My name is Steve Ross. I moved from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Monterrey, Mexico, and now I’m back in Cincinnati, Ohio! My role is US Director of Mexico Sites. I have been on staff with Back2Back for 13 years.
1. Why did you join Back2Back?
I really thought I had things figured out there for a bit; I went into college choosing a career I thought I would succeed in (IT), and pretty well had my goals mapped out from there. It all changed a few years into my college experience. A staff member at my church invited me to go to Mexico in the summer of 2004 to help with the high school mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico with Back2Back. I had never been out of the country, but decided to sign up. Looking back, there was nothing particularly unique about the trip, but God used little things – getting me out of my comfort zone – to expand my idea of how the world worked. The most impactful moments of the trip included the small group of boys with whom I interacted. They left a huge mark on me, and I knew by the end of the trip, I wanted to be a part of this work.
Once I returned to Cincinnati, I had a brand new goal: Do what I could to help out with the work I saw happening there in Monterrey. It took some time and is a longer story, but my wife, Christy, and I moved to Monterrey in January of 2007 to spend the next 10 years there serving on-site.
2. What have you learned since coming on staff?
I honestly feel like I’ve been in school the last 13 years! There is always something new to learn. We have a saying we use frequently in our house with our daughters: “What do hard things do?” They then respond “they make us grow!” I remember thinking this at different times while living in Monterrey. We all go through hard things in our journeys, but I think if we are facing these moments with the Lord, and allow Him to use these moments, we can grow through the hard. It’s not always easy, but it is a choice we can strive towards!
3. Share a funny/embarrassing moment when the culture you’re familiar with was met with new cultural traditions?
Wow, lots of things! The first that comes to mind is when I was first learning to speak Spanish. I had some memorable moments where strangers outright laughed at my feeble attempts to speak Spanish, which was pretty humiliating. Not a fun moment of course, and I rolled with it, but what do hard things do?! 🙂
4. What’s something from the culture that you’ll keep with you forever?
I love how intentionally people in Mexico greet others when entering a room, or how they say goodbye before leaving. I have seen many people literally greet every single person in the room when they enter, and say goodbye the same way when they leave. I think this is a great way to be intentionally relational with people, and it always feels so welcoming.