Are you sure it’s nicer to give, than to receive?
As parents we dreamt of a having a mission trip one day for our teen children. An internet search indicated that needy kids in Mexico sleep on the wet ground at night and get supervised by their older brother/sister who is7 to 10 years old during the day while the parents go to work in the fields all day. Little to no food is left in the small shacks made of plastic and sticks to hold up the structure. Some kids were too small to go outside and got locked-up in their shacks daily. Some shacks caught fire and the kids burnt to death.
A group of teenage kids (our children and friends ages 12 to 17) totalling NINE kids plus the four parents made a decision to respond to this great need to assist and expand on a Day-Care facility in Manadearo, Mexico during the school spring break in March 2010.
The thought started in November-09 with a fundraiser drive; our kids were excited at first until the hard labor part was discussed to generate funds for a two-week trip. The goal was to make it self-funding. Finally, it was decided on recycling bottles/tins/plastic collection during and after Christmas parties in prime suburban areas of Langley near Vancouver.
One person’s scrap becomes another person’s rescue.
The value of empty container waste amongst the privileged became the sparkle in the eyes of the needy in Mexico. The bottle drive was a humongous success, plus a free-will offering turkey dinner that was served by our teens after church services, it gave the green light to the project. Expenses were covered.
The trip was well planned by members in our church. Nothing was overlooked like passports, visas, lawyer letters, Bibles, notebook journals, devotion materials, tips on “How NOT to disrupt a trip”, hotel bookings, visit to old time church friends along the way, food, drinks, stop-over places, sight scenes, maps and destination details. We were very thankful for a good manager in-charge of this Mexican Mission trip. Most if not all of the valuable information was obtained from the Internet. The computer is a great source of information and it is there for the convenience of everyone to use.
Contact was made in Mexico with a kind husband & wife family who are involved in a Day-Care facility, but they need funding and hands-on help. As a family we responded. The whole trip with schedules, hotels and entertainment was all pre-booked via the Internet. How convenient is this tool. If a business or an institution is not found on the computer today, it will not survive. Every item was in place and the day has arrived, we did not know what to expect as this was our first-time venture for all of us, adults and teens.
Time for a blast-off, three days drive to Mexico.
It is Saturday 4.30 am, it is time to start with devotion and prayer for a safe and successful trip for the first leg of 10 hours. The kids were excited but soon fell asleep after the border crossing into USA.
We passed Seattle early morning, then Oregon State. The Oregon scenery changed into huge pine forests plus sheep farming. The early morning sun reflected on the lush and green fields and spring flowering trees everywhere. The beauty of creation always impresses me. I was one of the two mini-van drivers. The walkie-talkies between the two drivers helped tremendously to make sure we stay together and stay awake. It is an inexpensive and handy tool to have. It is highly recommended for touring in multiple vehicles and stay connected. The first leg of 10 hours was behind us and it was time to have Devotion to say thank you.
After a good rest in a hotel in California, we had early Devotion and took off for another 10 hours for our stop-over at church’ friends in Pasadena. The scenery changed from pine trees to fruit trees. Millions of fruit trees in full bloom and straight lines – stunningly beautiful. American farmers think BIG, they never think that there are not enough people in the world to consume all the fruit that will be harvested. Yes, it is impressive and enlightening for a small business owner like me to learn to think BIG. I should realize the entire world is my target market via the Internet and it can be done from my office at home with little capital investment. Wow! What an eye opener or me. The host family thinks the same, the world can help them.
My small thinking mind turned into big thinking possibilities. I asked the question, do I really LIVE, do I really LOVE and do I really MATTER to anyone in the world? Another question, will this Mission trip really matter if it helps only one single person to experience our LOVE, to bring HOPE and encourage deeper FAITH?
More about that later, read on.
Most of the passengers in the two vans were sleeping again. The spring air is just comfortable and the drivers are chatting over the walkie-talkies. Time for lunch, the hungry kids jump up when food is mentioned, it’s a long drive. Getting back on the road means it is iPod time and maybe time to irritate one another, but we as parents must assure that we build a successful relationship amongst all the kids (children and their friends) before arriving in Mexico and iPod’s will not do it. We rotated kids with every stop-over to get to know each other. While driving, we suggested interesting topics to discuss and get opinions without getting irritated. We guided each discussion to keep it focused. It worked well and they got to know each other much better so that they could serve others with a sincere heart.
San Diego, time to cross into Mexico.
We filled up and ate in San Diego, we could see masses of small houses on a hill in a distance across the border with the biggest flag swaying in the late afternoon breeze. Our children were warned not to drink water in Mexico, to take their own toilet paper and to wash hands while holding their breath for a long time. Good advice as we experienced while waiting for our visas at the Mexican border.
It was a shock to see the difference across the fence between the two countries. The standard of living dropped by 80% and the need to help this nation entered our conscious minds. The roads were narrower and full of potholes, street signs were barely visible, drivers are making up the rules of the road as they drive and pedestrians crossed the roads wherever they could, jumping in-between the vehicles narrowing missing the speeding cars. We are clearly in another world.
Destination in Manedearo
We were welcomed by the wonderful couple (Wayne & Claire Wagner) who owns and invited us to their small Day-Care Center. A couple with a big heart and does everything by FAITH. They saw the need a few years ago and became the humble owners of God Will Provide Day-Care Center.
We followed them to their house where we will be staying for 6 days. The side street was mud and water, potholes that will rip the suspension off our heavy loaded vehicles. Just driving through the village confirmed the great need for unity amongst us to stand strong, to have patience, endurance and to roll up our sleeves for the massive task awaiting for our children. Our godly character will be tested to the utmost.
We met parents with three other children from Alberta who will be sharing the same house (22 people in a five-bedroom house with two bathrooms). We concentrated at the task at hand rather than the conditions around us. “Take a number to go to the washroom”. The owners of the Day-Care were kind and our kids realized they will have to accept whatever will be thrown at them. The long drive made them tired but they were ready for it.
The To-do list was drawn up as well as what NOT-to-do list. A shocker was that the toilet paper CANNOT be flushed down, but must be rolled up and placed in a container next to the pot. Ooohh! All IPods and Cell Phones must be handed in. Ooohh! Our kids tried to come up with every possible excuse NOT to hand over their special equipment. Long faces and broken hearts were visible. Children in North America are so connected to these personal electronic devices these days that they feel as if half of their bodies are being torn away without an IPod or Cell Phone. The adults insisted and it was reluctantly handed over for safe keeping.
Teams were made up: a Day-Care helping team, a construction team and each had to do dishwashing at home, floor mopping and table setting with every meal. Ooohh!
The first team will start at 5:00 am, Devotion time, have breakfast and leave at 6:20 am. Ooohh!
A new time table for our kids who normally sleep till 11:00am on spring-breaks.
A wonderful Scripture came to mind: We died with Christ and now we are united with the ONE who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God.
Our kids were all groomed and aware of this Scripture (Rom 7:4-6) they were prepared to produce the harvest of good seeds.
The first day was behind us.
The first day was behind us and the kids came back with exciting reports. Some changed baby diapers (nose coverings had to be used) some spent time feeding very hungry kids, veggies was not a problem. When you hungry you will eat it.
The construction team were tired, very tired, but satisfied by pouring concrete in a church floor where the local people come to worship on wet soil due to missing windows in pouring rain. Mixing concrete is hard work, pushing a wheelbarrow full of cement was a brand new experience for them. IPod listening is easy compared to this.
Parent’s mission was spot-on
Parents asked questions to our teens. What did they learn today? The most heartfelt thing was how appreciative and friendly the Mexican people are and yet they have so little material possessions. They mentioned how privileged we should be for what we have and yet they take it for granted in Canada.
We also asked if any of our children missed their IPod during the day – none, no, not one. Great laughter followed. As parents, we realized that our children were learning mental, physical, financial and spiritual things. Our parent mission was for our own children to view their own lifestyle and compare it with that of a third-world country. This was very encouraging for us as parents; our primary mission is working, we were exposing our kids to something that most children in the Western world will not learn or appreciate, never.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Concrete evidence was in the making for our kids. Our evening Mexican meal was prepared by a local hired cook. Enjoyable it was. The washrooms were shared by all. Devotion and a sound rest followed. It was time to rotate the teams for day two.
Day two back at base camp.
Report back was again, again it was very inspiring to us as parents; our kids are getting trained that is not taught on school benches, serving the needy can be an eye opener and humble experience. Everlasting training that will change their lives for the better. They were discussing and planned fund-raises by themselves to help the needy people in future. Again a lesson not learned at school. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
The biggest surprise (actually a shock for me) was to meet the man who was ankle deep in the wet concrete and was very comfortable in levelling the wet cement on the stage with every wheelbarrow that came his way. It was Pastor Isaac who invited us to worship with the local people that evening in a small room next to the church.
The Pastor could not say a word in English, yet we attended. A Mexican interpreter in his church came to our rescue, the interpreter was deported back from the USA to Mexico after drug smuggling a year ago. He is a changed man now. This intrepreter was impressed with the attitude of our kids and he thought highly of them. The room was packed. The closeness of the local people was heartfelt. Singing Hymns has no language barrier, music is music and worship is worship. God speaks gently in the heart of every believer who comes to Him in humble adoration. Pastor Isaac played the guitar while his young son impressed us all on the drums.
The message that delivers HOPE.
Pastor Isaac spoke about Noah during the days that were evil, but God had a plan for Noah and his family, all God wants is to trust and believe in Him and God will provide an outcome in the future. You could hear a needle drop in the packed room. The local people were inspired. Richard, the interpreter had to speak fast to keep up with the enthusiastic Pastor, but we absorbed every word with deep appreciation. Many tears were wiped from our eyes. How wonderful is it to worship with God’s people who cannot understand a word of what we say other than to feel our appreciation and we feel theirs. Yes, an intense and uplifting experience. Pastor Isaac loves to serve in every aspect of his life. He mentioned he loves to preach all night to bring hope to people. He loves to give, yet he has little or no income. It was a shock to me; I had to re-evaluate my roll in life.
Cash is not king, Serving is king, Giving is king, Sharing is king, Compassion is king, LOVE is king. God in His mercy gives us second chances – yes, how privileged we are. We can only humble ourselves before Him.
Exciting days followed
Our children never asked for their IPods during these serving days, all they wanted to do is to help the needy kids. As parents, we were impressed to see this happening. The mission trip is taking shape in a wonderful direction for our own kids. As parents we noticed that our children are changing internally as they go through every day in serving others.
It was time to hand out the small presents that we brought from home. We were invited by the host family to visit the local dwellings of the farm workers. The local children could not wait when they saw the boxes of presents. The local church Pastor used this opportunity to give a short message of hope even if the world around them looks so grim. Just believe in God regardless of circumstances around them. Just stay close to a loving Creator; He has made the promise that He will rescue those who believe in Him.
Lines were formed by these little kids and gifts were distributed by our children, the sparkle in the eyes of the needy children was clearly a highlight for our children to experience. It is nicer to give than to receive. What a great lesson for all of us, lessons that are not taught at school. Mission accomplished on all sides.
During our debriefing time with our children, we as parents were delighted to hear for the second time how they are planning a fund raising project when they get home to help here in Mexico in future. It was an encouraging sight for us to see as parents.
The hosting family said that they will use our children as a yardstick and measure future mission-parties that will come down to assist them. Again, mission accomplished and we are so grateful for this opportunity that we all learned from. A sweet sound in the ears of parents.
We became very close to the needy children in Mexico, they experienced love, affection and interaction which normally does not exist. Our teens gave all the attention and love that they could to serve the needy.
We were convinced that these needy kids will remember it for a long time to come. Yes, changing diapers, feeding the kids, cleaning toys, wiping floors, playing outside with the kids was all part of serving. Hugging and bonding also took place between the Day-Care helpers and our teens on the last day. The humble deeds were much appreciated.
The 3 day journey back to Canada.
It was time to depart and we left lovely memories behind. After visiting San Diego Zoo we headed north and stayed over in Los Angeles only to experience a 4.4 earth quake at 4.00am. It was a scary moment for all of us. We did not sleep after that and left at 6:30 am after a meaningful devotion session. Oregon sand dunes was next on our list to wind-down a successful mission trip. What fun we had on those Sand-Dune-Vehicles, a highlight for our hardworking children.
To conclude, if you are planning a mission trip, (for adults or teens) I suggest a well planned itinerary should be worked out; there are lots of topics on the internet to make it worthwhile and making it a life changing event. We as families who participated in this event are also willing to share the detailed criteria to help anyone in their plans of a mission trip that you might have thought about, but never thought it is possible.
In our opinion, it is worth every minute in adult and children’s lives to experience what Scripture says: “It is more blessed to give than to receive“. A Spiritual seed germinated in the hearts of the giver and the receiver.
I sincerely hope that this article about serving the needy on a mission trip will encourage anyone to arrange a well planned mission trip. I promise it will open your eyes as it did to all of us.
A final suggestion, have clarity about the mission trip, know what you want to achieve for you and the needy children that you are going to serve, visualize what you want, discuss and share it with possible participants and then get excited about the fact that you will fulfill a great vision. It builds character and encourages unity which was clearly felt by those whom we served.
As parents we could travel together for two weeks, it gave us the freedom. This is due to our home-based business which is making money online from anywhere in the world.
Hope you are planning a Godly mission trip soon.
Contact the writer if you need detail planning schedules. It is free for the asking.
You life will never be the same again.
My Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/Johannes.Juliet.Bach