No Such Thing as Small Change
For the last two years, I served with United World Mission through their Avance program. My time in Mexico City was like a pressure cooker of growth and experience. I never could have imagined living what I have lived, facing what I have faced, nor learning what I have learned. The ministry we jumped into together to love and serve women and girls who were sexually exploited and trafficked has been full of challenges. Trying to make some semblance of “home” as a foreigner had its challenges as well.
Reflecting on this time in Mexico has left me with a heart full of gratefulness more than anything else, because amid the obstacles and difficulties, real beauty has flourished (much like manure being necessary for plants to grow).
I am now more knowledgeable and aware of how trauma affects others emotionally, spiritually, and relationally; the serious importance of self-care; the behavior of teenagers (I think more than half of my time with the girls at the refuge had to do with parenting in some way or another); the unpleasant but necessary taste of humble pie (operating in another language is very humbling!); the reality that a team is what it takes to make a difference; the value of working under the leadership of locals as a foreigner; how faithful God is to strengthen and renew your heart (especially in those moments where you’re not sure if you can keep going); how to keep loving and giving when it’s not reciprocated or appreciated; and the veracity of the statement “there is no such thing as small change.”
Any “big change” that has manifested in someone or something is thanks to the many “small” actions that grew and formed that change along the way. So whether a girl is finally recognizing the beauty and worth she has, if she decides to encourage another girl (who she had insulted the week before) during an exercise class, if she decides to hold onto hope in the midst of pain, if she chooses to keep studying to move on from 5th to 6th grade at the age of 15, or if she made the step to live on her own and start working, it was thanks to the collective influence of many who played their part in offering their prayers, financial resources, conversation, energy, advice, love, care, or time, and so much more.
Now that my time in Avance is up, I am uncertain of where God will lead me. I hope to return to serving in a Spanish-speaking context in the future, but for now – we will keep being a part of these small changes in some way or another.
by Cecilia Padilla, serving in Mexico City, Mexico.