Allison Schneck is a 3rd year Intercultural Studies student who is interning in Guadalajara, Mexico with the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (Ascend program). Allison is working alongside long-term missionaries in Guadalajara and is focused on language learning, culture learning and relationship building.
There’s been a change of plans.
At the beginning of February, I went to Ixtapa (on what was supposed to be a two week trip) to see what other missions looked like in Mexico. Upon arrival we met with a man who uses his vacation time in Mexico to help a school at a garbage dump. I moved in with my lovely billet family, a pastoral couple in Ixtapa/ Zihuatanejo, and began to see what their ministry is all about. From them, I learned that ministry happens when we die to ourselves and offer our time, our families, and our lives to the One who saved our souls.
The first day we went to the school at the dump, I saw kids who, by comparison to me, have nothing. But I also saw a light in their eyes. And I think that light is Jesus. Where there is darkness, there is hope found in the eyes of children. Upon arrival we found out the main teacher had gotten sick the night before and wouldn’t be able to come to school for a couple days. Then we found out that she was in the hospital. Doctors told her that because of her health conditions, and the poor conditions at the dump, that it was too dangerous for her to ever go back and teach at the dump again. This left the school which usually has three teachers with only one, because this teacher’s daughter also had to leave the school to take care of her Mom. A few doors opened, and I received the opportunity to stay at the school helping for about a month.
After I finished my two week stay, I moved in with the other missionary/teacher at the school. From her I’ve learned that leaving everything for the sake of the Kingdom is worth the sacrifice.
I’ve been working at the school every day, helping to teach reading, writing, and math. School starts in the morning with breakfast at 8:00. After breakfast the elementary and high school students go to their classrooms and start their lessons. Recess is at 10:30-11:00 and we finish the day at noon with a Bible story.
I can’t even explain how beautiful it’s been.
It felt like waking up.
It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been important. I think the most important things in life are the hardest. Through this experience I’ve discovered that at our most basic level, all people are the same. We need to have a safe place where we can be loved. Which is really cliché, but it’s really true.
We can have all the riches of the world, but if we don’t have a safe place where we can go, and if we don’t feel loved, we’re going to feel a void. We need places where we don’t have to live up to expectations. We need places where we can be ok with being ourselves.
Only Jesus is that safe place. Only Jesus is that love. Only Jesus fills that void.
At the end of the day, working at the school at the garbage dump is like working at any other school. Yeah, there might be a couple of different disciplinary issues because of the environmental circumstances that the students grow up in, but the remedy is the same: love and safety.
At first I thought I could love these kids by asking myself “How would I love this person if they were Jesus?”
And that’s all happy sunshine and rainbows until you have to pry kids off the wall.
On my own I don’t even have the capacity to love a perfect God, how will I ever love an imperfect person?
So the questions becomes not “How would I love this person if they were Jesus?” but, “How does Jesus love this person?” and the answer is found in asking, “How does Jesus love me?” When we understand that we can actually only love because he first loved us, everything changes.
When I look at the ways Jesus loves me, I find joy comes like manna every morning.
When I look at the ways Jesus loves me, I find freedom to do the things that God created me for.
When I look at the ways Jesus loves me, I find the Holy Spirit inside of me waiting for me to let him love people through me.
All I want to do with my life is die to myself and let the Spirit love through me.
Please pray that the health of this one teacher would continue to improve. She is out of the hospital now and is recovering back at home. She plans on teaching the high school students in her home as soon as she is able.
Praise God that He provided new teachers to take on the kindergarten class! He is faithful to provide if we just ask!
Pray for continued health and safety at the dump.
Pray that the Light would shine into the deep darkness that is evident at the dump. Pray that hope would burst through in a crazy way, and that the love of Christ would be deeply experienced by the kids that come to school, and by their families.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.