28 Jan 2008
The most important task a volunteer can complete while on a mission trip to Mexico, is to come to know and love the people. This is an integral part of the missionary task. The temptation is to think that all Mexicans look a certain way, have a certain manner of acting, or relate to each other in a defined pattern. But we know that God has made us all individuals, so we must get to know individuals instead of relying on stereotypes. Volunteers must come to know and love individuals. That way, instead of thinking of Mexicans in general, volunteers can now pray for Juan, the concrete mason, … or Lupe, who cooks at her café, … or Paco’s two young sons …or visit Pastor E. (…??) in his home. We must put a face on missions.
Let me introduce you to a young lady. Her name is Miriam and she is 17 years old. . She comes from a lower socioeconomic family, and is the oldest of four children. Her family lives in a one-room house. Her siblings and mother all share the same bed. The kitchen is in a room outside the house. Water is collected in a big bucket outside the front door. There is hope that one day the roads in her neighborhood will be paved. Many people “tap into the electricity” by throwing a wire over the power lines to bypass the meter. The city bus system provides service to the neighborhood, but since Miriam lives at the end of the line, it takes a long time to get home.
With over half the population of Mexico under the age of 25, Miriam could be typical of the population in the city of Puebla, however she is much different than others. When Miriam was eight her mother prayed to receive Christ and joined a Baptist Church.. Her father and especially her father’s family were very upset that Miriam’s mother left the Catholic Church. Later that same year her father was killed. The father’s family was convinced that God had cursed them because Miriam’s mother had become a Christian. They disowned the family, and that is when Miriam and her family had to leave their family home and came to live in this neighborhood.
When Miriam turned 16, her mother, who struggles with employment because she is caring for the younger kids, decided that she could no longer afford to have Miriam in the house. Miriam found a place to stay and employment as a nanny working with a family in the city. She was also able to continue her schooling, attending classes in the mornings and help with the children in the afternoons.
Education in Mexico is offered by the government from age 3 to age 14. When students enter high school, they must pay tuition to continue with their studies. Some volunteers helped Miriam so that she could continue studying. Each morning she wakes up at 5 o’clock to prepare for the day. She leaves the house, usually in the dark, around 6 to arrive at school by 7 to begin her school day. She walks a little farther so she can get to school on one city bus instead of having to take two. This would double her bus fare. When she arrives at her stop for school, she must also walk a few more blocks to school. She must use the public busses since there are no “school buses” for Miriam’s school.
During breaks in her classes, Miriam can buy a quesadilla or gordita at the corner food stand. The food is inexpensive, but not always of the best quality. Many Mexicans eat their breakfast in this way. Vendors also sell hard breads, tamales and tacos. Ice cream and atole, which is a corn based hot drink that comes in chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla, are also available.
Near most schools there can be found paper stores, video games, and Internet cafes where students can rent time on computers or use the Internet. Although only a small percentage of Mexican families own computers, stores such as these make Internet access somewhat of a possibility and allows them to “connect” with the world.
As Miriam rides home, many days she thinks of continuing her education at a pubic university. The cost is low, about $75 a year, but she must purchase her supplies, examination fees and other necessities. Miriam has a goal of studying accounting. Hopefully she will be the first in her family to study at a university.
There are millions of young people in Mexico facing an uncertain and challenging future. Most hope and pray for a way to escape their struggle of life. Some look to drugs and alcohol for their escape. Many young girls become pregnant at age 13 or 14 and leave home. This type of culture produces incest, drug addiction, and alcoholism, an environment with little hope for the future.
As you begin to pray for the young people of Mexico, ask God to show himself to them through His Holy Word.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
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