For those of you who were not able to join us at the Mexico Auction this month, Kirsti Ruud shared her experiences in her 5 years making the journey with St. Mark’s to Mexico. We bring them to you here, with our thanks for Kirsti’s continual passion and commitment to this outreach!
by Kirsti Ruud
This will be my 5th time going to build houses in Mexico, and I expect it will not be my last.
The relationships I have built within the community in which we build houses as well as the relationships that I have formed between members of our team have truly enriched my life.
In years past, we have constructed homes for families that are identified as the poorest of the poor, and the houses are seen as a first, and necessary, step for these families to find stability. This year, in addition, we have an incredible opportunity to take part in the building of a youth center. I see this as a great next step in our relationship with the community.
I think about my own appreciation for the strong and formative youth program at St. Mark’s that provided me with so much support and opportunities through-out my growing-up.
I am very hopeful the youth center will provide support and opportunities for the youth in this community.
Although each trip to Mexico ends up being transformative for me in some way, in reflecting on which experiences in particular have shaped the way I interact with the world, I always think back to my very first trip to Mexico.
On one particular afternoon, I was playing with a little girl on a heap of sawdust. It was late in the day and I had shed my work boots for flip flops and was playing games with the children from the neighborhood while our group packed up. I don’t speak Spanish, but that did not deter one little girl in particular from talking with me very enthusiastically. I wondered what she was saying as she removed my flip flips and cleaned all the sawdust from my feet with her hands.
The gesture was small but the impact great and I was moved to tears. None of the children were wearing shoes and their feet bore evidence of running around all day on dirt roads littered with garbage and glass—and she was cleaning my feet. I was struck by this act of kindness in a way that is hard to articulate.
In the moment I was overwhelmed by many emotions, and so it wasn’t until later when I was able to collect my thoughts that I understood that I was feeling called in some way; I knew then, sitting with these beautiful children who are loving despite the unjust circumstances in which they live, that God was present, in and with these people, as God is present now, in and with us all. And God was not just present, but active. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be part of this action to help create a more equitable, just world through love.
As the little girl washed my feet, I remembered the words of another who washed the feet of those he loved. On the night of the last supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and called them to do the same, to wash one another’s feet, to continue to serve and love one another.
I do not know exactly how this call will manifest in my life, but I do know that it is now part of me. And by supporting this mission, we all are taking part in this great call to serve our neighbors, to help create peace through relationships that transcend borders, and to live and act with God, extending our love to all of God’s people.