Trust me -- I love Thanksgiving as much as the next person. Sweet potato casserole is the one dish that I wait all year for. My dad spends all morning cooking the perfect turkey, I get to be surrounded by my extended family, and having a super extended weekend is the dream. In fourth grade, I even wrote a Thanksgiving play that I then forced my family to act out. You could say I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving. So something that causes me to miss out on that each year must be pretty important to me.
And it is. The reason that I've missed every Thanksgiving and Spring Break since I left for college is because of Mexico and the things that God has been doing and will continue to do down there. He's working both in me and in the people who live there and I think you should experience it too.
1. The kids.
For me, it's all about the kids. Since attending APU, I've had the joy of visiting an orphanage several times and there are few things that bring me more happiness than getting to be with them. They have so much energy and joy which can make the week exhausting, but so rewarding. They truly just want to love and to be loved, which gives us a great opportunity to remind them that they're loved by us and by God. They make the freakishly early morning wake up call bearable, and almost enjoyable
2. The team.
It's cool to see a group of strangers get to know each other over the course of weekly team meetings and then finally come together as a group to serve during the trip. Being surrounded by other people who would give up a week of their life to not shower and sleep on the dirt, all for the purpose of serving others can teach you things. I vividly remember seeing a group of girls willingly clean the entire orphanage from top to bottom, and then, without prompting, begin to pray over the kids and their futures while walking throughout the grounds. It was a blatant reminder to me that there's more to this trip than just playing with kids. It was what I needed to be reminded of in that moment, and God worked through my team to show me that.
3. The camp.
Every morning and evening we gather together as a camp to worship, be reminded of our mission, and to be encouraged despite our exhaustion or discouragement. There's so much energy that exudes from this group of people who are exhausted and have been serving all day long, but there's also a feeling of desperation to experience more of God. Our time of corporate worship just has a different feel than normal chapel, which is refreshing to experience.
. The food.
I don't do it for the food, but it is a great bonus. Tacos, tortas and Coca Cola with real sugar? Sounds like a nice perk to me.
Plus, eating across from a face like this is priceless.
5. What God has done in my life through Mexico.
How could I not return to a place where I constantly felt God working in my life? Back in my sophomore year of high school, it was an internship in Mexico that changed my life and brought my relationship with God to a whole new level. Since then, on every extended trip that I've been on, God has revealed something to me - whether about Him, myself or the people around me. Mexico was where I developed my passion for serving, where I finally felt God in a real way and was the first time I truly depended on Him for my struggles. My time in Mexico has shaped me into who I am today, and for that reason, I continue to go.
Originally published on The Odyssey Online.