“Why do we even bother painting these shacks?” a mission team member asked. The “houses” in the barrios of Tijuana are built from whatever wood product they can find in the garbage dump. It may be a discarded pallet or a scrap of plywood or the end of a wire spool. The roof is usually tarp or a discarded billboard sign. “Wouldn’t it be better to just tear this down and go to Home Depot and buy plywood and 2x4s and rebuild the whole thing?” the team member added. As we continued to paint, three boys from the house were playing together in the court yard. We asked them if they wanted to help paint their house. Both parents were gone and they jumped at the chance to learn a new activity. It seemed that they had never painted before. But we patiently helped them and they quickly made a game of it, competing for the one roller and brush available to them. They worked hard and stayed with the project until the entire house was painted. As we were about to leave our Mexican group leader said one of the boys had something to tell us. Our group gathered around the freshly painted door and the youngest boy came running up to us with paint on his hands and arms. He threw his arms out as wide as he could and with a smile just as wide exclaimed, “GRACIAS!”
These families do the best they can with the resources they have. A coat of paint will not change their living conditions, but the love we showed to those boys that day will be remembered. The boys took pride in the job they did and their “house” looked better. We built a relationship with them and showed them God cares about them. This story highlights the reason we go on mission trips – to build relationships with people of other cultures by working along side them and showing them the love of Christ.
I can imagine their mother coming home to her freshly painted house and her three boys proudly telling her they did the painting. I can see her hugging them in gratitude and joy. She may not have been as happy with the paint on their clothes.
-Tim Adcox, Minister of Missions