Just got back from two incredible weeks in Guadalajara, serving and learning alongside youth at a youth retreat, visiting an indigenous mountain village, and spending time in the city with Pastor Fernando, his family, and his church, Grace Bible. It is always amazing and humbling to be around other believers, especially in a different culture than your own, because you realize how much they love the Lord and how the Holy Spirit is alive and moving all over the world.
Quinceo was a small, mountainous indigenous village about three hours from Guadalajara, with a population of about 7,000. Along with four other interns, Bryan, from the local church in Ixtapaluca, and Pastor Fernando, I had the incredible opportunity to spend four days living with and learning from these people. The women wore traditional outfits, gorgeous, colorful, embroidered blouses and full, sparkling, long skirts. The people opened their homes to us and welcomed us with kisses and greetings. We ate five meals on the second day because everyone from the church was so generous and showed their love and kindness by feeding us.
I met two girls, Rosie and Esperanza, who really touched my heart. They were only fifteen and ten years old, and they followed me around and kept inviting me to dinner and to stay overnight at their homes. I could communicate with them in Spanish, although the primary language in Quinceo is Purehpecha, the indigenous language, which was impossible to pick up. I loved that I could have a conversation with them and learn a little about their lives. They both hugged me with tears in their eyes when it was time for us to leave.
Back in the city of Guadalajara, we stayed with families from the church and worked with the pastor and his family for the next few days. We had the opportunity to go to a missions update, where a man who had been serving with his family in Pakistan for 12 years talked about his experiences living among Muslims and sharing the Gospel. The next day at church, we got to be part of a Skype call to missionaries in Turkey, who have been there during the revolts and for numerous years earlier. It was incredible to see how the church, of probably only about 200 people, is moving and serving the Lord around the world. The missionary from Pakistan shared a couple videos with statistics on numbers of unreached people around the world, which shocked and challenged me. One of the videos said that 2.5 billion people around the world had never heard the gospel, primarily people in Muslim and Buddhist countries. It was shocking to hear that number and to hear that the man and his family were the only Mexicans at the time living in Pakistan, among a sparse sprinkling of Christians. It makes me think about the passage in Matthew 16:24-26 where Jesus says that anyone who wants to follow Him must pick up their cross and lose their life. Both the missionary family and the Muslims who received the Gospel surely encountered this command face to face constantly. The missionary family as they struggled to adapt to Pakistani culture, had to sacrifice food and comforts and Christian community that they were used to, and Pakistanis as they would have to deny their culture, lifestyles, families, friends, and personal safety and well-being to follow Christ. It definitely makes me think about a future in missions and the ways that I can love and serve those I know who don’t know the Gospel. Again, it was so beautiful and humbling to see the passion and love for service of this church in Guadalajara.
Back in Mexico City with the other interns and missionaries in this area, I am praying for God to continue softening my heart and opening my eyes to whatever he wants to teach me. I have been feeling homesick lately, just for the comforts and summer fun that I’m used to, but God continues to make my time here fruitful.
*Photo credits to Marcy Metzger
Just a quick shout-out to my younger sister, Beth, who got baptized in Lake Michigan at a youth retreat last week. I am so thankful for her friendship and amazing heart for people and God. I know that God will take this step to continue to move in her heart and use her for His incredible and perfect plan.
Love and blessings! Thanks for reading!