On I-40

August 14, 2015

This is a story from Ginger, one of the awesome volunteer staff members at Deaf Child Hope International. Ginger made a decision to go on a mission trip this July to serve deaf children with one of Deaf Child Hope’s partners in Mexico. Michelle, in this story, is the director of this mission, but the names of the deaf children below are changed for their protection.

Deaf children in Mexico are often considered property…we of Deaf Child Hope know otherwise! We know that the greatest poverty is to be unwanted, unloved, and uncared for but at this mission, an “oasis of hope”, in Mexico, deaf children are finding love and care.

It had been 45 minutes since I told my family goodbye.  I was headed down I-40 toward the airport and I was still crying. I knew that God wanted me to go, and up until that point I had been excited.  I was going to Mexico and I knew it wasn’t completely safe. Satan took that opportunity to whisper all the “what ifs” in my ear, and I was listening to every one. How could I take these risks when I had two precious boys to raise? I started praying.  I glanced at my rear-view mirror and saw a charm that my husband bought me hanging from it.  It read, “Peace on the outside is knowing God within.” I immediately heard God saying: “I got this message for you…shut up the crying and get on the plane! You know I have work for you to do!” So I did!

A couple of days later I crossed the border from Texas into Mexico.  I was prepared for the poverty conditions, but I was not prepared at all for the heart-breaking stories I heard from Michelle who runs a mission for deaf children in Mexico.

Michelle told me about some of the deaf children: Mariana has a history of being physically abused. She is now living at the mission but her mom wants her to return when she is old enough to be a prostitute.  Samual was raped just a few months ago and his rapist, who admitted to the crime, has gone free.  Gabriela is being raised by her older sister because her parents were killed by the drug cartel. Violeta hasn’t been showing up for school and Michelle later learned that she is prostituting, a common practice of teenage girls and their families in Matamoros.  Javier, now a teenager, was also abused as a child and had lived in a house without electricity and water. Thankfully, now he lives a peaceful life at the mission.

But as I walked the paths of this place of hope for deaf children, I was greeted with smiling faces and warm hospitality.  Language wasn’t an issue as we sat around a table and played a friendly but competitive game of UNO.  There were many hand-shaped “I Love You’s” and hugs as most of the deaf students were loaded back into the van and carried home for the weekend.

I spent the next few days getting to know some wonderful Christian people who operate this mission, and a few of the students who live there. Our team painted rooms, helped with lesson plans, and sorted through clothes for a community clothing bank.  We prayed with them, listened to stories about their faith and worshiped with them on Sunday.  On Monday, when the students returned we led activities, read Bible stories and lost many games of UNO.  Although we worked hard, no one worked harder than Andres (the dorm dad) and Michelle and Chuy, the local directors of the project.  Two students were taken to the doctor, a Deaf cell group was hosted, a roof was put on a new addition of the school, and they went out of their way to show us some of the culture of Matamoros.

When it was time to go, I felt like we had not done nearly enough.  I left wanting to do more, but with the belief that I actually would do more.  These were real people to me now; not people I had just heard about, or saw on a website….these were precious people with whom I now had relationships.  How could I not continue to love them?

Peace on the outside is knowing God within.

The next day, I was back in Tennessee driving again on I-40 toward my safe, cool, love-filled home.  I started thinking about all the desperate situations that most of the Deaf children at the mission must face.  How can they live like that? How can they go on when they have parents who hurt them? How can they get up each day knowing that rapists go free? How can they step foot outside when the possibility of kidnapping or death could be waiting? How can they have one ounce of joy sitting in a house with a family who refuses to learn sign language?   Once again, I was sobbing alone in my car. But then I saw my rear-view mirror charm, “Peace on the outside is knowing God within.” God!!   Of course…my new friends are Christians! They have the peace that only Christ can give! They are happy and joyous because they know their God loves them.  The same God who comforts me, comforts them.  That’s why we must continue to help! We have to show more Deaf children that they have not been cast aside! We must show them that love…God’s love…exists!