monterrey… one important role of the church

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i went to monterrey, mexico with my church again over halloween weekend.

after our first trip a year ago, my church, providence presbyterian, decided to support a small church in the township of san nicolas.  la casa de dios serves a small middle class community on the outskirts of monterrey, specializing in counceling.  there is a great need in the city for biblical counceling, as many of the folks of this neighborhood have deep scars from drugs, violence, prostitution, and the many ills that life in general can bring.

so, last week, ten members of providence and i visited la casa de dios to encourage and serve.

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pastor reyes has much work to accomplish here to bring the message of grace and repentance to a hurting people.

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we went to dinner the first night to experience true northern mexican cuisine, a surprising far-cry from the heavy tex-mex influence we have in dallas.

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after dinner, we visited the famous giant flagpole complex that sits above monterrey, to pray for the needs of the city.  it’s a place for families and lovers.  a romantic oasis.

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the next morning we awoke early to serve the community of san nicolas by applying a few fresh coats of paint over the graffiti in their neighborhood park.

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amber, crawford, michael, sam, and i decided to form a band after i shot these photos of the group…  they were very band-like photos, sam said.

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a stray cat took a liking to us and followed us around all day.  it became our mascot for the weekend, though no one had the courage to pet it.

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local kids came out to see what the gringos were up to, and quickly asked if they could help.  we were excited because they seemed to really take ownership of the new look in their park.

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andrew, one of the local missionaries’ sons is quite the ham.  and i have to say, he has a pretty cool name…

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amber loved on the kids…

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while the guys wrestled with them.  funny how the two sexes differ in relational styles…

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some of the neighborhood teens came out to play american football.  we couldn’t help but join in.  they beat us.

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after the football match, we held a barbeque in the park to make friends with the folks in the area.  it was a great success.

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on sunday, we attended la casa de dios to worship with our mexican brothers and sisters…

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after church, we went downtown to sightsee and enjoy the river walk.

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the closest thing we have in the states is the riverwalk in san antonio.  the one in monterrey is much nicer, in my opinion.

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tamales!  we were treated so well by the folks at la casa de dios.  they cooked fantastic meals for us every day.

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monday, we finished painting and enjoyed playing around on the playground.

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tuesday morning before our flight, we visited casa hogar, the local orphanage.  it was a moving experience for us all to remember God’s heart for the orphans.

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the sign above the door reads, “God promises to be your father,” a fitting reminder for the role of the church…

though our time in monterrey ended on a bittersweet note at casa hogar, we all left with a greater sense of urgency to help carry the burdens of our neighbors to the south, as well as our community back home in dallas.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009