Cacalchen, Mexico | My Family Travels
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In the summer before 9th grade, I went on a Mission trip to Cacalchen, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula.  For a week, I was immersed into a culture that was totally foreign and alien to me.  What struck me the hardest was the poverty and scrappy lifestyle that the native Mexicans were living.  On the first day that we landed on Cacalchen, we walked through the streets and handed out brochures informing the villagers where to find us for medical aid during the day and fellowship during the evenings.  As I walked down the dusty, cracking asphalt streets, I noticed that the houses were made of concrete and aluminum foil roofs and were the size of my kitchen at home.  They had no windows and no lawn.  Old, rusty farm and work equipment littered the mud in front of the house and rotting wooden fences feebly separated the households.  The radiant Mexican sun burned us, and when we stopped for a break, a long ring of sweat drenched my shirt.  As we walked through the roads, the children came up to us all smiles.  The adults also greeted us warmly and offered us the little food that they had grilling in the middle of the street.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted, sticky, and sunburned, and when we finally stepped into our air-conditioned rooms at the mission house, I thought something:  As we slept on our mattresses in a cool room with A/C, the same families that we had met only a few hours ago slept cramped in their humid, dirty houses.  The scorched aluminum roofs that soaked up the sun throughout the arid day would only add to the sultry temperature of the house’s interior.  Mosquitoes would fly in through the gaps in the house, and the countless stray dogs would relieve themselves on the house at night.  Yet the people were still cheery and praised God each and every day.  The next afternoon, the elementary children, clad with old, grimy shirts and muddy faces would cling to my arms and chase me around, laughing and screaming with joy.  The adults would hang around the village or attend the sessions that we held at Cacalchen.  These adults had no jobs – the whole village was supported by federal money given to them by the Mexican government because they could not sustain themselves.

Despite these monetary obstacles, the people knew how to love life even without the luxuries of clean running water, sanitary toilets, new clothes, medical aid, and having enough to eat.  Through this experience, I learned first-hand how poverty is prevalent outside of America.  I learned exactly what unfortunate people had to go through each day, and I have taken this experience and taken it to heart to remember the helpless and the poor.  I’ve learned that everything that I have is a huge blessing, simply because I was born to the right parents.  I could just as easily been living as one of the needy in Cacalchen, and this experience really hit home on that truth.

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