It seems like years ago, not months ago that we were first asked to "shelter at home" for two weeks to help flatten the curve. Navigating the longer than expected impact of Covid-19 has been very challenging for many all around the world, including here in San Diego and the Baja Mexico area. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones or have suffered other losses. In March we stopped hosting all our teams and building homes for the poor. A few weeks after stopping we started receiving messages from families in the communities where we serve that they were without food and hungry. Due to the stay-at-home orders they had no work, no income and therefore no food. To answer this desperate need we started a Baja food relief program and the response from our partners was incredible. Our wonderful staff team went to work purchasing food and packing boxes and delivering them to the communities. To date we have been able to distribute over $160,000 worth of food to more than 5000+ families.
To keep our 200 full time staff engaged during Covid-19, we also hosted many, many zoom meetings during the spring and into summer. In September, after seven months of pausing all our main activities, we did a soft restart of Homes of Hope with an all-staff team in order to work out some safety and building protocols for the Covid-19 season. We were than able to safely host several build teams in the months following. In September we created a student bubble and had to our surprise, 105 students join us, attending five different University of the Nations courses at our Ensenada and Tijuana campuses. We are not sure all that 2021 will hold for us but we are looking forward to moving forward and we know in God our hope endures.
In total since our re-start we have been able to build about 14 homes. Our family was walking through the dusty streets of a very poor community yesterday where three of these homes were built in recent days. One of the sweet ladies who had received a home just days ago from “Q-Missions” (A team of military veterans from Washington State) was weeping with gratitude for her home. She said she learned from the team the value of “loving your neighbor.” We were able to bless the families in this community with boxes of food, blankets and some toys for the children that have been donated in recent days. While we enjoyed blessing the families, our hearts were broken for the seven families we visited who are still waiting for a home in that neighborhood and are currently living in horrible conditions with wind frequently blowing down their hand made shacks. We can't wait to see them in a new Home of Hope and in proper shelter.
On a family note, we are grateful for good health and six happy growing grandchildren. Our youngest grandson celebrated his first birthday yesterday. Our daughter Rachel and her husband John are busy building a new home in Mexico, located right in front of the YWAM San Antonio del Mar campus. It's exciting to see the progress and they hope to start living in the house in a few months with their three kids and new adorable puppy named Oreo. Andrea and her husband Guy and three kids temporally relocated to Indiana in the fall and stayed with Guy's parents while so many things were shut down. They were able to stay there and work from home where schools were open for their girls to attend. We are excited to have them back in California in time for Christmas. Tiffany, our youngest daughter was super busy this fall leading the Photo/Storytelling Discipleship Training School. She continues to live in an apartment in Mexico with some roommates, just a few blocks from the YWAM campus.
Janet and I are doing well, we love investing in the lives of others and being a part of YWAM, which celebrated its 60th year this year. Also, this is the 30th year of Homes of Hope, and the 23rd year of the youth program we started, Mission Adventures. Combined, these two programs have engaged over 270,000 people in missional activities into the nations. Next year will be our 40th year of marriage and we are exploring some fun ways to celebrate that together.
We are so grateful for all of our family and friends who regularly encourage and pray for us and also for those who support us in our work with YWAM - Thank you!
May the hope of Christ fill your heart this Christmas and into the New Year!