For the last two years, I served with United World Mission through their Avance program. During my time in Mexico City, I felt like I was in 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. We jumped into serving in a ministry that works with women and girls who were sexually exploited and trafficked. As we served in that ministry of loving those women we faced many challenges. In addition to the challenges in our ministry, I found difficulty in trying to make some semblance of “home” as a foreigner.
Despite the obstacles, beauty has flourished as a result of our ministry and my heart is full of gratefulness because of my time in Mexico. In the same way for manure being necessary for plants to grow, the difficulties of our trip showcase the beauty of God’s work.
After my time invested in this ministry, I have become more knowledgeable and aware of how trauma affects others emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. Many of the girls had to do parenting at the center and I watch the impact of the serious importance of self-care and the behavior of teenagers. As I served in this ministry the Lord gave me the unpleasant but necessary taste of humble pie as I navigated the language barrier. Teamwork is vital in the process of making a difference and working under the local leaders is instrumental in the process. Even in the moments where I was not sure if I could keep going, God was faithful to strengthen my heart. Through this time the Lord showed me how to keep loving and giving when it’s not reciprocated or appreciated. Ultimately, I learned the veracity of the statement “there is no such thing as small change.”
Any “big change” that has manifested in someone or something is due to the many “small” actions that slowly impacted the 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. If one girl 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 a girl 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 in the future. 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.
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