My name is Anna McCambridge. I moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Monterrey, Mx, and my roles include captain of Casa Hogar Douglas, Staff Nurse, and Health Program Coordinator. I’ve been on staff with Back2Back for a year and a half.
1. Why did you go/join Back2Back?
I took my first trip to Monterrey as a missions trip guest when I was 13 years old. I remember spinning little kids around in circles, holding babies, feeding entire communities from a make-shift soup kitchen, and letting so many kids drink out of my water bottle. I also remember seeing an extreme amount of pain and brokenness.
After that trip I couldn’t return fast enough. I went back almost every year from that point on as a missions guest, junior intern, or summer intern. My life in Ohio revolved around working odd jobs to save enough money for the following summer. By the time I was 17, the director of the site asked me if and when I was going to join staff.
Fast forward to college, I was a nursing student with a really cute boyfriend and a great post-grad job opportunity. My husband Kenny (my then-boyfriend) told me he did not see a future for us in another country, but would always support my love for the work Back2Back does and would always acknowledge my heart for Monterrey. I said I believed God had plans for us in Mexico, but also believed in God’s perfect guidance and timing in our life, and at that moment felt extremely called to my job as a nurse.
But during my time as a nurse, I was heavily impacted with suffering, pain, and broken heartedness that far too often ended in death. My heart longed for a deeper connection and a deeper meaning. I prayed for an opportunity to walk alongside people in pain and help them toward healing – not just physically anymore, but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally. A little while later, Kenny told me God had clearly and audibly called him (us!) to Monterrey. My shock was indescribable.
I really believe that when God opens our eyes to injustice, pain and brokenness in the world, we never leave the same. For us, God had orchestrated this perfect plan that brought us to where we are today. We have never felt more at home.
2. What have you learned since you’ve lived on the field?
This can be something cultural, personal, about family, community, yourself, or Jesus.I’ve learned that Jesus is truly the only one. He is the only one that can heal. He is the only one that gives beauty. He is the only reason for hope. Everything beautiful and wonderful that I’ve experienced in this breathtaking culture is a byproduct of His work, His love, and His grace.
3. Share a funny/embarrassing moment when the culture you’re familiar with was met with new cultural traditions?
Here in Mexico people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. After living here for a few months, I was still struggling getting used to the Mexican greeting. Someone suggested I prepare mentally to always do it, without exception. Soon after that suggestion, Kenny and I made Buckeye Chocolates (our favorite dessert sweets from Ohio) for all the Hope Program students. While delivering them, I said to myself, “no matter what, you will mexican greet whoever answers the door!” A highschool boy who is rather stoic and known for appreciating his personal space, opened the door. He extended his hand and stiffened his arm (signifying that no one was “going in for the cheek kiss”). But, being so mentally prepared, I didn’t adjust. I shook his hand and just kind of kissed the air in front of me, making an audible kissing sound. This caused him to fall into a rare fit of laughter and from then on, all the boys in the Hope Program would blow me kisses when I walked past to tease me.
4. What’s something from the culture you live in that you’ll keep with you forever?
I have learned:
1. “You can never eat enough tacos and churros”, from personal experience.
2. “Being invitational isn’t just a nice thing to do; it’s a beautiful way of life” from the Mexican staff around me who remind me through example daily.
3. “The people around us are our ministry wherever we go” from Papa Juan and Mama Fina, a caregiver couple at Douglas who left their church ministry to minister to five little girls at the Children’s Home.
4. “Smiling at someone can make all the difference in their day”, from Don Elio, the mason at Douglas who fills me with joy with things as simple as a wave and a smile.