At times throughout our MCC term in Mexico I (Jacquie) would occasionally dream of life back in Canada – and yet as our return came nearer I felt an uncertainty about leaving what seemed like “home”. Don’t get me wrong; I was more than ready to see our friends and family and experience summer life in Canada (Hilary is still waiting for the snow to fall!). But the move just seemed so permanent – and in reality it was. Perhaps Ezra expressed it best during one of our last evenings in San Cristobal when through tears he said, “we are leaving my home, my country, my friends”.
Yes, for sure, living in Mexico brought its own set of struggles, frustrations and challenges. But we were happy, settled, and living purposefully in our lives and roles with MCC. Some people have asked, “what do you miss most about Mexico?” I could think of mangos, limes, and sun, etc., but for me the first response is people. God really provided meaningful places to serve and a supportive community for all of us, and so after 3 1/2 years the different friends we made along the way became like family. In particular, there were special people that we strived to care for and support, and in leaving them behind there is a double sense of sadness and a prayerful hope that God will deal bountifully with them (Ps 13: )
Increasingly in the last weeks and months in Mexico, we gave time to saying goodbye – an important process especially in Mayan culture. For Rick this meant planning a few months ahead to take time for each of his 11 community groups he had so embraced during his time with INESIN (the rest of us were fortunate to join him for a few of those trips). Tears were shed, gifts were given, and in a little community in Huixtan I will always remember that little old lady embracing me and speaking out her heart in Tzotzil. Understanding the exact words was not important.
Then there were particular times to say goodbye to the folks at INESIN, and the various goodbyes to the kids’ schools and Yirtrak. All of these experiences left lasting impressions of gratitude, and in a spirit of humility, a hope that the seeds of peace (shalom) planted will continue to grow. And I remain immeasurably thankful for all the people who helped care for and guide our children in these precious years.
In between these more formal goodbyes we tried to visit some local spots that had much personal meaning. We also bought a few more “recuerdos” to bring back. Our last weeks coincided with a church picnic in which I finally braved a longer sharing time in spanish of things I learned, while Rick added his own words of encouragement. Other visits with friends and neighbours reminded us that sometimes it is when we say goodbye that we express more intimately our thankfulness for the friendships that had been built.
Near the end of our time in San Cristobal we were also able to host another MCC Team Mexico Retreat and were thankful to see a new team taking shape, while also appreciating the kind words and memories shared around our own contribution over the past years.
I should also mention, besides all the visits, there was a lot of work to parking up a house and leaving with 8 suitcases…and so while saying goodbye was not easy, I had no trouble leaving behind that long “to-do” list!
Now if you really want to get a sense of the highlights of our time in Mexico I would invite you to review previous blogs, but perhaps another way to reflect on the time is to express the elements of life that stand out as far as bringing meaning, peace and joy to our days in Mexico. A few that come to find would be:
- Opportunities to serve and alongside the MCC Mexico team and its partners (a comment which does not do justice to the richness of what was received and given…)
- Learning new ways of doing life and a new language
- Living so much of life outdoors and being more active in going from place to place
- Appreciating living simply, holistically, freely
- Rich experiences together as a family
- Being dependent on our imaginations and creativity in play
- Caring and sharing life with others that come from a diverse background – culturally, economically, spiritually
- Different challenges that I believe brought maturing in faith, life and relationships.
- Meeting new friends through sports and life
- Hopefully gaining a lasting emphasis on being peaceful people, conscious of our call to, “to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).
What a privilegie it was to work, serve and live with the people of San Cristobal and surrounding communities for 3 1/2 years! And thanks to MCC, its supporters and to all who prayed and walked with us on our journey in Chiapas.
GRACIAS MEXICO, vamos a extrañarte!
Wait for Part Two – La Bienvenida in some weeks time.