My name is Meredith Shuman. I moved from KS/TX to Mazatlán, Mexico and my role is in Child Development (training and staff support,) and I am a debriefer/host to mission guests. I have been on staff with Back2Back for almost 3 years.
1. Why did you go/join Back2Back?
My story goes all the way back to 1983. In the summer heat, I packed in with 15 other Texans and rode all the way down 1-20 from Dallas to Juarez, Mexico on my first mission trip with my church. Many years, and many mission trips later, Dan Shuman and I fell in love – in part because of our mutual love for Mexico and the precious children we had met on mission trips. Together, we continued to feel called to the needs of children. I survived the difficult birth of our first born, Griffin, and soon after we adopted Jordan. Our lives were full in ministry, very busy, we had our boys, and we thanked God for our complete family. And then, God…. His heart for 3 little girls in Colombia would not stop until Leidi, Andrea, and Monica were known and loved. We welcomed them home in October of 2007, and began one of the most challenging journeys of our lives. Ever feel like God has blessed your socks off, but your toes are starting to feel the frostbite?? We know the feeling.
We were exhausted beyond measure, and I needed a mission trip – to get away for a few days and remember the goodness of God. I was in the bookstore, looking for something to read on the airplane, and I picked up a little book about orphans in Mexico called Reckless Faith, by Beth Guckenberger. I read it 4 times and said, “YES YES YES! This is the kind of faith I want to have – reckless! These are the kind of stories I am in the middle of right now!” I made that first call to Back2Back and said, “Whatever you’re doing, we’d love to be involved!”
We started going on mission trips as a family to Monterrey in 2009 and to Mazatlán for years after that…and God used these times in Mexico to help us remember His goodness. Here we are in 2019, and we can see how Jesus has healed so many hurts for the Shuman Seven. God has used the victories in our own family, to call us to full-time service for orphaned and vulnerable children.
2. What have you learned since you’ve lived on the field?
Spiritual warfare is real. If we are heading towards God, hungering for more of Him, the enemy is threatened…and he will likely respond. The key for me to remember, is God will NEVER leave me. He is so close (whether I feel Him there or not.) The Lord pushes through my weakness with His strength and says to me, “See this wound? I want to heal the pain there, and the pain underneath it. I am the God who heals.”
3. Share a funny/embarrassing moment when the culture you’re familiar with was met with new cultural traditions?
I broke my wrist about a year and a half ago. On the way to the hospital, in the midst of intense pain, it became clear to me that I was going to have to communicate what happened in Spanish. Speaking another language when you are tired, emotional, or in pain is not easy – and I was feeling all of that! I walked into the ER and said, “Me rompio!” – which essentially means, “I broke myself!” And, in perfect English, the ER attendant responded, “Okay. It’s gonna be okay, just come with me . . .” We all have our moments, right?
4. What’s something from the culture you live in that you’ll keep with you forever?
I am continually blown away by the generosity of the people of Mexico. There is an abundance of patience and grace here… and it (literally) translates to so many areas. The biggest way I see it is with language. People here are so patient with my not-so-great Spanish… I get frustrated at myself for messing up, but folks here are thankful that I am trying to speak in their native tongue. Learning Spanish can be relentless, but their hearts of grace give me courage to face it every day.