Project Mexico Revisited
Fr. Alexander Goussetis
I have been blessed to lead groups from our parish to Project Mexico many times over the years. I feel confident in saying that this year’s trip was the most rewarding of all.
Ten members of our parish participated this year: Elisabeth Blain, Levi Blain, Kalliopi Efstration, Michael Efstration, Dominick Falcone, Stephan Gerovasilis, Sophia Goussetis, Eleni Marinos, Emmanuel Marinos, and myself.
The background of this ministry is known by many of you. St. Innocent Orphanage cares for boys on a large ranch setting in Tijuana. Concurrently, during the summer months, teams from throughout the United States and Canada lodge at the orphanage and build a simple one-room home for an impoverished Mexican family. Similar to the Habitat for Humanity model, Project Mexico has built more than 250 homes over the last twenty-five years.
The emphasis of both ministries is combining faith and works. The Project Mexico teams participate in morning prayers, evening prayers, prayers before meals, and prayers each day before and after the house construction work. The focus is not social work but responding to Christ’s call to serve the neediest.
The blessings were many during this year’s journey:
- The house was built for Nelly, a single mother of five children. Present every day on the work site, Nelly always expressed a joyful disposition and brought cold drinks for us each day. On the last day of construction, Nelly brought lunch homemade tamales made with love. A woman with no home and with very limited resources prepared a meal as an expression of appreciation. This reminded me of the Gospel passage in which the poor woman offered two copper coins while the wealthy people gave from their abundance. Jesus praised the poor woman for her generosity and deep faith.
- We were not alone in our work efforts. We were joined by parishioners from Monesson, PA and Washington State. Working with other Orthodox groups from around the country increased our confidence that our Church is alive and filled with Christ-centered people.
- Despite some language differences our group enjoyed interacting with the boys on the ranch. Active games of basketball and soccer abounded each day.
- What made this trip most special revolved around the wonderful group of youth from our parish. Despite working in the hot sun mixing cement and pounding nails, our kids worked very hard and never complained. They represented themselves, their families, and our parish so beautifully. I so enjoyed spending the week together.
Thanks to all for your financial help and prayers. We always were aware of our loving and supportive community back home. We shared the light of our parish with those in need.