Community

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*knock knock knock knock

We’ve spent the last four days driving a little over 2,000 miles and now we’re exhausted. That said, there is no part of me that is annoyed or perturbed as I swing my legs over the creaky bed and feel for my flip flops.

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     Mexico City at sunset.

*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

It’s getting louder. My wife beats me to the door and she finds a tall 10 year old girl with long black hair and kind black eyes. The girl can’t weigh more than 70lbs and her shirt hangs on her small shoulders like a bath towel on a wall hook.

“Would you like something to eat before bed or maybe some water to drink?” she says (obviously in Spanish).

I’m sitting on the bed completely dumbfounded. She just knocked on the door furiously to ask if we were hungry or wanted some water.

Hospitality n. something I know nothing about.

We’ve been in Mexico City for three days now, and more and more I’m coming to realize that I know nothing about community, hospitality, or family. These people open their homes to one another, and not just in the “I’ve got an early class tomorrow so everyone try to be out by 9:30, oh, and don’t break any of my stuff” kind of home opening. This is different. Everyone opens their homes to one another. They go out of their way to make sure that you have enough to eat, even if you were a surprise guest. I haven’t once felt that awkward stare that someone gives you when you are using one of their things. You know- that watching you from the corner of their eyes just in case you break the toy that you just borrowed, look? I haven’t felt that here. And I’ve been using and borrowing loads of things.

There’s a different mentality here. In America, if I need to rake my leaves, what do I do? I simply drive down to Home Depot or Lowes or whatever places sell rakes and buy a rake. I pick the color that I like and the kind of rake that I need. Simple as that. Here, that’s not how things work. If you need a rake you ask someone if you can borrow one. It doesn’t matter how far or thin that connection with that person is, you know that they have a rake and they know that they’ll probably get it back.

Community.

I’m not railing against the American system of doing things, I’m simply saying that community is far less lonely and far stronger than I ever imagined. I’m humbled by the love that I get to give and that I receive on a daily basis. I’m instantly a part of a giant family that calls me brother and backs it up by helping me. I get to help my new little sister change her roller blades to roller skates because she wants to (for some unknown reason) walk up the two flights of stairs in our home with them. I get to help my house mom with the dishes after dinner, or cook “food of China” for everyone. Its family like it used to be, but with complete strangers.

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Cabin fever in the middle of traffic.

And how is all of this possible? God. I’m not naïve, I can see the allure of community is the same allure of hippie communes and cults: they give people what they either once had or never had. But, here in Mexico City, our home isn’t a forced getting along and biting our tongues type of operation. This is an extension of the Spirit that lives in us. This is what Christianity is supposed to be. “Hey, I have two coats and I see that you’re cold. Take one of mine.” Or more recently, “Hey, I see that you need a wrench and I have one. What’s mine is yours because God gave me everything and Christ is the greatest treasure of my life, so, take whatever you want.”

You’re talking about Communism! You’ve been converted to Communism!

No, I’m not. Communism was a political system that imposed community on people. That doesn’t work and history speaks of its failure. I’m talking about Christ-centered, Agape-driven (God’s love-driven), community.

So, here we are day four into another adventure and already there are ideas fighting against the giant concepts and structures that I’ve been taught my whole life. I pray for wisdom as I head to bed and look forward to what God has planned for tomorrow.

“Here is another illustration that Jesus used, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.’” Matthew 13:31 & 32

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