_ LOVE OF FAMILY
From the day we arrive at the airport in Tuxtla, to the day we leave Chiapas, there are many times when I had to fight tears, tears of anxiety about things not working out the way we planned them, tears of fear when we go through customs (although we have never had any problems in México) tears of joy to be back in Mexico, tears of sadness during the two home visits I got to interpret for, especially tears of fear and powerlessness when I have to face a crowd of more than 50 people and tell them we cannot see them any more because we have to leave; and sometimes, tears of a combination of emotions I cannot even describe… So I was caught by surprise when we arrived at the airport in Minneapolis, on Thursday afternoon, and I just could not hold back the tears any more. As we walked into the baggage claim area, the first (now familiar) sight was that of Aaron Johnson’s (this is his second trip with MDP) beautiful seven children and wife waiting to meet him at the airport. Aaron is only 40 years old and his seven children are ages 6 to 19, so you can get the picture of just how tender and almost movie like ---like the old Disney movies-- the experience is. This sight just hits me with the realization of the amazing generosity and trust that each one of our volunteers and their families has invested in our project to serve the poor. The scene moves me with tears of gratitude, of joy to be back, of humbleness to see their faith and love for Aaron, and more happiness to see that love of family.
Love of family is probably one of the happiest sights I get from Chiapas and those images remain in my mind like little pills of joy and pure tenderness. During this trip, we witnessed the love of two sisters during our first home visit, the very first night we arrived. A lady came to our clinic asking that a doctor come and see her sister, who was too weak and in much pain to walk to our clinic site which was only two and a half block away from her home. Their tiny place inside was a lot poorer and simpler than what one would have guessed just by looking at the outside of their home. The patient was in a dark little wooden plank hut with corrugated metal ceiling, laying over a board makeshift bed, and covered with just an old blanket. In the corner of this tiny space, their attempt at heating the room was a tiny fire pit, that really didn’t do much for heat (that night, it was cold enough for all of us Minnesotans to want wear a light jacket or a sweater, or at least long sleeves. Both the patient and her sister are elderly and only have each other, since neither of them ever married. As the lady told us about her sister’s ailments she caressed her hair and kept on telling her in hushed, reassuring tones not to be afraid, that a doctor was there to see her…
Another image is that of an elderly dying gentleman surrounded by his wife, children and grand children (at least 12 of 15 family members were gathered in his tiny home). We learned of their loving efforts to keep him comfortable and their fragile hope that he might get better. Other sights, mothers holding their babies in their shawls; the two little brothers sitting in the pew in front of Susan and me, while at mass in the Cathedral of San Cristobal, with their arms over each other’s shoulders and their dad sitting right next to them and lovingly looking at them with a smile on his face, and so many more…
This was MDP’s third trip to Chiapas Mexico, which was a success made possible thanks to the generosity of our many donors, the selfless work of our volunteers, the countless hours of work of our president, Susan Peller, and thanks as well to the tireless work and enthusiasm of our board members. I “discovered” during this trip, that you love your country the way you love your child, with all his/her virtues and –if you choose to see them-- in spite of all his/her flows. With your willingness to allow us to serve in Chiapas, once again, I truly feel like you too love my child, and what better gift can a mom ask for? My gratitude to our volunteers and donors for such gift is immense and forever in my heart. I hope you keep my child, my México, and its people in your hearts. May the image of the Chiapanecos grateful smiles and their love of family keep you coming back.