When we first crossed the bridge to enter into Mexico, I was surprised to see so different a culture and environment. It was almost instantly, so different that it was hard to believe the US was only about a minute back the way we came. It’s a different way of life. We traveled 11 hours to a very poor part of Juarez, a small community called Anapra just northwest of Juarez. We were hosted by a community of woman from Centro Mujeres Tonantzin, a center of faithful people that are dedicated to help the people of their community by providing for those in need.
They build better homes for people, install efficient bathrooms, corrals for animals, gather for prayer groups and meals all in the spirit of good Catholic faith and witness. While we were there, the community came together to help an elderly man with his home nearly in ruins. He had a one room house made out of wood, a dirt floor, a few pots and pans, a bed and a small wood burner to keep him warm during the cold nights. Our mission was to build this man another section in his house. With the frame for the new section already installed, we started right away.
With a few guys building a wall out of tires along the side of the house, a few reinforcing
the frame inside the house, and myself on the roof, there were many helping hands on the site. We mixed cement, poured cement, shoveled tons of sand, painted the inside of the house, cut wood, moved tires, carried buckets full of water, and added plywood, made a door, and even had electricity installed. The very last day we all worked together to put up a new bathroom house. We dug out a hole and used pallets for the walls. With everything finished up we took a few last pictures and blessed the new home. Don Pedro was a happy man, his house was warm inside and I think that our work for him will have lasting impact on his life and for me to be apart of that makes every strain and sweat worth every bit.
I was really inspired by the wealth of the people, it clearly wasn’t the kind of wealth that we have here in the US but a spiritual wealth. It was a different wealth that gave that inner happiness and inner joy. In my reflection I thought about how much I have, how much I have taken for granted those things that other people want so much like my freedom or inside bathroom. Here the people have so little that crime is hardly a factor because there is nothing. Yet, their possession is faith, their wealth is Christ. I could tell very quickly that these people are rich in Christ and for me coming in from a country that has so much. It made me want to be rich in Christ and poor in possessions.
The people really made that life desirable because they have so much joy and happiness, even the children. Visualizing that happiness for myself really allowed me to examine myself and what I have. Things like possessions and desires, even my vocation.
I think that there has been new light on my vocation, light that lets me see once again that desire to serve God’s people no matter the circumstance. It allowed me to have a new motivation and fire to continue on a journey that requires me to be poor in desires and wants yet rich in Christ the King.
I am grateful for my formation directors to have set this trip up. I am grateful to have gone and experienced the very life and faith of these happy people. I think that witnessing their joy despite their troubles leads me to answer my calling even more faithfully and actively. Shout out to all God’s people man!