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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I lost my heart in Mexico

I grew up part-time on the border of Texas and Mexico, and we spent 99% of our summers there traveling around the country.  I hated Laredo, Texas, but I loved everything in Mexico.  The culture, the people, their expressiveness and their loveliness, all of it.  When we first moved back to SC, I would smile at every Mexican I saw and just feel as if they should know my heart!  I wanted to hug each and every one of them because they reminded me of home.

Last weekend, Billy and I went out to the neighborhood we visit each month.  We take a team people out there and usually just play with the kids and befriend the adults.  The neighborhood we visit is made up of mostly poor American families, but a couple of Mexican families are peppered into the mix, though we don't often see them when we go out there.  This time, however, we got to meet the sweetest little nine-year-old girl.  She was actually born in the US, but her parents were Mexican.  I had the privilege of talking to her and her mom for quite some time, and I felt my heart start to beat again in a way it hadn't in a long time.  There is just something so special and gentle about that culture... not to mention this particular story they were telling me - it would break anybody's heart.

The little girl started off by telling me that they were so excited to live in this neighborhood now because the last two places they'd lived had rats... big ones, she said, showing me with her hands spread wide.  I simply nodded past the lump in my throat.

Then, I talked to the mom.  She immediately told me that her husband was in jail, and had been for nine months.  She speaks absolutely no English and her only income is babysitting for other Mexican families.  I could only imagine how little they were paying her.  I asked if I could pray with her, and she just started crying.  Of course, I prayed in English, and she couldn't even understand, yet she was so grateful. 
I asked them if they needed anything, and all she asked for were napkins.  She was almost shy about it, as if afraid to ask for too much.  I walked her over to our car because I knew we'd brought a few rolls of paper towels with us.  I opened the trunk and saw that we had a few more things - water bottles, trash bags, and paper plates.  I asked her if she would like them, and she kept nodding, eyes growing larger and larger.  We found a shopping cart sitting around (don't ask me why), and Billy hauled the stuff into the cart and we walked it down to her house.

When we got there, she proudly opened her door so that we could bring everything inside.  What I saw there just broke my heart.  It was almost identical to some of the poorest situations I'd seen in actual Mexico.  Somehow, though, with honest pride, she had put up lacy window-coverings and things were nicely folded and noticeably cleaned.

I walked away from her house feeling desperately overwhelmed.  We have been going out to this neighborhood once a month for over a year now, and I had never felt this emotionally attached this quickly.  The hugs I got from the mother and little girl were whole and sincere and just brought tears to my eyes.  They revived the piece of me that I'd left in Mexico years and years ago.

I wish I could tell you that we were doing all we could to help.  I mean, we are, but I feel as if it is not enough, because, frankly, it's not.  Nothing we can do will release her husband from jail and get him a job stable enough to support them.  We cannot move them from where they are.  We can only love on them, which I promise we will.  I will just have to settle with that, knowing that it's just not enough, trusting God that his heart beats for them even more than mine.


  1. Still and yet, you heard them...you loved them...you honored them -- While materially they need so much, I would venture to guess that what you gave them - yourselves - was so much more. May we all take the time to "see" those around us and share what we have - if it only be ourselves.

    Thank you for sharing this...

  2. This post was poignant to me. I'm not nearly as familiar with Mexico as you but we took our first extended trip down there when I was 14. I do, however, consider it something of a second home. The culture is nostalgic for me, it gets under your skin. There's something about Mexico...

    I live in small town BC Canada, though, so I'm very far removed from the culture in everyday life. I haven't been back long term in five years. Thanks for this little reminder. Very well stated.

  3. That is so heartbreaking. It's tough to hear the hardships others are going through and knowing you can't do anything but pray. Kori xoxo

  4. Your gift of love likely meant more to them than any tangible gift you have given them. And, there's no doubt that the Lord used your love to minister to them in His name. I just love hearing things like this. Warms the depths of my heart! Blessings abundant to you!

  5. this touched my heart so deeply. I can relate. We experienced similar things while we were in Ethiopia, and yet they seemed to have a joy I didn't. This brought back all those wonderful memories - thank you for sharing!

  6. Thank you for sharing this experience. I am sure the mother and daughter appreciated those small tokens more than you know. And you're right, there isn't anything physical you can do to help them, but prayer goes a long way. Thanks for the blessing.


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