We just returned from a week outside of Tecate, Mexico. We were there as a part of a team from our church that is working on building Mi Casa Children’s Home. The vision for Mi Casa started “one morning in the fall of 2004 as CasaBuilders founder and MPPC member Ken LaPoint was studying his Bible and praying. ‘As I poured out my heart to God about my desire to give fatherless, family-less children in Mexico a real hope and a real future, he poured out his vision,’ says Ken. God’s vision was of a new facility to be built in Mexico. It would be a place these children could always call ‘home,’ a place where there is family, hope, and a future. It would be a place where children would know how special they are and how much they are loved.”
I don’t even know where to begin. How do I share this experience with you?
Here is a partial list of things we prayed about (and asked others to pray about) ahead of time. I’m a slow processor. Much of this will need to percolate for a while before I can make sense of it.
- Please pray that God might use this trip to reveal more of what’s next for our family.
- Please pray that God will use this trip as a seed that will give our children a heart for vulnerable populations (widows, orphans, immigrants, the poor- in other words, those who Jesus identified specifically.)
- That we’ll have soft hearts to learn what God has for us to learn- whether that be plans for the future, character issues, relational issues, etc.
- That our family will be a blessing to those around us. That He’ll give us eyes to see opportunities to serve in whatever capacity we’re supposed to serve in.
- That we’ll form deeper connections with those around us.That our hearts would be broken by the things that break God’s heart.
- That we’ll continue to be propelled beyond sadness to action.
Let me start by sharing some highlights, in no particular order:
- The first two have to do with our children. We prayed that God would stir our children. When we crossed the border, Elizabeth was chattering away in the back seat about how dirty everything was. How dingy. How depressing. How the colors were grimy. The potholes. Indeed, we were not in Kansas. On the last day of our trip, I asked her what she thought about Mexico. She said “I don’t like Mexico. I LOVE Mexico.”
- At dinner on the night that we got back, I asked the kids what their reflections were about our trip. Little Charlie said “it feels like we have too much”. He got it.
- We had a wonderful time at the City of Angels orphanage in Tijuana. We played with the kids. Play dough. Side walk chalk. A little boy named Jesus and I stomped puddles at each other. I think he won. Elizabeth and I had our nails painted in multiple colors by the sweet children who lived there. We played with play dough. We played in the rain during a down pour. We ate pizza together. We marveled at the rainbow.
- Charlie and Elizabeth connected with other children and adults from our church on the trip, which is one of the things we were praying for.
- I learned that safety is a privilege. Children ride without seat belts. Babies ride on their mothers laps in the front seat like they did back in the 70’s. I don’t think I saw a child on a bike with a helmet the whole time we were there. It’s not uncommon to see kids riding in the back of a pick up truck. While we were down there, I got an infected tear duct. The morning that we crossed back into California, I went to Urgent Care. In the waiting room, there was a woman indignant that she had fallen in a school parking lot, and no one knew about it. “They should have cameras!”, she declared. I bristled at her entitled perspective. Then I realized that I have this entitled perspective, too. But, I’m blind to my own entitlement. Tecate gave me a new lens. I realized all the entitlements that I’ve come to expect. Clean drinking water. Safety. Education. The hope of a bright future for my children. Access to healthcare. Healthy food.
- I’m a Myers-Briggs INTJ. Click on the link if you’re curious. We’re not big criers. I felt like a mess for a good amount of the time we were in Mexico. I haven ‘t cried this much in a very long time. Orphans. Abuse. Lack of resources. Poverty. Lack of hope for the future. Lack of opportunity. I’ve been overwhelmed. Then I realized that I invited it. I had prayed that we would care about what God cares about. That our hearts would be broken by what breaks His heart. In this case, heart break and joy went hand in hand. I want to be a part of the solution. It may take some time to discern how our family is supposed to be involved. But, I want deeper engagement.
- We met a set of twins at the City of Angels. As I sat under the table with them during the rain storm playing with the side walk chalk, I thought that they were two years old. Their language was about like a two year old. We were talking with one of the ladies at the orphanage. When I heard the boys calling her momma, I said “Oh, you’re their mom?”. She looked me in the eye and said “No, they need a momma, and they don’t have one, so they call me momma.” I didn’t know what to do or say. I still don’t. When I asked her how old the boys were, she told me that they were 4 years old. As the frenetic pace of the day slowed, I realized that these little boys were developmentally delayed. I thought that they were two years old because they didn’t know their colors and because they had mostly one-word utterances. We had three beautiful children from our church on the trip who were 4 years old- but they were light years ahead of these boys developmentally. This pricked my heart. Our son Charlie has had speech, physical and occupational therapy- lots of help. At the City of Angels, where they are struggling to provide the children with food, clothing and the ability to go to school, I’m pretty sure that these little ones won’t have access to the intervention that they need.
So, there are some snap shots. Again, I’m not sure how to begin to talk about this experience. I can’t make you ride the bumpy roads or make sure your mouth is shut tight in the shower so that you don’t get the water in your mouth. I can’t make you smell the smell of sewage and smoke. I can’t feel the dirt and the grime for you. But, I wish I could. This experience has changed me, but it’s too soon to say how I’m changed. I’ll keep you in on it as I process.
Jenn Camp chronicled our trip on our church website. She and Don Crisp were the photographers who took the pictures above. You can read her thoughtful entries and see more pictures here.