In a couple of days I will be with a group going to San Vicente in Coahuila, Mexico to celebrate an early Christmas with the people of the village. The town is remote and does not have electricity or running water; accomodations are described as “like camping”. We are bringing gifts for each individual and family, and in return the villagers are banding together to cook lunch for us on the day of the celebration. I am excited to go, but the way I came to be included was kind of a fluke. Last month I learned that an organization I support was having trouble finding people to go to these remote desert villages to provide basic goods, food, medical services, and the like. Over the last few years, the tales of kidnappings and killings near the Mexican border towns have scared away volunteers, along with businesspeople and tourists. I personally know people that have suspended their border town travel, but I didn’t realize groups that fight hunger, provide medical teams, and offer ministry had been affected so severely. So, I volunteered to go on the next mission, just to be able to come back and show other potential volunteers that it’s possible to come home unscathed.
As we near the start of the trip, I realize that there will be so much more value in going than in simply coming home again. Person after person has told me it will be a truly wonderful experience; village residents are welcoming and appreciative of our time and gifts and you can’t help but be humbled by the difference between the village lifestyle and small town Texas. Photos of the individuals and families are attached to the bags of gifts we sorted last night, reminding me that my life will be shared with the lives of people new to me, even if for only a short time. A day is all we will actually be sharing, as it takes a full day to drive down and another to drive back. In that one day, memories will be created that I will share with people years and years into the future, as others have done with me.
Being able to share with others the abundance that has been given to me, my family, and my community is something for which I am very grateful. Being part of the team that is willing to cross the Texas/Mexico border during such turbulent times is important. It’s important because the people of San Vicente are worth looking beyond the perception of danger – and the real dangers. Sure, in the first hours after crossing the border I may be a little nervous, but I don’t expect to be scared. In fact, I expect to be tired of driving more than anything, which is why I don’t see my participation as risky. (I might be wrong about that though….)
There is one thing about the trip that scares me though, and it was listed on the travel itinerary we received last week. Next to each rest stop is a circled letter. R meant restroom, B indicated bushes available, and O was for outhouse. My daughter reminded me of how we couldn’t find any bushes on the American side of this desert a few years ago. Only yucca plants were available, and they don’t do such a great job of providing privacy. There is a seven hour stretch where my only option is a bush/yucca plant. Now I’m not the most modest person you ever met, but the thought of taking cover behind a yucca plant with a dozen other people waiting their turn is a dreadful thought. Imagining someone might glance over and see more than they expected to see is enough to keep me from even sipping on a bottle of water. So far, that’s the biggest drawback to the trip. So I guess I’m good to go (so to speak).
I might have signed up for the trip just to be a rebel and go against the hype of the day, but ever since I was included, all I can think about is how much fun it will be to celebrate Christmas in a place so remote and tiny that we will cook outside and likely sleep under the stars. Everything that is truly important will be in that village: the joy of new friendships and living my life in a way I find worthwhile.
What risks are you willing to take to honor your values?
If you identify what’s important and have at least a bush available along the way, the risk can be worthwhile.