When you're going to another country with your family who has never been outside the United States before, there are lots of things you're unsure of.
Since I've been to other countries before, I kind of knew what to expect, but for my family it was a totally new experience.
I was not sure how my family would handle the possible difficulties we would face in Mexico. I didn't know about the food, the housing or our hosts.
I've worked at Nappanee Missionary Church for three years and so I've heard a lot about our partners in the Juarez, Mexico, area. Francisco and Rosa are pretty much household names for anyone who attends NMC regularly. I knew they were loved by the leadership at NMC but you never truly know somebody until you spend time with them.
When we landed in El Paso, we were greeted by Lucio (third from left), Rosita (second from left) and their baby girl, Ruby (middle). Rosita is Francisco and Rosa's daughter and Lucio is her husband. Lucio speaks very little English but Rosita is fluent in English and Spanish.
It was dark when we got to Texas so there wasn't much to see outside our van, but I listened intently as Rosita and our team leader, Jack Lengacher, caught each other up on things. I didn't realize I was doing it, but I learned a lot about what was going to happen while we were in Mexico simply by listening to that conversation.
When we got to the dorm that night, we were warmly greeted by Francisco (left) and Rosa (right) Ramirez, as well as their son, Ruben (aka Carter) and Othon, a church member. They quickly made us feel comfortable and like we were at home.
As our time in Mexico went on, we were able to spend lots of time with the Ramirez family (including Carter, Rosita, Lucio and Ruby) and got to know them pretty well. Every night after dark we got to play games together and with our hosts. Mexican Uno was the main game, but we also introduced some of our games.
One game that my wife, Katie, and Katie Lengacher introduced was Telephone Charades. It's a lot like regular Charades except that a team of four has to pass on the act to each other until the fourth person finally has to make a guess.
In the picture above, Carter and Francisco are doing their renditions of a rapper. Carter started, and did a great job, then Francisco had to copy Carter's act to Rosa. Something got mixed up in the transition and Rosa thought she was supposed to act like a dishwasher. It was hilarious and they eventually got it right.
While the game was a lot of fun, the best part of it was being able to laugh together and get more comfortable with each other. It created a lot of chemistry within our team, but also with our hosts.
One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was getting to know Carter. He speaks English and Spanish so he helped with a lot of translating. But he was also willing to share his story. On the first day, he took a few minutes to tell me about his life. His story is captivating and encouraging. I am so happy that he is taking steps to strengthen his relationship with Christ.
Also, Carter taught us a lot of phrases in Spanish, including what the Beck song Que Onda Guero? means.
One of the first things I did when I got home was to look up the blog Rosita keeps and find Rosa and Rosita on Facebook.
I don't feel like they are just people I know who happen to live in Mexico. In the words of Katie Lengacher, "I have family in Mexico."