On Tuesday I got home from 9 days in Mexico. Our college ministry, theWELL, spent a total of 15 days in two different regions of Mexico. We worked with very different people in each place and were involved in different types of ministry. I the next few days I am going to write some different posts that reflect on some of the things that I learned and was challenged by during my 9 days in Mexico.
The first thing I learned is that some people are high maintenance. Okay, let me be a little bit more specific; I AM HIGH MAINTENANCE. I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the missionaries that we partnered with before the rest of the team made it on bus and I was shocked/encouraged/motivated by the amount of things that they have given up in order to hold out the gospel to the Purepecha people. Things like being unable to attend the funerals of loved ones, like living in homes without running water… and the list could go on. Immediately I was reminded that their lives are very different than the comfortable life that I live in the states.
My high maintenance(ness) was challenged on the first night when one of the people on the trip woke me up and said that the place we were staying had run out of water. I said, “Okay, let’s take a look at it in the morning…” He responded by saying, “…and most of the team is sick with diarrhea.” Those are two statements that no one wants to hear together. If said separately, one can deal with it; but when they are said together you have a serious problem on your hands. And we did have a serious problem on our hands! I realized that I don’t like going to the bathroom when there is no way to flush the toilet. I realized that I really don’t like going to the bathroom, when there is no way to flush the toilet… and you are sharing it with 10 other people! But I started to to wonder, “How much of the rest of the world lives this way? I mean, this is normal for some/many people in our world. I AM HIGH MAINTENANCE.
There was one night on the trip where the place we were supposed to stay (for the next 4 days) fell through. The person who was supposed to unlock the door got sick and was stuck in another village. That means we were forced to go to plan B; unfortunately, plan B did not exist. The people we were working with found us a place to stay – the guys shared someone’s living room and 10 girls were in a room smaller than my son’s room. It was pretty tight quarters… and we all (20 of us) shared one shower. I realized that I like my space. Not only that, but we were woken up throughout the night by donkeys who were going crazy and then we were awoken in the morning at 6:30 by announcements being made over the loud speakers that were in town. It was so annoying, and I realized once again that I AM HIGH MAINTENANCE .
One of the scriptures that just came alive to me during my 9 days in MX was Philippians 4:10-13 which reads,
10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
The part of it that stands out to me is that Paul says he has learned to be content in any and every situation. I love that. I love that he admits that it didn’t come naturally to him, and he encourages us that through the grace of God it is possible. The “everything” that he refers to in v.13 (probably the verse that is taken out of context more than any other in scripture – thanks Tebow) is being content. He is saying that he is so confident in his relationship with God that he doesn’t care what this world throws at him; he will be content. Well, the world threw jail at him, shipwrecks, nakedness, hunger, crucifixion, etc. And he remained content. So, in the midst of non-flushing toilets, donkeys dying in the streets in the middle of the night, random announcements being made over loud speakers at crazy hours of the morning, and sleeping situations that we didn’t expect; I was challenged to find my contentment in Christ alone. I was encouraged to be content in him in any and every situation – and I was given a chance to learn how to do this. I found out that it is easier said than done.
And, I was reminded that I AM HIGH MAINTENANCE. I think God broke me of a little of that last week. Hopefully it’s only the beginning of the journey.
Next Mexico post – “Why religion sucks!”