When we first arrived in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, it was pitch black outside, except for the headlights on our van. No one got the full effect of how this would be for four days until the next morning. The cold startled each one of us as we stepped out of our tents and into the frozen vans. Our selfish thoughts of how we would make it until lunch flooded the van until we arrived at the site and knew whey we were here.
All around us were scattered “houses” as far into the horizon as we could see. To its residents, it was home, but to outsiders like us, it was some cardboard, or, if lucky, a couple pieces of old wood.
We were sent to Mexico to build a sufficient house for one of these unfortunate families. Even though it was only going to be an eleven-by-twenty-two-foot shelter made of wood and stucco, with no electricity, plumbing or even heat, it had a roof and a concrete floor. We worked for ten to twelve hours, three days in a row; throughout that time we received continuous offers of help from the family as they witnessed a miracle developing right in front of them.
My amazement came in when I was able to see the family’s six children play together. It was an eye-opener to everything that we take for granted, as they found ways to enjoy their day, without media, sports, or transportation. What stuck out to me the most was the nine-year-old girl. She made for herself a “trampoline” by laying a twelve-foot two-by-four board across a ditch next to the house. Even though it was very unstable and barely extended over the entire hole, she would bounce on it until it almost reached the bottom, two feet below her. It was not her or the other children’s ages or creativity that astounded me but their innocence and contentment.
On the final day, when the house was finished, we were able to see the most memorable part of the trip. Once we had cleaned up and packed all of the tools, we handed over the keys to the mother and father. To them, it had a little more meaning than just a piece of metal to lock up with; they now had an actual door to lock. Through tears and laughter, hugs and handshakes, and giving and receiving, we all knew that we had just witnessed and performed a miracle in this family’s life.
Sometimes, coming back home from a mission trip is almost as good a learning experience as leaving home for it. After arriving back in my own country, the full realization set in of how many things I had that I didn’t truly need, as well as all of the things that I take for granted. It not only gave me an opportunity to impact someone else’s life, but it gave me a chance to take a closer look at my own life.
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