The scenery changed dramatically as they drove toward Mexico. Sally had never been so far from the rolling green hills of East Texas. The expansive flatlands that seemed to go on forever weren’t very interesting. Sally looked over at her mother, who was trying to get some sleep, and felt sure that she should have gone with her dad to paint Grandma Pratt’s house instead going on this weekend missionary trip.
It was crowded in the van. Besides herself and her mom, there was Mr. and Mrs. Welch and Mrs. Thompson. Every available space was crammed with supplies to drop off on their visit. Sally liked to have her own space and plenty of it. She felt like screaming!
It would help if she could listen to her music – it was one of the most important things in the 15-year-old’s life. Although she didn’t find out until it was too late to change plans, she wasn’t allowed to have it on the trip because her CDs weren’t Christian – she didn’t like religious music.
After another excruciating four hours, the driver, Mr. Welch, announced that they had arrived to the border of Mexico. Sally sighed loudly in relief. Their final destination was just beyond the border – a children’s orphanage.
When they came to a stop outside the walled-in property, Sally couldn’t exit from the van quickly enough. She already dreaded the trip back.
They were greeted by a lot of smiling children and the people who ran the place, John and Janice Harper. There was also Anne, a college-aged girl, who helped Sally with her luggage and led her to her bunk. They went through the gated entrance to an upstairs room in the large building. There were no doors between the sleeping areas for the missionaries. Instead, brightly colored blankets served the purpose.
The only space that would belong to Sally during their brief stay was a bunk bed, half of the space underneath it for luggage, and a small shelf along the wall.
“How long have you been here?” Sally asked Anne.
“For about a month, and I’ll be here for another two weeks. It’s going to be so hard to leave.”
“Why?” Sally asked, sounding shocked. She couldn’t imagine wanting to stay in such a cramped space.
Anne laughed softly, “I think you’ll see why for yourself, but let’s see. I love the children and getting to help the Harpers. Mostly, though, God is here. He’s more real to me here than He ever was at home – I’m from the same church you go to. Mr. and Mrs. Welch drove me when I came, too.”
Over the 36 hours that followed, Sally stayed very busy with assignments given to her. She swept the girls’ large room that had bunk beds from wall to wall, and she saw how happy the girls were to be living there.
Sally helped serve the meals. It was a huge job. About 75 people ate three meals a day. In spite of all the work, everyone laughed a lot.
Some of the children were handicapped and had to be spoon fed, even though they weren’t babies anymore. Sally saw that this task was done with patience and loving smiles.
During church on Sunday morning, Sally felt the presence of God, just like Anne did. It happened as they sang songs – and they were in Spanish! The sermon was about the love of God. Sally decided that that’s what God’s presence felt like – being wrapped in love, like a warm blanket.
Later that day, as Sally got into the van to go home, she was sad to have to leave. She was almost jealous of all of these smiling people who lived crammed together. Sally consoled herself by deciding that when she got older, she’d try to come back and stay for a while, like Anne.
During the hours of driving, Sally felt as different inside as the landscape in Mexico was from home. She joined her fellow travelers in singing worship songs and thought about her experience. Sally decided that it doesn’t matter how much space you have – as long as God is in it with you.
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