I am proud of my husband’s good heart

This post was first published in 2017, and republished with a few updates in March 2024.

We met a guy in Chetumal, Mexico some time ago who was fixing up an old boat to cross the bay to get to Belize. He was a nice enough gentleman, and my husband was impressed with his conversational clarity. John (not his real name) didn’t seem to be too crazy – he said he was a victim of circumstance and ended up in Mexico homeless and broke. He was trying to get to Belize because he thought the medical care there would benefit him. (In reality, medical care in Mexico is considered superior to Belize.) John, a Canadian, clearly needed medical care – he had an obvious physical health issue.

Tedly gave him a little money – though John didn’t ask for it. Tedly told him maybe the money would help buy supplies to fix the boat. It was a great amount to John. He had nothing. The boat was a rickety, not-so-seaworthy-looking, old-fashioned Mexican row boat. It needed a lot of work. He was fixing it up with trash he found.

We left Chetumal and went back to Mahahual, where we were staying for three months. But all that night night and the next morning, spouse was pensive, troubled.

What’s the matter?

I can’t stop thinking about John, and how we might help him more.

God, how I love this man’s good heart.

Tedly sent the Canadian consulate an email, asking if there was a way to get John back to Canada for the medical care he needed. The affirmative reply came the next day, and all we had to do was get John to the consulate, and with enough travel money to get him back to Canada. Tedly was willing to spring for the ticket to get him home.

So we took pubic transportation back to Chetumal from Mahahual. It’s a two-hour one-way trip. We again found John. We took him to lunch. And that’s when he told us more of his story.

He would not be going to the consulate in this region of Mexico, and he would not be flying back to Canada for the medical care he needed. Instead, he was on a mission to get to Belize, because that’s what God told him he had to do.

Tedly was deflated.

We sat with John for a few hours, and listened to him talk. I wondered when the last time anyone took the time to listen to him talk. John clearly enjoyed having people to talk to.

He wasn’t drunk, didn’t smell like alcohol. He wasn’t on drugs. He was intelligent, and up to date on current events in the world. But John’s main goal was to listen to God’s directions for him to go to Belize, where he thought he could get the medical treatment he needed.

Tedly again gave John some money. We left him to his boat, and we again returned to Mahahual. My husband was severely disappointed that he wasn’t able to convince John to accept our help to get back to Canada. I tried to lift Tedly’s spirits, and pointed out there aren’t many men I know who would take so much time to try to help another person in that much need. We gave John a bit of comfort and companionship. That’s all we could do, and that’s more than he had.

But the story of Tedly’s good heart doesn’t stop there. Not even close.

Throughout our budget slow travel lifestyle — and to this very day — we help other people when and how we can.

Let’s be clear: we are not loaded with money – not by any stretch of the imagination. Though we live well, we aren’t living a life of luxury. We use public transportation, we make a lot of our own food, we buy the cheapest option or ‘best value’ option of just about everything — from eyeglasses to noodles to train tickets.

A small but mighty example of my husband’s good heart. Tedly once commissioned a boy to build him a kite from trash. The kid is quite the entrepreneur – he flew his own kite made of trash and Tedly decided he wanted one, too. A few days later the boy delivered his creation, fashioned out of litter scraps scavenged from the beach. The boy did one hell of a job!

We buy things from vendors we don’t need or want, like palm leaves fashioned into flowers. We tip well wherever we go. Sometimes, we put a few dollars into pockets of people the world overlooks — from the dalits in India (lowest caste) to the gypsies in Eastern Europe (a roaming race considered lazy and deceitful).

From ordering kites made of trash, to working at a refugee camp, to bringing electricity and drinking water to the indigenous Ati tribe in the Philippines — and so much more in between all of that — I’ve seen Tedly put his heart and soul into helping other people over these wonderful budget slow travel years.

After the pandemic, we restarted our travel lifestyle after a pause. These days, I feel our travel time has an undercurrent of urgency — that Life is Now. Really Now. We saw how the world can go sideways at any point (pandemic); faced our mortality (breast cancer); dealing with aging (and new bodily limitations).

Ticktock. Ticktock. Travel Now. Life is Now.

Most Americans have no idea how great they have it, despite the shrinking middle class and eroding buying power at the supermarket. Americans are so lucky to live in a country where most places have clean, running drinking water and relatively cheap and reliable electricity.

We’ve seen some pretty depressing things over the years about how people in developing nations really live. It’s not all sunshine and turquoise beach water from the tourist brochure. There is a dark side to the beauty — which includes people trying to get into America through illegal methods. They see Her as a beacon of light, of hope, of life.

When I wrote this post the first time back in 2017, we were trying to help someone else besides John who had an ongoing issue. Back then I wrote that I would update this other person’s problem – and solution once we had one. I wrote that we would wait for God (or ‘Universal Spirit’ if you prefer) to show us the right path to take for this person in need.

Well, we could not help that person. And I sometimes think about him and wonder how it turned out for him. I don’t think I’ll ever know. But we have helped many other people since then. Many.

I know we can’t help everyone, though of course I wish we could.

We do always have this: years back when we saw John trying to get from Mexico to Belize in a death-trap row boat, he promised to pray for us, and I believe that has helped us.

Wow– you found a really old post!

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