i really debated sharing about my experience in mèrida, mexico so soon, because to be completely honest i still feel very emotionally raw. part of my heart got left behind when we boarded the plane back to louisiana. since i’ve been back i’ve got the same questions countless times, “how was your trip?” and “what was it like there?” while i wish i had this wonderful/grand answer, it seems every time someone asks me, i can only respond with “incredible” while also holding back the tears that spring to my eyes. i was not expecting this trip to change my life. i was not expecting to make meaningful relationships with the people there. i was not expecting any of the blessings that God bestowed on us that week.
(kids’ carnival at the mission in hunucma)
a little personal background on me: in my junior year of high school i felt the call to missions. that was over 5 years ago. while i did local mission work and traveled with my church to hawaii, i still was longing to GO. longing to tell all the nations. i agree, we need people right here in our own local communities to serve, but i also know God planted a special desire in my heart to go beyond our local community. in these past five years i have tried to go on several international mission trips, but to my disappointment none worked out. until now. until mexico. and i am so thankful to God for that.
(pastor gilberto and his precious granddaughter)
i do not speak spanish. i do not talk in front of large crowds. i do not easily open up with strangers. yet God challenged me to do all of those things in the week we spent in mèrida.
there were a few team members who had been to mèrida before, and they warned me of the language barrier. one even told me how overwhelming it was to him to hear spanish all the time. i was expecting it to be extremely hard to communicate, but in fact it wasn’t. God broke down the language barrier. i mean do not get me wrong, google translate was still my BFF, but in terms of building a relationship with others, language was not a hinderance.
(my friend Kayla, who spoke no english but somehow we formed a sweet bond)
Mrs. Hannah, Pastor Brent’s wife (leader of the other team), asked if i would speak at a pastor’s conference held at the church. i thought to myself, ME? she wants ME to speak? i even told her i was much better one on one, but still i felt like i could not say no. not because she pressured me, but because God was pushing me to do so. so what did i do? i got up, sweating buckets, and made my way to the mic. there beside me stood a smiling Cynthia (translator/Gilberto’s [local pastor] daughter). I started speaking, and man i felt so awkward. i felt unqualified. looking into the faces of the 70 women, i felt intimidated. 30 minutes later, i finally sat down with a sigh of relief. i had done it. i did what God asked. i felt like i did terrible, but i was at least glad it was over. little did i know those 30 minutes made an impact on someone. at the end of the conference, Pastor Gilberto asked for people to share what they learned and this woman stood up. the next thing i know she is facing me and speaking rapid fire spanish. a translator then begins to tell me that she is a missionary and that she is home sick. she is missing her old church. she was feeling down and disappointed, but what i said had encouraged her. she now had a renewed desire to make meaningful relationships with women in her church. to say the least i was shocked. and i was most definitely in tears. the whole conference i thought what i said had no meaning for the women who heard it. but you know that old saying, God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. how true that was that night.
(these two sweet ladies really encouraged me the night of the pastor’s conference. the one to stand up and share is the lady on the left!)
i would not say that i easily connect with people or strangers the instant i meet them. i’m more of an introverted/extroverted mixed type of person, but i do love talking with people. the first day though, i instantly clicked with three teenage girls. Cristal, Sonia, and Neyla all have special places in my heart. Every second we were together we spent talking. About unicorns, dancing, their English, my Spanish, boys. you name it, we probably giggled about it. i miss them so, so much. I also was able to form a sweet friendship with Joani (aka Mimi) who is Pastor Gilberto’s daughter-in-law. She felt like family instantly, and if we can’t ever be earthly sisters, we know we are sisters in Christ. I ugly cried the night we said goodbye.
(my girls: Cristal, Neyla, and Sonia)
(Joani!! Doesn’t she have the best smile?!)
So what did we actually do, you ask? We helped clean up the mission in Hunucuma. We put on a kids’ carnival where we were able to share the Gospel, invite families to church, and give out care packages. We put on a pastor’s conference. We attended a wedding that Pastor Brent got to officiate. We prayed together. We ate good food. We visited with neighbors. We slept in hammocks. We laughed. We cried. We experienced pure joy.
One thing that resonated with me from this trip is that material things don’t really matter. I met families there who had less material items than families in America, but yet they were so much richer. Richer in faith, richer in love, richer in Christ, richer in family. This trip showed me true love. The love that comes from Christ. So i say thank you. Thank you to Pastor Gilberto and his family. Thank you to my team members. Thank you to Addy and Martina who cooked for us daily. Thank you to Hada for welcoming me with open arms. Thank you to Cristal, Neyla, and Sonia for reminding that I am to be a mentor to those younger than me. Thank you to Joani for treating me like the sister I always wanted. Thank you to each and every soul that I met on this trip. Thank you Jesus for Mèrida.
now enjoy some pictures!! xoxo
( handmade hammocks that we slept on that are so comfortable!!)
(Hada and Martina cooking/serving us breakfast!)
(mission at Hunucma!! if you donate to operation christmas child, this is it in action! how cool?!)
(night of the pastors’ conference)
(night of the pastors’ conference)
(mission at Ochil)
(sharing the gospel with the children at Ochil)
(wedding day! the groom’s family served us lunch! that would never happen in America!!)
(more fun at Ochil)
(Pastor Brent trying chicharones/ carnival day at Hunucma)
(kids’ carnival day at Hunucma)
(precious children singing at sunday night service!!)
(the best ice cream i’ve ever tasted!!)
(day trip to Celestún, the beach was so beautiful there!!)
(handing out care bags after the kids’ carnival at Hunucma)
(ice cream at El Colon (haha)/ Bro Jeremy, Mrs. Melody, and I sharing the gospel at the Sports Crusaders basketball tournament)
(trip to the market on sunday)
Gracias a la iglesia de Ebenezer. Todos ustedes hicieron de esta experiencia una que nunca olvidaré. Todos ustedes tienen mi corazón!