Mission Trip Day 1

2 Aug

For all of you who don’t know, I recently got back from a mission trip to Othello, WA. Why Othello? you’re probably wondering. Well, you’ll find out.

Each morning, we would head over to the labor camp, which is home to many native Mexican-Indian immigrants, and do service projects (examples: picking up trash and broken glass, weeding…) and play with the kids a bit. The projects were a way of letting the people know that we were there to help them, and to show God’s love to the community. Later, at 6:30 in the evening, we did a VBS for the kids. VBS=Vacation Bible School (for those of you who were wondering). It was a chance for us to help these kids out not only in this life, but in the next. A chance for us to share the Gospel with them.

Each day of the trip, some friends from the youth group and I would choose a “Verse of the Day”. This verse was a Bible verse that applied to all that had happened that day.

Our Day One Verse:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

Monday, the first day of the actual missions part of the trip, a lot of things went well. A lot of things, that is, until the VBS itself. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As soon as we arrived in the labor  camp, I froze. I had no idea things were this bad in our own country. The houses–well, tiny apartments–are really run down and small. These families don’t even live in the whole thing! Half of the apartment–an area a little bit bigger than my bedroom, which I always thought was small–is the home to not one but several families. Why? Because they all have to work together to be able to afford the $375 a month rent. It was hot, dry, and dusty. Broken glass, trash, and weeds were everywhere. Mangy dogs were everywhere, just roaming. Most of the kids were wearing old sandals and dusty clothes. Some were barefoot.

After adjusting to the shock, we got to work. Weeding. Picking up trash. Putting up our huge, Old West set. We also had some time to play with the kids. Let me tell you, these kids, so often left to their own devices, were really, really, really happy to see us. They never got tired of spinning around and around in our arms, or having us help them do the monkey bars, or push them on the new swing set that was being installed when we arrived.

The people installing the swing set, we found out later, did not live in the neighborhood. They lived a few blocks over, in a much nicer area (and I mean nice) and weren’t going to use the swing set anymore. So they brought it to the kids who would love it, old as it was. They were so happy to hear that we were there to minister to the migrant community. One of them said that most pe0ple who come to help are from out-of-state, which we were. That really made me think. I think that we put so much focus on helping others in different countries that we are blind to the need here, right in front of us.

Anywho, after knowing us for three hours or so, our new friends  invited us over for lunch, not only for Monday, but for Wednesday and Thursday too. We were all wondering how on earth this nice family of four was going to feed all twenty of us. But we needn’t have worried. We arrived at their house (which was good-sized and really nice) and they had prepared a feast! There was so much, there were leftovers. And let me tell you, their authentic Mexican food was so, so, so  much better than PB&J.

After taking a break to prepare lessons and get refreshed, we went back to the camp. During the VBS, we had some issues. To say the least. The kids that we had bussed over from another neighborhood were pretty much the enemy to the labor camp kids. Turns out that Hispanics and Mexican-Indians don’t like each other. The CD player originally didn’t have batteries, so we were without music until the end. There was a dog fight.  Crafts, snacks, and games were chaotic. There was a group of kids cussing in Spanish. Music would blare from cars and distract all of us. Kids would get up and leave in the middle of Bible lessons. As one of my friends said, these kids were more squirrel than human.

Needless to say, we were all very, very disappointed at the end of the day.

We got back to our campsite, only to discover that the sprinklers had turned on in our absence, getting one of the girls’ tents wet. Including some sleeping backs and other stuff. We moved the tents out of harm’s way, then had a group meeting.

One of our contacts apparently commented that we’d done really well, that this was one of the best VBS’s he’d seen with these kids. That was a crazy thought. With all the chaos, even though we’d stuck to it and tried to stay positive, we were all really disappointed, frustrated, and kind-of numb feeling.We felt like the VBS had been, as another of my friends put it, a flop.

We closed the meeting in prayer, with people chiming in when they thought of something to say. I don’t know about anyone else, but boy was I dreading the next day. After the prayer, I felt a little bit more at peace, even if I couldn’t sleep (even with Melatonin) and woke up several times throughout the night.

The first day was, well…interesting. To say the least.

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