Outreach is a short term missions trip our DTS (discipleship training school) school does with every DTS. After 3 months of learning about and experiencing the love of GOD for themselves our students then get to spend 21/2-3 months bringing, teaching and giving others the love of GOD. They travel all around the world going high in low to all kinds of people to share the love of GOD. Engaging a broken world with love, bringing light, freedom and truth.
I did a DTS September 2020-2021 and got to go on out reach across Mexico. This is the stories, testimonies and pictures of that time.
From December 2020 to February 2021 I set out on my first missions trip with my team. We set out to Southern Mexico; Mexico city, Queretaro, and Guanajuato, on a mission to know God and make Him known. Traveling to 12 locations, moving 9 times, to 3 states. Where we stayed in places high and low, clean and dirty, hot and cold to bring the love of God.
Our main efforts were in creative ministry, bringing value and worth, relationship building, and prayer, overall bring them love. Giving the a voice to the voiceless. Below you can find the beautiful people we had the privilege to meet, their stories and places we had the honor to go to. Each person and location came with its own challenges and lessons and I am happy to share them with you.
Disclaimer: Each individuals photo was taken with consent with the knowledge that we would be using it. These are their stories, their voices.
These photos were taken by our team and myself.
First stop Mexico City! If you imagined Mexico city as a busy, loud, bright city, full of street venders of all sorts of Mexican food then you were right. The hot afternoon sun beamed down onto the brightly colored Spanish buildings, lighting up the streets. Art painted the cities blank walls with its well thought out, detailed art pieces in forms of graffiti, mosaics and posters. While very tall beautiful tropical trees, palm trees and succulents decorated nearby street edges. The closer you get to the center the taller the buildings you will see, and you'll be greeted with large stunning churches and monuments. All kinds of smells would great you as you walked the fairly clean streets. The unwelcomed smells such as the smell of horrible sewage, or the definite indicator of someone who relived themselves in a near by bush would catch you by surprise at first but soon become an expected experience. But you would pleasantly welcome the delicious smell of tacos, and treats from near by street carts. Sounds of the food cars playing there "Se compran Colchones" (Se compran colchones tambores refrigeradores estufas..... - YouTube) call on repeat echoed off the concrete houses, along with the sounds of dogs barking and the occasional ambulance siren.
The city was alive bustling with lots of people going here and there despite being in the middle of a pandemic, trying to provide for their families. Men, women and children all around the city all could be found selling their hand made masks, jewelry, baked goods, clothing and offering shoe shinning serves. Never a day was missed without them working hard just trying to make enough to eat that day. But you would surely be welcome and approached with a smile and eager eyes who hoped and saw the best in you, silently praying you would help them. The nights were cold, colder then you imagine Mexico to be. Where you buddle tightly in your jacket and blankets to keep warm.
The city is a beautiful, heartbreaking, song. A melody that plays on repeat. It tells the story of their strength to survive, to hope, to work hard and love. It tells the story of their joys, their hopes, their dreams, their victories. Every note is uniquely played like each unique special, innovated person rising up together in a chaotic yet harmonious song. This is Mexico city. This is the home to artist, the strong, the broken, the survivors, the victors. This it the home of the lost where God called us to bring His love to.
The first night we arrived I was greeted with what I expected missionary life to be like, a cold shower, and an overly crowed room with 9 other girls all sleeping on the floor. I had never been so happy in my life. I was finally a missionary! Although we only stayed in that small cramped room for 2 days. We shortly moved and had the privilege to be the first to pioneer a new base that the host we were partnering with had purchased for the expansion of their missions base. It was a 3 story high middle school in the center of Coyocan, Mexico city. As we arrived we set out to work as we emptied out the old classrooms from their desks, cleaning as we went, making it livable, before we settled in on the titled floors of the classrooms girls and boys on different floors and rooms. I thought the first place was like a life of a missionary but I never expected the challenges we would face here.
The first challenges we faced were the physical ones. The nights left the cold tiled rooms so cold we huddled together, bundled up in our sleeping bags. The altitude was high and most of us felt the effects of it, leaving us more tired then usual. The days were hot and nights so cold where we took cold bucket showers. The food we ate was not much, and for the first two weeks everything had rooting mushrooms in it, leaving us all sick. I will be more then content to never see another mushroom in my life. Yet GOD called us here so we pushed on.
Our days started early as we prepared for the day. Getting cards or posters of encouragement ready to leave around the city. Other days we helped clean the city, pray over the sick and just try to bring a little joy to the city.
God taught a me lot in Mexico city but if I were to pull away the main things I learnt in those 3 weeks they would be these.
- One, its ok to not have control, to not know what is going to happen because in the uncertainty I could trust Him. I found that I was far more capable then I knew, and there are so many solutions even when you think they're are none if you just try to see it from a different angle, think outside the box, get a change of perspective.
-Two, if you doubt you can then you won't. You are only capable of what you believe are capable of. You think you can't eat that mushroom, talk to that person, come up with an idea, that God can't use you, that He won't use you, so nothing happens. But if you think I am strong, I am capable, I can, God will, He wants to, He is able, then you will eat that mushroom, talk to that person, come up with that idea, God will be able to use you are more then you imagine. The bible says "What a man thinketh so is he." Proverbs 23.6 What you believe about yourself and your capabilities will define you. Now don't get me wrong God can and does work and use people despite their faith. "What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? Romans 3:3 God is faithful and good despite us, but I really learnt that I need to believe God can, wants and will use me. I didn't believe any of that, but when I step off that edge and jumped despite my doubting heart God was faithful. I saw miracles, and lives being touched in so many ways, as He touched them through me. To be used by God is a gift, a gift He gives freely, yet he does not need us to bless others with His gifts.
- Three, right attitude is everything. Have you ever heard your parents tell you to just do your chores without complaining or they'll give you something to complain about. Or worked in customer service with that fake smile plastered to your face because you just really don't want to be there that day, but need to have the right attitude. I have and I used to think right attitude, you now what, you have a right attitude leave me alone. I hated when people told me oh just look on the bright side, as if that would change a thing. But God really challenged me with a heart of thanks giving. Everyday I when I wanted to complain, I wanted to give up, I didn't want to, I was challenged. Challenged to find something to be grateful for, to think of something good, why I was doing this, to find a hit of light. In taking control of my feelings and changing my attitude I was able to enjoy each day more. So even if I had a bad a tough day I still had something to be happy about, and the more I did it the easier it became. It became easier to be grateful, positive, hopeful and optimistic. Instead of being like "I have a cold bucket to clean myself with great." it became" I have clean water to clean up with. The water being cold is good for circulation, keeps the skin tight, and wakes me up." Also attitudes like "I have to sleep on a cold floor, great." Went to "I have a roof, a sleeping bag, a safe place to sleep. Sleeping on the floor is normal in Asia because it is more healthy for your body and cold temperatures help you sleep deeper". When my attitude was right I not only felt better and enjoyed life more, but others around me where affected to. I was able to help them stay positive which brought happiness to their lives as well and helped us all work together better. We were able to touch more people because we were focused on the positive and not the challenges in front of us. Attitude made it easier to love myself, others and God. "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled" Hebrew 12:15 If we allow bitterness and the darkness invade our lives then it will take hold and ruin everything good lie and we have to offer.
Second stop Silent circle of Queretaro! The Otami Community.
Do you know what a silent circle is? It is an indigenous community often off the grid where they don't accept may outsiders. They often speak a language not well known and live untouched by the world.
When we went to Queretaro we were blessed to be the first group of missionaries allowed within this silent circle thanks to the previous relationships and work our contact had made with the people of the community.
I have never seen a more beautiful place then up in the mountains and valleys of this community. There was not a time a day where the sights surrounding you were not breath taking. The cold air gripped you at night but the warm sun of the afternoon would have you wishing for evening. The sound of chicken could always be heard and it was a strange comforting sound. It was peaceful. The Otami are beautiful people who speak the rare dialect Otami and sometimes Spanish. They wear traditional clothing and live their days working hard to just survive. Making all kinds of dolls, clothes, treats. It really is like a separate world. They cook over top of makeshift stoves and even catch birds in nets to eat them.
Sadly this community is so full of abuse, drugs, death and alcohol. They have seen and experienced so much from such a young age. Due to the harsh living conditions families either have to leave or struggle just to live and make money. They are true survivors.
When I think back and remember our friends I am reminded of an old school film photograph. The photo is taken just right with care and accuracy. Then the film is taken special care of hidden in the dark until it can have the proper exposure to the right light. It takes time to develop but afterwards it leaves you with lovely one of a kind photos.
These people have been hidden, forgotten, silenced but with the proper care, time and exposure you t left with knowing an incredible one of a kind person. When you take the time you learn all the work they put into their lives. You learn how to cook new things, sew, speak a different dialect. You meet people that are so special and amazing, that you are so blessed to get to meet.
I only got to spend a week with this family and one other but only a few words can capture that time. Brave, Warriors, Lovers, Valuable and Warm. We got to just love on this family for a week playing games, listening to and sharing testimonies and stories, learning to crochet, taking care of live stock, sharing meals together and just seeing each other. It wasn't much time at all, I wish we had more but with GOD not everything needs as much time as we determine. After that week I watch a family of 20 people give their lives to Christ. I watched as a girl caught in the wrong path heard my testimony and how GOD used it to reach her and have her want Him. It truly was a one of a kind moment, of watching the powerful power of GODs love and just acknowledging one another.
I wish I could tell them all that they taught me. I can't but I can tell you and maybe you can learn too.
1. Every little thing is important, and not to be taken for granted.
2. There is always a way just look in a different direction.
3. Honor one another giving selflessly. They gave us all they had, using what little $ they had to bless us with a drink or even giving us their chairs to sit on as they sat on the ground.
4. Listening is more important then you can imagine. To just actually listen and hear what another is saying is so important and valuable.
5. You don't need to speak to be able to love. Most of the time I couldn't communicate with the children with my sad Spanish but it didn't matter. Fun, laughter and love is universal, all you need to do is take a leap of faith, have patience and try.
6. Every second counts, make the most of every opportunity and cherish every moment,
Thank you Otami people for letting us into your world, it was more a gift to me than you'll know.
Guanajuato! Beloved city of vibrant color!
The last stop on our trip was the city and surrounding cities of the beautiful city Guanajuato, Guanajuato is a city with vibrantly colored building, stunning Catholic churches, cobble stone road, and a place where music is playing everywhere. it is a city that makes you fall in love with it so instantaneously.
But before I met this vibrant city that has my love, we traveled to the mountains of Guanajuato where we partnered with the ministry Acciones de Amor. With them, we met the children and people of Sangro de Cristo, a place where they live in extreme poverty with a shortage of food, clothes and they sleep on the ground. But despite all this, the laughter of children and how they love to play fills the place with rich love. We spent time our time bringing food and just playing with the young ones giving the parents a break, but they were more a blessing to us.
Christianity is not really welcomed in that place, there was no church even nearby except an old abandoned church. The church had been abandoned many years ago due to the shootings that took place there. Looking around you could see the holes left behind engraving that horrific bloody history forever in the walls. But GOD always brings beauty from ashes and His love is unstoppable. Today the church is slowly being used again and we are praying that it would grow and grow filling the mountain tops with light.
As I traveled and lived in Mexico for a while up to this point in the trip I had seen a lot of poverty, but nothing compares to the day we pulled up a slum area and ask for the children to come and play.
That day memorable and impactful day of my entire outreach. I remember we were expecting 20ish kids and were told to only go around in groups making sure to be on guard of the men and drug dealers. As we went down the rows of make-shift houses were dead rats, waste bins for the washroom, and homes without walls or doors I came face to face with real poverty. I grew up on the poorer side of the economy but nothing like this. They were so open and exposed yet when over 90 kids came running out to play I saw the brightest faces and fell in love with them.
We played all kinds of games in the dirt that day, and I learned you don't need toys to make lots of fun; games like tag, octopus, and duck, duck goose are enough to birth laughter from everyone of all ages. But beware because when you bring out candy with that many kids get ready to run. I will never forget the sheer panic and fear as 30 little faces each pinned separate pairs of our group all around into corners without stretch hands for candy. XD It was terrifying and hilarious. No matter where you are from children will go nuts for candy.
We didn't stay long, a few hours flew by in minutes and I wish to come back. I know they wanted this too as they tried to pile into vans with us, another struggle but it captivated my heart. We never got to go back, but those children cross my mind a lot. I remember sliding to sit in duck, duck, goose, or running really slow and just seeing them laugh. Or how they clung to my hands and arms as we said goodbye, both not wanting to part.
Along our way we also met a family who let us stay with them for a bit. Our time with them was again very short, but during our time together GOD touched their hearts.
We had the privilege to welcome a family of 4 into the Christian family as we held a baptism of just our team and their family for them at their request. GOD had been speaking to them about getting baptized before they met us and GOD used some of our team's stories to confirm that's what they wanted and were to do. It was so cool as I photographed and watch our leader baptize this wonderful family in a river of gorgeous place in the mountains.
This is what being a disciple is like, and it is so wonderful.
Welcome to the lively, beautiful city of Guanajuato! This city is honestly probably one of my most favorite if not #1 in the whole world! It is a cute colorful city tucked away in the mountains of Southern Mexico. Cobblestone streets line English/Spanish buildings and a church can be found almost anywhere. The music is alive with live music music, street art, and food. Its beautiful green parks are a nice place for shade, a chat, and coffee.
Guanajuato tho you may be so beautiful how I pity you, my love. While all this beauty and appearance of liveliness makes you believe all is well it is just a pretty mask. The churches are dead and many don't trust them due to the abuse that has been within. I am very sensitive to the spiritual realm and the presence of life was just not in those churches. They were painted and crafted so beautifully more beautiful than anything I have ever seen yet it was within those churches not just me but others on my team could feel the death and be physically attacked by demonic forces present within. It was within one church where a teammate and myself felt like we walked into a tomb and hand a vision of the devil walking around in there. When we began to sing in that place we lost all the strength we had to move and walk out. The bondage upon you is horrifying.
It breaks my heart. To know that you are so lost, so deceived yet so hungry for GOD. I know you are for as we did our creative ministries all were open and responded to us. I pray the spirit of religion holding you captive is defeated. For anyone reading who believes keep these people in your prayers. I just know that in a place where GOD is so wanted that He surely will be. I just know that we will see revival within you Guanajato and I can't wait to see it.
Guanajuato was the last stop on our outreach. I cannot even begin to fully explain the powerful impact this adventure has had on me. It truly changed my life and made me realize that I always want to be a missionary. I always want to bring love, light, joy to people all around. I always want to meet new people, cultures and fight for others even when they don't realize it.
I hope that by me sharing my story and experiences it touched you in some way. It moved you to action in your own life. See what the biggest thing Guanajuato and Mexico city taught me was that it doesn't matter how well your community may be doing, how beautiful it is, all that matters is the truth. The truth is so easily masked behind a pretty covering but if you look underneath you'll find the truest need. Guanajuato and Mexico city had it all together but out of all the places we went, it was the one place where GOD was most needed. They had all their needs met, they didn't see a need for GOD even when they wanted him, unlike the other places we went to who were in need, but they wanted GOD more than other needs they had. It is in the places of comfortability of togetherness I believe need the most attention because it is in those places people don't realize they're missing anything.
So here's my question and challenge to you reader, are you in need? Do you have all your needs met but still feel empty inside somewhere but don't know why? Is your community alive and professing Christ but it feels dead? Do you know of someone who lacks that you could give to? Not just physical support but actual love, because the best thing we can give anyone is seeing them, recognizing worth, value, respect, and love.
If so or if not what are you going to do about it? It doesn't need to be big. It could simply say something nice to someone lonely, help a stranger, or something bigger. We all are missionaries, so how can you minister where you are right now?
That's all I hope this encouraged you, challenged you, changed something, inspired you but most of all I hope it showed you that our GOD is alive, powerful, loving, and still moving, and He wants to do all that for and with you too.