Amigos in Mexico
One time I went to Mexico, accepted a ride from strangers, and then they gave me the keys to their friend’s apartment when he was out of town. This is that story.I went to Mexico, and strangers gave me the keys to their friend’s apartment when he was out of town.
When I was in college, another student that volunteered with youth ministry was trying to get a group to go to Mexico over Christmas break. He put together a packet of information that painted a picture of an adventure that would take us to beaches and cities, traveling by bus and by foot.
The trip that I agreed to was definitely very different from the actual trip. For starters, the person who was fluent in Spanish didn’t go, and well, you can already tell where this is going.
So there we were… three college guys determined to go to Mexico. My friends Steve and Parker didn’t seem to be too worried about our bilingual friend backing out. But, I was. I spoke about 10 words of Spanish (note to my younger self: taking German in high school will NEVER come in handy). Parker could fake his way through a Spanish conversation, and Steve was somewhere in between.
The three of us drove my minivan from Indiana to Texas. We almost ditched the van at a truck stop in who-knows-where when it wouldn’t start, but we got it running right before Parker started to hitchhike.We almost ditched the van at a truck stop in who-knows-where when it wouldn’t start.
In San Antonio, we hopped on a bus to Mexico and the adventure continued. We really had a great time… other than Steve getting pretty sick for a few days.
We arrived in Mazatlan just in time for New Year’s Eve – we just needed a quick nap after all the bus rides. We woke up at 9 AM the next morning. Yes, we slept through all the festivities. (There are hundreds of these stories.)
But the story I want to tell you is about Jorge and Arturo. They are two young guys from Leon, Mexico that we met at our youth hostel in Mazatlan. They spoke some English, which was cool because I did too.
We were talking about our plans and we said that we were going to go to San Blas to try to surf and then head over to Guadalajara. They talked us out of the latter by insisting that we go to San Blas together and then we visit them in Leon (which they promised was much better than Guadalajara). We could even ride in the back seat of their car!
So, after failing miserably at surfing and getting eaten by a plague status of mosquitoes, we gave up on San Blas and headed to Leon with Arturo and Jorge. When we got there, they made a few phone calls. They both lived with their parents, but they thought we could stay with their friend, Ricardo.
As it turned out, Ricardo was out of town for a wedding, so they grabbed the hidden key and let us stay at his apartment – with his permission.
Now, let me recap what just happened. Three guys from the United States who spoke medium to no Spanish, dressed in dirty clothes, and quite frankly looked homeless were invited to stay at someone else’s house, unattended. Yes. That is the truth. They gave us the key, showed us where everything was, and then said they would be back in the morning to show us around the town!
We had a great time. Three King’s eve in Leon (major festival), a day trip to Guanajuato, dinner with Arturo’s family, and an epic soccer (fútbol) game of Leon vs. Guadalajara. Before we left, I remember our goodbye to our new friends saying, “I am very sad to say that if the situation was reversed, I don’t know a single person that would do what you did for us.”
Seriously, if you met some 20-year-old Mexicans that spoke little to no English, would you invite them to stay at your house without any supervision? Would I be this generous and hospitable to random strangers?If you met some 20-year-old Mexicans, would you invite them to stay at your house?
In Luke 10, Jesus gives us His definition of neighbor in the story of the Good Samaritan. It is the story of a man who goes out of his way to help a random stranger, and in this case, even an enemy.
I learned a lot about generosity from those two guys. They had nothing to gain by helping us. We were poor college students and they were just being nice. I think of them often and hope that I can be as generous and welcoming to strangers, foreigners, and people that need a little hospitality.
You might not be able to invite random strangers into your home, but here are some practical ways to show hospitality to your friends and peers at school:
- Be friendly and greet classmates or co-workers, especially with those you wouldn’t consider friends. Smile and be thankful to the lunch server or janitor — just be intentional about greeting someone you would normally walk by without acknowledging.
- The next time you see someone sitting by themselves at lunch, invite them to sit with you. Or if that’s not an option, sit with them!
- Stick up for someone being teased.
These may seem like small ways to show hospitality compared to the way that “mis amigos” (that means my friends if you find yourself googling the translation) in Mexico treated us… but they will definitely show someone else that you care.
Sometimes following Christ means taking risks. Sometimes someone might take advantage of us, but regardless we are still called to love everyone.
Our generosity could lead to our happiness (read that blog).
P.S.: We also got pulled over, bribed police, befriended cliff divers, bought a Che Guevara shirt, danced on tabletops, and much more. But those stories will have to wait.