in which Rev. Zane Estis preached on a "A foe called flesh". I watched over the 3 Estis girls while their mother played piano during the altar call. They're so adorable! The night ended with several hours of fellowship while eating and cleaning. Mainly with the Martins, Estis family, and quite a few others. I'll never forget my time with these wonderful people.
The day started off with a prayer service at 6 a.m. The morning service began with Bro. John Roberts, missionary to Panama, followed by Bro. James Martin, missionary to Native Americans. They were both powerful messages.
My family made lunch and came to see me! It was so awesome and they served the entire group (about 70+) with willing hearts. They made tamales, rice and beans. Everyone loved it and kept telling me how awesome my family was.
Yeah, I know they are! :-)
At 3:15 pm a group of us went to Rio Bravo, Mexico, for a service at 4. It was a small church that had only been established for a year and a half but consisted of very dedicated and faithful people. They made us tacos that were to die for! And I almost did too, since they fed us so much!
The altar service was powerful as the power of God fell strongly on the entire church that was gathered up front.
The Lord has favored us with smooth passage into Mexico and out. We've not been questioned or called out by any officials, even when 1 family didn't have their passports but only certificates and picture ID's.
We missed the night service in Donna but we got there in time to catch the last 30 mins and to discover that the transformer had blown right before service, forcing them to use the generator to have church. The electricians worked on it during the whole service and finally finished at about 9-9:30. Then 30 minutes later, as people were gathered in the fellowship hall to eat, it popped again.
My uncle, Rolando, went to the service in Donna with my grandma and stayed there till our group got back from Rio Bravo.
We had such a good time reminiscing and then talking with the Martins. Joanna was shocked when she discovered that Grandma had 18 kids as she comes from a family of 10. She fell in love with Grandma, even though she needed an interpreter.
Gonna get to hang out with some family tomorrow. :D
So much took place today and I am not able to give too much detail as it's already midnight and we have prayer service at 6 am.
I've now had 2 encounters with family members I haven't seen in about 6 yrs or so. As well as seeing 2 of them at Wal-Mart on Monday, I saw an uncle at a gas station on the road into Progresso where we stopped to get cash. I would say totally by chance but I really believe it was God. I get to see more family tomorrow, since they volunteered to make a meal for the meeting. Then at 3:15 I'll be heading out with another group into Mexico for another service.
The Convention officially started today and has already been AMAZING! Bro. Jacob McCoy & Bro. James Martin preached great messages in the morning. Not long before the service I was asked to sing a special during the service. :/ After prayerfully contemplating singing a song in English & Spanish, I chose Worthy is the Lamb. It went ok, except that Hope McCoy hadn't heard the song till right before service so she wasn't too familiar with playing it on the piano but she still did her best, which I appreciated.
We went shopping in Progresso after lunch and the day ended perfectly with an awesome evening service. Tonya Campbell led songs so it was very energetic and upbeat. :D The best part, however, was Bro. Zane Estis' message, entitled "Getting Up When All You Feel Is Down". Wish I had an audio clip for all to hear. It was exactly what I needed. I wept and prayed as a heavy burden was lifted off my troubled heart.
I'm glad to serve a God Who meets my every need!
It was a long day of traveling on Sunday but we finally arrived in Donna, TX at 12:45am. I was here with the FGBI choir early last year but was still amazed to see an entire building added on. We loaded our stuff off, thanked Rev. Thorton for bringing us here safe, and headed to the dorms.
I felt bad about barging in when there were already a dozen or so girls sleeping, yet I just HAD to get a shower before I finally headed to bed around 2am.
They mentioned something about a group going across the border to pass toys out to children later in the afternoon. If there's room and if we have our passports we can go. Well, I sure brought my passport, so praying there's room!
Woke up at 8, got dressed, helped clean out a guest room, and took a trip to Wal-Mart in Weslaco, where I ran into one of my aunts and a cousin! It's been over 6 yrs since I've seen them.
We finally got to work separating toys and putting packages together for boys, girls, and adults. There's so much stuff and a lot of it ends up being junk but we're still left with quite a bit of good stuff.
While separating toys I was told that I'm to go with one of the church groups into Mexico tonight for a service and to pass out packages. I'm to be an interpreter to get the group across the border! Excited about the chance to go over but nervous about the responsibility I'll have. Praying that God will help me remember or learn quickly the Spanish I might need to use! :D
We've arrived from Reynosa and still speaking of our experiences. We joined Pastor Jose of Los Tres Cruzes for their service. Our journey across the border went surprisingly smooth.
A group of 16 of us went to deliver the gifts to the children. I rode with Rev. Samuel Snow's group, which also included Tonya Campbell (a fellow FGBIan), since they didn't have a Spanish-speaking person in their group.
When we got to the church we pulled into a giant garage that was the church building and adjoining fellowship hall. For the few minutes before service started we greeted and talked to the people. It was a good workout for my Spanish!
Bro. Snow preached a powerful message on "The Star" from Matt. 1:1-3, 9-10. The altar call was moving as we prayed for weeping women seeking to shine as the light of God. Once the altar service was over we pulled out the boxes and bags of packages. Their expressions were priceless. It was a wonderful feeling to be a blessing.
The Lord blessed us with a smooth journey back into the US. What a relief!
We left Fouke at 6:45am and headed down the road towards Texas. We had to honk a few times on the road to get some deer off the road.
Once we reached Louisiana, we stopped at a donut shop that the group was familiar with and grabbed a few dozen donuts. This group is bound to make me gain weight and are tempting me with all these sweets!
We reached Pastor Tommy Ferrell's church in Tatum, TX at 9am. Since service started at 10 we had plenty of time to relax and get freshened up. It was a small church but we enjoyed it nonetheless as Bro. Thorton taught S.s. and Jacob McCoy preached on "3rd Generation Christians", a message on how a generation always relies on the spiritual works and experiences of the generations before them to survive.
We hit the road again after lunch and will be traveling most of the night to reach Donna. We encountered several traffic jams and passed through Houston at 5:30. Craziness!
Happy 18th birthday, Hannah Morgan!
We arrived in Fouke, Arkansas at 4:15 this morning. We slowly dragged ourselves and our luggage into the rooms setup for us in the quarters of the fellowship hall. We were relieved to know that we were free to sleep or do whatever we wanted till 3pm that night!
I couldn't sleep that long however, especially after hearing several loud voice and footsteps echo down the hall. Finally got up at 11:45, showered, got ready, and headed down to the fellowship to see if there was something for me to do. Cereal was available and Sis. Shuecraft soon headed in and Hope McCoy and I were relieved to be able to work on lunch. Couldn't believe the day was already almost over.
I walked outside to 61º weather and saw the men working on the motor home one again. We had lost the cover of the engine when the tire blew at the beginning of the trip. There were also other problems going on with the motor so the men have been working on it constantly.
I had a blast playing on their HUGE playground with Stephen Shuecraft, the youngest of the 4 boys.
We played around with Mac, their friendly and energetic dog.
Lunch was at 3pm and service at 7:15 at Fairland Holiness Church. There were several testimonies and memories of the late Thomas McCoy, as well as a word given by his wife, who also joined us on this trip to the border.
Jacob McCoy preached on "Captured by a Vision", a powerful message on allowing God to engulf you in a vision to do His work.
After service they served us a light supper Titus, Luke, and I shared FGBI memories till midnight. It was great fellowship but difficult to stay awake since we knew our next takeoff was at 6:30 the next morning.
GOD is my strength! :D
Sonia E. Vargas
Sonia's desire and hope is to write for the purpose of inspiring this generation, especially young woman.
Alexis is a tender, loving, and vibrant young woman of 18 years. She loves to make people laugh and feel loved. She is a faithful member of GEM's Ministry.
Hannah Johnson is a fun and outgoing young woman who loves to bring laughter and joy to anyone she comes in contact with. She is 23 years old and is a leader of Girl's Exalting the Master Ministry.
Paula is a passionate follower of Christ and loves to encourage others around her to do the same. She is 25 years old and is currently attending Free Gospel Bible Institute. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014.
Kristyn is a sweet and gentle young lady from Trinity Holiness Tabernacle. She is 18 years old. She plays the piano and sings beautifully. She was a part of the Guatemala GEM team in 2014 and Honduras team in 2016.