ANGELS AND RIVER ROCKS

 My participation in Mission work dates back to January of 2004. At church on Sunday morning my son Lee came to me stating that there was a sign up sheet for interested people wanting to go on a mission trip to Mexico. Since I was in Mexico all the time on business he thought we could go together and help the people by working on a building team at a church site in country. I thought it was a great thing for a father and son to do so we signed us.

Over the next weeks and months we attended the planning meetings and got all our shots and passports in order and were set to go the last week in June. Our mission team was part of the organization Serv Ministries International, ( http://www.servintl.org/ ). Then the tragedy of Mothers Day slammed into us and we lost both Lee and Jillian in the automobile accident. No one from the Brooks United Methodist Church mission team expected me to now be a part of the group. But Debbie and I prayed about it and decided that I needed to complete the mission that Lee had wanted he and I to go on. Here is what GOD did for me during that mission trip.

At the time Brooks United Methodist Church had an older church bus. Its ability to make the almost 3,000 mile round trip with a mission team of both old and young members was in question. The solution was for me to follow the bus in my Explorer and act as a “chase vehicle” in the event of a bus breakdown. All went well the first day and we arrived without incident to our first destination point of Lake Charles, LA. Here is where GOD took over.

The next morning (Saturday), one of the mission team members, (Jason), and I were out in the parking lot, (In front of the Fairfield Inn), where the bus and my vehicle were located.  We have the hatch open on my Explorer and are loading luggage when someone asked were we with the mission team. I pulled my head back out of the hatch compartment and greeted a tall slim figure in jeans and cowboy boots. Not the pressed jeans and polished boots of a traveler but the worn jeans and boots of a working man. His face was tanned by many days in the sun and his hand had shaken many hands before mine. My first thought was we were in the way and he needed to get going and I asked him exactly that. He replied no and handed me three $20.00 bills. I confirmed that these funds were for our mission trip and he said yes. I ask him to come inside and meet our mission leader and receive a receipt for his contribution. He declined but said “You will need this money and you know where it came from”. We thanked the stranger and I turned around to set the last bag into the hatch, (a move that could not have taken more that a few seconds). When I turned back to address the stranger he was gone. I asked Jason where he went but we could not locate him. This is a wide open parking lot with a view of a least 100 yards in all directions but the stranger was no where to be seen. We went inside, presented the three $20.00 bills to the mission leader, told her the story of the kindness of the stranger, and loaded the bus for departure with a destination of Laredo, TX.

Late that same Saturday afternoon we were about 100 miles north of Laredo when a fan belt on the bus failed. After inspection we decided to turn off all non essentials and see if we could make it to Laredo. That was a hot two hours in the bus but we made it. Upon arrival we decided what parts we needed and I was dispatched with others to find an auto parts supply store. We find a store, presented them with our broken belt. They returned and said they had two belts in stock. At this point in time I had not asked how much the belts cost but decided we should take both of them just in case we needed a spare once we crossed over into Mexico. The belts cost $29.95 each. Two belts plus tax cost just over $63.00, almost the exact amount given by the stranger that morning. If you take out the taxes it is within 10 cents of what he gave and we all know GOD does not pay taxes. I think I met an Angel of GOD that morning in that Lake Charles parking lot. His words will be with me forever. “You will need this money and you know where it came from”

Upon arrival at the job site in Mexico we set about our building work during the day and our Vacation Bible School with the children of the neighborhood at night. To describe this area as a neighborhood may be a stretch. Most homes were constructed of wooded pallets stood on edge with pieces of tin for a roof and a sheet or blanket for a door. There were a few block structures but most were as I describe above. What a joy it was for me to be among these kids so soon after losing mine. Many days when I looked into the eyes of these tiny children I saw the faces of angels sent from above to comfort me in my greatest time of need.

The construction of the block church was quite simple and followed building patterns of the area. They would dump loads of river rock or smooth stones as a base then after spreading them out pour a concrete slab and go up from there. It produced quite a bit of stability on an otherwise sandy and unstable soil. Needless to say there was a sea of these river rocks scattered all around the job site, each about the size of your fist. One day it was suggested during the morning devotional that we all stand in a circle, among these rocks, and pick up one each to take back to Brooks with us. These rocks would be added to the foundation of the new addition we were adding to our church. It would be a type of bond from the mission church in Mexico to the home church in Georgia. Now picture this group of 24 or so missionaries in a circle picking one river rock each from an area that had to have had a million identical rocks. What would be the odds that I, the dad of Lee Wagner, would pick one up that had a “W” scratched on the under side. The group was blown away and I can only surmise that it was a sign from GOD that even among these river rocks, and even with my personal tragedy he is standing beside me and guiding my hand. From that day forward I knew he had not forgotten the least of his people, (me). I picked up another river rock to go into our church foundation and today that river rock with the “W” is on my mantle in my home.

I am forever grateful that I finished the mission that my son wanted to go on. Since then I have been on four more and this June I will go again. It is a small way for me to carry good, to someone in need and remember my children at the same time.

It is a wonderful thing to serve a loving GOD. If you are interested in such work please contact my friends at Serv Ministries International,                     ( http://www.servintl.org/ ). They would welcome a conversation with you.