Oh… Down in Mexico (but not the James Taylor song)

When I created my “bucket list,” my desire was to create a “better” me.  However, I didn’t want it to be all about me, so I also thought about how I could bring others along with me.

One of my goals was to organize groups to travel to Mexico to build homes and provide medical screenings (again, this was nearly 20 years ago).  Within two years of listing this goal, I was able to make contact with some individuals who lived near the border and had contacts within the border area in Mexico.  I found a group of teenagers and adults (from our church) who shared an interest in helping others and our first trip was organized.

We were a ragged bunch.  Most of our adults worked in the construction or medical industries (Doctors or Nurses), but our teenagers had no experience with either.  Almost no one had ever been to Mexico.  Most had never been out of the U.S.

I have many stories to tell about the trips over the years, but will keep it short (for tonight).  As the years passed and many of the same teenagers made the trip with us year after year (through college and into their adult years), we not only saw their skill level increase, but their compassion for others grew as well.

A favorite story:  On the first trip, one of our teenagers would not get off the bus when we arrived at a village.  While the others in the group were chatting with the people who lived in the area and unloading supplies to begin building, I climbed back onto the bus to see if I could discover the problem.  As I made my way to where the student was sitting, I noticed he was crying, so I asked why.  He said that he was ashamed to get off the bus and let anyone see his shoes because his shoes “cost more than these people’s houses.”  Needless to say, we scrounged up a pair of shoes for him and as we completed the trip he returned home a changed man.

That first year we also discovered a McTaco and returned time and again.  The photo below is not mine (ours actually had golden arches, but is in a box somewhere), but I found this on Perry Jasper’s site (go look at his great photos).

McTaco - Perry Jasper

McTaco - Perry Jasper

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5 responses to “Oh… Down in Mexico (but not the James Taylor song)

  1. What a wonderful story, Don! It brought tears to my eyes to read about that teenager. Sometimes you need to step outside of your own life to see what is really important. That young man discovered that early on and that is priceless. Thank you for sharing!

    Although I left the area almost 15 years ago, some of those “kids” are still making trips to build homes for people. Some are taking their kids.

  2. What a great personal goal! My husband and I just watched The Bucket List last night and spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out what we would put on our own list. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I like reading about yours. Thanks for letting us follow along.

    It’s been almost 20 years since I made my list and now wish I had put more thought to the person I would become rather than have just a checklist of items. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been fun completing all of the items, because (almost) all of them were things I really wanted to do. I think my next list will contain more items directed at who I want to be (kind of like my “reading a book a week” item or “helping those in need” on my first list). I do want to visit China, though.

  3. Pingback: Wonderful story from volunteer work in Mexico « Later On

  4. Great story! I spent about four days at an orphanage in Mexico, on a missions trip. It was astounding to know that the entire orphange ran on a monthly income of a few hundred dollars. It truly made me think of all the ways I squander my money.

    Yes. Everytime I return from a trip I feel a need to either decompress or re-depress (I’m not sure which) as I must again become acclimated to American culture.

  5. That is a beautiful story of the shoes one that has touched my heart more than I can say. Wow, I know perhaps to you it may not seem that big of a deal but what you did for those people not only those in Mexico but those that went with you is beyond words, it is Ubuntu. Thank you, this has really made my day!

    You are kind.

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