Smile - My Family Travels

Who ever knew a line drawn in the sand could really separate night and day? The border between the United States and Mexico does just that. I went to Mexico on a missions trip through an organization called YWAM, Youth With a Mission ( Our team met up in San Diego, California, where we prayed before departing south. I should have had my eyes closed but I looked around at a group of strangers I would be spending a week with. There was a girl from the Caribbean, a college group from Los Angeles, and a Romanian church. Already I was surrounded by more culture than I had ever experienced before. It was with these people that I would go help the children of Mexico.

We drove four hours in fifteen passenger vans down the Baja Peninsula, until we reached Vicente Guerrero, Mexico. I was exhausted, but could not keep my eyes from the window. Every house was unfinished, and graffiti covered nearly every surface in sight. The farther south we got, the thirstier everything looked. Wind picked up handfuls of dust and sent it everywhere: across the road, against the houses, always looking for someplace to settle where it was unwanted.

It was late when we reached our destination. Hogar Para Ninos was the name of the orphanage where we would be working. A typical day here left little time to relax. We would wake up early, have fifteen minutes to eat, work until lunch, have another fifteen minutes to eat, work until dinner and get fifteen minutes to eat. Twice after dinner, we went out into the surrounding communities evangelize. I will never forget the faces of those children.

As we pulled up in our vans, kids came running from little box-shaped houses, some with ceilings that were simple flat sheets of tin. I was given a small bag of toys to give to the children. Small hands reached up all around me, hoping I would place something, anything, in their searching fingers. Their faces all held a priceless, genuine smile.

We got out a jump rope, and as we started spinning it a young boy ran in to join. After a moment, he signaled for us to stop and reached down to pull multiple thorns from his bare, dusty foot. He then continued to jump. I looked around and noticed that more than half of these children had no shoes.

As I interacted with these smiling children, I realized something. They were rich in a way I could never be. All it took to make them smile was a small toy or a jump rope. To make me smile like that, people would have to go to the ends of this earth. We as Americans are so spoiled. We have a mind set that we always deserve something. It dawned upon me that undeserving of every blessing in my life. I was not here to help these kids. They were here to help me.

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