Baja Mission Trip 2014

Poverty. 
I thought I had seen it in the states. 
Here vast and wide-spread. 
I feel like I’m in a post apocalypse movie… survival and make-shift society. dustDust covers everything, trash everywhere. Stick fences with debris clinging, flapping in the consistent breeze.tarps

There are two seasons each day.

One in the sun and one in the shade. old mill view

We retreat each evening to our oasis by the bay. Where toilets flush and a hot meal awaits. Life is so unfair to so many. old millbaja1colorsofbajatime of restEach day four crews of 14 have a task to serve the Christians here. Day one we provided VBS to the young children. We had perhaps 60 children. Many dressed in their best, wearing jewelry saying Jesus or a simple cross.vbs craft carefully working

The large brown eyes stare and give bashful smiles to us. The biggest smiles always reserved for after I take their photo and show it to them. headband I made for her

During the evenings if your team wasn’t handling VBS, the teens had a devotional with the teens from the church. This is the first mission trip of primarily teens to this part of Mexico. Because of the many years of mission trips to San Quentin the children of the church are now teens and the goal was to reach out to them. This was neat to witness as the two groups became comfortable together while serving the community, worshipping together, sharing meals and playing soccer. bajalovefutbol futbol friends

Another day we made home visits to the families who have teens in the church or who are in need of extra encouragement. We went to the grocery and bought bags of fruit to give to the families we visited. $16 bought 10 bunches of bananas and 60 oranges. A treat for these families. We visited 6 or 7 families.

We greeted each family as they stood huddled together in the doorway of their home. We heard their stories, sang and prayed for what was on their hearts. Many request were equal to the prayers we say, sickness, unfaithful family members, and prayers for their children. Some prayer request were not from our world. Request for fresh vegetables and  medicine.  home visithis stove group visitEach home and small yard were fenced in with sticks and tarps of whatever materials they could find. Some homes concrete, some wood. Few with power or running water. Outhouses in every yard, clothes hanging out on the line and a dog somewhere nearby.figs a quilt

swing

The lucky ones had chickens & a little vegetable garden striving to grow with little water. One family shared cucumbers with us the father had gotten from his work. In their window hung a blanket our children help make in VBS at home many years ago. I remember us all sitting on the floors in circles making them. Many of those kids are here today. It makes them so happy to see the blanket being used.

Perhaps the hardest day for many of us to witness. But the faith of these families made me think of what is in store for them one day and never has Revelations 21:4 meant so much to me. “And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death, there will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain, the first things have passed away.”victorabuela

But they are not sad people who pity themselves. This is their world. Their story is everyone else’s story too. bashfully girlsmiling eyesbeautiful girl

We had two vans driving us around. One we rode and one with the Mexican teens. After our first visit I noticed a few of our teens get on the Mexican van and with each additional visit more and more rode with them. I loved witnessing their courage.

Construction day was another of our service days. Each team spent a day working on a house that we would complete in 4 days.

It was hot, dry and dusty. Challenges were met on every front. Generator not working, or the exact tool not on hand, and finally the second bus breaking down. No one was deterred as hand saws replaced the power tools and everyone pulled together even more so.  It’s the way it is here.

The family of 7 watched from the doorway of their cardboard house as our team put a door, roof and 2 windows in their new house. Lunch was delivered by the kitchen crew. Children from all around came to eat as well. Each of us seeking shade to enjoy our meal crawled in the vans, trailers & bus. I didn’t eat my bread so I shared it with the hungry dog sleeping under the bus. He wagged his tail stirring up dust. Gratefulness in his eyes. Later, I saw a teen give him water in a cup.house

The afternoon ended with me throwing up in a ditch across the road from our construction site. A little boy walked up to see what I was doing. He was eating a ziplock bag of Cheetos. Wished I knew the word for sick in Spanish. Luckily this passed and left me with a fever for the long night but thankful to all the prayers lifted up for me as I tried not to dwell on the possibilities of what ailed me.the challenge

I awoke to feel much better and now I sit as I write this on the porch of our oasis. The shade and breeze my company. I think now as the buses & vans drive out of what they will encounter today, whose life will be touched and who will be lifted up in His name.welcome

Some images will never be forgotten ever. Kim carrying a big box through the airport that had rolls of irrigation supplies to make hula hoops for the children, an idea his daughter Sarah saw on Pinterest, the little dirty hands reaching thru the fence for beanie babies brought by Cassie, my son and husband both using hand saws simultaneously, one on the roof and one on the ground, and Mishka sawing a third for their window. And Michele playing 4 square with the children as though it was the best game ever, and the huge smile of the star soccer player being encouraged by his friends as they chant his name to join the game after the “Americans” scored. Or the joy in Missy’s face after visiting an elementary school & sharing her experience with me. And Diana’s good morning smile as she served breakfast, finally being on a trip with the teens she serves everyday.  These things and many more quiet moments I will always cherish as I saw God working through us.kevin and chad

bajamemorieschad

As our week in the San Quentin community came to a close so did the construction of the house. The family that received this house, were chosen by the members of the church because of their needs.  They currently live in a cardboard house with no roof.

laundry

Their story is like many others living here. They rise and go to work at 530 riding one hour both ways. The mom rises at 330 to build a fire and cook food for them and the children. The oldest daughter no longer goes to school so she can care for the youngest. The parents now harvest onions. 75 lbs in a bag for which they are paid 30 cents a bag. They harvest 60 bags a day. When the crop is finished they await until the another crop is ready. Being out of work some weeks. While we worked I watched Gabriella wash laundry with a scrub brush and pan of water and hang them out on the line.

Our team donated money, unplanned, from our own pockets to buy this family mattresses and a used gas stove. A small group met to deliver these items to them. Building them bunk beds and a bed frame from the leftover wood, their used mattresses were brought into their house and she learned how to use her stove.

I was present in the evening, in a small circle as their home was finally finished and I heard my son pray over them. The trip was completely worth this moment.

Tonight the parents will not have to sleep on the floor. In the morning Gabriella will not have to build a fire.

The next morning our entire group came to the house to see the finished house and to dedicate the house and to bid them goodbye as we headed North to Ensenada. Pictures were taken, the children showed off their beds, and the stove had been used. Matt had been the spearhead on the construction site and he opened his bible and read.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 bedsmy bed

Matt placed the keys to the house in Gabriella’s hands. As my turn came to hug her tightly, I took this picture of the shiny new keys in her sweet brown hand. God is good. keys to her homereceiving her keys

We all spread out over the house and laid our hands on it and prayed. Prayed for their future and their health, their faithfulness and their family. I touched their beds in prayer and her stove in prayer. Powerful morning on this desert. It was holy.thehome

I can’t apologize for the length of this post nor my thoughts. My emotions flooded out when I wrote these thoughts while there. I respect those that have been making this trip for years and years. It is a difficult one. The traveling itself is hard, but I regret not making this trip sooner.

As we drove into Baja on the mountain side was a large cleared area with rocks spelling out Romans 10:9 and I looked it up while on the bus ride. “If you declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” My prayer is our actions and words this week declared to those we served that we believe Jesus is Lord.
finished house

Katey

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28 thoughts on “Baja Mission Trip 2014

  1. my love and appreciation for you just grew even deeper – you have the heart of an angel. thank you for taking the time to share this with all if us!!!! xoxox

  2. Katey, I am humbled by this post and read every word with admiration for all those who made the trip. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  3. Oh, Katey, this was a wonderful report on your trip and your emotions. The photos and comments made me weep. We are such a blessed nation and have no idea how wonderful our country really is. These people work so hard for so little.Thank you.

  4. katey, this brought tears to my eyes, also. i love your heart and how it is opened to God and to his people.whether here or in baja! your heart is so big. I am so thankful for you. love, mom

  5. Sweet Katey! I am so thankful for you and your family–you have been such a blessing to so many, and will continue to be. Your mom and dad have seen us through many trying times, and I can see their sweet spirit in you. Thank you, and Chad, and Kevin, for doing the Lord’s work in Baja!

  6. No apologies needed for anything about your post! Like everyone else, I was touched by every word & picture! God blesses us in many ways, & you are a blessing in all the lives you touch – including your readers, & even people you don’t know. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  7. Oh yes, I was going to ask – re top pic of rows of cacti – do they plant it? Does it serve purpose for them? Food? Botanical sales to nurseries? Just curious.

  8. Tears streaming! I LOVE this post because it is how I feel every year that I go to Baja! I got chill bumps and tears as I read, several times. I have made this trip 8 years and can never wait to get back. It just feels like “home”! I know why my baby loves it so much! I’m so glad y’all got to go and especially the three of you got to go together! Thank you for your perspective and words! Love you!! <3

    • Oh sweet Laura!! 8 years!! I would love to go with you. Mishka & I talked of you! Alden was a jewel & I enjoyed watching him as if he were my own, I would think in my mind, he’s my people!!

      • Aww such sweet words about my baby – thank you for loving him and seeing him as your own! I love me some Mishka – he’s precious! We definitely need to do this trip together, it would be great “new” memories!

  9. I don’t know what to say! You left me speechless for word to express gratitude to all of you that worked so hard to give to these people things they need for life and especially for eternity! May God bless the work that was done snd His nsme be glorified! Thank you for sharing. Hard reading thru tears!

  10. Katey, I see that my reaction was not uncommon. I was crying half way through so I had to keep wiping my eyes and blowing my nose to even finish reading. What a wonderful and self giving experience for the three of you to have together. I did some mission work for several years when I lived in MS and it is truly what you say – those who have so little are so happy and thankful for that little. I always felt like I was the one with the greatest blessing for being allowed in their lives. It was never hard to go, but coming home to the way we live and take things for granted was extremely difficult.

    God bless you and the ones to whom you minister. I thank you for being the person you are and for sharing this beautiful time with us.

    • What a lovely blessing! I am so glad that you let your story pour out unhindered!! Definitely Christ’s Love in action!! God is Good.

      • Thank you Frankie! It did just pour out as I began typing it in an email to myself. The emotions just so raw there. I love seeing as you said Gods love in action!

    • Alice, thank you! I agree coming home to wastefulness & complaining are hard to stomach! I’ll never complain of the rain again for they only get 10 inches a year! Thank you for your sweet words. I miss you.

  11. Oh, Katey, I read this now as I am waiting for my car to be serviced (thank you, God, for a car & the means to take care of it) — tears in my eyes threaten to spill down my face (trying to hold them back in public).

    Your words & photos were so touching. You have such a beautiful way of sharing from your heart & soul. I have never considered participating in anything like your mission trip but your story is working on my heart. It truly takes so little from us – compared to what we have – in the way of time, labor, & money to do so much good for other people when doing God’s work. Love the tender hearts of your teens, too.

    I feel so blessed to know you, Katey!

    • Lori, so grateful to have encouragement from you and the sweet other comments. I feel overjoyed. Thank you! We do have so much to give. Katey

  12. Katey,
    I am John Beasley’s mom, Jane. Thank you for taking the time to share about your trip. You expressed yourself beautifully, and it has helped me understand a little about what John experienced last week. Thanks for watching out for John in Mexico, and letting him stay with you last night!
    Blessings,
    Jane

Thank you for your comments. Love to hear what you have to say!