Sunday, August 02, 2015

Mexico Mission Trip '15

After returning from the Strahm vacation, we spent about a week at home before we loaded up a church van and headed south with a group from our church, partnering with Concern International.

As I sit to write about this, I'm having a lot of trouble of trying to sum up our time there. In fact, I've sat here for several hours, several different nights. (It doesn't help that we have started working through the Prison Break TV series again on Netflix. Weird confession: Prisons highly intrigue me.)

Anyways. Its really hard to type up a blog about 10 days worth of purposeful activity. But, here goes.

We drove. Yes, drove, to Mexico. Straight through. That was a bit painful and exhausting. But ultimately, its good for team bonding. It allows you to bring more luggage/supplies. And its a lot cheaper.

We arrived at Brazos de Amor orphanage in Agua Prieta, which is just past the Douglas, Arizona border area. Our purpose was to relieve the staffing from cooking, cleaning, and helping with the kids while we were there. Most of the kids in the orphanage are not "adoptable." Some still have parents - they just can't care for their kids. Others may no longer have parents, but may have other family members alive, but can't care for them. Others are true orphans. Mexico has some difficult adoption laws in place that make it extremely difficult for adoptions to take place.

We also helped with miscellaneous other projects, but our big project was to build a library while there. Leaders of Concern had already collected a number of Spanish Children's books, games, and toys. It turned out really good and the kids were super excited to have a room to hang out in, books to read, and a place to call their own.
Adam putting his woodworking skills to work - building shelves.

Putting my art skills to work.

We also spent time handing out hygiene kits and toys to a colony in Agua Prieta. This is inhabited largely by those that have come to cross the border and then they realize its not that easy. Many have very few belongings and make homes from what they can find.

This might be my favorite picture from the trip.
This boy was so excited and grateful about a little stuffed animal.

We also travelled to a rural mountain community called Ros Bayo that Concern works with. We helped package and hand out hygiene kits. We also put on a community service, dinner, and kid's activities. One woman serves as the main liaison in the community. It was a privilege and inspiring to watch her interact in the community and to see all that she does for them. We enjoyed camping in her backyard and eating her momma's cooking.
The road to Ros Bayo. Only about 40 miles. But it takes 2-3 hours to travel it.
Buying goods from the bread lady.

Two peas in a pod. You must become one with your puppet for optimal performing.
Sorry. Sideways.
This community loves baseball. Adam brought some equipment for them to have.
They were super excited and grateful.
These boys liked the puppet show.
Learning to make tortillas from the bread lady.
There is a donkey in her backyard that is busy grinding the grain into flour.

A few thoughts/memories/take-aways from the trip:
- We were a little discouraged that we could not get more youth to go on this trip. We took 6 high school/college age girls. Plus, Adam and I. Plus, 3 Concern Staff. But the size of our group ended up being a big blessing. All hands were needed and important. Sometimes with larger groups, its harder to keep everyone busy with tasks or relational ministry. Its harder to go places and do things. The size of our group was good for interacting with the orphanage kids....which was only at about a dozen kids at this time of the year.

- Being in another culture, I was reminded once again that Jesus has no bounds. We worshipped at a local church Sunday morning. I remember being moved to tears while a young woman prayed. I understood very few words in her prayer, but I could see her heart. And it was earnest, eager, and full of passion as she came before her Lord. I also remember seeing a dad worshipping through clapping and dancing. He tried to get his teenage son to join him - which resulted in an eye roll. Couldn't help but smile at the passion he had and that he didn't care what others thought while he worshipped....even if it meant his son was embarrassed by him. :)

- I loved the slower pace of life in Mexico. Our culture drives on me at times at the fast pace and the push to obtain and achieve as much as possible. My heart was reminded to be content and grateful for all I have. This life is not about how much money we can earn, how much stuff we can have, or how busy we can be.

- Short-term mission trips have gotten some bad press over the past few years. Questioning whether or not they are worth the money, if they help the locals at all, or if they are more of a burden than a blessing. Questions as to whether or not intercultural trips should be taken when there are needs across the street. Well, having gone on and having led numerous short-term mission trips, both cross-culturally and semi-locally, I am a firm believer that they are still a worthwhile venture. Lives are changed. Callings to serve God full-time are solidified. Worldviews are broadened. There is still something about being put out of your comfort zone, being challenged to try new things, seeing how other people live - its completely worthwhile to send and to go on short-term mission trips. They typically have a deeper impact on those that go, rather than those that receive, but I'm still an advocate for short-term mission trips.

- Never underestimate where God might show up. We happened to witness a divine appointment in Burger King before we crossed over the border into Mexico.

And a potentially less life-changing, but nonetheless, important thing we learned:
- Never, ever turn down chips when they are offered.  Right, Dan?  We were on the way to Ros Bayo when we came upon a delivery truck that had a flat tire. It would be HOURS by the time they walked to the next city for help. And it would be dark by then. Very few cars came by on this road. We stopped and Dan offered them the use of our jack and helped as they swapped out a tire. Before we left, he offered them a Bible. In return, they offered him some chips. CHIPS! It was dinnertime. We were hungry. We were still not at our destination. Some of us were struggling with empty stomachs and motion sickness. Dan said, "No, thanks." Oh man. There were shrieks, mourns, and minor rioting when he told us that they had offered him chips. We had trouble letting this go. Its probably for the best that Dan was not highly affected by our response. :)

This was a great trip! So thankful that grandparents were able to help watch our kids so that I could join Adam and the others on this trip. Praise be to God for all that we experienced and all that was done and may we be reminded to live every day with great purpose and mission!