Monday, March 16, 2009

Tijuana Time - Part 1

There is something about the mindset of the people in Mexico; they don't get too worked up about anything and they really don't seem to set deadlines. They just work for the day and what doesn't get accomplished today, they'll do tomorrow.

I could stand to have that sort of mentality; not worrying about my lists and schedules and getting this and going there...if I don't get it done today, do it tomorrow! I've done that, in a way, with my blog.

Two weeks ago at this time I was sitting in the San Diego airport waiting to head back home. As I sat in the airport, I was thinking about how I would describe my experience in Tijuana, with the children, at the church, and by the landfill.

You've seen the headlines and watched the news about the violence in Mexico; and it's real. We didn't see anything or feel threatened but my husband did hear a gun shot one night.

The Tijuana landscape is like nothing I've seen before; it's littered with liter. When someone says take the garbage out - they do, and then they just give it a toss. And the architecture isn't like ours; no fancy Spanish-style villas like I've seen on TV.

It's been difficult for me to put my experiences on paper so a friend of mine suggested that I share about the mission trip in "parts."

On Sunday our group, which consisted of 10 people and our two guides/drivers/translators along with a man by the name of Eduardo and his adopted son and two other boys went to a part of Tijuana known as "the dump."

The dump is actually the landfill; the poorest of the poor live here. They get food from the landfill and they build their "houses" out of things that they get from the landfill.

The thing is, in Mexico, they don't throw anything away; and the things they have aren't really very nice. I've thrown out furniture that is nicer than most everything I sat on while I was there.
Throughout the weekend, I had been focused on taking notice of where God was at work in Tijuana; our pastor intended to have the four of us from our church that went share specifically where we saw God's light shining.

I never expected to see God's light shining at "the dump." But I did and it was!

As we drove up and into the "neighborhood," the vehicles we were in began honking the horns and continued honking until we came to a stop; as we drove, people began running out of their homes. And within minutes, there were people lined up waiting for whatever it was they knew we were going to give.

We handed out food - the basics: flour, rice, oatmeal, tomatoes, onions, lemons, and a few other items. Not much of a grocery "run" is it?

My job this day was to hand out the plastic bags that the people would put their food in; as I did, I intentionally looked each person in the eyes. Since I don't speak Spanish it was the only way I could communicate to them that I loved and cared for them.

So, where is the light in that? you ask. Let me ask you a question: how hard is it for you to accept a gift when you are in need? Does your pride get in the way of receiving?

I tried to imagine what the "locals" must think. " come another bunch of Americanos..." I don't know if they do, but maybe. The simple fact that some of the people took their bag and looked me in the eye and said "gracias" was a visible sign of God's light shining in Tijuana.

We also had a handful of people support us financially with monetary donations and others who purchased cinnamon rolls which helped us raise money for this trip. Each and every person who gave financially was a part of giving food at the dump that day. The food that was purchased for that day, was paid for with the money that was so generously given to support our trip.

Our group of ten people gave food out to probably 150 people that day; we also gave out 100 bags of candy to the children. But it wasn't just the ten of us, it was everyone of of you who bought a dozen cinnamon rolls all the way up to those of you that donated $350 - you were God's light shining in Mexico. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  1. Thank you for sharing, Janelle. I have tears streaming down my face, imagining you and your beautiful smile and your sweet spirit showing God's love to each person you made eye contact with.
    Looking forward to the next installment...

  2. Amen. I'm looking forward to reading more about your trip. You're such a blessing.

  3. Oh, Janelle. This is wonderful. A beautiful picture of God's grace. One of my favorite images here is imagining you making eye contact with each person.

    In that way, you really do speak their language!

    So blessed to read this, and to be one of your readers here who actually gets to see the Light in those eyes of yours, in person, on a somewhat regular basis!

  4. This is an amazing story. Can't wait for more...

  5. me gusta mucho tu historia! What a powerful expression of being God's hands and feet to these forgotten people...
    Dios Les Bendiga!