“Well, there was a scorpion on my bed. I got kinda freaked and picked it up in the pajama pants I wasn’t wearing. Had to move it somehow.”
The teenager looked at me from her top bunk. Ceiling fans swung above us providing the only relief from the Ciudad Juarez summer temperatures that hovered around 110 degrees Fahrenheit and climbed even higher in the hottest hours of the day. Sweat dripped from our foreheads as she told me of the fearsome arachnid.
My work group had just returned form our early morning shift and, as a young chaperone, I went to check on the girl who felt sick and hadn’t joined us in making the concrete block houses that day.
“So…where did you put it? The scorpion?” I asked, trying not to wince. By then I could hear the other girls talking and laughing from the shower room. We had toiled in the desert where the immigrants from Central America set up their own shelters made of cardboard. After shoveling concrete mix and cutting rebar with hacksaws to make them better shelter, every one of us longed to rinse off the grime even as we knew how much privilege we had in our bunk house.
“In the showers,” the girl said, pushing back her blonde hair and shrugging. “Didn’t know what else to do.”
I kept my face as steady as I could. A scorpion in the showers with bare feet. Not a winning combination.
Still. Sounding an alarm and starting a panic also seemed like a bad move.
I went for casual, nodded at the girl in the bunk, and strolled to the showers, looking carefully at each of the drains. Those in the showers never even noticed me, and it turned out that the scorpion, the girls, and I were all in luck. The critter with its venomous stinger had found a escape without incident apparently before anyone turned on a faucet.
I’m thinking about this now because in a few short weeks, I’ll be heading to Louisiana for a mission trip with Revive 225, coordinated by the First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. The more I think about it, the more I’m flooded with memories like the one above. If you know me offline, I’ve probably told you a tale like The Scorpion and the Girls already. It was one of the worst moments of the trip to Mexico so, of course, it makes one of my most vivid and re-told memories.
I decided to write up a few of these moments while I get ready to go. I have no idea whether I’ll be able to blog that week or if any of the stories from that trip will feel like mine to tell until another 20 years have passed. Whether I can write about it or not, I sure am getting ready for another adventure and would love to see us do some good.
I could go without scorpions, though. Even though they make good stories, I hope the showers and bunks will have no visitors with venom.