Many of you may not realize that I lived Mexico for almost 5 years. Today marks the 10 year anniversary of when first I stepped foot into that beautiful country. My life has never been the same and I am reminded daily of my time there. Here is a little of my journey.
All my life I have felt called to be in ministry in one form or another. The one thing I swore I would never do…be a missionary. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were missionaries to Africa back in the 50’s and both of my parents were subsequently born in Africa.
Growing up, tales from the mission field were my bedtime stories and the biographies of the forerunners of modern missions were required reading in my homeschool curriculum. I loved to hear the stories of faith, supernatural provision, healing, protection. It amazed me how people and communities were completely transformed. But what completely turned me off to the idea of being a missionary was the cost. Everything came at such a high personal price.
For some, the price was the lives of their children, their husband or wife, even the ultimate price of their own life. For many the cost was their sanity or the sanity their family member. Many battled life threatening illnesses, war, famine, extreme poverty just to name a few. In my own family, my Grandfather dismissed his own estranged son as the “price for sharing the Gospel”.
In my early 20’s the church that I was attending and working for regularly supported a missionary in Mexico. There were opportunities to take short-term mission trips to help out the ministry in Mexico and I wanted NOTHING to do with them. When asked why I would not be going on the trips, I hid behind my self-rightious attitude and gave the excuse that “I’m not called to the mission field, I’m called to fund the mission field.”
It took two more years for my internal discomfort to reach the point that I was willing to become externally uncomfortable. Like Jonah I ran. I tried so hard to shut down those areas inside of my heart that were burning with compassion for a people I did not know. I was running from the very thing I now see as the thing I had been prepared for my whole life. The pressure of living inauthentically wore on me until I could no longer hide behind my pretexts and excuses and fears. In a whisper I acknowledged my heart and vocalized what had been locked up for years, “I have to go to Mexico!”
It was nothing short of miraculous how God opened the doors for me to even make it to Mexico. I was in debt up to my eyeballs, working a part time job, making little over minimum wage. I pawned some jewelry and sold my savings bonds that I had been given as a baby in order to be able to pay for my passport application. I sold what I could and gave away most of my belongings. Typically missionaries spend a lot of time and effort making connection with as many people as possible taking pledges and raising support for themselves. God brought me ONE anonymous donor who pledged to fund me for 6 months and ended up supporting me for a little over 2 years. It was only 3 months from the moment I admitted to myself I was supposed to go to Mexico to the moment I flew out of Washington with 3 suitcases.
I flew to Mexico with a short-term missions team from my church. It was a nice 10 day intro into Mexico and into everything that the local ministry provided for the community. The local church, youth-group and young adults group. 9 missions churches (at that time), a Bible/leadership school and home for disenfranchised young girls. All of which I was a part of at one time or another throughout my time there.
The first 3 months in Mexico were my desert season. I did not speak the language, I could understand very little. The impotence of my presence was overwhelming. I felt like I had no value, nothing to add there because I could not communicate effectively. I was truly alone for the first time in my life. No friends, no family, just me and Jesus. So Jesus and I got really close.
There were few distractions. No internet in my house; not that it mattered anyway because I did not have a laptop or smartphone. The tv was in Spanish, I couldn’t understand it if I wanted to. My iPod nano was loaded with some worship music and a few preaching podcasts. My only books were a bilingual Bible and Spanish dictionary. So I read my Bible all day and listened to those podcasts and worship all day and night. I drew, I sang, I wrote, I grew. My heart became sensitive and I began to feel God’s heart for the people around me. I began to recognize His voice and His presence like I never had before. I could feel it in church, when I was alone in my room, and while I was out and about. I recognized His voice at different times in music, in art, in broken conversations with strangers, friends and family.
It was in those three months of desert that I realized the discomfort was worth it. The pain, the anguish, the fear, confronting the lies I believed, giving up my idols. It was and is all worth it for Him and it laid the foundation for what He had in store for me in those precious years that followed.
Mexico was my date with destiny. It was the pressure cooker that revealed the hidden things of my heart, good and bad. I fell in love with the country, the people and the culture right away. Mexico feels like home. I love that I am bonded to this beautiful country forever because my husband is Mexican. I never could have imagined all the fruit that God has brought into my life as a result of that “Yes!” I made 10 years ago.