A thing that changed my worldview was a year of living in Mexico. I had been living in Florida for a few years working on staff in a church plant as a youth leader and a full time gig in retail. My very first Christmas away from home I was welcomed in by a warm family that introduced me to Latin American culture, dancing in the house til midnight, dinner starting at 930pm and the loving, passion of a family that wrapped their arms around me as if one of their very own.
I guess it was then that I began to fill that tug yet again of serving other nations. Not long after that an opportunity came up with a Missions organization based (at that time, since relocated into the USA) in Oaxaca, Mexico. After moving back home to KY to raise support money from my hometown friends and family, selling my car and most my stuff, and just by happenstance meeting my soon-to-be husband just a few months before leaving the country, I took my two suitcases and passport and moved South. My first few weeks in Mexico I paid room and board to live with a family in Oaxaca City and study Spanish at a bilingual university. Man oh man, I didn’t have a clue back then about the language. I would walk around this city of millions with my map and try to discover how to get back home. God’s sweet grace I didn’t encounter some predator that could easily have seen what a naive rookie I was and oh so obviously a tourist unaware of most my surroundings and whether safe or unsafe. I did get setup with a dear family who had moved from Minnesota to serve with the same group as me and spoke English (hooray for my loneliness!) That couple and their three beautiful girls brought me into their family for meals, love and a friendship that has lasted some 12 years later.
After the time in Oaxaca we moved out to the mission’s group compound in the mountainous region of Tlaxiaco. This was a monumental part of seeing how others live throughout the world outside of the sweet little walls I had grown up in. Here I met some of the most beautiful people who would be dirt-floor-poor and yet insist that they cook you dinner in their home and serve you the most delicious Coke made with cane sugar that your mouth has ever blissfully enjoyed. I originally moved to Mexico to help teach English and try to share a bit of Jesus’ love with folks who maybe had yet to hear his story and know the depth of his desire to share life with them. I think somewhere along the way Tlaxiaco’s people taught me way more than any English lesson, bible study craft, or sermon could ever come close to grasping a heart in full. The people I served along with, served in the city, the nearby villages and my host family opened my eyes to a world so beautifully made in God’s image of diverse joy, so broken by sins of man from abuse to neglect to abandonment, and so hopeful to celebrate and laugh along with the redemption and restoration that Christ is ready to bring into every willing heart. Oh Mexico, you will forever have a place deep in my soul. Your tamales, your language, the humble and grandiose way you love so deeply will forever be a part of my identity and mark a season of life that I remember with great joy.
My worldview was changed to look with new gratitude at things taken for granted so often. My worldview was changed to love everyone around me and fall in love with our differences too. That year changed my worldview to slow and see hearts in a way that I don’t know I would have learned elsewhere.