Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Amor Mission Memory

Following is as written for my church's newsletter following the return of a high school mission trip to Tijuana with Amor Ministries. Our congregation supports us financially and prayerfully. In so doing they are certainly with us every step of the way. With great diversity in age and growing diversity otherwise, it is our various and many outreach groups that pull us together as a community of God working here on planet Earth.

Our thanks to every prayer and mission partner for the safety and support your gave us on our trip to Tijuana this year. By building three houses we again have made a difference in several peoples lives just as they have made a difference in ours. As I am often reminded, tho, it isn’t just the houses that this is all about. Here are two moments from the trip:

It’s Monday afternoon, the slab is starting to be poured, and I need to ask the owner a couple of questions. I go to knock on the door of the shack, really the doorframe because the “door” was just a blanket hung over nails and pulled back so it was half-open on a diagonal. I need to ask, with my limited Spanish and hand signals, where the door and windows would go on the house we were building. But before the words were out of my mouth, or my knocking hand even to the door's frame, I saw the toddler.

He hadn’t been walking long, not much more than a year old, but there he was, waddling around the room in his diaper, talking up a storm in the language only babies know. Then I saw his mother, not moving at all, lost in deep thought on the bed with tears running down her cheeks, staring out the windowless window-frame. Even though I am all of about eight feet from her, she is not yet aware of my presence. I hesitated a moment and took it in. I had heard her husband had just recently left her, and could only imagine the loss and fear that must have been enveloping her. Perhaps a half-dozen heartbeats later, yeah it was a while, I knocked and everything started moving again.

She quickly got up from the bed, wiping the tears away while doing so, and smiled broadly. Her desired appearance, and she almost pulled it off, was that she had never cried and could not have been happier in her life. These are strong people. I asked her, “¿la puerta y las ventanas, por favor?” moving my hands as best I could to indicate, ¿aqui? Or over aqui? And she quickly and very politely responded by pointing in several spots, “Si, la puerta aqui, las ventanas aqui y aqui.” Smiles all around, “Gracias” too. She then quickly back inside the shack that they will keep as extra quarters, gathering up the bambino in her arms, giving it a koo and a kiss while turning on the hot plate. I back to the work at hand.

Another moment –
Late Thursday night, houses done and we have all just arrived back at camp from our celebratory dinner out. It’s 9:45 and about 15 minutes until quiet time, too late for our normal campfire worship. Rather than a homily we have a small prayer and then we’re singing. The fire had been set before we left, so it’s up quickly, guitars strumming and voices ringing out. It’s loud, happy, thankful and fun. I don’t recall the exact songs, but it was good. We continue until about 10:15 when I realized we had to quiet down, for sure, but we weren’t quite ready to be done yet. So we sang some softer songs quietly, letting our prayers, thanks, and praise rise gently to the heavens with a weary contentedness filling our voices and some tired eyes staring into the fire. It is at that moment that I am most thankful for this church, for these youth and adults that are each in a relationship with God as they perceive him, with the love of Jesus Christ in their hearts and a hammer in their hands.

All prayers, thanks and glory to God, and again I thank God for the mission partners that fund us and pray for us. Without you we would not be there. Without you we would not be nearly as safe. With you we can do amazing and wonderful things, changing lives in greater and lesser ways. With you we are given the opportunity to disconnect from the everyday, seeking something higher and in some moments, brief as they may be, perhaps finding it.

We thank you, Lord, for each moment you give us.

I'll say it again - if your group or family are looking for an opportunity to serve, Amor is a great way to do it.

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