In the summer of 2007, I took a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico with my church youth group. Before I went on this trip, I talked to my friends and they all said that Mexico was pretty and that Tijuana was a lot of fun. I was starting to get excited about Tijuana. I was nervous about it at the same time because I’m a girl that really despises Mexican food and that was going to make this mission trip a very long one! But very little did I know I was going to learn a simple but very important lesson.
When we arrived, the driver took us straight to the poorest part of the city. The roads were all mudded with sewage, they were incredibly bumpy and the van we were in had seats that weren’t bolted to the floor. The ten of us were rolling around, our heads were hitting the ceiling, and our bodies were getting pushed together. We finally arrived at the house where we would stay which was right next door to the girls’ orphanage.
We were going to be there for ten days working with three different orphanages, a girls’ home and two boys’ homes. I personally love spending time with kids, so I knew that I was going to have a lot of fun. We ate breakfast and dinner everyday, which I didn’t enjoy the food very much, with the girls and we sometimes had lunch with them or we had it with the boys. After breakfast we helped clean up and then we were off to one of the three orphanages. From mid-morning to early evening we were doing construction work and had a Bible class with the kids. After that was done, we would go back to the girls’ home and eat dinner, share life stories and tell a Bible story through puppet shows with them.
The girls accepted us as family the very first time they saw us, despite our differences. Our translator was giving us a tour of the orphanage when all of the sudden I felt this little hand grab mine. I looked down and saw these big brown eyes, a bright smile, and matted brown hair that belonged to a five year old girl name Annie (Ann-I-E). The rest of the night and the next ten days, each time we were together she was in my lap, holding my hand, riding on my back, or sitting on my shoulders. We grew very close to each other, even though we barely spoke a word to each other because of the language barrier.
The kids didn’t have to be orphans to live in these orphanages. They could be runaways, their parents could bring them there if they could not afford to take care of them, or the kids could choose to go there themselves. Parents are allowed to visit their children every Sunday. So on Sunday, Annie comes running to me, grabs my hand and drags me to the front door. Her parents were standing there with Ruby (Annie’s younger sister) and Annie wanted to introduce me to them. At that moment I realized that kids are kids no matter where a person goes.
Even though we didn’t go to the best part of Tijuana, I had to eat the food that I hate, and it was hard to communicate with one another because of the language barrier, I still learned an important lesson. No matter where you go a child just wants to be a child and simple little gestures of love can mean the world to them.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.