An Invitation to Grow

In rock climbing, the hardest move on a route is called the “crux.” Working through a difficult crux is generally some form of type 2 fun (i.e. not actually fun until it’s over.) It’s exhausting, humbling, and sometimes even discouraging. Pro climbers can spend years getting shut down by a specific crux before completing a tough route. On the other hand, that experience of trying hard to overcome a challenge is at the core of what makes climbing so rewarding. For those who are willing to embrace discomfort, a crux offers an invitation to grow. 

One of our “ministry cruxes” this summer came as an opportunity to partner with Young Life Mexico in leading two days of surf camp for roughly 50 youth from Tijuana and Tecate. Young Life is all about equipping leaders to support and share God’s love with young people in their neighborhoods. The emphasis on intentional, ongoing mentoring relationships resonates with Aleph’s mission and approach. Our role was to come alongside and provide an introductory surf experience for the group to bond and connect. The photos highlight the experience better than I can. In short, it was an epic weekend! 

The surf camp was a stretch in scale from our usual small group, local outings. It required lots of careful planning and collaboration. Finding a suitable location for a large group away from rip currents and city contamination required some scouting and extra driving. The camp also presented a leadership opportunity for two of the older boys who have now been surfing with us for about a year to work alongside us as assistant instructors. Uziel and Nahum crushed two very full back-to-back days hauling gear, pushing new surfers into waves, rinsing piles of wetsuits, and they still found energy to get out and surf during breaks. It’s been so fun to watch them progress and gain confidence in the water. We’re so proud of these guys!

Another goal for this summer was piloting girls swimming lessons at a local pool. Thanks to some new donors we now have funding to cover the pool costs and have run a couple lessons over at Las Palmas. The girls have already improved greatly in the short time we’ve been together.

As schools get ready to start back up, we plan to keep running regular programs through September. A couple months ago, Jess stopped working for Siloé clinic, and I (Dustin) have continued on at two days a week. In the fall we’ve set aside some weekends to explore some new areas in Northern Baja in hopes of expanding options for rock climbing, hiking and possibly camping. We also plan to spend a couple weeks in October back north of the border resting, climbing, praying and seeking fresh vision for this season of life. 

While writing this update, I made a note that we’ve now run more than 50 Aleph trips since we started last year. It’s not a direct measure of impact so much as a benchmark that reminds me we are further along in the journey with Aleph Baja than when we started. It’s the substance of these trips–moments of shared joy and connection, lessons taught and learned, and the celebration of God’s goodness through playing in the outdoors–that stand out in my memory. 

This feeling leads to a deep sense of gratitude as I think of the folks that have come alongside to support and be a part of this work. We want to give a big shoutout to all the volunteers who gave up weekends this summer to drive down and help out on surf programs! Also to our amazing friends north of the border opening their homes and offering hospitality when we’ve needed it; and to those who have supported us financially and who have stood with us in prayer, none of this would be possible without you.

If you know of a church or any other folks that might be interested in supporting our work, we would love to connect!

Dustin & Jess

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