Youth Give to Others–Christmas in the Rio Grande Valley

1 Comment 09 November 2012

The weeklong mission trip to the Rio Grande Valley near the Texas-Mexico border, one of the poorest areas of our nation, drew to a close. Teenagers from the youth group at our church, LakePointe in Rockwall, TX, who’d willingly sacrificed a week of summer vacation, worked alongside adult leaders as we put the finishing touches on painting houses and cleaning up trash in the Indian Hills neighborhood.

Our leader, Shane Boswell, had planned a trip to South Padre Island on the morning we left to return to the Dallas area.

I had been against this little detour from the start.

Basically, I’m not the biggest fan of 12-hour van rides—and I like them even less when they turn into 14-hour van rides with sand in your shorts.

But as the 50 or so students and leaders watched my husband baptize Cole, a young man in his discipleship group, into the churning, grayish-green Gulf of Mexico waters, we sensed God’s presence. We cheered collectively, praising God with voices that must have sounded to the heavens as sweet as the most beautiful choir.

Good practice for eternity with Jesus.

After my grousing and general bad attitude about the side tour, I reveled in the glory of the Lord. We hugged, laughed, prayed, cried, snapped photos and reminisced about the work completed during the prior week.

Not long after this, Pastor Steve Martinez and his wife arrived. He leads a small church that keeps up a tiny mission facility on a back road of the Indian Hills subdivision. Our kids flocked to him, eager to share stories of what the Holy Spirit had done in the residents’ lives and their lives that week.

Pastor Steve shared how grateful he was that our students had invested so much time and money into their community—that they had cleaned and painted and repaired roofs and installed playground equipment. The appreciation shone on his face. But a wistful look overtook it, and he lamented that because of limited finances they were unable to do more. For years, he’d been working to raise money to purchase the adjacent lot—so they could turn it into a safe place for neighborhood kids to play soccer and other games. He mentioned that even Christmas would be bleak because a partner church would no longer be able to deliver gifts to the 750 kids in Indian Hills.

Before the leaders knew what had happened, our students began to offer suggestions.

  • “We could give them gifts.”
  • “We can raise money for the land? How much is it?”
  • “We could come back down here at Christmas and bring presents.”

Cries of yes and other affirmations surrounded the adults who couldn’t help but get caught up in the work of the Spirit.

And so it is that on December 21 a group of 20 students will head back down to the Rio Grande Valley with more than 700 gifts for Indian Hills’ kids. They also hope to have raised the $8,000 necessary to purchase the land for the recreation area. No one can tell this group otherwise. They’ve put together a photo video montage that shows their work from start to present—their two-year plus investment in these folks who need so much. They’re working hard at jobs, at fundraisers, soliciting donations. They’ve approached a couple of corporate donors. An anonymous donor has agreed to match their funds up to $5,000. Nothing will stop this group from reaching their goal.

These kids are musicians, football players, cheerleaders. They play basketball, volleyball and tennis. They volunteer at church, at school, on mission projects already. But they were willing to go one step further. They stepped out in faith, in answer to God’s call to help the families in the Rio Grande Valley.

Teenagers. Kids who understand what Christmas is all about—giving, sacrificing, serving. And because of their attitudes, the condition of their hearts, I have no doubt they’ll have the best Christmas ever.

I can hear you now. How can I help? you’re asking. Well, if you live close to Rockwall, I invite you to come to Rockwall High School tomorrow for a craft fair. I’ll be offering vintage frames, jars and keys for donations toward the trip.

100% of the proceeds will go to purchasing gifts and a love offering to the Church of Acts to do with as they see fit.

Or, you may message me privately on my contact page if you’d like to donate. I’ll send you the information.

Also, please pray for good traffic and lots of interest in the items. Pray I wouldn’t return home with one, single item. If God sells them all, it could mean close to $1,000 toward the goal of $22,000.

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Leslie Wilson Bio

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I belong. To God, to Bret (my husband of 23 years), and to my precious children—Charlie, Molly & Reese.

I’m blessed. To speak, write, edit and market for a living.

I’m called. To thrive in life—to find contentment where I am and with what I have.

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