The Journey We Walk, Together

Five years ago, our family of 5 joined a caravan of 50 others, bound for Mexico. The intent of our Spring Break trip was to "help others." We were headed to San Luis, Mexico for a week of building together – both homes and relationships. My husband, Paul and I had been on multiple short term mission trips prior to this first time experience for our boys. Our youngest son, Andrew was only 10 years old when we went. He was the youngest on the team – but bound and determined to work alongside the more experienced builders.

In preparation for the trip, we had worked together with our team on understanding cultural differences, how to swing a hammer and also a few words in Spanish. We had packed our bags, put on our sunscreen and prepared for the long drive. It took us two and a half days to get to our destination – arriving at the sandy yard and tent city we called home for the next week. I felt like I had returned to my former home in some ways. The smell of the bricks, feel of the sand and the sounds – late into the night along with the early morning dog barking and rooster crowing took me back to my first trip south of the border. However, I wasn't prepared for what would happen on Monday afternoon.

Monday was our first day on the job site. We were introduced to the soon to be home owner, Carla. She was only 25 years old and the single parent of 5 children. Carla, along with her five kids and their bunny rabbit they'd named Hoppy all lived together in a truck camper. Carla didn't speak English, and here I was, not speaking Spanish. We didn't mind that so much, because she and I could both point to things and teach each other the names of things in our own language.

After a hot morning, getting the first of the studs put together on her new home, Andrew hit a wall. I mean an emotional wall. It was only our first day at Carla's, and he was ready to come home. He was hot, hungry and a bit overwhelmed. He was overwhelmed with what he saw, and didn't see. His reaction was a desire to leave this place behind. Carla noticed my son crying. She too, a Mom, could feel the pain of her own child crying. She came over, spoke to Andrew, "Andres, crying?" She then took him by the hand and walked him over to the back of her camper and offered him a broken truck to play with. She smiled at him and tried as I have done many times, to distract him and show him the good in the day. Quickly, his tears were replaced with a grin and the realization that Carla and her kids were not that different than our family. And Carla, was not much different than his own Mom, me.

What I gained that day was a new perspective on my cross cultural experiences. I learned that motherhood has many of the same hurts, joys and "tricks of the trade" regardless of the culture. I learned that friendships can be made, regardless of language and socio-economics. I learned that we as parents need one another. It doesn't matter the age of our children, the places we live or the stage of life we are in - parents can relate to one another – if we take the time.

I know when we were preparing to send our kids off to college - I wanted to believe I was an expert. I read books, did my research and held my chin high. A funny thing happened, I was humbled. Before I had children, I was under the delusion that God would let me be a mother – because he thought I would be a good one, I realized it had nothing to do with that. It was because he had so much to teach me, and he'd use kids to do it. I have also realized the same is still true today. God is using my college kids to give me experiences to TRUST him! And my joy is to walk along side other parents doing the same thing. Much like my experience in Mexico with Carla, I get to walk along with you as parents sharing our hopes and joys, hurts and frustrations with the college years. So – share with me, your stories. Let's walk this road together.

Joy in my Journey,

Nancy Almquist
Nancy Almquist

Director of Parent Relations