From Esther’s Testimony] My original calling was to be a missionary in Mexico City. I had just finished bible school and the Lord laid on my heart to go to Mexico City. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there.
Once there I started teaching biblical studies. Within two years those studies grew into a church of over one hundred people. After seven years the Lord enabled me to open a home for desperate people. The calling was to help people suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution and other needs of the spirit. These people needed a home that supplied not only physical needs but spiritual healing as well. Soon after that, I was called to open a home in Matamoros.
I moved to Matamoros in 1995. I served the Lord there for 3 years. We soon started looking for land instead of having to pay rent at our current location. An evangelist came by and told me about a friend of his that had recently accepted the Lord that had a big heart and some land in Sandoval, a small community to the west of Matamoros.
In July of 1998 Adventures in Missions helped to get us started by building 3 wood frame, steel roofed buildings on this property. We have been blessed to have these original buildings replaced with permanent concrete buildings. We now have a two story front dormitory, office, and school room, a quad-house two story children's building, and a muti-purpose dining hall and kitchen.
We first moved to Sandoval with 4 women and 10 children. By this time I had already been ministering to the local prison in Matamoros, but had to stop because of the move from the city. One day I received a woman whose husband was in prison serving a ten year sentence. Celeste had a son named Pepé and she asked me if she could visit her husband in the prison. I said yes, but that I would need to go with her. From there on I began prison ministry on a weekly basis.
As the prison ministry continued, the women’s shelter became well known to many parents. In Mexico, if no one will look after your children, they go to live in the prison with you. Soon I had many parents asking me to take in their children.
The first children here were Conrad and then Berenice, Daniel, and Anita. The ministry continued to grow as more women and children arrived.
Three Years on Our Own
As the ministry continued to grow, so did our economic needs. We had no running water; we had to bathe with buckets, Wash clothes outside on a washboard, heat water outside, and use outhouses. They were very difficult conditions for the number of people living in the shelter. Although this was difficult, God never left us; we always had food, clothing and shelter. Through my salvation experience, I have always been confident that the Lord would provide for us. Yet, I began to feel that we were not a good testimony to His glory because of the way the shelter looked and the conditions we were living in. I told the Lord I kind of felt embarrassed. From the very beginning the Lord had told me that this would be the work of the body of Christ. He explained to me how he had called Moses to build the tabernacle in the desert. Moses did not personally build the tabernacle, he was given the vision. It was Bezaleel and Aholiab, along with the offerings of the children of Israel who built the tabernacle. I knew that I did not have the knowledge or capacity to do this myself. It was not naturally possible. But God is awesome! I ended my prayers by telling the Lord that I knew that this would happen in His timing, and in His will. One thing I have learned, through knocks on the head, is to wait upon the Lord.
Calling of a Board
Shortly after that, the Lord laid it upon my heart that it was time to pray for people to help me get things in order. I needed to pray for my Bezaleels and Aholiabs, and sure enough, here they came. When it’s of God, He brings it to the door. The Lord chose and provided a board. Thank you, Jesus!
Two Years Time
Boy, did I have a hard time adapting after being a one-man show! But God is merciful. He knew I didn’t know better. Although the changes were difficult, I knew they were for the glory of God and the welfare of the children. That eased my heart and the Lord gave me peace.
Pan de Vida has come along way. A beautiful dormitory has been built to shelter 48 children. The municipality has placed a community water well at the end of the block. Running water is not guaranteed but it is usually available. Better electrical connections have been achieved with the purchase of an upgraded transformer and power poles and lines. This blessed the neighborhood as well. Yet hard times are taking a toll on the facilities and the ministry of Pan de Vida. When Homeland Security required passports to re-enter the United States, short term missions to Mexico dropped by 30 percent. Then when the American media started reporting the ever present cartel activity, fear dropped missions down to practically nothing. Fear within the church has caused much of the good work that was started in Mexico, and at Pan de Vida, to wear away. There are always maintenance needs; pumps need replacing, water heaters are rusted out, pressure tanks have failed, ceiling fans have worn out, wood has rotted, water tanks need cleaning, forty to fifty kids wear out doors and door knobs quickly, cabinets need repair, faucets fail or clog from the hard water.
So the ministry continues with your prayers, giving, and support...