Observations and Oddities

Monterrey- Who, What, When, Where and Why

When I returned from my recent mission trip, I found it impossible to sum up the experience in a quick “elevator speech” or social media post, so I decided to revive my old blog in order to share about the trip. This is the first in a series of posts recapping my time in Monterrey.

When telling a story, I generally find it helpful to start with the basics. So, for the first post in this series, I thought I’d start with the basics of the trip- the who, what, when where and why.

Our mission team was lead and formed by Eastside Christian Church’s student pastor, Zac and included 8 high school and college students and 7 adults: Jenn, Hannah, Kailey (my daughter), Joe, Graham, MaKayla, Kelsey, Olivia, Jordyn, Susan, Christie, Jenny, Tricia and myself.  I mention the team members by name as I want you to love them as I have learned to through this trip, but only by first name to not impose my story upon theirs. If you know any of the other team members, I encourage you to ask them individually about their adventure. While we all followed the same itinerary, each individual had a very unique experience that only they can share.

The team

The team

Our trip was facilitated through Back2Back Ministries, a Cincinnati based ministry that specializes in global orphan care. Back2Back currently serves sites in Mexico, Haiti, Nigeria and India. Back2Back’s model is to serve alongside existing organizations that support orphan care. In Monterrey, they serve children’s homes, facilitate foster care (the first such program in Mexico) and offer the Hope program which provides homes for teens leaving the children’s homes. I could spend pages describing these services, but encourage you to visit Back2Back’s website to learn more.

While in Monterrey, our team, along with a team from Miamisburg Christian Church served at one of the 6 children’s home supported by Back2Back. The home, Casa Hogar Douglas (Douglas), houses approximately 40 school-aged children. More about Douglas and how we specifically served in upcoming posts.

The trip lasted seven days (July 18-24), with 5 full non-travel days onsite in Monterrey. We were hosted at Back2Back’s 5-acre campus, a short distance outside of Monterrey.  The city is the 9th largest in Mexico, and the third most wealthy Mexican city. It is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon and is situated approximately 150 miles from the U.S. border.   The city is an industrial center and exhibits a significant divide between the wealthy and the poor- very few people in Monterrey are considered “middle class”.

The city itself is rather “Americanized”, offering us views of many American restaurants (Starbucks, Chili’s, Carl’s  Jr., McDonalds and Buffalo Wild Wings) and stores (Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, Sears) on the drive from the airport to the campus. Advertising can be found in both English and Spanish and you can even visit Parque Plaza Sesamo (Sesame Place) while there.

Views also include the beautiful Sierra Madre mountains, which surround the city and the campus itself. The campus is located outside of the city in an area that would be considered “country” by the metropolitan residents and where many of the wealthier city dwellers own weekend or vacation homes. Campus consists of a number of buildings offering dormitories for mission guests and interns; housing for staff members, a dining hall/kitchen, medical clinic, swimming pools, a soccer field, basketball court, gathering areas for worship and learning events and 6 Hope program houses (more on the Hope program in future posts). The campus is surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire, a locked gate and protected by a night watchman. While these features were at first intimidating, it quickly becomes apparent they are very standard for the area to prevent theft. (Back2Back was actually the victim of a theft while we were there- something I’ll describe in a summary of Wednesday’s activities). The feel of the campus is welcoming and safe- a self-contained community.

One of the walls of the campus is painted with the Back2Back logo (which represents their 5-point child development plan) and the phrase “haz la differencia en uno”  which translates to “be the difference in one.”  That phrase sums up one the key “why’s” behind this trip.


A view from campus.The “haz la differencia en uno” sign with a backdrop of the beautiful mountains.

From a student ministry perspective, our Eastside students participate in a ministry called One21 which was formed by a group of Cincinnati and Dayton area youth pastors to resource a generation to live like Jesus with hearts on forever. Through One21, our teens participate in a variety of events (camps, retreats, etc.) that are designed to empower them to live a life like Jesus. One21 partners directly with Back2Back to provide the additional experience of serving orphaned and vulnerable children around the world.  As such, the experience further empowers our teens to impact the world for Christ. It completes a circle of teaching them to first develop a personal relationship with Christ, then to share that relationship in community with other believers (their student ministry life groups) and the finally to share that relationship out in the world in order to “be the difference in one” (or many).

From a personal perspective, there were several “why’s” for my participation in the trip. The first was an opportunity to serve beside my daughter, Kailey. While I was fully prepared to step aside and let her go on this trip without me, she not only allowed, but invited me to come along on her experience. I’ve watched Kailey grow into an amazing Christ-filled young woman with a heart for service. Our experience in Monterrey not only grew us both, but also grew us closer together as mother and daughter and as Christ followers.

Other reasons included my own desire to serve; working through an undefined call in my heart to somehow serve orphans as we are called to do in James 1:27; and simply a need to further grow in my own relationship with Christ. Each of these was definitely provided for on the trip and in very unexpected ways which (you guessed it), I will share in the additional upcoming posts.

The experience was life changing for many, if not all of our team members. For me, it has opened my eyes to directions that I would have never considered before and built connections that are clearly intended to be part of my continued spiritual growth. While we provided much needed services to Back2Back and Douglas during our time in Monterrey, we are likely the largest benefactors of the experience.

Stay tuned for entry 2: Travel Day and Arrival on Campus.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: