Posted by: MC | November 26, 2012

Amidst the Fuss about Mexican Immigration and Gay Marriage

Last night, I stood rinsing 50 plates, stacking in a small tower the ones that didn’t fit in the first run of the dishwasher.  Behind me a loosely coordinated team of cooks fussed over flan one woman had made. “I wasn’t expecting 50…!” she whispered.  “Loaves and fishes time,” said the mountainous man with the big hands and superb skill with savory and spice.

These are other things I heard –

“Is the projector working?”
“I hope I remember the part about Zapata and, what’s her name? Hernan Cortez’s mistress that managed colonialism with her womanly wiles? Oh yeah, La Malinche.”
“How far was Cuernavaca from Tepoztlan again?”
“Are the teachers here from, La Tierra?  I’m a little nervous about them hearing me try Spanish in front of a crowd.”

My four friends who had found a way to go for 8 days to Mexico explicitly for learning Spanish directly from those whose language it is, tumbled back and forth past the kitchen area of the Subud House in Portland.  One is a member of the Subud community and secured the space for the chance to let lots of people know of a small organization in Mexico, run by women, struggling but determined as a start-up for increasing cultural, personal and spiritual understandings between people of the United States and Mexico.  The non-profit, Usaha Mulia Abadi, is also actively working with the local community to build and educational center for children and youth who live in poverty.

So, this is all awesome, but I want to write a few other things I heard.  A woman rushed behind me, pausing long enough to slide a large rectangular stainless steel pan into the sink.  “We need to wash it for the flan.” She smiled briskly in keeping with her pace, and was gone.  I scrubbed and listened.

“My name is Oscar. Mark is one of the speakers tonight.  He’s learning Spanish so we can communicate better.  He’s my boyfriend.”
“I’ve been clean and sober and in AA and NA for 17 years, does that mean I qualify for acupuncture?”
“You should come to Nutrition Night.  It’s free and you can’t help but learn good ways to eat.”
“Wow, you cooked all of this over at Quest?”

Another woman came up to take over the washing.  “You’ve done enough for a while – go enjoy yourself.”  I had been, but I took her up on it, turned around and again took in the make up of the room. There were people from in their 70’s to toddlers, men and women, straight and gay, of various ethnicities and different kinds of physical ability.  Essentially, three already diverse communities were gathered, the Chicano community, the Subud Community (spiritual focus), and the Quest Community (health focus — We pride ourselves on providing culturally competent, integrative services to all people, and are proud to be recognized as an lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) community partner.)

One of the four travelers helped found the Quest Center where the food was cooked, where Nutrition Nights have happened for 20 years of Thursdays, and where people living with HIV, with breast cancer or in need of primary medical and wellness care can find holistic and integrated services.

“It’s finally just a matter of putting it out there,” she said.  That’s what the four travelers did, and this is the listening community that came together to learn about Mexico, to enjoy and support one another.

“It’s a matter of putting it out there.”

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