I sat happily in the airplane. I was too excited for sleep. My peers around me dozed soundly, not knowing what to expect once we started. Somewhat relieved that I had been on this trip before, I prepared myself for the excitement that was to come. There was a chime as the seat belt sign lit up. The captain’s voice rang out across the airplane. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are now arriving in LAX airport in Los Angeles, California. We will be landing in approximately half an hour. I just ask that you stay seated with your seat belts fasted. Thank you.”
Half an hour later, the plane landed with a thunk. As we slowed down, my mind exploded with thoughts. Thoughts of the last trip I took, how we had gone down and simply built a house: a home for someone in need. Nothing told me that this year was going to be different.
Finally, it was time to get off. There was a group of peers that had ridden a different plane before we did, so they had rental vans ready. We headed down to Costco and bought enough food to last us a week. With that, we drove south. Past Anaheim. Past Irvine. Past Laguna Beach. Past San Diego. We drove into Mexico.
It was a drastic change of atmosphere and scenery; palm trees and grass disappeared. Not only that, but… the English language disappeared. The advertisements for the show that would air “this Thursday at 8/7 central” were slowly replaced with advertisements for Tecate. The number of McDonalds’ thinned out. I was face to face with the intense poverty of the country directly south of us.
We reached our campsite. I stepped out of the car and took a deep breath. I had missed the smell of cow manure in the morning. Looking around, I saw that the campsite had not changed. It was still a flat, dusty area with rows of Honey Buckets on one side, stone showers on the other, and a huge pile of firewood off to one side. We pitched our tents, started a campfire, debriefed, and went to bed.
Rise ‘n’ shine, 6AM. Everybody got out of their tents and groggily poured themselves cereal. After breakfast, each person threw on a baseball cap and sunglasses and climbed in the car. We drove down the bumpy road to a small village to meet the owner of the future house. Her husband turned out to be a pastor. Sweet.
It was the third day. The walls and the roof were going to be put up today. Everybody was working hard, especially one guy. Let’s name him Josh. Josh was working so hard that he refused to take water breaks. While everybody else was taking breaks, he was sitting on the roof, tarring, or nailing pieces of wood together for the walls.
At one point, our pastor basically forced Josh to sit in the shade and take a break. He was offered water, but he refused, claiming that he couldn’t down it. Everybody returned to work, taking turns hammering things, while he sat there. After a while, Josh complained that he didn’t feel good. He was feeling so bad that he had trouble sitting upright in his chair, and that the water bottle in his hand was shaking so hard that if the lid wasn’t on, the water would have spilt out.
The Mexican pastor walked over and asked what was wrong. Josh said that he didn’t feel so good. After a few moments, the pastor offered to heal through prayer. A few minutes had passed when the pastor asked him, “¿Tienes la fe?” “Do you have faith?” Josh replied, “yes,” because, after all, as a Christian, that would be the right thing to say. But the pastor prevailed and asked again. “¿Tienes la fe?” It struck Josh quite hard. He said “yes,” this time with the honest belief that God could heal him. Right afterward, the pastor told him to stand. And he did. His pain was gone. Eradicated. Destroyed. It was the greatest thing I had seen. But it was nothing compared to what I was going to see the next day.
Flashback. It was the night before we left for the trip. All 20 of us had planned on wearing our red shirts. This way, we thought, we would be able to find each other more easily in the airport and around LA.
Flashforward. It was the fourth day of work. The last day. This day was by far one of the easiest. All we had left to do was to put stucco (a mixture of cement and sand) on the walls to stabilize them. Once that was done, the owner of the house told us that she had something to tell us. She had, one night before we had arrived, a dream that told her that 20 angels wearing red shirts were coming down from Heaven to build her a house. She had imagined it so clearly that she kept a log of it, with pictures. She gave it to us to keep, and broke down in front of us, praising God for all he’s done for her.
This week in July of 2008 was the major turning point of my summer, if not my whole life. Think about it. Is there any logical, scientific explanation for what happened? To put it simply, no. People have always been asking for proof that there is a God. Well, there you have it. I accepted Christ that week and have been living out my faith ever since.