Missions Trips: All Leave Changed

We’ve made it back from our second annual Chi Alpha Spring Break Missions Trip in Yucatán. (You can read about the first one here) We are still in recovery mode following 8 days of hard labor and evangelistic services, but we didn’t want to let time slip away without filling you in on some of the details. This post and its companion video speak of the impact that missions trips can have on its participants.

Cenotes are a common feature of the landscape of the Yucatán. Cenotes are created when the acidic rain region eats away at the limestone bedrock. Eventually, water filled caves are created by this continual erosion. When finally the roof falls in, the cenote is revealed.

Cenotes today are a welcome relief to the Yucatán heat. Their cool water and regulated temperatures serve as a refuge and source of recreation for many, but, years ago, cenotes were a primary water source and a site of religious ritual.

Because of the lack of rivers, streams, and lakes, cenotes were the main source of water for the indigenous Maya that populated the region before the Spanish conquest. Furthermore, cenotes were thought to be the entrance to the Maya watery underworld known as Xibalba (prounounced she-bal-ba. For this reason, in many cenotes can be found pottery, jewelry, and other offerings as well as human remains in such cenotes as the Sacred Well at Chichén Itzá.

Why all this talk about cenotes? Well it just so happens that this natural limestone formation, so important in ancient and modern times has just taken on a new significance in the life of one of our team members, Ashley Wall. A return member of our team, she decided to be baptized in a cenote near the city of Muna, where we did the majority of our work.

This cenote is a rather young one; it was uncovered by a family drilling for a well some years ago. So there was little fear of encountering ritual remains as we entered, but still, the connotation cannot be dismissed. This ancient source of life-giving water gave witness to a declaration of dependence on the Water of Life, Jesus Christ. This shadowy entrance into the underworld was converted into a place of rebirth, and this refuge from the heat became a symbolic bath where sins were washed away.

We hope that you enjoy this installment from our Chi Alpha Missions Trip ’08 and rejoice with us as we congratulate Ashley for taking this step of faith.

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