Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tin Roofs to Tin Lizzys

For the past few weeks I have been working at Tin Lizzys trying to make some money before I head back to Africa. First, can I just say that I think everyone should have to work in the service industry at at least one point in their life?! I look at restaurants so differently now. It has been a lot of fun but at times very stressful! I have learned a lot about people and how specific they can be about what they want. "Extra this...." "Hold that...." "Bring this on the side...." And unless you want to embark on World War Three you better keep the diet cokes coming! 
Working in the restaurant business has been quite eye-opening. It's just a little bit different than ministry. :) Often I find myself in the kitchen with the mexican cooks and cleaning staff. They bring me back to my heart for the Lord. They, like the people in Africa, are so unassuming and so humbling to be around. 
Jose is our main cook, his wife Dalia buses the tables, his younger brother Chava is the second cook, and Dalia's nephew, Dario also helps in the kitchen. When we speak to them in English, they respond in Spanish, so communication is fair at best. But I find that I connect with them the most. There is just something to be said about having to relate with people in ways other than talking. 
The four of them along with Jose and Dalia's three year old son Jonathan all live in one apartment. They came to the US three years ago for a "better life" but when I ask them if they like America- they tell me they would rather be at home in Mexico. Why is it that these people who come from places like Africa and Mexico where there is nothing and no opportunity want so badly to go back? 
Chava is 17 years old, he has made it to America, he could build his whole life here, achieve the American dream...but he longs to go back. Why? Maybe because he left behind his parents, ten brothers and sisters, and a community that despite their own desperate situation reaches out to those whose somehow appears worse. Perhaps Chava, who has come from a place that hasn't smothered him in lies and false images that money and stuff brings happiness, sees something that we so often don't and that is the importance of family and togetherness. 
His small family here is never together at the same time because when one of them is not working then the other one must be. They work hard and often but not for themselves, they send the little money they make back to Mexico to help support those who are most important to them. They have the least glamorous jobs: cooking, washing dishes, bussing messy extra food left on tables, yet they are the least likely to get irritated or frustrated. They simply go about their job, setting us up to do ours better. They inspire me and help me to remember what is real. 

"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 
Mark 10:43-45