There is something about the state of Yucatan, Mexico that has left a lasting impression on my life. While visiting Pastor Kyle at his two ministries, Nathaniel Academy in Cacalchen and Angels of Hope Shelter in San Antonio, our team had the opportunity to live life with the locals for a week. There are pockets in the state of Yucatan that still have strong Mayan influence and culture embedded into the cities. Generally, life was slower, people proved to be more patient, and the community seemed more pure as if they hadn’t yet been touched by mainstream culture. Mayans value living in a close-knit, family-like community and Pastor Kyle was a part of that enclave. However, there were things that were familiar too: the humidity, dirt roads, street vendors and families living in extreme poverty. I've seen worse poverty in other countries, and seeing the dire needs in Mexico wasn't new. But my experience in Mexico was different because of the way in which we unexpectedly encountered some of the needs. This was because Pastor Kyle never planned out programs or agendas for the teams that visit him. He simply allows the teams to walk with him in his normal week. The crazy part is that the needs that we encountered is something that he encounters every day. The most personal encounter that I had in Mexico was meeting Liliana and David's family.
We first met the kids at church on Sunday and they seemed like ordinary kids from the neighborhood. David was very sweet and our team immediately fell in love with him. I sat at the same table as Liliana and the first impression that I got of her was that she liked to joke around and make her friends laugh by acting silly and rebellious. She seemed like she wanted to keep her distance from our team knowing that we were just one of those foreign teams that came and left. After church was over, we drove around town to drop the kids off to their homes. At one of the homes, Pastor Kyle instructed us to also get off the truck to visit one of the homes that he will be building a house for. To my surprise, the home that we ended up visiting was David and Liliana's. We walked into a plot of land with a few worn down concrete buildings to our right and dirt paths leading us towards the back where there was a small hut. We met Liliana and David's mom who greeted us with a bright smile and ushered us into her home. Liliana welcomed us in and quickly provided me with a seat and turned the fan on for us. All 12 of us barely squeezed into the small hut and Pastor Kyle began to explain to us about his relationship with David and Liliana's family. Three years ago, he promised their mother that he would build them a new house. Being a single mom of four children, the hope of breaking out of the cycle of poverty seemed impossible.
Even though Pastor Kyle had been given numerous financial opportunities to start building a home for his own family, he had never gotten around to it after all these years. He continually met neighbors and friends who were without a proper roof over their heads, running water, electricity or a bathroom; he spent his own money to build countless other people a home or a bathroom instead of investing on his own house. On this trip, more than being saddened by sights of extreme poverty and needs, I was impacted more by the way Pastor Kyle was living out the words of Jesus.
"And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22: 39)
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27)
He posed a hypothetical question: "How can I build a home for myself when my friends don't even have an adequate place to rest their head? If I ignore these needs of my neighbors, am I really loving others as I love myself?" He proceeded to explain further that the donations brought by our team would go towards finally building a home for their family. I was broken and tears were streaming down my face. We were also able to go to the new land where they will begin to build their new house. We got to pray over the land together, for the family and thank God for how sovereign He is.