About a month ago I returned from a week in Mexico. Three words- It. Was. Exhausting. But, it was amazing! I loved connecting with our Director over Mexico and seeing all of the inititives they have! There are so many great things going on there. Here is a recap from one of the families that went on the trip. I fell in love with this family and am thankful our paths crossed! Hoping that happens again:) I love hearing the perspective from our trip participants!
Shoes for Orphan Souls- Our First Full Day in Oaxaca
After a late Saturday night arrival, our first full day in Oaxaca would allow us to worship God as our first act of service. Rested and eager, our group of 30 loaded into two small buses and drove beyond the city limits in search of a small country church—Igledia Bautista Emanuel. Little did we know that this small, hidden congregation was going to serve us! The small church structure was not visible from the dirt road where we parked the vans. A short walk down a wide path revealed a small, open courtyard covered by a make-shift blue tarp. The area was adjacent to the concrete, white exterior wall of the church and was further defined by several tin-sided outbuildings and a chain-linked fence. The hard-packed dirt floor would serve first as the lunch and fellowship area after the worship service and later as a gathering place for our first shoe ministry event. Different from the usually Buckner orphanage arrangements, today we would use this local church to draw surrounding families and children in need. Inside, six rows of wooden-slated benches and many folding metal chairs faced a foot-high concrete stage. Drums, electric guitars, and two small podiums filled the raised pulpit area. While I could not read the Spanish-written verses painted on the front walls, I could easily decipher their references—Matthew 4:10 and Matthew 28:19. The first verse finds Jesus commanding Satan to depart from Him and the second verse commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. I couldn’t think of two better verses to meditate on as I prepared for the week ahead. The Spirit filled the place as the musicians lead us into singing “Santo, Santo, Santo” (“Holy, Holy, Holy”). As the song ended, everyone was encouraged to turn and greet their neighbor. Polite handshakes were not tolerated as everyone ignored any language differences and freely offered long, tight hugs. Buckner’s vibrant in-country coordinator, Juan Carlos, acted as the guest speaker and preached an effective sermon from John 9:1-9 (“Jesus wants you and loves you just as you are”). Several locals stood to recognize their need and desire to ask Jesus into their hearts. Long tables, covered with beautifully embroidered table clothes, were neatly arranged and ready to receive us after the church service. Charcoal grills were sizzling with thin-cut beef, onions, and cactus (that’s right, cactus! But all the prickly parts were removed—hate to have that job!). The small but dedicated congregation was delighted to glorify God by serving us enough food to feed all of Oaxaca. As neighborhood families began to fill the environs of the courtyard, we could feel excitement in the air increasing. The tables were quickly cleared and moved to create small stations for Bible stories, crafts, and games. The shoe distribution area would be back in small church.Organized into four different color teams, we mobilized into our assigned corners of the outdoor space and prepared to receive groups of children. After some large-group songs and games, the children were subdivided in gender and age-specific groups. My family of five and two other adult females made up the “Red Team” and we received about 30-35 little Mexican jumping beans, all under the age of five. Operating in tight, crowded, loud, and unfamiliar conditions, our first team experience was truly a baptism by fire. Our plans to have them read and write the memory verse collapsed as only a few kids could write their name. Game time provided many laughs as these featherweight children attempted, usually unsuccessfully, to sit on a balloon and pop it. If the kids knew we were rookies they did not let us know; in fact, they only offered smiles and laughter as if we were mission field pros. I quickly learned that our success would not depend upon elaborate preplanning or vast prior experience; but on this basic principle: Hug a kid and Be a kid! That would become my motto for the week. Seems simple doesn’t it? Almost too simple! But Jesus had a way of keeping things simple—“Come to me as a child.” Perhaps I need these poor children as much as I thought they needed me—to remind me to have joy in spite of circumstances, to not worry about tomorrow, and to laugh, run, and play simply because I can.
Above is a picture of some of the girls that received new shoes.
Below is a picture after an amazing fiesta at one of our feeding centers!