The Beauty in Staying
I’ve been told that lots of people in the younger generations are willing to go on mission trips, but we aren’t as willing to commit our lives to being long-term missionaries. People say that we don’t like commitment. We don’t like staying in one job for a long time. It may actually be easier for us to keep moving from one place to another. We strive to move on to bigger and better things. There may be truth to those statements, but during my time in Mexico I have been challenged from those stereotypes of my generation.
When I arrived in Mexico as a part of Avance, I began working part-time at the safe house for girls. It’s actually the longest job I’ve ever had. I had never worked prior to my summers in college. I’ve realized I’m a person who likes to learn a lot; so I enjoy having lots of new experiences. If I get stuck in a routine without feeling like I’m doing anything meaningful, I get bored and start looking for new opportunities. However, being at the safe house for almost a year now, I am seeing the beauty in staying.
It took a long time for me to develop relationships with the girls at the safe house. It was hard. At one point I was truly considering switching to another ministry because I felt like I wasn’t helping anyone there. I was ready to move on to something new.
But God was faithful. Even when I was ready to say, “I’m just not made to do this kind of work,” He whispered, “Just keep going.”
After completing my summer internship in Mexico, I decided to go home and raise additional funds in order to return for a full year. When I came back to the safe house, I came back to a lot of changes. There were new staff members and a new outlook on volunteers. My two partners from Avance and I were quickly given classes to teach and received more training, so we knew how we could better support the staff and work alongside them.
These changes gave me more opportunities for meaningful interactions with the girls. I started going there three full days a week instead of one. My time now overlaps with my friends from Avance, which has been very uplifting since we had all been struggling with feelings of inadequacy and inability to tangibly help the girls. We have been able to be of greater support to each other. We have been able to encourage each other in interacting with the girls.
The founder of the safe house told me that the girls had been lacking time to have fun and play in their schedules. I think this unofficially became a big role in our job. We made sure to include games and goofiness into our classes. A big part of what the safe house does outside of therapy and helping them through the healing process is teaching them structure, responsibility, and discipline. I would say all the girls lacked healthy structure and discipline growing up and it is important for them to learn; so, they can mature and function once they are back in society. On the other side of that, almost all of the girls didn’t get to have a normal childhood. They weren’t properly cared for and didn’t get to play. The abuse started when they were young. Because of this, another role we play is to rescue back the childhood they didn’t get to have.
God has also been using this period of “play” to work in my own life. He is drawing out my goofiness and quirkiness; using me to bring joy and light into the house that can sometimes feel like a dark place. God is reminding both myself and the girls that despite all the horrific things that can happen in this life and that has happened to them, He continues bringing goodness into our lives and wants us to walk in joy, with a light heart, and have those times to just ‘play’.
I have been in training since late October and am now beginning to pray with the girls on my own at times. I wasn’t sure how it would go. I wasn’t sure if they would actually feel safe opening up with me and telling me what is on their hearts and minds. Some girls haven’t felt comfortable doing that with me yet, but others have.
This is a new step for me as I’m now not only hanging out with the girls and teaching them different classes, but I’m now addressing deeper issues with them. I truly feel God has led me to this point and am excited to see where He takes me. Sometimes my negative thoughts slip back, and I think, “How I am capable or qualified for these girls to trust in me and for me to actually help them?” But I am quickly reminded of how far God has brought me and know He’s taking me further still. I know that though I still lack many things, but ultimately, He is the one ministering to the girls through me. For some odd reason He chose me for this job and my job is to be faithful to His calling and always open to His guidance.
I’m so grateful to God for pushing me to stay amidst the difficult and the unknown.
By: Cheyenne Klein, serving in Mexico City.