Monday, June 28, 2010

Purpose

****Listen, if I get all church-y and Jesus-y on you for a sec. don't freak out o.k.? I swear a lot on this blog and I talk about all manner of inappropriate things but deep down ole Jesus still has his claws in me and that's that. Just bare with me for a sec and you'll see my point.****

Anyhoo, after a year and eight months or so I've finely found my purpose here in Mexico. I'm thrilled and excited and I just hope HOPE I can keep it up and not let the meager wind out of my sails.

I mentioned the church-y thing because back home in Michigan I went to the First Baptist Church in South Haven for years.... 10 I guess, and in the six months before I made the move to Mexico they were there for me any time I needed.

I was part of a really cool small group that got together to hang out, socialize and do bible study stuff and they had a huge impact on my mental state of being at the thought of leaving my home, job, college, family and friends all behind to go to someplace unknown and scary. They, and the faith that I'd slowly gained over the years planted the seed in my mind and made me feel, that God had a purpose for sending me to Mexico, and in time he'd show me.

Now, LOLOLOL don't freak out and think I've gone crazy and gonna start spouting out on the street corner on a soap box that Jesus has made me Queen of Mexico and I'm here to save the world or that I'm THE CHOSEN ONE or some craziness. Christians believe that God has a purpose in EVERYTHING that we do, from the most simple or benign or mundane of daily tasks, to grand things like becoming President or you know... big stuff.

We talked in the small group about what God's purpose might be for me down here, tried to think up things, but it was all too vast to even truly contemplate.

Aaaaaanyhooo, the thought has never truly escaped my mind, no matter how far it was pushed in the back of my brain, that perhaps there is something for me to do here. Perhaps the truth is that I NEED something to do here. Yes, I work 40 hours a week with an added 10 hours of commute, and I have a new baby to take care of and a house to clean and a husband to love and take care of and I've even made a couple of friends....but for me, it's not enough.

I've always needed PURPOSE. Back home I could volunteer at church or in old folks homes or help out people in need or whatever came my way and that made me feel good. Plus I was in college and I had a great job where I felt useful - but down here in Mexico there's nothing like that for me. Or at least I thought.

So, here it is. It's small but I'm truly excited, I'm just about bursting!

It took me Eleven months to find a friend here in Reynosa. A friend who spoke English, and was a woman and was an American who understood me and understood what I was going through. Yes, I had Chino's family but the language barrier was so great that no matter how good the intentions there was no way of making a friendship, making a CONNECTION with another human being. Eleven months - the FIRST months - the months of mourning the loss of my former life and family and friends and trying to except being poor and blah blah on and on - that could have been made so much easier with a friend that understood me.

Here where we live in Reynosa, it is one of the largest places that deported Mexicans are sent and booted back into Mexico. Many scatter to all parts of Mexico from here but some stay and some of those are fortunate enough to have their family pack up and come here and live with them.

Americans in Mexico. OR, people like my husband whom were raised from a small child in the U.S. -brought over illegally by their parents - who have been deported back to a country that they've never known as home. A place where they don't speak the language, don't know the customs or money or how to do anything at all. Don't freak out on me, I don't want to hear a freakin PEEP about immigration laws or what not - that's not what this is about so don't even go there - this is about helping out fellow lost people that came here just like me.

There are 2 other American women here in Reynosa that I personally know, in a city of over a half a million we've managed to find one another. But there are more.

We've run across more women like us from time to time but never - and I can't figure out for the life of me why - made much of an effort to make further contact.
I spoke to an American woman and her husband last week that live in Monterrey Mexico and she told me that in Monterrey they have a huge network for Americans or other Expats from all over that come new to the city. They have a network so that they can make friends, get information on the best places to shop, the safe places to be, how in the HELL to get things like electric and water and cable and Internet (those things are crazy difficult in Mexico!) and all manner of things like - lol - where you can buy brown sugar. A huge support network that makes it so new people aren't alone.

I'm going to start one here in Reynosa. I KNOW that there are more of us here, I've met some in passing, and so have my friends. The border guards on the U.S. side have made snarky remarks about "Oh, another one of YOU," and as of late Chino's family has even scared up a few!

There's a woman that lives only a few houses down from Chino's cousin and I went there last week to knock on her door. It turns out that she went back Pal Norte to work for a bit but she'll be returning! Last week another of Chino's cousin called and said that she had a new client come in her shop to get her hair cut, a white girl that speaks NO English that's here with her deported husband and two children. His cousin knows where the girl - she's only 19 - lives and agreed to take me there!

Chino told me that since he's moved to a much busier flea market that he sees them almost every weekend and I begged him to flag them down and hand out my phone number. Last weekend he gave a woman and her husband - just like us - my phone number, and I'm impatiently waiting for my phone to ring!

I'm going to figure out a way to make business cards for him to hand out. I have NO clue what they'll say but it'll come.

In the past weeks I've been joining Expat site after Expat site and setting up profiles for the city of Reynosa and explaining that there are Mexpats here in Reynosa and that I'm seeking them out.

I made a Facebook group specifically for it - me being the only current member -lol - but it's THERE should someone search for it.

I'll be starting a blog for it soon - ANYTHING to show up on a search engine, because that's how the three us gals found each other here.

I made a twitter account (lol gag) and I'm searching out and following everyone in Reynosa that I can in hopes that they'll look at MY page and see that I'm going to start twittering about looking for Americans or deported Americans at heart.
I put a free ad in the Reynosa Classifieds on the Internet.

And my latest idea, God help me in convincing my husband to help me - I'm going to run an ad in the Newspaper. (eeeeeeeeee!!!!)

I'm so excited. Everything is kinda floaty right now and I need to figure out some real direction and a strategy for keeping it all together when I do find people and how to keep them together and what not, but it will come. It will come because it's my purpose and I know it.

I'm going to find them and I'm going to get the word out so that when newbies show up they'll know where to go.

If you've read this far btw - you're practically a saint. So, saint person - do you have any other ideas of how I can look for people like me or places to put myself on the Internet that that they might be drawn to?

You know..... when my dog was lost... we posted up about 600 fliers around our neighborhood. Hmmmm....

So? Any Ideas?

30 comments:

jenny said...

Bless your heart, that's a great thing you're cooking up! I've always found that when you give yourself up to others, good things come back tenfold.

I have no ideas to offer.. I'm a total idiot when it comes to networking, but all the ideas you posted sounded good to me! You'll definitely want business cards for sure, because a number scrawled on a piece of paper often gets lost and a business card just looks more professional.

Good luck and it seems to me like this could create a big oppoturnity for you! xoxo

Addi said...

Oh my goodness you are a saint. Ok so down the road I think setting up a website with all this info would be good too.

There is a good posibility that I will be moving there in the near future. It will probably be a good year away. We arent sure when hubby is going to get there and then I have a lot to do here before I can make that move but by then you will have things up and running great. (I would love to help out once I get there).

Check out www.vistaprints.com for business cards and even fliers and such.

I really think word of mouth is your best bet. What about a monthly meet-up.

Also did you find a church down there that you like. I know when hubby gets there he is going to be wanting to go to church and if you have any recommendations that would be great.

Again I am so excited. This is really a great idea.

On Mexican Time said...

I sooo get it amiga!!! I mean, I may not be in Mexico for the exact same reason, but I did come for my husband, and left everything I knew and loved behind....well, except for my dog!! She came too!!

I think what you are doing is fabulous!!! Here in Cancun they have a few clubs, but they've been around SO long, and no one has ever reached out to me... Basically, the club is already established, and I'm not sure they really want fresh faces. I am however, going to the next Cdn meet up.... we'll see how that goes.

Anyways, I think your idea is fabulous, and you will make a ton of friends along the way. Ppl will start spreading the word, and things will fall into place. Persistence is key. Don't stop!!!

Congratulations, and GREAT idea :)

Why can't we live in the same city???

Sunshine said...

I want to leave more words, but i'm in a hurry, but I have to say WAY TO GO chica! Whooot hooot! yipeeeeeeee I want to help you...I can be your assistant! High five mami!

gringationcancun said...

Sounds like an AWESOME idea! I lived my first 4 years here without knowing any other Americans, until I got a job at a travel agency where I met some. They got me into blogging, and now I know TONS!!

In Cancun, we have a website EXACTY like you're talking about (wish I'd found this thing 5 years ago!)

Check it out to get some ideas....

www.cancuncare.com (travel website with spring break forums and such)

and the expat community forum:
http://www.cancuncare.com/forum/living-cancun-riviera-maya/

gringationcancun said...

On-Mexican-Time: There are CLUBS??? Been here 5 years, never heard a thing!

Nancy said...

I think setting up a forum would be a great way to go...

Here in Mazatlan the most active forum is a Yahoo group called MazInfo. People join and ask questions and people chime in and answer. It really helps a lot. People post when one of the stores has lemons, or pickles or other things gringos like, or ask who can take a letter north or where the best car repair place is, etc. It is very helpful. I know they are free to set up. Then you could put that web address on your cards, too.

I set up a group for people who knit and crochet on Ravelry called "English Speaking Knitters in Mexico" to collect info on yarn stores, etc. We have more than 90 members now!

Good luck to you!

Pam said...

I think what you're doing is GREAT! I don't have any other suggestions to offer though. Sounds like you've covered all your bases!

Good luck!!!

Suzanne said...

Awesome idea! I was an expat in Mexico City and Beijing. I loved this webiste: http://www.thebeijinger.com/

vixter714 said...

Hey Gringa
I'm an Expat in Panama! I've been here 2.5 years and fortunately there's a whole system of stuff set up here. First thing I did was search the Yahoo Groups for Panama + English and found quite a few, but Panama is a small country and you need a specific area in Mexico.

Is there a way we can take this to email? I'd be happy to offer some other ideas! :D

The Vixter aka Vicki

Fran said...

AWESOME!!! What a great idea!!

How about trying to get a blurb or announcement out via the churches? I know the Catholic church is big in Mexico & if you're Catholic you must go to church on Sundays, even if you don't understand what's going on.....maybe they'd let you make an announcement at the end of services. Maybe even try the churches on the US side of the border. I know I'd probably drive a ways to hear services in English. I don't know anything about where you live, but maybe it would work. Good luck! I truly believe you've done it!! You've found your calling! WAY TO GO GIRL!!!

Carmen said...

I think your ideas are great! Women that are transplanting themselves have so many fears of the unknown on that side of the border on top of all the stresses of paperwork, packing, moving, basically closing down their lives on this side of the border, that having someone to hold their hand (Literally or figuratively) would give so many people a lot of comfort. Someone to help walk them through the process of how to get their personal stuff for the house into the country to where the guerras are meeting for coffee to have a "venting" session would give someone new a resource to feel like they aren't alone.

I think that is what stresses so many people out when they are facing having to pack up and move: they don't someone to help. Hubby, a lot of times, has been taken away (sometimes without any notice) and the rest of the family has been left to figure out how to do everything, and you just feel SO ALONE. To have a resource to go, that could give someone concrete ideas, or just others experiences would be comforting to know they are not alone and aren't the first people to have to go through it.

That is what terrified me the most of the idea of moving to Michoacan. Yea, I speak so-so spanish, but I had been left to figure out on my own to take care of everything here, and since my fiancé hadn't lived there in over 20 years, I knew he wouldn't know much about the area anymore either: where to shop, what stores have the freshest meat, produce, where to find obscure items, etc.

I know this is long, but my heart is just overflowing with thanks for the people that you are going to be able to help overcome their worries and fears of leaving their home and be able to enter into a place where they know they already know someone who is looking out for them, a built in "friendship system" so to speak..... Blessing on your endeavor...

Upstate Broad said...

Sounds like a daunting but exciting challenge you've set up for yourself!

Just a couple of thoughts: don't forget about our more northerly neighbors. Something tells me there might be some Canadian expats in the same boat who could use the same contacts and support. Whatever parameters you set up to make yourself easy to find by search engines, include some that will make you findable by Canadians, too.

Brown sugar can be made if you have trouble finding a place to buy some. It is NOT, as most people believe, less refined than white sugar. It is white sugar mixed with molasses. I'm sure if you google it, you can find instructions.

And Girl, you are about the last person I ever would have imagined being a Baptist. Do they have any idea what a wild ho you can be when the mood strikes you?

Ritamg said...

Me! Me too! I want to know where to find brown sugar. I can create and print business cards.

Josie said...

1st of all-YAY! I'm a saint! LOL
2nd of all-You freakin rock my socks! I get so nervous about going to Mexico and then I read blogs like yours and I feel way better about it. I told my fiance that if, one day, I decide that moving there permanently is the way to go, that I wanna be closer to the border and that Reynosa is at the top of my list!

Theresa in Mèrida said...

The woman's club in Merida started like that. Not the deported part but some 25 years ago, one woman heard another speak English in the grocery store and they met. Then they met another and 25 years later we have a club of 100+ with several nationalities.
I once ran out of my house saying "Excuse me, but was that English I heard you speaking?" to a young woman with 2 little kids, because no one else in my neighborhood spoke English.Now there are a few more.
So it will grow, little by little it will grow. Don't forget to include people who are there for other reasons beside deportation.
regards,
Theresa

Mary C said...

What a great idea!!

Here in San Miguel de Allende we have many expats who have created a pretty good network. Every week one or two newcomer groups meet for lunch or dinner. There are a couple of Yahoo groups to join where you can ask the members about things like electricity, carpenters, all sorts of things. As you know, it's extremely helpful to have a means to exchange information.

This will be a success for you and the many people you are going to help will be so grateful.

I heard about the Yahoo group by word of mouth and the lunches and dinners are advertised in the local newspaper. Lots of people do flyers here. I could see you having flyers at your flea market booth.

Good luck with all this! Who knows where this path will lead you, but you are going to have some fun finding out.

Alice said...

great idea, don't give up on it. obviously, here in DF, we have a large network of expats and someone way back when formed one of the larger ones called Newcomers Club. i think it saves many a newcomer from going crazy. i know newcomers is an international network, so if you wanted to start a branch, you could contact someone at newcomers and see how to get one going in reynosa. there have to be hundreds, if not thousands, of people from the US dying for some american contact in reynosa.

Vadose said...

"Brown sugar" jejeje...

Marlo said...

Lindy you have no clue how reading your blog has helped me personally! I now know that if or I guess better said when it happens to me and my hubby I will not be as fearful. We'd be naive to think only a few of us are/will be in this position. With things getting so bad here with all of the newly enacted laws I suspect it will be sooner rather than later. You are truly and inspiration and I think your idea is genius!! I can't remember how I found you but I am glad I did.

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Jenny - Cards for SURE - and you're right - and I KNOW you're right because you volunteer too! :) Thanx for the encouragement :)

Addi - THank you for the website! And no, we've not found a church yet but there are a ton of them if he speaks Spanish! :) What area of Mexico will he be going to?

OMT - Oh I know you get it! And lol it sounds like you and gringation need to hook up and compare groups! And DEFINITELY go to the one you already know about - don't wait for an invite - crash that bitch!! :D

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Sunshine - lol you'd be the best "assistant" ever! ;D

Gringa - oooo thank you for the websites! I'll be able to get ideas from there - and LMAO you and OMT need to hook up!!

Nancy - Your knitting group sounds fabulous! And a forum - INDEED I'd love to do that eventually!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Pam - Thank you for the kind words!

Suzane - ooo great! I'll be able to get ideas from there for sure. :)

Vixter - I've got to check out these Yahoo groups! Thank you!

Fran - Churches - that is a GREAT idea! And lolololol you'd think I would have thought of that considering my whole church theme with this and all!
I'm dense!

Carmen - Darling you can write as much as you want here! Thank you SO much for the feedback and kindness and encouragement. :)

Addi said...

Well he will more then likely be dropped in Reynosa and I think he is going to try to stay there and set up shop so to speak. He will need to find a job and a place to live (any suggestions would greatly be appreciated) but finding a church will be high on his list. And yes he speaks Spanish, although eventually probably would like to find a place that also speaks english so when I join him I can have a clue what is going on. He is penticostal and I am catholic (I know what a combo right) but we have actually been going to a church called Faith Alliance. Very similar to baptist but they are very into mission work and supporting the missions. So he would also be up for a baptist place too. Really we are christian so we are open. Any good website on the area you would suggest. So wish Mexico did jobs and apartments like we do here on the web, then I could help with the search...oh well...Thanks again (and the little one is soooo cute)

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Upstate - You're right, we actually have a Canadian friend here and now I'm KICKING myself for making the FB page named "Americans In Reynosa" But I can't think of a better name.... English Speakers In Reynosa? But from now on I'll keep that in mind! :)

Rita - Brown sugar - lol I'm not sure if you're talking about the sugar in the bag or a man..... ;D

Josie - awwww I'm so glad you find a little comfort! And we'd love to have you here!

Theresa - Oh of COURSE we don't want to exclude anybody!! :) I need to think of a good sort of name for the network that includes everybody...

Mary - Oh man I've GOT to go and check out Yahoo! A few commenters here mentioned it - I had no idea! Coooooolll!! :)

Alice - Oh that's awesome, I imagine they would know how to go about it! And omg you think there's that many here? God that would be amazing!

Vadose - lol Cochina! :D

Marlo - awww you're just so sweet, I hope it'll be as great as everyone is hoping for :)

Addi - Well then, consider us (my husband and I) his welcome club! Email me if you want and let me know your situation and what kind of work he might look for and we'll ask around - or Chino might already know. And don't worry about apartments, we can find someplace quik! :)

Addi said...

Totally awesome...how do I email you...I am so new to this blog thing...where do I find your email address lol

Leah Flinn said...

That has to feel good to find something! I keep hoping I'll find something in Veracruz, but I'm patient. :)

La Familia Garcia said...

That is so cool and you already know how helpful it will be! It's so neat how you can see how God was leading you to do this too! Who knows what all it can grow into and who you'll meet through it!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Addi - it's on my profile page but here - lindy(dot)email(at)yahoo(dot)com :D

Leah - Start a group of your own! Or you could volunteer teaching english - or who knows, it'll to come to you.

La familia - I can't wait!

Gringa-n-Mexico said...

Ooooo!!! Since posting this I've already found another one!!! A neighboor of Chino's aunt commented while we were visiting that just down the road from her there's "another one like her!" :D LOL awesome! I went to talk to her and am SO excited!