Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mexico: Dos

Well, today is Works for Me Wednesday and since I'm in the middle of my series about my recent trip to Mexico I thought I'd share with you all how mission trips work for me.

La Mision (The Mission)

Ninos* de Mexico is a non-profit mission directly supported by churches in the U.S. and Canada. In 1967 they began taking in children from the Mexico City area that have been abandonded, abused and/or orphaned. They then care for these children until they are adults and out on their own. They have children's homes, a Christian school, a medical outreach and a church plant within their mission.

In addition to donations from churches that pay for the teachers' salaries, facilities and other needs, Ninos also operates on a sponsorship basis. Through their H.U.G.S. (Helping the Underpriveleged Get Started) program individuals sponsor a specific child. This involves corresponding with the child and sending a monthly support check...usually around $25. Each child needs at least 6 sponsors in order to cover his/her room and board, clothing, shoes, and other basic needs.

My church is one of the many churches that supports the Ninos mission. Within my church there are several people who participate in the H.U.G.S. program and sponsor children that are currently living at the home. So we take a trip to Ninos every other year in order to:
#1 complete some much needed work projects at the facility
#2 show the staff and children at Ninos our support and love

#3 show the members of our congregation exactly what Ninos is all about and encourage their continued support

#4 to allow sponsors to visit the children they have been supporting over the years.

For me personally the trip was a chance to use my education and my skills as a Spanish teacher and Spanish speaker and serve God at the same time. I knew very little about Ninos when I went. I knew that it was an orphanage and a school, but that's about it. This is what I learned:

Ninos is located in Chicoloapan, a "suburb" of the gigantically sprawling metropolis of Mexico City. It is an orphanage in the sense that they take in and care for orphans, but it is so much more than that.
Ninos is committed to raising these children and caring and supporting them until they are mature adult Christian professionals. They are raising Mexicans to be Mexicans. They are not americanizing the kids. Their goal is for their children to be productive members of their own society and culture, who can also further the cause for Christ in their own country as ministers and as lay workers. For this reason, children who are placed at Ninos cannot be adopted. Once they arrive at Ninos they will not leave (unless by their own choice) until they have accomplished the goals stated above. This does bring about some unique issues, however.

First of all, the Mexican government is on an adoption kick right now and only wants to place their children in orphanages where they can be adopted. This comes and goes with the whims of the government officials, so it will likely change before too long, but in the meantime the government is reluctant to place children at Ninos.

Secondly, there are "children" living in the homes that are up to 23 years old. There are no age limits at Ninos. As long as a child wants to continue his/her education he/she can remain at Ninos. So there are houses with children ranging in age from 5 to 23. This is quite a challenge for the houseparents as you can imagine.

In addition to the homes, there is a Christian school on the campus of Ninos. All of the children in grades pre-K through 9 attend this school. Right now there are approximately 30 children in the school. High school students attend a local private high school. Ninos strives to give the children a basic education that will allow them to continue on to the university or technical school of their choice after graduation. The school faces many struggles as they educate the children.

When the children arrive they have usually been abused in some way (physically, mentally, sexually, or all of the above) and/or abandoned. Some have been shuffled around through other children's homes while others have lived alone on the streets for years. I met children who were chained up during the day while their parents worked. I met 5 children who were abandonded into the care of their oldest 8 year old girl. I met children who had watched their parents die before being taken in by the state and placed at Ninos. These children have not been to school. Sometimes they don't even know the alphabet or how to read or write...and they might be 10 or 12 years old.

This makes "school" as we know it an impossibility. Students can't be placed by age or size. Their instuction has to be very individualized. That is why there are 23 year olds entering high school, and that is why Ninos is so special.
No child at Ninos will be left without a spiritual or academic education. He/She can achieve as much as they desire with the full support of Ninos. They always have a home, siblings and houseparents standing behind them as they strive for matter how long it takes. Dr. Noe is a good example.

Dr. Noe came to Ninos in its early days along with his 9 brothers and sisters. He lived and studied there until he was 30 years old. He then went away to college where he became a doctor. He is now the physician for Ninos and their medical clinic out in the mountains. His sister, Isais, is the Spanish teacher at the school. These children were raised by Ninos and now use their lives to help other children just like them. And they aren't the only ones. Lorena, one of the houseparents, is also a former Ninos child, and her husband, Luis, is the son of former houseparents so he grew up at Ninos too.

Ninos is an incredible organization that, like all missions, faces extrordinary challenges. They are changing so many lives for the better, and introducing so many children to the love of Jesus Christ while rescuing them from a life of poverty and abuse. I absolutely fell in love with the children and the mission.

The theme verse at Ninos is Psalm 27:10 "Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me." The kids all have shirts that say "RECEIVED" in big bold letters on the back to remind them that they have been received by their heavenly father and he will never forsake them.

Please pray for the children and staff at Ninos. If you are interested in sponsoring a child go HERE. If you just want more information go HERE.
Whatever else you do, never miss an opportunity to go on a missions trip. You will not come back the same. Your view of God and his work will be forever changed. We all need to see His hand at work in far off places to remind us of his immeasurable love and power.

More on my Mexico series coming up later this week, so stay tuned.

For more Works For Me Wednesday go to Rocks In My Dryer.
*It drives me crazy that I couldn't put the tilda over the "n" each time I wrote "Ninos" in this post. Just know that it is there in my mind and that the word is pronounce [neen-yos], NOT [nee-nos]. If anyone knows how to do this in blogger please let me know. (For the record Mexico should have an accent mark over the "e" too, but we'll let that slide for now also.)

1 comment:

Deena said...

Hold down Alt, type 164 on the number pad, release Alt. ñ Alt 165 produces the capital Ñ Alt 130 makes é. If there are other symbols/ letters you need, check wiki

Like I did. :)