Monday, September 16, 2013


Here we are: 4 weeks into the program,
3 weeks into Mexico,
and 1 week into living on my own here.

     Although, really, I am not by any means “on my own” in this place.  If I were actually on my own I would not have made it this far; that is for certain.  If it hadn't been for all the people giving me directions, correcting my Spanish, having the patience to endure my pantomiming, double-checking that I understood everything from the staff meeting, and giving me the opportunity to express myself, (not to mention the people sustaining me from home!) I would be completely lost, literally and figuratively.

     My time in Mexico has been characterized with me coming to terms with my profound dependence on other people.  In the States, I am usually a very capable person.  I can navigate my way through a variety of places and situations.  I know how to act at a store, a dinner, or a workplace.  I know the implications of a hug, the connotations of a word, how to make a joke.  Here, everything is new. And I need major help figuring it all out.

     As I've mentioned several times, the ELCA's model of mission is that of Accompaniment: “Walking together in solidarity, characterized by mutuality and interdependence.”

Celebrating Mexico & Central America's independence at
Tochan with some of the people I have depended upon.

     Until we come to terms with our dependence on others, we will never be able to appreciate or intentionally practice “interdependence.”  If we fail to recognize that we are dependent on others for many of the various things that keep us going – from food to family – we will ultimately fall into the trap of thinking of our relationships as a hierarchy, with ourselves at the top.  We will make the mistake of thinking that we are here to save others, that we have all the resources, answers, and validity, that we are independent and that those we accompany are at our loving mercy.

     What I've seen, done, and experienced would in no way be possible without:
My amazing host mothers who feed me, house me, and show me unrestrained love,
Their nephews who gave me an extensive tour of our colonia, complete with tips and tricks,
My co-volunteers at Tochan who explain the shelter's programs and purposes to me (and who occasionally translate key phrases in our meetings),
My fellow YAGMexico participants who check in on me and comparten mi pena,
The men currently at Tochan who cook our meals and break up the boredom of office organization with conversation,
The strangers who offer unsolicited random acts of kindness,
and everyone else who has been a part of my survival and growth.

     They have shown me what Ephesians 4:2 means: "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."  Someday my time will come to reciprocate, and I have been learning profound lessons on how to do so.