MAZATLAN, Mexico — “Someone has to cook for all those people.”
That’s how Jenna Woody introduces her contribution to all the work going on in Mexico through Youth With a Mission (YWAM). There are people leading classes in Christian discipleship, handing out Bibles to residents of Mazatlan and building homes for people in need. There are also people planning for the launch later this year of YWAM Ships, which will carry medically trained mission teams to communities along Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit and the Sea of Cortez.
And all of those people, 80 to 100 of them, need to eat.
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That’s where Woody, a New Palestine High School graduate, has come in. She’s been cooking there this past year.
Woody, 20, visited Indiana in September and gave an update to her home congregation, Brookville Road Community Church. Then it was back to Mexico, to return to not only YWAM work but also wedding plans. She and Miguel Lopez, another YWAM staff member, plan to tie the knot Oct. 29.
Even with all that on her plate, she took some time for an interview with the Daily Reporter.
Had you been to Mexico or on a mission trip before? How did you become interested in serving in Mexico?
My senior year for spring break my youth group went to Mazatlan, Mexico. Going on that trip is what connected me, and when I felt called to go back.
Can you describe a typical day/week?
From Monday to Friday, we always at least work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., if not more, with other things that need to get done. Every Monday, we start the day with an hour and a half of worship, and every Wednesday, with an hour and a half of prayer. Any other time, I am in the kitchen: cleaning, preparing food, budgeting and much more.
Every Thursday afternoon is set aside time for us as an organization to reach out to the community. We have soccer clubs, homework clubs, Bible distribution and more.
What are the challenges/logistics of cooking for as many people as you do each day?
There are many challenges; first, figuring out what food you need and how much of it is needed. Then you have to think how long will it take to cook it and how many people … we have to help.
I never cooked before, so there were times when I would have no clue where to start and would have to pull up recipes on my phone.
It’s crazy the things you didn’t even know could go wrong while cooking. There are many times when you have five minutes left until the meal time, and you still have so much left to do, and somehow, at the end of it, everything turns out all right, and everyone gets fed.
Did you meet your husband-to-be there?
Yes, I met my husband-to-be actually the first time I ever went to Mazatlan, but I didn’t really know who he was until I returned to Mazatlan for a six-month school.
You’re now taking on a new role with YWAM, right?
The new role I will be transitioning into is working with one of our main ministries, called Homes of Hope. It’s a ministry where we build houses for those in need. To make this happen, we have teams that come from churches or businesses to partner with us to build the house.
I will be working somewhere in the communications side of this or even hosting the teams that come, meaning prepping the teams’ schedules, making sure they have everything they need and being able to help them with the building process as well.
What spiritual lessons have you learned from being in Mexico?
Trusting in God in and with everything. One big thing I have to trust in God daily with is my finances. Since we are a nonprofit organization, no one gets paid; we trust in God to provide for everything we need.
I have also learned how to serve God in everything I do — that in everything I do, from scrubbing the floor to cooking for a hundred people, it’s all for God.
And most importantly (I’ve learned) to always have a humble heart, to never put myself higher than anyone else, to love and see others as God loves and sees them.
… in everything I do, from scrubbing the floor to cooking for a hundred people, it’s all for God.