Mexico - not what we imagined

Deep Cove Crier October 1995
Walking down the alley ways of the camps, was like something out of a World Vision video. Row after row of corrugated metal shacks measuring about 10 x 10, the size of most of our bedrooms, were home for 5 to 10 people. When we thought of Mexico, we imagined Mazatlan or the over population of Mexico City; none of us envisioned the filth and poverty we would experience in these camps.

How is it that 16 young people from North Vancouver found themselves in such a place, and why would they want to be there? Most of what we hear about young people is that they are lazy, selfish and materialistic. During this trip however, we saw that young people are hard working, compassionate, willing to give of themselves, and willing to serve God.

We spent seven days at a medical clinic near the town of San Quintin on the Baja. Each day started at 7:00 a.m. with devotions, breakfast and a chapel service. For 34 hours in the morning, we did physical work on the clinic, (making and pouring cement, building a training centre for Pastors, hauling rocks, etc.). The early afternoon was a time to prepare I ourselves for VBS (Vacation Bible School), which we did at one of the seven local camps. VBS would start around 5:00 and by 5:30, truck loads of children 10 and up came home from working all day in the fields. VBS consisted of games, music, skits, teaching, and crafts. At 7:00 we headed off to another camp for a time of Film Ministry where both children and adults gathered around a portable movie screen and watch a film, in this case a cartoon of die life of Jesus Christ. By 10:00 we arrived home, ate dinner and got ready for the next day.

The most striking thing about the trip was the contrast between our lives and theirs. The camps we worked with are occupied primarily by Mexican Indians from Central Mexico who move to the Baja to work in the fields for the land owners, who run and operate everything. The camps range in size from 350 to4,000, everyone living in the tiny metal shacks. There is no sewage system, outhouses or garbage dumps in the camps, as a result the stench is almost unbearable at fist, and the filth is unbelievable.

Starting at age ten, people work in the fields 10 hours each day for $5 to $10. The people live in the camps for about five years before they are too sick or tired to carry on; they return to the mainland where they rejoin the rest of their family who they left behind years before. Perhaps the one image which will be etched in all our minds forever is the one of "the plane". As the people worked in the fields, a plane would swoop down, fly about 4 feet above their heads and spray pesticides on the fields with no apparent regard for human life.

Eye opening does not begin to describe what we learnt and experienced on this missions trip. It became apparent to us as we sat with the children and adults, as we worshipped with them and shared the Gospel, that the most glaring contrast between us and them was not wealth, life style or geography, but dependence. Here in North Vancouver, or North America, we can afford to depend on money, wealth, social status and even ourselves, we do not perceive ourselves as needing to depend on God. In Mexico the only thing the poor people can depend on is God; their faith is much richer than ours for it. A thought that kept us from completely breaking down was the knowledge that God has a special place in His heart for the poor and that some day our new friends would live in mansions in their Father's Kingdom.

IHS; Ken Bell, Todd Wiebe,
Rev. Ed Hird

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