By Mike Schutz (MOST Ministries Team Member)
My wife (Robin), daughter (Adeline), and I recently went on a mission trip with MOST Ministries to serve on an Eyeglass Clinic in Juarez, Mexico. My daughter has always had a servant mentality and for her senior year of high school wanted to go on a mission trip. Robin has also had a calling to serve in this capacity. God put this on my heart, and we decided we would do this as a family.
Preparing for this trip brought concerns and fears of the unknown, safety, etc. We came very close to cancelling our plans due to these fears. Through a lot of prayer and talking with other team members, we committed ourselves to trust Jesus through our journey.
We traveled to El Paso, TX with 13 other team members from Shepherd of the Lakes Church in Brighton, MI and arrived to stay at Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso near the Mexican border. We arrived on a Saturday evening. On Sunday we attended the Ysleta Lutheran Church service where we were commissioned to go and serve through an eyeglass ministry. We provided eye health information, examination/testing, eyeglass fitting and ministry in Anapra and KM 30 in Juarez, Mexico.
We traveled into Juarez daily from El Paso. Each day around 7:30 or 8:00 AM we crossed the border and returned to El Paso between 4:00 and 5:00 PM. Prior to leaving Ysleta, we ate breakfast with our team and packed our food and beverages for the day. The days in Juarez were very busy. We would each take time for rest and for lunch. The first day was an overwhelming experience. We were all new to the “process” of how everyone seeking eyeglasses came through the different stations. There were 6 stations; eye health/education check, ministry, eye examination, pulling of glasses, dispensing of glasses, and fitting (for the most part in that order). The first day in an area called Anapra, we saw about 150 people come through the clinic. Overall, we served roughly 600 people in the two separate locations. The first two days were spent in Anapra and the last two days were spent in an area called KM 30.
During our time in Juarez we had several interpreters who supported us most, if not all of the time we were in Mexico. These individuals lived in Juarez and were volunteers as well. We could not have done what we did without their support. They quickly became our friends. It was humbling to see how optimistic and positive they were despite the circumstances of the surroundings.
We supported multiple roles while doing the clinic. Robin helped with fitting, pulling glasses and supporting youth activities. Adeline mostly did pulling of glasses (maybe the toughest job of the week). She was exceptional at this job and offered to do other things, but usually came back to this station. She was amazing where she was. I did dispensing of glasses and did this all four days. The language barrier was a struggle at first and something which scared us all a little bit. I was amazed at how quickly we were able to overcome it with the help of our interpreters and learning a few key phrases.
At the end of each day, back in El Paso, we ate dinner and came together for a debrief with our team. What we thought was a trip to help others ended up being a tremendously moving event for Robin, Adeline, and I. We worked together, adjusted and grew. We made new friends in El Paso, Juarez, from our Church and the MOST team. It made us think about different ways we can serve and be of service. Our team had high school aged kids to 80+ and everywhere in between. We learned together serving Jesus isn’t confined to a specific age group. Our team bonded, our family grew closer, and we will serve again.