I was 14 when I moved in 2005 from my native Mexico to the United States. My mom and three younger sisters (ages 12, 8 and 8 months) accompanied me while my dad, a successful lawyer, stayed behind to work. I arrived in El Paso, Texas, knowing no English.
Three months later, my dad called. He was very sick and needed a kidney transplant right away. My mom asked me to take care of all of my sisters for a couple of weeks and returned to Mexico. The two weeks turned into three years.
I was a kid who still spoke no English raising three other kids in a foreign land. I endured bullying and persecution, even from people who had also migrated from Mexico to the U.S., because I did not know English. This made for many difficult days at school and in life — until an American classmate, who did not know Spanish, reached out. My new friend helped me learn English and do my homework.
After about a year, my sisters and I moved to Amarillo, Texas, to be near my mom’s family. Grandma helped us sometimes, but we were still living on our own and I was still trying to figure out how to run a household. My grandma wasn’t strict, but she did have one rule: attend church on Sundays.
I didn’t have a relationship with God. He was just a figure that was sometimes talked about at home. My grandma had been a believer for decades, and she had occasionally taken us to Sunday school. For me, going to church felt strange.
I never thought I’d have a real encounter with God. But I did. It was the first time I heard I could have a relationship with him. I completely fell in love with God, and surrendered my life to him. I was still a young teen.
I felt accepted and loved unconditionally. God didn’t care where I came from or that I didn’t speak English or had a thick accent. He loved me just as I was. He comforted me and gave me a joy that I had never experienced during one of the toughest times in my life.
Four months after accepting Christ, he called me to be a missionary. I wanted to share his acceptance and love with immigrants — people like me. I wanted to let them know, that even though it seemed like everyone around them didn’t care about them, and were even mean to them sometimes, Jesus loved them unconditionally — that Jesus didn’t see their skin color, mother language or home country as something against them. He was the one who created them exactly how he wanted them to be. And he loved them the same as any other person.
“I see God working in the hearts of these people and transforming them.”
After graduating from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2014, I was given an internship opportunity in Europe. I spent the summer working with immigrants with different backgrounds and beliefs — loving people who were going through what I had gone through — because they too were doing it alone. After that summer internship, I returned to the United States for a time and then was appointed to return to Europe, where I served again for two years.
Some locals disapprove of immigrants settling there, refusing to speak slower or clearer, giving disapproving looks or pushing them while walking on the sidewalk. Therefore, immigrants isolate themselves and create their own communities and businesses. They do not feel welcome in this foreign land.
I shared my story of love and hope with them, and they could relate to all those feelings of rejection, loneliness and being homesick. By sharing my journey of transformation and how God made me new through faith in Jesus, I see God working in the hearts of these people and transforming them.
“I have seen how being hospitable and just opening the doors to my house has changed someone’s life.”
During my time in Europe, it has been amazing to see how God brought us together just to be this community of believers. We have become a tiny family.
People don’t realize how hard it is to leave your country and leave behind everything that is familiar. I have seen how being hospitable and just opening the doors to my house has changed someone’s life.
I would go through everything again just to be where I am right now because God is using all of it to further his kingdom.
I celebrate that I am a Mexican who is able to reach out to other cultures from around the world wherever God leads me.