Missions Trip to Tijuana Reflection
Yes, The Bolt was not suppose to have any postings this summer, but I received permission from P-Fox to post about my missions trip to Mexico. If you’d like to just watch the video, then go right ahead!
If you’d like read about the experience I had and how God was working during our trip, then you may keep reading 🙂
Too keep my thoughts organized, Ill be talking about two different experiences where God taught me a lesson:
- Alamar (dirt poor community)
- Feeding the Homeless
Through these two particular experiences, God showed me that He uses us to plant seeds and although you may never see that seed grow into a plant and blossom, God will. (I know its cheesy, just stick with me here). I also learned that “The time to be faithful is always now.” God is calling you to work everyday, you just have to be looking for ways for him to work through you. (yes I know it’s cheesy but soooooo true)
The first experience where God showed Himself to me was through the dirt poor community of Alamar. These people have close to nothing, but some of them do have whats most important; faith in Jesus Christ. As we went door to door handing out beans and rice, we also asked if we could pray for them. Almost all of them replied yes, and when we asked what they wanted prayer for, it was always for someone else in their family and not for them. I feel very odd when I say this, but some people on our team were shocked by the selflessness that these people showed. Many times here in the states we get caught up in our own lives and what we need to happen, and how we need God to move, and how we want God to work according to our agenda. Sometimes we get selfish in our faith. But these people, these people only have God and each other.
This leads me to my next lesson/ realization, that these people have a much deeper faith in Christ then we could ever have because of their way of life. I am confident in this statement and stand by it because when you have been born into poverty with close to nothing, or you have been addicted to drugs for 15 years, or your husband has been deported, and you come to Christ, your faith is so beautifuly shown because you were at rock bottom when God pulled you out and still called you child. Not too may people in the states can say they’ve been through that because of how privileged we are. Those are the kind of people we got to experience on this trip and it was nothing short of inspiring.
As for the seed that was planted in Alamar, it was actually planted a year ago when I first visited. If you read my last reflection on Mexico back in April, you might remember a boy named Carlos. If you know who Carlos is, skip this next paragraph. If you don’t know who Carlos is, read this next paragraph.
Last year when we went to Alamar, I played with a little boy named Carlos. Carlos wanted to play tag or chase where he chases me and I run from him. We did this for about 45 minutes before I tried telling him that I was tired. At that point, he tackled me to the ground and insisted that we keep playing. He started punching me and pulling my shirt down and I this point I got a little annoyed. I tried hiding in order to rest and I continued to play with him until what felt like forever. When I was told it was time to go, I was glad because I didn’t have to get beat up by this kid anymore. As we walked to the van, he gave me a hug from behind and told me he wanted a picture. It was I this point that I realized what my worth was to him. I felt like I was meant to be the older brother he never had for this short time that we were visiting this community. Before we left I told him that I would be back again. Part of me hopes that he was able to leave this dirt poor community to live at a better place. the other part of me hopes that I can see him again in order to fulfill my promise I made to him.
Well, my promise was fulfilled, I returned to Alamar and saw Carlos again. This time, I had to go door to door for 45 minutes looking for him. I eventually found his mom where she said she’d send him to me when he got home from paying with some other kids.
I waited patiently at the vans when Corey Anderson’s son, Jackson, said “Tomás, is that him?” I turned to look and he was running to me. I asked how he was and told him I have some gifts for him. I took him to the van and gave him one of my old soccer jerseys and a new pair of cleats. He was beyond excited. From then on, he played with some other kids to show off his new gear.
As I continued to talk to his mom, I could tell that she loves him dearly. He has been a good boy and I am so glad that he is in loving arms. He has seemed to mature out of the “annoying boy” and grown into a young man who respects his mom and understands the importance of family.
Here is a pic of Carlos getting his new cleats
As for my second experience, (which at this point, fi you have not already, you might want to go watch the video to take a break) it takes place in downtown Tijuana where we fed the homeless.
During the time we fed the homeless, for some reason I felt very helpless. This was one of the last things we did before the week ended. It was also my first time feeding the homeless. All other events at the orphanages and rehabs that we went to early in the week I had been to the year before. Therefore, feeding the homeless was the first ministry work that I had not yet experienced on the trip. At first I was excited to feed them. Then, as we walked around inviting people to our sandwich stand, the whole week started to weigh on me. At moments I felt helpless and scared that we were not doing enough for these people. I saw exemplary leaders like Davina and Alleya talk to and pray for the people around us while I stood, just watching everyone. A few moments later, I man came up to me and asked if I had a sweater. I excitingly went to the van to see if I had brought my sweater to give to him. I was upset to find out that I had left it at the base. Again, I felt helpless. I then asked Corey to walk with me to the store on the corner to see if they have any shirts I could buy for him. When the lady said the nearest clothing store was blocks away, I was a little upset because we are here to help people and I couldn’t physically do that at the moment.
Although I was distraught in some ways by feeling like I was of no use, God showed me that it is the little things that count. I realized that we are here to help these people spiritually also, not just physically. In the next few moments, God encouraged me through little things like prayer and cameras (trust me, I AM going somewhere with this)
First, a woman with a little boy in a stroller asked if I could pray for her. She didn’t want food, she wanted prayer. She was his grandma and was taking care of him because his mom is doing drugs. I of course agreed to her request and I called a translator over to me so we could pray. I prayed for her safety, that God will provide for her at the times she needs him most, that this little boy will grow up to be strong and wise, and that the boys mom will come to Christ.
Soon after, a little girl tugged on my shirt. She saw that had a camera around my neck and wanted a picture with her mom because her mom is pregnant and due any day now. I could see the pride in this little girls face as she showed me to her mom who was definitely ready to have the baby at any moment. I grabbed Katy and asked to use her Polaroid so the family can keep the photo of them. We took the picture and as it dried, we prayed for them. It was soon after this that we had to go.
As we got it the vans, I was sitting in the back, digesting all that had happened in the past two hours when Armando (one of our translators and an ex drug addict), said “Scoot over, we are bringing someone to a rehab center. He wants to get clean”
I was soooooo happy to hear this. His name was Cruz. He was a testament that our work was not going unnoticed and that God was using us to bring people back to Him. It was a long drive to the rehab, during which I did a lot of thinking. When we got there, I decided that we needed to pray for Him. So I stoped him before he left and we prayed for his healthy recovery and that God will make Himself known to Cruz. He went on his way and we went back to base.
These few incidents were evidence that God plants seeds and He uses us in in smallest ways. I don’t know, maybe Cruz heard the gospel for the first time that day as we shared it to all of them, or maybe he had heard it before and that day was the day he decided he wanted to get clean? Only God knows because only God does those things.
I hope you’ve been encouraged by my stories. I definitely have been just by typing them out an remembering all the good things that happened. I pray that God will continue to reveal himself to you in ways that you could never imagine.
Here are a few words from a few teammates on the Mexico team!
You never realize how amazing faith is until you go to a place where faith is the only thing that people have. This trip to Mexico showed me that even in a place where people have nothing, they still have their faith. Not only is this amazing, it is truly inspiring. Families not only rely on each other but they are also sharing their faith with each other and that is something that keeps them going.
Mexico has left a mark on my heart not because of the culture shock or seeing things that I’ve never seen before, but because of the people. These people not only have faith, but they have extreme amounts of love. We went to churches, orphanages, and other various places and I can truly say I was prepared to give love and kindness and I was the one who received the love and kindness. Mexico is a place that shouldn’t be avoided when talked about, it should be valued. These people have showed me true faith, kindness, love, and most of all; hope.
I can honestly say that in these last two years of going to Tijuana, my heart has definelty been touched by the people there. They have taught me so much about what it looks like to love God wholeheartedly. He is all we really have to rely on in this world, and the people in Tijuana that we’ve worked with have truly shown me that.