By Arturo Molina
Director of Pastoral & Community Ministry
The families in the San Quintin Valley live in a poverty in which they have grown accustomed to over many generations. They are born into a home with very little, and when they reach childhood many of them go to work in the field with their parents, and from then on, the ‘chip’ of that lifestyle beings to be programmed in their mind. When they are young, few of them end up finishing middle school, and even fewer barely finish high school. The rest of them stay where they are and just continue doing what they’ve been taught since childhood, which is working in the fields.
Some pastors consider this a generational curse, others consider it a vicious cycle. But despite what it may be called, the fact remains that they are born and raised to live only one way their whole life. And this lifestyle doesn’t allow them to aspire to something greater, or at least different.
In Mexico, we have fallen into the custom of distrust. I call it a custom because it has become part of who we are to distrust others. Expecting someone’s kindness to be driven by some kind of ulterior motive has become normal. And perhaps it’s the challenges we’ve faced in our lives that have made us distrust, and that has led many people to live only one way.
When foreigners come and treat people in San Quintin with a gentleness and love that they have never experienced, they begin to see clarity in their lives. And over the course of just a few days, they experience a friendship from these strange people who have come to bring hope to their lives. It’s possible that a foreigner may see it as a simple act of charity, but for the Mexican people, it is much more than that. To see a group of foreigners come, and with love, passion, and dedication build a house, that goes beyond just something tangible, that completely changes their ‘chip’. They begin to ask themselves how something beyond what they could ever imagine in their wildest dreams could be possible.
People’s lives begin to change when they see that last week they may have been living in a 4’ x 4’ home, made of plastic and cardboard, but now they can see a well-constructed home built by people who have expressed nothing but love towards them. A house is certainly something that changes people’s lives, but what truly changes that lifestyle, that ‘chip’, is spending a few days with people who have come to give everything, and there are no ulterior motives behind what they are doing. That is what truly impacts the lives of my people. With God’s help, they begin to see that it’s possible for them to come out of that one-way lifestyle that’s been instilled upon them and that they can achieve many more things in their lives. They see that to better oneself is something real and with some determination, they, just like anybody else, can achieve it.