By Sarah Moriah
About a week ago, I returned to the states after spending 30 days at an orphanage in Baja. I didn’t really know completely what I was getting myself into as I waited at the San Diego airport for some woman named Beth, to pick me up and take me to Mexico. I knew I would be at an orphanage, and I was praying that God would teach me and give me some sort of clarity about my future. What I got out of my experience at DOFO was so much more.
I shared a small house with 6 other female interns, while the one male intern got the trailer. (sorry, man) There was a missionary family on staff at DOFO with four kids and two amazing parents. These parents were the ones who led the seven interns at DOFO that month. They had lined us up with a basic plan for the month which included; visiting other ministries around baja, serving at the orphanage with the other staff, listening to speakers come in and share their testimony/story/vision for something God is guiding them to do, and finding out what it really looks like behind the scenes, to be a missionary.
About twice a week we would go out and visit other ministries to see what else God is doing in Baja. We went to two special needs/disabled orphanages called One27 and Puerta Hermosa. I’m not quite sure if it’s possible to put into words why these orphanages stuck out to me so much, but I distinctly remember feeling like God was a huge part of these places. I saw God working through the hearts and attitudes of the volunteers who worked directly with these kids. They selflessly took care of their hygiene, food, and everything else while exhibiting joy. Some of the jobs they had to do were not so pleasant (ex. Taking care of toe fungus… I volunteered for that one), but they all remained joyful while serving these kids who are physically unable to care for themselves.
We also visited a daycare called Open Arms. The vision is to keep families together by providing kids a place to go while their parents work. Most often, the children that are in orphanages in Mexico aren’t true orphans, it is just that their parents can’t afford to take care of them, neglect them, or are abusive towards them. Open Arms allows kids to be watched for free, so that their parents can keep their jobs and continue providing for their family. We were also able to visit Siloe, which is a medical clinic in the process of being built, and The Canyon, which is a village built around a garbage dump, in a very poor part of Tijuana. We also did an ‘orphanage blitz” day where we went and visited four different orphanages in one day. Those in charge of the internship didn’t want us to think that DOFO is what all orphanages in Mexico are like, and they wanted us to really understand the wide variety of ministries that are there.
We had many speakers come in and share their stories with us. It was amazing to hear everyone’s different backgrounds and how they ended up in Mexico. We heard stories all the way from a couple raised in a church in California and ending up in Mexico to a couple who were church planters in England for 40 years and then felt called to Mexico. One of the main themes that I took away from all the speakers is that God always provides. These people were jumping in feet first as soon as they heard God call them to a certain place. They left their security, their comfort and had just enough faith that God would provide them with the sources they needed to make their vision work. One speaker even cashed in her 401K and headed down to Mexico within just a couple of weeks of hearing God’s call. The faith I was able to see through these speakers was truly inspiring.
On our off days, we would spend them at the orphanage. We would interview new kids for child sponsorship, print off pictures for update letters, label envelopes thousands of times, and play with the kids. We also got to do a reading program with some of the kids. We were each given 2-3 kids who were struggling with reading, and they had to read to us 15 minutes everyday to win a prize. It was often entertaining because I don’t speak much Spanish, yet I’m trying to teach a child how to read it. This was probably one of my favorite things we did with the kids, because it allowed me to build relationships that I couldn’t have built without it. It was very difficult to say goodbye on the last day.
It is nearly impossible to capture all that happened in my month in Mexico, so I have tried to at least acknowledge some of the highlights. I went to Mexico thinking that I was going to make a huge impact, and serve like never before… but I don’t think I was expecting the impact that the children and staff at DOFO made on me. I learned that I need to trust God more, I need to listen for his calling and leading, and that sometimes you don’t quite see the full picture when you are following God. But that’s okay, because if you are truly listening to him, he will provide you with all that you need.