This beautiful testimony is written by Diana Garrett (missionary in Tuxpan, Mexico).
We were all sitting around the table enjoying Colynda Wyatt´s company for the very last time. She had come to the end of her five weeks with us at Camp Kikomar, serving as a short-term missionary during our season of intense summer activities. She was returning home to Canada, and we were translating the goodbyes with her host family, who had managed to make do without a common language for most of her time.
The comments from all were happy and loving, as Colynda had established a great rapport with her Mexican family, but it was Eli, the dad, whose final words impacted me most profoundly. He said, “tell her thank you, because she washed our clothes.”
His comment threw me back to six months beforehand, when Colynda had first applied to come to Mexico. As base missionaries, it´s always hard to determine whether a volunteer is going to be a good fit for our ministries. Over the years, I have come up with a list of warning signals that indicate that a candidate may be in for failure, or if not – great difficulty. Colynda threw up several of these red flags: she had next to no international experience, and had never been on a missions trip before. She had no Spanish and was middle aged. She was from northern Canada and was applying to come to the Gulf Coast of Mexico, in July, when the weather and humidity is almost unbearable, even to us residents.
I had called her and tried to dissuade her, but she was determined to try it. Swallowing my misgivings, I accepted her application, and the process for her arrival began.
From the moment we picked her up from the airport, we delighted in her capacity for amazement. She was awestruck at the amount of people crammed onto a city bus, at the edible cacti lining the highway on the way to the coast, at the delicious flavor of a mango, and on and on it went. She threw herself headlong into new experiences such as driving along the beach, or through the potholes and puddles, going to the town fair and riding a ferris wheel with her host family in the midst of a mass of humanity, and playing charades for weeks on end to make up for her lack of Spanish language. She won the kids´ hearts by playing Uno, and letting them play with a baby bird that she rescued. She kept of list of trivia where she jotted down all the things about Mexico that amazed her. Whenever a camp group left, and another one was about to arrive, she silently went up to the kitchen and made sure that everything was as it should be. More often than not, it took hours of work which none of us saw.
Now, at this goodbye lunch, Eli was referring to a day when he and his family had worked themselves to exhaustion cleaning bathrooms, getting rid of rubbish and setting the camp on its feet again before the next group of campers arrived. Colynda, having done her work in the kitchen, went by the washing machine and saw a mountain of accumulated clothes that her host family hadn’t had time to take care of. She saw the need, and ran the machine. When Eli and his family got back to their house, all of their clean laundry was out and hanging in the sun to dry. They came running over to her, hugging and thanking her.
Eli understood what Colynda didnt, that washing clothes in our culture is equivalent to Jesus washing His disciples feet in the first century. She had taken on the most humble of jobs and served those who were supposed to be doing the most menial work of camp life. By doing so, she became a servant of servants and found her way into the very depths of their hearts.