What's Comes After Baja
I collect people.
I’m also a people pleaser and hate to have anyone disappointed in me.
So, saying goodbye to our community in Mexico is like a jab and a right hook to my insecurities
The time went so fast and in the last two weeks I felt like I was keeping a secret from everyone. Ignoring the inevitable as to not disappoint. Everyone around me hadn’t looked at a calendar or social media. (Add to list of “Reasons I love Baja Mexico.”)
Over the course of a couple days, I had to remind our tutors Maggie and Hannah, who had become like another parent to my daughters and a slew of other people including our assistant pastor/firefighter/fitness instructor Juan.
“So really? Next week you’re going to Pennsylvania?” Juan asked for the third time in a course of thirty minutes. Each question giving me that sinking feeling in my stomach.
“Yea, it’s time.” I replied. Grasping for words g to ease my own sadness but, for one of the few times in my adult life, coming up, speechless.
“No chance of making this permanent? Coming back?” He sheepishly continues, as we watch our boys playing on the swing sets after fitness class. Our Tuesday evening exercise classes we lead together one of my favorite times of the week.
“One day I’ll be back.” I say with sincerity. “But God needs me in my east coast life right now, I’m clear on that. It’s just this is hard to leave.” I motion to the grounds of the clinic and surrounding green cliffs, forcing myself to finish. Wishing I could just not speak of the end of this season of my life.
This valley we have been living in, tucked between the Valley of Guadalupe and the Pacific Ocean is blessed by numerous ministries. There is extreme poverty, indigenous people living literally off the land. But there is also a community of missionaries who support this town and those for miles beyond, both in goods and in spirit. Most who come to serve start at Door of Faith, the orphanage settled at the bottom of the valley near the river that often washes out.
These missionaries come to help for a week or six months and the story frequently ends with “and I never left.” They then branch off and create new ministries like Stronger Towers, Morning by Morning Ministries, Siloe, Open Arms and Aleph baja , or help support the huge local Calvary Church , Rancho Libertard. Some keep their full or part time jobs remotely, its much easier than you all think to get back and forth across the border when needed. But most make ministry their full-time commitment.
We are not the norm.
We’re going home.
Very few people know who I am here. And even less care.
I got recognized at Costco across the border in Chula Vista, CA and Target in Scripps Ranch, Ca. But in a town, that’s just a KM marker between Rosarito and Ensenada, there is no QVC, no Amazon book list, and no Instagram influencers. I’m just an energetic “Estas Unidiando” missionary.
And that is freeing.
My identity and sense of worth has never been caught up in my very minor celebrity or success. For better or worse, and to keep therapists on both coasts employed, it’s always been intimately tied to my motherhood. And over the last few years its slowly settling into where it should be, in my service to the Lord.
Now as the conversation begins with all these lovely humans I’ve collected in the last three months, I need to explain who I am in Pennsylvania and how God is using me there. To be honest it doesn’t always feel great. The issue I wrestle with is whether I am going back for ego, for money, for what? But the Holy Spirit always soothingly seeps into my heart and mind and reassures me I’m going back for Him.
In my conversation with Juan I point to the aqua blue, Faith, Family, Fitness pullover from my Studio Park line that I’m wearing and try and explain that I’m a fashion designer, a fitness model, and an inspirational speaker all in one. At its simplest form, I sell stuff on TV (enter the inward cringe, that phrase has never adequately explained what we do at QVC. We are about relationships, were not simply salesmen,) but truly I believe I have the sacred opportunity to make faith come alive in others and on every screen I inhabit.
Faith in the Lord of course by how honest I am when I’m sharing the bibles and journals I create or talking on social media. But also, faith in oneself, in how you look and feel and in the goodness of people around you. Just by talking for a few hours a day on TV I can put a smile on someone’s face and make them feel less alone. That’s inspiring faith!
Oh mi Dio, I am going to miss this place and these people. The lack of stress, less stuff to pull my focus from the Lord and my family, the slower way of life, the ability to help one person at a time and feel so successful as you do. But it is time to go back to serving in the way the Lord needs me to on the other side of the continent.
Every time I start to get sad, or have to say goodbye, that melancholy is quickly followed by a surge of excitement for what God has planned next. One of my best friends asked me kindly on the phone “Is that what you keep telling yourself, so it’s not so hard to leave?”
There is no way I could talk myself out of the pain I feel having to leave Baja. There is only one way that I am not falling apart right now other than by the power of the Lord.
He is infusing me with excitement for what’s next,
He is making each goodbye a teachable moment for everyone I encounter.
He is going to get me back across the U.S./Mexico border and on that plane and back to water from a tap, car line, soccer practice, Zoom meetings, Botox, highlights and into makeup (OMG how do I put make up on again? I may have forgotten how,) and on TV without completely falling into my sorrow.
I fell in love with this song at church. We have it in English, but the Spanish version sets my heart ablaze. The line repeat over and over is:
Yo creo en ti
Sé que lo harás otra vez.
It means “I believe I’ll see you do it again.” It’s a love letter to the Lord, acknowledging He made a way when there seemed to be no way, and you truly believe He can move mountains again.
These three months were three years in the making and there were boulders set in my path to get here. But never once, in my inability to see how it would work out, did I believe He wouldn’t find a way. And I know if He wants me back, He will make the way again. Still right now, His way is back to the home he blessed me with, the career he’s given me a passion for, and the people he has surrounded us with. And because this path back to Pennsylvania is His chosen way, He will continue to fill my heart with excitement even when my brain is screaming from sadness.
As you’ve followed along and been inspired by our family’s missionary work, my prayer is that you will follow us home. See what God does next. Watch how he can use me in the mission field that is so seemingly mundane. Everyone should pursue the Lords urging if He asks you to get rid of all you can and follow Him to a third world country, it’s truly been a highlight of my life. Right up there with babies and marriage. But you should also learn to hear Him when he whispers for you to stay. When He asks you to be a missionary in your own municipality. When He tells you it’s time to go home and help there.
This isn’t a goodbye, that I hate so much. It’s a chance for renewed energy and excitement for the work God has trained me to do. I can’t wait to see what He has planned. Come with me, let's see if we can figure out what He has planned for you too.
Thank you for all your donations over the past three months. You are all the most generous group and you have shown this community in Baja so much love from afar.
I feel confident that with your donations we can get that van or something similar for transportation, a new doctor, nurse and administrator and Siloe can continue to support thousands of people.
My last act as a volunteer is to do something I do best and give you some clothing!
Make your extra tax-deductible donation and we will send you a special edition 5th year Anniversary Hoodie (100-dollar donation) or T-shirt (50 dollar donation.) Wear the symbol of generosity and humanity proudly knowing you are helping save lives.
Then respond to this email with your desired item, size, and address.
We only have 30 sweatshirts and 40 T-shirts left so first come first serve!
Siloe has reached thousands of patients serving them through free medical, dental, gynecology, pediatrics, chiropractic, physical therapy, exercise, nutrition, and psychology.
Your tax deductible donation makes all the difference.