Travel Experience - My Family Travels

When Amor Ministries invited the students at my church, in October 2007, to travel to Puerto Penasco, Mexico, I was immediately interested. Reaching out to another country besides the one in which I live was something that I had never experienced before and so, of course, I had no idea what to expect. The trip consisted of about fifty high school students and several adult building instructors; our goal was simply to serve this small Mexican family by building them a house. When we arrived we set up camp and headed straight to the work site. The drive from camp to the site was alarming; suddenly poverty and homelessness in America did not seem so terrible. Complete and total desolation as far as the eye could see, shack after shack made up of anything that could be found in a nearby garbage dump. We pulled up to what seemed to be one of the smaller shacks in the area and it was put together by only particle board and rusted over advertisement signs. There stood the family that welcomed us warmly with genuine gratitude on their faces. In a matter of minutes we were at work.

            It started out somewhat humorous with such a large group of teenagers that had no construction experience whatsoever. Yet in time, with help, everybody found their own specific job and excelled at it. As the working days carried on I couldn’t help but observe the family and how they worked together so well. Their children, so perfectly content, played games in the dirt while the mother kept careful watch over them. I had never seen a family, especially not one living in these conditions, so close and thoughtful of each other. They needed each other. That kindness that they occupied overflowed from one another straight to us as we grew relationships with each of them. Down-time kickball games and walks to the market were times we were able to get to know them. For the short time we had with them, they invited us in as members of the family. They were overwhelmed with such gratefulness that even amidst their poverty, an entire meal was prepared for all of us. It was told to us later that their entire month’s wage was used to make that meal.

The days flew by and the house progressed to completion. There was so much going on everyday that it wasn’t until the final night at our camp site that I began to wonder about this mysterious bond I saw in this family. As I sat there looking up at the night sky, white with stars that you would never be able to see under the inescapable streetlights back in the States, I thought of home. America… America the beautiful… What beauty? What makes our country so beautiful? Because it seemed that in this small family I found more beauty than in a thousand Americas. In America, a house has become just a place to sleep but for this family, the small house that we had constructed over a span of four days was no longer just a shelter, it was a home… a sanctuary. It was a place for them to escape the pains of everyday life and here they would escape them together. They gave me more than I could have ever given to them. The time spent there allowed all of us who went, to take back home the contagious love that this family had shared with us and that was well worth the trip.

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