By Quinn Middleton
In everything I’ve ever heard, read or experienced concerning poverty, never has isolation been explained as an integral part. But this week Saul Cruz has played an instrumental role in altering — or more accurately, maturing — my views on how I approach poverty and mission work.
Mexico is in a separate time-zone, and not just because of its geographic location. “Mexican time” is a strange phenomenon to a schedule-bound American like myself. The expression reflects the priorities of the locals. Relationships come before the clock — always. Story times are ubiquitous — they pervade the culture. Meal times aren’t over until people have had their fill of food and conversation. Bible studies don’t finish until people have spoken the words on their hearts. Not to mention that six-hour bus rides take nine-and-a-half hours… and there’s always time to stop at the market.
As the week progressed, though, I learned that Mexican time provides space for a crucial component in dealing with poverty. Talking with people is just as important as serving them. By listening and sharing our lives and cultures, we are building a global community of believers that can support each other. So in essence, we fight poverty when we laugh and cook together. We fight poverty when we all sing Rihanna songs while drying dishes. We fight poverty when we attempt to dance their traditional Oaxacan dances. And it is beautiful. I learned that if the mission trip solely focused on giving out our leftover goods, we’d be missing the sweetest treasures. It’s the relationships with the people that caused my heart to melt. Learning their stories and relating to their struggles has changed the way I will approach my future in ministry and nonprofit work.