Monday, August 9, 2010

La Misión, Mexico

It is hard to believe that it has been over a week since I returned from a missions trip with Bible Fellowship Church to La Misión, Baja California, Mexico. This past week has been spent adjusting back to east coast time, catching up on sleep, reliving the experience through the over 1500 photos I brought back and trying to process the journey I took physically and spiritually.

The trip, organized by Phil and Mindy Steiner of Be 2 Live, allowed us to spend eight days in the community of La Misión partnering with Open Arms Childcare Ministries (which is a no-cost childcare to needy families) and Door of Faith Orphanage to invest, give back and hopefully in some small way reveal God's love. Over the course of the week our team installed drywall, plumbing, electrical and two roofs on homes throughout the community as well as framed a house on a hillside perch. We orchestrated a health fair, community donation delivery, a men's, women's and couple's bible study, a brunch for the workers at the orphanage and took care of the kids all along the way. We listened to testimonies of incredible faith from those who started off with a prayer and a desire in their hearts to provide better lives for the children and families of La Misión and now through Open Arms and Door of Faith they are seeing their plea evidently answered every day.

While preparing for this trip I didn't quite know how this "foriegn" missions trip would in any way, shape or form have any effect on the incredibly "domestic" issues of my life. But on day one we headed off to church and walked into a music filled chapel, and while the language was unfamiliar to many of us, the tune was the same. As I sang the song and scribbled the words in my notebook, "Abre mis ojos, Señor" I had no idea that it was becoming the theme song of my trip. This was partly due to the fact that I just couldn't get it out of my head, but mostly because none of us at that time could begin to comprehend the ways in which the eyes of our heart would be opened over the next seven days and how that would in turn effect our lives after our return home.

My eyes (mis ojos) that originally squinted at the poverty of La Misión, were gradually opened to something that can only be described as a richness that the community possessed. My eyes were amazed at the not just contentment but joy that shone through the smiles of the children. My eyes watched those of us from Bible Fellowship Church from various backgrounds and walks of life, with diverse skills and talents came together as a family, as a body of Christ and a vision of Christ to reveal His love and bring glory to Him in this community. And my eyes were opened to the heart of God in these individual's lives through their realness, selflessness and love. And while I would pack up and head back to La Misión in a heartbeat (or anywhere around the world for that matter), my prayer going forward is that my eyes remain open to those who are hurting and needy right here in my own community.

This blog post is quite possibly the longest I have posted to date. And part of the reason it has taken me so long to get it up is because I was having the hardest time narrowing down my photos (this is the narrowed version, I promise). I hemmed and hawed over which photos to include, the stories that were being told in juxtapositions, and how I could even begin to convey the experience. I finally had to give up and realize that I may have given myself an impossible task. So here you have it, my best, narrowed down shot at giving you a glimpse at what we were blessed to experience in La Misión, Mexico.

Our campsite was just up from Door of Faith Orphanage. Colorful bunk houses sat up on a ridge and the two bathrooms (1 John and 2 John) were housed in a building that looked like a Panda. The fire pit allowed for heartfelt conversations and a little smore indulgence. And the kitchen and dining area provided us with a open area setting for coffee, delicious breakfasts and every variety of Mexican food for dinners.This camp was the perfect place for us to come together as a team as well as personally encounter God (and maybe the occasional curious dog or horse.)

Each morning we had some time set aside for devotions. We could climb farther up the mountain to "the cross" overlooking the Orphanage and La Misión valley for a quiet space.

The building team I was on framed a house on the side of a mountain. When we arrived at the site on Sunday afternoon there was just a slab of cement and a pile of lumber on a hillside with a treacherous climb. And when we finished up on Friday there was the shell of a home and even a roof. To the left is Pastor Todd Patterson helping out with some roofing. And the picture to the right is our worksite mid-way through the project. The view was incredible from up there. From our perch we could even see the other roofing team working way off in the distance.

The house we framed was for the family of two girls that went to Open Arms Day Care. Meet the adorable Alejandra (left) and Bernice (right). The folks from Open Arms told us a story of a seven year old little girl that was taking the church and worship services they had at the day care and recreating it at night in her living room for the neighborhood kids. That was Bernice, and now she has a much bigger living room to work with.

We had a free half day where we loaded up and took a road trip down the coast to Ensenada. On the way there we stopped at La Fonda's for lunch overlooking the Pacific.

Another big project we took on was a community health fair. Several members from our team worked at organizing this project far before we left for Mexico. We got donations from local FL doctors and collected supplies. The day before the health fair as we were working on the house on the hill we heard a loud speaker projecting news of the health fair all throughout the valley town. Kids and families showed up to get information on things such as hand washing, teeth brushing, eating healthy, eye examines and much more. They also got to walk away with a beautifully painted face and maybe a polaroid or two.

Ms. Dorthy worked for months before we left for Mexico sewing a whole pile of beautiful dresses to give to the community girls. Here is Patricia and Carmalita proudly trying on their picks.

We had the opportunity to deliver community boxes to needing families around La Misión, that included food, supplies and toys for the kids. The day I joined in on the delivery we went down by the river to drop boxes off at the door of "houses" (if you can call them that) like I have never seen before. Then came to find out that the kids that lived there were some ones we had already meet at the day care. They were ones who always had the biggest smiles. That is what I mean by joy.

On our last day there we provided a brunch for all the workers of the orphanage. While they were eating we watched after the kids. Abby Bone and Lauren Taylor organized a visor craft project that kept the kids very happy and busy for a bit.

The building project I was on involved framing a house for a family of two girls that attended the day care. You can check out our progress here...

Framing / La Misión Mexico / Missions Trip from Caroline Prietz on Vimeo.


About Caroline

I decided my destiny was to be an artist at age five when I won an honorable mention in a art competition in kindergarten. Ever since then I have been following a dream that has manifested itself in a variety of rewarding and delightful ways. I have practiced in the field of graphic design for over 8 years and recently acquired my Masters in Graphic Design at NC State University in Raleigh, NC (check out my design portfolio by clicking here if you like). But a passion that has stuck with me ever since I got my hands on my first Nikon camera in my undergraduate art education at Florida State University is photography. The instruction I received there was but a seed in what would develop over the next years of my life. Recently I have begun photographing people in their celebrations of life and could not feel any more blessed to be a part of capturing those memories.

About This Blog

A great american writer once wrote, "If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world, and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan my day." EB White penned the thoughts of my own heart. One part of me is a graphic designer working to challenge the world, seeking out problems and striving to create avenues for change. The other part is seeking out the beauties of the world and working to capture them in our memories forever through photography. This is what you will find here. Me enjoying the world. I have been truly fortunate to photograph such incredible people at truly beautiful moments in life. I can only hope that the images I've collected will forever keep alive those thoughts and emotions that swelled in their hearts and minds that day.

If you are interested in having me capture your life moments you can contact me by clicking here.

  © Free Blogger Templates 'Photoblog II' by 2008

Back to TOP