Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sacred Ground in El Tejocote

Then God said, “Come no closer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
(NRSV: Exodus 3:5)

This quotation came to my mind when I was in El Tejocote this past week. Just speaking with some of the members of the 148 families that were forced to leave their village by the rain and flooding and mudslides in September seemed like a “divine experience,” and I really felt like I was on “holy ground.”
Arriving at El Tejocote
These families are just some of the thousands of displaced families here in La Montaña in the state of Guerrero. Their situation is precarious. Most of the people have no work. The nights are very cold, and many people, especially children, have a rasping cough. There is no electricity (even though there are power lines beside their settlement). It is the dry season, so it is impossible to plant crops. The community has been very involved in the struggle to get the government—both state and federal—to commit to providing temporarily these displaced communities with beans, rice, and corn. So far, no such commitment has been made.
Part of "Main Street" in El Tejocote
I went originally to bring a bundle of twenty-five woolen blankets to the community. The community had told me previously that they would meet in an assembly and come up with a list of twenty-five elderly people who definitely needed better protection from the cold at night.
Some of the blankets provided
When I showed up with the blankets, Doña Hermelinda, part of the democratically elected committee coordinating the activities of the community, showed me the list that they had come up with. She smiled when I mentioned that the list had closer to one hundred names, not twenty-five. She stated simply, “The other names are in order of need, just in case you find more blankets.”
Doña Hermelinda with her list of recipients
So, my friends, I returned the next day with twenty-five more blankets, thus providing at least fifty people in the community with a warmer sleeping experience. It is true that the physical blanket makes a difference in these people’s lives. It is also true that the realization that other people are willing to help them makes a difference in these people’s lives. I would be hard put to have to decide which is most important: the nourishment of the body or the nourishment of the soul. These people are grateful for both.
Two generations in El Tejocote
Thank you, Canadian friends, for supporting Mission Mexico. Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives. I hope that you have a great week. I suspect that the cold winter up north leads you to also be grateful for your blanket. God bless.          
One family invited me into their home—"sacred ground"—for lunch

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