I believe it’s important that children learn to help others. One way is to volunteer. Last week, I shared about a time our family served out of state. This week, I would like to share with you about a time we served out of country. Next week, my plan it to share about a time we serve locally. I hope you enjoy it!
During the Christmas break, my family and I rode on our church bus to Mexico from Central California. It was our first family mission’s trip together. My husband Randy had gone once before. Our task was to build housing for the villagers of Tecate. “Kids, are you excited?”
Our youngest, who was five at the time, thought about it a moment, “Yes Mama.”
I was both excited and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect being in a foreign country with two young children. Would we be safe? Would the kids eat the food? I’d heard some amazing stories from other families who’d helped in the past. They told me it was safe and American food was available. Our pastor also encouraged us all ages to join. After all, his three-year-old daughter went.
Three weeks prior, we met with the other volunteers to discuss plans. “Randy and Rebecca, does everyone in your family have a valid passport?”
“No, but we’ll order them ASAP.” Hmm, the last time I went to Mexico I didn’t need a passport. Unbeknownst to me, the law had changed requiring US citizens to carry a passport into Mexico and Canada.
I scheduled an appointment with our local post office immediately. We completed the comprehensive applications and snapped our photos.
“Okay folks, do you want these expedited? If so, they should arrive within three weeks.”
“Three weeks? We need them in less than two. Is there any way to speed up the process?”
“Sorry Ma’am, three weeks is the earliest.”
I turned to my husband, “Randy, what are we going to do? We’ll miss our trip.”
That night, we prayed, “Lord, you know our heart’s desire is to help the people of Tecate. We need our passports before we leave and trust you they’ll arrive in time.”
Five days later, the kids’ passports arrived. Woo hoo!
Two days later, Randy’s arrived. Is my family going without me?
One day before our scheduled departure, mine arrived. Thank you God!
The next day, we met the crew at 6:30am and headed south.
Eight hours later, we crossed the border and headed straight to our lodge. The rustic Paloma Blanca Ranch was a welcoming site for our weary bodies. We unpacked and settled in.
The next morning, Randy said his good-byes, hopped on the work bus and headed to the job site. The kids and I stayed behind to work in the kitchen. We’d been tasked with making lunch for three hundred hungry workers.
“Hi, we’re here to help.”
“Welcome. You guys can help us make sandwiches. Jump in the assembly line.”
“I want to put the pickles on,” Alicia said.
“I’ll help pack the lunch bags,” Austin chimed.
As I placed mayo on the turkey and cheese creations, I looked over at my kids diligently working and smiled. I’m so proud of them! It warmed my heart to see their enthuasism.
The highlight of our day came while delivering the food to the construction site. The crowd cheered as we arrived.
I slipped away to peek at the portable houses. I was impressed how fast they were assembled. It amazed me they were collapsible as to allow the roaming brick layers the ability to set up wherever they worked.
I grabbed Austin, Alicia and Randy and went up to the church building. My jaw dropped when I saw hundreds of people standing out front. “Why are all these people standing here?”
“That’s the line for new shoes.”
We entered the rear door and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were boxes of shoes everywhere. I saw church members washing the local’s feet and placing a clean pair of socks and shoes on them. I was convicted as I reflected on how many pairs of shoes I owned and this was a first pair for many.
“Dad, can you show us your house,” Austin asked.
Randy took us to his job site. I looked inside and noticed the floors were made of cement. Also, the latrine was separate from the house. I couldn’t imagine the inconvenience of exiting your home to use the restroom. I turned around and saw my children playing soccer with other boys and girls. It made me smile. They didn’t speak each other’s language. Yet, they shared the universal passion of sports and playing.
At the end of three days, the foreman announced that the team of 200 had built 6 temporary houses and 5 portable houses. Wow, that’s amazing! Each team handed the new home owners their key, a bible, a loaf of bread and salt. Then, their pastor said a prayer blessing their new dwelling. The new tenants were overfilled with gratitude, because they were transitioning from a cardboard hut with dirt floors to a beautiful new home.
The time came for us to return home. We loaded up the bus and were off.
Eight hours later, we arrived safe and sound.
I’m grateful my family and I were able to serve together at Club Dust. We worked side-by-side with some great folks with a common purpose to help people.
Do you and your family volunteer? I’d love to hear where you serve. Please share with us!