I'm Lauren Ford and over the summer, I got the opportunity for the second time to travel down to Mexico and change the lives of three families for the better.   I’d like to start by explaining what role I played while building the houses for the family.  In total I probably hammered about three nails on one of the twelve walls because I have NO upper arm strength.  I think Danny saw early on that I would be put to better use in other places, so he asked me to be a part of the Crafts Team.  Basically, three other girls and I made crafts with all of the children from the neighborhood while the rest of our team did construction.

            As always, the first day was rather slow because only a handful of people had heard that we were in town.  Christine and I met the family that Danny and Faith’s team built a house for.  We met a mother and her three children.  Evidently, they did not speak a word of English, which proved to be very difficult when you’ve only read out of a Spanish textbook for three years.  The people we met had been speaking it for their whole life!  Regardless, I tried to carry on a conversation with the mother.  It took me a few minutes of saying “huhh?”  before I realized that all you have to do is understand three of four key words in each sentence  and .  Eventually I concluded that she was inviting Christine and me into their make-shift home to do crafts with her children.

            Throughout the day I learned more and more about her.  Her name was Aracely and she had three children.  I asked her to go on and tell me more about her kids’ personalities.  What she said were probably the most heart-felt words that I have ever heard.  Now she said this in Spanish, but I can presume that the majority of you would not understand a word that I am saying, so I’ll translate it the best I can.  She said “Ana is three.  She won’t stop talking.  It’s just talk talk talk with her and sometimes it’s too much, but she’s so outgoing and cute that I can withstand it.  Ronelli is seven and he is the smartest kid you will ever meet.  He excels in everything academic.  My oldest son is Angel and he is nine.  Now he’s not the most outgoing and he’s not the smartest.  But you know what?  He’s got the biggest heart and that’s all that matters.”  Those words stuck with me throughout my journey in Mexico.  It doesn’t matter if you’re valedictorian or the lead in the school play.  As long as you put others before yourself and love everyone equally, you are easily being the best person you can be.

            Aracely and I became fast friends as the week progressed.  In fact, after merely twenty-four hours of knowing her she gave me a piece of artwork.  It was this blown glass swan.  She explained to me that it had always been her dream to be a glass-blower and she was going to open up a glass-blowing business once her house was built.  This was when I saw Aracely’s true colors shine.  She was the most selfless woman I had ever met.  She had given me an expensive piece of work, just for taking the time to play with her children and get to know her.  A few hours after that, there were at least a dozen children running around her house as they played with all of us and made crafts.  I heard a lot of kids complaining that they were hungry and Aracely told me she was going to make an errand.  She came back about ten minutes later with a full pizza.  Each little kid from the neighborhood got  a slice and munched away happily.  This pizza could have fed her family for at least two or three days.  On the other hand, Aracely didn’t think twice before spending her money on the local children.  It was amazing.

            When Aracely received the keys to her home, I couldn’t help but shed a tear myself as they streamed down her face.  She had been so kind and gracious to us all week  even though she was the one that needed our help.  She had let the children make a mess of her house each day with paint, beads, glitter glue, and all of our other crafts.  Saying goodbye to Aracely and her three children was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  She had taught me so many things about myself and others throughout the course of that one week.  I learned to put others over myself and always lend a helping hand.  I also learned that I could be whoever I wanted to be as long as I’m kind to everyone along the way.  In the wise words of Aracely, having a big heart is really all that matters.  Thank you.

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