I seem to have trouble posting things in the order I want them to appear. The pictures below should be in reverse order. The last picture shown below is how the building in Nuevo Laredo looked when we arrived on Monday morning. The middle picture shows how I spent most of my time--shoveling sand. The first picture shows our group, including several of our Mexican brothers and sisters, in front of the same building on the final day of work--just before our departure from the sight.
As you can see, the building is very plain. It is made of cement blocks. The walls were there when we arrived, as was the cement floor inside. There were no windows--just the holes where they would go. There was no electricity. The bathrooms in back (you can't see them in the picture), had no roof. There was a sidewalk on only one side of the building. When we left, the windows had been installed, the electricity had been wired in and was working, the bathroom roof had been poured (by lifting bucketfuls of cement up by hand), and the sidewalks had been completed (a full-length of the building on one side, plus two patio areas at the front, plus two oversized sidewalks in front of the building by the street). We accomplished all of this in 3 1/2 days.
I cannot even begin to explain the depths of my feelings for these people in Mexico. They work so hard, and they talk about our "sacrifices" in coming to help. And little do they realize the abundance of what we have, nor the joy with which we come, nor the blessings we have enjoyed for having been with them this week. Although the work is physically difficult and often challenging, we have a wonderful time doing it. And our time of fellowship with our Mexican brothers and sisters makes our "cup run over" with blessings!
As we worshipped on Sunday morning at the first church building built by this ministry, we were amazed at the outpouring of love to us, the enthusiasm shown during Bible class and the worship service, and the fervor with which they sang and prayed. It puts our American congregations to shame!
Following are some observations I made while I was there. As you read, compare all the number 1 entries, then all the number 2 entries, etc.
What we (Americans) see:
1. Concrete buildings with sparse furnishings and many flaws.
2. People with darker skin who dress differently from us.
3. Crumpled pesos in the collection plate.
4. People whose language is different from our own.
5. People who work at the job site along side of us with few tools, but with great enthusiasm.
6. Rough, calloused hand that are used to doing much hard work.
7. A loving church that greets one another & all of us with a handshake and sweet words.
8. Their poverty and our own abundant wealth.
What they (Mexican's) see:
1. A beautiful place to come together and worship God.
2. People with lighter skin in different clothing from their own.
3. Neatly folder dollar bills in the collection plate.
4. People whose language is different from their own.
5. People who work along side them with expensive tools, some expertise, and a great willingness to work.
6. Blistered, sore hands that are accustomed to an easier life-style.
7. Looks of astonishment or quiet amusement from us as they greet each and every one of us.
8. Their blessings & our "sacrifices".
What God sees:
1. The people who come together from both walks of life to worship Him. (Ps. 100)
2. Christians who are clothed with His Son. (Gal. 3:27)
3. Some people giving out of their poverty, some people giving out of their abundant wealth--but all giving in glory and honor to the Lord. (Lk. 21:4)
4. Christian voices raised in praise to Him. (Heb. 13:15-16)
5. His work being accomplished. (I Cor. 3:9)
6. Willing hearts, doing the work their hands have found to do. (Col. 3:23)
7. Love being offered and received. (John 13:34-35)
8. A sharing that goes far beyond monetary value. (Rom. 12:9-13, Heb. 11:26)
God sees two Christian communities coming together to work, most not speaking the other's language--but communication occuring even so. It is the language of the heart--gestures, laughing, singing, praying, praising, sharing--love in action. These are His people.
I love these brothers and sisters in Mexico. They will remain in my heart forever.
I pray God richest blessings upon them and upon you as well.
Peace in Believing.