My Reflections on Mexico City (Part One)
Last week I led a mission team to Mexico City for what has become an annual trip to the center of the Latin American culture. Each year we go the trip we plan is never the trip we experience. It's as if God dangles a holy carrot in front of us, enticing us to return, then once we're their He turns our worlds upside down through experiences we never could have imagined. Through those experiences He is able to reach us at our most vulnerable moments and speak to us is the deepest parts of our souls. These trips are always life altering, but for me this one was life changing. What I experienced was the completion of an eight year revelation of who God has designed me to be as a pastor and the vision of the church I am suppose to lead.
But before I can get into what exactly that revelation is, I need to set the stage with what exactly we were doing while in MXC.
Our missionary contact Angie and her fiance Pepe
On Sunday afternoon we served at a women's shelter owned and run my the Mexican government. Over 800 women who have been abandoned live there. The ages range from 18 year olds (with kids) to women over the age of 90. A lot of the women we saw were handicapped or disabled in some way. Prior to being in the shelter most of the women lived on the streets. We will never be able to describe the overwhelming feeling of despair and hopelessness we felt as we entered the shelter.
Once we were inside the shelter we found an empty cafeteria and invited the ladies in. We set up tables with the clothes we collected at church before we left. We fixed hundreds of bags of snacks and pours hundreds of cups of soda to pass out. Some friends form Angie's church came and we held a worship service with the ladies. Angie's friends (Joe and Miguel) sang songs, Pepe preached, and our very own Judy Murphy shared her testimony which Angie translated for the ladies. After word Pepe asked who needed someone to come pray with them and well over 100 raised their hands. Our group spread out and prayed with every woman that wanted it. We estimate that around 300 of the 800 were at our service. We ran out of room inside so they gathered outside the windows to hear and see what was going on. To say the experience broke our hearts would be an understatement. I was very proud of our group because we were all stretched and pushed way out of our comfort zones.
During the rest of the week our group split into two: A VBS team that stayed at the orphanage and a construction team that worked doing remodeling at Angie's new women's shelter. Our VBS team divided the kids into four groups that rotated through four
stations: Bible story, Music, Crafts, and Games.
We had an unexpected mission opportunity arise as we were invited to visit a local children's hospital with some of the kids for the SAO. While there we passed out goody bags to all the kids.
Our construction team had to travel 2 1/2 hours (just 15 miles away) to another part of the city called the Merced. The Merced is known as the "Brothel of Latin America". It's also extremely dangerous for Americans so we had to travel in a cargo van with no windows, seats, or a/c. Let's just say 2 1/2 hours one way in a van like that is not the best way to travel. Once we were there we painted and built interior walls in what will be a beauty salon (so Angie can teach the women a new trade to get them off the streets) The shelter will also house a counseling office and a health clinic.
All in all the trip is beyond words. We know God used us while in Mexico. He always does. But what the Holy Spirit has been doing in some of us since we returned has been staggering. Things are happening so rapidly that I can barley keep up. But more on that in a future blog.