Everyone has that “feeling” the first time they leave the country. The mix of butterflies in your stomach, a little anxiety, and a whole lot of excitement. For some, they were too young to remember the first time they went to another country. Others, it’s a huge milestone that they couldn’t possibly forget.
June of 2016. I was at church camp. They were giving away a scholarship to go on this trip, which paid for a huge portion of the cost. I applied for the scholarship, answered a few questions, then a couple of weeks later got an email saying I had earned the scholarship.
I got my passport, paid for the rest of the trip, and made arrangements to get to McAllen, Texas.
I’m not sure if I was nervous, or what, but I made up in my mind that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. I’m not really sure why, but that’s what I had decided. I love traveling, I was excited to go to a different country for the first time, and I love trying new things, so I am not exactly why I was regretting signing up for the trip, but I kind of was.
Christmas day came and we drove down to McAllen. The day came and we went to the church to meet up with the rest of our group. We headed to the border which was only about a 15 minute drive from the church. Once we go there we all walked across, they told us that we would have to walk about a 1/2 mile across. Maybe I’m just really out of shape, but I swear it was longer than that (maybe I should’ve brought my rolly suitcase instead of a duffle bag). The whole process took about 2 hours or so. After we all loaded onto the buses we headed to Monterrey, which is about a 4 hour drive from the border.
Once we got to our hotel we got ourselves settled in and went to dinner. That night during our evening service we got to meet some of the people from the church we were going to be partnering with that week.
The next day we went to our church for the week, Sexta Iglesia Del Nazareno. The people here were so loving, they welcomed us and treated us as their own. We had people from our group working on construction and other hanging out with the kids doing vacation bible school.
When we weren’t doing VBS we were getting to know the kids. Who knew Snapchat would be a huge hit among these precious kids? We played soccer, worked on crafts, and just enjoyed chilling with our new friends.
I knew the food there would be different than the Mexican food we eat here in Oklahoma, but I didn’t realize just how different it would be. If I had to describe the food there with one word it would be: beans. Beans with breakfast. Beans with lunch. Beans with dinner. Beans. I love Mexican food, but there was a point when I thought I would never be able to eat beans again. The first day they made us some chicken with squash and other vegetables in it. I really enjoyed it, but some of the other people in our group weren’t so sure. After that, some of the church ladies made a menu to see what our group would like to eat.
Throughout the week we continued working with the kids during VBS. The construction crew worked on a bunch of projects in the church, including a parsonage for the pastor. We got to explore the artisan markets in central Monterrey and the pastor of our church took us on a little tour around the city.
At the artisan markets several people from our group bought baja jackets, or those Mexican hoodies you can buy from the fair. But I think it’s more special to buy one from Mexico 😉
I also bought a serape blanket, which I promptly used in a photoshoot once I returned to the U.S.
This was such an amazing experience. Hopefully I will have the privilege to attend many more mission trips in the future. I made so many new friends during my time in Monterrey. The next Commission Unto Mexico trip is this December and the destination is Monterrey, maybe I can go back and visit my new amigos 🙂
Until next time, Monterrey.