Constitution Day Greetings from Mexico City!

Date posted: Monday 06 February 2017

Greetings from Mexico City on Mexican Constitution Day! Today is a national holiday remembering the day exactly one hundred years ago that the Constitution of 1917 was approved during the Mexican Revolution.


Life in Mexico is filled with joys and challenges. The struggle to communicate has become a daily adventure. My Spanish skills have improved in my five months here to the point where I can have conversations at a very basic level. However, it is a very humbling experience trying to speak someone else's language. Nearly every day someone says something to me that I don't understand.


I was assigned to work this year at a migrant shelter in Mexico City. The majority of the guests at the shelter are men coming from Central America escaping violence or looking to improve their economic situation. Some of them plan to stay and work in Mexico. Many dream of a chance to work in the United States.


One day I met and registered a new guest named Edgar. He arrived on crutches with a large gash in his leg and missing part of a finger. He had been living near the border between the US and Mexico, possibly saving money for his chance to cross, when he was attacked and robbed, which is not an uncommon experience. Somehow he made his way back to Mexico City and spent a few weeks in the shelter where I volunteer.


Despite his circumstances, Edgar always had a smile on his face and a very positive attitude. The shelter helped him to contact the consulate of El Salvador and secure funding for a flight back to El Salvador where he was reunited with his family.


Working at a shelter gives me a new perspective about what things are necessary in life. Many migrants have spent weeks running from authorities, being victims of robbery, riding on trains and buses, sleeping outside, or begging for food. When one new migrant came to the shelter I asked if he wanted to join a class that was happening in the lounge; he told me that all he wanted was a shower.


This week we are leaving for a retreat which will take us to the border region between Mexico and the US near Douglas, Arizona. This retreat marks the halfway point of my year of service in Mexico City.


A major lesson learned to this point is to be grateful for all that you have. The USA is a place with far better security, opportunity, and standard of living than many places in the world. Any time you take a hot shower, sleep in a comfortable bed, or eat a filling meal remember that somewhere there is a migrant without these seemingly basic comforts.


Tim Gabriel is serving through Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) on behalf of the Saint Paul Area Synod & his home church, Redeemer Lutheran, White Bear Lake. Learn more about Tim & other missionaries here.