Ensenada STM 2017--Regresamos!!
It’s been a week since the team has served in Ensenada. I kept trying to write this post earlier this week! But actually, it was a good thing I didn’t because my interactions with certain people throughout the week helped me process what I experienced and learned in Ensenada. God has definitely been speaking to my heart and showing that He has perfect timing in everything. We only need be still in His presence to hear Him speak.
Day One (Friday)
Friday mostly consisted of driving down to Ensenada. We stayed at an all-men’s rehab facility and church called U-Turn for Christ. There, we met Oscar’s cousin, Guty, and other people from churches in California. To kick-off the weekend, we had Friday night worship together and it was absolutely beautiful when the men from the facility were worshiping in Spanish. The music wasn’t perfect but the men would still be raising their hands and shouting out their praise for God at the top of their lungs. I loved this moment because I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in the room, presiding over this weekend of ministry. It was like experiencing a glimpse of heaven.
Day Two (Saturday)
Saturday was our first day of outreach ministry! We drove to a local park in Ensenada and set up stations for food, hair and nails, washing of feet, games, bike repairs, and face painting. Worship and messages were given throughout the day.
I helped out in the hair and nail ministry. I love working with children, so it was a huge blessing to serve these girls with the simple act of braiding their hair and painting their nails like an older sister would do. I asked them about their favorite Disney princesses and danced with them to the worship music because I felt it was important to invest time in the young girls of the community. I wanted to show them that although I was a stranger, I still cared for them and wanted to listen to what they wanted to share.
Ty, Oscar, Xristian and Jonny helped with the games and also evangelized to the people in the park. Ty had an amazing experience of sharing the Gospel to a boy named Edgar and seeing him receive Jesus into his heart. Edgar has a mother and younger sister that don’t know Christ so I’m really praying that he can share the love of Jesus with them!!
On Saturday, I really felt God’s presence and divine timing because I met Marcelo, a man who helped with the hair/nail ministry, and prayed for him. It was by God’s design that I was serving beside him because although I had just met Marcelo, he felt comfortable enough to share his testimony of a dark past and I could understand and empathize with him because of experiences that I’ve had. He and his wife have been Christian for 2 years but have served in Ensenada with U-Turn at least 5 times!! Being able to pray for Marcelo really reminded me of the grace and miracles of God.
Day Three (Sunday)
On Sunday, we drove to another location to set up a clothes drive for the local community and provided worship, food, music, and the Word of God. During the weekend, I met Destiny (from another church). I was so excited to go into the neighborhood with Destiny and some other people to share the Gospel with anyone we would meet on the streets.
Truthfully, I’m very uncomfortable with this type of evangelism because it’s not one of my strengths. But because of that, I felt it was good to keep challenging myself! Along the road, I met a woman and tried to ask her (in Spanish) if she knew Jesus. But I’m pretty sure I did a poor job of witnessing which was a discouraging feeling. At this point, I really wanted to go back and just help with the clothes drive because I felt inadequate in evangelizing.
But 5 minutes after, we met 3 girls waiting outside a Korean church! They already attended church in Ensenada but I figured, why not get to know these girls? Karla, Deborah, Genesis, and Karla, are finishing high school or nursing school. Karla needs prayer for stability in her family. Deborah needs prayer for her relationship with God. And Genesis needs prayer for an opportunity to serve in a fellowship once she goes to college. There was this sense of joy and ease when I was talking and praying for these girls. I enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned about God throughout my struggles. I felt compassion for them when they shared their struggles. I loved encouraging them. From this experience, I realized a couple of things.
All of my interactions throughout the weekend taught me that there are different forms of evangelizing. Evangelizing isn’t just giving free prayer or sharing the Gospel on the streets. It’s also interacting with children and mothers while braiding their hair. It’s listening to someone’s testimony. And it’s encouraging people who are already Christian in their walk with Christ. I may not be the best fit for evangelizing to non-believers. But God can still use me to evangelize in other ways such as encouraging struggling Christians through service and words of endearment.
Looking back, I think my feeling of inadequacy was misplaced. God was letting me wrestle with my heart so that I could be prepared to meet Deborah, Genesis, and Karla and witness to them. God’s timing and plan for me is perfect.
What about now that we’ve returned (regresamos) home?
I know that our team has a lot to think about in terms of missions. Oscar is spending the next whole year after college to do missionary work. Jonny shared to the group that he found himself really getting to know the other people serving with us from other churches. Ty is considering future mission trips. Xristian is discovering ways to mobilize people of the church to get involved in missions. It's all so amazing to see how God works in each of our lives to affect how we respond to this trip in Ensenada!!
For me, if it’s in God’s plans, I’ll keep serving on future local short term mission trips. But truthfully, I feel like God may be calling me in a different direction. I want to use my aspirations to become a nurse to interconnect with my love for missions. Right now, I’m focusing on listening for God’s voice so that I can follow Him to where I need to be in my spiritual walk. I really want to serve others and use my gifts and future career to reach people so I’m really listening for God’s instruction in those areas of my life.
The Ensenada trip is over, but I would love it if you could still pray for these things!!!
Team Prayer Requests:
1. Pray that our team can process what they’ve learned/experienced and will listen for God’s voice.
2. Pray that the seeds that were planted will be watered by local churches.
3. Pray that U-Turn for Christ can continue to do outreach in the local communities.