Our time in Mexico at the end of GUPY was really wonderful. Even though most of us spoke little to no Spanish, we felt surprisingly at home in a strange culture, and felt very loved by our church family there. But coming back to Glenwood was surprisingly jarring for a number of us on the GUPY team, myself included. My neighborhood didn't feel like home - it felt scary, dangerous again, and it was strange. Perhaps it didn't help that our church van was flagged down on my street at 2 am on our back from the airport so that we could be offered crack (my weary reply was, "No thanks, man, we just got home from a missions trip"). For some reason it was strange for me to be around African Americans again (I saw only one person of African descent in our 10 days in Mexico), and I felt old fears come back.
And so I felt tempted to revert back to old ways of hiding out in the house, going to other parks rather than my local playground, and just not feeling at peace. But, as the saying goes, when you fall off the horse, you have to get right back on, and I knew it was important to get back out in the neighborhood, walk the streets, meet the neighbors. So I took my kids to the park around the corner to play. I went to get veggies from the community garden. I walked home from my church. Simple things, normal things, but things that can be avoided in the course of "normal" life.
Why was I not comfortable in my home of 7 years? Some of it has to do with the power of assumptions/fears/stereotypes about race and class that are still latent in my heart. Some of it has to do with the ways poverty plays itself out in America versus in Mexico City. Some of it has to do with spending our time in Mexico surrounded by Christians who loved us, laid down their lives for us, gave us their food, their beds, their homes, whereas in Glenwood, often times those that you try to help respond with a shrug at best, an insult at worst - not much payoff there.
I think that Mexico helped exposed further work that God has to do in me, and I hope that it awakened the GUPY's to the need right in our backyard for love and service to go out, received or not, in proclaiming Christ's love and presence.