Archive for November, 2012

  • Juarez update

    Date: 2012.11.05 | Category: faith | Response: 0

    We make small plans: God multiplies and magnifies and the truly incredible happens!  He is not limited by our imaginations!  When we started talking about going to Juarez several months ago, we were basically inviting ourselves to tag along with one other family so we could cook a meal.  Now, less than 2 weeks before we leave, we are expecting 5 families to make this journey with us- for a total of 10 adults and 18 children, ranging in age from 6 months (yes, another baby even younger than James is coming!) up to 17!  The momentum that we are gaining (no blog title pun intented!) is nothing short of miraculous.

    On Friday night we gathered with a house full of people for an information meeting about our upcoming trip to Arbol de Vida.  The Schrimps are a couple with whom Chris works at Cherry Hills, they have lived at Arbol de Vida and continue to faithfully serve the orphanage from Colorado.  They will be heading up this little adventure, and they were able to give us more specifics regarding the mission and purpose of Arbol de Vida, our safety risks while in the Juarez area, travel to and from Mexico, and the needs at the orphanage.  We were also able to meet all of the families who will be joining us and to brainstorm about the difference we can make together. We’ve had so many great questions in response to our first letter I thought I’d put as much information as possible into one place for you.

    The goal of Arbol de Vida is to provide a safe, family environment to youth who would otherwise be on the streets where they would surely turn to the gangs and/or to prostitution just to survive.  Because these boys and girls receive an education, learn job skills, and learn about Jesus, there is hope for the future of Juarez.  These youth are life in a town that is desperate for revival.  Arbol de Vida is literally fostering the future of Mexico.  Unlike many orphanages that cut off services when the child turns 18, Arbol de Vida is committed to the long term success of it’s charges.  They provide a safe home for as long as it’s needed, they continue to provide training and support into adulthood, and they serve as a resource when life outside of their walls gets complicated.

    In regard to safety, we will not be using the main border crossing into Juarez, but a small crossing well outside of town.  The compound where we are headed is less than 7 minutes across the US/Mexico border.  We will not be taking our kids into the city of Juarez- and in fact I doubt if any of us will go into town at all.  If we do have needs that arise, it is safer and easier to cross back into El Paso, Texas to get what we need.  The property that the orphanage is on is protected by armed guards who are loyal to the children of the orphanage and to anyone who is coming to serve them. Despite all of the well deserved bad press that Juarez gets, the orphanage is much safer and is apart from the main areas of danger.  The town knows and respects the people who run Arbol de Vida and the gangs and drug cartels have left them alone (and in some cases support them!).  We have been told that they have only ever had one problem- years ago some looters came in and stole and damaged some property and roughed up one of the workers- and that actually served to increase the protective nature of the surrounding community and the guards.  We will be sleeping in the dorms, Chris and JT will be in the boy’s wing in their own bedroom, and I will have Kate and James with me in a private room in the girl’s wing.  We will have access to clean, safe water- for drinking and bathing.  The orphanage has it’s own aquifer well and reverse osmosis filtering system.

    We have made one change to our itinerary- we decided to leave on Friday (Nov 16) to get a head start on the drive.  We would like to meet up with all of the other families and cross into Mexico together on Saturday afternoon well before dark sets in.  We decided that it is unrealistic to attempt the entire 11 hour drive on Saturday since we are expecting stops at least every three hours to feed James and to keep the kids from revolting.  This means we will require an extra night in a hotel and does add to our expenses, but it seems like a more feasible itinerary.

    Regardless of all that, we feel strongly that there is no place safer than where God has called us.  We are trying to be as smart as possible in our planning, but we also have to trust that since God has put it on our hearts to go that He will protect us as He sees fit.  Truly, I am more concerned with the logistics of the drive and time at the orphanage with three small children than our safety due to violence.

    As to what we’ll be doing while we’re at Arbol de Vida, it turns out they have plenty for us to do!  Because of the unrest in Juarez over the past 5 years, most of the U.S. support to the orphanage has dried up.  People have stopped coming to serve, people have stopped sending money, and the youth there feel forgotten and abandoned.  We hope to change that- by spending a few days with them and showing them that they are not forgotten and that they are important to us!  We are planning to provide a big festive meal for them, repair some damage to their buildings, provide sporting equipment, and do some craft projects with them (we’re thinking we will make no-sew bags, duct tape wallets and purses, and hair accessories).  We also will be bringing some specific items that they have requested- bras and underclothes, church clothes, toiletries and hygiene items, new bedding, etc.  I believe that they deserve better than our cast offs, more than a check sent from afar.  They deserve for someone to spend time with them, to look into their eyes and to show them that they are valuable.  That they are beautiful.  That their life is worth something.  That they can make a difference in their community.

    If you have already sent us money to help cover our expenses, THANK YOU!  As of today our family’s budgeted travel expenses are completely paid for ($800!).  As a group, we are hoping that we will raise enough money to purchase ALL of the supplies and goods that we have on our wish list.  Our  group goal is to raise $1500 for the building supplies and I estimate that we need an additional $2000 for the rest of our purchases.  Specifically, we want to pay the orphanage for all of the food and expenses related to our group’s stay, buy food for a turkey dinner, paint, building, and roofing supplies, toiletries, undergarments and hygiene items for the girls, dress clothes for the boys, bedding, supplies to make crafts, and sports equipment.  If you have considered making a contribution toward our trip, there is still time and we would love your support!  We would also love to know if you have decided to partner with Arbol de Vida directly, it would mean so much to us to know that because of our trip you have decided to support their work.

    We definitely appreciate and need your prayers.  Of course, please pray for our safety.  We are facing long hours on the highway, border crossings, and the risks of Juarez.  Pray for good health for each member of our family.  Please pray for unity among those of us serving together.  Pray for the Spirit of the Living God to fall on Juarez- not just while we are there, but that revival would occur and that the community would be renewed.  Please pray for the boys and girls who live at Arbol de Vida.  Pray that they would reject the lies that they aren’t valuable, that life on the streets is the best they can hope for, that it’s time for them to strike out on their own.  Pray that they will be encouraged by our visit and that they will continue to have hope for the future.  Pray that our children would have soft hearts and develop a love for serving others.  Please pray that us parents would have extra patience and wisdom as we are facing extra stresses there.  Please pray as we continue to prepare for our trip, that the essentials will not be forgotten and that the details will fall into place.  I’m sure that you can think of many other blessings to pray over us, and I encourage you to do so.  I would love to know if you are committed to praying over our trip- please let me know!

    I understand that we will have some cell phone coverage and internet access while we are in Mexico.  I am hoping to keep my blog and Facebook updated while we are there so that you can know how to pray and what we are accomplishing along the way.

    If you would like to support us financially, you can mail a check directly to us-
    Melody or Chris Benschoter
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr
    Highlands Ranch, CO 80126

    If you want to learn more about Arbol de Vida or would like to support them directly you can access their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.

    Thank you for your love and support!  I have loved hearing your reactions and responses this past week!

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