Testimonies to the Cuirim Legacy
Cuirim Outreach and the Donohue family have a special place in my heart. For me, it all started in 9th grade. Brian was the youth pastor at Grace Church, and that summer I went to Mexico and loved it. I loved the community of believers, coming together in daily activities and worship. In the slums of Mexico, I saw that life isn't fair. I learned that material possessions don't define you. What matters is what you do with what you've been given. I wanted a deeper relationship with Jesus, and I wanted to be part of His Kingdom. Over the last decade, I've gone to Mexico and I've seen God work through Cuirim House, throughout the neighborhood, and even across the world. I've seen countries connected and generations changed because one family asked the Lord, "What would you have me do?" Cuirim House can be hard to explain, similar to how God is hard to explain. But like God, it is good. God is present in this work because we seek to expand His Kingdom. Why wouldn't anyone want to a part of something like this? We're called to "seek first the Kingdom of God." It would be an understatement to say that God changed my life through Cuirim House and the Donohues. I will never be the same, and for that I praise God. I know what Heaven is like, because I have seen it here on Earth.
In 2004, the Grace youth group had just come back from their trip, including my best friend Eric Laughlin. They had all changed, even after a week. After talking with Eric, I realized they were a team, they were leaders, they had a purpose, and I had missed something valuable and important. I wasn't going to let that happen again. I started going every year and the trips became a major part of my spiritual development in high school. So when I graduated, my friend Joey and I went down for several weeks that summer. During that time, I was able to experience the culture and rhythm of Cuirim House. It was a great foundation to prep me for college.
In 2010 Jaimie, Eric, and I were part of a prayer team to Ireland. This was one of the most powerful trips I've ever been on. We met college students from Trinity College, discovered what life in Dublin was like, went on prayer walks, and visited famous Irish Monastic sites that Cuirim Outreach is modeled after. I learned that prayer is the most important foundation you can lay. Over the years, life has changed. I've finished college, found a job, and married Jaimie. Starting in 2013, Jaimie and I were able to go back to Cuirim House during the summers. I'm learning to walk with Him through these changes, and I know what He has for me is good.
For me, coming to Cuirim House is a tangible way to serve the Lord. I can use my gifts and talents and learn how develop them for His purposes. I am thankful for people like Brian and Kirsten who are inspiring and encouraging in their humility and genuine love for God and others. I have and continue to learn about life and ministry through their example, and I want to emulate their lifestyle: they've placed an emphasis on creating community and seeking after the Lord.
Cuirim Outreach is an important part of my life and my walk with God because I can be part of something bigger than myself. I can see my part in His kingdom. I've learned through my trips to Mexico who God is and who He made me to be. Part of the richness and blessing of this ministry is that I've encountered the Lord in ways that leave me hungry for more of Him. In my opinion, learning to live in community and encountering God is a worthwhile exchange for personal comfort.
I've been coming down to Cuirim House as summer staff for a few years now. I mainly help Karla Vargas with the Kids Cafe, doing things like entertaining the kids, cleaning, and translating. The Kids Club is a neat opportunity to be a leader. It's one of the first times I ever lead a group of people with a specific goal. I like to encourage others and build relationships with the different groups that volunteer. At the Kids club, I get to see the seed (The Kingdom) being planted in both the workers and the children's hearts
I come to Mexico because of something my past Governor School teacher once said to me, "When you find someone who is a good leader, follow them for as long as you can." For me, Brian and Kirsten are those leaders. They help me discover and grow my gifts and talents. They help me see how Jesus sees us, his creation--what we will be, our potential. Life isn't just about serving and doing good, it's about discovering who you are in Christ. Coming to Mexico shakes me up and reminds me that life isn't about me. Personally, I want to live a life of ministry. I don't want to conform to what our culture says life should be. I guess Cuirim House is like a chiropractor; it helps me realign my priorities and it's refreshing.
I volunteer with Cuirim Outreach simply because Jesus is here. Every year I see him work in my life. I see him work in the lives of those who come down to volunteer. I love the Cuirim House community--eating, worshiping, sleeping, pretty much doing everything together. Plus, I like watching Brian and his family and the way they "do" life. It gives me a vision for my life now and when I have a family. And honestly, I like working hard, doing something tangible. Coming to Mexico develops my spiritual gifting as a leader. It inspires me to glorify Jesus, to live for His kingdom through my passion for sports. I love how the days in Mexico begin and end--with God.
I guess two things changed me most: 1) spending time in the prayer room and 2) building the fence around the Kids Cafe. 1) I've learned what the power of prayer can do. I've seen it with Carlos and Celia's son, David, and how he was brought into the world by prayer. His life was a miracle itself. After seven years Jesus took him home, but Christ's light still shines through the Kids Cafe, which was dedicated to David. 2) So several years ago, Brian put me in charge of building this fence around the Kids Cafe. It was a big deal to me at the time. It might seem like a small thing, but it built my confidence and leadership abilities. It made me part of something bigger, something that I could belong to and lead others into. That fence is still standing, and it has helped keep both the Kids cafe and a family safe. I'm thankful I could serve God's kingdom in such a tangible way.
I've spent quite a bit of time at Cuirim House--either living there or returning every summer since I was five--and I've learned to be patient. It can be difficult living so close together with family, friends, and volunteers. And patience is vital when you need to talk and can't speak Spanish fluently. At the same time I love meeting different people, and it's easier to get to know each other since there are fewer distractions. There's no need to compare yourself with others, and that simple truth frees you up to discover things about others like their talents, gifts, and how funny they are.
Cuirim House has showed me how to serve God in many ways. You can serve him by building a floor for someone or being kind to the neighborhood kids. Your perception of things changes after living in Mexico and seeking God's Kingdom first, and I've learned a lot: how to adapt to many different situations, that stressful situations can be fun, and that the things in front of us, the things we can see, aren't necessarily the most important.
Living in Cuirim House has enforced two key truths for me: 1) God cares about everyone, no matter what or where they come from, and 2) God touches people like Carlos and Celia and does miracles in them and through them.