A Week In My Life
By Lynn Betsanes
Project Mexico? Hmmm… That is what was running through my head when I found out a group from St. Luke was going on the trip. After all - what is a week - right?! It was hard to imagine what it would entail having never been there, but how bad could it be? It was only a week.
While talking about it in the months leading up to the trip, many people said, “I could never do something like that!” “You are so holy!” “You are so good!” Well let me tell you - I did not feel so holy or good! It just seemed right, and again, it was just a week of my time. How hard could that be?
When I realized that asking for donations was part of the preparation, I went into panic mode! How could I ask people to give me money? It was awkward and weird and just downright uncomfortable! I did it despite my feelings since this is part of mission work, and I could not afford to fund both my daughter’s trip and mine. The overwhelming response was my first surprise of the whole experience. I simply could not believe how generous people were, both monetarily and with their kind words and offerings of prayer!
On the day we were to start our journey, we arrived at the airport just ahead of one of the worst storms we had in months! Needless to say, we were going to be delayed. When we were finally taking off six hours later I said, “Perhaps the lesson of this mission is going to be patience!” We arrived safely in California for a brief stay before heading into Mexico. During this time I experienced a health issue that sent me to the emergency room. While waiting there for what seemed like forever, I reflected again on patience being the theme of our trip. Thankfully I was well enough to continue with the mission.
We were given a tour when we arrived at the St. Innocent Orphanage. Then it was time to set up our tents, which would be our home for the week. It was going well until I saw Suzanne’s eyes pop wide open as she watched a dog come up to me and mark my leg with his scent! Ok God - I get the patience thing already!! I was designated as one of the three drivers but it became apparent on the first workday that driving on mountain and dirt roads without guardrails was not for me as a passenger let alone a driver! Oh boy! I hate heights and this is not exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for this trip! In fact I was starting to think maybe I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip at all! Father Andrew assured me that this was not the case and the evil one was trying to interfere with my mission! Now why didn’t I think of that? He was right - I was here and I was going to do God’s work no matter what.
The work was hard and the sun was hot. The days were long and dirty and the showers were FREEZING cold. I made enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to feed my family for an entire school year and ate rice and beans for every breakfast and dinner for the whole week! We won’t even talk about how many earwigs I - the bug hating champion - killed in our tent in seven days or the bull who put his head through it!
Sounds like a horrible trip - right? Well - wrong! In spite of all of these obstacles, I came away with more than I could have ever hoped for. I went to Mexico knowing I would meet people and help families in need, but I didn’t realize I was the one in need!
The families we helped were very poor and lived in dilapidated shacks. In spite of that, they were helpful, happy, and generous. I realized I have so much and I take it for granted. I was overwhelmed at how appreciative they were for what we gave them, which seemed so little compared to what I have. It opened my eyes to see that the really important things in life are not always physical in nature or measured in quantity.
I gave my time and talent for a short little week, but I gained so much more than they did. I really believe that they are closer to God because they live so simply. I hope as I go about my hectic life, I will remember to slow down and continually thank God for all of the blessings that I have.
It seems that one little week was enough to give me a glimpse of what is important in my life, but was it enough to change my life forever? Well – maybe, but to be sure, I better go back next year! After all - what’s one week - right?!