Xpujil Update

The Xpujil Mission continues to do what it does best: encourage Mexican Presbyterians to embrace beliefs and activities that: 1) draw them closer to God through Jesus Christ, and 2) enable them to help themselves and their neighbors live healthier lives in a very challenging environment. For example:

Beginning September 27, four Presbyterian men from Castilla Brito will travel thirty miles from their own village to spend a week leading several families as they work together to build two cisterns for two families. These will be the 19th and 20th family-owned cisterns built in 2010. Sometime between now and the end of the year, an additional four cisterns will be built thanks to donations from partner churches in the Midwest.

During the summer, I visited 94 of the 171 cisterns that have built since the cistern project began in 2002. All were functioning, and almost every one was entirely full of rainwater. (The Lord has blessed the region with good rains this summer.) Many, many families asked me to convey their gratitude to the Christian brothers and sisters whose donations made the construction of their cisterns possible.

As a brief reminder, each cistern recipient family: 1) helps build their own cistern as well as those of their neighbors, 2) pays half the labor costs, and 3) over time repays 1/3 of the construction material costs.

In the near future, we would like to see families repay 80% or even 100% of the construction costs in an effort to make the cistern project economically self-sustaining. But even if the families promise to repay 100% of the material costs, donations from church partners like Alamance will still be needed for the next several years to keep the project moving forward until repayment proceeds add up to an amount that would allow us to build 20 cisterns or more annually without outside support.

Self-sustaining has always been a characteristic of our sheep ministry. The Presbyterian families we work with are entirely responsible for the purchase, care, and sale of their own sheep. Our role from the beginning has been to encourage education, organization, and cooperation between members of the Presbyterian shepherding community. Over the years, we have offered financial support to some of our sheep associates. But that support comes in the form of micro-loans, not gifts.

In order to learn firsthand about the challenges of the sheep industry in the Xpujil region, our full-time partner in Xpujil, Felipe Torres, became a shepherd by literally cutting a sheep ranch out of a secondary growth wooded area. Virtually every blade of grass and green protein-laden leaf that his sheep consume are a product of his arduous labor on our 25 acre ranch. During the last couple of years, we asked Felipe to purchase, feed, care for and market our sheep. He was also asked to conduct feed tests on our flock, and even visit and keep detailed records on the flocks of two of our illiterate sheep associates. Thanks to Felipe, the sheep ministry progressed much faster than we expected.

To spark creativity and innovation, Felipe Torres will now become the owner of our sheep operation. Beginning in October, Felipe will have the freedom to administer the ranch, the animals, and the business as he sees fit, and he will no longer be compensated by the Xpujil Mission for this work. Actual ownership of the ranch property will remain in the hands of the Xpujil Mission, but Felipe will make all the decisions, and be personally responsible for all the financial gains and losses. A decade ago, we relinquished control of our bee yard to Alfredo Narvaez. As a result, the bee yard grew, bee income rose, and many local folks have benefited from Alfredo’s creativity, innovation, and beekeeping knowledge. We are hopeful that handing over control of the sheep ranch to Felipe will bring similar positive results. Please pray for Felipe and his family during this transition period.

On behalf of all Xpujil Mission Project partners, I want to thank you for your prayers and support during 2010. Extremely difficult economic times make participation in international mission difficult, but our efforts will continue in 2011 and beyond. Everyone is welcome to come work with us, but if that isn’t possible, please consider other ways to help us continue to provide an avenue for Mexican Presbyterians and their neighbors to resolve their contaminated water and low income problems.

Todd Luke

About the Author

Yucatan Mission Staff come from all over the world to help the people living in this beautiful part of the world. If you're interested in becoming a part of our staff, visit the 'Who Are We?' page on this website for more details.

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