Posted by: Admin on Mon, Nov 6, 2017
Missionary, Carlee Wood- serving in Mexico
Click HERE to view a video of things I have done and seen in last 2 months (more people will be featured later in the year; building relationships takes time!). For more details on what you are seeing in the video, or if you'd like to share this video, click this link (the video quality is not the best, sorry!). I live in Tlaxco, Tlaxcala, a town that so far has been much colder than I expected, and I'm told that January and February are sure to be shocking. I work at a school that has an ecological emphasis, teaching English and Computer classes, as well as working in the garden and helping in the library. I live with a fun, caring family close to the town center, and am surprised by how normal life feels already in such a short time!
- My favorite foods are pan dulce (think pastries), tinga de zanahoria (a dish that normally has chicken, but my sister makes it with carrots instead), and mole
- I learned how to crochet!
- I did not bring enough thick socks nor the correct pair of warm shoes, and I am starting to question whether my rain jacket is actually waterproof
- I started taking workout classes at the town's Sport Complex and am hoping that this will counteract the amount of tortillas and bread I eat
Overall, I am very content and am excited to continue discovering what the year holds!
A part of the ELCA's (and therefore YAGM's) model of mission is this idea of accompaniment (this is a complete understatement, we talked about accompaniment approximately 1,374 times at orientation). It is a challenging, ever-evolving, and altogether quite complex concept for someone like me who is attempting to live it out. At its core, two concepts key ideas are mutuality and interdependence; according to my interpretation, these ideas tell me that I am not here to fix anything but rather to be present and walk with the people I meet (while leaning on them immensely). Being in Mexico for two earthquakes has provided a new lens from which to view accompaniment; thankfully, my town was not greatly affected, but nevertheless it has given me much to think about.
Mexico’s response to the earthquake on the 19th was as moving as the earthquake was shocking. Community members took it upon themselves to begin recovery: people from all walks of life were excavating through fallen buildings and communities from luckier towns were busy collecting items and money. In this context, accompaniment looked like people doing whatever they could do to be with people in their times of need. No amount of donated toilet paper was going to fix the tragedies of the earthquake, but at least people were doing something to support others (a reminder to myself and anyone who needs it: care and compassion of any amount are always worth giving). Mexico's healing and recovery is a process, but as it has since the beginning, Mexico will continue to call out with hope and resilience:
Fuerza, Mexico. Strength, Mexico.
At one point in a conversation about the earthquake, someone mentioned how they can be good in some ways: they shake up the earth, loosening the dirt, and ready the land for a more bountiful yield. I know that many more disruptions of seismic proportions will happen in my life this year, but instead of panicking, I will try to keep in mind that maybe it is my foundation being adjusted, making better conditions for growth and harvest. While this year isn't solely about me but rather focused on the relationships I build with my communities, many personal challenges will aries and just as Mexico has persisted, in those difficult times I (in an admittedly inward-looking way) will remember Mexico’s call:
When it feels like my world is shaking and moving more than I am comfortable with, and maybe some of my buildings are falling. When I am standing in front of my classes wondering what in the world am I doing and wondering whether anything I am saying is sticking at all. When I long to be with my sending community whether it be during times that I simply miss my family or tragedy in our nation. When this feels like more than I can handle. I will remember Mexico’s call:
When I am full of doubt, lacking grace, and holding on too tightly to control, I will remember the same thing God calls to me:
Part of the garden at my school, with the "Casa de herramientas" aka tool shed in the background.
A lovely sunset-painted sky as seen from the town center while I sat and enjoyed an ice cream.
The city center of Tlaxcala (the capital city of the state of Tlaxcala) shortly after the earthquake on September 19th filled with people collecting support for those greatly affected by the earthquake, anything from food items to money.
The view of Iztaccihuatl, a dormant volcano on the border of Mexico and Puebla; not pictured is Popocatepetl, an active volcano next to it. This photo was taken at my school after the earthquake when classes were suspended.
Day of the Dead was celebrated the first two days of November. This is an "ofrenda" or altar in Puebla's Corridor de Ofrendas; it is much larger and more extravagant than a typical one found in a home!
One of the dogs that hangs around my school that I often give tortillas to after desayuno. I don't think my work would be happy with me knowing I'm keeping her around, but I can't help myself!
A moment of truth: teaching is really hard. I fully expected it to be a challenge coming in and was not naive in thinking that I would be good at it right away. However, it is a very real encounter with failure, and a test of my resilience: it seems like I fail daily, and yet every morning I somehow drag myself out of bed and get ready for a new day. I am trying my best to remember that while my job here is to teach, my purpose is to just be. So far, making that distinction has not made things easier, but has made it better. In the meantime, I am comforted by the words of 2 Corinthians: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.So this this year I will continue to embrace my weakness, trusting that God will do work through me, all the while listening to God's constant reminder
Thank you so much for your continued encouragement and support. Please let me know how you are doing and all that is going on in your life! Wishing you strength and peace today and always!