At the end of March, 20 adults and high school students from Mac Cov joined with other McMinnville churches on the annual YAHOO Mexico Mission. We packed up – 51 participants total, all of our gear, luggage, and tools – and headed to Tecate, Mexico for nine days, ready to serve God by serving the people he loves. Working with Amor Ministries, our mission was to build three homes for three families who needed a place to live that would keep them warm, safe, and dry. If there’s one thing I learned this year, it’s this: God will accomplish his purposes, no matter what obstacles might get in the way.
You see, we faced numerous challenges this year on the trip – from health scares, to vehicle issues, to a new law that forced us to leave our two box trucks on the US side of the border. The high school students on the trip handled the setbacks admirably. Although they gracefully accepted the challenges as part of the week’s story, they did not allow them to distract from the mission at hand. Everyone focused on our goal, choosing not to be dismayed when things went wrong. As a team, we persevered, we worked hard, we comforted one another, we prayed, and, in the end, we built the three homes we were sent to build. Together, we accomplished what we set out to do. We provided homes for three families who needed them. We couldn’t be stopped, because God had a mission to accomplish through us. Despite the drawbacks, we launched ourselves into the mission wholeheartedly.
I heard an analogy a few weeks ago that gave me a new perspective on the things we call “drawbacks.” This analogy compared the pursuit of a mission to a bow and arrow. An arrow can’t go forward to hit any target unless the archer first pulls it back, in order to give the arrow momentum. Sometimes, drawbacks in our lives can work in a similar way. When we experience drawbacks, it might be that God is about to launch us into something great and wild – just as an arrow is literally “drawn back” before being launched to a target. The drawbacks can be preparation for whatever mission God has for us.
In reflecting on the YAHOO trip this year, I’ve come to see the challenges we experienced as preparation for our greater mission. The setbacks allowed us to problem-solve together and learn to trust one another, even before we stepped foot across the border into Mexico. That bonding was invaluable and we worked together to build three homes. And, the love and friendship that grew between us was perhaps the greatest gift of all.
I couldn’t be prouder of this year’s 51 YAHOO participants. These amazing people worked so hard in so many different areas. They coordinated travel for the entire group, led times of worship through singing, prepared meals for the whole team on our traveling days, and so much more. And of course, each and every one of them mixed concrete, hammered nails into boards, constructed walls of stucco, put in windows, and ultimately left three families with new, solid homes to live in. The opportunity to work alongside them is a blessing, even in the midst of unexpected challenges. It’s especially rewarding, of course, to work together with students from the Mac Cov youth group, and to see their faith stretched and strengthened as they’ve experienced a corner of God’s world that is vastly different from McMinnville, Oregon. I can’t wait to see what mission God launches us into next – I know we’ll be ready for it, and that God will prepare us well for whatever that mission is.