The only thing that doesn’t change is that everything is always changing. Although that was jokingly the motto for those involved in serving at our home church, it tends to hold true for life in general and especially when considering life at The Mission for the past year and a half and into this new year 2016.
Throughout the history of the The Mission, DIF (family and children services department of the Mexican government) has monitored all of the orphanages. There have always been regulations and inspections. For the most part they left us to operate autonomously so long as the kids were well cared for and nothing inappropriate was going on. But due to some unfortunate accidents elsewhere in Mexico (a fire at a daycare and other tragedies at an adult care facility), the legislative spotlight was then focused on DIF and all related facilities.
A couple of years ago we received a few visits from DIF and the health department that went beyond the routine visits. They gave us lists of ways we were now going to be required to become compliant with old and new standards and regulations. Throughout most of the history of the orphanage, pastor Miguel Rivera has been the Mexican director and in recent years his son Miguel jr. has taken on that role. Although officially the government didn’t recognize foreigners as having any authority, for 25 years our home church, Applegate Christian Fellowship (ACF), administrated the orphanage. But in light of the newly passed state and federal legislations, the Rivera’s were going to be held entirely responsible for compliance to the laws and regulations, making it clear that the calling God had placed on ACF was now being passed on to the Rivera’s.
For the last year and a half we have been on a journey into untraveled territory for the Mission and personally as a family. Although we know that many others have gone through the processes of starting orphanages, mission bases, nonprofit organizations, and learning how to do fundraising, for us it is a matter of learning to reinvent something that already exists.
Together with my family, I served as the director throughout the transition from September, 2014 until June, 2015. After June, at Miguel’s request I remained in the role as the administrator even though the mantle of director had been passed onto him. By the end of 2015, sole coverage of The Mission by ACF came to a close.
Although not intentionally by our design, I can’t help but wonder if it is by our heavenly Father’s design, that at the same time Applegate’s involvement was coming to a close I felt it time to hand over all administrative functions to Miguel. The scheduling which I have done since 1999, has also been turned over to another young couple who is full of grace.
This next season will be a great opportunity to truly mentor and allow others the chance to fully experience the intricacies and details of leadership that are unknown to those outside of that role. I have had the most amazing examples and opportunities given to me by Jimmy and John Courson and Joe Stroble. Now it’s time for me to step aside and help raise up a new generation of leaders here at the Mission.
As a part of the new foundation that is now the conduit for practical and financial resources for the Mission, I continue doing the shopping and banking. Our family remains fully involved serving daily at the Mission by helping care for the kids, washing dishes, assisting wherever we are needed on the schedule, and doing projects such as repairing wheelchairs, and dump runs.
Jesus at first gave His disciples an enigmatic command, to “take up their cross and follow Him” (Matthew 16:24), but then for a brief walk He actually shouldered His cross with a young man visiting Jerusalem “coincidently” at that very time, Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21), who in turn passed it on to his sons of whom we hear about Paul make reference to in Romans 16:13. Who knows, maybe in 6 months or a year I’ll take on some of the admin responsibilities again, but for now we are finding the return to simplicity quite delightful. Corinne is enjoying having me home more often (to finally get some long neglected home projects done) and I thrive on walking the desert trails with my Father in heaven. The staff are glad that the wheelchairs are getting tuned up!
Pray for our family as we continue to serve here at the Mission looking back and seeing how faithful God has been to watch over the Mission kids all these years…and looking forward knowing that He is not done with the work He is doing here. “…Thus far the Lord has helped us” (l Samuel 7:12). Please pray for Miguel and his interactions with the authorities and individuals helping us become compliant with the regulations. We reportedly have three months to complete them or the government will close down any orphanages that aren’t compliant at that time. Pray for Caleb Otero as he manages the schedule with ever decreasing staff numbers.
Visit the websites for The Mission: www.one27foundation.org and www.themissionforchildren.com (still under construction). I will be including our own stories of the orphans (who we affectionately refer to as “the kids”), as well as stories and pictures of the Mission’s origins and history.