Reflecting on Mexico

Thanks to the support of my family, the leadership team’s tireless planning efforts, and the enthusiasm within the Lighthouse community, I and twelve others were able to travel to El Niño, Mexico over spring break to build a house. During this time we were given the amazing opportunity to collaborate with Baja Christian Ministries and build a house for the Ramirez family – Armando, Claudia, Armando Jr. (14), Allan (11), Michelle (8), and Kaylee (3).

Starting with only a concrete slab, we quickly began to build walls and sections of the roof so that by the end of day one there was the frame of a house beginning to take place. By the end of Friday, we had built not only a house (painted inside and out), but a walkway, and a raised garden bed. And then just like that, we were done.

To see the transformation of the house was incredible – from a bare slab of potential, to a rickety structure with various dents and protruding nails, to a home.

But I can’t begin to comprehend the thoughts and emotions of the family members as they witnessed and participated in the construction of their soon-to-be home. All I know is the joy I saw in the kids’ faces as they ran through the rooms of the house, the dedication and enthusiasm of Armando, Armando Jr., and Allen as they worked along side us, and the pure amazement that decorated the tears welling up in Claudia’s eyes throughout the week. These moments are forever ingrained into my memory.

The Ramirez family has left a permanent mark on my heart. Their ability to trust us (unskilled laborers that we are), and to treat everyone with compassion was a true inspiration and drastically altered my perspective.

All aspects of this trip were life altering. It breathed life into my faith, and all crevasses of my being. And it provided a basic sense of security, permanence, and place for the Ramirez family. Now, I can only hope that those sturdy blue walls are able to shelter the family from storms they may face, and continue to foster the growth of their family.

One of the ways I matured though college was through the reframing of my faith. I began my college career with a ‘listen and do’ faith perspective, and left with a ‘learn and try’ perspective. I felt that during high school, the ‘listen and do’ faith worked for me and many of those around me, as we all had similar lives. However, in college, the number of activities, perspectives, and lifestyles that one can adopt is too broad to apply a cookie-cutter faith and hope that it works. Instead, a didactic approach is needed—one where you have to take action in your faith, though questioning, doubt, and reflection.

Now that I find myself in an entirely new setting- working full time, 9 to 5 in a life where most everything is very constant- I find myself needing to adapt and mature. Though I am now living a different lifestyle, I feel that my reframed faith still remains with me due to its dynamic nature. This was not true for high school, where I felt stuck in my faith. I now can adapt to changes in my life, as I have learned ‘learn and try’ rather than rely on listening and doing. I have agency in my new faith. I will learn from friends, family, coworkers, and even myself. I will take an active role in applying my faith to my life, in finding meaningful community around me, and I will try to love in new ways by attempting to understand every experience as pedagogical.

Though it will be difficult to do so–I look forward to finding a community like Lighthouse that encourages a ‘learn and try’ theology. As I search for that place, however, I look back upon my time in Lighthouse with nostalgia and gratitude for the education, love, and faith foundation it has laid for the rest of my life.