Concrete and Christ: Mission Work in Mexico
Messy, hot, dirty, but joyful.
All true adjectives to describe what my week in Mexico was like.
I went on a mission trip with my church, Back Creek Presbyterian Church, to help with construction and vacation Bible school at a church in Merida, Mexico, Iglesia Presbiteriana Independiente El Mesias. Members of my church have been going to Merida on mission trips for almost 30 years, and I have joined them for the past four years.
Our mission team, as well as a team from Memphis, Tennessee, helped lay the foundation of a Sunday school building at El Mesias. Currently, the church has three small, unfurnished Sunday school rooms and a bathroom. El Mesias also has an open shed under which the congregation worships.
In our construction project, we began the concrete foundation for what will hopefully be a more permanent building for worship at El Mesias.
There are many tasks in working with concrete. Shoveling rock and sand, mixing concrete, passing buckets of concrete, and rinsing buckets were the jobs that we did every workday. The fact that we were doing the work in 90- to 100-degree weather didn’t make it any easier. God gave us the strength to finish work each day, even when the concrete work seemed like an endless cycle.
When we arrived at El Mesias on our first morning of construction, many members of the church were there to greet us, holding up a sign written in English to welcome us. Seeing their dedication to make something handmade for us was incredible and encouraging.
Even more impressive to me was witnessing the church members’ willingness to work alongside us throughout the week, whether we were passing concrete buckets or teaching a Bible lesson.
One of the greatest lessons that I have learned from going to Mexico is that you don’t have to speak the same language to stand beside someone and help them. Kindness and love through Christ is so powerful that it doesn’t even require words.
The first night that we were working at El Mesias, I had not had time to fix my hair. It was a hot night, and all of my hair was down, causing me to be warmer than normal. When I had a free moment, I started to pull my hair back into a ponytail.
To my surprise, one Mexican woman helping us with vacation Bible school came behind me, gently took my hair, and began to braid it for me. Though her actions were small, she was using them to show love in a moment when I needed it.
During the evenings, our team organized a Bible school for the kids at El Mesias. Each night we would sing songs with them through the leadership of a translator, perform a skit relating to the Bible story of the night, teach a Bible lesson, feed the kids a snack, and play games with them.
One of my favorite moments was watching six kids try to jump rope all at the same time. The laughter that we all shared underneath the humble shelter at El Mesias was some of the most contagious joy that I have ever been around. It was inspiring to see a community displaying so much more joy than what I am used to seeing, and yet at the same time possessing so little materially.
I learned, this year more than ever, that mission trips aren’t always easy. This trip, we had a few challenges to face, like fitting 12 people into an eight-passenger Suburban to ride for four hours. Other challenges were lack of sleep, driving through the streets of Mexico without directions, dealing with the language barrier, the fight to remain hydrated, and team members falling sick from heat exhaustion.
We all tried to combat these moments with something joyful. Maybe by singing a song or praying for each other. Maybe even by trying to make everyone else laugh at the craziness of some of the situations that we found ourselves in. God always redeemed every mess that we were in and made it into something to smile about or be thankful for.
The most beautiful thing to me about doing mission work in Merida is the connection that we share with the Mexicans through our faith. As a lover of learning about people, their culture, their experiences, and their stories, finding other believers in Mexico and hearing their testimonies was one of the most incredible experiences that I have ever taken part in.
The lasting connections that I have made in Mexico have been some of the most valuable friendships of my life. I know that even if I never see my Mexican friends again in this life, that does not invalidate my relationship with them as a fellow follower of Jesus.
I know that every time I come back from Mexico, even if I never see those friends again on this earth, I will see them in heaven because we have a bond through Jesus that cannot be shaken. That bond is something that will stand for the rest of our lives, and ultimately for eternity.
Mexico is special to me because when I am there, I have a connection every day with the joyful people around me, whether they speak my language or not.
The love of our Christ is what brings us together. It’s a love that will always surpass a barrier of language or death. It’s an eternal love, a guarantee that we will always know each other through this special bond and unique joy.
Yes, work in Mexico might have been messy, hot and dirty. But it was all worth it. For the glory of God, to spread the love of Jesus, it was all worth it.
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