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Maya News April 2014

Apr 05, 2014

A few months ago I received a note from a group of college students from Arizona.


They wanted to do a day of service here in the Yucatan. I remember thinking: “Yeah …they will try to build one bathroom, spend the rest of the days on spring break in Cancun getting drunk, and then tell everyone, they changed Mexico for the better.”


I tried to dissuade them. They insisted on working one whole day, and wanted it to be with children. There went my idea of building bathrooms! I wrote: “Our kids don’t arrive for programs until mid afternoon. Maybe they would like me to show them the Maya Ruins instead. “


“No Way!,” they responded. “We are coming for service and service it will be !”


“Sure,” I thought to myself.


Apr 2014 newsletterSince they couldn’t work with the kids, I invited them to spend some time in the morning hours helping out at the HIV AIDS hospice. They hesitated and then I added: “There are some kids there too.”


They weren’t so sure, but agreed to give it a try. We would head to our Community Centers in Sierra Papacal and Cosgaya after they “worked ” in the AIDS facility.


They arrived in Merida about midnight – the night before they were to work “all day.”


I hinted that they might want to sleep in . ” NO WAY! WE ARE HERE TO SERVE!” O.K O.K.


They followed me out of the city and we ended up at the edge of Conkal and Hospice San Juan de Dios. Carlos, the boss, was in a car leaving when we arrived. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I will be right back.”


I knew then I would not see him the rest of the day.


“There is plenty of work for you all to do,” he shouted . “Roger will tell you what to do.”


Roger told us what to do! He handed us several large garbage bags. “Carlos would like you to pick up the rusted cans and the broken bottles that are in the pig pen.” I’m not kidding.


I was not a happy camper,but we headed out to the pig pen. I wondered why this s**t (excuse the expression, but that is exactly what is in a pig sty) had not been picked up ten years ago. Roger asked us to separate the glass from the rusted cans. Somehow my bag got them both. I was not about to separate that mess!


It must have been 90 degrees in the shade. We were sweating like pigs…oops.


Roger appeared again. “Carlos would like a couple of the young men to shower Poncho.”


Poncho is one of the patients. He is about 40. Had a stroke several years ago. He cannot speak. He is in a wheel chair and in constant pain. They would have to get him out of bed, into his wheel chair, and then get him into the shower. After his shower, they would have to put new sheets on the bed, make sure he had clean clothes and then get him back into the bed.


We are talking about college age youth. They know all about AIDS and HIV positive people. They knew there was very little risk. But they had never even seen someone like Poncho, let alone prepare him for a shower ! They looked at one another and then three of them said: “YES, WE ARE HERE TO SERVE.”


There were lots of groans from Poncho. Lots of sharing among the group about how they could do this. The young women prepared the bed and Ponchos “wardrobe”. The guys took him to the shower.


When it was over, there were smiles on everyone’s part. But we were all exhausted.


It was time for lunch.


When I got to the kitchen, the youth from Arizona were all together talking to one another. And they were crying! The service they came to offer was more real for them than anything they had anticipated.


I will never forget this experience. And neither will they!


Real service doesn’t change the people we help nearly as much as it changes us.


We are about to celebrate Holy Week and Easter.


We know Jesus taught us how to love and serve others. He embraced the leper. He loved others because he knew how much he was loved by God himself. The young people from Arizona and I myself learned a lot about what it means to help needy people. They help us more than we help them.


I hope we can understand God’s love for us a little more these weeks. I hope we can experience God’s love in new ways and through our service with others, wherever that may be. Then we will rise like Jesus to a new life and a new world.


Happy Easter. Happy YOU! Thanks for sharing your love !


Paz y amor.



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