This blog is pretty new & missing a lot of background information, so in an attempt to make up for some of that I'd like to tell you all a little story.
Once upon a time in Mexico... No wait, that's a Johnny Depp movie.
In 2007, Hot Metal went to Mexico. I wasn't on that first mission trip but it was the start of a relationship that's continuing to grow and strengthen between 2 groups of people: Pastor Pablo's churches in Chiapas, Mexico & ours in Pittsburgh.
I say it's a relationship because it's more than just meeting new people when we travel & it's definitely way more than a "cause" that we support from a distance. We're family. We've learned that what we have in common trumps all of our differences. I guess that's how it's supposed to be with believers, you share a heart. (side note: that's probably why it's so frustrating when people who are supposedly on the same team are hurtful & hateful & try to separate "us" from "them". Broken hearts hurt.) But before I get too sentimental, let me share a few things about our Mexican friends:
Poverty- Chiapas is the poorest part of Mexico. When we visit our hosts offer up the most valued commodities they can afford: coca-cola & chicken. In Matzam, a village we've spent some time in, their main income is growing & selling calla lilies which sell for just a few cents. As a girl in Pittsburgh, I can't starve... even if I have to rely on community meals & dumpster food I won't die. In Chiapas there are no such assurances.
Health Care- Over 1,000,000 people in the state of Chiapas have no access to medical facilities. Communities that are 70% or more indigenous have on average one doctor for every 25,000 people. The first group to visit from Hot Metal heard the story of a young man who had to have an operation twice because the first time the doctors merely cut and then stitched the skin on his stomach, to make it appear that they had operated. To bring it home a little, on our 2nd visit our friend was in a terrible, terrible accident & could have died... we were 2 miles from a brand new medical clinic which is nothing short of a miracle. The next closest hospital was 3 hours away. But even with that amazing provision it's a real eye opener when one of YOUR friends can't have proper treatment even inside of a hospital.
Faith- Mexicans put us to shame with their knowledge of the bible & faith in God's provision. You can't argue it. People walk miles & miles to church, there aren't enough pastors so members of the congregation have to step up, elders of the church have a full-time job to take care of the people of their congregation which means they can't give their time to supporting themselves. My friends in Chiapas are what I'd like to refer to as "hardcore". What's sad is that some (let me stress SOME, not all) denominations have severely distorted their beliefs and pretty much rob already impoverished people for more money. I won't get into, but ask if you want to know some of the ways the church abuses people.
Why We Go- Because we care. Because we're a family. Because we helped to build a Medical Center & a new Church. Because God tells us that we're 1 body that rejoices together & suffers together.
Because we're in this together.