Eight days in Mexico. Last Saturday to yesterday. So many lessons learned. Spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally. From characteristics of God to conjugations in Spanish. Here, I want to just give a few of the memories, lessons, or just things that stood out most to me; eight of them, one for each day.

Me with Daniela. ::melts::

Uno. The friendships. Las amistades. 
This was my third trip to Rancho Santa Marta, and I was so eager to once again see the familiar faces whose names I still remembered. It was absolutely wonderful to see them all again; people like Adilene, Obed, Daniela (pictured), Yesica, Monica, Marcelino, Ignacio, Adriana, Octavio, Antonia, and so many more. To remember and be remembered is a beautiful thing. Throughout the week, I was able to get to know them even more, and they loved being with us as well.

Dos. The tree. El árbol.
During the week, we developed an anology for how our relationship with God is much like a tree. We have to have roots that will hold us when the storms come, keeping us from toppling to the ground. We prepare now, not when the storms arrive. We have to dig deeper into the group for more water. And when we come to a dry season in life, we must continue to grow downward into God, seeking for water even when it is hard to find. 

David at the construction site.

Tres. Work projects. Proyectos de trabajo. 
We worked on three main projects: the house, the painting, and the trench. On the house, we worked on building the roof framing, putting on earthquake clips, installing bird blocks, and much more. Several of the girls (and Mr. McDaniels!) worked on painting the inside rooms of a house that will become a new home very soon. And the rest of us dug and dug and dug and jackhammered and pick-axed and dug and dug in a ditch that would be a foundation for an expansion of a home. God gave us success, safety, beautiful weather, and a time of learning with each other. 

Cuatro. The beach. La playa. 
On Wednesday, our team took the afternoon and went to a small beach for some fun and relaxation. God blessed us with an absolutely beautiful location with a place for folk dancing, fascinating tidepools full of life and color, as well as incredible rock formations that shot water twenty or thirty feet in the air with every incoming wave. 

Cinco. Listen. Escuchar.
A theme that seemed to follow us through the week was that of listening to the Holy Spirit. From the first night to the trip home, we were learning more and more about having our spiritual ears ready to hear God's calling in our lives, big or small. We realized that volume and comfort in our lives often make us insensitive to His voice, but that we can change it. 

a boy of the small town of San Vicente.

Seis. Be bold. Ser audaz. 
As we learned to listen to God, we also challenged each other over and over again to go and do those things He asks us to. We passed out hundreds of love letters from God in the town of San Vicente, often stopping to talk to the ones we met, all in Spanish. At the end of each day, we would encourage our team with the stories of how we had trusted God by acting on His promises that day. And had He ever failed us? No. 

Siete. Spanish. Español.
I really did learn and improve a lot of my Spanish. I was able to speak it at our VBS times while acting out Bible stories, teaching games, helping make and decorate bags, directing activities, and making general conversation with the children of all ages. We also got to spend time with the Ranch kids during recesses, afternoon basketball, learning the mariachi dance, playing "panaderia" (bakery), eating dinner, discussing salvation, and saying goodbye. It was wonderful. 

Ocho. No regrets. No se arrepiente.  
No regrets. This was my creed for myself throughout the week, as it is for my life in general. I tell myself "no regrets" not as a means of guilt or of believing that I have nothing to regret in the past, but I remind myself to live each moment to the fullest. Literally, I want to do everything I can that God has called me to, and I want to do it all in the full power of God. "No regrets" motivates me to step out, sometimes far out, of what I am comfortable doing, because I can see that in the eternal perspective, I will regret comfort instead of obedience. 

watching the sunrise.
Thank You, God. You are beyond anything we can comprehend, and we fail You often. But You promise to forgive us, You promise to be our strength, our shield, and our hope. Help us to live each day like we are on a mission for the salvation of souls, fighting in the battle. Whether in Mexico or in our hometown, give us Your eyes, Your heart, Your power, and Your love. Thank you, Jesus. 



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