When writing an essay about your spring break, you would eagerly recount the thrilling adventures, cherished moments, and rejuvenating experiences that made it a truly remarkable vacation. So do I. It was about three weeks before school got out for Spring Break when I got the call from one of my friends. He told me that his church was planning on going to Juarez, Mexico on a missions trip over Spring Break. My parents had been struggling lately with finances and I knew that if I was meant to go that it would take nothing short of a miracle. About three days later my friend called me back and told me that since I was given such a short notice the church would pay my way. I knew right then and there that I was absolutely called to this mission trip.
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The day arrived sooner than I thought. We would have to travel almost eight hundred miles to reach Jaurez, but even with that ahead of us I was excited. We were going to build a house for a widow and her three little boys. I did not understand why we were building a house. The lady organizing this trip told us to not be surprised about anything that we saw. Two days later, we reached our destination. I was a little concerned about what I was about to see but I took a deep breath as we neared the construction site.
As we pulled into a little area called Tierra Nuevo, our guide Chue was explaining how the people had ended up in the area. They were actually living in the land fill because the Mexican Government had forced them to move. As we got closer to the job site I noticed that there was garbage everywhere and I asked our guide why it was so dirty. He replied that when the government had forced these people to move they had taken bulldozers and literally destroyed everything that they had, as little as that was. Then came the site that I will never forget. Many of the people lived in cardboard houses! The road entering this little community was not only littered with garbage but with dead dogs that could not even survive. When I saw them I knew that I had to prepare myself for actually seeing the people. I learned that most of them had houses made of nothing better than cardboard and if you actually had a roof over your head you were considered extremely wealthy. Most kids had one set of clothes and most likely did not have any shoes. A water truck came by every day and filled up barrels with water. This was the water that they drank, cooked with, and bathed in.
Thoughts begin to race through my head. Could I handle this? Was this really the way that I wanted to spend my Spring Break? Then I saw first hand how the people lived. I was told that most girls got married by the age of fourteen and I cringed. I couldn't fathom the idea of someone so young expected to raise a family and have children. Little girls would come up to me and hand me babies that I assumed were their siblings, only to realize that they were in fact the mothers. As the days went on, I became closer to the people that surrounded me. I actually began to feel like I was one of them. The kids would just come up to you because they wanted a hug and they did not get that from their parents. They would try their hardest to have a conversation with me, but one semester of Spanish did not provide for much conversing. I spent most of the week with the kids and a lot of the younger mothers. We passed out clothing, candy, canned goods, and packages of dry milk. The men spent most of their time building the cynderblock home that someone would cherish. A concrete floor was so much more compared to the pre-existing dirt floor. Soon the home was complete.
Then the day came for leaving. I would have never thought that I would become so close to them. As I said my final goodbyes, I realized that this was it. I would most likely never see these people again. I would never know what became of little Isabel or the little deaf boy that couldn't even tell me his name. I did not want to leave and it broke my heart to watch them run after our vehicle. I wondered how many times they had run after a van full of Americans that had spent their time to beneift others. I thought of each person there and how they had impacted my life. Could I ever return to normal life and easily indulge in the pleasures of life in a free country? I was truly a changed person and realized how blessed I was to live in America. Then a thought occurred to me after my mind cleared. I went to be a blessing but I think I was blessed more by the people of Tierra Nuevo. I cannot imagine a better way I could have spent my Spring Break. Even though there was a communication barrier, there was a language that got the message across. That was the language of love.