As I take off from LAX en-route to Tapachula, Chiapas, there are many thoughts running through my head. What will daily life be like in Tapachula? What will my living accommodations be like? How will the lifestyle and culture differ from what I’ve experienced before?
I have experienced these questions many times before when I set off to live in a new state or country around the world. Whether it’s Germany, Italy, Kuwait or Georgia, there is one constant everywhere I go: People are generally good and want to do good. There will always be bad apples wherever you go, but for the most part, people are loving, caring and willing to be helpful to newcomers.
After my landing in Tapachula and a 45 minute taxi ride to Mision Mexico, I am greeted by a set of double metal doors that are locked independently from each other. The SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is whenever anyone requests entrance to the orphanage, there is a bell to ring that alerts the Volunteer on shift that there is someone wishing to come in the gates of Mision Mexico. The Volunteer comes to gate and verifies if the person has access to Mision Mexico, and then allows that person inside the gates.
Once inside the gates, you are greeted with the sounds of music playing and children being their rambunctious selves. The weather is warm and sticky and the refuge is surrounded by mango trees, avocado trees and of course palm trees.
As I walk down the corridor, I am greeted by many children and volunteers. There seems to be a revolving door of volunteers in Mision Mexico, so the first question the kids ask me is how long am I going to be here. I tell them until September initially, and if everything works out, much longer than that. The volunteers, the office staff and the children make me feel welcome almost immediately. Most people would be overwhelmed with having 47 children come up to you and wonder who you are and what kind of person you are. Being raised with 20 siblings in one household, I think the transition will be fairly easy.
Within 24 hours of landing in Tapachula, one of the other volunteers had already arranged an apartment for me to look at. When we walked in, I was a little shocked. Not because of the size or accommodations, but because of the difference in living conditions here in Mexico versus the United States. I realize that I can happily live in 240 square feet of living space and be completely content. This makes me even happier that I chose to let go of every physical possession I have, and move to a place where I do not know anyone. The chance to make a difference, a real difference in someone else’s life is what drives me to want to do more.
As I meet all of the kids here at Mision Mexico, it reminds me a little of myself when I was growing up. There was not 47 kids, but 20 kids in one house is definitely a lot. We fought, we cried, we bullied each other, but most of all, we loved each other unconditionally. And that is what I see here: unconditional love for each and every one of the children and volunteers. Not for what they have, but for who they are.
In America, I feel that most people have lost that value, and it makes me sad. To see everyone in America running around working 60-80 hours per week at a job they hate, just so they can buy houses, cars and “stuff” they don’t really want because they feel like they have to impress their neighbors and “keep up with the Jones’s”. I was there once, and I’ve seen the light and don’t ever want to go back.
The work load down here will be long hours and I’m sure it will get tiresome, but I know that I will be making a difference and that is what is most important to me. Once we find our calling doing what we love, we will never work a day in our life.
What is most important to YOU? Are you making a difference in the world?
Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi ~