Cherry’s Corner Understanding …
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:17
I am happy to say that I have friends in different countries around the world and I have had opportunity to visit some of them in their homes.
Suffice to say, I appreciate the feeling of helplessness when one is in a strange country surrounded by people who do not speak the same language as one’s self.
Insight is given as far as the people who come to America for the first time as aliens who depend on the charity of others to protect them from being taken advantage of. It can, for them, be a frightening experience.
Fortunately, when I traveled, I had bilingual friends to meet me when I arrived. One time they were late.
I’d like to share with you a time when I traveled south of the border to Mexico City. I left Chicago just before Christmas arrived that year with a terrible cough, cold and fever. I was not accustomed to the cold weather in Illinois, and it was my first winter in Chicago where I was employed by Motorola Inc. at their factory in Franklin Park, a suburb next to the international airport.
The doctor advised me to return to the milder weather in the Southern states. He said I would get well more quickly if I returned to a place I was accustomed to.
I have a good friend who lives in Mexico City. He was a second lieutenant in the Mexican army attending Officers’ Communication School as an exchange student stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., in 1964.
I was also stationed there learning to be an armored radio repairman and per chance we met one day in Harris Hall, became friends and attended the post chapel together. His name is Sergio Avila Osorio, and he is of the Methodist faith, while the majority of his family like most Mexicans are Catholic. He has a lovely wife named Etel and a daughter named Terrasita.
About a week before we were to graduate from our studies, Sergio told me that if I ever came to Mexico City, I would be welcomed to stay with his family as an honored guest in their home. “My casa (home) is your casa, ” he said to me.
I telephoned Sergio after I arrived back in Martin and told him that I would arrive in Mexico City before Christmas Eve and he promised someone would be there to meet the train when it arrived.
I went to Memphis and caught a train for Laredo, Texas, early one morning shortly thereafter. I took a taxi across the Rio Grande River at Laredo into Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side and there boarded a Mexican train belonging to the National Railroad of Mexico destined for Mexico City. I would spend a total of three days and three nights on this train before reaching Sergio’s hometown.
The train was dark as I was directed to my seat in first class and being tired from the long trip from Memphis I soon fell asleep. When I awoke the next morning I realized I was hungry and thirsty, and I asked the conductor about getting a bite to eat. He spoke no English, and if I was not going to starve to death I’d better find someone who spoke my native tongue.
I must have had a helpless look on my face when I felt joy at hearing someone say in perfect English, “Can I help you, my young friend? ” In front of me stood a well-dressed gentleman who extended his hand in friendship and I gladly took it.
“My name is Jamie Garza Rios, and I am going home to visit my family in Mexico City for Christmas.” I offered to him an empty seat on the train beside of me, and he sat down. He told me that he lived in Chicago for a number of years, and I was pleased to tell him that we were both headed in the same direction and that I had left the “Windy City” a few days before getting on this train. Suffice to say we had a lengthy conversation and he assured me that I was in good hands until Sergio met the train.
For those of you who have never ridden on a Mexican train, let me tell you it was an experience. Jamie suggested that we go to the rear of the train for a bite to eat. I was not familiar with Mexican food and soon would discover just how hot it can be to the taste buds in one’s mouth. I will say it makes you want to drink a lot of water after you eat it,
As I followed Jamie through the coaches towards the rear of the train, it was like going back in time. When we reached a coach near the very end of the train I observed people sitting on what appeared to be wooden pews for seats on either side of the aisles. Canvas flaps covered the windows and sheltered the travelers from the cold night air and would be rolled up during the day to provide ventilation.
Midway in the aisle of the car was a large ice chest lined with metal. Inside was ice and soda pop obtained from Texas and on top was an elevated box filled with everything from tacos to chili peppers. An old man sat with a small wire cage with three chickens in it on the floor in front of his pew. In the seat behind him sat a middle-aged woman I would estimate weighed 300 pounds with her left arm around a small pig restrained next to the wall of the coach.
When we returned to the modern first-class coach on the train where our seats were, Jamie told me that poor Mexican people often went to market on the train and traveled in whatever class they could afford. I was glad to have found such a friend, and he invited me to come to his home after returning to Chicago.
The train arrived in Mexico City during the nighttime and Jamie remained at my side as I looked through the crowd in the station for Sergio who was nowhere to be found. Jamie took me over to a service desk where Sergio was paged over the loudspeaker.
From out of seemingly nowhere a lovely dark-skinned woman approached the counter where we were standing and said in perfect English, “I am Maria Elena, Sergio’s sister. He was delayed and asked me to take you to his home. “
I introduced Maria Elena to Jamie, and we said “goodbye ” to him as we entered a waiting taxicab. I am not ashamed to say that I love the Mexican people. I was treated with nothing but kindness and respect during my stay with Sergio’s family and by the people I came into contact with while I was in their country. Christians can be found in every race and color, and my family in Christ Jesus is still living there in Mexico City.
Because of Him