At one point, we hadn’t showered for four days. We were cramped in rooms that each housed 26 people piled on triple-stacked bunk beds. And we weren’t allowed to wear shorts despite being in the hot Mexican desert for the week.
There are other aspects of our trip to Mexico that would gross you out, some would sadden and hopefully most would inspire you. I plan to share more about that in future blog posts. One of the most intriguing things for me, though, was the actions of our own kids.
Megan Hawkins and Graig Graziosi are young adults from Evangel Baptist Church who had made this trip to Mexico many times before. They had been staff members with Mexico Caravan Ministries , building homes in Tijuana. They blazed the way for our teens to prepare for this trip financially, culturally and spiritually.
In all the preparation leading up to the trip one type of instruction was conspicuously absent: how to build a house. Now the homes we built are very simply structures. They are 12′ X 12′ shacks with no electricity and no plumbing, but they improved the lives of those families immensely. Some of the teens had little idea how to saw a 2 X 4 or drive a nail into the wood. The knowledge wasn’t there, but the desire to work was.
After praying with the family at the first site, Laura, the staff member in charge of the build, had us unload the truck. She asked who would like to measure, showed them how and zipped on to the next task. A few more were told to get saws and start cutting what had been measured, followed by brief instructions on how to set up the frame for the first wall and nail it together.
Guess what our kids did? They jumped right in. ALL in. Almost immediately there was a metallic cacophony of hammering and sawing. There was concern for doing a good job, but they didn’t let the fear of messing up keep them from giving it a go. There was some mistakes, but none that changed the quality of the house. At pivotal points Laura would do things herself to make sure all went well. After getting kids started, however, she mostly gave pointers to teens (and adults like me) who were learning on the job. We were fortunate to have Graig and Megan there to give guidance as well.
There’s a couple of lessons our churches can learn from this. The teens provided a great example of how to approach service for Jesus Christ. Many of us don’t do it because we’re afraid of failure. If the kids had done that in Mexico, the homes wouldn’t have been built. Imagine what you could do if you tried.
The second lesson is from the team at Mexico Caravan Ministries. They work from the assumption that kids have the capacity to build, even if they never have before. Staff members teach through mistakes and, as a result, every participant showed progress by the final build. Some of the differences were amazing. Sometimes leaders in the church fall into the trap of doing everything themselves because they can do it better. It is far better to give people the freedom to fail so that they can learn, because they won’t fail forever. That’s true leadership!
Sorry for being away for so long. I’ll get more regular as we approach the fall (With my blog, I mean. Mexican food had only the slightest effect on the other thing.).