There and Back Again - 3088

Things started early the morning that we left for Mexico, me and my family packed in the car at about 3:00 am. We had to be in North Spokane by 5:00 am. My daughter and I were driving to Mexico with a mission team called Outpost for Christ.
Outpost for Christ is a mission to Cumbres, Mexico which is a small community outside Tijuana. The Outpost has been helping people in this community for the last 20 years and they have done everything from building houses to repairs. The Outpost is a practical hands and feet ministry that reaches people with the love of Jesus Christ. We arrived at the Mission leader’s house at about 5:00, and packed our bags in the trailer that was pulled by a large cargo van.
We gathered for prayer before we left then I said my goodbyes to my wife and kids. My daughter and I were going to be gone for a week and a half to do construction and minister to the people in Cumbres. We had two days that we were going to be on the road and as I sat in the way back of the cargo van it seemed we were off to a slow start. I looked ahead to the day and thought this is going to be a long car ride.
As I thought like this I felt the Lord tell me to spend my time praying. At about 12 O’clock we got to the Tri-cities and then I felt the Lord tell me to read my bible. My first response was, “I get car sick,” but then I heard Him say it again. I picked up my bible and I read it for the next day and a half without getting car sick, which was a complete surprise to me.
As I was reading and praying we were making our way through CA, I prayed for opportunities and that God would use this trip for his glory. We were making our way to Southern California and we were in the outskirts of San Diego when we stopped to fill up. We unloaded to make our stop as the van was getting filled up. A man stopped me on the way in and he asked me for some gas money. My first thought was that he was scamming me for loose change. I told him “Yes, I’ll get you some gas.”
As he was pumping the gas we talked, he said he was on the way to take his kids back to their mom. He asked me where I was from and I told him that I was from Idaho and that I was on my way to Mexico I explained that I was going on a mission trip to do construction in Mexico. I pointed out the van with the trailer. As he was finishing with the gas I asked him if he was a praying man and he said yes. He called his daughter out of the car we held hands in a circle and I prayed for him and his family then he said thanks as I loaded back in the van.
That night we stayed in a motel and the next morning we stopped to pick up supplies. Some of the women went in the store and the guys stayed out next to the trailer. As I came out of the van and walked around the front of the van and a man stopped me and made a comment about how we were a long way from home from looking at our license plates.
I told him that we were on our way to Mexico on a mission trip. We talked about Mexico and all the needs that are out there and how we were going to be repairing roofs and doing construction. I told him that this trip is all about Jesus and helping people. We ended up talking for a while he told me about his doubts about Christianity and I prayed that God would reveal himself to him.
As the women came back from the store one woman from the team was bubbling over and told about how she was able to tell the clerk about Jesus and how the clerk asked Jesus to come in to her life right there in the middle of the store. You could see the change in the clerk’s face, a glow of joy as she patted her chest with a smile and said, “I have Jesus in my heart.”
We loaded up again this time we were getting ready to cross the border. Our leader started to coach us in what to say and do when you cross the border. The team leader said that crossing the border could cost anything from $50 to $300 according to their approval. We pulled up to border crossing and we waited our turn. We had two people on our team who were fluent in Spanish.
Our turn came up and they wanted us unpack the whole trailer. Our Spanish speaking friends told them that we were missionaries and that we were going to help people. As they talked about our mission to help the people and how we didn’t have any other agenda, they began to change their demeanor towards us. After looking through our bags they said that we could go with no charge. They thanked us for our service to the people of Mexico. Afterward, the whole team thanked God for his favor with border control.
Entering Mexico from California the difference is night and day. Everything is run down. The roads are cracking and breaking and many are dirt roads.
Arriving at the Outpost we unloaded the van. Cumbres, Mexico is a poor community outside of Tijuana. It is a community that is built on rolling hill and the roads are steep and there are many dirt roads. Traffic in Mexico is crazy. People drive fast on these little roads which are a lane and a half wide whipping around corners going up and down the hills. Houses are small shacks that are falling down around the people that live in them. It is common to have holes in the roofs and they will try to tarp them or even put buckets and pans to catch the rain. The Outpost team is there to repair roofs with no charge to the people but to step in to help with the love of Jesus Christ.
We arrived on a Thursday and there were a number of projects that needed to get done before the rest of the team arrived the next day they came in on plane the whole team was about 16 people
I remember meeting a person that lived right across the street from the Outpost. He was holding a picture. With tears in his eyes he showed me the picture. It was a picture of a bunch of people but I could not understand his words. One of our interpreters told me that the Outpost had built his house the year before and that he was asking, “Where are these people that built my house?” He wanted to see those people to thank them and to welcome his old friends back to. Mexico, but our team was made up of almost all new people.
Things came together as we were getting ready for the rest of the team to arrive. Friday we went to a local church with the whole team. Our team took up about two rows in the church, they were very gracious to us and welcomed us with open arms. Our team leader had contact with the pastor earlier over the phone. The Mexican people were very open and loving with the love of Christ.
Our team leader asked the pastor, “Are there any people that were in the church that needed a new roof?” He explained about the ministry of the Outpost and how we wanted to help people.
Over the weekend we went back to the church to serve and to do ministry. The church did an event and we were the attraction to this event, it was advertised and the whole community was invited. Our group did music, gospel presentation, and a puppet show with the gospel message. The pastor said that there were many people that were there that were not a regular part of the church, with that in mind there may have been many people that heard the gospel for the first time.
After this weekend of ministry we ended up getting some houses lined up for repairs. Our team was large enough to start on two houses at the same time. One house was a father, mother and baby, and the other house was a father, mother and three daughters.
These house were in a sad state; you could see buckets to catch the rain and from inside you could see the light of day through the cracks. We had to fix rafters and ridge beams because they were rotten, there were whole sheets of plywood that had to be taken out with new ones to be put in their place.
When we would go and work on the house the men would be working while the women would talk and minister to the women of the house the man of the house would come out and work alongside us as we repaired his house. Language barriers were common but each house team had two Spanish speaking people from our team, one man and one woman. We learned what Spanish we could on the spot and they learned what English they could on the spot.
As a team we would repair the house and try to fellowship with the people sharing meals as they welcomed us in their house. We would also give out food to the people as we finished their house. We would give out bags of beans and rice and even clothes to the people.
At the first house we worked on, the one with the baby, one of the women noticed that the baby was sick. They asked if the parents had any medicine and they said that they could not afford to buy any. They prayed for the baby and went to get some medicine for the baby.
The house with the baby got wrapped up first, and then, with our crew being doubled, we finished all the structural work that had to be done before the roof could be put on the second house. With a large crew we got that house done pretty quick after replacing some of the plywood, rafters and ridge beams.
The people were so thankful for our help. We took pictures and they took pictures there were hugs and tears that were shared from both sides. With tears in his eyes the man of the house presented a hand made Mexican art piece that he had made to one of the volunteers that worked alongside him the most. Our team leader told us later we are here to build relationships with the people first; the houses and the roofs are secondary.
The next house that we worked on was structurally OK, and all we had to do was tear up the old roof and put on the new one. With the whole team working together this came together pretty quick. All three houses took us about 3 days to complete.
The next item on the menu was to visit an orphanage and do ministry with music, puppets and games. The orphanage that they planned on visiting had been shut down so the leadership gathered to pray about what to do and through a series of events they found out about another orphanage to visit.
It took about an hour and a half to reach this orphanage down these really rough dirt roads. The orphanage had about 30 kids and about 5 or 6 leaders and teachers: one was the pastor, and the others were like nannies. The oldest child was 16 and the youngest was 2 months.
First we had lunch with the kids I sat with a girl that had pink cowgirl boots and she told me she was 9 years old and that she had a little brother and little sister that lived their at the orphanage with her. She spoke English very well, but it probably was not her first language. About the boots she said that she hoped to have a horse some day. I shared some chips with her as we talked and I also told her about my kids.
After lunch we went to the church to play music and do puppet shows. Our whole team got up to sing the songs with motions and all, I remember we sang in Spanish with only a few of us being fluent in the language. Luckily kids songs are repetitive, so if I didn’t get it the first time I could get it the second time, or third, or fourth.
During the puppet show I sat with the kids, and I remember there was a boy about 5 years old with a red and black coat on. I sat with him during the puppet show. I prayed for him as we sat together. I prayed that God would reveal himself to him and that God would put his strength in him. He sat with me for about 20 minutes. After the puppet show most of our Spanish speaking team was outside getting ready for the games. Someone had to make a call to salvation for these kids and the only person who was there to make a call was a local mother who had come along with us. As she stood up to ask the kids if they would like to receive Jesus as their Lord and savior many of the kids came forward. I could not understand her Spanish words but I expected and I think everyone else expected her to say a couple lines, but she got up there and she gave a sermon. You could tell that God was speaking through her and not just a little but a lot. God prepared her to share a message of God’s love with those kids and most of them received.
Outside the games were getting ready with clowns, face painting, balloons, and soccer. I came out to sit with the kids during the games and a little girl came over to me to sit and as we sat together I prayed for her. She was about three years old, and she only spoke Spanish so I used the 4 or 5 words that I knew. She sat with me for a long time as I prayed for her I could feel God’s love flow through me to her at this time I felt God’s love to the point of tears.
As we finished ministering to the kids the goodbyes were so hard to say. I went there not knowing what to expect but wanting to love the kids with God’s love as he would see fit to use me. I had gotten attached and fell in love with the kids they shed tears as we left and I know that I and many others from our team did too.
As we left our team leader was telling us about how powerful one act of love in Jesus’ name can be and how when we loved those kids with God’s love how that can stick with them for the rest of their lives. God’s love can reach through people who don’t even know all the words to the song, God’s love reaches through people that are willing to step out and be obedient. Our team leader was very pleased with how things went at the orphanage and so was the pastor and the teachers.
The next day was pretty uneventful we kind of took that day to rest from building and ministry. That night it began to rain, because in Mexico they have a rain season that floods the roads and the pouring rain can be very destructive. Our team leader made a comment about the baby in the first house that we did and he said “At least that baby will have a dry house to live in.”
The last day we went to the dump where people live in shacks. Property is cheap and people will build their shacks there but the air is toxic. There are fumes that come up from the ground at different places. Driving up to the dump first you pass a huge graveyard with little plots and little crosses. Our team leader mentioned that because of the fumes in the air that children are very sickly and many kids die before they get a chance to grow up.
We walked up and down the streets at the dump. We prayed, passed out tracts and spoke to as many people as we could. Then we gathered at the vans some of us were headed to San Diego to fly home and others were headed back to the Outpost. We gave hugs as we went our separate ways.
We went back to the border crossing with a huge line cars about 26 lanes creeping along. There was a van that was beside us that got busted for drugs. There were a few police dogs and maybe half a dozen police officers taking apart the van because the drugs were hidden inside the doors and inside the gas tank.
When it was our turn it was the same deal as last time, but at least they spoke English. We unloaded all our bags and our leader told them about how we are missionaries trying to help the people of Mexico. After looking through all our bags they also thanked us for our service to the Mexican people and sent us through with a wave and a thanks.
This trip to Mexico was my first mission trip, I hope it will not be my last. I hope to go with the Outpost for Christ again. Stepping out in this way is not easy but it is more rewarding than I imagined possible. I hope that this will have a lasting affect on me and my daughter and the people that we came contact with. Ministering with a team was a lot of fun and the relationships that were made I hope will be lifelong.