I have just returned from a week of ministry in Mexico. Wow – the Yucatan Progreso, Mexico truly is a beautiful place! While there, I learned a lot about ministry, people, poverty, and great food. [Jeffrey Dean is a national and international Christian speaker to youth, parents, families, and churches.]
As a parent working to stay family strong, I’m always looking for, as I often encourage you to do the same, the “mission in the moment.” We experienced many “mission in the moment” moments while in Mexico. My daughters weren’t with me on this trip. So, you can imagine I had much that I wanted to share with them about the trip once returning to America. Here are 5 things I want my daughters to know I learned in Mexico. I encourage you to share these with your children as well:
- Living for Christ can be lonely.
This is Maryelana & Norberto. They live in San Diego, Mexico.They are the only Christians in this extremely poor village. Norberto hasn’t worked in over 10 years. Most of the locals living in San Diego consider Christianity to be a religion of voodoo. Maryelana & Norberto have to be very strong in their faith to live in such a place where they often feel rejected and isolated. They both had a sweet and confident spirit about them that can only come from trusting God and relying on Him as their source of strength. I want my daughters to know that living for Christ can cost you! Not everyone is going to accept or respect you for your beliefs. I was truly inspired by the quite confidence of this couple who, in their 80’s, clearly loved one another and loved Jesus regardless of the lack of love they received from others in their village.
- Taking a walk can lead to a conversation.
Each morning while in Progresso, my best friend Mike (who led worship at our services) and I walked 3 miles roundtrip to/from a local restaurant for breakfast. The walk not only provided exercise, but it too gave us the opportunity to meet the locals. Because we chose to walk rather than drive, almost daily we met people of all ages who wanted to talk. Some just wanted us to purchase whatever it was they were selling. But, many genuinely wanted to talk. We had countless opportunities to tell others why we were in Progreso. This reminded me to remind my daughters that there will almost always be opportunities to engage people in conversation. We just have to be willing to “take a walk,” go where people are, and initiate conversations.
- Talking about family removes barriers.
I remember many times as a child watching my grandmother open her purse, pull out her wallet, and begin to show her friends pics of all of her grandchildren. I often felt like my grandmother last week. People throughout the villages we visited consistently asked about my family back home in America. Showing pics of my wife and girls allowed me to initiate conversations with the locals and helped us connect even with our language barriers. One dad told me that his parents were no longer living, that he wasn’t married, but he did have children. We were able to talk about the importance of both of us being good fathers to our kids and doing our part to be family strong in our homes.
- Love is the universal language.
There wasn’t a place I went last week where people refused a handshake or a hug from me. We all want to be loved! 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” The people of Mexico are no exception to the truth of 1 Corinthians 13. When we honor others, are humble before them, share truth with them, and are kind to them, they often have no choice but to respond with the same love. Imagine what kind of world we would live in if we all chose to love as 1 Corinthians 13 describes?
- I need to be more thankful.
We gave away 1,300 bags of frozen french fries in just a few hours on Saturday morning in the small town of Flamboyanes, Mexico. The locals stood in line, some for over an hour, just to have a bag of french fries. I wonder how many people in America would do that? We can get pretty heated if it takes more than 4 minutes to get our food delivered to our windows in a drive-thru here in America! These people waited in line in 96 degree weather for 1 bag of frozen french fries. And, they were extremely thankful for the gift we gave them. I sure need to be more thankful for all of the blessings I have. On any given day, I can climb into my gas-guzzling SUV and drive to any number of fast food restaurants and purchase as many french fries (preferably, not frozen) as I want. Seeing these people who probably have very little food at home stand in line waiting for french fries reminded my of just how blessed I am. I and my daughters need that reminder…often! Watch the people of Flamboyanes receiving french fries!
[Jeffrey Dean is one of the top motivational speakers in the country. He has spoken to over 4 million throughout the United Staes, Mexico, Panama, Canada, Haiti, and Guatemala. Jeffrey Dean has extensive experience powerfully affecting the lives of people of all ages. Do you need a Christian speaker for an event? Contact us to schedule your next church or other event…]