Thursday, March 1st, Day Eight:
Our last work day. Hard to believe time has flown so fast. So with it being our last big day to work we decided to get up early and give it our all. We left early with our work gloves and water bottles in hand and headed out to one of the church’s missions in Puenta Mita. The mission is very simple; currently all they have is a square plot of land with a fence around it and a few canopies they set up twice a week when they meet. Eventually they hope to build a simple permanent structure there to better serve the people. What they needed us to do was help with digging holes to start making that dream a reality.
So we dug holes. We dug holes like nobody’s business. The thing with digging holes in Mexico in the dry season is that it is not an easy process. The ground is hard, very hard. And not only is the ground hard, it is mixed with clay and gravel, at times making you feel like you are trying to dig into cement. So Ann and I teamed up as a dynamic duo and we went to work. We slaved away under that hot sun for several hours and by the time we left Ann and I were excessively proud of our two holes we had dug.
As we were driving home from our hole digging, John-Mark decided to surprise us with a special treat of showing us one of his favorite beaches. It was gorgeous. The sand was perfect, the water cool and refreshing, the landscape exquisite. You could see towering in the distance those strong Mexican mountains and at the side of the beach was a lovely cliff wall that the waves splashed against. While we only had enough time to dip our feet in, it was still a wonderful treat after working so hard all morning.
After a wonderful lunch and cleaning ourselves up, we now have a few hours to rest before JohnMark and Moorea take us to the hospital in Puerta Vallarta to hand out sandwiches and pray with the sick. It should be a good experience because it seems hospitals abroad are very different from what we understand hospitals to be in the states.
But before I sign off I’d love to tell you just a bit more abot our activities yesterday at the orphanage. We started the morning off with cleaning the dormitories and closets of the local orphanage while the children were away at school. The closets were overflowing with clothes so we sorted and organized them based on size and type. The orpahage has about 22 children that live there ranging in the ages from 2 to 12. What’s interesting is that a lot of them still have some relatives living (although their parents are deceased) but the relatives can’t afford to keep them or work so much they can’t care for them. So the children live in the orphanage and occasionally get to go stay with their relatives (like on the weekends and such). But because of this, these children likely will never be adopted either, because the relatives would have to give consent.
After our cleaning the children came home from school and we had the special treat of playing with them. It is amazing how giving your time can sometimes be the most precious gift you can give to someone in need. These children had plenty of clothes that had been donated; we knew since we had just cleaned out their closets! But this was one of the first times that they had someone give their time and just play with them.
I was hugged so many times, they aren’t afraid to show you how much you mean to them. The kids kept coming up and asking us to play with them. We pushed them on the swings, went on the slide, played soccer, rode bikes, jumped on the trampoline and took pictures. It must be obvious to them that I am a big softy because again they confiscated my camera and had a blast taking pictures with it. In fact, some of their pictures they took were even better than mine! As they were taking pictures, a little girl came up to me and wanted me to pick her up. At first I thought she wanted me to carry her around and play with her so I jostled her around and pretended like I was going to drop her, but she kept pretending like she was sleeping. I eventually realized that all she wanted was to be held. So I sat down and just held her for a good long while. Most children would have gotten bored with how long we sat there, but for an orphan living with so many other children, being held is probably a rare treat. I guess we forget the value of just touching someone and knowing that we are loved. It was honestly quite heart wrenching to sit there as she wrapped her little arms around my neck and just sat there. It was such a special moment.
It is moments like that, that make me realize the value of short term mission trips. Though we can’t change the world in just ten days, the gifts we gave to those children yesterday will last. But even more than that, this mission trip has challenged me to be the hands and feet of Jesus wherever I go. I shouldn’t just show Jesus to people when I am in another country, I should be digging holes for local missions, playing with orphans, helping the church wherever I am; shining the light of Christ and illuminating into the darkness. We all should be.