Nothing but Everything and Everything but Nothing!

Written by James Thomas on .

Toilet paper, flushing toilets, doors to enter your home, paved roads, electricity, choice of shoes and clothing to wear, bicycles, balls, TV, computers and hand held video games and the newest "iphone"!  Do you ever stop to think about the simple things you have in your life that you take for granted? This mission trip made me see how having "Nothing but Everything and Everything but Nothing" at the same time applies to our daily lives.

It rained the first night we arrived in Mexico.  Many of us woke up with two inches of water on the floor of our rooms.  Our departure was delayed a few hours but we still made way to our destination, El Eden.  The travel was slow because the rain had caused severe flooding.  You could see at points where the water covered 2/3rds of the tires on the truck in front of us.  The last mile of our journey to the Feed My Lambs El Eden school was down a dirt road and because of the heavy rains everything was flooded and the mud was the deepest I had ever had to go through.  The dwellings (homes as we call them) along the way were so eye catching and not because of beauty.  Many did not have doors so a curtain or cloth covered the entrance and many had put together pieces of wood mixed with cinder blocks to make walls.  Roofs were made from what ever was available from large pieces of plastic to wood, to what I thought looked like tin, all fashioned together to make a roof.

My thoughts were that this community was strong in survival but most Americans could not survive one day in such conditions.  I did see one light on through a doorway as we drove through the community.  So electricity was available in some way.  You would have to see this to believe it, but as we drove past, the people who lived in what we would call a devastated community, still smiled and waved at us.  I still have this picture in my mind of this elderly woman who was pushing the mud from her home with a home made broom stop, smile and wave at us.  My thought at that moment was she had gone through this "mud thing" so many times before it did not phase her.  She was just going through her role in life... just being who God made her to be.

This was my first true "Nothing but Everything and Everything but Nothing" moment.  How many of us (Americans) can say we are happy where we are in our lives... just being as God made us?

As we arrived at the school, you could see the children, some in the classrooms, some outside practicing a routine.  I asked what they were practicing for and it turned out graduation was just a few weeks away.   The children were dressed in uniforms that had been donated from a local private school, here in Atlanta.  They all seemed to be happy... again, just being.

While at the school, our mission team of 11 members, put up a basketball backboard and rim for the courtyard; built, framed, put up flashing, sheet rocked, put stucco on the walls, painted and scraped floors for six bathrooms (3 girls and 3 boys) at the Feed My Lambs El Eden school.  This was a 300% increase for both boys and girls.  Amen!

Did it help, was it beneficial for them?  Yes, absolutely, but there is so much more that could be done and your time, help and skilled expertise is needed.  Just going and being a willing vessel is more than enough.  Jesus says in Matthew 9:37, "The harvest is plenty but the workers are few".  God will use you as he needs.

I experienced another "Nothing but Everything and Everything but Nothing" moment.  While on a break, I took an opportunity to watch some three-and four-year-old children at the Feed My Lambs El Eden school play a game of musical chairs.  They seemed to be so happy and did not care about what they didn't have... music.  The participating children smiled and giggled as they circled the chairs.  The other children laughed, clapped their hands in unison with the teacher as she tapped her finger against what looked like an empty shoe box as she sang a song.  They made the rhythm and music themselves.  The box provided the beat and the teachers voice the song but it was the children's hearts that filled the game with laughter, fun and excitement.  No tears were spilled because they were put out when the music stopped.  No one got mad, pushed or tried to point the finger at someone else.  The child just joyfully picked up a chair, walked off and joined in the laughing, clapping and singing with the other children on the side.  The winner (Maria) got high-5s, hugs and congratulations from the other children and then another game was started.  They were happy just being and playing together.

I wondered why God allowed me to see these "Nothing but Everything and Everything but Nothing" moments and I had many of them.  This trip made me think about my own children and everything they have.  I pray for them to truly appreciate what God has provided them; a room, bed and bathroom of their own, toys and of course, computer and games.  To mention the other perks of America would be a waste of words because to me they have "Everything."  Or do they?

I will be going back to Mexico and want to take my own two children so they, too, can experience why this mission trip was so life-changing and life-impacting for me.  My prayer is that they will see how having "Nothing can mean Everything" and having "Everything can mean Nothing". 

In Christ,

James Thomas