group visits Tijuana
In life we are called by God to love our neighbor as ourselves and be his hands and feet in the hurting world. These words are often heard and can just become letters that carry no meaning. However, last week our small Tijuana mission group was given the opportunity to bring to life these words while working in the orphanages in Mexico.
It definitely isn’t easy stepping out into a situation that holds surprise or unknown elements. Our team gathered early on Saturday morning to embark upon a weeklong adventure of love and service to the people of Mexico. We knew we would be working with Capstone, but didn’t know the project or the details. We only knew we were called, ready to stop our normal lives for a week and open to see what lie ahead. As a youth minister I could see as each kid and adult stepped forward they were able to say yes to being vulnerable, challenged and uncertain which ultimately opened the door for great blessing. It was a great start to a great trip!
Our trip began in Cottonwood and continued to Twin Falls where we slept the first night. Up at a very early hour we wearily filled the pick-ups and were onto the next leg of our journey, a 16-hour trip to the border. This day was filled with many sights, sounds, discussions, songs, and prayers. Oh, I did forget to tell you that we picked up two wonderful young people in Boise, one in Twin, and a mascot called “Hedgi” in New Meadows. These additions completed our group. Our day consisted of stops at McDonalds, a picture with a purple dinosaur, a 10-mile long traffic jam on the freeway, a few unfriendly waves, and lots and lots of Nevada scenery. We finally made it to the border at 9:00 p.m. and waited to see what the next few hours would bring. We flew through the border without a problem. Yeah, God truly answers prayers. We arrived at St. Joes, ready for some food and definitely ready for some sleep.
On Monday Morning we met with the contractors who explained our projects for the week. We were to clean a huge section at the back of the orphanage at the Hacienda. I think their plans are to possibly turn this area into a garden. Anyway it was the size of a football field and filled with anything you could think of. We were to gather it into big piles. Have you ever gathered a bunch of teenagers together and given them permission to throw things? Well they certainly met the challenge. We even found a really old bottle of wine. I guess you never know what you can find in your back yard. This project took all week to complete as different groups at different times continued to rake, hoe, chop, pick and level. Our next project was to rip out an existing retaining wall to replace it with a new one. This job involved a lot of lifting, picking, shoveling and measuring. The challenge was accepted as everyone dug in to tear down and build up. The interesting thing to me was no one said, “I don’t know how to do that” or “That’s to hard”. Every single person did their best and worked to the best of their ability. I was so proud! Another project that was assigned for the week was a tiling project, where tiles were replaced on an existing stairway. The final big project was to build 2 small bedroom areas in the boy’s dorm. These small bedroom areas are an experiment to provide a little privacy for the kids. These rooms required the use of power tools, hammers etc.. The kids jumped to the challenged. It was so amazing to watch these young people step into these rolls where great responsibility was required, again very proud. Other projects for the week consisted of painting hallways and areas in need; many projects, many many hours of selfless work. We were called and were able to answer the call with trust, courage, and consistent confidence that everything would get finished.
Our week did not just consist of work. We were given the chance to visit and play with the kids at both St. Joseph’s and the Hacienda. There was a particular story that affected all of us. On Monday we witnessed a young 9-year-old girl being dropped off by her dad with her twin brothers. She was in tears and so were her brother and dad. The young girl and boys are in a situation where they had to stay at the Hacienda until their dad can get custody of them. The pain and sorrow they were all feeling was so evident that we felt it too. We were all especially drawn to this young girl as she took care of her brothers as if she were their mom. It was humbling, yet truthful for all of us. Many of these young kids are able to find joy in the midst of their daunting situations. Our nighttime discussions echoed, thoughts like, “We have so much to learn from these kids” or “I didn’t realize I have so much to be thankful for” or “This has really made me appreciate my family”.
With every experience we become different. Our trip to Tijuana has added yet another page in our book of experience. We see differently and therefore will live differently. It is in seeing differently the call of service can no longer just be a set of complacent letters that speak nothing, but become an invitation to stand for action where our neighbor has a face and that face is truly a brother or sister, one of us. Only an opportunity where we are taken outside ourselves can we begin to shake the scales from our eyes. It was here, at this time, at this place, during this week that this happened. We are so thankful for the grace to know more so we can become more.
Thank you to all who supported us in this great mission adventure. We will never forget you or your generosity. May God Bless you all! Together we are making a difference!
Debbie Chicane and the 2012 Tijuana Mission Team
The 2012 Tijuana Mission Group. Photo provided by Debbie Chicane.