Hi. This is Lex. I left Miko in Mexico a little over a week ago, and figured I owed everyone an update. Here’s how our weekend went:
We met at 4 am to drive to the airport, and finally arrived at our final destination at about 11:30 pm. Pastor Tony had told us a man named Monkey would pick us up at the airport, and told us how to find him on Facebook … so we knew what he looked like and didn’t leave the airport with a random Mexican family. (Because two American girls who speak next to no Spanish approaching random men in a Guadalahara airport late at night asking, “Do we go with you?” could never, ever end badly …)
Monkey turned out to be a very nice man (with a very cute wife and baby) … who looked just like his picture on Facebook. He took us to a house that the ministry owns, two doors down from the church itself, showed us our room, and mentioned that Pastor Tony would be there around 9 the next morning as he left.
Miko and I just looked at each other.
A house in Tepic is not like a house in Elgin. There is no yard. The gate to the sidewalk is closed with a chain and a padlock. Monkey assured us that the area was very safe. And then I nearly fell through the top bunk of the bed we were given. We were on an adventure.
Tepic is very charming in the sunlight. We got to see the main church building, where the worship team was rehearsing (they’re awesome). We got to see the three-story concrete structure that houses all the children’s ministry, and that place was cool. (Mexico has a serious street art scene, and they brought it into that place. I’d do youth ministry in there any day.) We got to see the girls’ house for the orphanage, and meet the woman who owns it—as well as most of the girls … because they live there.
After lunch Pastor Tony had to work on a sermon, so we got dropped off and told that Berto (a very nice young man we’d happened to bump into during the La Fuente tour) was going to come by around 3 to take us around Tepic a little bit. Berto doesn’t speak much English, and was apparently a little nervous about the arrangement. We braced ourselves for an awkward few hours.
But Berto showed up with his friend Alec (Alex?) who speaks a little bit better English, and the afternoon was actually kind of hilarious. We did the obligatory tour of the downtown market (where we bought nothing) and the mall that they’re very proud of (“Dis es dee only cool t’ing in Tepic.”) (where we bought nothing).
Then we somehow ended up in a cement arena that had been turned into an ice skating rink.
Berto explained in broken English that people fall and it’s funny, and Miko and I were like, “Yes.” Then the vendors started showing up with strange Mexican snacks, and we were like, “Yes.” Pretty sure we ate all the snacks (’cause when in Rome …) and I’m also pretty sure I don’t really know what at least one of them was. Then there was a professional ice skating show, and Miko is categorically terrible at making decisions so we stayed. And were not disappointed. Because Mexican Michael Jackson on ice. (It will be in the video if I ever get time to edit together a video.)
We then tried sushi—which may have been a mistake—and discovered the hard way that the water heater had been turned off over the holiday break, but we’ll choose to just let Saturday resonate on Mexican Michael Jackson on ice.
Sunday—Church and More Church Day
The main La Fuente church in Tepic has three Sunday services, and is preparing to add a fourth. We were at two, and both were packed (and it isn’t a small room). It was awesome.
La Fuente works all over Mexico, but Pastor Tony’s branch in and around Tepic has planted 13 churches now. Pastor Tony spends most of his time with the new ones, helping new pastors and all that. We drove 45 minutes to a small town built around a sugar cain factory.
When we walked in, eight or 10 kids were eating breakfast. Pastor Tony explained that most of them come without their parents, so the church provides breakfast for the kids. The small concrete building was in the middle of repairs and upgrades, and you got the feeling it had been for a while and would be for a while to come. Three rows of folding chairs were set up in front of a projector screen and a small assembly of mic stands, guitars, amps, and a drum kit.
Worship was at least half Hillsong United, though, and I suddenly felt silly for every time a worship team at home thought we had to have a backing track or some crazy effects to pull off a Hillsong cover. These guys did it with drums, bass, and one guitar, and lo and behold—God still showed up. Pastor Tony preached, and Miko and I did our best to follow.
During two more church services, I realized two things:
First, half of the people we saw at the little church that morning were also at the big church for two more services—presumably because they were only there in the morning to help make the ministry happen. That means that the congregation at the little church that morning was probably a half dozen adults, and a few more children. It’s a new church, with new pastors, and will surely grow, but I love love love all the people who get out there every Sunday morning—and Pastor Tony who spent Saturday afternoon preparing a sermon—for a handful of people. That’s so Jesus.
Second, language is not necessary for worship. As praise turned into worship during afternoon and evening services, Holy Spirit was present and the worship was awesome. I sang Spanish words I didn’t entirely understand because I had to sing something.
Berto came to pick me up at 6 am. I wrote a little note for Miko in the coloring book we’d bought at the Texas airport, and woke her up for a hug goodbye. I knew Monday would be a weird day for her, but I left so full and so excited about Miko’s year in Mexico. She’s going to grow so much, and God is going to do so much through her obedience. (You can read about Miko’s Monday on her blog.)