CNN recently published their list of the best places to live in the United States, and my hometown of Fishers, Indiana placed number eight because of its low unemployment levels, high quality of education, and low housing costs. However, Fishers is a bubble that insulates us from the reality of poverty in the world. Here in Fishers, it is hard to find someone to give the “shirt off your back” as Jesus asks us to because everyone’s closets are already too full. To burst out of our suburban bubble, this summer my family traveled to Tijuana, Mexico.
Recently, our church became connected with an organization called Homes for Hope, a branch out from the ministry, YWAM. Since it was founded in 1991, Homes for Hope has built homes for over two thousand families in Tijuana. Amazingly, these homes are built in two days by groups like ours that are led by a master builder. However, in these two short days we not only built a home; we also built a bond with and future for a family in need.
On June 17th, seventy members from my church embarked on a journey to do just that. We received training that could help on the build site, and then were sent off in teams. When our team arrived on the build site, all we saw was a slab of concrete and a family of four—Enrique and Angelica, and their sons Francisco and Jose. My natural instinct is to reach out to children, so I became fast friends with the two boys and their surrounding neighbors. With fours years of Spanish experience handy, I was able to communicate with them and love on them. I had an assembly line of children helping me paint the siding of the home. I threw the football with Francisco while the roosters next door sang to us. I gave countless piggy-back rides to the neighboring children as they yelled out “Superman!”
On the second day on the build site, we were able to hand over the keys to the family. Everyone from our group was able to say a blessing to the family, but it was the family that really blessed me. In those two days, I experienced a joy I had never known before in playing with those children and building a home with them. I felt more at home in Tijuana among the poor than I do in Fishers among the rich.
It is difficult to describe in words how life-changing our trip to Tijuana was for me, my family, and my church. We saw what the world really looks outside of the bubble we call home, and came back with new wisdom as to how we can effectively use our blessings to help those in need. If anyone is looking for a life-changing vacation and would like to make a real difference, I highly recommend Homes for Hope in Tijuana, Mexico.
On the first day on the build site, Francisco gave me a bracelet that I still wear that says “impulsa la vida,” which means “drive the life”. These words mean much more to me than Francisco knows, because they represent what is supposed to drive my life. As a Christ-follower, I am called to meet the needs of the poor and needy and see the world for what it really is. This trip to Tijuana is only the beginning of my motivation to reach out to the Francisco’s around the world and show them love.
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