Snapshots + stories of my experience serving with the Ethos team in Mexico’s Copper Canyon!
The Road to Guacayvo: Home soil preparation.
Sitting outside Beatnix cafe, sipping something sweet, enjoying the sunshine and the company of my dad and grandma, my plans for the next few weeks involved wedding season preparation, some reading, and maybe even a family vacation. I had no idea that a quick phone call from a friend would change all that.
Cue Lindsey. My phone rings and her cheerful voice greets me and informs me that they are looking for someone to join the Ethos Mexico Mission team after another member had to back out last minute.
A couple months prior I had expressed interest in going on this trip and serving in Mexico. But after much prayer I didn’t have a peace about it, and hoped someday I’d have the opportunity to go. And here I was. 12 days before the trip being offered the opportunity to go! I took 24 hours to pray about it and talk with my family. This time I felt a peace about it. I called Alessandro (one of the leaders) to say, “I’m coming!” Those words were followed by a huge sigh that broke into a nervous laugh. That was the first time I had said it out loud. It was a subtle but overwhelming moment.
So, 11 days on the countdown. 11 days to pull together the funds (and praise God it was completely sponsored in 7 days!), acquire the hiking gear & pack, take Dukoral (worst!), and finish all my outstanding photo projects. The early Saturday morning came and I was off to Mexico with the team – some of whom I had just met that day! Everyone was very welcoming and we bonded quickly.
Our team landed in El Paso, Texas and then drove across the border to Juarez. It was incredibly windy! The ministry we worked with has an Institute in Juarez, so we stayed there for a couple nights. Pastor Tomas (who founded the ministry) also pastors a growing church there (as well as El Paso… he cross the border to preach a Sunday afternoon service every week!), which we visited the next day. It was a blessing to have their church pray over us before going into the Canyon. Such loving, kind people. I don’t need to speak the same language to know that.
The next day we were off to Rio Chico, a beautiful ranch ~6 hours away that has been donated to the ministry’s use. We arrived at golden hour (best!), and organized all our ministry supplies before heading into the canyon the next day.
Madera + The Drive.
The drive to get into the canyon took the entire day. But I actually enjoyed it; it was awesome getting to see such unfamiliar landscapes. We stopped in Madera to get all the food and additional supplies we would need while in the canyon. This also meant stopping at the candy store! Chris, Jacob, and myself were in charge of picking the piñata. We named him Oso Cute (“oso” is spanish for bear)!
As we began to enter the canyon my jaw dropped. It was so beautiful! The sun went down and the eventually the paved road ended. All that remained was the bumpiest, most unsettling 2-hour trek I’ve ever experienced. The descent involved 3-point turns, and stopping the car to let the breaks cool. Thankfully it was dark and I couldn’t see the steep drop we were teasing as we rode down. We finally made it to Guacayvo, the village where the orphanage/boarding school is located, anticipating the week ahead.
The next morning I awoke to find myself situated in the majestic splendour of the Copper Canyon. Guacayvo is about 1200 ft. above the canyon floor. But from the top of the canyon it’s about 4200 ft deep. It truly is breathtaking. I also felt somewhat enclosed after such an extensive trek into the canyon. Now I understand why the Tarahumaran tribe fled into the canyon with the Spanish Conquistadors came: it’s really hard to access.
Sandra, the lady who runs the orphanage/boarding school (check the Engagement Session I did for her and her fiancé – a personal highlight of the trip!), gave us a tour of Guacayvo. The orphanage/boarding school has about 100 children – children who have been abandoned, who were malnourished and near death, who have lost many family members to starvation and disease – these children are now learning about Jesus, laughing & playing with other kids, being fed and cared for, and able to attend school and learn important life skills (like herding goats, tending to the land, etc). What the ministry is doing there truly amazes me! While in Guacayvo our team did regular VBS & activities with the kids, as well as help construct housing for the teachers.
Below: Apparently Oso Cute wasn’t hollow! Julia & I spent 45 minutes de-stuffing the bear before adding the candy.
Below: This is Emilio, the little boy I’m going to start sponsoring!
Below: While we were there it was Mexico’s “Day of the Children” – a perfect occasion for Oso Cute’s debut!
Below: Little Gracia. The snuggliest four-month-old. She brought me such joy!
Below: Lindsey passed the guitar to me when she had to leave to prep for something our team would be doing later. She told me she would come get me when we were ready start. She forgot – and I’m so glad she did! It was a wonderful time playing and singing with the kids. I’m thankful that kids tend to ignore the language barrier and just enjoy playing and being with you (most of the kids speak Tarahumaran and are learning Spanish).
Below: the morning light in Guacayvo.
Below: PHOTO NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART (OR VEGETARIANS. ESPECIALLY NOT FOR VEGETARIANS).
Below: These kids amaze me the way they play and run on the rough terrain in the canyon!
Though Guacayvo was, for the most part, our “home base,” while in the canyon we visited other villages for church, food & clothing distribution, and vbs. And of course, since the terrain doesn’t accommodate automobiles, we hiked to these villages. Keep an eye out for blog posts of those experiences!