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By BECCA OWSLEY firstname.lastname@example.org I just returned from Mexico, and other than having a touch of Montezuma’s Revenge, everything went OK.
Our group of 14, along with two other groups, handed out 9,599 gospels to homes in Mazatlan.
Each morning we walked in the communities around local churches and handed out the gospel of John or Matthew and invited them to nightly events.
Every conversation would start out, “Tengo un regalo para usted,” which translates into English as “I have a gift for you.” The phrase still repeats in my head because I said it hundreds of times. Then there were many awkward moments as people began speaking to us in Spanish as we tried to understand them.
I got used to speaking in my broken Spanish and still say “gracias” instead of “thank you” at restaurants and stores.
We saw a variety of homes in Mazatlan. There were elaborate houses with lovely tiled patios and front gardens and there were shacks where the home may be two poles with a tarp over the top. It was hard to grasp the contrast between the homes near the resort area and the homes with nothing located a few miles away. The kids in the youth group were greatly affected by what they saw.
Of all my experiences in Mexico, one stands out as surreal. My group of eight people were the first to be sent to the poorest area in the town. We were dropped off in a van in an area not on the map and covered a couple of streets in the neighborhood. We were overwhelmed by what we saw.
While still in shock by our surroundings, suddenly out of the silence we heard “Wake Me up Before you Go Go,” by Wham ringing through the air. We all just looked at each other for a minute not sure if we should stay in our current state of confusion or laugh. We never found the person who liked to blare 1980’s soft rock from his stereo but were thankful for the humorous moment.
We traveled through town by a number of transit modes — crammed into one of the missionary’s vans, on a crowded non-air conditioned public transportation bus or in the back of a pickup truck with a canopy over the bed and benches along each side for people to sit on, which became our favorite way to travel.
The kids from North Carolina and Virginia got a kick out of riding on the back of a truck. Our group from Kentucky would laugh because all of us had ridden in the back of a pickup before — just not at 60 mph darting in and out of traffic.
Personally it was the most comfortable ride I ever had in the back of a pickup truck. Growing up on a farm, I usually sat on the wheel well or held on to the side of the truck while bouncing across a field. Having a bench was an added comfort.
In these trucks the drivers also blared music, loudly. One night the girls in my crew asked the driver for American hip hop. What we got was a lovely collection of 1980’s hair band music and disco songs such as “We’re Not Going to Take It,” “Kung Fu Fighting” and “Staying Alive.”
We also got to go to a Mexican marketplace and bartered for the best price for our purchases, which was another interesting experience.
I think the biggest shock for the kids was the meat market in the middle of the market place. They could look over and see a large cow leg or a pig’s head smiling at them. Our youth leader walked the kids through the meat market before lunch just to aggravate them.
In the middle of all the fun and sun soaked in by the beach, a lot of good work was done. On Monday and Wednesday nights we did Bible schools in the communities. We handed out Frisbee discs, played with children, face painted and made balloon animals. Some little girls even got their nails done.
I did a lot of face painting because I could use some of the Spanish I knew. I could ask them what color they wanted and what they wanted to paint on their face with my limited vocabulary.
On Tuesday and Thursday we showed “Facing the Giants” in Spanish at a couple of parks. The local Mexican pastors requested this film so the people they were trying to reach could grasp the theme, which is that nothing is impossible with God.
People’s lives were changed during this trip from both sides — those who were being ministered to and those who went to minister. I know I saw things and met people I will never forget and am thankful for the experience. Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.