Last week we had a visitor from Canada – one of my very favorite people ever. I always tell visitors that our doors are open, the rent is free BUT when they get home they must write a post about their experience with us. Their story, their thoughts, their lessons. That is the price of spending a week in OUR paradise. So here are the thoughts of my dear friend Niki who blessed us immensely with her presence in our lives and in our home:
I had the amazing opportunity to spend a week in the home of some of the people I love and admire the most on this planet this past month. Typically, when I travel to Mexico, it looks a lot different than it did this time, because this time I got to experience “normal” everyday life, living on a dirt road in a local community in Bucerias with the Swansons. Although, I would not really call it normal in any way, shape, or form.
As I arrived in PV, we climbed into their cute little VW bug. The first thing I noticed was their warm welcoming smiles and hugs, (man do I miss these people), second was the fact that I knew how to say “no Gracious” to each person at the airport who asked if I needed a cab – and in fact I think some of them could see I wasn’t completely vulnerable to that ask. Third as we climbed into their cute little VW bug I realized that my hair would not look like I combed it at all for the next 7 days. The wind blowing through it, flying in my face and the adventure had begun.
Within hours we were walking through the local market. Quite different than the market most tourists probably experience. 2 Blond girls walking through the paths stood out like a bright light on a dark road.
I was in awe of how my friends knew their way through the winding dirt roads and how they have learned to navigate their way in this totally different world.
We had to find the produce stand, and after a while we did and got the vegetables we would need for the week.
We then headed out to an area of great need. What may be a 20 minute trip at home – took about 2 hours here. It was where we would pick up a child who needed a ride back to the Orphanage for the week. I had been here before, so my heart and head were more prepared this time. But in so many ways, it still felt surreal, like a movie “is this the same world I live in?” “How can this be?” I did however see some improvement from the last time I was there and that made me happy. The moment we began to drive back to the Orphanage the little boy we picked up, immediately knew he was safe, and fell asleep with his head on Karen’s shoulder. These people live love! They are some of the very few safe people that these children know that are completely safe. To walk back into the Orphanage after 4 years and see the ones who have grown up, to miss the ones who are no longer there, and to recognize that even though this is better than the children being at home – this is still not the greatest place for these children to grow up. Again, my heart was changed.
The days consisted of driving and delivering golf carts to tourists in town enjoying Mexico. Walking the streets, and seeing the most interesting sights. There were days when we would be driving back through the streets in a golf cart when I would hear “KAREN…KAREN…” and Karen would say “Grant Stop the cart..she would jump out and the children would run down the street and throw their arms around her. You see this is who the Swansons are, they are love, they love the least of these, and again, I was the one who was blessed, inspired, and encouraged.
You see I actually went to see the Swanson’s to find some healing for my own heart. And what I learned once again is that, it is more blessed to give than to receive. And although I did receive when I was there, I also was able to give love along side of the Swansons, and this is where the healing happens.
One afternoon I spent some time with a local friend and when she dropped me off, nobody was home. So I sat in the golf cart in the street and looked, and watched the dogs, the chickens, and the people. I heard the sounds of the language I don’t understand, felt the warmth of the sun, for almost 2 hours, I just took part in what was going on all around me, and again, I was blessed, and more healing happened.
At the start of the week, Grant said – “Here are the keys to the golf cart – go ahead.” I was terrified to do that on my own. But as the days went on, I realized that I am braver than I think, and I began to venture out a little bit more each day, and again, I was blessed, and more healing happened.
All of this to say some people move to Mexico to retire, some people go to have fun, some people go for a vacation, and I believe that those things can all be very good. I got to have fun, eat at the street taco shops, cool local restaurants. I got to visit with some amazing friends I have made over the past years, see a local preschool operate. I got to meet some pretty neat tourists, I got to eat a cheese burger on the beach and watch the sunset with amazing people, I got to see the magnificent beauty of whales jumping and experience the rugged beach of a community close by. I also got to help the Swanson’s teach children English, hand out hugs to kids who don’t get enough of them, I got to bless a young momma with some clothes for her kids, and was humbled by how hard she was working to provide for her family, I got to hear the stories that tug on my friends hearts, and see the weight they carry as they just desire to help so many, and through it all I got blessed.
Joining with my friends in their NORMAL – NOT SO NORMAL lives was not the typical vacation to Mexico, but it has been one of my favorites by far. To the friends who sent me on the plane, to the friends who let me serve and live beside them, I was the one who got blessed.
Love can look like a lot of things to a lot of people. But what I saw with my own eyes was a life of love being poured out to so many who just need a chance. And again – My life was changed.
Normal doesn’t have to look so normal after all!