This past spring break, I had the opportunity to travel with six fellow Extol employees, their spouses/children, and a group of people from Kentwood Community Church to serve with Back2Back Ministries in Cancun, Mexico. With the goal of helping families stay together, Back2Back provides holistic care in the areas of physical, spiritual, educational, emotional, and social needs. We were blessed to be able to help in many of these areas in our time there.
Our time was split between construction work and spending time with local families and children in the community. On Saturday, we helped with a lesson at a children's Bible school. We sang songs, assembled jigsaw puzzles, created artwork, and helped with word puzzles (which is a challenging endeavor in an unfamiliar language). On Sunday and Monday we renovated a recently leased property that Back2Back will eventually use for mentoring parents and tutoring children in the community. Our group painted the interior walls, applied stucco on the exterior walls, spread gravel over the backyard, and re-distributed garbage into smaller, more manageable trash bags in the street. We also laminated hundreds of children's books for a library and repainted some metal window grates.
Our last full day on the trip something special happened. We spent the morning meeting and praying with a few local families that are supported by Back2Back. In the afternoon, we helped on a variety of construction projects at Back2Back's new community center. When we were finished, over a hundred local kids came to the center for an afternoon program filled with charades, tic-tac-toe, yoga, and a field game. As we played, laughed, and loved on the children, the language barrier seemed to simply melt away.
After playtime was over and we had cleaned up the community center, the mother of one of the nearby Back2Back-supported families invited our whole group (over 27 people) to come to her home for food and a celebration of some Back2Back staff birthdays. Her home, like many others in the area, was very small. Random materials, like pallets and tarps, made up the walls and roof and it was apparent that whoever had constructed it had just used whatever had been available at the time. There was a table wrapped in a tablecloth with a few chairs around it on a kind of front patio area. Gleaming, she brought out plate after plate of chicken mole [moh-ley] along with piles of rice and stacks of tortillas. She had prepared a feast for us. This mother had so little, way less than any of us, yet she had served us more food than we could eat. We were amazed. Her love for us, a group of strangers, could only be explained as an outpouring of God's love.
The next day we packed up and headed home. Looking back, the trip was a wonderful experience in a new culture serving people in challenging circumstances who speak a different language. But despite all of our differences, the people we met and worked with were a lot like us in many ways; they have the same human needs that we do. They need God's love just as much as you or I.
Jason is a mechanical engineer with valuable experience in hands-on plastics joining experimentation. He's a passionate problem-solver and communicator. He also challenges anyone to a game of foosball.