Last month I had the opportunity to go on a Missions trip to Mexico in order to build houses for the people who needed them. It all began when the Young Adults of Harvest and CEC wanted to go on a joint venture together to Mexico.
It seems to be a common trend that the majority of short term missionaries are college students. For the most part it makes sense–after all, this is the time in their lives where they have the freedom and free time to pursue things that they wouldn’t ordinarily pursue in the middle of their career. Once these students graduate and move into the working world, it becomes less likely that they would be traveling the world and going on mission trips. That is where we found ourselves. As recent graduates, or in some cases, working for a while, it was highly unlikely that we’d be self-motivated to send ourselves on missions. However, this joint venture would provide an opportunity for us as young adults to get together and serve God out of the country. It was difficult to motivate enough young adults to go on this trip, however, and we soon had to extend the invitation to a few college seniors. This brought our numbers to about 20 individuals, eager to bless other people with a servant’s heart.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would be attending myself, as I was concentrating on my uncertain future and the issues that come along with it. But when I heard that the team had spots opening up I decided to fill the gaps and break through with my resolve. We had one meeting a week in advanced to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally, and practically. This would be a one day trip, most decisively a short-term mission. The day of the trip I woke up at 4:45 am and began heading out to CEC where we would meet up with the rest of the team. Everyone was still half asleep as we piled into the vans to begin our journey towards Mexico. We stopped close to the border to wait for our guide who would meet up with us and take us directly to the Mexico Caravan Missions facilities. Once she arrived we proceeded towards the border. As we passed through the border our guide’s car and the van in front of us passed through without incident. However, the Federales waved us over into the inspection zone. They ordered us out of the van and began searching the bags inside, all the time keeping watch with their M4 assault rifles in hand. After checking each of us they sent us back into the van and we continued on our way.
We reached MCM without further incident and headed upstairs to meet the various team leaders. All the team leaders were younger than us, and came from all over the country. After being introduced we waited until the other church groups joined us for worship. As I watched the other groups file in, I couldn’t help but notice the age of the people walking in. Aside from the parents, the kids were very much younger than us.
After worship and the message we split into 2 teams and began prepping our trucks to carry the equipment we needed to build the houses. After stacking lumber, tarpaper, buckets of nails, and other equipment, we headed out to the site. Once we arrived we learned a little bit about the family that we were serving. A single mother was living here with her mother, sons, and daughters, one of whom just had a baby. We found out that it was for her and the baby we were building the extension for. After praying we began to work, starting with the framework of the house. After a slow start, we began to settle in a groove and our team was sawing and nailing away. Once the four frames were done we took a lunch break, provided by the family. Nothing was more authentically Mexican and it was a great meal. The family went out of their way to serve us even when we were serving them. Immediately after lunch we began moving the walls upright and began securing them together.
The house was beginning to take shape. Although the sun was beating down on us, we didn’t feel much of its heat, and the occasional breeze carried the warmth away, keeping us relatively cool. Once the walls were fastened together we realized that it wasn’t completely aligned to the cement base as we liked, and we had to move the connected walls a couple times, requiring everyone to be inside the house, pushing or pulling. While we were finishing the walls some of our team were completing the assembly of the roof frame. Our entire team worked together to get the roof frame on top of the walls which was quite a challenge. After getting the roof up I had to climb up and sit on top of the framework to get the framing attached to the walls. From there we began setting up the plywood that would cover the roof. During this time a triangle we were assembling on the side of the roof slipped and hit Charlotte. Fortunately it wasn’t too severe (I hope) and she continued work.
] While I was up on the roof some of the other team members assembled the door and shutters for the window. Once we had those attached the team painted below as I continued work on the roof. We were impressed several times by the Grandmother’s ability with a hammer as she helped hammer in a few nails, even climbing onto the roof to help with us. Our work was assisted also by the sons who wanted to nail as well. Around this time the other group of Harvest/CEC showed up, having completed their house already. With their help we nailed in the tar-paper and rock paper to complete the roof. We discovered that Jon had gotten his hand gouged, thus winning the “First Blood!” award, of which he was quite proud. Having finished our house we said our goodbyes and proceeded back to MCM to clean up the paint trays.
Fortunately this water soluble paint rinsed quite easily. Once complete we went down to a Taco shop to have one last meal before heading home. Mark, the other Harvest/CEC’s team leader said his goodbyes with us and biked off. As we were preparing to leave, one of the employees at the shop ran to us and told us that something had happened to Mark. We ran out and found him down in a pit where construction equipment had torn up the road. He had fallen off his bike and was unconscious. We sent a van back to get help and a few minutes later Mark woke up, obviously concussed. We sent the second van to take him back while we waited by the road to be picked up. One of our vans returned and we piled 15 of us into the van to get us back to MCM. When we arrived Mark had gone to the clinic and was okay, so we prepared to head back across the border before they shut the gates and we were stranded. While waiting in the line to get across, Charlotte and Terry mentioned that they really wanted to have Churros, so we waved one of the vendors walking past the cars down and bought some for everyone. We finally made it back to CEC around 10 or 11 an parted ways, thus ending our trip to Mexico.