Mexico 2015 Reflections

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost
all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ – Philippians 3:8

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone. And live so all might see the strength to follow Your commands could never come from me. Of Father, use my ransomed life in any way You choose. And let my song forever be. My only boast is You. Hallelujah! All I have is Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.- All I Have is Christ hymn, Jordan Kauflin

Their laughter filled the air as I stood watching them all work digging trenches outside in the dead heat of Mexico. They were all lined up and digging a trench for power lines that would bring electricity. Dark brown, almond, and white skinned arms rose up and down as they worked alongside of one another. The sounds of construction at the camp interrupted the sounds of their laughter as hammers were hitting concrete. There were others of the team gathered around our beloved water cooler laughing as they took a water break from their labors. This small camp village was coming alive. Others of us were huddled together at a table writing out skits and making crafts for Bible school at the church later tonight. They brushed away the seat dripping from their brows and continued to cut out small whales that later would be placed into the hands of children anxious to see these foreigner that had come. And I see God.

Their little faces come running into the church as they waved their balloon animals. Their feet are dirty from the dusty roads but they have been busy bathing and putting gel in their jet black hair so that they can give their best for their King. They jump around as they toss the balloons back and forth to one another. The boys bop one another on the head with the balloons and their laughter fills the small space where we have gathered for Bible school. Their brown eyes light up as they sing “Christ lives in me” and “The word of God is like milk, it makes us stronger”. Their small hands clap to the songs that we sing with them in Spanish. They laugh at these crazy foreigners as they act out various Bible stories and they cannot get enough of our skits. They work together to make necklaces and various other crafts as they chatter about how much fun they are having. They smile at us and take our hands as we teach them Bible verses. And I see God.

The youth arrive for camp. In the days prior to their arrival, I take a walk down the main hallway that spilts up the various huts where they will stay. This small camp of huts has become our home away from home. Water is being poured out on the floors as the youth and women clean in preparation for 50 youth that will be staying at the camp. The heat of the day is bearing down on us as they wash the floors and sweep out the bugs. They laugh and talk about how excited they are to feel more of the Holiy Spirit’s presence at the camp. They talk about how they will lay out the beds and how many children will fit into each hut. I join them during a small water break as baby Samuel rolls about in his hammock. I want to drink in his big, brown eyes as they remind me of my babies at work back home. Omar sits on the floor in the small hut reading his new Bible from Mario. He tells me he wants to read his Bible so that he can be a pastor when he grows up. His Mom talks with me about how Samuel cries for her when she is away and so she had to bring him to camp. She nurses him as we talk and he drifts off to sleep as she sits rocking him. And I see God.

We hear a loud crash in the camp as we come back from shopping for supplies for Bible school. There is yelling in Spanish and the Mayan workers scatter about trying to figure out what just happened. The cistern has broken and no one was harmed. It came crashing down on the camp, our source of water for bathing, cooking, and washing. We all stand in disarray at the scene of a cistern lying in broken pieces on the ground. The men hurriedly start to make a plan and spring in to action of how to restore the water supply, for without a water source we cannot live. I stand watching the women begin to gather buckets of rain water for bathing and begin to teach one another about bucket baths. It will be a while before we will have water again. It was there that I realize that when it all comes undone, there Christ remains. It is there that I see those pieces of our water supply lying broken on the ground that I realize all we need is Christ. Is it there that I know our team is about to learn how to depend on Christ even more. And I see God.

We spend the day viewing ruins of the Mayans in Tulum. We bury our feet into the white sand while others of us go into the water. I look up to see these people, whom have captured my heart time and time again, having a seaweed fight. They are laughing and just enjoying being together. We have become a family in the short time we have been in Mexico. We have lunch together in the van and make our way back to camp. We laugh in the van ride home about seaweed and how awful we must smell by this point. We gather together in the main hall as we get everything out of the van and the light begins to go out. The lights all over the small camp begin toflicker off as the team realizes that we are blowing fuses The new power system cannot handle the amount of power being put out so it gave way. We scurry about finding flashlights and trying to cut off power sources. Night has fallen and we are in total darkness standing there frustrated and exhausted. What will we do now? The men talk about sending the women to spend the night in the small church, which will have air conditioning. The women wonder if the men will be okay without electricity through the night at camp. The electrician will come soon with Pastor Eric so we all wait together in the main hall. Some of us drift off to sleep while waiting. There, in the darkness, we learn that Christ is enough. Christ is all we need to make it through. Things will come up against us, but Christ still remains in the darkness. Light always overcomes darkness. And I see God.

For almost 2 weeks I was blessed to serve with a team of 12 other people from my church in Playa de Carmen, Mexico. I was able to fall in love all over again with Latino culture and with our God. God took us all to places we never expected and we all saw Him in many different ways. We learned that when it all breaks loose (and you can guarantee that it will break loose in life), there Christ always remains.

Amanda Ratliff
Asheboro, NC team

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