J-Bird and Mommy flew solo this weekend. Pappa Bird spent a weekend away from his 2 favorite people, but it was for a good reason. Our church partners with a church and an orphanage in Mexicali, Mexico, and about 7-8 times a year, we send a group down there to help them out with various things. In September 2004, a group of us travelled down there to help them paint the inside of their church, which is really just a renovated warehouse in the barrio.
I felt God calling me to go again this year, and my wonderful wife was kind enough to allow me to leave her for a weekend alone with a 4 month old. On this trip, our main focus was on helping them put on a fall carnival. Our group of 12 people left the church parking lot around 5 AM on Saturday, and arrived in Mexicali sometime around 10 AM. Shortly after that, most of us guys started putting together a donated wooden playset. Although we didn't have assembly instructions, the person who disassembled it was smart enough to number all of the joints, so it only took us a few hours. We also cleared the parking lot of quite a few loose rocks, set up some carnival games, and then waited for the carnival to begin.
Each one of us was in charge of running a carnival game. The game that I chose was a "football toss" game. Three mini-Nerf footballs, a piece of plywood with 3 different sized holes, and a huge box of candy. As basic as that sounds, the children there loved it (and some of the adults too!). A large number of these children came from the surrounding neighborhood, which honestly, makes your worst part of town seem like a nice middle-class neighborhood. These kids really only have the bare necessities in life, if that, and to be able to bring them a night of fun and joy, it just fills your heart to the top. Despite my very limited Spanish vocabulary, I was still able to communicate a little with them, give them high fives and cheers, and smile a smile almost as big as the ones that they were wearing. The carnival lasted about 4 hours, and about 350-400 people showed up. About halfway through the carnival, there was a time of worship, and the pastor spoke for about 10-15 minutes. I have no idea what she said, but it was very moving to see a different culture and their style of worship. Two days later, my body is still aching and weary, but it was so completely worth it.
Another highlight of our trip was the church member that I stayed with Saturday night, Mario. Unlike my last trip, when the people I stayed with spoke no English, Mario speaks English very well. This was such a huge blessing, to be able to communicate with each other, and really made this a memorable trip. Mario, Dan (one of the other missionaries), and I sat on his patio talking for about an hour on Saturday night, learning about each others lives, and talking about spiritual things, and just growing together in Christ. On Sunday morning, we woke up to a fresh pot of coffee, and then Mario took us on a tour of Mexicali, showing us the downtown area, and many different neighborhoods. It was very enlightening, to see how this culture lives, and it reminded me of how amazingly blessed our family is. Some of these people have to work so hard just to survive, yet here we are, coasting through life, completely oblivious to how well we have it. In any case, after our little tour, Mario took us out to a delicious breakfast, then we returned to the church and drove back to Chandler. Mario was such a wonderful host, such a kind and generous person, and I can tell that God truly has worked something special in his life. We exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and hopefully will be able to stay in touch.
I just wanted to share my experience with everyone. Some of you out there helped me out with the funds for this trip, and I am very grateful. Just like last year, this trip has renewed my fire for God. It has reminded me how blessed we are, and how important family and friends are as well. I will have pictures up in a few days, and will post the link as soon as they are there.