Plymouth Park UMC Staff Blog

February 27, 2017: Some Thoughts on Mexico

February 27, 2017

Pastor Bill La BarrI’m writing this tome for you while I am still in Mexico, even though it’s not due until after I return. However, having looked at my calendar and having checked my email, once I return to the office I’m going to be really busy really quickly. Go figure. I guess that’s why we get away every now and then.

One of the really great aspects of my Spanish language program is meeting students from everywhere. About the pictures below: In the one with the four women, the two older women are from Minnesota, one of the other young ladies is from Los Angeles, and the other from Maryland. There is a picture of Derrick, who is from Seattle. Then in the middle, there is the picture of my two afternoon classmates, Soon and Sabrina.

Soon is 28 and is Japanese. I have learned that Japanese students, at around age 17 or 18, apply to companies to become apprentices. They apprentice for several years, and then the company sends them to university. They will work for the same company their entire career. Soon has been sent to Mexico to study Spanish because his company is posting him in Mexico City.

Sabrina is 20 and is from Switzerland. She has been down here two and a half months studying Spanish so that she can work as an interpreter in Switzerland. Her situation is interesting because since she is paying her own way, she has taken the cheapest option. She is renting a bedroom (with bathroom privileges) that she found on She has no connection with a Mexican family, and she has to buy all her meals from vendors. Having finished her classes, she’s leaving next week for Oaxaca for a few days of vacation, then going to Mexico City for a month, then to Argentina to reunite with friends before she heads home to Switzerland in May. Did I mention that she’s traveling alone, and that she’s 20? As I said, I’ve met some interesting people while attending Spanish immersion classes!

Of course, the question on most of your minds is, “What is the situation in Mexico now that President Trump has determined to build a wall and force the Mexicans to pay for it?”

Let’s just say if people are a bit nervous in the U.S., they are really nervous in Mexico.

My morning professor and I have been reading El Economista, the financial newspaper. This has been helpful for me because the paper is full of verbs in the subjunctive and conditional tenses. It has also opened a window, and has provided fantastic topics for conversation.

Generally speaking, the Mexicans are more afraid of the possibility of tariffs than a wall. Tariffs are easier to install than a wall will be to construct. Mexico exports lots of manufactured goods to the U.S.; the most noticeable are cars. Mexico also imports billions of dollars of raw products from the U.S., primarily corn from Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri; beer from Missouri; rice from Louisiana; and aves or chickens from Texas (who knew that?). If the U.S. imposes tariffs on manufactured goods, Mexico is quite willing to find other options for its imports. And Asia (China, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines) are anxious to step into the vacuum. There is a significant Korean and Japanese presence already in Mexico. The Philippines have been trading with Mexico since the 17th century, and China is an opportunist with a significant presence in Brazil. Once Americans lose their markets with Mexico, they will be very difficult to regain.

Mexico is also a very proud nation with a long history with the U.S. The first “relations” between the U.S. and Mexico date from 1504 when Cabeza de Vaca slipped into Texas after being shipwrecked along the coast. Isabel’s son-in-law, Pepe, who is a banker, told me that there were no more American cars in his family’s future. He would buy European (they currently own a Volkswagen and a Seat — a Spanish brand owned by Fiat). Pepe’s opinion is pretty widespread. Add to that an exchange rate of 20 to one, peso to dollar, and American products have become very expensive. (On the other hand, it is really cheap to travel in Mexico right now!).

So, it’s complicated. I have learned several ways to say, in Spanish, “I don’t know what is going to happen, but don’t we live in interesting times?” I am also reminded of Paul’s letter to the Galatians where he reminds them, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.” (Galatians 6:7)

See you in church!

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Micah 6:8

...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?