Many teens over the course of a summer, can say they have been on an amazing cruise or have been to some exotic beach somewhere. When I go back to school I can say that I helped build a house for an extremely poverty stricken family in Mexico, painted the outside of a school for hundreds of poor children, and last but not least, helped teach over one-hundred Hispanic children and teens about how much God loves them.
When my group started driving down the steep, dirt road toward the tiny neighborhood I was not sure what to expect. The houses, if they could even be called houses, were mostly made up of scraps with the exception of only a few homes. As we arrived at the house and unloaded all of our materials, three of the neighborhood children came over with a soccer ball and wanted us to play. After only a few minutes of playing, they had us completely beat and we decided to start working on the house. Several hours later the roof was on and we were able to meet two of the five people that are going to live in the small, two room house. It amazed me how humble and caring people are in Mexico, even though they had nothing.
The day after I helped put the roof on the house, another group I was with went to the local school and painted the outside of both stories. As we were painting, there was some sort of daycare in session and many of the children were there and we were able to say hi to them. Even though we did not speak the same language they knew that we were doing this just for them. Just to see the smiles on their faces made all of the paint splatters, intentional and unintentional, worthwhile.
The place where our large group stayed is called The City of Children. There are over one-hundred children and teens there and most of who have no family, were abandoned, or were abused by their parent(s). Every day we had skits, puppet shows, and lessons that talked about how God is with them every step of the way, and how we are aliens and strangers of this world. We had ten verses to memorize and we encouraged the children to memorize these verses also. Most of the time, they could understand what we were trying to tell them, even though they didn’t feel comfortable speaking English back to us. When we had free time with the kids, we played outside on the playground or inside, where we did beach ball and scooter races. Every day, all fifty-six of us teenagers and adults tried to entertain and teach not only the children, but each other as well.
The word changed, is a mild way of describing how I feel now that I have experienced this trip. Everything I have now, from my shirt with paint splatters on it, to my bracelet that a little boy named Diego gave me, reminds me of a memory that I will keep with me forever. I have learned that, before this trip, I took advantage of everything I had and I am extremely blessed. Every day I think of those children who I talked with and gave high fives to, and I pray that they will live by this verse: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity’ 1 Timothy 4:12.
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