Understand that mission trips have little to do with actual work. Yes, things need done. There will always be work to be done. But more and more over the years of doing short term missions I have learned that it has little to with the work and more to do with the relationships and sharing the gospel. Sure, you could send money, but money doesn't tell the good news of Jesus. You can build a wall, but in time a wall will fail. You can build a porch but porches eventually rot. You can cut someone's grass but that grass will grow back.
The ONLY thing one can give that is worthwhile and will last an eternity is Jesus. Building a wall, painting a porch or cutting someone's grass is just an excuse to get in and do the real work.
The real work
1. Sharing the Gospel.
2. Standing with our brother's and sister's in their time of need.
3. Empowering and giving hope.
And so we used physical work to fulfill our goals.
Along the way though you can be sure that there was a child peering over our shoulders or getting right down in the ditch and working alongside us.
They took turns with pic axes. My mom's sponsored son (in the green) took turns with her sharing the pick ax. Mom, who is 68 by the way, would swing that pick ax for a bit and then B would swing for a bit. They took turns and together they were very productive! It was beautiful to watch him walk over and see her working. When she paused for a moment to wipe the sweat off her brow he tapped her shoulder and asked for the ax. She handed it to him and let him work for for a few minutes until he paused for a break and then she took it back from him. Over and over they did this. Young and... a bit older working side by side. American and Honduran working together. Together the reality of this project became a bit more attainable.
This little firecracker "L" got in the ditch and helped me push dirt out. Pick axes had broken up the dirt but we had to wait for shovels. While we waited we got in and started digging by hand.
"L" filled this frisbee over and over with dirt!
This little guy got in and helped shovel. Would the work have gotten done more quickly had he not been in control of the shovel for a while... Absolutely. But stop and think about it for a moment. We could have done the work without the help of a single kid and we could have done it a lot faster... But that isn't what it is about. It is about standing with our brothers and sisters. It is about encouraging them to be a part of their own solution. It is teaching them to take pride in their home. It is about sharing this journey with them. So many lessons would be lost if we just did it ourselves.
"J" helped Adam and I find the right boards to build the new cabinet for the kitchen. Maybe he'll be a carpenter some day?
Not all the kids who worked were Honduran. Maylin and Pierson did their share of work too. Not just the physical work but they have mastered, way better than I have, loving their brother's and sister's in Christ. They don't see the kids as less-than. They truly exemplify Christ in that they see themselves as no different than these children we came to serve. They don't see the dirty clothes and bare feet. They see friends.
I know many people wonder why we take our kids... Do they really get anything out of it? Do they help too? Aren't they just a distraction to us? ... oh yeah we get these questions.
My honest answer is this. Yes, Yes and No.
By taking them we are teaching them that mission's is a way of life... It isn't something that you do when you grow up. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. It doesn't mater how strong you are. You don't just go when you finally build up an extra week of vacation or save up enough money. You go NOW because God calls us ALL to go. He calls us all to be his disciples and spread his word to all nations. When He said "Go and make disciples of all nations" he never said, 'wait for an opportune time'. He just said "Go"
I want to teach our kids that now is the time. I want them to know that God is speaking to them too. I want them to understand what poverty really is. I want them to know that they can and do make a difference.
"I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow! "