Mexico,  Missions,  Parenting,  South of the Border,  Spanish

She Just Knew

We stood in the back of the rustic church and rocked our boys like footballs. My only goal was to gently bounce mine into sleep. I was focused on us.

I had noticed her before but we were quite different and not drawn to one another. Coming from an indigenous Mexican background she was awkwardly shy, avoiding eye contact and touch. We sang songs in her language and swayed to the rhythm while flags were waved and the audience clapped off beat. I was distracted by everything.

waving banners

My limited Spanish skills kept me from getting to know anyone past the typical greetings. People stared and seemed curious about new white people in town, but a tiny fraction of the population ever approached.

So I vacillated between not caring and caring too much, wondering if I would ever fit in.

I never wanted to live in Mexico. I thought it was dirty, dangerous and dark. A surfing trip and a stolen truck proved my theory, and I had no desire or intention of ever returning.


Back in the middle of our American-dream life my husband said he wanted to retire in the land of tacos and beer. I joked I would write. But I wasn’t joking; I have tons of notecards.

One vision and nine years later found us raising support, selling our house and half of our possessions, quitting our jobs, accepting a donated truck and trailer and moving to Baja.

As in, Mexico.

But I’m white. And blonde. And in high school I only passed French II with a flying C. How was I supposed to assimilate into a country and culture I wasn’t familiar with? I wasn’t even confident about what Chili con carne meant.

Do not bother asking God if He has the right person when doors are flying open and confirmations keep rolling in. When you know that you know, you just know.

I cut my incisors on hymns, but this was the first time the peace that passes understanding sounded so natural… normal… logical. I didn’t get it, but it made sense.

Even though my soul flooded with peace, my mind also flooded with wondering how I would ever make friends. I did not expect to be part of the inner circle of cool Mexican women, but I thought connecting in some way would be nice.

Enter big belly.

Version 2

We settled onto a plot of dirt and into our fifth wheel on March 1. My due date was April 6. Visiting Mexico eight months pregnant will get you stares and smiles. Moving here eight months pregnant will get you all that and more. My husband noticed it before I did; he truly believes being pregnant was one of the reasons we were accepted so quickly as outsiders. I had an in with the ladies.

Most Mexican women are ga-ga over babies, and prego bellies are no exception. Personal space ceases to exist when only inches of skin separate them from a mini human. So I was prayed over, questioned about nursing, and asked if I wanted a girl.

When Brock was born (not a girl) there was no baby shower down here. No schedule of meals from friends. No sign in the yard. No big brother gifts for the four-year-old. No flowers. Everyone knew the white girl who moved to town a month earlier had her baby, but I was too new, sleep-deprived and distracted to truly have any friends.

With great compassion God somehow filled that void. I definitely felt like an outsider, but I do not remember ever feeling sad or lonely.

While most women lacked the confidence to walk up to me, baby Brock was a non-threatening ball of squishiness. And oh how the women loved him. They borrowed him in church, rocked him as their own, and gently squeezed his cheeks like smitten grandmas.

Brock's Belly

“He’s so white!” they would exclaim. “And he has colored eyes!” Yep. Having two pale parents with roots in Germany and Denmark will do that.

So there I was, with a key to the women’s hearts right in my arms. Fellow moms do not need to explain how baby barf on a fresh blouse makes you feel, or how defeating 2:30 a.m. feedings can feel. We just know.

When my peripheral vision revealed dual bouncing to the same beat, our eyes met. We accidentally both smiled and instantly connected. No sounds, no words—just two women who had recently become mothers for the second time. No need to tell me her back also hurt or the football hold was genius. We both knew.

fb hold

Our family moved from middle-class suburbia to a trailer in the dirt, and I was barely surviving nighttime feedings with a newborn on a mini hide-a-bed. In the midst of substantial life changes, God provided another mom in the back of a rustic church. We were polar opposites in every way, but in that one moment she knew exactly how I felt.

She just knew.

“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”  ~Leviticus 19:33-34

Have you ever connected with a national on a mission trip even though you didn’t speak the same language? How did you communicate?

Look around when you’re out and about. Can you encourage someone who doesn’t look like you? It doesn’t matter what country or culture they’re from; everyone smiles in the same language.

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    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank you, Caitlin. It’s encouraging to know that you can relate to these feelings firsthand.

  • Doug VomSteeg

    Thank you for taking me down memory lane. You are an incredible woman – who at many times – encouraged me to press forward and not grow weary. Now look at us … 10 years later … who’d of thunk.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Who’d a thunk indeed. Glad we didn’t stick with our original plan to hang a porch swing in suburbia and retire with thoughts of vacations and money. Thanks for your words.

  • Andrea

    My best friend in 9th grade was Korean. She barely spoke any English when she joined my school. I only knew how to say Good Morning and Kimshee, but we figured it out. I knew she needed a friend. 🙂

    The most intimidating international experience I’ve had in recent years was teaching a workshop in Hanoi by myself. God blessed me with a good translator and a fun friend for the week. He’s good like that.

    • Carrie Talbott

      He is certainly good like that! Thanks for sharing, Andrea. I love how you “figured it out” with your friend in high school.