Today we headed to Cabo Pulmo National Park, a protected marine area, for scuba diving (Steve and Dr. Sluka), snorkeling (myself), and data collection.
|Steve, Dr. Sluka and 4 others heading out to scuba in two locations.|
We wanted to know what the condition of the reef is, the status of aquatic wildlife, and what is being done for conservation here. This month the National Park is opening a simple educational center to explain why conservation is important to this area, underwater as well as on land. You can see some of the videos we are taking here.
|Cabo Pulmo is a small protected area declared a National Park for Mexico.|
If we are to start any type of work/ministry here dealing more specifically with conservation/research within our church-planting movement, we need to better understand what the ocean issues are that affect this part of Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. Plastic trash is a large problem all over the oceans. However, microplastics are the bigger issue. Microplastics are pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller that have broken down from larger pieces of plastic floating in our waters, or plastics that come from other sources, such as our laundry water from washing machines with minuscule particles of plastic that flow into our watersheds.
|Steve Dresselhaus looking for microplastics in the sand|
However, here, locally in Mexico, on Baja Peninsula, how do we get the people to care about the creation they live in? How do teach them to value it? One proven way is to help the younger generation... We can take them out to the water...to kayak, scuba, snorkel...to see the beauty of God's creation, to realize that this belongs to THEM, this is their land, their waters, their wildlife! We want them to experience the beauty and glory of God's creation and understand the reality that their choices have consequences. We want to help them become educated about their situation instead of ignorant about what's here. One of the challenges is over fishing, as well as poaching at night by fishermen who come into protected waters to fish. Ever since the area of Cabo Pulmo was protected 22 years ago, the density of the biodiversity has grown over 200%! This is when you start to think what creation was like BEFORE sin, the abundance of life, the flourishing of creation...how do we get people to think about valuing/stewarding creation? What do we do?
I believe it all comes down to the heart. And how do we get at the heart issues with people? Through genuine relationships--that's how we do our work, God's work, of taking the message of forgiveness to those who have not heard. Let me give an example:
On our way back up to La Paz, a little over two hour drive, we stopped at a local pizza place in the middle of nowhere. This is the 11th best pizza on the country of Mexico--we know because they competed on the mainland this year. The pizza place is even listed on Trip Advisor as a great stop! It's called Pizza Gourmet San Antonio. Cesar and Trini are the owners, and they are great people!
|Open air eating area, in their yard. Very relaxing.|
|Cesar went to Spain for culinary arts school, and Trini is an architect.|
Here's the thing: people only come here by word of mouth! It's gourmet pizza, custom made if needed--like my pizza. Since I can't have salt in my diet, and very little sodium, he made me a crust made from blue maize (corn), shredded tomatoes as a sauce layer, and loaded it with flavorful veggies and herbs. Steve and Dr. Sluka had their own gourmet pizza with spinach and honey on one half and pear slices on the other.
|No-salt pizza for me.|
|Gourmet Pizza for Dr. Sluka and Steve.|
The way Steve and Lois found out about this place was driving by one Saturday in 2016 when they saw a hand-written sign and thought nothing of it. The next day they met a couple at an event in a town down the coast, found out it was the restaurant, owners, and came to visit the next day. They became great friends as a result, kayaking often with Steve & Lois and going on outings when they can, and now are part of the Monday night Bible exploration group that meets in the Dresselhaus' home. I'll see them again this coming Monday and look forward to it.
You see, it is in the context of relationships, of real life, that we best share Jesus with people. There's nothing special per se about us missionaries, other than that we try to share life with people, be genuinely interested in them, and shine the light of Jesus to those who have not met him yet! This is what it's all about friends. What a privilege to be called one of His own children and to welcome others into God's family!