The Mexican Hamburger
Karen had to be as exhausted as I was.
We had flown all night from Mexico City. Our flights had been substantially lower in cost if we flew into Toronto, so even though it was a three-hour drive from where we lived in Rochester NY, that’s what we did. She was sleeping in the front seat next to me while I sped us toward our cozy 400 sq ft apartment.
It had been an amazing missions trip and we were ready to be home and snuggle in a real bed together. We were newly married and had spent a week sleeping in separate tents cause the missionaries leading the trip were apparently from the 1800,s and “we didn’t want to give any appearance of impropriety,” whatever that means.
“Yeah? How do you think it became known as the missionary position?” I asked. Nobody laughed. But I didn’t want to sleep with my wife so we could practice being good missionaries; I wanted to sleep with my wife because it was cold!
We spent a week up in the hills of a small Mexican village. During the day the weather was a perfect 65 degrees and sunny, at night it felt like it was minus 50. Karen slept in the women’s tent; I slept in the men’s. We spent our nights dressed in every article of clothing we had, but we still found ourselves freezing in our flimsy sleeping bags, alone.
Well, not alone, just not together. I tried snuggling with the doctor missionary next to me but it was a little awkward, we didn’t know each other that well. And he had heard my joke.
It was a medical missions trip. Seeing as neither Karen nor I had any credentials in that department, we spent our days in practical serving and prayer. Karen played a large role in preparing our food with the local women. We had a great time with the name of each meal as every one of them had the same ingredients – tortillas and beans. So we had tortilla pancakes for breakfast, with beans! Tortilla sandwiches for lunch, with beans! And tortilla hamburgers for dinner, with beans!
At the end of our week, we hugged new friends and new family members; we traded mailing addresses and then caught a bus back to Mexico City for our flight home. Needless to say, we were all ready for some flavor. We had just enough time to enjoy a Mexico City restaurant. The missionary leading the trip took us to one of his favorite spots before we headed to the airport. The menu was in Spanish but it’s pretty obvious if you’re looking for it, hamburguesa.
It had been haunting my cold lonely dreams for a week, now I could finally put it to rest – yay hamburguesa!
I want to make this clear; I’m not a complete idiot. I knew you couldn’t just eat anything in Mexico City. So I asked our trusty leader if he thought the hamburgers were safe to eat. He shrugged, “Yeah, they should be fine.” So, on that glowing endorsement, I ordered a hamburguesa.
It didn’t taste right. I ate it anyway. Why? Cause it wasn’t tortillas and beans, I guess. Plus, I had never had a Mexican hamburger, maybe that’s just the way they taste.
We caught taxis to the airport and after several hours waiting on the tarmac because of “mechanical difficulties,” we finally headed for home.
As I already mentioned, it was an all-night flight in which neither my new bride or myself could sleep. We arrived in Canada absolutely exhausted. We said our goodbyes to everyone we had missionary-ed with, then we caught a shuttle to our car and finally began the three-hour drive home.
Though I wasn’t feeling well, I told Karen I would drive; it’s what new husbands do. She let me, its what new wives do. It was about 8:30 in the morning and I had driven maybe an hour. Karen had drifted off to sleep immediately. It got worse, I was dizzy and bleary-eyed but figured it was due to the sleepless night.
I had already used every trick I knew to fight sleep. The exhaustion seemed oddly overwhelming. I couldn’t understand why I was so tired. I had done much longer trips with less fatigue. At one point I almost pulled over to ask Karen if she would drive. But I thought, “If I’m this tired, she must be as well,” so I soldiered on. We were driving on a straight stretch of highway through flat farmland when I saw it. It was sitting out in the field, just off to the right. It was staring right at me.
It was a rabbit. But this was no ordinary rabbit; it was three stories high and about half a football field long. It was bright neon pink and it was made out of marshmallow. It reminded me of a Peeps. You know, those marshmallow candies that are sold during the Easter season.
At first, I was awed by the sheer size. But my awe quickly became terror as it jumped once, twice and landed directly on the road in front of our car. I jerked the steering wheel violently fishtailing the car onto the right shoulder while simultaneously slamming my breaks bringing the car to a skidding halt.
A semi-truck flew past, horn raging, as Karen woke screaming. “JASON! … What happened!?” I shook my head and rubbed my eyes, the rabbit just sat there, in the middle of the road, watching me. “What is it? Karen demanded again. “Did we get a flat? … Are you OK? … JASON?!”
I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It didn’t like me. I could sense it.
Karen yelled again. “JASON! What’s going on?”
Without taking my glazed eyes off of the neon monster I mumbled, “A giant pink peeps bunny just jumped out on the road in front of us.”
“I think you better drive,” I said. It was the last lucid thought I had for three days and Karen apparently agreed with me.
I have no memory of the rest of the drive home or the three days of delirium that followed. Apparently, they were extremely uncomfortable for both Karen and me.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “How is Jason going to tie this story into a deeply profound spiritual revelation?” Maybe I won’t. Maybe I just wanted to warn you that if the hamburguesa you are eating doesn’t taste right, it’s probably a bad hamburguesa and for goodness sake, stop eating it!
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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