Week twelve! On Friday morning at 6am Dad & Carson arrived at the ranch (in Texas) to pick us up. (on Thursday they had driven to Mobile, AL and picked up the bus which was finally finished)
Around 12pm we reached the Mexico border. Thankfully we had a safe and relatively good border crossing which only took about two hours. We were very thankful for the gentleman who came and met us at the border and was so kind to lead us through all the hoops and hurdles, and also to interpret for us!
We barely made it in time to the location for our evening service but thankfully we did make it and were still able to start on time even though we arrived later than we were hoping.
The clouds were just amazingly beautiful! It seemed like one could almost reach out and touch them!
And of course, theres nothing like a
masked and armed friendly welcoming committee. (ahem)
These “patrol stations” were at various places along the highways in Mexico. You never quite knew for sure which ones were legit and which ones were drug gangs. =/
We were so grateful for the team of guides who rotated out to travel with us from location to location. They would interpret for us and we were always allowed to safely pass through.
Our very very dirty bus.
One day our guides took us to this overlook of one of the cities.
Part of our crew. =)
Our services were attended by 500-2000 people every night. We sang each evening Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday.
We met these sweet people who treated us to some yummy goodness from their little ice-cream shop.
Our 3 favorite things in Mexico: 1. Food 2. FOOD and 3. FOOD. We ate Mennonite tacos (corn tortillas fried in oil served with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes and/or onions), tortilla soup (a soup made with chicken, tomato juice, chicken broth, peppers, onions, and seasonings served with fried tortilla strips, cheese, and avocado), green verde with tortilla chips (tortillas deep fat fried——wow!), and the most amazingly, fresh fruit (mangoes, pineapple & papaya), and more.
We met a generous family who had our bus washed (it was clean for only a few hours before we the dust met that shiny chrome again), changed the fuel filter, fixed the generator fan, let us move into their laundry room, and served us a delicious supper.
At each location there was a crew of men who set up 500-1500 chairs. In addition, many people brought their own chairs but in our last several concerts they ran out of chairs so some of the people had to stand.
It was so incredibly inspiring to see so many families-with children of all ages-so eager to listen to the music, so friendly, very hospitable, wanting to serve God more fully, some just learning about their need for salvation.
Carson’s view on his walk one morning.
For Sunday lunch our guides took us to these lovely little authentic Mexican restaurant.
Let me tell you, most Mexican restaurants in the USA don’t even deserve the name. This place was the real deal!
These chips were even better than they looked! And the mexican sauces were amazing!!
Visiting over lunch at the home of more dear new friends. People were so generous to our family-we didn’t have time for nearly all of the invites we received.
Mexico was beautiful. Mountains, blue skies, and fields everywhere.
A yummy spread of tacos and fruits at yet another family’s home.
Another one of those infamous checkpoints!
Lets just say the Mexico roads were nothing to write home about! Our bus was constantly filthy from all the grim and mud of the roads.
More scenery from the bus window.
Another view from the passenger seat.
The mountains of Mexico are BEAUTIFUL.
There were constantly these little stands and vehicles out along the road, wanting to sell things to passersby.
We stocked up on fruit!
A little Mexican fast food restaurant we stopped at for lunch one day. This was at a little food court inside Walmart. Their Walmart was totally different than our American ones; it really was a completely different store that just had the same name.
This meat station was literally two yards from the counter. They would cut meat off of this glob and ten minutes later it would be part of your lunch. I personally preferred not to think about it too much. =)
Dad & Mom with one of our guides and his wife and son.
There were so many amazing times of ministry that God blessed us with. We didn’t get nearly enough pictures, and it is impossible to share all the incredible testimonies.
One of our favorite opportunities was a drug rehab center we got to sing in Sunday morning. We didn’t get any pictures, but it was so precious to be in there sharing with the 50ish men and women who were living there. Afterwards we had a wonderful time of individual prayer with them, and one man got saved.
Overall the trip was just so worth it-we met so many wonderful people and experienced such an outpouring of God’s grace and goodness. There were so many divine appointments. The gospel went forth every night, both through our testimonies in our concerts, and also through the thousands of family picture cards/gospel tracts that we handed out to everyone who came. Souls were saved and lives were touched by the power of the Gospel.
We are forever grateful to the Lord for His protection and blessing on our family. Also we are so thankful to the team of men in Mexico who coordinated and arranged our entire trip and all the services.
We crossed back into the states around 1am Friday morning. It was a little crazy on the Mexico side, getting through, but we made it. We were hoping maybe they were take our word for it that we had twelve people on board, and that they would just let us pass through without seeing each of us with our passports. They let us go right through on the Mexico side, but the USA was a little more strict so we had to get all the sleeping Bontragers out of bed. Some individuals may or may not have resisted and had to be dragged outside. =)
Funny story here-the USA side of the border followed the rules (really we were thankful they were at least doing their job-so good to be back in a land where at least some people do things legally and without constant bribing!) and we had to get rid of our mangos before we crossed. Someone had told us that it was fine to take the mangos across into the states as long as the pit was taken out, so we had cut up all these mangos the day before, planning to take them with us.
The officer who searched our bus said we couldn’t take the mangos across, but that if we wanted to we could eat them before we crossed. So we all stood around in our pjs eating mangos just as fast as we could. Taylor said it was the first time he can remember that the mangos in our house haven’t been rationed out, and that mom said “Eat as many as you want, as fast as you can!” =)
It was a blessed week in Mexico but….the sights and sounds of the grand old USA have never been so beautiful!! It was SO GOOD to be back in our own country again!
“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.”