Today's post was written by Ann Murphy, a Brook Hills member who recently went on a Short-Term trip through Brook Hills to Mexico.

As a Spanish teacher in the community, I am constantly searching for ways to use and improve my Spanish. I love the Latino culture and have a heart for children and women’s ministry. Anything that can involve both is my life’s pursuit.

After completing an EQUIP workshop with Ashley and Dawn (it's a training for women's small group leaders), I began asking about opportunities that might involve both of these God-given passions. When I heard that there might be a mission trip to Mexico to encourage and teach women in their walks with Christ, I jumped at the chance to go. Sign me up! But, I was told to pray about it and make sure this trip is what God wanted for me.

Ok. So I prayed. Now, most people who know me know that I am direct, opinionated, and driven. When all of these gifts are given over to the dark side, my prayers consist of basically this: “Lord, you have given me a love for Spanish, teaching, and ministering to women, so that obviously means you want me to go on this trip. I really want to go. Thank you for this opportunity. P.S. Just shut a door in my face if you don’t want me to go.” Not exactly seeking the will of God. But, everything was falling into place.

God had given me the gift of Spanish, teaching, and a love for ministering to women. I would be able to practice my Spanish and gain cultural experience for my classroom, while working in ministry. (Do you see what I did there?) Spanish was my objective.

For months leading up to the trip, I was consumed with my abilities (and inabilities) in the Spanish language. I was researching and writing teaching material and meticulously translating it as a means to practice and prepare to speak in “Jesus Spanish” when I landed in Mexico. I agonized over whether I would know all the vocabulary/slang/jargon that the people would use in Los Mochis. I reveled in the praise the rest of my team members gave me for having some sort of command over the foreign language of our destination.

[caption id="attachment_1178" align="alignright" width="300"] The team with some of the ladies at the women's conference[/caption]

Communication rather than the message I was communicating had become my focus. It had begun to consume me so much that when we landed in Mexico and met our host family, I was so overwhelmed with the fear that I would not speak Spanish perfectly, that I did not speak it at all. We had a translator, and most of the family spoke English. Why use it? Why was I even needed? What did I have to offer with my subpar language ability? How could God use me when He had all these other great bilingual people He could use?

That first night, God blessed me with a wise roommate named Sue. After complaining and lamenting over my lack of using the Spanish language, Sue said in a loving yet firm way, “ Ann, you aren’t here to practice your Spanish. You are here to do God’s Work.”

It was as though I had been punched in the stomach. An angel of God named Sue had come to me and spoken words of truth so difficult to hear, but desperately needed for an attitude check.

I had made an idol of my Spanish speaking abilities and was obsessing over my insecurities in speaking the language so much that I had completely missed the reason for being there in the first place. God probably couldn’t have cared less if I had used grunts and hand gestures as long as I communicated the Truth to these women the best way I knew how. After prayer and meditation on this, I knew tomorrow was going to be a new day!

Little did I know, tomorrow was not too far away. Sue and I went to bed around 11 that night and awoke to our hotel door swinging open at 3:00 in the morning. The individual quickly closed the door at our surprised screams; we locked the door and struggled to sleep the rest of the night. Later that morning, we found that we had not been put into the hotel’s registry, so the clerk opened our door trying to give our room away at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Despite little rest, the next day began with complete abandon as I began to speak (in Spanish) to the mother of our host family about the adventure of the previous night. I was able to speak with the children we picked up from the poorest and most depraved (morally and spiritually) area of town to take them to church. I was invited to lead the congregation in a song in Spanish at the church and, throughout the week, translate conversations between the wonderful women of the community and my amazing team members. God opened up doors to allow me to pray with women in their heart language, to make women feel welcome, to help women with low reading skills best understand materials given, and to allow our team members to encourage these women and for these women to bless us with their wisdom as well.

After the first day of instruction, the women asked for two sessions so that women who worked in the morning could come in the afternoon. Therefore, since the need was there, we allowed God to use us for two three-hour conferences a day. The next three days saw about 60 women a day come to hear about Biblical womanhood and what it means to follow Christ in our marriages, families, and mentor relationships through daily discipling and living. The women were sincere and welcoming. Women opened up to us about their real life experiences, asking questions from contrite hearts. God taught us as we taught each other.

As I taught on pride, I was reminded of my earlier revelation: that when you are too consumed in yourself and your abilities, there is no room for God and His abilities. It is only when you realize that He doesn’t need you to do anything, that He invites you to be a part, that God can truly use you for His Kingdom. When you realize that it is not all about you but is all about Him, you can really begin to have peace. As I live on this earth as a sinful human being, I will continue to learn and relearn this lesson. I constantly find myself in the role of Israel and God in the role of Himself as I am continually being sanctified. Thank God for his discipline. Thank God that He made my soul to fear Him and repent. May it always be so…

A month after this trip, we received an email from our host. Many of the women are putting into practice what they learned. They recently held a VBS in multiple locations around the community, and 350 children were exposed to the gospel. These women have inspired us to continue to reach out to others in our community, and God has inspired and encouraged them to do the same. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of this group and to meet this community. As a teacher, I pray I can continue to live in the lesson of God’s teaching first, Spanish teaching second.

Yo soy segundo. (I am second.)