Hey everyone!! I just wanted to share some amazing experiences I was blessed with this past spring break!! I spent 8 days in Taman, Mexico on a youth group mission trip.
On our way there, we encountered several bumps in the road. It started with our youth pastor not being able to come with us on the trip due to a family crisis. However, God provided and we had amazing leaders to back him up and take care of all the details. Then, as we tried to cross the border into Mexico, one of the four vans we took was not able to be registered. The border guard claimed that particular van had never been properly returned into the US and therefore could not re-enter. But once again God provided and we all ended up safely across that morning. At each checkpoint along the way, we were stopped by armed federal and state Mexican officers and our vans were searched. Interestingly enough, after we were approved by each one, the officer who stopped us would say, ‘Thank you for all you are doing and God be with you.’ This was such an encouragement to us knowing that although difficult situations arose, there were those who shared our passion and wished us safety.
After a 20 hour drive in a 15 passenger van, we arrived at the pastor’s house in Taman where we would be staying and were welcomed by the warm, smiling faces of his curious and excited children. We awoke to a beautiful, green mountain scene…a part of Mexico I never knew existed. We headed to a different village each morning, with some 15 minutes away while others were 2 hours. We reached out to women and children through separate ministries, and to young men through sports ministries allowing us to reach all age levels of their society. Every day we began with the women’s ministry. I was chosen to go the first morning before the rest of the group arrived and the atmosphere was absolutely spirit-filled. Toward the end of the service, the woman speaking invited women who felt led to come to the front of the room and pray together for their suffering and rejoice in their blessings. As we prayed, it didn’t matter to these women that they could not understand us. It was enough to know that we loved them and cared about them and that we shared a common bond through our faith.
I was also fortunate enough to be chosen as a group leader and was in charge of face painting for the kids!! I specifically remember one day that I met a 7 year old girl named Carolina. We bonded throughout the day through smiles and broken Spanish. At the end of the day as we prepared to leave, she looked up at me and asked if I remembered her name. At first, I was taken aback by her question, but I bent down to her level, looked her in the eyes and replied, “Of course I do, Carolina.” In that moment, I don’t believe I have ever seen such joy light up a child’s face. The amazing part was that I was able to brighten this precious girl’s day by simply remembering her name. By this short, but impactful experience, it was plain to see that even through the cold showers, no phones, hard floors, daily tamales, blazing sun, and chigger bites that every second was worth it, whether we touched one life or a hundred.
When we were not with the women, children and young adults, we spent the remainder of our time painting a school and a portion of a church. Many times, however, I’m not sure if we got more paint on the walls, or on ourselves, but the end result was always good! J
It was a week I’ll never forget. Being in that environment just put everything in perspective. Even though the people we met there had very little, they were happy and that was yet another reminder to always be thankful for the things and opportunities I have. It reminded me that I should always be seeking opportunities to make someone else’s day better even by doing the simplest of things. J God did amazing things that week and I am so privileged and blessed that He chose to use me to reach out and make a difference in these people’s lives. And, as is usually the case when volunteering, I received many wonderful blessings in return.
I love you and God bless!
Miss Teen Plano 2010