>In 10 days Lakeside has another trip to El Florido, Mexico to build homes for the homeless. We go every 6 months or so, once in the spring and again in the fall. This will be my 11th consecutive trip. I love the people we build for in Mexico. They do not fit the streotype of Mexicans perpetuated here in the States. The people I have met in Mexico are industrious and hard-working. They value family and friends. They value relationships. No matter what denomination church they attend they worship God with thier entire being, with their whole heart, soul, body and mind. Many people here in the States could learn a few things from the people I am headed to meet in 10 days.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts about Mexico you probably have a feel for the trip. We meet at the church at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning. We spend all day driving in a loose caravan till we get to the dorms, usually about 5 or 6 in the evening. After we unload the cars and trucks we head out for tacos and ice cream. There’s usually an orientation meeting and then lights out in the dorms.
Friday mornings we get up, get dressed and have 30 minutes quiet time. Most of us use that time for devotionals. After quiet time comes breakfast, then a worship service where we listen to Eddie Passmore speak his heart on missions. Sometimes there is a guest speaker like Brad Buser from Papua New Guinea. After that we get our work assignments and break up as assigned to go with our family to the build sites. I’ve been on trips where we only broke into 2 teams and others where we’ve had as many as 10. Each team builds a house that day, either a 12×12 or a 12×16. Sometimes the houses are additions to structures already there, sometimes not.
The houses are very simple structures to build. To make it even easier the staff at the dorms pre-cuts a number of the sheets of plywood. I have seen a house go up in less than 4 hours. But the real object of this exercise is not to build a house. It is to build a relationship with the people of El Florido, Mexico. We talk with the families, we play with the children. We share ourselves with them and they share themselves with us. We bring families on this trip and our children play with their children.
Getting a new house or even an addition to their existing home is very exciting for these families. Even the children love to help build. We often line up nails for the kids to pound in and sometimes the older kids can work on the windows (shutters, really) and hinges. Everyone seems to like to help with the painting.
The families usually provide us with a lunch if they are able. Some families will save a week’s wages to provide the “grupos” with lunch. I have always enjoyed the food served, even my very first meal there which was cactus. The families seem to feel their finest dish is the chicken mole, which I must admit is good. But my favorite meal is always the salads that they serve on tostada shells. I’ve had some really good soups there, too.
After the house is completed we usually share some cookies and trail mix we’ve brought along. We also present the families with Bibles and other gifts. The gifts vary from trip to trip depending on the donations we have received. But every home is presented with a plaque made by Johnny’s mom and a doorknob made by another church family. The plaque has a Bible verse on it and we usually nail it over the door or window, wherever the family requests.
Tired, and often sunburned, we head back to the dorms. After preparing the trucks for Saturday’s builds, many in the group head off to the public showers, everyone goes to dinner, ice cream and then a little free time before bed. Saturday is similar to Friday with the added “debrief” meeting Saturday evening.
Sunday mornings we are up early to clean the dorms and hit the road as soon as possible. We like to be in line at the border before 7 a.m., it just gets us across the border a little quicker. We have a long ride home in front of us, a trip I often use to download all my pictures onto my laptop.
My favorite trip was the one where I went on the extra bonus day to work with Spectrum Ministries. We left on Wednesday instead of Thursday and while everyone else was driving down we were working in the poor neighborhoods of El Florido giving children showers and new clothes. The time I went Diane and I sat side by side and washed over 70 pairs of little girls’ feet. It was a truly heartbreaking experience.
There’s a line in one of my favorite songs. It goes like this, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Everytime I think of Spectrum and washing those little girls’ feet I think of that line. God is so good.
I can’t afford Spectrum this trip, not with moving and all, maybe next time.