Over Spring Break, a group of eighteen Vanguard students drove four minivans to Ensenada, Mexico to go on a Missions trip. We served at Casa De Esperanza, a shelter for women who have been abused or who struggle to get on their feet while having children. They can live there without having to pay for childcare or housing cost, but they must participate in daily chores and pull their weight in taking care of the grounds.
There were three teams of students: construction, women’s, and kids. The construction team built a new roof over a section of the housing at Casa De Esperanza. The kid’s team constantly played with the children while their mothers were at work or doing chores around the shelter. The women’s team was able to sit with the woman and provide crafts and discussion for them as a whole. Examples of crafts included a journal they were able to paint, flower pots, and making bracelets. The women were not used to having things to claim as their own in the shelter, so it was amazing to watch their faces light up as they were making something that could be their own property, something that they did not have to share with anyone.
There was overlapping in the teams as the women’s team would play with the children while the woman were doing their chores, because we were not allowed to help them. Many people traded off with trying construction and then switched back to the team they had originally signed up for. Construction seemed to be the most popular, even though it was the most dreaded team that no one wanted to sign up for from the start.
Our time at Casa De Esperanza was very emotional. By the time we had to leave, we had formed bonds with the kids and woman. When we arrived to the shelter each morning, the kids would run to us with huge smiles on their faces and with thankful eyes that we had returned another for another day of play with them. When the time came to say our goodbyes, the reality of possibly never seeing these kids again had set in.
Each night, we had a debrief of our day and how things went, how we felt God was working through us and what we learned that day. Our constant conversation was that we struggled with feeling so hopeless there, and that even though we were serving the Lord by doing something good for these women and children, we felt that we could do nothing about the situation they were in. We had discussions about whether we were seeing results in our work done there or if it was an empty feeling we had upon leaving.
People said that they saw no results because they wanted to see long term change, which we would not be there for. They felt as if they had done nothing with their time there solely because they could not see what would come in the future for these women and children. It was a struggle to not know how these children’s lives would play out and that was frustrating in many aspects.
Overall, I am so blessed by this missions trip and I will remember it forever as it has made a huge impact on how I look at life now. We take so much for granted that these children find joy in. On this trip I was reminded what pure joy looked like from a child. The innocence of these children has inspired me to take a step back in life and take in the little things that God has given us that we take for granted on a daily basis.