Mazatlan: January 19 - Day 2

by Rebecca 19. January 2015 23:07

Clown Training

Day 2 began completing that last bit of prepping for the week - combining the stickers, balloons, & pumps Grandma had brought and adding them to the various bags in preparation for the classes, the week ahead, and which would be left in country after we leave on Friday. The character bags under the table were filled with supplies for clowns during the week. The boxes filled with make-up kits. And the rest of the table is filled with odds and ends necessary for the class.

Once finally completed, went out with part of the team to "El Centro." Instead of shopping like the other tour, we essentially bounced in the back of Dave (main local contact)'s truck from one local street taco shop to the next. Essentially, I had cow intestine tacos, pork tacos, and chicken tacos. Nothing beats Mexican tacos...although it was a little unnerving to have pigeons eating the sewage under your feet as you try to focus on eating your taco. That happened today.


Anyway, at one point we noticed that Dave seemed to be driving in large circles and essentially giving us a tour of Mazatlan (without having to deal with all of the tourists). So, we asked Rego, our translator sitting in the bed of the truck with us, if we were indeed going in circles. Turns out that we were indeed driving in circles as Dave was killing time before bringing Krishna, a team mate, to a surprise party. She had lived with them and volunteered with the local partners and they wanted to welcome her back with a surprise taco party. The nice thing about that is that since we were killing time anyway, I was able to ask to run to a Wal-Mart to get the couple things that Grandma and I needed for the clowns that we either forgot or broke in transit. Which also enabled me to get a couple funny pictures of Lou on a four-wheeler outside of Wal-Mart.


So, we finally dropped Krishna off to meet someone before driving to the nearby colonial, under the guise of the guys needed to look at the scaffolding they would be fixing. We walked in prior to her arrival to then take pictures of her as she walked in.


The humorous thing is when you are a gringo with a digital camera, you are instantly popular with the kids. I had a little boy who kept shouting "Foto, foto!" as he rode around on his bike wanting me to take his picture. His older brother also wanted his picture taken, wearing his sister's belt around his head like a ninja. The oldest of the three siblings, gave me a hug soon after I arrived and essentially adopted me for the rest of the time that I was there. At one point, I was sitting near the team and she took my hand and pulled me to the other side of the room prior to giving me tacos and juice. What was even more amusing is she would sit with me, talk in extremely fast Spanish to where I couldn't understand, and then skip off. Then she would skip back and sit with me for a couple minutes before skipping away again. It was endearing to say the least.




We arrived back at the hotel with just enough time to get the clown supplies and go to the class. The intermediate clowns had all arrived but not all of Grandma's beginner clowns had arrived. So, I distributed the clown books and clown make-up kits to the beginners and Grandma had the beginner clowns start drawing ideas for their faces while waiting for the class to start. I then gave the intermediates their books but their kits I had designed a little different. Each of their boxes had more of the 3 main clown colors and then I left them pick which additional colors they would like. Two of the intermediates had been trained by Felix (from my first trip, two years ago). The third intermediate was a clown who had met Grandpa T (Deedah) 5-6 years ago and was inspired to become a clown. So, he essentially taught himself initially but has been kind enough to participate in our classes and be a clown with us last year & this year. Which is especially impressive because he took some of the team on a jungle tour that started at 8 am this morning and lasted all day until arriving for the clown class. Anyway, as I showed the clowns Felix had taught their color choices, they were like kids in a candy shop. They were so sweet and excited to have options. They had been using whatever was donated to the church over the past couple years but didn't have their own. Aside from giving the intermediates their books and make-up kits, we didn't spend any time with make-up. We spent our entire 90 minutes focused on magic and skits. They picked up quickly and now have roughly a 15-20 minute show.

Early on in our practicing, Grandma ran over to me a bit worried. It seems that instead of 6 beginner clowns, 8 of them showed up (I think that it may have actually been 9 as I had another guy who realized there wasn't any clown make-up kits or books available to him, so he decided to join the intermediate class and learn skits and magic). Apparently, clowning sounds lame until the day it starts when several will unexpectedly show up. It happened in Romania and now in Mexico. I find it interesting but it feels accurate. It is such a beautiful thing to bring joy and it's contagious. Anyway, Grandma was a little worried. However, she said that my reply helped her calm down & then get through the class. Unsure why really. What I said was, "Do the best you can, because that's all you can do" before shrugging. Anyway, I checked in on the clowns as she progressed but she did fine. They ended up needing the full two hours but considering it was a full group with one teacher, that's impressive. Grandma was a little nervous in that she had not taught in a while but it came back to her pretty quick.

A highlight early on the evening for Grandma was when Jorge came over to give her a big hug. Grandpa T was so special and inspirational to Jorge. So, he seems to always go out of his way to hug Grandma and to show his appreciation to her.

As we ended the class a few moments occurred that meant a lot to us. The intermediate clowns ended a half hour early as we didn't have the ability to go into the balloons and at first we were hoping to review the basic balloons with the beginners. However, the beginners needed that extra half hour to work on their faces (which is totally fine). Anyway, as the clowns went to leave, I was able to shake their hands and while they couldn't communicate - the excitement and joy that I saw in their eyes and in their handshake was encouraging. I love seeing people light up about their passion and I saw it in their eyes. For Grandma, she was talking with one of her "beginner" clowns who turned out to not only have clowned previously but was also the pastor of Renato Vega and he does a lot of stuff with children's education. Not to mention that he assists a lot with a local free charity hospital, including taking a group of kids to brighten up a local hospital two weeks ago. However, he was kind enough to patiently go thru Grandma's beginner class instead of insisting that he join the intermediate class. Plus, it helped Grandma to have an example to show off to the other clowns.

Finally finished with the day, I was re-organizing and getting prepped for the week (yes, again - that's a clown leader's life sometimes is all of the prep work before and after any &every event lol) when a miraculous thing happened. Before leaving Jorge asked if he could have a clown nose, one made out of the squishy material that isn't a glue on or use a string (suddenly can't remember what the material is called). Anyway, I told him that I would bring one next time. However, when I was reorganizing, I opened a spare costume I had brought and inside was the exact nose he had described. So excited to give him the nose tomorrow as it was something I had not intended to pack but it arrived as it needed to be here.

At this moment, I might have 2-3 recently trained clowns tomorrow. However, we know that Uncle Andy will be a clown and I recruited another team member to participate in "You Are Special."

Mazatlan: January 18 - Day 1

by Rebecca 18. January 2015 23:53

Travelling to Mazatlan

I arrived in Phoenix at 1 am, and in my sleepy haze believed United to be the same as US Airways, which ended up being a good thing as there is a lot more room in United's terminal. Anyway, went to sleep alone in the terminal and woke up around 4:30 am with roughly 20 people in the general vicinity. Each face looking a little irritated that I had managed to hog 4 chairs. Feeling slightly awkward and quite groggy, I decided it best to get up & get ready for the day. During that process, I realized that I was in the wrong terminal.

Still quite dazed, as I am not really a morning person, I went to a TSA representative as I could not figure out how to get to the correct terminal without having to leave the secure area of the airport. The TSA representative informed me that I did indeed have to leave the secure area, walk around the airport, get on a tram, go through security (again) and then I would get to my correct area. Flabbergasted by what seemed a bizarre system and still quite sleepy, I asked him several times to confirm the fact that I did have to go through security again. At my third time questioning the madness of the system, the TSA individual stated "Are you on dope or something? That's the third time you asked me if you have to go through security!" At that, I turned to leave and he yelled, "You're welcome!" after me. Unsure why I should be grateful for being belittled, I did not reply.

I did make it to the correct gate around 6:30 am, still plenty of time for my 9:45 am flight to Mazatlan. So, I went to get coffee. In the process, the staff at the coffee shop helped me laugh and find the amusement in the event. Then they did the extra thing of writing a smiley face on my breakfast sandwich wrapper. That moment was a great way to start the morning and the trip.


Note from baristas

Grandma and I made it safely to Mazatlan a couple hours before the team. We have a team of 36 individuals, which made loading the team, luggage (filled with medicines, glasses, shoes, and clown supplies... not to mention personal effects), into a couple vans amusing and team building.

What impressed me was how the team opened up and welcomed us back in. Like we had never left the team. Their sweet natures and kind hearts are wonderful. I am always amazed how I feel like I truly belong with this team, not like the "outsider from Seattle." That's a rare gift for a team to have. I felt it most at dinner as we laughed, watched cheese get lit on fire, and excitedly talked about the skills that each person would be sharing in the week ahead. I am so excited to be here and to be a part of this team.

Romania: July 11th

by Rebecca 11. July 2014 21:53

After completing everyone’s make-up we had to reassign parts before leaving for the park due to different clowns ability to attend the day. The new clowns again picked up the skits quickly before we piled into the car. We tried to budget time assuming that we would be asked to leave every ten minutes or so. As we walked into the park, an official walked towards us and the team began to groan believing that we will be asked to leave before we did anything. So, I walked up to him and said “Buna” in my sweet clown voice and he began to talk really fast in an authoritative voice. So, I had to ask what he was saying… turns out he wanted a picture with all of the clowns. We immediately agreed and posed for the picture before slowly moving to where we would perform in the park, making balloon animals and distributing stickers and candy along the way. I assumed he would still shut us down at any second so, I had the team do the short show and then begin to make balloons. After 10-15 minutes of waiting to be asked to leave and not seeing it happen, I turned the clown music back on and had clowns begin to do magic tricks. When we still weren’t shut down, we did the haircut skit and when we were still in the clear, we did “You are special.” We were able to spend the whole morning in 1 park. Lost count on which miracle we are at for this trip.

Following that, we went to a local orphanage. Up to this point, the clowns had completed 1 event a day and this was their first time with multiple events in one day. I was incredibly proud of them for making it through both. We arrived and the clowns began the coupled Christian songs before we began the show. It was a hard show in that the kids seemed to have different mental and social developmental issues. We had a child that was determined to steal the props and I had to be a grumpy clown saying no if he even walked near me. It felt like we were on the border of chaos through the show. For the clowns, it was a good final show before I left as I had weeded myself out of the show. They performed the skits, they performed the magic, they led the songs. They made today’s show. I think that for their first show it was good (okay I did get my hair cut but they did everything else). Following the show we made balloons for the kids but I think they enjoyed popping the balloons more than having them. Which isn’t bad as the clowns were able to practice and learn new balloons. I did try to clean and up the broken balloons to keep the little owns from choking on them. An adorable little boy, watched me do that, so he began to help. Anytime he saw a piece of garbage, he would pick it up and put it in my apron. Through this trip I have learned that as a clown you can make bizarre noises to communicate humor as a clown. The orphanage was no different. If it was a balloon near my face, I would cry like I was afraid. If a balloon hit me, I welped in pain.


edited IMG_1584

Following the clown show, we were invited upstairs to visit the babies. We visited the 1 year olds first and a couple of them weren’t sure about the clowns. One was incredibly happy to see us and kept throwing toys to get me to play fetch for him. But the baby that stood out the most was in in infant area. There were two adorable babies that the girls immediately ran to and I was told that there was another one next door. I walked in and a clown stated that the staff stated he was severely deformed. He was the only baby in his room and above his crib was a mirror so he could see himself and possibly a bit more than what his deformity allowed. The clowns stayed with me for another moment before going back to the infants. I sat by him and he struggled to look at me so I changed position so he could look at me better. He would smile up at me and giggle as I brushed his cheek with my fingertips. And I can’t type more without crying really hard about him. In the end, he stole my heart and reminded me in so many ways why I live and love clown ministry.

edited IMG_1583I did get to see Marian and give him a bag filled with supplies for Costin, Marian, and Ilinca (Marian’s daughter). At one point he asked me how it feels to be Pop’s legacy. I shrugged or said something stupid. But in reality, the Lolli and Pop legacy are all of the “first generation clowns” – Jorge, Robert, Marian, Costin, Peter, Jeremiah, Amber, Brandon, and me and the “second generations” – Felix, Christa, Uncle Andy, the Seattle team, the Maranata team, and whoever Amber trains in Tucson/Thailand. The Lolli and Pop legacy isn’t resting on one person.


A final definition of clowning, we are usually that first step. Spreading seeds. We are rarely the harvest. We rarely see the long term fruit. All we can do is hold on to the snapshots of smiles we treasure in our hearts and fragments of stories people tells us  through teary eyed smiles. Clowns remind us how to smile and teach us to imagine… clown ministry shows God’s joy  and love is available and waiting to wrap you in a giant hug.


Love Does Romania Highlights Video


Romania 2014

Romania: July 10th

by Rebecca 10. July 2014 21:48

The goal of the day was to visit as many parks as we were able too. Several of the kids who were unable to come with us to the cancer hospital arrived to participate in the park ministry day.

In the middle of the morning hecticness, a local girl (Mihaila) stood in the middle of the room watching everyone get ready. She lives in the area, in the Gypsy (or Roma) section. Her story is that while she has a mother, she raises her siblings. They are four  kids ranging in ages  from eighteen months to maybe 8 or 9. She wandered into the church and liked it so much she brought her siblings. When I saw her at church, as me not Bella, last night she spent the whole service staring and smiling at me. As soon as service was over she ran up to give me a big hug. This morning as the clowns were getting ready this morning, roughly 12-13 kids, she stood in the middle of the room watching the transformation in awe. So, at one point I took off my wig and let her wear it. She lit up and my heart breaks for her because she has such a beautiful amazement at life and it is hard to know that she lives abandoned. But beautiful to know that she has Jesus.

At the first park, we did the Chicken Dance and a couple magic tricks before I was told we need to move to the next place by the pastor’s wife. I asked if we could do a quick ministry skit and she agreed so we did “You are Special.” Thought it was weird that we were in a hurry but went with it. So, we drove to the other side of the park before beginning the show again. We completed the silly skits and the magic tricks to a large audience. Suddenly, Pastor Nelu told me we needed to move on. I mentioned we had just started and hadn’t done any of the ministry skits and he said we were just asked to leave by park officials. Additionally, he timed it and we have about ten minutes to do the show before being asked to leave. Then he told me to not worry, because the non-clown adults were able to distribute a lot of Bibles and Christian coloring books for the kids.

So, armed with the knowledge that I had ten minutes, I announced the new show schedule to the group: Chicken Dance, Bible Coloring Book, and then Jesus fill the hole in my heart. We parked the van and started walking through the park, asking kids and their families to follow us. So we got to the other side and began the song as the clock started. We had a large crowd as they watched the clowns. Following the show, I asked Pastor Nelu to translate my explanation and then he led the kids in prayer. It’s interesting talking to the people of Maranata Church because they area always thinking how to minister more. We finished the 3rd show when one of the non-clown teenage volunteers told me that I need to be mentioning the service times at the end of the prayer, so that they can continue to grow. It is totally true and I am so glad that people are so devoted to evangelism at that church.

We went to one final park. Announcing to passerbyers that we will be at the park. We arrived and started making balloons. A man in a uniform asked me for 3 balloons which I started making immediately. And it was a good thing because apparently he had asked us to leave before we did anything. But he liked that balloons I was making. About that time, I noticed that there were kids leaving so I sounded “Magic, magic!” in Romanian to get them to come back. Everyone turned and looked at me like I said the wrong thing. So, I clarified if I was using the right word. They explained that I had but we had been asked to leave by the official man that I had just completed the balloons for. So, now that I announced magic, I just made him several balloons, and now he has several hopeful eyes staring at him, he agreed to let me do one skit. Instead of letting the clowns do this show, I took over because I kinda knew that I had control of the situation and I am a hard clown to say no to. So, did the silly coin die box magic trick. Once completed, I asked him, again in front of several hopeful eyes, to do one more magic trick. The entire small audience was now staring at him. He agreed to let me do one last magic trick. So, I did the magic coloring book (as an encouragement for the kids to go through their Bible story coloring books we distributed). As I started, to say draw your favorite Bible story, he gave me a stern look knowing that I had essentially set him up. But we had a couple moments to plug that bit of Gospel to go home with them.


Romania 2014

Romania: July 9th

by Rebecca 9. July 2014 19:43

Trained the clowns on the remaining magic tricks, silly skits, and ministry skits this morning as they put on make-up for the day. Because it was the same place two days in a row and because I received the green light from the main individual who ministers with the kids in that hospital, the clowns learned “You are Special” and “Jesus fills the whole in my heart.”


Actually, to back up for a second, George (the man who leads the ministry to reach kids in the cancer wing) gave me his card yesterday saying that he hoped the clowns could visit again. I put it somewhere safe. I mean really safe. So safe, no one would lose it. Except me. When we finalized this week’s plan, I needed to call him but couldn’t find the number. So Simona and I had to walk a few doors down to talk with his cousin to get his number. As we talked with his cousin, she brought out coloring books for the kids. Stories full of puzzles, pictures, and Bible stories. This morning, as I was about to leave I found the card. If I found it last night we would not have the books for the kids to entertain them while they are in bed or unable to move. Miracle #2?

Anyway, again they learned quickly. Upon arrival, the staff immediately started sitting the kids down for the show. Some of the kids were the same as the day before but most were different kids. So, we handed out the coloring books and some crayons to each child waiting for the rest to arrive. I turned around to have the clowns start singing children’s songs when I realized several disappeared. More specifically, all but one.



So, I gave “Bob” the clown a book and said “Pick a story to read.” No idea which he read but his inflection was good and they seemed engaged. While he read I found the clowns. They had picked up that clowns clown with everyone all the time. So they were all playing with kids outside the room, giving stickers to everyone who passed by, picking on each other to make adults waiting in hallways laugh… it was precious. But I still had to move them back into the playroom and rescue Bob. We walked in just as he was wrapping up the story. They sang 2 Sunday School songs and got the kids to do the motions too. Following the songs, we started the skits beginning with the “Haircut Skit,” where a clown would cut off all of Bella’s hair. while it was originally 1 clown, it felt like all of them participated. They moved along with the magic tricks and they helped each other by shouting out wrong colors and heckling the magician clown, which was something they improvised. I love it when clowns naturally do things they should without needing me. With each magic trick, they worked amazingly as a team and the kids really enjoyed the clowns playing off of each other.

The last 2 skits were “You are Special” and “Jesus fills the whole in my Heart.” It begins with 2 diva clowns awarding each other stars for being talented and beautiful. A clumsy clown falls into the scene and would like a star but he is not talented and awarded nothing. The divas leave taking the stars with them and leaving the clumsy clown alone and sad on stage. The compassionate clown motions to ask what is the matter and he explains that he is untalented. The compassionate clown offers a Bible but the clumsy clown refuses. The compassionate clown leaves the Bible and leaves the clumsy clown alone on stage again. He decides to read the Bible and discovers that he is loved which is worth more than being talented. Following the skit, I explained what the scene was about as it was performed to music and without words. It’s always hard for me to not cry as I stand on stage telling kids that they are loved and that they are special because it is such an important message to me.

Following that we performed “Jesus fills the whole in my heart.” The team learned it earlier in the day and performed it without me. The kids seemed to respond well. Following the skit, we led the children in a salvation prayer and then made balloons. After a few minutes, we were asked if a couple of us would go upstairs to the 7the floor to visit children in rooms that could not make it down. So a couple of us went upstairs and made balloons for the children and their mothers sitting with them. We distributed stickers to everyone on the way. And even found as all cluster of children in a corner waiting for something. I don’t know if it was for treatment, a doctor, or what but they each looked glum and serious. So, we made balloons for each of them to keep them entertained as they waited. I really enjoy handing out stickers, especially to the angriest or most stern individuals. Because you literally see an entire transformation as they look at it. They never just smile, but they light up. Their shoulders go back and they walk taller than they did before the sticker. It is one of my all time favorite things in the world to do.

Today was harder for those of us who went upstairs or maybe just me. You see more of the treatment, the cancer, and the effects when you are by their bed. The playroom you see some effects but it also shields you in that you are seeing the kids strong enough that day to make it to the room but not everyone can do that. It was a beautiful day and this is an amazing team.


Romania 2014

Romania: July 8th

by Rebecca 8. July 2014 23:34

Today was the day we visited the children’s wing at a local cancer Hospital. It was a hard day for the new clowns to be initiated but they made it. We were expecting 4-5 clowns to go with me, instead 6 clowns arrived and numerous local children to get their faces painted. I had to send several home because we didn’t have time to paint their faces and no room for additional clowns in the car. A couple stayed and had their faces painted by the teenage clowns about to go out with us.



When our driver George arrived we surprised him with a large group of clowns and we were unsure of we had enough room for everyone but it ended up being just enough room. We arrived at the hospital and began distributing stickers everywhere. It brightened numerous faces to see the clown smiley face stickers.

We performed the magic show and the new clowns participated in the magic show doing the recently learned magic tricks. Additionally, they learned the flower and the sword balloons on the fly.



I was really impressed because they learned new things, entertained the kids, performed what they learned last night, and they did it all at a tough event. Too make matters more harsh, they did it without air conditioning. While the rest of the hospital had the air conditioning, the play room’s had been turned off. But in all they did really well.


This little guy really touched my heart. He would watch the clowns learn the flower balloon, a more advanced balloon, and then ask for long balloons to try to make them himself. His mother came to pick him up and he presented her with a bouquet of flowers that he made just for her. it was sweet to see how hard he worked to learn it and then to proudly present them to his mother as a gift.


Romania 2014

Romania: July 7th

by Rebecca 7. July 2014 20:35

This morning Bella the clown went to a local preschool and did a basic magic trick show and balloon animals.

The kids were so amazed as they saw the clown. They loved the stickers and treasured them for the rest of the day. As I performed the magic tricks, they would exclaim, “Wow! It’s real magic!” One of the girls came up and told me that I am not a clown but a fairy following the show. There was an adorable little boy who cried when he first saw me and they told me that he was extremely afraid when Spiderman came as well.  But as the show progressed he decided that he liked me but kept  trying to hide it. He would peak around a corner and smile at me until I would catch him looking them he would hide his face and giggle.

This evening was the clown training class. The word got out around the neighborhood, so it was 3 churches instead of 1-2 and all ages of kids, teenagers, and 1 adult pupils. I had a little over 2 hours to teach what I normally teach my adult class in 6 weekly sessions. But God was faithful and provided what I would consider a miracle: they learned how to put on clown make-up, make a dog balloon, and 2 magic tricks. Needless to say, about to pass out.


Romania 2014

Romania: July 6th

by Rebecca 6. July 2014 19:30

Went to Maranata Church this morning and we walked in almost immediately after the service started and as they started the music. They sang a couple songs, had a public reading of Psalm 122 and then broke into small groups for prayer. During that time, I was introduced to Pastor Nelu Tone who stated that I would give my testimony and talk about “Why clowns?” Followed by going to the kids’ area to lead a craft or something. The service continued and suddenly Simona, my host family,  told me that she had to sit with Brianna, her daughter, and couldn’t translate for me. I said ok and realized that the service had stopped and I was being beckoned to the front. I was so confused that I left my notes at my seat as I walked up front. So, I gave the highlights about clowns; that clowning is an opportunity to show God’s love and joy to all people and it’s beautiful because you can see transformation occur. I then thanked the church for opening their doors to me. Following my couple minutes, the kids were all brought on stage to sing a couple songs.



Around 11, it was time to go to the kids class. I was told to do a craft so, I semi-taught and semi-made fish balloons for each child. In hindsight, I should have paused everything and told the Bible story prior to making the balloons because by the time it was finished, they were so excited by the balloons that the story of Peter and Jesus and the fish was kinda lost. But the kids were all excited and loved the balloons.

As a humorous side note, during the sermon today I found out that in Romanian, Jezebel translates to Izabela or Isabella. Due to that fact Simona and I have decided it would be best if I adopt another name while in country. So, we shortened it to “Bella.” Also humorous, the wig that I brought was all wrinkled and a mess. So I decided took trim it. While it looks better that it did (it really looked that awful; water and hair spray just weren’t working and it had been shaken out and sitting out for over a day and still looked awful), there is a new bald spot in the back. Okay so more than a trim, but still definitely better looking than the original wrinkled mess.


Romania 2014

Praying Over La Vina Mazatlan Clowns

by Rebecca 11. January 2013 17:05

This morning Felix arrived with Kevin & Matteo to clown at Castillo. As the team loaded the van to leave for Castillo, Uncle Andy gathered a small group of us together. Dave, Aunt Sharon, Uncle Andy, Felix, Jorge and myself stood in a small corner as Uncle Andy explained what we were leaving for the Mazatlan clowns. Through Dave, Uncle Andy explained that we saw the ability and annointing in Felix and we wanted to give her additional resources to help her ministry launch. Jorge has an established children’s ministry that he has been building over the past years and we asked him to pray over Felix as we commissioned her out.

After we prayed, Felix and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. I am immeasurably proud of her and I am excited to see her ministry continue to grow.


Stone Island

by Rebecca 10. January 2013 01:30

To get to Stone Island, one has to pile into small boats that ferry you across the water. Half of the area is affluent and being developed into a resort community.

The other half is in poverty. The colonial is in the center of the poverty half. This is also the colonial that Vineyard Community Church has invested and helped to build up over the past several years.

When we arrived at the building, there were already people lined up in anticipation for the medical team to arrive. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of kids yet and the medical team asked for us to go outside to ensure that we did not draw kids into the building as they were setting up. So, Paco and Isabella helped to canvass the area as Felix worked on painting her face.

Over the past several days, Felix would take her daughters to school at 8 am, ride the bus 45 minutes to the church with her 2 year-old and 10 year-old sons to La Vina Mazatlan, clown the full 8-10 hour day, before riding the bus back home. During that time she had perfected her make-up and had run out of some of the paint. So, we had to improvise and she did not have the opportunity to put it on until we arrived at the colonial.

When Paco and Isabella arrived back at the church, we found Felix already in the designated clown area surrounded by kids. I was surprised to see that our clown had jumped straight into character. I was exceedingly proud of how far she had come in a short amount of time. She has a God-given natural talent to clown and to spread joy.

We did two clown programs at Stone Island. The first program was for a small group of children in the morning. Part of the idea was to show Felix the skits and then incorporate her during the second program.

Our last skit of the show is one that Lolli & Pop used to perform where a clown has a giant hole in paper heart they hold up. They try to fill it with various things but nothing can fill the heart until they open a Bible and find the missing piece with the word Jesus or “Cristo” printed across it. In the first show, the cd player randomly stopped but Felix jumped in and began to help narrate and got the kids involved in what we were doing. As I would hold up a medal, the kids would shout how it would not fill the heart just as I dropped it through the hole.

The second show was scheduled to occur right after the rest of the local children were released from school and after the medical team was packed up. The goal was to complete the clown show, distribute donated new shoes to the children, and feed the community all before 6 pm. By this time, Jorge had arrived and helped to translate the clown show as well.

Jorge started the clown show and it was amazing to see him get the kids and adults fully engaged in what was occurring onstage. By the time he had finished, everyone was fully drawn in to what the clowns were about to do. We began the skit and Jorge narrated each idea that Paco brought to attempt to fill the heart. All the while, Felix sat reading the prop Bible and watching. When Paco had exhausted his ideas, Felix opened the Bible and gave Isabella the missing heart piece. She did an amazing job helping get the kids involved all day and carried out her part beautifully.

Afterwards the shoe and meal distribution began and Felix pulled me aside to ask me a question. She wanted to know when we would go to her colonial, Dona Chonita. I had to tell her that I was leaving the following day but that was why we had come. To teach and to equip her to perform it at her church and to move the ministry forward even after we left.

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Why Clowns?

Whether it is in a hospital, memory care facility, at a charity event, or walking down the street, that moment when most individuals see a clown they smile, regardless of age or culture. Clowns almost universally help create smiles. There is something about the gift of a smile and laughter that helps improve our spirits, relieve tension, and can inspire us to hope.

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