Missionary trip creates memories for one girl

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, January 29, 2020

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Over Christmas break, Anna Claire McKenzie, 13, went on a missionary trip with her father and 150 of their ‘closest friends.’

It was not the first trip she took to Mexico but because of the previous trip three years ago, she was better prepared this time.

“Last time, I noticed there were not a lot of girls attending the soccer clinic,” Anna Claire said. “So, I put together makeup bags with nail polish and combs.”

In Monterrey, during the outreach, she would do the girls hair or paint their nails.

“Dad and I were asked to lead worship,” Anna Claire said. “I was so excited because my heart is loving to serve others. What I am passionate about is serving those less fortunate than I.”

This year, however, she did not see as many girls during the trip. The site, whose name means Heaven’s Gate, was filled with love according to Anna Claire.

“There was lots of love and God’s presence,” she said. “But we were mostly seeing teenage boys.”

Then on the last day, as Anan Claire puts on her backpack to leave, she spots a young girl approximately eight years old with a red balloon.

“For some reason, red balloons are a big deal,” Anna Claire said. “We ran out of them while we were there. She wanted to give me her balloon. I took my backpack off to give her a makeup bag and asked if she had any sisters.”

Through the assistance of a translator, they conversed, and Anna Claire gave the child another bag for her sister.

Before Anna Claire could get in the vehicle to leave, the child returned with a soccer ball to give to Anna Claire.

She tried to explain that the bags were a gift. But the child insisted. 

The translator explained the child’s entire family signed the soccer ball in thanks.

“I would 100-percent do it again,” Anna Claire said when asked if she would go on another trip. “It is really life-changing to see God in others around the world.”

Despite the opportunity to claim the recognition for herself, Anna Claire deflected to others such as the hostess for their group.

“Our hostess overflowed with joy,” Anna Claire said. “She should the greatest hospitality and made us handmade bags. Even with a language barrier, you could still feel God’s presence and there was no barrier with God.”