Mexico, Service Trips

How Serving in Baja Mexico Reframed Our Life- By Danielle Mah & Stephen Chong

By: Danielle Mah

Danielle and Stephen

My husband Stephen and I grew up with not very much. We both remember digging through bags of second hand clothes as kids and our parents working long hours to provide. While our story sounds no different than a lot of our friends and peers, because a lot of their parents are also immigrants, we both believed that there was more to life than just going to school and making money.

Over the years we’ve been involved in serving at church, giving to the homeless in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, helping out at UGM, soup kitchens, fundraising for youth ministries, Fort Mac, and I have been on a total of two now three mission trips. My husband always wanted to do a mission trip so it was a wonderful surprise when we were met with this opportunity.

Danielle and Stephen with a child from the migrant workers community in Baja

Signing up for the Mission trip

When this opportunity came through our inbox I signed us up immediately. Upon receiving the confirmation email that we got accepted to serve in Mexico, I literally screamed at my laptop: “OH MY GOSH!!!!” …three times. This was real. It was going to be our first mission trip together!!

I never thought that our first visit to Mexico would be to an orphanage, and upon arrival we were surprised at how HUGE this ministry is. We were given a tour of all the wonderful facilities and services in this mission. We were ready to do whatever was required of us, with the mindset that this trip was not about us. And so it began.

The trip

Even though our hands were ready, our hearts were heavy. Stephen’s full time work went through some changes and I was struggling to just figure some things out for myself. I realize that I needed some real connections and a reminder of God’s faithfulness. On this trip, there was never a dull moment, and God was indeed faithful to the children of this orphanage and community. We left our baggage behind so that we could serve fully.

We woke up every morning to the rooster crowing and it was such a different feeling, feeling so close to nature and animals. Our room was clean and had hardwood floors, which is much more than what we had both expected. Mens and womens washrooms were separate but communal. Let’s just say shared washrooms allowed us all to get to know each other better… on a whole new level. Our meals consisted of a lot of wraps, beans, and more beans!! We were content and we couldn’t say no to more tacos when we were offered a ride out to visit local taco stands. Mmmmmm fish tacos!!

The work

There were a lot of fun and challenging jobs to be done at the orphanage – cause it was more than just an orphanage. There was a nursery, medical clinic, learning centre, soup kitchen, a Macadamia nut house, orchards, theatre, auto shop, clothing distribution centre, and so much more. Can you imagine the vast amount of tasks that needed to be done? We all worked hard in our specific areas whether it was spending activity time with the teens or sweeping the old theatre.

At first, I expected much fewer things to do since the mission trips I’ve been on had few and redundant tasks. Here, I could be doing something new each day. There were also opportunities to create relationships with the children and on the last day I received a surprise hug from one of the teen girls, Janeth. How I wish I had taken a selfie with her but I just decided to enjoy the moment. By choice we went without wi-fi internet for the duration of our week’s stay and not only did we survive, it was the best decision ever!

Life lessons 

On Tuesday we visited children who lived in community housing, it was an hour or so drive outside of the orphanage. The parents of these children work in farmlands and the children here have much less than what the children at the orphanage have. They were not able to go to school and the living space was very small. We played with the children and fed them peanut butter and milk. They each lined up with cup and spoon in hand and when they received their treat, they wore the happiest smiles on their faces. They were grateful, regardless of how little we could give compared to their needs.

I spent some time also catching up with the workers and people who serve long and short term at the mission. Those were also impactful moments for me because some have made sacrifices to be where they are today, all because they believe in doing something greater and they wanted fulfillment in their lives through serving others.

This trip was truly enriching for the both of us. A lot of the times, people go to a place like an orphanage or a third world country and we think we are doing the poor a favor, but in reality and in many ways, we are the ones who are poor. We are poor in faith, poor in mindset, and poor in relationships. The ones we call “poor” know how to live a life one day at a time, enjoying the present, cherishing relationships. They are rich in meaningful relationships and are not distracted and obsessed with the things that we on a daily basis pile onto our plates. Sometimes these are things we don’t need and don’t serve us in a positive way.

We both came back realizing that to serve in the mission field is essential to regaining what was lost – a meaningful life, one that isn’t about us or things, but one that is about connections and serving others.

Building the USANA business

To all our associates and friends building the USANA business, a mission trip will remind you of its true purpose – it is to serve, just like this trip. And with this mentality and motive you will serve many through your USANA business.

Thank you Dr. Myron Wentz and True Health Foundation for showing us it’s possible that the healthiest family can be any family on earth, without borders, without limits, that we can reach out and give Usanimals to children in another part of the world and provide nutrition and friendships! Thank you so much that we got to play a small role in partnering with you to be a part of this grand vision!

Remember, 100 percent of all donations made to the USANA True Health Foundation ALWAYS go toward changing lives across the world.

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