Mexico 2014 – Heartbeat

How could one put into words a trip that impacted one’s life? It is difficult to do so, but I shall try anyways.

This year was my second time going with Bayside Church to Mexico for a mission trip, but this year was FAR different from last. Both happened to be touching and eye-opening on opposite spectrums, and in opposite ways. I can’t lie, last year was irreplaceable. I mean it was the year I rededicated my life to Christ. But with all that said, this year deeply affected my character in a way that last year did not.

Most people will tell you the little niños are what impacted them the most on these sorts of trips, and normally it is true. For me though this year was different, the other high schoolers and adults impacted me more than the niños. This was shocking to me because I did not expect that to happen at all. Approaching departure day I had multiple doubts about whether or not this year would affect me in any way. I was convinced my team was filled with duds (people who had zero fire for Christ and no desire whatsoever to be friends). I drilled into my brain that the only way to not be judged by them was to be sheltered. I was scared, and told myself “everyone on your team hates you, just stay quiet”. Man oh man how reality struck me on that first 8 hour car ride. As everyone among me let their walls crumble down, I saw what truly lied beneath. My eyes saw opened and willing hearts for Christ, they saw vulnerability, but most importantly they saw a longing for love. Almost every one of my team mates was broken in a different way. Brokenness is not something that can be explained by the lips, but only by actions that paint a picture of who they truly are and what their hearts are missing. I encountered various pictures, among which nearly all managed to touch my heart and clear my blurred vision. My Impact team was full of broken people gathering together with a similar purpose, and craving for Christ. We referred to ourselves as The Band of Misfits, yes cliché I know but it fits us perfectly.

This Band of Misfits taught me numerous lessons. This Band of Misfits built me up. This Band of Misfits loved on me. This Band of Misfits changed me. There is no possible way I could thank them for everything they unknowingly did for me.

Jameson revealed to me what confidence looks like; he helped my step out and be myself in confidence.

Gabby is a true model of what it meant to be obedient to Christ in all you do. She put gasoline on the fire I had for Christ.

Alyssa showed me the importance of staying true to who you are. She is my constant reminder to not chip away who I am to mirror society.

Both Ali and Chloe were mirrors of true strength. They are perfect examples of what it means to trust Christ in everything he does and in all his plans for you.

Chris revealed to me the importance of silence. And taught me that silence creates a mood of peace and comfort, which is necessary during certain times.

Cole showed me how necessary it is to be open to new friends. He also opened my eyes to see our world is drowning in judgmental people, thus teaching me the importance of not judging others.

Blake showed me true passion and determination. I have never seen someone with such drive, especially in furthering his knowledge of Christ.

Ellie was the one person who bluntly told me I need to build more strength. Strength: to defend myself, to be able to carry others burden, and strength against the enemy. I cannot describe how overly joyed I am that she did this for me.

Although I did admit that my team impacted me more than the niños did, I never said they  have no effect on me. Two niños in particular touched me in a way they could never understand. Cesia was a 4-year-old young lady who had eyes you could get lost in. Just the sound of her laugh alone could put a smile on anyone’s face. By the third day my Impact team was on site, Cesia knew only my name and was introducing me to her mom. Just the sheer honor of her knowing only my name was touching, but her introducing me to her mom was heartwarming. Then there was Monse. Her simple, silent presence pulled me in. She was a girl of few words, yet I couldn’t find myself ever wanting her to leave my side. Luckily she never wanted to anyways. I will never forget her wrapping her arms around me, looking up with a giant smile, followed by the biggest squeeze she could give me. We broke out into laughter every time. Finally, on the second to last day she opened up to me. Monse held a full conversation with me where she told me all about herself and her family. Within that conversation alone I had watched her eyes brighten far more than they had been on any other day. Little did I know at that time, she had never spoken to anyone else on my team. To be honest I never knew how much I meant to her untill I was saying goodbye to her. While I was hugging her I looked down at the treasure chest craft she had made, surprisingly instead of looking down and seeing the chest filled with the signatures of my entire team… I looked down and saw only one signature, mine.

My favorite moment on the trip:

There were many amazing moments that I could never forget, but to be honest affirmations was by far my favorite. Pathetic, I know. We had two twins on our team, both of which gave me an affirmation. They told me how memorable I made this trip for them. Then continued to compliment my laugh saying how someone could walk into a room where I was laughing and immediately start laughing too because my laugh was so contagious. One of the twins told me that I was an example of someone who stayed positive in every situation and found happiness in the little things. Sweetly, the other told me I was one of the people who made them crave to know more about Christ. Ellie was another person who gave me an affirmation, though hers was definitely out of the ordinary. She explained that she was convinced she could not like any girls whatsoever, but I gave her hope that she can not only like but also be friends with girls again! Though Blake, Cole, and Ellie all gave me very heartfelt affirmations the one that affected me the most was the affirmation I received from our translator, Oscar. Oscar went on telling me I reminded him of his sister, explaining that compliment was the highest compliment he could give anyone. This man who had become my friend complimented me saying I was so full of happiness and life that I create a chain reaction to those around me. But lastly, to top it off he told me I helped him find his fire for Christ again, and straightened his priorities in life.

I never knew just the raw version of myself could make such an impact on those around me, even when I’m not trying to. Hearing those affirmations truly opened up my eyes to see the truth. The truth is: who I am does not matter as long as I am obedient to Christ, and as long as I have a relationship with him. How others define me lacks importance, and how they view me should not be a worry in this mind of mine. This truth has set me free.