Second in a series
Where are you from, and where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with my beautiful family that is so crazy about Jesus! In 2011, I completed my distance learning and graduated from Thomas Edison State College with my B.A. in communications. Several months later, I completed the remainder of my Advanced TESOL Diploma from Global TESOL college.
How did you meet Christ, and what are some milestones in your faith journey you can tell us about?
On July 5, 1995, I prayed with my mom to accept Christ into my heart. I understood that it was a personal decision, not dependent on my parents. And besides, that’s what good kids do, right? It wasn’t until I was in junior high that it finally clicked for me. God’s sacrifice for me was tremendous, His love for me incomprehensible, so how could I not surrender my life to Him? After rededicating my life to Jesus Christ, I was baptized on June 5, 2005.
Why did you pursue Mexico as a ministry field?
Since being actively involved in missionary with Latin children as a young teenager, I’ve had a passion for the Latin people and their intriguing culture. Tied to a series of other events, this led me to pursue my first international missions trip and, the following year, an internship in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Between these two trips, the Lord began confirming in my heart, through His word, through prayer, and through other people, that He was leading me into missions. It felt as though God was directing me back to Tegucigalpa for full-time ministry; but He redirected me, not unlike Paul’s missionary journey in Acts. For over a year, I was in a waiting period, unsure of when or where God would have me be. But as I sought Him, He was faithful to work on my heart, purify me and prepare me.
After beginning to attend a new church, I learned of ReachGlobal and pursued the application process with them. Several months later, I was accepted and was presented with four Latin American placement options: Mexico City, Costa Rica, Brazil and Haiti. Graciously, God made it an easy decision to choose Mexico City — although that was not the most attractive to me, but rather, the most frightening. He gave me unity of spirit with those who I sought counsel from and those in authority over me, and I gave the official thumbs-up to Mexico almost exactly one year ago.
Can you tell us about any surprises that greeted you in Mexico?
The best surprise? The amazing family I get to live with and be apart of: Joshua [Smith] is the team leader for the Mexico City team and lives in Colonia Roma with his beautiful wife [Naomi] and three precious kids.
Need I even mention the food? I knew it was going to be good, but was definitely not prepared for how good and how many dreams I would have about my next meals. It all works out pretty well because Mexicans are extremely proud of their food; looks like I’ve joined right in!
What are some challenges you’ve found in adjusting to a new culture? Any pleasant surprises?
Since arriving in Mexico, I’ve had some health challenges in adjusting to all the changes from my life in Chicago. The typical stomach bug was expected, but I wasn’t quite prepared for things like passing out on the metro and waking up to being carried off by Mexican police!
Despite the association that people make between Mexico and beaches, flip-flops, and golden tans, it is not the case here in the city. For one, it’s cooler here because we are in the mountains; but also, Mexico is a formal culture, so Mexicans err on the dressier side. You won’t see shorts or sandals, and as silly as it sounds, I always look forward to jumping into my running shorts and flip-flops when I get home.
Because I never did a vision trip and had never been to Mexico, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect upon my arrival in the Federal District. I pictured a never-ending concrete jungle, whatever that looked like. The city does often feel never-ending and is covered in concrete, but I was pleasantly surprised by all the parks sprinkled throughout my neighborhood. On my first walk through Roma Norte, we passed through just one of many cool, shady parks with a fountain in the center, and as it started to rain, a big rainbow shot straight across the park.
What are some of your short-term goals there? What about long-term plans?
My commitment to the Mexico City team is two years. The role in which I serve consists of: developing reproducible English conversation groups with the intention of reaching the city for Jesus, and the discipleship of young, Mexican women.
Short-term, I will be actively involved in churches, universities and ministries to teach English in an informal setting, developing relationships with Mexicans, and sharing the gospel in these environments.
The long-term goal is to connect these groups with local churches who can come around the people involved, care for their physical and spiritual needs, and provide long-term support and a place for growth in Christ. This empowers the local churches to serve their communities and prepares for long-term help instead of dependency on missionaries.
How can people be praying for you and your ministry there?
Please be praying for the first English conversation group I am currently involved in. It is at UNAM, Mexico City’s largest and most prestigious university. Daily, I have the opportunity to interact with both believing and non-believing students. During my first month here, I’ve been able to develop significant relationships with some of the young women and am excited to see how He will use these discipleship opportunities to glorify His name!
Please pray for our team! We are small, but growing. Besides Joshua Smith and his family, we have one other couple in Mexico City. In the next two weeks, we will welcome Marilyn, a retired nurse, and we continue to support James and Christina (and their sweet, baby girl!) who are currently in the support raising process. It has already blessed me to witness God’s hand of direction as couples and families come on vision trips and seek Mexico as a placement option. God is building our team and equipping us for increased ministry and a broadening focus on the people throughout Mexico City. Praise to Him!!