Hola from L’Arche Mexico (known here as El Arca)!! My name is Bailey Wheeler, and I am a first-year student participating in the ABST 2023 experience.

On Thursday’s bright and sunny morning, we started off with a breakfast of cereal and bananas. (Fun fact: in Mexico, the milk comes in a box and isn’t sold refrigerated!!) After we fueled our systems, we went over to the L’Arche workshop. We joined the other members of the L’Arche community, carried homemade signs that we made the night before, and walked to a river roughly one mile away. 

In the city you can imagine there is much litter, so we went with signs and trash bags to help keep the Earth clean and to raise awareness about littering. Before we reached the river, we walked up and down the streets of the small suburb of Santa Barbara, showing off our signs and then proceeded to pick up all the garage we found. When we had picked up the trash, we headed back to the workshop to eat tortas (sandwiches) with the community. It was a beautiful time being surrounded by friends as well as receiving a visit by some hummingbirds. In Mexico, it is believed that when a hummingbird appears they bring good luck, or it means someone is thinking about you. 

After lunch, our Gannon group came back to the house for a siesta which was then followed by dinner at three o’clock. Dinner consisted of a spiced chicken and chickpea soup with lettuce on top. For the past couple of meals shared at the dinner table, I have sat next to José, a core member who I have created a great bond with. During dinner he showed me that you can put lime flavored mayo on the soup for extra flavor and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! 

After dinner we hung out with one another and around five thirty we walked to the Santa Barbara square. There we chatted and bonded with one another while watching the sunset. During this time, I visited the local Catholic Church as I have each day, we have come to watch the sunset. It is during this time that I am able to sit in prayer with Our Lord and practice my faith. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to visit the local church and the openness at which my group accepts my practices. 

As the sun was setting, we started to walk back to the house. We stopped at a few local shops and trucks to get street tacos, sweet bread, fries, and refreshments and then continued our trek uphill back to the house. When we got the house, we finished the night with a thoughtful reflection on what it means to be a community. Each night to end our reflection time we end with a quote. Tonight’s was “In L’Arche they healed my heart which was broken because nobody understood me.” Many of us shed a tear hearing these words but then we learned that it was a quote from one of the core members we had spent the whole week with… leading to many more tears. Although he felt that nobody had understood him, we did, and during this past week, we have grown to understand and appreciate every single one of the core members for their unique personalities. We got to see the light that they bring to this world through their thoughtfulness and their acceptance of us. We will never be the same for we have all been touched by the people of the El Arca Queretaro community. 

Cleaning up Garbage at the River
Bailey and Jose at Dinner