Migrant Caravan

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We wanted to take this opportunity to update our supporters on the migrant caravan that arrived in Tijuana this fall. The caravan consists of people seeking asylum in the U.S. from violence and famine in Central America. This is not the first group of migrants that have arrived in Tijuana. Tijuana has many Haitians, El Salvadorians, South Americans, and Columbians who have settled in Tijuana over the past forty years.  

Mexican authorities and local charities in Tijuana have years of experience and ability in aiding and managing groups of migrants at the US/Mexico border. In fact, most of the fast-paced growth in the city is from migrants who cannot get across the border. Instead, they stay and thrive. 

The migrant caravan consists of political asylum seekers from south and central America. Many are fleeing gang and narcotics-related violence from major cities like Tegucicalpa, Honduras or from rural areas plagued by drought. Thousands have been sheltered at the Benito Juarez Sports Complex and State authorities are busy organizing the camp while limiting disruption for Tijuana residents and businesses. 

A nearby Catholic Charity’s soup kitchen helps feed and supply them. Nuns from the Catholic Charities use volunteers year-round to feed the homeless near the San Ysidro border crossing. At Saint Innocent Orphanage we dedicate the week leading up to Christmas making and distributing tamales at the border while singing Christmas Carols. Last year, our Interns spent their off-time as volunteers at the Nun’s Kitchen.  

“On Sunday the 25th of November my family and I were planning to go to San Diego. As we reached the crossing, frustrated migrants rushed the border. For less than 15 minutes, there was a half-hearted attempt to cross a very hardened border crossing. Mexican police and American Border Patrol agents had been preparing for weeks for this occasion. The entire event was resolved in minutes. Since then, everything has returned to normal. More programs are offered to migrants to assimilate into Tijuana.

Mexican work weeks are often six days of twelve-hour shifts. Thousands of visa holders also cross the border every day to work in America and return at night. There is a well-organized commute system of walking lanes, public transit, and ride sharing. At Project Mexico, I cross four-to-six times a week. 

The migrant caravan revealed to me the immense beauty of the professionals and volunteers in Tijuana who have dedicated their lives and money in the alms giving ministries. This is why people come to Project Mexico. - Mike Saur OCMC Seminarian

The migrant caravan revealed to me the immense beauty of the professionals and volunteers in Tijuana who have dedicated their lives and money in the alms giving ministries. This is why people come to Project Mexico. 

Many charities in Tijuana are showing how to deal with the situation like the migrant caravan with love and compassion. Charities have provided lodging, clothing and food. Many migrants have taken offers of employment. The way the authorities managed and dealt with the situation limited the disruption to a single episode.” - Mike Saur – OCMC Seminarian Intern

Project Mexico hosts 5 OCMC interns and their families, several US staff, including Fr. Nicholas, Pres. Merilynn, and their families live in Mexico. We regularly cross the border numerous times each week and experience little to no interruptions in our operations. In fact, the ongoing plight of the refugees will likely increase the need for our services of building homes and providing support to orphans over the foreseeable future as they await their asylum claims to be heard over the next several years.

The people of Tijuana and Mexico are resilient. We pray this immigration crisis can find a timely workable resolution. 

May the Lord touch your hearts and bless all of you.

If you’d like to make a difference today, consider pledging your support for our Annual Matching Grant Challenge by clicking the button below.

Mexico Update

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On Sunday, California Border Patrol closed the crossing at San Ysidro for 3 hours. The Central-American asylum seekers were protesting the lack of resources, slow processing of their asylum requests and the rapidly deteriorating conditions of their makeshift shelter. Most are families who have traveled far to escape violence in their home countries.

First, I want to let everyone know that we are fine in Tijuana. It’s not impacting our operations. If anything, it provides us another opportunity (along with our fellow non-profits) to help our neighbors in Tijuana. Yes, having several thousand extra “temporary” residents has complicated things. The people of Tijuana and Mexico are very resilient and we pray this immigration crisis can find a timely workable resolution. 

Please keep us all in your prayers but for the most part it is life as usual.

And life is plenty busy. Thanksgiving was filled with blessings having family and friends celebrate the day. We had several of the older boys come and enjoy the feast with us. The largest change at the orphanage is the two new boys who arrived and became a part of the community. They arrived last Tuesday and are adjusting to their new home. Please keep them in your prayers. 

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Once again, it is Giving Tuesday! A group of supporters have committed funds to our Matching Grant Program. Today is an excellent opportunity to put our thankfulness into action and give. 

A gift of $50, $100, $1,000 or even more can make a big difference for us here in Tijuana to continue God’s work. 

Please consider giving and help us to continue sharing the hope of Christ through His Church just over border. 

May the Lord touch your hearts and bless all of you.

 

In Christ,

 

Fr. Nicholas Andruchow

Priest/Associate Director

Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage

A House Where the Spirit Can Dwell

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Here at Project Mexico there are many challenges. One of the greatest it seems is the demands to just pay the bills. Through God’s grace, the ministry has persevered and flourished despite the lack of predictable income. With this in mind, I was apprehensive when a local Orthodox Mexican man approached me with a sincere desire to improve our chapel. We are always cautious of expenses for the community’s liturgical needs because paying salaries and keeping food on the table is our top priority. In the end, we decided that the Lord was working through this man and the construction should begin. 

The remodel included tearing down walls, removing old concrete footers and hauling off loads of debris and dirt. As the worship space was expanded, the shape of our new chapel started to form.  On the feast day of the Panagia, the Dormition of the Theotokos, we celebrated our first liturgy. It was a blessed day. Unfortunately, the work was not done. There were numerous details that had to be completed to fully complete the project. A thorough cleaning needed to be done. Screens had to be put on the six the new windows. Fixtures for the adult baptismal fount needed to by installed and a multitude of other tasks. Our goal is to be finished for the feast day of St. Innocent on October 6th.  

The process has been extensive and intricate which is similar to our own efforts to fortify our life in Christ and build up the temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell.

For the past 30 years, Project Mexico has brought over 15,000 volunteers to build homes for needy families and to spiritually construct souls worthy to house the Holy Spirit. St. Paul wrote that we are the temple of God’s Spirit.  (1 Cor. 3:16-17) When the missionary first comes across the border they are faced with the harsh reality of poverty but realize God is present despite the suffering. This dramatic experience allows for the spiritual debris to be cleaned out and to start fresh. As the week goes on a subtle, sublime process occurs where prayer and reflection provides the tools for the soul to be strengthened and purified. 

The salvation of your soul is more valuable than the entire world.

Christ teaches us that the salvation of your soul is more valuable than the entire world  (Matt. 16:26). The chapel of the orphanage serves as a home for all of us to grow stronger and to foster our souls where the Holy Spirit can dwell. We are blessed that our place of worship has been improved. And we are blessed that Project Mexico provides a place where hundreds of faithful can work on their own soul. So, becoming stronger in Christ they build up a place where the Spirit can dwell, and their souls can be saved. 

May all of our souls be strengthened and built up.

 

2019 Summer Internships Open!

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Introducing 3 exciting new internship roles for Summer 2019!

 

Anyone who has been involved in a home building trip with Project Mexico knows that our faithful and hardworking interns are at the heart of everything we do. Interns from across the nation dedicate their entire summer to living in basic conditions in Mexico. They work diligently alongside our home building coordinator to facilitate 600+ volunteers to build homes for impoverished families in Mexico.

 

They become part of daily life on the ranch, helping maintain and prepare all that is needed for the arrival of volunteer groups. Not least of all, they become family to the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. Our internships can be a milestone of spiritual growth and maturation. For many it has been both a transformational and life-defining experience.

 

If construction isn’t your thing but you desire to serve with us next Summer, then we have some great news for you! In addition to our homebuilding intern positions, we have expanded our program to include the following new positions:

 

Group Facilitator (must have youth leadership experience): Your main responsibility will be to mentor, supervise and facilitate the other interns, conducting debrief and processing groups, provide one to one guidance, assisting in coordination of intern activities and trips and facilitate volunteer group discussions.  Seminary, teaching, youth work, camp staff experience would be very helpful. This position may suit school teachers or seminarian students/graduates.

 

Media Intern: Your main responsibility will be to document through photographs, video and writing: the volunteer groups, home builds, families, events and activities of the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. You will also be responsible for hospitality of Volunteers both on the build site and ranch.  Depending on your skill you will be assigned to a media role and work with Project Mexico’s marketing team. You will also work in other areas as needed.

 

Medical Intern:  If you have medical training, such as first aid, CPR, EMT, Nursing, please indicate the experience, any certifications, experience, or training you have.  We hope to have several trained individuals on staff each summer.

 

The positions above may overlap depending on a volunteer’s skills and experience and the number of suitable candidates who apply.

We are now accepting applications, please submit your applications before November 30th, 2018.

Update Me!

Fill in your contact info and download HomeBuilding 2019 Internship Application Form.

Summer 2019 Home Building Registration Open Now

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Hurry Up and Register Today!

Home Building 2019 

Wow! We’re at 50% full for Summer Home Building 2019 and Weeks are filling up quickly!

Time to gather and register your group before all the spots are gone!

Week 1 Thursday, June 6 - 12 (25% full)

Week 2 Tuesday, June 18 - 24 (90% full)


Week 3: Thursday, June 27 - July 3 (80% full)


Week 4: Tuesday, July 9 - 15 (55% full)


Week 5: Thursday, July 18 - 24


PM OCMC‌ Building A Home For Missions ‌week

Week 6: Tuesday, July 30 - August 5 (90% full)


Week 7: Thursday, August 8 - 14 (OPEN)

Building Homes and Relationships by Olivia Neslusan

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As I sit on an old wooden bench, warm Mexican sun beating down on my hair, and the laugher of young boys playing on the soccer field in the distance, I cannot fathom the fact that my time here at the ranch is winding down. This summer has gone by in the blink of an eye, but contrastingly, it feels like I have been here forever. Looking back at this time last year, I was an eager group member dreaming about being accepted into this internship position. One week simply just wasn’t enough for me, and I couldn't wait to apply and spend three months here at this incredible ranch.

I had so many expectations of what I thought this summer would be like based on my past experiences here and what I heard from past interns, but quickly I learned that it is so important when doing mission work similar to this, to have no expectations and have an open mind. The summer was full of laughter and tears, and certainly was exhausting at times. Building a new home every week and having the energy to greet each new team like it was your first is something that is both beautiful and challenging. But more than the build, this place and this summer for me has been about building relationships.

Theodora and I arrived two weeks later than the rest of the young adult interns that would dedicate their summer to leading home building. In my journal on the first day of arrival I wrote about how I was nervous that close relationships and friendships had already formed, and perhaps we wouldn't get to know the other 17 interns as well. This trivial worry quickly faded within the first couple days. It is so beautiful and easy to connect with other young Orthodox Christians. Growing up in the faith and sharing the same values is something that allows us to truly connect on a deeper level, and I know that these will be people I stay in contact with long after this summer is over.

Connecting with the 19 boys here at the orphanage, though, has been by far the most rewarding part of this experience. Boys ranging in age from eight to eighteen live on this ranch, and each of them have their own vibrant and inspiring personalities and stories. Between group activities and home builds, we get the opportunity to spend as much time as we please with them. Despite their backgrounds of neglect, these boys are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They are eager to learn more about you, make you laugh, and if you are lucky, they sometimes share their personal stories about their past.

This summer the ranch was blessed with three new little boys ranging from eight to ten years old. Immediately after arriving here in this new home, the boys were always eager to participate in church and had so many questions about the faith. It was truly something special to see how they transitioned with such grace. It is a challenge, however, especially with these three new little boys, to connect with them without getting too close and allowing them to get too attached. It is so obvious that they need love from the way they run up to almost any female who they are familiar with and cling to them calling each one “Mama.” Although this can be tough at times, it is comforting to know that the family here at the ranch will indeed give them the love and permanency they so desperately need and want.

That is what is so special about this place.

It is a community where everyone is a part of the family that makes up St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico. It is going to be bittersweet to leave this country and its people, but I leave knowing that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and also knowing that it was not really me who made it, but rather God who called me to be here.


Home Building Registration Opens October 18

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2019 Home Building registration opens Thursday Oct. 18, 2018 at 9 am Pacific Standard.

We're excited to build hope with you next year!

Summer 2019 Dates:

  • June 6 - 12

  • June 18 - 24

  • June 27 - July 3

  • July 9 - 15

  • July 18 - 24

  • July 30 - August 5

  • August 8 - 14

St Innocent Day

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On October 7th 2018 we humbly ask that you join us alongside parishes nationwide to pass an offering tray in commemoration of the Feast of St. Innocent.

Join us this day for a collection unified in one hope to make a difference for the boys of St. Innocent Orphanage. 

  • Sign up at the event link HERE

  • Pass a collection tray at your parish

  • Share or post this flier in your parish bulletin

  • Share this flier with your friends and family through email and social media

We can't do this without you!

30 Years - The Beginning by Father Nicholas Androchow

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When we look at the history of Project Mexico we can see the message of hope shouting out at us.  Hope in that we are not alone. Hope in what the future brings. Hope in the fact that God is active in the world. Since 1995, I have been involved with the Orthodox community in Tijuana, Mexico. Ten of those years have been as a full-time missionary living in-country. I have spent at least one week annually in the field either building homes for the needy families or ministering to the young boys who have been orphaned. The impact I have witnessed is layered and expansive. The Lord works through our humility and out of weakness God creates miracles. God has used Project Mexico to do great things and it is obvious that the Lord is not finished yet. Through the power of God these 30 years are just the beginning.

Out of the compost
Three decades of ministry has brought countless challenges and blessings.  In the early years, the ministry was nothing but a dream where two inspired Orthodox Christians, Greg and Margaret Yova, persevered to establish a community where Orthodox believers could live the faith while bringing comfort to the afflicted of Mexico. To maneuver between two countries, two cultures, two languages, two currencies and various economic levels is extremely complex. As St. Paul said “our battle is not against flesh and blood … but against the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).  

In 1994, after building homes for six years, the doors of the St. Innocent Orphanage were opened for the first time. Unfortunately, the hired director never arrived, the donors who planned to cover the mortgage expenses could not fulfill their commitments, and after eight months the Mexican government removed all the boys living on site because the bureaucratic demands were too vague in order to comply. Those days were dark and difficult. It nearly resulted in selling the property and focusing solely on the homebuilding ministry.

The tides began to change in 1995 when Project Mexico received the relic of St. Innocent. Shortly afterward, a new Orphanage Director was hired who brought stability for 17 years to the program.  Through tremendous labors, the mortgage was slowly paid off by the donations of hundreds of sacrificial believers.

Today we have a 16-acre ranch, which houses the largest Orthodox cross-cultural missionary movement in the world. The Gospel is being lived and is flourishing by God’s grace via Project Mexico. These fruits are the outcome of years of struggle and sacrifice that provided soil for the ministry to grow.

Exponential Growth
In the fast-paced modern world, we see the extreme growth of economies and societies because of better communication and technology. In the past several decades we’ve seen the world’s population, reliance on technology and consumption of increase three-hundred-fold. This type of growth can be overwhelming but at the same time, it can provide opportunities to capitalize and make the world a better place. This is essentially the message of the Gospel, to make the world a better place. God has come to save the world, to show all creation the path of light and love, to put an end to the curse of sickness, anxiety, and death. 

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Project Mexico is a ministry within the Orthodox Church to bring the message of God’s hope to the faithful and the afflicted. In the past six years our short-term missionary numbers have nearly tripled and the number of families annually who have received a home has more than doubled. The children impacted by the orphanage are experiencing a stability that is unprecedented. The Orthodox faithful living and ministering in Tijuana has hit record highs. Summer homebuilding interns are at full capacity. 

Cautiously we give thanks to God for providing such results. I say cautiously because we need to keep our focus always on the ONE goal of salvation, not on the accounting of people being shuffled through.  With all this in mind, we take to heart the Lord’s words...

“…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). 

Project Mexico has the capacity to not only maintain this growth but to expand it significantly. The foundation has been provided through sacrifice, prayer and three decades of developing reliable infrastructure on our 16-acre ranch. Faithfully we persevere in doing God’s will. We pray to God that we are provided with the laborers and resources to continue and to grow the ministry of sharing the Lord’s compassion and love for the world. 

Project Mexico and the St. Innocent Orphanage has 30 years of blessed history and with the Grace of God we will continue to labor in His Harvest for generations to come eagerly waiting for His glorious return.