The next day was rainy, just like it is today, and we went down the street to the Mega to buy some necessities we'd left behind. In an attempt to get the important things in our bags within the weight limit, we went with only the things we didn't think we'd find there. We spent at least two hours in the store and by the time we got home, I realized we didn't really buy much at all. Most of our time was spent staring in "sticker shock" at what looked like a price of 120 for a laundry basket. Jonathan had spent time in Mexico before so he began trying to convert pesos into dollars and we quickly realized that the prices were comparable to the States. The grocery section was terrifyingly unfamiliar. We spent I don't know how long hunting for the milk, which we finally found in boxes on the shelves (not in a cooled case) with instructions: "Refrigerar despues de abrir." In the end, I don't think we left with much more than the necessary components to make PB&Js for dinner and breakfast the next morning. I did buy a bag of coffee and a single serving coffee maker. Much to my disappointment the next morning, the coffee, which I expected to be a wonderfully flavorful Mexican brew, tasted like mud. I quit drinking coffee within about a week.
It was, to say the least, culture shock at its finest. So much of what I was used to was no where to be found. The street signs were different; I only recognized McDonalds; there were stray dogs everywhere; there was no landscaping whatsoever; the traffic was horrendous; I didn't have a stove to cook on and I couldn't find the foods I wanted to cook in the grocery; communication was nearly nonexistent; even the GatoPal cat food I bought for Jade gave her the runs. It was not a pal to my gato. I felt like crying. I did cry.
"What am I doing here?" "Can I just hide from all this craziness?"
I think she wanted to hide, too.
It didn't take me but a few days to go from answering the question "Hablas Español?" with "Un poco" to "Un pocititititititititito." I could hardly begin a sentence before I got stumped on a word I didn't know or realized I wanted to use a conjugation I wasn't familiar with. During the first four weeks, I didn't say much of anything at all. I talked to Jonathan in English and asked him to translate and relay what I said in Spanish. After a couple days of that, he was getting frustrated with me because I had so much I wanted to say but so little I could say. I realized I was either going to sink or swim and I was determined to swim. Within about two months of being there, I was able to invite someone to a meeting in a village and stumble my way through explaining what time, where, and what kinds of children's activities would be there. I distinctly remember feeling like I was going to make it after that encounter.
Then life began to feel conquerable. I wasn't terrified to get into a spot where I was forced to speak in Spanish with no fellow English speaker back-up. Shopping for edible groceries amidst the rows and rows of jalapeño sauces and mayo with weird flavorings became normal to me. We learned the roads and the quickest ways to get from point A to point B. Stray dogs became the norm and I knew where to look for my favorite ones to see if they were still "makin' it" (read: alive). The young teenage girls began to talk to me more and I felt like was actually able to impact them in some way. We made friends with people at the different places we frequented and were given the opportunity to share with them why we were there. I even found a decent place to get a cup of Joe when I had the urge.
Our church became home. The believers there are precious to us and we miss them terribly. They encouraged us, challenged us, taught us, helped us and most of all loved us. Many of the ladies there took me under their wing, so to speak, and treated me like their own daughter. We were honored to serve alongside them and learn from the ministries they were already involved in.
I met weekly with a few American ladies and Wednesday mornings became a respite for me. They helped me find things I was desperate for, referred me to a doctor and so on. Speaking English with someone other than Jonathan was a welcome change and like music to my ears.
Daily life was hard. The heat was overwhelming and the conditions were less than desirable. Certainly, knowing we were there temporarily made it easier and harder at the same time. We didn't want to invest the money in a working car or making repairs which weren't ours to make. Had we planned to live there long term, we could've fixed much of what was making our lives miserable. Looking back now, I wish I had been able to cherish those difficult moments more. Now the things which are endearing to me outweigh those which seemed unbearable at the time. While we were living it, however, the hardship was like a cloud over everything else we did. On top of it all, I was pregnant and sick for the last two months we were there.
I am thankful that I experienced living so minimally in such an early part of my married life. If it weren't for that, I think I would've succumb to the idea of the standard of living we hold in the US. Because I spent enough time in a two room "apartment" on a back road in Mexico I now realize the things which are necessary for me to function in life. Admittedly, some can function on less than I can. Others need more to function. However, I see now the few things which make life bearable for me and the things which, if forced to go without for any significant length of time, drive me crazy! Included in those are: a reversable car, a working kitchen, a way to cool down from the heat, and a means of communication to family and friends in my homeland. A cozy cottage with beautiful decorations I would love to have. But, so long as I have the above listed things, I will do my best to not complain about the things I don't have.
I was made to live cross-culturally. That is not to say that I was made to live in the most rustic or difficult culture. It is to say, however, that I am always excited and motivated by a challenge. I miss living where everything doesn't just come naturally and I am forced to figure things out for myself. I miss hearing another language daily and trying to keep my vocabulary up with my tongue. For this time, I am cherishing the moments we have here near friends and family in the States, but I am thankful that I feel my heart eager to go away again. It makes the thought of leaving a little more bearable.
Grasping the fact that I will likely never live in Cancun again is hard for me. Believing that I'll never spend more than a vacation with our beloved friends there seems impossible. If I had my way, we would move back and minister there for many years to come. My heart longs to go back and live there again with what I see and know now about myself. However, the Lord has not directed us to do that. And I am excited to see how life will be in another country. Thinking of making new memories, this time with my precious son, thrills me! We'll be sure to remind him, though, that he was
I will always cherish our time in Cancun. I remember fondly the people there and hope to visit them again before we leave for Africa. Maybe we'll take a sabbatical in Mexico one day and get to spend more than a week in the place which taught us so much about ourselves, our faith, our lives, and our future together.