Mission Trips – Reflections From Our Young People
Recently a number of our young people and some parents returned from a 5-day “mission trip” to Nuevo Durango, Mexico. Their experiences and insights are quite inspiring but I shall let them speak for themselves.
June 22 – June 29 found a group of 27 teenagers, adults, and consecrated in the tiny village of Nuevo Durango, Mexico. For 5 days, the group spent mornings building doors, mixing cement, laying bricks, and weeding around the village’s church. Most of the villagers lived in little more than cement shacks with thatched roofs and hammocks for beds, but they took pride in having a beautiful place to worship. The afternoons were a favorite for many, myself included. The teens in the group organized and ran a makeshift day camp with the kids, whose ages ranged from 5 to 14. We played “futbol”, made artwork, and taught them vocabulary and the proper technique for brushing one’s teeth (while they devoured American candy). Yet even though we spent hours teaching and showing them American toys and games and words, they took only minutes to teach us so much more. They treated us and each other with such dignity, respect, and love. Their way of life became one we admired and eventually wanted to emulate. In the midst of such abject poverty, they were truly happy, grateful, and many were even giving back. From the breakfast place that fed kids for free during the week, or the tireless effort to preserve and protect their “ecotown”, there was so much more giving than there was receiving. They have no beds, their house floods when it rains, and they have one meal a day. They have next to nothing. But they truly have something to teach us. (By Elizabeth Lawton)
When I first stepped off the bus in Nuevo Durango, Mexico, to begin my mission trip, I immediately wanted to leave. It was extremely hot, the mosquitoes were endless, and I was in the middle of nowhere in a little village which I thought had no importance. However, over the next week, I realized that this village had quite a lot to teach me.
I spent the next week in Nuevo Durango with a mission team of 26 young people doing some truly amazing work. This included finishing the construction of a small church, landscaping, and cement work. I hate manual labor, so I expected this work to be quite a drag. However, this work turned out to be strangely satisfying. I had the privilege of working with some amazing people, including the villagers. Although the work was supposed to be done by the missionaries, the villagers came out to help us every day, and their smiling faces made the work fun and rewarding. Most adults in Nuevo Durango work anywhere from 10-12 hours per day, and many work multiple jobs, so we were amazed that they were willing to extend their work day to help shorten ours.
Every afternoon after we finished our construction work, the missionaries and I ran a camp for the village children. I have never thought of myself as good with kids, but this was a truly eye opening experience. As we played with these kids, it was clear that they had infinite amounts of joy and happiness in their hearts. There was never a moment where any child was frowning, or upset. They are in need of everything, and yet, simply our presence made them happy. I will never forget the kids in the village or their faces as long as I live: Gerardo, Sofia, Maira, Ramón, Eric, Andi, Natán, Fernanda, and many others.
Nuevo Durango, Mexico is a place where my life, as well as the lives of 26 other missionaries from Mission Youth, were touched forever. We experienced love on an immense scale. We witnessed unimaginable joy, and we experienced the peace of simple living. The people of Nuevo Durango lack so much, yet want for nothing. They lack so much, yet are much happier than many who live with abundance. Not a day has gone by since my return home that I have not thanked God for the many gifts that were given to me during my time in the village. (By Jack Broadhurst)