Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reflections on Mexico Missions

After my first Mexico mission trip during the summer of 2001, my youth pastor debriefed our team of high school students on the transition home. He challenged us that, when asked about our trip, we should avoid the one-word answer of "fine" or "good," instead expanding our answer to a statement with clarity and depth.

So if asked about my most recent experience in Mexico with a group of 150+ people from Red Mountain, I will respond with, "it was satisfyingly frustrating."

While on the Friday morning road trip to the Mexican border, my stomach decided to--for lack of a better term--freak out. This is not how I envisioned the trip commencing. There were numerous other frustrations throughout the trip, some anticipated and some not. Living in the sandy Mexican desert without bathrooms for a weekend is a far cry from comfortable, as is a four-hour line at the border crossing back into Mexico. Trying to teach a group of around 25 junior high students how to mix concrete, hammer a nail, slap stucco onto a wall, or not to touch the various dogs (no matter how cute) would try anyone's patience.

Yet intertwined all of these discomforts was the sense that Jesus was present and moving. To have three of our church elders and our pastor to women building a house alongside junior high students was a remarkable picture of community. These people would not normally ever interact--apart from the fact that many are parents of junior highers--yet they came together to dramatically change a young Mexican family's circumstances. It was also beautiful to see the larger group of Red Mountain people experiencing fellowship around the camp fire. I got to meet a number of different people in our community that I might not have connected with otherwise. I pray that the connections made this weekend are the first steps in ongoing relationships within our church community. We've built a house together; now let's continue to spend time together back in America!

My frustration from the trip continues as I wrestle internally about the future. I don't want to see this trip become a one-time event that simply filled a slot on our church calendar. I want to see entire families capture the vision of living missionally, to love the people in our church and outside our church, both people who know Jesus and those who don't. I don't mean "love" as the abstract notion that we should kinda care about other people. I mean love as compassionate action, as serving those around us, as living out the gospel of Jesus in every moment, making the most of every opportunity to reveal the love of God to others. This means taking the experience of Mexico and carrying it with us, allowing it to alter our paradigm about our comfortable lives in suburbia, and choosing to take seriously the command to love your neighbor as yourself.

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