On June 17, I traveled to Naco, Sonora Mexico (it borders Arizona) from Wake Forest, NC with a group affiliated with Grace Ministries USA to serve the children of Naco Casa Hogar Emmanuel orphanage for a week. There were 19 of us. The youngest missionary among us was 18 years old, and it was her first international mission. It gave me great joy to be part of what turned out to be a life-changing experience for her.
I made this same journey for the first time last year (2018). But this time was different, better somehow. (Not that last year was bad… just different.) There were twice as many of us this year – with the same assignment -- to complete facilities maintenance projects at the orphanage, but most importantly to love the children. How did we do that? We drove them to and from school, played games with them, danced with them, sang with them, talked with them, and shared meals. To sum it up, we showered the children with attention. There were many smiles and much laughter. Did I mention there was lots of candy?!
Someone in our group came up with the idea to have a beach party on the orphanage grounds for the children. Yes, a beach party! (Mind you, Naco is a desert town.) The rest of us went with the idea, worked together to put things in place, and the children had a blast! (The “ocean” consisted of a couple of inflatable pools filled with water 😊). Of course, we naturally had plenty of sun in the desert.
Also, one night we transformed the ambience of the orphanage chapel into an “elegant” restaurant in which each child was formally announced by name upon entrance and treated as a very special guest. Each missionary was assigned a child and served as their personal waiter for the evening. Several of the children expressed how much they enjoyed it, and I must say, we (the missionaries) enjoyed it too!
Sure, there were long days as we (the missionaries) worked hard to complete maintenance projects. But we also had just as much fun! Through it all, we built relationships. And that made the trip worthwhile.