It was four-o’clock in the morning on yet another stifling day in Piedras Negras , Mexico. Our group of twenty-five teenagers and five chaperones were kicking stones in the middle of the dusty road, anticipating the opening of the U.S. border.
The sun began to ascend in the eastern sky and it finally hit me; this was the last time I would watch the sun rise in Mexico. The time had passed by so quickly I did not see it coming. I recalled the first day in Mexico.
It had seemed like the day before. We crossed the river and arrived at the famous border between the United States and Mexico. None of new what to expect.
The Mexican ‘border patrol’ consisted of a man in a hot glass room with a small fan. He did not ask who we were or to see our passports. We simply dropped a quarter into the machine and shuffled nervously across.
Later we pulled into the Centro Recreativo de la Iglesia Bautista. It was a shabby recreational center, all cement. The walls, floors, showers, absolutely EVERYTHING was cement.
The girls stayed in one room and the boys stayed in another. It was Saturday. We did not have to work Saturday.
We lazed around all day playing cards and cups.We had been awake for an hour and were driving down a dirt road towards another cement building, our work site. I can see a whirlwind of dust behind the broken-down school bus. We are told that we are going to help build a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
The bus squeals through the gates and we are there. There are five Mexican workers to build an entire rehab center. No one had a specific job.
Everyone new how to do everything. 3:00 in the afternoon, and our first vacation bible school session begins. Most of us are a bit nervous. I had first year Spanish under my belt but that was it. Some of us spoke no Spanish at all. I went up to a little girl and said, ‘Hola! Me llamo Cassandra.’ She responded by telling me that her name was Jasmine. We had a short classroom style conversation. I managed to tell her that I only spoke a little Spanish and she proceeded to speak to me as if I was a three year old; short, simple sentences with verbs in the infinitive form.
I felt silly but she managed to guess what I was saying and I could guess what she was saying so it worked out. Now it has to be Thursday morning around 11:00, our last day at our work site. Of course we manage to get into yet another paint fight. We looked like giant white blobs with blue handprints on our backs where our friends had given us a ‘congratulatory pat on the back.’ We were all totally care-free. We had the eye burning whitewash on our faces, the corrosive stain on our arms and legs, and paint brushes in our hands.
The Mexican workers had joined us and we were all laughing. I may not have understood much Spanish but I could tell then that they were having as much fun as we were. 5:30 later that evening. Now it is out last VBS session. Our small group of ten children grew to thirty in those four days. We said ‘adios’ to all the kids. They all wore the same clothes that they had been wearing since Monday and there hands and feet were all still covered in the white Mexican dust. It took everything inside me not to cry as we left for the last time.
I had not realized how close I had gotten to those kids. I don’t remember what I was worried about. Everyone was crying. I just sat in the back of the bus alone looking but not seeing the dessert speed by. My mind drifted back to the present. It was now 4:30 and Rachael was waving her hand in my face yelling my name and telling me that the U.S. border had finally opened early just for us. I floated through the air-conditioned room back into the United States.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.