When you hada chance to go on a mission trip and you knew it was going to be fun and gratifying because no one can out give God, but He pours out his blessings in ways you never dreamed, it takes a few days to process it.
Let alone share it with others. Some things should be treasured up in your own heart, but others you want to shout from the mountaintop so God gets HIS glory.
If you have ever been tempted to go on a mission trip, but you didn't because you thought you were too:
get out your BIG eraser and get rid of those lies.
Don't miss the good stuff that happens when a team of Christians joins forces and works toward a common goal in the name of the Lord.
Our church has long supported Casas Por Christo, whose goal is to share Jesus through building homes in Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. Many of us have also personally supported our friend, Scott Dewitt, a full time employee for Casas. Scott and Jonna were our youth ministers when our boys were young and we love them.
Several mission teams from our church have gone to Juarez to build homes. Brad and I helped chaperon a group when Brock was in high school. I count that as one of the highlights of my life. God grew all 3 of us during those hot, hardworking days. Because of this experience, I felt like I knew what to expect.
This trip was different and all kinds of goodness in a totally different way. The combination of building for a pastor's family.....a group of adults about whom we didn't have to worry....and 2 people with us who could speak a little Spanish made for a wonderful connection with our Hispanic hosts.
I love a good list so that is how I will share a bit of our trip with you. These are some of the praises I wrote in my gratitude journal during our few days across the border.
Grateful Mexico Moments
In no particular order, I'm thankful for.....
1. A great group of fellow travelers, including our sister and brother-in-law and some of our dearest friends
2. A commonality despite our differences- JESUS!
3. Cows, cows, and more cows-mainly black angus
4. The beauty of green as we traveled south. Spring had arrived down there!
5. A gorgeous Texas sunset, cows on the horizon, taking photos in my head
6. Traveling new roads, seeing new towns-I especially enjoyed the Texas town with a circle drive around the courthouse.
7. Our spunky waitress at Cracker Barrel-She started out harsh, but we ended up talking about Jesus.
8. The opportunity to go on this trip
9. A great worship service at Grace church in Wichita Falls-To remember:gorgeous facilities, no formal offering taken except in collection boxes placed around the building. They told us they only start a building project when they have all the money to pay for it-and they obviously had many building projects. Word to remember from the sermon: Abide
10. Belle's Chicken Dinner, Abilene-good food and a singing waitress with a beautiful voice
11. Laughing hysterically at Brad's sincere sympathy for dirt that can't raise corn and beans, no matter how hard it tries
12. A lovely evening with Scott and Jonna and children-so nice to reconnect AND enjoy great BBQ
13. A good night's rest before crossing the border-I worried more about not sleeping than anything.
14. Praying together before crossing that we would bring God glory as we blessed and were blessed by the Acuna family
15. The sharp contrast in 5 miles. How can it be? We are so thankful to live in America, truly the land of opportunities!
Off to school!
16. Tears and hugs from Marta when we arrived. I have tried to imagine the emotional roller coaster her family had been on. It isn't easy to accept help and I pray that we didn't come across as people swooping in to solve their problems. It was obvious their family had the most important things- Jesus, love, and each other.
17. Meeting their beautiful children-Luis, Elsie, Anahy, and Naphtali and his wife, Christian
18. Hard work but wonderful camaraderie among all of us-a Holy Spirit thing. Not a harsh word was spoken the entire week. And I didn't see any eye-rolling either! Or meaningful stares.
19. Hospitality shown in a 2 room home with dirt floors-BIG LESSON for me. Have company. Feed people. Love others. Stop thinking everything must be perfect.
20. Great Mexican food prepared for us by Marta and the Casas cooking team. Who knew there was such a thing as fried tacos?
Marta covered our tortillas with this beautifully embroidered cloth. Isn't it pretty?
21. Reminders to "look up and see" what is happening around me. I tend to focus right in front of me and I miss the big picture sometimes.
22. Serious conversations in God's timing.
23. Playing games in the evening. Have you played "Spot It"? I'm terrible at it, but I loved it!
24. Special worship time when I stepped into the church while the 2 girls were singing worship songs. Reminder of how blessed I was to be able to go on this trip. Is that what happens when you aren't distracted by TV or computers-you sing worship songs for fun? Hmmmm.
25. Hard Work + Fresh Air = Good Tired + Good Sleep
26. Amazement at the construction skills of Rosemary, Geri, and Tami! No offense, Theresa and Debbie and me!
27. Walls covered in scripture written in English and Spanish before the dry wall went in place
This is the quilt we made during the Super Bowl game for our Casas family.
28. Brad's patience letting me drive nails that would have been simpler to hit once himself and be done. Okay. Maybe twice. (Wink)
29. A touching worship service including loud praise in English and Spanish, prayers, tambourines, and another very loud Mexican noisemaker, dancing, foot washing, hugs, and God's word. Heaven is going to be amazing!
30. Rosario, the pastor and father, reminding us before worship...."Let's enjoy the Lord." Yes. Let's. I bet God gets tired of being presented by the enemy as mean and harsh and judgmental. God is LOVE. Why would we resist that?
31. Presenting this wonderful family with the keys to their new home
32. A "Pepper" party after the house dedication with 3 kinds of empanadas made with love by Marta. My favorites were either the meat or pineapple ones. Yum!
33. By our last day, we visited with Marta like old friends and sisters in Christ.
34. Knowing we will meet again in glory if not before
35. A high school boy in tears as he said good bye to Luis, also in tears. These boys bonded over soccer and guy-ness.
36. Flavored liquid creamer, gas station hot dogs (not me!), french fries
37. Our clean, little, friendly community. HOME.
38. Our praying and loving church family who made our trip possible. Their generosity paid for the home we built and their prayers lifted us and got us there and back safely. We are blessed.
Sidebar: I took lots and lots of pictures and enjoyed looking through them and editing the ones I liked best. I was presented with a dilemma when selecting the ones to include in this blog post. I had a choice of how to present the community-as a poverty stricken sad place or a place of hope.
Someone with a camera and an agenda could come to our home town and focus on the sad and ugly or try to capture the spirit of our county and see the beautiful.
It seemed so disrespectful to Rosario and Marta to focus on what they did not have. Instead, I chose to look at what they had. They had all the things that really matter. And lots of it.
There is beauty everywhere. I chose to look for that.
People are people no matter where they live, the size of their bank accounts, or the language they speak. We all need Jesus, and without HIM we are poor, indeed.
Our group went to Mexico, but what we did is no more important than helping the person who lives across the street from you. So gather your people and your tools-no matter what they may be- and let's share Jesus.
I'd love to hear what Jesus is teaching you. Please encourage all of us and share in the comments!