July 7, 2015 - Mexico
This week, I painted walls. In an effort to bring our community together for a project, Mario, our community contact in Palmas, brainstormed the idea to paint the outside walls along the street all one color to create a sense of unity between neighbors and to show the rest of Palmas that the people on Calle Obed were dedicated to doing life with each other. Our neighbors gathered, paint brushes and rollers in hand, and we all began working our way down each side of the street. Gray cement walls and worn down wooden fences were made new with a coat of white paint. As we finished up the last houses, we brought out four pints of purple, yellow, blue, and green paint. Our neighbors picked a wall and on it decided to paint the phrase unidos para vivir major - united to live better.
Kids and adults gathered around to dip their hands in the colorful paint, covering the wall beneath the phrase with hand prints of all shapes and sizes. As I added my hand print to the wall alongside those of my neighbors, I saw incredible joy reflected in their faces. There was smiling and laughing, kids getting paint all over their hair and clothes, moms bringing out snacks and talking with one another, and dads looking on proudly at how the community had come together to do something new.
All week, as we have been working with the Conexion Mosaico staff and going about our everyday lives in Palmas, I have been wrestling with feeling like I am doing this entire Trek experience in the wrong way. This week has been full of lots of what feels like waiting around, plans changing, or being switched last minute, and then suddenly being thrown into a new activity.
One thing that God has been especially exposing is my need to feel "effective" in ministry, to look back at the end of my day and feel like I accomplished something big or substantial. But, big and substantial things are not what I was called to Mexico for. I was called here to learn what Christ-like humility is and to learn from both my community and the staff that I am working with how God is present in the poverty and injustice that is a part of my everyday life here.
This week, I painted walls. It did not seem like a very big task, nor did it feel like I was making some substantial impact in the physical needs of the community. But you know what? God was moving during the time we spent outside, under the sun, covered in paint with the rest of our neighbors. Through one small project, he showed them that when they work together, united as one community, they can make something beautiful. He showed them that he wants for their homes to be surrounded by a spirit of hope and strength, not one of apathy and hopelessness. God was looking down on my neighbors and smiling in the love that he has for them, his children who are uniquely, fearfully, and wonderfully made, and saying that this day was not the end; he is not finished with transforming this community. It is only the beginning.
With each new day, we are learning what it means to choose into a life with Jesus, to walk humbly with him, and to see how his teaching applies practically in our everyday lives. We are not here to do big things; we have been called to step into the transformation that God is already doing. A quote from our Trek journals perfectly summarizes the place that Katie, Rebecca, and I are to have in that transformation. It says that we are not called to be great men and women of God, but men and women of a great God. As we continue on this journey, my prayer is that as we grow in our knowledge of who God is, we seek for him to increase in our lives, and for him to bring us into the small, but important steps of transformation our community, even through painting walls.
Written by Marissa