August 2009

“A longer weekend to see, to feel
compassion, and to use your hands
to further build the kingdom of God”

Saul is organizing short “Vision Trips” for those who have an interest in helping Armonia but have never been to Mexico to visit the centers. These trips are very intense, short trips which enable visitors to see first hand the work that Armonia does with the poor. An individual who wishes to donate financially to Armonia but does not have the time or desire to participate in person in Mexico may understand in a deep way what the needs and goals of Armonia are. And potential volunteers who wish to work at Armonia may gain a more thorough understanding of the opportunities and how their skills and interests may be put to best use. On many occasions persons ask “What can I do?” and have reluctance to volunteer until this question is answered. A Vision Trip is designed to provide that answer.

If you have an interest in taking a vision trip in the future please contact me at A typical trip schedule follows:
Arrive in Mexico City
Reception with light food at
Casablanca residence
Bible Study
Breakfast with AIMS (Armonia Indigenous Mexican Students
Visit Violetas
Visit Hornos
Visit Presidentes CUTC
Visit Jalalpa CUTC
Visit with family
Dinner at Café Tacuba
Return to Casablanca
Bible Study
Visit with family
Christian gathering at Santa
Travel to Oaxaca
Visit Tule and Oaxaca City
Dinner at Casa Naranja
Visit with AIMS students
Breakfast and prayer
Visit the school
Visit Pyramids
Lunch at Santa Marta
Visit students’ residence
Shopping with AIMS students
Closing reflection with Saul and
light dinner
Rise early and depart for airport
*CUTC= Christian Urban Transformation Center


Suddenly a scream comes from the barred entrance of the Armonia Transformation Center in Jalalpa. Doctor! Help! Come! We rush up the stairs and out the door. We follow a man running down the street, turn right and enter a little two floor house. Up the stairs there is a small room. A hammock is there, torn on one end but fixed to the wall on the other. On the floor lies a small, motionless boy. He has no pulse. He is not breathing. He is warm. We chant ABC – “airway, breathing, circulation” as we ready ourselves. We commence two person CPR, two old retired doctors working at the Armonia center a short block away. And we continue. No pulse, no respiration after thirty minutes or more. Pupils fixed. This beautiful boy is dead.

His father bursts into the room. He picks up the little boy by his arms, raises him up and down using a method of artificial respiration we used 40 years ago. We go downstairs. Finally after an hour a police car arrives, then later an ambulance. We don’t need an ambulance. We don’t need the police. We would have needed a defibrillator, and EMS personnel, but not an hour later. There is no 911 in Mexico for the poor. For them, the nearest hospital is three hours away on a good day through the traffic.

That night we return to console the family. They, of course, are grief stricken. They say this had to be an accident with the hammock. But one relative tells us that the little boy’s uncle killed himself several months ago. A patchy story. They must cling to the accident theory. But we know. How to help this family? How to unravel the relationship between the boy and his uncle? Should we try? How did they know to come to the Armonia Transformation center just around the corner for help? How did they know there were doctors there? Could we involve the family in counseling at the center?

And what of the total lack of response by the authorities? The lack of emergency care in one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City?
And how about us? How would he fare in downtown Detroit, or L.A. amongst our urban poor?

Student Residence under Construction

Student Residence under Construction

When I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, in February 2009 the student residence was well underway. Under Saul’s leadership many volunteer groups from the U.S. and the U.K had worked over two summers in the construction. The indigenous Indian high school students living in the temporary residences in Oaxaca City worked every weekend and in most of their spare time on this exciting project. This residence lies on land purchased by Armonia with contributions from individuals, churches, and Armonia U.S. Inc in the U.S. and Armonia U.K in the United Kingdom. The land lies in a valley with mountains in the background. Water for the residence comes from springs in the mountains above. There is ample land for more than one student residence as the high school education program grows. In addition land is being set aside to grow various crops to enhance food production and to teach new agricultural technics to students who may wish to return to their native villages with new productive ideas