When I came to Monterrey, I didn’t really know what to think. I had come three years before, and I thought it was just another trip. But it wasn’t even close to that. Not in any way. In Mexico, I’ve learned a lot about myself, others, and God. I have had issues with self-worth, depression, and severe anxiety. But here, as I work alongside of a wonderful team of people I have gotten to know and pray with, I know that God is moving in my heart. I know he is telling me I am worthy and beautiful. Today I woke up with my normal everyday thoughts of negativity. I felt horrible about my life and others. But during my quiet time, God really spoke to me. And for me, as a thirteen year old girl, I had never really felt that feeling before. It was like a wave of love and compassion. He told me something I would never forget. That I am made in His reflection. That I am made perfectly imperfect. And He loves me, just like He loved His son. That even my thoughts and actions don’t define who I am. I am the daughter of the almighty king. When it came time for small group, my leader read out of the pamphlet, and sure enough, it reflected what God had told me. The plank in my eye is keeping me from seeing the true beauty inside of me, and that when I tell my best friend that she is beautiful, and to never say she is ugly, I have not thought about that for myself. That I have not yet fixed that same issue for my own. How am I to tell her that she is beautiful, before I accept that I am beautiful first? A lesson I have really started to learn here is that you must love yourself before you can love others. Another lesson I have learned is humbleness. When we went to a children’s home called Douglas, the child we sponsored had found a handful of beads. We laid them down on the table and named the colors one by one and laughed together. He took the beads everywhere we went. When he played, when he ate, even when we held hands. I thought to myself, I would take those little beads for granted. But this orphan boy thinks these beads are amazing. He told me to come as I walked with him. He put the beads in my hand, and tipped my hand into the Ziploc in my backpack. He said in English “For you, friend.” I began to tear up and told him, “No. You keep.” But he refused. I couldn’t believe he gave his beads to me. He looked up and smiled at me, as he ran and told me to come again. What’s so precious about that moment, is that he could give the beads to me, even though he loved them so much. Out of the little he had, he gave what he loved most. It really reminded me of when God gave up Jesus. To have me. Maybe I am what God tells me I am. Maybe I can walk around with a smile because I am worthy. I now feel an overwhelming load of confidence and happiness. I couldn’t have asked for more out of this trip.
Today was our first full day in Monterrey and it was exceptional. It amazes me each year how God stitches together a different team every year that fulfills each need everywhere we serve. Maybe the amazing part is that I still am amazed. This year we have the smallest team I have been a part of in Monterrey and many of us were strangers but God put together the right people for the job. Today we were able to visit Casa De Hogar Douglas Childrens home. We spent some time playing with the students who did not go home for the weekend. We were also given a two projects to begin. The first was to disassemble a shed that will be reassembled in a different place later in the week. Two of our young men jumped up and wanted to lead this project. As awesome as this was it was over shadowed by the two tween boys in our group that really wanted to be a part of this as well. Not only were they eager to help but they were able to spend quality time with our two young men who are strong Christians and a role model for these boys. The second task we were asked to do was to fix a sewage problem, clean it out and tie it back in. Though this did not sound like something fun, as I looked around I saw a couple of us smiling and laughing that “this is us.” Luckily, there was some miscommunication and all we had to do was dig up a sewer line so they can install a grease trap. I was able to see some people who are not the “outdoor” type people standing in hole and digging with all they had. The rest of our group was able to spend some additional quality time with the kids. After we left the orphanage, the children came to the Back 2 Back campus and swam in the pool. Since swimming is not something I do well I watched many of our group members play with the kids in the pool. I spent some time with one of these men afterward and told him how awesome he does in those situations and he commented on how he wished he could have helped with the projects. It hit me again that this team is put together for a reason with special tools meant for the job. This man’s wife had mentioned in passing at the children’s home that she was not doing enough but she spent the day reading and playing with a woman who is mentally challenged that lives at the home. This activity was extremely impactful to this woman and was a day she will remember. It reiterated to me that we all have different skills and God puts us in a place to use these skills. We don’t all need to be preachers, singers, small group leaders, or band members. Do not underestimate or demean your gift because it was given to you for a reason. God’s Kingdom was impacted by every member of our team today.
One of many wonderful moments I have had on this trip was during worship at Promesa de Fe. We ran out of seats and people began to line the walls…an usher’s dream 🙌. As I quickly began seeking anything I could find for seats, we were singing “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. In that moment I saw hands raised all over the room, I heard shouts of praise, I heard many voices singing together in two different languages, and Pastor Edier and Katia were jumping for joy! At that moment, we all experienced Psalm 100 (NASB) Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
This past weekend our young adult small group had the privilege of helping the parents of one the members with some home repairs. The home was a major fixer upper and had holes in the roof, which lead to holes in the floor when purchased. It was purchased inexpensively with the intent to fix it up so that the parents could move in.
Tuesday morning we were introduced to a young man who reminded us of the importance they place on education in Haiti. When you ask a classroom full of students in Haiti if they like school, the resounding answer from all of them is always yes.
Public schools are not easy to find in Haiti, and are often understaffed and unreliable. Even if you can find one, the distance to travel is often too far. For most, the only real option is private school, and many children do not attend due to lack of money. Those who do attend often skip multiple years due to lack of money.