Always, Sarah

4 Life Tips From a Mission in Mexico

The first time I wanted to help a ministry move forward, I had just found out that I was prego with the middle child.  The mission was to help my pastor grow his church in Arizona.  That was almost 12 years ago and their church is thriving. Since then, other opportunities have always piqued my interest but because of where our life was, they just didn't happen. And then, out of nowhere, it did.

So in this day and age, you can meet and make friends with people online, across the country but would you meet them for the first time IRL {in real life} in a different country? By yourself? I did. And before I did, I was so excited that I did what most people do when they're excited about something - I told people.  Here are a few things that I heard:

  • You're leaving the country with people you don't know?
  • How did you meet them? But not in person?
  • Does your husband know them?
  • You're going where with strangers?
  • Did you hear about that lady who went into Mexico alone...?

It can make someone think. Unless of course you knew, in what some peeps call their gut, that it was meant to be.  Here's the thing, my oldest was given a trip to Disneyland and we planned this family trip before I knew the dates of the mission trip.  It just so happened that our family trip ended the day before the mission trip was to start and we were already going to be an hour away from the meeting place for everyone before crossing the border.  The mission trip basically cost me nothing and for nothing, I got the most eye-opening experience that I never expected.

The mission was to build a house for a pastor and his wife who were taking over a church who's senior pastor was moving to start a new one.  In three and a half days, I learned:

4 Life Tips I Learned from a Mexico Mission Trip

Rosarito, Mexico

Tip #1. A house can be built in three and a half days.  And I'm not talking a hut.  I'm talking a 3 bedroom, 1 bath with a beautiful mountain and ocean view from the porch. When we arrived, the foundation was already there and after our drive into town, we went to work. There was prep work, plans to follow, and everyone respected everyone's role.  Roles changed everyday and everyday we rolled with the punches. Sometimes we led, sometimes we were led to follow. Being humble and knowing our roles, respecting the roles of those around us is so pivotal in accomplishing good, BIG things. There were ideal people for specific jobs, but no one was bigger than the smallest job because there was one goal.  Focus, humility and action made meeting this goal possible.

Tip #2. Someone's past does not make someone's future.  I met this group of people at the San Diego Airport.  There were about two dozen folks and three vehicles came to pick us up. I got into the truck that was driven by a quiet, older, comfy-in-his-jeans gentleman. I rode in his truck for the entire mission trip. He laughed and shook his head over the crazy silly things coming out of my mouth and although he didn't say much, when he did, all the locals responded quickly. Over the next few days, I learned that back in the day, police officers wouldn't even approach him alone because they feared him. Somewhere between then and now, that fear that others felt changed to ease, trust, comfort, joy...respect. I know that whatever changes he made wasn't easy, but he made them because he wanted change. He's the senior pastor of this church we were working with.  He was moving more south to start his ministry there. Whatever you're going through today will only change - good or bad or better - with action and the decision is yours whichever direction you go. 

Tip #3. Work hard, but don't stop there. The church we were working with accommodated us with food and lodging.  We stayed at the church - with about two dozen people, we spread out.  Some people slept in the sanctuary, some in classrooms and the majority in the fellowship hall.  I was in the hall.  Margarita was in charge of our meals and every morning at around 4:30am, she showed up in the kitchen and started breakfast. Breakfast was served at 7am so we can be at the job site by 8:30am.  Being that I was in the hall, I was awaken by the sounds of breakfast being made.  There was no sleeping in. On the flip side, we would return from the job site around 6pm and dinner was ready. After a day of working hard, you can see smiles on faces, hear laughter across the room, feel relaxed and accomplished over a card game or look forward to a late night walk to the ice cream shop down the street or get street tacos just down the way. This tip can be difficult for most because society has taught us that busy makes us important, that busy means we are going places, that busy is how life should be.  I saw working hard is not busy. Working hard to get something done is simply part of our day, and it's ok to fill the rest of our day with people, laughter, food - fun. Work hard my friends, but don't stop there.  There's more to your day than just working hard.

Tip #4. Strangers are only strangers until they are not. I could've said no to this trip. I could've waited until there was a trip hosted by my church or a local organization where I would know exactly who I would be going with. I could've listened to all the concerns and let doubt creep in when I saw the looks from friends and family when they heard I was going by myself. I could've, and if I did, I wouldn't have met some incredible people who wear their hearts on their sleeves.  I'm not saying don't be cautious, please be cautious. Please don't throw common sense out the window. Please always be aware of who you are letting into your life. But please, do not let opportunities pass you by because of you will be alone. You are given all the instincts you need to make good decisions, some men call it their gut, some women call it intuition, some people call it faith. Don't not do things because of the unknown, but instead do things because faith is pushing you to do it.

I don't know if I had any expectations from this trip, except to meet my friend Ariel from Mississippi whom I absolutely adore and totally grateful to have her in my life (I may have typed that out with a southern accent). But I guess these takeaways are just icing after such an excellent experience - or maybe it's the piece of cake? Either way, I'll do it all over again - strangers and all because how else can I keep the hubby on his toes?