After breakfast our group, broke into smaller groups for our morning ministries. Some groups visited more ranchos to evangelize. Father John and a team went out to offer Confession and Mass at a rancho or two. Some groups worked on building projects. Some groups visited the elderly, the poor, and the home-bound around the town.
Travis and the two boys were put on a team that worked all week on re-roofing a nearby chapel. They had to tear the old one off and clear out all the rubble before putting the new one on. I don't think I've ever seen them as dirty as I did that week. Each day they came back to the mission house covered in dust, mud, oil, etc. And not once did I hear them complain about anything.
Father John celebrated Mass there on the last morning with the crew and some of the people from the village. One of the most fruitful things to come out of this work project was when one of the Mexican workers, who had been using "not-so-nice" language earlier in the week while working, repented, went to Confession, and received the Eucharist.
Here's a picture of their roofing crew with some of the ladies from the rancho where the chapel was located.
The two girls and I were put on one of the home visit teams. Throughout the week we visited different families. We brought them food, visited with them, read from the Bible and discussed the passage, and then prayed with them before we left. We were very blessed on the first morning to be able to visit one of the same ladies that we had visited last time. The girls and I recognized her home right away. She had touched our hearts so much last visit when she shared her life stories with us. She had never had children, but had taken care of her nieces and nephews.
Again, this time she told us how lonely she was since her husband had died many years ago and also told us about her only living sister that was very sick. This time we had the Family Missions Company's directors' little boy with us. Boy, did he and his balloon cheer her up! Look at that beautiful smile!
On our previous trip, our morning teams rotated, and we got do a little bit of everything. I was a little bummed that the we'd be on home visits all week. I had been blessed last time by the people we met during our home visits, but I found it very difficult to join in the "visiting" because I didn't know Spanish at all. I felt very uncomfortable just sitting there smiling unable to join in. The missionary translators would tell us what was being said, but by the time it was translated to us, a new conversation had already been started amongst the Spanish speakers. I felt that I could do more on a work project or with one of the evangelization teams. But God knew what He had planned for me!
On our last trip, the girls and I had only visited a few elderly ladies in the town. They all seemed to have nice, clean, sturdy, well-kept homes. Simple without a lot of material possessions, but "nice" for the most part. Most homes all looked the same from the outside, and I assumed that they all looked fairly similar on the inside. My first impression of the "poor" was not at all accurate, and God was going to use this week to humble me even more than the last.
On the second day of home visits, we visited a home with a husband, wife, and three little girls. Before we got there, one of the missionaries warned us that this family was extremely poor and that their house may smell. "Ok," I thought, "We can handle it." As we climbed the hill to this house, we were told that a group of Life Teen Missionaries had built this family a new, larger home last January. I was so overjoyed and excited by this that I didn't even notice that we had just walked thorough a doorway without a door.
The sight inside nearly broke my heart. It was a very tiny one room home with their belongings piled to the ceiling on one wall and a bed and a few chairs along the other wall. It didn't seem to have a kitchen area or bathroom or running water or even electricity. It seemed to just be four walls and a roof. I couldn't imagine what they had lived in before if this was the bigger, better house. My heart ached.
On the floor was a very small and filthy toddler sitting on an old foam egg crate mattress pad playing with a huge mound of broken toys. These weren't the old, broken toys that you send to Good Will. These were pieces of toys that you would find in a landfill. It broke my heart to see. There were two other little girls just as dirty sitting on a bed playing with very old and dirty baby dolls. My girls didn't think twice as they sat down on the dirty floor to play with the baby. My heart wanted to burst with sorrow and joy at the same time.
One of the missionaries chatted back and forth with the mom. I couldn't help but notice the smile on the mom and dad's face while they chatted. The missionary explained to me that they were happy to have the bigger place, but even more happy that God had been so good to them. She explained that the father had to have a large tumor-like growth removed from his mouth this past year, and he was healing very well and was able to speak more than he had in the past.
At the end of our visit we asked if there was anything specific that she would like to pray for; she didn't ask for anything. She only wanted to pray in "thanksgiving" for for husband's continued healing. I couldn't imagine anyone back home living like this and being so grateful. I couldn't imagine myself being so grateful for anything while in such poor conditions. I knew God had hand picked my ungrateful self for this visit. He would use this family and this experience to change my heart. (And He still is.)
I later learned that this new house had no windows or doors. It was now starting to get very cold at night. They had only a thin sheet hanging in the two windows and the doorway. Not only did the sheets not keep out the cold, but they didn't keep out anything else. As we walked back down the hill, I realized that their was nothing to keep all these roaming animals out of the house either. I went back to the mission house and could not stop thinking of this family.
The next morning it was announced at morning prayer that FMC would be collecting alms for this particular family's windows and door. The total cost for two windows and a door was 1300 pesos. I quickly did a rough calculation in my head---about $100.
How many times do we blow $100 in a month? In a week? In a day? Ten here, twenty there, etc. It all adds up. I was sick thinking about our wasteful spending back home, but overjoyed at the same time by the fact that it was an attainable amount. By the end of the day, the money had been collected and the doors and windows had been ordered. By the end of the week, they had been installed.
This was only the beginning of what God had planned for me this week on home the home visit team...
***Please pray for this family especially for the father to find work.
Thanksgiving Mission Trip, Part 4