effects of el paso

December 20th, 2014

Well, we left the Houchen center to return to Abilene today.  Although we may be leaving El Paso, I don’t think any of us will forget the experiences and friends we made on this trip.  You’d be surprised how close you get to people when you’re cleaning a damp, moldy basement, or washing seats in the day care, or even cleaning a kitchen.  But the thing I think had the biggest effect on everyone has to be Friday when we gave out bags of food and toys to the less fortunate in El Paso.  There were several people that gave us hugs, and little old ladies would give us kisses on the cheek.  One lady grabbed my hand and proceeded to explain to me the many ways we were helping them, and how they all really appreciated it.  It made me really realize for the first time just how big of an impact one week of volunteer work can make such a big difference in the lives of hundreds of others.  I truly feel like God was going to get me on this trip one way or another.  This trip has really opened up my eyes to the power of volunteering and I would like to thank God for providing this opportunity to me.

Written by Malcolm Carpenter

McMurry in Motion: El Paso

December 20th, 2014

imageThis past week in El Paso has impacted me greatly. I have seen God in so many ways. In the love of the Houchen volunteers, the eyes of the families we have helped, the way my peers are so willing and excited to help others in any way possible. Each day God is teaching me something new, but today in particular has stood out to me the most. We had the opportunity to give out bags of food along with toys to families in need. Interacting with these families and seeing how greatful they were made my heart enormously happy, but it was heavy at the same time. We gave out over 460 bags of groceries to those who needed it. It was amazing knowing that we were helping so many people, however it was a wake up call. There is an overwhelming amount of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Many kids who won’t be getting any presents this Christmas. We tend to turn a blind eye to the needy around us. We stay focused on our needs instead of looking out for others. This is something that needs to stop. The Houchen Center is doing some fantasic work in El Paso, but I encourage you, no matter where you are, to spend some time volunteering or to give to those in need. We are all called to be servants and to share God’s love, and by doing this you could very easily change someones life.

McMurry in Motion: El Paso

December 18th, 2014

As I am snuggling into my “bed” on the hard floor tonight, I begin thinking about the past two days. It is insanely crazy to think that it has only been two full days since we arrived in El Paso. In the two short days, our team has done everything from cleaning out a moldy basement to scrubbing chairs in the daycare (which seems easy enough, but is actually extremely tedious and frustrating). However, throughout the two days, a fee things have stood out.

First of all, there is Joel, who is perhaps the nicest man in the world. From the second we arrived here at the Houchen Center, he has made us feel completely at home with his warm laughs and his loving hugs (which smell really good by the way). His servant heart is just so evident and contagious.

One thing that we had the privilege of doing today was handing out coats to some of the kids in the community. The joy on their faces when they got to pick out their own coat was absolutely priceless. Especially at this time of the year, with Christmas right around the corner, it is extremely humbling to see this joy over something so necessary as a jacket. The manners that they had were also amazing. Even if they didn’t speak English, either a very enthusiastic or a very shy “thank you” came our way from each child.

We were also given the opportunity to tour a branch of the enunciation buikding called Casa Vides. Here, we learned about the servantship that they do through helping the migrants who cross the border for all different reasons. This was another amazing experience. It made me and many others stop and think about what exactly it is God is calling us to do. For me, it reminded me that God has called me to have a huge servant’s heart in every way possible, both at home and maybe even in spanish speaking communities one day.

Throughout the few days we have been here, there has been serious times, times of fellowship, and of course a LOT of times for laughter. All in all, I would say it’s been the perfect first half of the trip.


The Culture in India

July 22nd, 2014

Every day I spend here in India, I learn something new and exciting! The culture is so overwhelming.

Day 3 was a very exciting and interesting day. I started off the day with helping Mark Waters teach a religion class at the school. This was very interesting, because there were a variety of religions in the class. After that we went to the Mini Taj Mahal. This was probably one of the most interesting things.

The next day was filled with even more new and exciting things! We ended up going to two Hindu temples and one Sikh Gurdwara. While here my definition of hospitality was extended to a whole new horizon. While visiting the places the people there did everything they could to make us feel welcomed! And then to add the that, when we went to the gurdwara, the Sikh lay person that was giving us a tour, sat down with us at a table and had a meal with us. It was beautiful! I continue to see similarities between these religions and Christianity.

After that we went to eat with people from a leprosy colony. This was a very heart filling experience. These people are rejected by society and thrown out to fend for themselves. Just by sitting down next to them, holding there hand, and feeding them a meal really made my heart warm.

While sitting with with them I could really see God. Every time I held there hand I was touching God and every time I was looking into there eyes, I was looking into the eyes of God. It was so beautiful!!

I can definitely feel God moving here and I can’t wait to see what we experience next.

Until Next Time

Grace and Peace,

Jack Payne

All Shall Be Well

July 20th, 2014

Dear Lord,

Today I pray you continue to make true the promise you gave to Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Thank you for today, Amen

These last two days have been a whirlwind of emotions for myself and our entire team. Yesterday we had the great privilege of beginning our morning in devotion and prayer with a group of pastors from Aurangabad who meet every Friday. We started the morning in song, which is how I would start every morning if I could! The beautiful thing about these songs was the feeling of connection. Though I had no idea what we were singing, I felt connected to the people in the church as a whole. One of the characteristics I love about song is the way it can bind any group together! God is good!

Yesterday we also got the chance to tour some of the different religious temples in Aurangabad. This is always one of the highlights for me. At some point I heard someone say, “If you are a Christian why should you need to look in other places of worship for other religions?” But I feel since I am strong in my own faith, I should be able to look at and process other religions with an open heart. The first two temples, one Hindu and the other Hare Krishna (another form of Hindu), didn’t give us a chance to be very interactive with the people of the religion. Though the last one we went to, a Sikh temple, was the exact opposite. We were shown the place of worship and had their understanding of the religion explained to us in a very kind way. We were also shown different places where people are served food and can stay for free. I feel, though, the best part of the tour was getting to sit with our guide in a “round table” setting and share what we believe with him. He asked questions and so did we!

For lunch yesterday we had the great blessing of sharing a meal with the people from the leprosy community. I enjoyed doing this much more this year because before worship we were able to divide into small groups and visit with the people. I had about four or five women in my group and one small girl. As they were telling me about themselves, the same feelings of loneliness were shared by each one. Each of them felt as if they had been abandoned, whether it had been by family or community. But each women was so beautiful in a very unique way. Looking into the eyes of those women was where I saw God yesterday.

Today the women on our team lead a Women’s Conference for some of the Christian women in Aurangabad. Our theme was “Share Your Story.” To begin Jessica gave a brief talk about shame, vulnerability, and worthiness within community. Afterwards each person from our team shared a small glimpse of their life. The last thing we did was to wash the feet of each women who attended the conference. Having my feet touched is a normal thing, but to touch the feet of these women meant so much more. Touching someone’s feet is seen as touching the worst, most dirty part of their body. After we washed their feet, they almost demanded to wash ours! It was so meaningful to visit, share, laugh, touch, and cry with these amazing women of God!

Last night after, our visit with the people from the leprosy community, I had a daunting thought. A few nights ago I realized I have begun to ignore the beggars on the streets, but the only way some of the women in my group could make money is to beg on the streets… Would I ignore those women? Would I even glance their way? What if they recognized me and I didn’t recognize them?

~ Caitie Wood

India Changes Jack

July 19th, 2014

Today has been an incredible day! We really got to interact with the people today and especially the children here.  We went and visited the school and children’s home.

While at the children’s home we were given our families for our time here in India. I was given 4 of the most Christlike boys I have ever met. These boys are only about 10-13 (I think) and there hospitality is overwhelming!!  When they would see me sitting on the floor they would run all the way to another room to get me a chair. Then, when I started to sweat they would wipe the sweat off of my forehead.

These kinds of things really get me thinking  of how are hospitality is in America and how we can learn so much from India!! This place is just so beautiful and I can’t wait to see what I get taught next!!

Until next time.

Grace and Peace,

Jack Payne

India Update

July 19th, 2014

Hello Everyone,

We will have student blogs to post soon. In the meantime, I want to offer a quick update. So far, we have spent time getting to know the children at New Beginnings Children’s Home and St. John’s English School. We prayed with local pastors at their weekly ecumenical prayer meeting. We engaged intercultural learning experiences through visits to two Hindu temples and a Sikh Gurdwara (temple). We shared lunch yesterday with a group of beautiful people from a leper colony, many of whom have been rejected by their families. We ate, sang, and prayed with them.

More to come….

Grace and peace,



We are in Aurangabad!

July 16th, 2014

Dear Friends,

Students participating on the India mission trip will begin posting blogs soon. In the meantime, I want to let you know that we have arrived safely in Aurangabad, India. It is a delight to see our friends here. We will begin our work today with St. John English School and New Beginnings Children’s Home. We have built relationships with children at each location over the past three years. I’m sure they have all grown a lot since last year. Can’t wait to see them!

Grace and peace,
Mark Waters

Additional blogs from the India team

July 16th, 2013

We will update this blog soon. In the meantime, here are personal blogs from several members of our India team:

http://chelseagriffithinindia.blogspot.in/ (Chelsea Griffith’s blog)

http://caitieisgoingtoindia.wordpress.com/ (Caitie Wood’s blog)

http://hartnessdakota.wordpress.com/ (Dakota Hartness’s blog)

http://terezagoestoindia.blogspot.com/ (Tereza Sliter’s blog)

http://lsm02e.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/day-4/ (Le’Ann Ardyono’s blog)


We made it to India!!

July 11th, 2013

While in the airport in Germany awaiting our plane to Mumbai, I saw a stunning woman. She was an older woman, but every time I looked at her I had to smile! She reminded me of the beautiful willow tree in “Pocahontas.” Her wisdom shown through her face and she had a calm serenity about her… She was beautiful!

We have all made it safely to our hotel in Mumbai! The plane rides were interesting as well as a bit frightening in some instances, but all and all it was good!
I have been picking up things as I go along to remember for any future traveling I may have!
When you ride a German Airline, expect to hear a LOT of German!
The VERY warm towelettes the flight attendants pass out are for you to wipe your hands!
DO NOT hit your head on the rail in the very small airplane bathroom… It hurts
Euros are a rip off! McDonald’s chicken nuggets shouldn’t cost 9,99 euros (making them $20)
Airplane food is very good, until you hit foreign countries… (Germany was good though!)
If you are not looking for the good, YOU WILL find the bad in EVERY situation!
Indian charter buses are pretty neat!
A lot of honking goes on in India, and I am glad I don’t have to drive because they drive strange!
Tomorrow we are basically taking a day to rest! More pictures to come soon! God Has BIG Plans!