We are currently in the U.S. and will be celebrating Christmas and the New Year with family and friends. We are guaranteed to have plenty of “white” this holiday season. In Monterrey, too, people are hoping for a “White Christmas”. Of course, they are not pining for a snow fall; rather, they are praying that their families, neighborhoods and city would experience a holiday season of peace. Please join us and our brothers and sisters in Mexico in praying that Monterrey and the rest of the nation would experience the kind of peace that is defined not only by the absence of violence, but by the presence of Jesus.
Oh God, help us to work to free the world from the scourge of war, violence, and hatred. May we rededicate ourselves to living faithfully the Gospel of peace, love and forgiveness. Amen (An Advent Morning Prayer)
Thankfully, there does seem to be some slight improvement in recent weeks in regards to the security situation in Monterrey. The roads and highways are now better controlled by the police and military (we even drove the highway to the border last week, something that had previously been off limits.) However, even if there is improvement in the big picture, there is a deterioration in the situation in many of the marginalized neighborhoods as rival cartels battle for territory and recruits.
This reality has at times hurt participation in the ministries of the Family Development Foundation as people choose to stay home rather than risk walking the streets down the hill to our door. At the same time, it has made the Family Foundation’s community ministries all the more relevant.
The last weekend in October, we arrived at the Foundation for a costume party planned by the families of Dos Cerros. As we got out of the car, we heard a helicopter cycling nearby — a sign that there most likely had been another shoot-out in the neighborhood and the military trying to survey what’s happened. We were certain no one would come that afternoon, that the families would hunker down in their homes. But no…slowly but surely, the families began to arrive, dressed in costumes and ready for fun and fellowship. We began to see how much the ministry of the Family Foundation means to these families.
We finished off the year with several posadas (Christmas parties) and our annual volunteer dinner. With around 60 volunteers in attendance, we celebrated their service to Christ and their neighbor and the many ways God is at work in and through us all together. Keyla, a 17 year old young woman, who lives in the very conflictive neighborhood of La Campana, gave her testimony. Like many of the people involved at the Foundation, she is both an active participant in the youth club and a volunteer. She shared with us the blessings she has received while serving the forgotten children in her community. It is a joy to be a small part of her life and so many other people’s lives while we watch them grow in their faith and service.
Now, we are enjoying the gift of being with family for the holidays. And, we are waiting and watching for the Christ-child to come. We are praying for us all — friends and family in the U.S., Mexico and around the globe — to experience a “white Christmas” filled with joy, hope, peace, love and Christ’s presence.
With hearts full of love and gratitude,
Nils, Erika, Matias and Lucas Clauson