An Unforgettable Mexican Journey This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     BeforeI went to Tijuana, Mexico, I had heard about the poverty there, but wasastonished to hear that these living conditions exist just seven miles from SanDiego, California. It was then I decided to help. Although I had doneservice-learning trips before, nothing could have prepared me for the conditionsI encountered.

After the paperwork and medical exams were completed andeveryone was packed, the small group from my church set off. When we finallyarrived in Mexico, we could not wait to get settled. We stayed in the center oftown at a seminary surrounded by a 20-foot wall with guards at each entrance. Wewere not expecting great accomodations, but what we thought we were prepared tohandle turned out to be a disaster. Cockroaches, dirt, mosquitoes and insects ofevery kind swarmed as we slept, with two people crammed into each single bedroom.It was amazing to think that the people of Tijuana considered the seminary asanitary place, and I wondered how they survived.

As the days passed, wegrew accustomed to our new lifestyle. My group was assigned to work with theOrder of the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa founded. I couldnot wait to get started. Our project consisted of running a Bible camp for thetown's children in the morning and painting the convent in the afternoon. Thechildren, wearing the same clothes every day, came down from the hills to theconvent and always arrived smiling and ready for action at 9 a.m. Sometimesfour-year-olds would carry a younger sibling because their parents were unable toaccompany them through the crime and traffic on the rough dirtroads.

Painting was the easy part of our project. Although the dirt stungour eyes and the heat was exhausting, we all agreed that this was not the mostchallenging segment of our duties. The hardest thing was saying good-bye andwatching our companions start their journeys home at the end of each day. Theynever left without the nuns saying a prayer. It was amazing that such smallchildren had a better sense of faith than me and most people I know. Even in themidst of despair and poverty there can be hope and faith, sometimes even greaterthan in the midst of wealth and comfort.

Realizing this made me regretall the times I complained because I did not get what I wanted or threw away foodwithout thinking of those who do not have enough.

Going to Tijuana was anamazing reality check for me, bringing a sense of meaning to my life. Thespirituality and hope I experienced from the people of Tijuana opened my eyes toa new sense of faith and love. My journey was an experience I will never forget.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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