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Mexico –The meat and potatoes

My last post was a quick overview of our missions trip to Mexico in August.

A group from our church has gone every year for several years now to build a house for a family who doesn’t have one.  It is so cool to look back a few years ago, or even just last year, and see how much work the Holy Spirit has done in my heart. I know he has been working in my husband’s as well.

I was raised in a God fearing home by wonderful parents and have been taught all of the ‘right’ things to do as a Christian my whole life. It hasn’t been until recently that have truly inspected what God calls us to do as followers of Him. If we truly LOVE God, and we should because his son DIED for us, then we should LIVE for him. God’s commands to us are simple (not simple to live out…just simple):

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you”.               –   James 1:27

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”                            –   Matthew 28:18-20

 

Now, I know these verses in my mind. They were scripture memory verses and numerous Sunday school lessons when I was a child and growing up. The issue was that I didn’t really WANT to know these verses in my heart. These are commands from God. And if I believe in God (which I do) and if I depend on him for my life (which I do) then a command is NOT a suggestion. This is how we should live out the life God has given us: Care for orphans and widows. Share who God is and what he has done for you with others. Their life (eternal life in heaven) depends on it.

Honestly, I did not want to really KNOW these verses, because knowing would mean I would have to act. I didn’t want to do those things. I liked my life (and still like it) the way it is and I do NOT like change. My cute husband and my cute dog in my cute house going to my cute job and my cute church with my cute friends. Mine mine mine.

When you think about it, how does the length of time we spend on this earth compare to the length of eternity after we die? Our time on earth is so short. Our time after death is FOREVER. I know that I will be with God because I have trusted him as my savior. But have I been completely obedient? NO! I live for myself, not for him; yet He is the one who I will spend eternity with. The least I can do is live the short period of my life on this earth doing what is right in God’s eyes. Loving others, giving to others, and sharing God with people.

Now that last part has always been the hardest for me. I have never wanted to make anyone feel uncomfortable or be one of those ‘pushy’ Christians. But the truth is, I know God is right, I know the bible is right, I know there is research to prove it even if you don’t believe it through faith. So why am I so scared to share? Why wouldn’t I want people to escape hell?

These are things I’m still struggling with but God is truly working in my heart now that I am finally willing to focus on Him instead of myself.

 

Now, back to Mexico…which I’m sure was the reason you were reading in the first place.

This is the de la Tova family – Bernardino, Lizzeth, and their son Javier.

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This is the family we built a home for. Now, I have to be honest….this is NOT the type of family I thought we would be helping. In my mind I thought the family would be…poorer? Is that a word? Ultimately, this family did need a house because they had none. In years past I have heard stories of our church team building for families in extreme poverty (and many families in this area are living in terrible conditions) so that is what I was expecting – like the photo below. An area that we drove past each day to the build site. I remember thinking “God, why aren’t we helping those people”?IMG_8381

I love how God’s plans are different (and better) than ours. Throughout the entire trip I remember saying to myself  “this isn’t what I was expecting”. So, even though I was expecting to be serving a different type of family in Mexico God used this experience to help me understand that, while I was weighing material possessions in my mind (thinking to myself “should we be helping that family that can’t even get food?) He was looking at this family’s spiritual needs.IMG_7677

For four days we traveled to and from the build site from the camp.IMG_7414

It was interesting to see how God used all of our talents. Only one of us had any true building experience (other than a few who had been on previous year’s trips).

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Day 1:

The walls go up. A lot of plywood and 2X4s had to be cut, moved, and painted.

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There was A LOT of painting.

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Chris was officially in charge of the cutting.IMG_7634

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Day 2:

Siding goes up. Roof rafters go up. Drywall is mudded.

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Day 3:

Drywall mudding continues and sanding begins. Let me just say flat out that sanding drywall is the absolute worst job in the world. Worst. Job. Ever.

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Shingles went on. By the way, hot roofing tar will burn the fingerprints off your fingers.

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Day 4:

More sanding. painting. then decorating!

We wrote messages to the family on the plywood before the dry wall went up. It was a very humbling experience to go around with the family and have our words interpreted for them.

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The finished house. Once everything was completed we stood around the front door and took turns giving the family a blessing.

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The team + family + their family members/neighbors.

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Also, did I mention there were dogs everywhere?IMG_7508

and I mean everywhere.

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Though working on the house was rewarding, the best part was the relationships we were able to build with the family. IMG_7939IMG_7943IMG_7944

 

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Each morning before breakfast and each evening after dinner we met with some of the leadership staff at the camp for a worship and ‘regroup’ session. One evening we were challenged to ‘walk in the shoes’ of many of the people in this area of Mexico, and all over the world, who don’t actually have shoes. We left our shoes and went barefoot for 12 hours. Honestly the hardest part was that first step onto the cold sandy concrete of the meeting room (one of my least favorite textures).  Now before you go commending me, just know that 8 of those hours were spent sleeping. But I DID go into the bathroom without shoes.

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Though I don’t speak any Spanish it was interesting to see how God was able to use my strengths as a speech therapist to help me communicate with these special kiddos. One thing is certain, facial expressions and the power of play are definitely universal.

Our feelings are hurt when our friends don’t share. IMG_8301

A hug goes a long way to help.IMG_8232

and tickles or a kind gesture from a friend seal the deal and earn our friendship again.

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Then they realized I was ticklish…that’s a whole different story.

 

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It was so much fun to play with these sweet boys.

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I know you don’t know these boys and their families, and I barely know them for that matter. In fact they may have already forgotten about me. But let their smiles warm your heart and allow yourself to think about where your priorities are. I know mine have changed.

I never ever never thought I would be writing about my experiences as a missionary! But as God has been working in my life I have begun to see how little I was doing for others and how much I was doing for myself, which is not what God wants for us.  My idea of a missionary was this radical Christian, but in looking at what God says in the bible, someone who is spending their time helping those in need and sharing the love that God IS simply obedient…not radical.  You simply have to be willing. Truly willing to do whatever it is God needs you to do. He will do the rest.

Sorry for this soap box. actually, no I’m not. I’m just sayin’.

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