For two years now my daughter, Nikolia, has begged to go on a mission trip. After saving up for over a year and through some generous gifts by several family members, she was able to go to Mexico this summer to participate in Project Mexico along with my sister. I can’t deny that there was a part of me that was thrilled for this opportunity for her but also nervous for my child going out of the country without me or dad for the first time. She’s back safe now and has a renewed appreciation for all the blessings in her life. I couldn’t be happier for both.
My daughter’s souvenir from Mexico for me was her SD cards of photos and video along with permission to put them on my blog. My daughter knows me well – to say I was thrilled and touched was an understatement.
Nikolia went to Mexico with a large group of Orthodox individuals. In most cases, a group of people from the same parish will travel to Mexico to work together to build a small house for a needy family in one week. In her case, she went as an individual along with my sister given that they did not go to Project Mexico with others from their parishes. The house they helped to build is rustic especially to American standards. The house does not have electricity, no indoor plumbing, no kitchen, and no bathroom. It was a simple two room home given to an extremely grateful family.
The house in progress – Nikolia is in the orange shirt
The house after it was finished
Those who participate in Project Mexico also live in rustic conditions while they are there. They all stay in their own tent for the week or share with someone else who brought one. My sister and daughter gained a whole new appreciation for their beds back home, a temperature regulated environment, and also for hot water for their showers.
Left: Catherine, my sister Right: Nikolia, my daughter
Their home for the week
Along with working on the house, the girls also watched and played with the children on the work site. The little boy was the nephew of the family who was receiving the house from Project Mexico.
At the end of the week, everyone who participated in building the house attended the house blessing. It was a touching experience for all of them.
I think this is a beneficial trip for our children and ourselves to experience. This is an experience that not only brings a whole new level of appreciation for all the blessings we have back home but also brings a sincere inner joy as you selflessly help someone else, expecting nothing in return from them. You cannot help but come back from Project Mexico and be forever changed.
I’d like to share my sister’s facebook status after returning from the trip:
Whether it be in a monastery on the Sinai Peninsula or in a small newly-built house in Mexico…there are certain moments in life where the presence of God is palpable. Sometimes we must be reminded of what is truly important in life. As I lay here in a comfy bed with indoor plumbing I cannot help but think that, if given the opportunity, I would go back to camping out in Mexico in a heartbeat. There may not be Facebook, or down comforters, or hot showers…but there is beauty and love to be found there. Within merely a day of being back I can already feel the regular stressors pressing upon me, but I hope that I will be able to carry that experience around in my heart despite the distractions. I feel so blessed by yet another wonderful Project Mexico experience (as well as so much more). “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” ~ Albert Schweitzer