Even though this is written in first person, it’s not about me. It’s not about my church family. It’s not even about Mexico.
It’s meant to glorify the blessing Jesus Christ bestowed upon me and my LifePoint church family during our time in Reynosa, Mexico.
I don’t know what I expected Mexico to be like. At first glance, I noticed the rundown buildings, the mangy dogs, and the dirt roads. But once I immersed myself in the culture by talking, eating, and praying with the locals, I realized they are better off, in some ways, than we are. The coloniaThe day before we went to the colonia, a seven-mile long community on a canal, I prayed to find a specific family to love.
When I first saw the siblings, they were together. The oldest, Graciela, 10, had her arms wrapped protectively around her sister, Deysi, 8, and her brother, David, 3. Graciela smiled at me, and I asked them if they wanted to color with me. They nodded excitedly.
The moments that followed were all it took for my whole perspective of this trip to change. Those kind and polite kids – completely happy with simply sitting at the bench coloring pictures of princesses and dinosaurs – melted my heart.
The first night after we returned from the colonia to our lodging in Texas, a mission team member put into words what we had all been thinking that day. The people in the colonia smile differently than we do.
I had seen that with Graciela, Deysi, and David. It wasn’t that their smile was simply physically attractive, it was that their smile reached their eyes. It might seem ridiculous in those circumstances because if we were living where they were living – in thrown-together, one-room huts – and we were making less than a dollar a day doing manual, backbreaking labor, we would probably think our lives were terrible.
David doesn’t think his life is terrible. He’s happy when he’s simply sitting on someone’s lap listening to them talk. And, that’s not just because he’s 3. Most of the people we met there were the same way – just happy to be living. Selfless love
It’s amazing how God works. Even though I had connected with Graciela and Deysi, I felt the call to love whole-heartedly on David. It could be because he fell asleep on me the first day we were there, and considering I don’t understand kids and kind of just like to pat them on the head, that was a big deal for me.
But, then I saw God’s plan. While I felt this bond with David, others had became connected to Graciela, Deysi, and their parents.
We were all loving on the same family, but we had all been led there differently. It was the doorway to some life-changing events, for all of us.
The children’s parents – David and Francesca – invited us to breakfast the next day. We enjoyed biscuits, crackers, pastries, and some coffee with our family and we spoke with David Sr. about his struggles. He told us he wanted to help people despite his dark past.
Francesca didn’t say much until the end when she approached our translator Sylvia and said, “This is the most my children have had to eat in a long time.” Are you kidding? In America, that would have been a light breakfast. If I hadn’t realized how spoiled we are before that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks then.
But what dominated my thinking even more than that realization was the selfless love these people were showing to us. They made us breakfast. The invited us to their house to eat their food when their children are more than likely going hungry most days of the week. These people in the colonia are selfless. They love selflessly. They want to make others happy because that makes them happy. How many times do we do that in America? Yeah, we invite people over to eat dinner sometimes. But, would we do that if we didn’t have food to put on our own table? The whole purpose
The entire trip we bought items for our family. It is amazing how that 3-year-old boy’s eyes lit up when I handed him an outfit and a pair of shoes.
But, before the last day in the colonia, we were reminded that we were there to share Jesus.
We hadn’t asked any of our family if they had accepted Jesus in their hearts.
At breakfast, we told David Sr. and Francesca that no matter what they had done in the past, it would be over and forgiven. If they accepted Jesus, it was new life. Glory to God, they agreed, and, like I always do, I cried as we held hands and they prayed for Jesus to come into their hearts.
That last day in the colonia was unforgettable. When David fell asleep on my lap again later that day, I felt comforted knowing that his parents were going to teach him about Jesus Christ.
But, our family’s story was just one of the salvation stories that day. Five other people in the community had come to know Christ.
Seven people who can now share their salvation story with other people and become a firestorm. Because that’s one of the ways God can work. With one word, or action, or prayer, one little flame of His love can ignite a whole village, a colonia on a canal, or your own hometown.