We should have known when the director of the organization we were serving with in Colorado told us that in his experience traveling to more than 50 countries, Mexico City was his favorite place on Earth. We couldn’t understand why or how this was true, but now we understand.
Arriving in Mexico City was like arriving home to your family, except you had never met this family. We had briefly met Jesús Rodriguez, but that was back when we were living in the DC area, before he had moved to his hometown of Mexico City to plant a church. Now Jesús is the pastor of Doxa Christian Church, and we fell in love with his family, church and city in less than 10 days.
We had no idea that Christianity in Mexico was not widely practiced or accepted until we heard the struggles Jesús has experienced firsthand. Fast forward to more than a year after planting his church, and Doxa is still meeting in the Rodriguez’s living room because it’s so hard to find a rentable space that will allow a Christian church to meet. Catholicism is widely practiced and accepted in Mexico, while Christianity, or the reformed church, is often looked at as something similar to a cult. We know this is not the case, and the joy we saw in the group of 15 Doxa core team members at the two Sunday afternoon Bible study gatherings makes it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t want the liberating truth of Christ to spread. Because our trip coincided with Mexico’s Independence Day, we were unable to see a normal “church service”, where 30-40 people somehow manage to fit in Jesús’ living room, but we did get to party while still producing five videos before we left!
First, take a look at the video we produced that introduces you to Jesús, his mission and vision for Doxa Church, as well as the abundant life these chilangos, or people who live in Mexico City, experience through living life with Christ.
We produced five videos and designed a logo for Doxa in our ten days there, while still managing to tour the center of the capital to see the Zócalo (Mexico City’s main square) and cathedral, aerial views from the Mirador Torre Latino, and of course a protest going on with naked people in front of the Bellas Artes building, just like Cassie had experienced in 2007 when she spent her fall semester of college studying Spanish in Mexico. We also got to know the cute, walkable city within a city of Coyoacan in the Federal District, which is Jesús and his family’s neighborhood where we often went out for gastronomic tours including barbacoa tacos and soup at the tianguis (open-air markets), hot and/or cold Mexican chocolate drinks at Café Jarocho, fresh churros filled with Nutella, condensed milk and/or caramel, or — our favorite meal — tacos al pastor (with pineapple) and grilled steak tacos rolled in avocado with hot, handmade tortillas. If your mouth isn’t watering by now, just wait until you see the photos!
As much as we loved the food in Mexico, what made our time so memorable were the people we met. Not only did we fall in love with Jesús’ family and feel tempted to slip their children in our backpacks when we had to leave, but we also loved the Doxa church members. We were blessed to celebrate Independence Day with them (at a house party and then to “el grito” for fireworks and screaming “Viva Mexico!”) as well as normal gatherings after Sunday Bible study (including a backyard cookout). The company was so warm, welcoming, kind and accepting, and really did feel like our extended family, as we are in Christ.
We got to capture two of the Doxa core team members’ personal testimonials, so if you can understand Spanish, enjoy watching those below.
Jana is Doxa Church’s children’s ministry leader. In her video, she shares her experience of being a single mother in Mexico and how she found out the God she thought she knew was nothing like our Father in Heaven. At Doxa, she found true faith, true fellowship and true freedom.
The second testimony video is Enrique’s story. Here he rawly explains his faith transformation from a lifelong atheist to a new Christ follower.
When the day came to pack up our things and to give four-year-old Joel his room back, we walked Joel to school and got one last cup of chocolate from Café Jarocho before catching a taxi to the airport. We were really sad to leave, but we felt good about the work we had accomplished, the relationships we had made and the future of Doxa Church.
Honestly, it was hard to be excited about the weeklong vacation we had planned for ourselves on the Pacific Coast in Oaxaca, way back when we had built in a break during our missional year. This feeling continued even when we landed in the beautiful Bahías de Huatulco, with absolutely nothing planned to do for the first time this entire year. Thirty minutes after sitting on the beach the evening we had arrived, Cassie had a moment of panic thinking about being idle for the next six days. We quickly booked a few tours, put down a deposit for a moto rental, researched surf breaks in the area and had an amazing week of adventures. The area had changed a lot since Cassie last visited with her sister after her college semester abroad, but the beauty of the area remained. We enjoyed floating in the super salty, crystal clear turquoise water, exploring seven out of the nine bays, disappearing behind magical waterfalls, catching waves (including Cassie!) and dining in nearby, quaint town of Crucecita.
After our week of beach hopping, we made it back to North Carolina to prepare for our next memorable trip. Cassie’s best friend of nearly 20 years, Anna, was getting married in Asheville, and Cassie was excited to be there by her side as her matron of honor. The mountains were rainy but beautiful showing their first signs of fall colors. The few days we had in Asheville flew by attending bridal showers, picking flowers for the wedding party’s bouquets at a flower farm, dining and drinking locally and meeting new people as well as seeing friends as close as family. The wedding was incredibly gorgeous, as was the bride, with so many handcrafted details for the ceremony and reception. Despite her nervousness, Cassie succeeded in making everyone — including herself — cry during her toast, and after dancing, photoboothing, and grazing the desserts, it was suddenly time to light our sparklers and see the newlyweds off.
We headed back to Charlotte the day after the wedding, to spend a day or so with Cassie’s sister’s precious family and meet their newest addition — a chocolate-colored goldendoodle named Woodrow (AKA Woody). As quick as we arrived, we were off again, to Nicaragua for our second time now that we were officially Ebola-free.
If you would like to support the mission to bring the gospel to Mexico City through Doxa Church, you can donate through DC’s Redemption Hill Church, which is the Acts 29 Network church that planted Jesús and his family, by clicking here.