My name is Amy Kelly. I moved from Dayton, Ohio and my role is site staff and English teacher. I’ve been on staff with Back2Back for a year and half.
1. Why did you go/join Back2Back?
I first started coming on short term trips here to Cancun in 2014. I came three summers in a row, never in a million years thinking I would move to Mexico, but God had other plans. I fell in love with the kids, families, and what Back2Back does as a ministry. I had been a part of multiple mission trips before, but B2B’s mission and vision was very different, and the more I learned, the more I desired to be involved in what was happening here. All of a sudden, I found myself leaving my teaching job and saying “yes” to picking up my life and moving to Cancun. I started as a STINTer (one year, because that felt super “safe,”) but have since made the commitment to be here longer. I get to use the gifts God has given me in many different capacities here- I’m never bored! I also love that we get to work with families here in Cancun, and think that we get to see a lot of unique God stories play out in the work we do in keeping families strong and united.
2. What have you learned since you’ve lived on the field?
Be flexible, and keep your expectations in check. Beth and Todd Guckenberger have said that “Expectations are premeditated resentments,” and that is so true. I can’t tell you how many times the Lord has upended my expectations or my vision of “what I thought would be.” Flexibility and being willing to learn is so vital to life here. I’ve also been reminded of how just how present Jesus is, and how gracious He is to surround us with the right people. Moving to a different country and culture has its challenges, but He has continued to show me His faithfulness through His Word, and also through my community here. Finally, I’ve learned how to be better about asking for help. I am TERRIBLE at this, but I’ve had to, because there have been many situations where I couldn’t do something myself. I’m still not great at it, but I’m thankful for our staff here that has come around me and helped me in the moments when I’ve needed it.
3. Share a funny/embarrassing moment when the culture you’re familiar with was met with new cultural traditions?
Something I learned here very early on is the importance of tipping- you tip the grocery bagger, the gas guy, the guy who watches your car at the parking lot… just about everyone! One of my first days here, I had yet to learn this, and had a pretty big cartful at the store. Because I didn’t know that I needed to, I didn’t tip the bagger lady anything, so I’m sure she thought I was rude! I have since been known to over-tip various people, including the road ice cream guy!
4. What’s something from the culture you live in that you’ll keep with you forever?
I love that you have to ask for the bill when you go out to eat- you can sit in a restaurant for hours, visiting with a friend (I’ve done this,) and no one makes you feel bad about it! Relationships are such an integral part of life here. People slow down and take time to be in each other’s lives. Family life is very important, too, which I love. People are very close with their families and are intentional about spending time with them.