We Need a Van! Can You Help?

It’s hard to believe that in August we will be celebrating 10 years in Mexico! We are amazed at all that God has been doing in our lives and how He is using youth workers to impact young people throughout the country. We feel like He is just getting started.

When we first came to Mexico, we had no children. I can still remember the day we got our Dodge Stratus in 2003. We were studying Spanish in Cuernavaca at the time, and we took the bus from there to Mexico City (2 hours) where we then took the metro from one end to the other (1 hour), and a taxi (30 minutes), to where our car was. The first time I drove the car in the craziness of Mexico City traffic is an experience I’ll never forget.

We’ve had that same car ever since that crazy day, but we now have 3 growing children who don’t fit too well in the backseat, which hinders our ability to take other people with us. There’s also a law in Mexico City that makes you “rest” your car one day a week if it is 9 years old or older. Last month was the last month we could drive our old Stratus everyday. Now we cannot drive on Fridays or the fifth Saturday of the month, which are busy days for our ministry. Also, Nathan would love to have a bigger place to sit instead of being smushed between his brother and sister’s carseats.

So we need your help. We need to raise $8,000-$10,000 as soon as possible (hopefully by the end of August) so we can buy a minivan for our family and ministry. We’re asking everyone we know to chip in and help us get a newer used van so we can use it everyday and not be hindered in the ministry that we are doing.

If you’d like to help, please send a donation to Youth Ministry International and mark it as “Poulette Van Fund.” The address is: 1300 Envoy Cir. Suite 1306, Louisville, KY 40299.

You can also donate online by clicking the link here and put “Poulette Van Fund” in the comments box.

Ben’s Birthday Piñata

One of the most traditional things about birthday parties in Mexico is the piñata.

Ben’s birthday party last weekend was officially a “Captain America” party, but we couldn’t find any piñatas that were Captain America, so we settled for a minion from the movie Despicable Me 2. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but our kids love the minions, so we were excited to find this little guy at the party store.

As usual, they took turns whacking him until he spilled his candy. They loved it. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this post. It’s always really fun to get candy.

Shiloh walks around with her bag of “Despicable Me candy” now.

Ben’s Fifth Birthday from Dennis on Vimeo.

Sixteenth Wedding Anniversary

I can’t believe it, but today we are celebrating our sixteenth wedding anniversary! Right about this time I remember seeing Janell appear in the back of Grace Bible Church in her gown. It is something I’ll never forget. I’m so happy to be married to her and be on this journey of life together.

We’re celebrating by doing normal things, since we can’t drive our car today. We’ll be waiting until another day to go out to eat. I did buy her 2 dozen roses yesterday, so at least that’s something. I’ll grill her some steak on the grill tonight after I write an 8 page book review for one of the classes I’m taking.

Romantic, right?

It’s amazing how many things happen in 16 years.

  • We’ve been on so many airplanes, and we’ve traveled to so many places, including Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and others.
  • We moved to another country.
  • We’ve lived in so many houses I can’t remember.
  • We’ve learned another language.
  • We’ve been to and spoken in so many churches.
  • We’ve had 3 incredible kids.
  • We’ve watched a lot of Rays’ and Dolphins’ games.
  • She’s put up with a lot of corny jokes.
  • We’ve taught and mentored a lot of students.

…And we’re really only getting started. Here’s to many, many, more years!

“Fusion” Camp in Puerto Escondido

I was off the grid for most of last week, enjoying nature and bugs in a cabin in a place called “La Reforma” in Southern Mexico.

Juan, one of the graduates from the Bachelor’s program in Mexico City, invited me to speak at the youth camp for his local church. It was in a very mountainous region of Oaxaca an hour and a half down the curviest dirt and rock path I’ve ever been on.

The view from the cabins (above) and the waterfall were worth the ride, and the time I spent with the youth group from the youth group “H2O” was well worth the investment of time and energy for the trip.

I spoke everyday in the morning session about the importance of sharing their faith with their friends, and I taught them how to share their faith in a workshop as well. The afternoons were filled with trips to the waterfall and other fun activities.

Continue Reading…

A Birthday to Forget

Today is Ben’s 5th birthday. It’s hard to believe that our little guy is 5 already, but it’s a fact. Unfortunately, all of our family has been sick. It started a few days ago when Nathan got a sore throat. After a few days he was better but Benjamin was sick. He’s still sick. Which leads us to today.

We cancelled the birthday party we had planned for Saturday because we felt it was better to not subject our friends and their kids to the illness. Today is the official birthday, so we made a cake last night, went to lunch today, and went to the store to get ice cream. We were on the mend, or so we thought.

We sang happy birthday, cut the cake, and scooped the ice cream. Then Ben got the ear ache of his life. We left the ice cream and cake on the plates and went to the pharmacy to see the doctor who is there. Ben wailed almost the whole time. He gave us some medicine, and our little birthday boy screamed for the next few hours. His little ear was hurting him so bad.

Janell put some chopped onion wrapped in a cloth on his ear, and he finally fell asleep. He’s been mostly okay since, but it still hurts him. About an hour after putting Shiloh to bed, she started crying. Her belly was hurting, so when I picked her up to comfort her, I almost got a puke shower. Luckily I moved out of the way fast enough. She’s okay now, resting on the couch watching cartoons with her brother.

As you can see, instead of really celebrating Ben’s birthday today, we barely survived. It’s still early, so who knows what else could happen.

Building Stronger Families

One of the best parts of this past weekend took place on Saturday at an event I was invited to participate in. It was a forum for parents and younger teenagers (12-16) that was designed to help them improve the communication between them, and it was organized by some of my former students, Oscar and Anna.

Oscar invited me to share with the parents, which was a little intimidating since I don’t have teenagers of my own. The topic of my talk was “10 Principles for Communicating with Teenagers.” We talked about many things while my friend Dante was sharing with the teenagers.

At the end, the pastor had the families come together and pray about how they could better communicate and get along with each other. It was a powerful time as parents were crying and hugging their children, and the children were hugging and affirming their parents. I was proud to be a part of an event that is helping families grow stronger.

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Graduation 2013

Last weekend we celebrated graduation at the Seminary here in Mexico City. We graduated 2 bachelor’s degree students, 2 students who studied almost all of the youth ministry courses at the Bachelor’s level, and 8 Certificate level students.

We are very proud of every single one of them. They all have incredible stories, and God is doing great things both in their lives and through their ministries. We wish all of you could meet them and hear their stories.

We are also grateful for Edgar and Karyna, our teammates and fellow professors, who have been helping us teach classes since January. They have been of much assistance to us both personally and professionally. We are excited to have them with us, training youth workers in Latin America.

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