How is it December already? It’s the time for cold weather, snow, and hot chocolate with marshmallows, and of course Christmas. Well, for me, I guess it just means Christmas is coming because I will not be seeing snow, and I sure do not want to drink hot chocolate in still 80-degree weather. But, we have been getting some cooler weather in the evenings, so maybe hot chocolate will become a possibility in the near future! However, with many family-oriented holidays and traditions coming up, I started to think about one specific question: What does it mean to be part of a family? People will define family in different ways, but being separated from my biological family has me searching for family here in Mexico, and I did not have to look hard to find one.
I was very quickly and warmly welcomed into the 10 de Abril Family. This is where I work in the kitchen mostly. Our family consists of 4 workers, and around 30 people who come 3 days a week to be together. The people who come to work on their craft and eat a small meal gather around tables, discuss their lives, their children and grandchildren, with their friends sitting among them. I went on a retreat with my group here for a couple of days and missed some work at 10 de Abril. When I returned, everyone swarmed me with hugs to tell me and show me how much they missed me. I have become not only a familiar face, not only an extra person to cook and clean and work on a craft, but an actual member of the 10 de Abril Family.
When it comes to Las Palomas (the nursing home), I was also quickly welcomed into their family. I am the youngest of the women who work in Las Palomas (and the only one who doesn’t speak fluent Spanish), but I really feel a connection growing with them. We eat comida (the late-lunch meal) together 2 times a week, and we always chat and laugh about whatever is on our minds. They all have known each other for at least 4 years, and they haven’t even known me 4 months, but yet I definitely feel a part of their family. Also, all the senior citizens who live in Las Palomas freely welcomed me into their family. Many have started calling me “hija” (daughter) or “nieta” (granddaughter) and want me to call them mom, dad or grandma. All the other people call me “amiga” (friend) and continue to repeat that we have “Amistad” (friendship). Not only do I have a family of 5 wonderful women to help me through this journey, I also have 19 more grandmas and 9 more grandpas in my life.
I also live with a family here, and even though I am still trying to find a place within a large family, they are all wonderful people. It is hard to jump right into an established family that has functioned for so long without you, but the effort that has been made throughout my personal family and extended family has made me comfortable and definitely feel like I am home. Whether it is my abuelita (grandma) taking me on special trips or going to church every Sunday with me, my aunt introducing me to an aerobics class that I can take in the evenings, or introducing the foreign concept of “iced coffee” to my host mom and host sister and them forcing a smile on their faces as they try it, I can see and feel that I am becoming a member of this family. Also, I have to say that this past week I was hit with my first sickness in Mexico. I am definitely recovering, but I had two really long days with a high fever and couldn't basically move out of my bed. Even though I was almost too exhausted to leave my room, I still went downstairs to eat a little, and every time I was in sight, my host mom and grandma completely surrounded me with questions and love to see how I was doing. They were, and still are because I am still in the recovery phase, concerned about me, making sure I am getting enough fluids, rest, and I even got this special cream that my grandma swears by to help make my throat feel better. Being sick is never a great feeling, but being surrounded by a family while feeling bad always makes everything a whole lot better.
And, of course, the family that I have with me is definitely all my YAGMs in my group. I truly appreciate every time that we all get together as a group with our country coordinator and get to catch up and do a lot of story sharing and laughing. There is so much joy rooted in each person in my group, and it is such a blessing to share this journey with them, my Mexico family.
When it comes to family, we really are all connected through God. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:3-6, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Just as I have been accepted into all these new families, you are all also a part of this new family of mine because we are all interconnected through One God. To me, this proves, “Somos Uno en Cristo” (We are One in Christ).
Thank you all for being a part of my family!