Why they chose me to be the 28th co-director of Potter’s Clay, ministry in Mexico, is beyond me. I was most definitely the least qualified. Before I moved to California from Hartford, Connecticut I thought that I was very culturally aware. Many of my good friends were African American or Jamaican. I was in the Black history club and had sung the Black national anthem in my high school. I felt like Westmont was a step down in a way. I hoped I might be the savior of the diversity issue bringing meat patties and ox tail from the east to teach these Californians a thing or two.
But I was actually the one who needed serious cultural lessons. For example, I had met one Mexican person…one in my whole life. I didn’t even know he was Mexican until he told me. I mean I loved to go to Taco Bell with my dad after church and get a MexiMelt but how could I lead a trip with 300 students to Ensenada, Mexico, for a whole week? My partner was Daniel Michael Quon, a senior art major who spoke no Spanish and was labeled by the locals as the “chine” translated as “the Chinese one.” He was the fourth Chinese person I had ever met and soon to become one of my best friends ever.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor of our small office we were determined to write our vision for the year. I looked at the key to the city hanging on the wall, and noticed it needed dusting. I began picking the crumbs of old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the ground, “Where do we begin?” Dan wondered out loud.
We decided that the first thing was getting a service project ready for 300 students to spend their spring break in Ensenada. The second was strengthening the ongoing friendship with the church in Ensenada, specifically the three Mexican members of the Potter’s Clay core team; Dr. Ramon Viduadi, Pastor Juan Monge and Pastor Rueben Castenada.
|Probably my favorite picture... EVER|
So we gathered a team, an all star team (see above.) Our plan was to go to Mexico every other weekend. Inevitable Dan would be 15 minutes late only to wait another 15 minutes for everyone on our team to get there. Once they arrived we would squeeze our weekend bags in between the bench seats in my van. If the van didn’t reek of anything suspicious, like rubber or brake fluid we would drive all the way to Ensenada that night.
Stopping for gas and oil and soda and snacks was just pre-gaming for the adventures that invariably awaited us when we crossed the border. Back in the day it was no big thing to cross the border, either way. No passports, no worries just sail on through toward Las Parillas and the best tacos on earth. Then, the fun could begin in earnest.