What encompasses Casa Building goes beyond a weekend of volunteer service across the border but rather an opportunity to spread the God’s love through community. For many, this was the first time, while others came back because of the touching experiences and connections that have brought people from both parts of the world together in Christ.
From the start of our mission, our group united welcoming all people from all walks of life. That same warm and gracious notion was carried over by the residents of the community who greeted us with warm smiles and tears of happiness that touched many beyond belief. Soon after, buckets were passed out, filled with gravel and sand, and water was added to the mixture as well as cement mix. With our gracious attitude and high spirits, we got to work as we were preparing concrete mix to lay the foundation for the house that was to be built. The foundation that was being prepared for the house is much more than concrete or a physical entity for a home but rather a spiritual foundation for the community.
As a home, the house provides shelter for a quality of life for those in need, however the main significance from this is not only a better lifestyle but a sense of building community. The neighborhood was involved, from mothers and fathers all the way down to the children as young as 6 years of age. “Agua, arena, concreto…” were words that you heard while pouring sand and other materials into containers where the concrete foundation would be mixed. Seeing the women and men work as a community was validated as you saw sweat pouring down from familiar faces from one working area to the next. The sight of community involvement aiding each other in love and service truly allowed others to live in solidarity and allows one to receive God’s love and feel God’s presence.
Seeing first hand how God works in mysterious ways is just incredible. God’s presence was unimaginable. The children who put stickers on your face, played with you, gave you a hug, or even stood next to you is a true testament of God’s love and presence. You could see the smiles and hear the laughter from the children’s faces, as they were eager to play with you. Yet they had only met most of us once, they had already fallen in love with us as they were truly grateful for God’s love and grace.
After a hard day of work and spending quality time with the people from the community, we ventured off to gain a whole new experience at La Casa del Migrante. Talking to the men who were recently deported allowed for one to be able to gain true insight on the issue of immigration. Hearing how these men have struggled and are willing to struggle to provide the basic necessities for their families just fills you with deepest gratitude, compassion, and hope.
Before our journey had ended, we spent some time to share God’s love over mass with children at an orphanage. The kids were filled with energy, as they would shout out loud to answer questions about God’s love. The presence of other people alone brightened the children’s day as they were not normally welcomed by visitors. Laughing and playing, the children felt’s God’s love and affection as the quality time and interaction they lacked was being fulfilled as we simply just played with them. Although these children were happy to see us, we were more touched by them than us as they would cling on to us and not let get. As we prepared for mass, they wanted to sit right next to you hold your arm. This want and need for love and affirmation truly touched us as we sometimes take for granted the basic interactions of our daily lives.
The realities of immigration touched upon our hearts even more as we visited the border on our way back. Seeing the four bordered fences as well as the cameras and patrol car at the top of the hill, most of us realized the danger these men once faced. The seriousness damped our spirits as we were reminded of the struggles that the men from La Casa del Imigrante had faced.
As the weekend passed by quickly, the time spent in Tijuana, Mexico was not merely a service or mission trip but rather a trip of spreading the love of God. In every place, God’s love was truly real and present as the people who were just strangers at first touched us deeply in a profound way. This spiritual journey is simply an example of how to love and serve God through community.
Collective reflection by Casa Building team