When I was almost seventeen my life changed.
Perspective changed. Reasoning changed. My world view changed.
It was one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life.
I would love to do it again.
I would do it again.
My church youth group took a mission trip to Mexico. We went over to Mission, Texas, a city directly on the US/Mexican border. We spent our nights in Texas and our days in Mexico.
I remember those days as if they were yesterday because they are so engraved in my heart.
Our mornings started early, 5 something if I remember correctly. We would meet for breakfast, morning devotionals and then we would split up into groups depending on what you were designated to. There were about 8 other churches staying at our host church as well.
This particular week was dedicated to VBS, where the various churches that we were serving across the Mexican border were hosting VBS for the neighborhood kids.
Since I spoke fluent Spanish, I was in charge of the arts and crafts section; And I was good at it. I always loved kids and at the time, I didn’t know I was a born teacher, but I was.
Our church was given the poorest neighborhood.
Dirt roads. Tinfoil for walls and roofs. No AC in 113 degree weather in the shade. Outhouses for bathrooms.
I had seen poverty before when visiting Guatemala where my parents are from, but I had never walked into poverty.
My heart broke. For everyday I looked into the faces of children who had nothing. Had only dreamed of the things we had. I realized how selfish, vain and greedy I was. For just the week before I complained of the silly white keds I bought to wear.
They were in awe of our water bottles. WATER BOTTLES. Everyday we would spend $1.00 on our water bottles with the squirt top. It was the squirt top that was so intriguing to them.
I still can’t get over that. Each day we gave them our bottles and like nothing purchased another the next. We all decided to collect every bottle water we could find, including the ones from other churches on the trip. On our last day, we gave them two black garbage bags full of empty water bottles with squirt tops. They were ecstatic. Gleaming, sunburned faces grinning from ear to ear. They stood in line at the measly outdoor faucets and filled their bottle and squirted each other as if they were the best water guns ever.
God was so amazing that week.
Because I spoke Spanish I was able to do so much more. I prayed for people and led people to Christ. It was incredible.
The most amazing thing was the fact that while in Mexico, everyday, I never had to pee. OK. I know what you are thinking…”that was the most amazing thing?”…but let me explain…
My boyfriend (now husband) was very concerned about my water drinking habits. I have a tendency to get very light headed and dehydrated rather quickly and so he found it his duty to be my water boy. He made me drink water constantly. And since he was taking care of me and was cute, I grudgingly would oblige.
The church we ministered at each day was very poor. The only bathroom was one that was outside in an outhouse with a light bulb on a string. We had to bring our own toilet paper from Texas. There were roaches and spiders in the outhouse. And there was no toilet, but a hole. A hole.
I, being 17, still somewhat vain and a big scaredy cat was very worried about this bathroom scenario. And everyday I prayed, along with prayers for the children, church and people, that I would not have to use that bathroom.
God cares even for our silly little vanities. Despite the amount of water I was drinking, which was, if I remember, a cup an hour, never once did I have to use the bathroom. It was 113 degrees, no AC and I suppose I sweat it all out. When we arrived back to our host church at around midnight, I would run to the bathroom. But never in Mexico.
I think that’s pretty cool!
Besides that, it was an incredible experience that made me appreciate and have a true heart for the poor.
I can still remember the faces of those precious kids. They were so sweet and so good. Girls of 8 and 7 taking care of their 2 year old brothers and sisters because parents had to work. Imagine an 8 year old holding a toddler in her lap, caring over every aspect of her sibling. Children who thought the simple little beaded bracelets that were made were their most treasured possessions, begging if they could make one for their mother. Precious children who were begging to keep just one marker or one crayon. Sweet kids that come in with old worn out clothing and no shoes, but they still play soccer despite the jagged rocks.
I don’t know where any of them are now. Most of them in their early twenties. I hope God made an impact through us. Do they remember the way I do? Do they think back to that week? I hope so. And I hope it was good.
Our sweet little friend, Alejandro. On the first day he was attached to the two of us. He was about 6 and a precious boy.
“My Savior, thank you for reminding me how blessed I am. I ask that you help me not to forget that or take advantage of all that you have given me. You are too kind, my Father and too good. Jesus, help all the children tonight that are hungry and tired. Pour your peace onto this dying world, but most importantly, send someone to them that will bless them and show them the Hope that is in You. In your precious name, Amen.”
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