"Inspired by Project Mexico"
INSPIRED BY PROJECT MEXICO
Fr. Luke Veronis
July 21, 2014
“This was by far one of the most incredible weeks I’ve ever experienced in my life. The children we met in Mexico really opened my eyes to what’s actually out there, and how amazingly hard things are for so many people in the world. They were so much fun, and also so grateful for the small house we built for them. I loved everything about this week. I already miss our time in Mexico, and can’t wait to go back as soon as possible.”
This was the reaction of one of our team members following one week of building a very simple home for a needy family in Rosarito, Mexico. Our group of 13 members from our Church Family, along with nine other friends connected to Church members, made up our team.
We stayed at the St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage for teenage boys, and worked through the Orthodox Christian organization Project Mexico, which has been building homes for the past 26 years. During our one week there, we joined 130 other Orthodox Christians from around the USA and BUILT EIGHT HOMES!!!
Here is the reaction of some of our team members following our experience:
One friend asked me WHY I would go to Mexico to build a home for some poor family I don’t even know. He obviously didn’t understand our call as Christians to reach out to those in need, to help others less fortunate than ourselves, and to share God’s love in concrete ways, even with those who live in other countries far away.
I am 22 years old, the same age as Maritsa (the woman for whom we built this home, along with her husband Julio and their three children) and I realized how fortunate I am to be born in the US, to have the family from which I come, and to have the opportunities that we find in this country. Maritsa is the same age as me, and yet she faces so many difficult challenges in her life! This trip made me very appreciative of all the blessings I have in my life, as well as to see the great needs of others who don’t have as much. I understand their difficult challenges in a new way. We were reminded of the words of Jesus when He said, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” We have a great responsibility to reach out to help others, and in some small and simple way, we tried to make a difference!”
I was inspired by the joy that we saw in the Mexicans. Even though they have so much less than we do, we could still see a radiant joy shining from them, especially from their children.
I realized that the missionaries living in Mexico, along with the Project Mexico staff and the young adult interns who committed to serving throughout the whole summer, and some even for an entire year or more, received so much joy and fulfillment from their experience and work. These men and women were living out the Gospel through caring for orphans and helping each team build homes for families in need. It made me realize that when God calls us to follow Him and live out the Gospel, we may at first think that it won’t be fun or it may be too difficult, but in reality, we saw through the example of these interns and staff, how God’s ways are always fulfilling and good! The staff and interns seemed so happy and grateful in what they were doing! I now realize that we can trust God and follow Him, no matter where He may call us and to whatever ministry He may give us!
It was very meaningful to be a part of something that my husband, Fr. Luke, has talked about year after year. I loved going as a family, and being with all my children. It was a joy to be with members of our church family, as well as with several nieces. As for the building aspect of our trip, I learned how central and important a strong foundation is in the building of a house, and affirmed anew how we must build a strong foundation in our own lives - and of course, that foundation is our Lord Jesus Christ.
This experience opened my eyes to a new way of life, and it helped me become more appreciative of all that we have. One moment we are in San Diego, one of the beautiful cities in the USA, and 20 minutes away we enter into another world, and see how different and difficult life can be. We have been blessed in countless ways, and should be grateful for all we have. But we also have a great responsibility in sharing those blessings with others.
We did something for them in building a simple home, and maybe they thought we would expect them to do something in return, and yet nothing was asked of them. It was an offering made in the name of our loving God. In truth however, they did do something special for us – they helped change a little bit our perspective on life, our worldview. We each have been enriched by this special experience.
It was shocking to see how one little girl saw the simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we prepared for lunch, and said that she was hungry because her father can’t buy food. They didn’t have much, and yet appreciated the simple meals that we gave them.
I never thought that we could build a house in four days with the unskilled workers of our group, and yet all these young people proved me wrong. They did a great job in working and we built the house!
It was nice to not having our phones for a week. I realized that what I thought matters in life doesn’t really matter or is so important.
I want to thank God for another wonderful, inspiring and safe trip, and I also want to thank each of our team members who participated, as well as everyone else who helped make this mission possible through their donations and prayers.
May we always remember our responsibility to share God’s love through our words and actions – in our local setting, as well as throughout the world. May all glory go to God!