One local church has been sending missionary groups into southern Mexico biannually for the past five years and returned just after New Year’s from their most recent trip to minister to the people of the area.
HBC Rome, 2 Commerce Court, returned from the Yucatan region of Mexico where church members spent four days building houses and ran hammock workshops with locals and tried to help meet the needs of locals.
The main goal was to show people the love of Christ, Mike Powell, a member of the church, said. The church sent 21 of its members to Ichmul, Mexico, which is in the Yucatan region, where they worked with the local ministry Mission House Partners International which has been in the area since 2008.
While they were there, Powell said the group traveled to the nearby village of San Francisco, Mexico, where they painted three different rooms for three different families, which was one of four projects the team managed during their stay. Powell said the HBC Rome team purchased all of the paint and supplies themselves when they landed in Cancun on the first day of their trip.
A second project the team helped with was laying a concrete foundation for a new church in the San Francisco village. Powell said workers had to make and mix the concrete by hand which was a tedious and lengthy process. Workers mixed 50 pounds of concrete mix with 25 gallons of sand and rock with 15-20 gallons of water and spent 30 minutes flipping the mix with a shovel before it was ready to pour. Powell said the team also laid rebar in the cement to hold it together. The team also added a 12-foot wall to the foundation to the church, which upon completion will be a two-story structure allowing the pastor and his family to live upstairs.
The third project, which Savannah Thompson’s husband Zac worked on was construction of palapas for local families. A palapa, according to Powell, is a house made out wood that has been skinned of its bark and a thatched roof made of palm branches. Thompson said her husband worked with several other men to construct a palapa for a local man and his wife to live in once they got married. Thompson said the man who was to live in the palapa was standoffish at first, but later helped with the construction and was overwhelmed with emotion when it was completed.
“He asked ‘why you would help me you don’t know me,’” she said of the man who was to live there.
Thompson said it was her and her husband Zac’s first out-of-country mission trip. She was expecting to bring some joy to the people of Mexico.
“They were so happy,” she said.
“You think (because) they live in a third world country they wouldn’t be,” she said. “(They’re) so much happier than we are.”
The family dynamics in the towns HBC Rome visited are different from the ones here Thompson said. A family would have around 11 children each and, when the children grew up, the now-grown men live close to the family group in palapas with their spouses, and the now-women stay with their in-laws.
Thompson helped with the group’s fourth project, making hammocks with a group of about 15 local women. The women ranged from their early 20s to late 50s Thompson said, and together they worked on handmade hammocks during their stay.
The HBC Rome group supplied the yarn for the women and then purchased the hammocks from them when they were completed. Making the hammocks was an art form that dated back to the Mayans, Thompson said. The women’s main source of income were the hammocks she said, which usually sell for 150-200 pesos, which translate to around $7.80-$10.40 respectively. The HBC Rome group each bought a hammock from the locals for 800 pesos, which comes out to $40. The locals use hammocks as their beds Thompson said, which they hang up in their houses or palapas.
She added the group also had devotionals and led the group in worship. They wanted to make the women feel valued in God’s eyes she said.
On New Year’s Day the HBC Rome group hosted around 65 locals at the Mission House headquarters in Ichmul, where they were surprised by a visit from the Shorter University baseball team. Powell said the team had arrived for their own mission trip, which was to teach baseball clinics to the local kids.
“We didn’t know they were coming until we arrived,” he said.
Powell said this is the fourth time he has traveled with HBC Rome to the Yucatan region. Powell said the church has sent teams twice a year for the past five years to aid Mission House with their work in the area. The group arrived in Mexico on Dec. 26 and spent the following four days working. Thompson said they spent part of New Year’s Day sightseeing and returned home on Jan. 2.