“Faith is knowing that life can be unpredictable, but trusting that it will all work out for good.”
This quote is currently hanging in a framed picture on my bedroom wall here in Mexico. When I put it up on my wall six weeks ago to decorate my room, I had no idea how “unpredictable” life would become here in Guadalajara and how much my faith would need to grow. It’s hard to believe that I moved here six weeks ago. For the first 2 ½ weeks, I led a fairly “normal” missionary teacher life. I started teaching my English classes my first day here, and it was so exciting to be teaching again. I was teaching in the Christian school located at the church here, and my students were a mix of church children and children from the Children’s Home/Orphanage, with the majority being from the Children’s Home. I was writing lessons from scratch, which proved to be a somewhat challenging but fun task. My most favorite part of each lesson was teaching the song “God is So Good” in English, and adding a new verse each class period. I taught all different ages ranging from kindergarten to high school levels. I was enjoying settling into my apartment, getting to know my sweet apartment mate and new friends at the church and school, and bonding more with my students. My greatest challenge was the language barrier, but I was learning more Spanish little by little and teaching English to those around me. Things were settling into a comfortable pace, and I was once again enjoying the expat/missionary life.
Then came Monday, October 24th. Everything changed that day. I was at home in the morning as I didn’t teach until the afternoon on Mondays. I was keeping myself busy by cleaning, washing my clothes (yes, by hand) and preparing my lesson for class that afternoon, which I was so excited about. It was about noon when I checked my phone and saw that Mrs. Murillo (the missionary wife) was posting a live video on Facebook. I thought that was odd so I clicked on it, and when I saw what was happening, a sickening feeling started in the pit of my stomach, and I knew something was wrong. You see, the video was live footage of my students screaming and crying and being forced into vehicles. I grabbed my stuff and went as quickly as I could to the school, but when I got there, it was too late. My students were gone. The Mexican Welfare State had come and raided our Children’s Home during the middle of their school day and took our students away, against their will. There were threats of this maybe happening, as it had already happened to other Children’s Homes in our state, but I guess I just didn’t think it actually would happen to us. I can’t describe the horrible feeling of knowing your students are just gone, with their books still on their desks, and thinking that maybe you won’t ever see them again. It was surreal and unbelievable.
What was also sad was that they even took children who were not under the state’s jurisdiction; they were so disorganized that they took other children, including church kids (who were later returned to their families). It’s hard to explain all the reasons for the raid, but what I can say is that it was unjust, unfair, and in some ways, illegal. It was mostly unfair and unjust to the children, who were taken away with the clothes (school uniforms) on their backs, not even letting them grab their possessions (such as clothes, toys, photos) from where they lived. Seeing the video footage of the children sobbing is enough to know that they did not want to go. Since that day, the missionaries and staff here have been working literally nonstop to get the children back and our Children’s Home reopened. We are working on improving one of our properties that we are being demanded to improve (although it was already nicer than many other places here). (If you are reading this and are interested in helping financially with that, please email me and I’d be happy to share with you how.) Also, on that day of the raid, I moved in and stayed with the missionaries, helping watch their own four kids and supervise their homeschooling, while they have been very busy. I was so thankful God had me here during this time so I could help this precious family. I stayed with them for over three weeks. I am now back in my apartment, and it feels weird as I haven’t lived here since before the raid. The school is closed for right now, so I am not teaching at the moment. Because of people’s schedules (including the missionaries’) and things that have come up, I’ve decided to take some time and visit home. Yes, I’m going back to Pennsylvania for a visit, and yes, I leave tomorrow. To put it simply, I am not needed down here during this next 1-2 weeks, and with it being over Thanksgiving, I’ve decided I’d like to spend it with family. I’m only planning on being home for maybe two weeks at the most, but at this point, I’m just taking one day at a time. I really am not sure what the future holds. As soon as I am needed, I will be on the next plane down here to Mexico. I don’t believe my time here is finished, and I look forward to seeing what God will do. We are continually hoping and praying that our Children’s Home will be reopened and our children returned very soon. What a wonderful Christmas celebration that would be for everyone! With God, all things are possible!
Some Scripture passages that have encouraged me during this time are:
Psalm 3, “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about…Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.”
Psalm 62, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? Ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.”
Thank you to all those who have prayed for me and who have encouraged me. As Thanksgiving approaches, I know I have so much to be thankful for, especially the chance to go home and be with family. But as I sit here and write this knowing I’ll be home soon, I can’t help but think of the precious children and teenagers who are in unfamiliar and bad places, wanting to be back home here in the Children’s Home.
Believe me, there is so much more I could write, but this is what I can share for now. Please continue to PRAY for the children to be returned to the Children’s Home here, where they are loved and cared for so very much. Also, please pray for wisdom for the missionaries and staff here as well. If you are interested in learning more about what’s been happening or in giving financially to help this ministry, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook and send me a message. Thank you so much and God bless! Happy Thanksgiving!