By Chelsea Rankin
Patrick Henry College
Sarah Eis with two boys from Niños de México
The first time Sarah Eis got on a plane for Mexico, it took everything in her to keep herself from turning around and walking off the plane. She did not want to go. She had just completed her junior year of high school, and her youth pastors and Spanish teacher encouraged her to join the youth trip that was serving at Niños de México that year. But as she boarded the plane, all she wanted to do was run back to the safety of her St. Louis hometown.
Now, three years later, Eis is spending the summer between her sophomore and junior year in college mopping floors and serving in Mexico, making this her third trip to her beloved country.
“I have never once regretted that choice [to go to Mexico],” she said. “When we flew into Mexico City, I fell in love. The city literally stretched out as far as I could see. Once we landed and met the kids, I couldn’t imagine leaving.”
While at PHC, she has continued to improve her Spanish and tell stories of the children at Niños de México, a nonprofit mission organization operating four children’s homes in Mexico City. Eis’s love of the people and the culture is contagious, and she has made it a habit to serve the people there, even from thousands of miles away.
While her deep love of Mexico began during her first trip, she had started studying Spanish in 7th grade.
“I loved what I had learned, but there’s a real difference between loving knowledge of a culture and loving the culture itself,” she said.
Profesora Shourds, PHC’s Spanish professor, helped further Eis’s love of Mexico. Sometimes they would meet over dinner and speak solely in Spanish. Shourds also offered extra credit to students who wrote letters to kids at Niños de México, a task Eis organized. Eis’s goal was to provide one letter for each child and young adult, from three year old Benjamin to 27-year-old Elvis. For PHC students who didn’t speak Spanish but still wanted to write a letter, Eis translated for them. She was overwhelmed by the response from PHC students – some wrote between two and four letters and some drew pictures for the kids.
When the children from Niños de México received their letters, they were overjoyed. They found Eis and asked her, “Do you know this person? They said they’re your friend.” Eis was deeply blessed by their joy.
After her initial trip to Mexico, Eis visited once more before coming to college. During the trip, she helped lay tile in one of the boy’s homes. Although two years elapsed between her second and current trip, her love for the country only deepened in her absence.
“There is nothing I love more in Mexico than the people!” she said. “The people are kind and open. I also love a great deal of the food down here, which is often very different from the typical conception of Mexican food. I have not once had what people in the US would term a taco.”
Her duties at Niños de México change with each day. She plays with the kids and helps missions trips arriving from America. She cleans and cooks for groups on Saturdays and does a great deal of mopping. She and the other intern also read aloud to the kids. They are currently reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to them in Spanish. If they have time, they are hoping to read Prince Caspian as well.
Eis with her fellow interns Kyler and Kara